Another idea that wouldn't leave me alone...and maybe it should've done. I'm sorry if this hurts, blame my brain, it's hurting me too! Anyway: I couldn't shake this idea off until I'd written it so here it is. Tom and Jimmy both took Kyle's death hard, but for very different reasons, and when Hit List closes, they explore that fact together. Please read, review if you want to, and above all, I hope you enjoy :) x
He couldn't say he was surprised to see him there, keeping vigil across the street. The 'Closing' signs had gone up that morning and Tom couldn't help but wonder if Jimmy had moved at all since the moment he'd heard the news. The younger man's eyes were red-rimmed and he looked more exhausted than Tom had seen him look in years. The Hit List lights reflected back in his dull eyes as he stared, his gaze unwavering, and he didn't react as Tom came to stand by his side. For a moment Tom joined the silent vigil, certain, in his heart-of-hearts, that neither he nor Jimmy really knew what they were grieving for anymore. Kyle? The lives they could have lived? The life Kyle could have lived, perhaps. Tom cleared his throat to force down any threat of tears, and he shoved his hands deep into his pockets, squaring his shoulders resolutely, steeling his whole body for where his and Jimmy's conversations always led.
'It had a good run, you know.' Tom chewed at his lip, still staring at the posters and the lights and not daring to look at Jimmy's face.
'I know. Still...I'm just not sure if I'm ready to let it go yet, you know?' Jimmy sucked in a steadying breath and Tom nodded mutely, allowing the silence to settle back in around them. Jimmy glanced across at him then with a wry smile. 'What are you doing here anyway? I thought you had your own show to attend to.' Tom's lips twisted into an almost bashful smirk and he glanced down at the floor.
'Yeah, well, when Julia mentioned to me about seeing the signs going up here today I...it had me...I'm not even sure what it had me feeling. I just...had to come here and see it for myself.' Jimmy nodded, understanding, then turned his eyes back towards the glint of the house lights. It was a cold, grey day, but there was something about the lights of a theatre that kept a sense of enchantment in the air. Tom shivered slightly and pulled himself in tight, trying to keep his voice light and his thoughts lighter. 'Anyway, from what I've been hearing, you won't have to let go for too long; there's rumours flying about of a national tour next year.' Jimmy shrugged in a show of nonchalance that didn't convince.
'Yeah, maybe.' Jimmy swallowed, bit at the inside of his cheek, fidgeted, sighed. 'But if there's so little to let go of, then why did you care so much when Julia told you about the signs?' Tom pursed his lips and looked away and Jimmy nodded, satisfied he'd made his point. Once more the two men fell into a not-quite-comfortable silence, letting the rest of New York pass them by as they stood, gazing at the closing signs with distant eyes. Jimmy sniffed and shuffled his feet. 'Other people say that...that they see them everywhere, you know? People they...that they lost.' Tom winced and closed his eyes. 'You hear people say that they think they see them everywhere they go, you know? And that they...they feel them all the time and they dream about them and that they know they're always there but...but it's never been like that for me. I don't see him anywhere. I never did.' Jimmy's breathing was slightly ragged and Tom tried not to hear the crack in his voice.
'I know,' he whispered. Because he did know, much as he'd rather he didn't. It felt like a full on body-blow, and he recognised the wince of pain in Jimmy's eyes.
'You know sometimes I can't even...I can't even get my head around the fact he's not here. Because he was always there, you know? Always. And it doesn't make sense because in my head I saw him...that night when it happened, I saw him and he was...fine. Pissed off, yeah, but...alive. And when I called his phone that morning, he was already...and I didn't know but he was...but his voice was still there asking me to leave him a message. All chirpy and fine and ok and I just...sometimes, I can't wrap my mind around the fact that I'm still walking around in the world and he's not. It just...it doesn't make any sense. I mean, I know it makes sense but...I can't comprehend it, I can't make sense of it in my head. No matter how much I want him to be, he's not here anymore. And I don't see him everywhere. I don't see him anywhere. And it's not fair. Because I want to. Even now, when I should be fine and moving on...I still wish I could see him.' Jimmy swallowed and Tom almost wondered if he should put a hand on his shoulder, offer him some show of support. But then he saw the look in Jimmy's eyes and he realised that, unless Kyle were to appear that moment, miraculously alive, then Jimmy didn't want anyone to touch him at all. 'There was this one time...a couple of weeks after...after it happened. Before Hit List transferred and took over my life...before I had a project to focus on for him...I screwed up. I didn't want to know Kyle was gone and I didn't want to feel it so I just...I just wanted to get myself into a state where it didn't matter, I just wanted to get out of my own head for a bit. I know it's a fucking cliché but...well, it doesn't matter anyway. Coz it...it didn't work, actually. It just made me hurt ten times more. And I got so drunk and fucked up that I actually...I ended up at his grave. And God I...I shouted such screwed up stuff at him, Tom. I laid into him worse than I ever did when he was alive. Because I was so mad at him for not being there anymore. For...making me face all of that totally alone. And even after all of that I still didn't see him. I just felt worse than ever because then my best friend was dead and I was so much of a low-life I'd yelled at him for it. And I still didn't get to see him one last time.' Tom closed his eyes more tightly and he felt the burning of tears at the back of his throat but he suppressed it, taking in a deep breath before risking a glance over at Jimmy, whose red eyes were now glassy, his eyelashes damp. 'But I did see him one time. Eventually. The first night after the Tony win. I thought I saw him.' Jimmy looked Tom in the eye. 'I saw him here.' Tom's brow knitted slightly and Jimmy gave him a half-hearted smile that didn't even come close to reaching his eyes. 'I don't know...maybe I didn't see anything but...it still feels like I did. It feels like the real last time I saw him was here. And as long as I still had a reason to be hanging round this place...'
'You felt like you could keep him close,' Tom finished for him.
'And now it's kinda like losing him all over again.' Jimmy stopped and turned his eyes up to the sky, whether to stop himself crying or to plead to some higher being to be allowed to wake up from this nightmare, Tom couldn't be sure, because he was caught somewhere between the two ideas himself. 'I just can't believe it's over. That he's not been in my life for years...that there's even such a thing as...as a time...after Kyle, you know?' Tom nodded, but didn't meet Jimmy's eyes, something inside of him crumpling slightly; he ached to his core, like someone was pulling his insides out and leaving nothing but skin and bruises, pulling out every muscle and vein, taking all his oxygen.
'At least you had a time with him.' His voice was small and faraway and for a moment he thought he hadn't said the words aloud at all. Until he felt Jimmy looking at him, his gaze piercing and knowing and something else which he couldn't place. 'At least you saw him at all, even if it was just once.'
'Look, Tom, I don't know what you two had but...I know that you're still here, like me. I know that you're pretty much the only one who is.' Jimmy bit his lip, as if considering whether or not to go on. 'And...I know that that night when Bombshell opened...it was the first time ever that he didn't come straight after me. He didn't leave me 'til morning for anybody, Tom. Well, he didn't until you.' The corner of Tom's mouth twitched up a moment and he inclined his head a little – a self-deprecating bow of his head was all he could muster because Jimmy's words were too big and meant too much and there was no way for him to process them without breaking down entirely. And Jimmy seemed to understand because he gave Tom the kindness of a sad smile and a respectful glance away.
'Still, Jimmy, you're the one with all the memories to show for it. I'm just...left with a bunch of questions and maybes.' Jimmy looked back over at him.
'From where I'm standing, that makes you the lucky one, Tom. All you ever have to know is him smiling at you. Me...I've got a hundred and fifty different memories of him sighing and of me walking away. At least you never have to remember wasting whole weeks barely talking to him, at least you never have to know what it was like to fight with him or make him hurt or worse; see him hurting. You just get the good stuff, Tom. Forever. You just get what Kyle really was about and none of the baggage that comes with trying to exist out in the real world together.' Tom studied Jimmy's face a moment and smiled, sad and distant, blinking back the tears in his eyes.
'Sometimes we want to remember things better than they actually were,' he murmured, mostly to himself, and Jimmy's eyes met his with a glint.
'Now you're starting to sound like him,' he half-chuckled and Tom laughed softly, nodding.
'There's a reason for that,' he replied.
It was another ten minutes before either of them spoke. There was comfort in the silence between them now. And, unlikely friends though they were, they were more comfortable in each other's company than anyone else's sometimes. Sometimes like these times; times when something would happen that would bring all the questions and maybes flooding back and no-one else quite understood why it all still hurt them so much.
'I don't even know what I believe in anymore, you know? Whether he's still around or really gone or...whether you can see people who aren't there. But I want to believe I saw him that day. And...and maybe if you haven't seen him then...then you should believe I really saw him too.' Tom frowned and looked over at Jimmy in questioning, but the other man refused to meet his gaze. 'You know, it's like he's preserving it for you, that way. By not coming to you it's like...it's like he's letting you keep it all...suspended or whatever. The two of you, as you were...but for always.'
'Just like Vienna,' Tom whispered fondly and Jimmy's lips quirked up.
'I couldn't possibly say.' Tom and Jimmy shared a smile before both letting their gazes slide away.
Tom looked back across at the theatre lights. Kyle's picture still smiled out into the street; still that brilliantly blue eyed kid, still that young, bright thing that would never age or fade or feel as bone-tired as Tom felt so many days. And in the pit of his stomach Tom could begin to feel the twist of grief that lived there curl around something else. A contentedness. Something born out of nights spent alone with that stupidly smiley boy, who he'd never fought with or hurt and had never known what it was like to want to. But a boy who he had known, well enough to miss. Who he'd kissed. A boy who he would always love, only, he was lucky enough to always love him just the same; in this perfectly formed, untouchable way.