You and Me

Warning: Slash implied

From Writings On The Wall Fanfiction Awards Season 5
Best Slash - Honorable Mention

Three a.m.
I'm wide awake again
'Cause you're everywhere
And I'm like your prisoner
Don't you care?
Baby don't you care?

"Can't sleep?"

He turned from the bus window, raising his head from his knees, startled that anyone else was awake. He gave the other man a ghost of a smile and then returned his gaze out the window. "Not really."

"Me neither. I hate it when it rains heavy like this. Feel like I'm in a tin can and someone's throwing rocks at it."

He chuckled. "Yeah, 'cause people are always throwing stones at you."

The other man sighed. "I didn't mean it like that. You know that."

He turned back from the window. "I know, D. I'm just feeling sorry for myself."

"Wanna talk?"

He shook his head. "Thanks, though. Just gonna sit here and sulk. I think it's the rain, you know?"

Howie sat down next to him, pulling him into his arms. "It's not the rain." The other man leaned his head on Howie's shoulder, shaking slightly as he worked hard to repress the tears that threatened.

Howie just held him closer. "I love you, you know?" he whispered. "And I am here for you. Whenever you need to talk."

The other man just nodded and then pushed himself away. "I'm okay. Just need some more time, okay? Just need some time."

"And some sleep," Howie smiled softly as he kissed his forehead, ruffling his short hair a little.

He sighed, gazing out at the lights that flashed past, strangely distorted by the raindrops on the window. "Can't sleep. I just dream."

... every face I see
Every cup of coffee
Every song just reminds me of you and me
Every naked body
In every late night movie
Everything just reminds me of you and me
You and me

"So? Seeing anyone at the moment?"

AJ rolled his eyes at Rick's puckish grin. "Geez, why don't you just ask me whether I am wearing 'boxers or briefs' or something?" He looked directly into the camera. "Okay, Canada, here's the scoop: still single. Still looking for that special someone. Now can we drop it?" He turned away - and then back - and gave the camera a wink. "Oh, and, commando."

The squeals from the audience were deafening, and Rick glanced warily at AJ, taking a step back. AJ laughed. "Man, you all are so gullible."

"Dude, some things I DON'T want to know," Rick replied.

"We do," one girl shouted from the back and the room erupted in loud giggles.

Rick ignored her, flipping through his cue cards, chucking one aside. "He just answered this one." He glanced to the production staff with a small grin. "Who put that stupid question in there anyway?"

AJ leaned down and picked up the card. He read it and cracked up. Turning the card to the camera he laughed. "See? He was gonna ask it!"

Sure enough, 'boxers or briefs' was written on the card in large letters.

"That wasn't for you. That was one left over from old interviews. Give it to me," Rick tried to grab the card back, but AJ danced away from him, cackling. "You are not going to let me live this one down, are you?"

"No way, man," AJ smiled. "Got a pen?" He took the one that Rick pulled from his pocket, signed the card and then turned to young teen girl who had been watching him shyly, but avidly, through doe-like eyes. "Here, sweetheart. You keep this for me so he never tries to ask it again." The girl clasped the card to her heart, blushing furiously.

"On that note, I'm gonna try and get some control back, here. So here is our next video. An oldie but a goodie: here's AJ, with his Backstreet buddies, singing "I Want It That Way." Here on Much…"

There was a moment of silence and then someone to the back of the room yelled, "we're clear."

Rick chucked his mike over to one of the production assistants standing to the side. "Sorry about that, man."

AJ smiled. "Don't worry about it, bro. Got to play it up a little. That's cool. Just, really, can that question, okay?"

Rick looked at him, a tender sympathy in his eyes, "which one?"

He sighed, moving his sunglasses up as he rubbed his eyes. "Both of them. No more personal life crap. And rest assured my undies are clean, okay?"

"TMI," Rick chuckled. He reached out and gave AJ a small man-hug. "It'll get better, man."

"I know. Just takes time. I get that." AJ sighed. "Better go sign some autographs. How much time do we have until we are back?"

"Couple minutes." He hesitated for a moment. "I told them not to play it. Not while you are here. That okay?"

"Thanks, but you didn't have to do that. I'm good. It's not like one video is going to push me over the edge or anything. Fuck, every song reminds me, you know? I'm hardly the first person to get dumped on a shoot. I'll get over it." He turned away, wandering over to a group of teens - and a few older women - who had been frantically waving, trying to get his attention.

Is all that you've left here
Just your winter coat
And that sweet poem that you wrote
And the heart that you broke

It was good to be home.

No more interchangeable hotel rooms, or buses that always seemed to sway the wrong way at the wrong time. He'd started to miss the old buses where they'd all been stacked on top of each other… at least they had a little bar to ensure you didn't go sliding out of them. He just couldn't seem to get used to sleeping in the middle of that big bed. Alone.

Here at least he wouldn't be alone. Too many dogs in the bed to be alone. And while their assorted snores and night moans took a little getting used to again at least they weren't always asking him if he was okay. He was about ready to deck the next person who did that…

It was actually kind of fun taking charge of his own place. He threw his clothes down the stairs, in the general direction of the laundry room, then headed upstairs to strip the sheets off the furniture and chuck them down the steps too. Shutters were thrust aside and windows opened wide. He vacuumed, and even got a steam cleaner on one of his late night jaunts to the supermarket and shampooed the heck out all the carpets and rugs in the house.

Chucking the filthy water down the drain he was sure he saw some hairs from Panda and Bear, his old shih-tzus now, living with his mother. That didn't make sense… they'd only visited once. About four years ago. Surely the rugs had been cleaned properly at least once in all that time. They had to have been… you didn't live that long with a clean freak and not have the carpets properly done. Not when you consider the number of times they'd made love on them…


No. He wasn't gonna think about that. Wasn't going to remember. It was over. Let it go.

He took the cleaner back to the store, then swung by the store and picked up a new vacuum: one of those industrial type ones that was guaranteed to pick up every dust mote, every hair. If there was any more shih-tzu hair at his place they were going to be gone now.

Shame you can't vacuum away memories.

When Howie swung by a few days later he did a major double-take. AJ laughed. One thing about Howie: he'd probably never make it as a really successful actor - his real mannerisms were much more dramatic than his faked ones. When that guy did a double take he really did one. The head whipping back so fast you were afraid it would swing off his neck. And his eyes did that little bug out thing… Hilarious!

"Okay… what happened here? Tank pee on all the furniture?"

He glanced around the room, looking at the shiny new leather sofa and the new coffee tables, and shrugged. "Just needed a change. Didn't feel like it was really my place."

A look of sympathy flashed across Howie's face and then he smiled. "Well, I suppose a place can't have enough leopard print."

AJ laughed - as was expected of him - grateful that Howie was going to leave it like that. "You should see the upstairs. The boys have their own room, with toys and everything. Not that they keep things there much, but I'm trying to train them."

"Dogs picking up after themselves. Sorry, can't see it happening," Howie chuckled.

"Don't be such a downer, D. It could happen. Just gotta be home for while. Actually BE home. Otherwise these guys just try and get away with murder," he leaned down and stroked Tank's huge head as the bulldog leaned, wheezingly, against his leg.

"You did the whole place over?"

It was an innocent question, but a loaded one. And he wasn't going to rise to it. "Nah, just down here and one or two rooms upstairs. Just wanted a bit more colour, you know? It was actually a pretty good idea. Some of the old stuff hadn't been moved since we," he quickly amended, "I moved in. You wouldn't believe the crap I found under the sofa. One shirt I'd accused Nick of stealing last tour! Guess I better apologize, hunh?"

Howie shook his head. "Knowing Nick he probably did take it. Then stuffed it there when it got too dirty to wear."

AJ laughed. "Would explain why the kids liked it so much. Don't know what it is about that guy, but whatever he sweats seems to really attract the dogs." Then he realized what he had said and flashed Howie a cheeky grin.

The other man groaned. "He's gonna kick your ass for that one."

"Only if you rat me out. 'Sides, he knows what I thought of the Willa-beast. Man, who came up with that one? I tell you, sometimes our fans are way too good at coming up with this stuff. Gotta love that."

"I suppose. You ready to go? I kind of want to get there early. Get through all that paparazzi shit and get a good seat."

"Yeah, just let me grab my jacket."

Howie laughed and pointed down. "I think someone else has that covered."

AJ turned around to see two of his pups wrestling over a thick navy jacket and blanched as he recognized it.

"Aje? You okay?" Howie asked worriedly.

"It's not mine," AJ whispered. "It's his." Tears pricked in his eyes. Damn! He thought he was over this.

"Fuck! Wonder where they found it," Howie said, coming forward and grabbing the coat away from the dogs, balling it up and holding it behind his back. The dogs thought this was a fun new game and jumped up several times trying to take it back. He ignored them, concentrating on the man in front of him. The man who had gone from cocky and self-assured to heart-broken and miserable in the space of a few seconds.

"Tell you what, Bone. Let's blow off the premiere: probably a crappy movie anyway. Let's go grab dinner and go bowling or something. Do something fun." He held the jacket up. "We can chuck this in a dumpster on the way."

AJ gave him a sad, crooked smile. "Can we run over it a few times first?"

"Only if we get to drop it in a puddle too."

Cause every face that I see
Every cup of coffee
Every song just reminds me of you and me
Every naked body
In every late night movie
Everything just reminds me of you and me
You and me

"Excuse me?" Nick said, raising his arm. "Permission to go over there and pound his face into the pavement?"



AJ laughed. "Nick, you're a dumbass."

Nick tried to look offended. "No, I'm a ghetto booty. He's the dumbass. And I want to kick him in it."

He sighed, glancing across the room at the man in question. "No, he's not. He's just scared."

Nick glared. "Forgive him and I'm gonna kick your ass too."

"Dude, have you seen my ass? It's be a swing and a miss." AJ picked up his bottle and took a sip. He put the bottle back down and started to try and rip the label off. It just turned into ribbons of paper in his hands.

"Ha! Aje's not a virgin."

He laughed. "Tell me something I don't know." He held up the bottle in a mock salute. "'Sides, O'Doul's uses too much glue on their labels. Just to play with your brain. Take out all the alcohol, take out all the fun, you know?"

Nick nodded and looked around the room. He let out a heavy sigh. "I hate this. These things are boring as all shit. Can't we go somewhere else?"

"Sorry, bro, not yet. We should actually be mingling. Slap on that vapid smile and tell all these geeks how much we love what they do for us."

Nick looked at him and then smiled sunnily, all trace of intelligence gone from his face. It was downright spooky the way he could do that. Then he crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue. "And what is it that they do for us?" AJ shrugged. "Figured as much." Nick grinned mischeviously at him. "Wanna go over by the bar and start discussing the mythic themes and imagery in Heart of Darkness?"

AJ snorted. "Stop doing Aaron's homework, dude. Besides, I doubt any of these people ever read the book. They look like a Cliff's Notes crowd to me."

"Yeah, but this is LA. They probably all saw Apocalypse Now." He giggled. "I'd love to freak them out. Like, show them I'm not as blonde as they think I am, you know? Maybe I'll just tell someone about that book on quantum physics I got the other day."

"Don't you freaking dare, Carter."

The two men turned - startled - and Nick rolled his eyes. "Sneak up on people much, Train?"

"Only people who are supposed to be out there making a good impression. Not having a freaking coffee klatch in the corner."

AJ turned to Nick. "What was your IQ score again? Mensa level or something right?" He looked at Kevin. "I think that would mean that we were having a 'meeting of the minds' not a coffee klatch."

"Yeah, and you aren't smart enough to join," Nick said, sticking out his chin.

"Get over yourself," Kevin glared at him. "And get out there and make nice with the other people." He turned and stalked away.

"I wish you wouldn't tease him like that," AJ sighed.

"You started it."

"So? You should know better."

Nick wilted under AJ's gaze. "I know. I just… I don't mind being smart and all… I just hate having to, like, pretend. I mean, its not like I think deep stuff all the time. I'd just like to talk about when I do, you know?"

"I know, bro."

"Guess I better play dumb and go make nice, hunh?"

AJ stood up. "Me too. Don't want Kev to come over again." No, he didn't want that at all.

Nick glanced over at the group's elder member. "Like I said earlier… dumbass."

Cause every dream that I dream
Every breath that I breathe
Every time I smile I think of you and me
Every word that I speak
Every thought that I think
Everything just reminds me of you and me

"I'm sorry."

He leaned back, his head resting on the back of his new couch, Tank wheezing in his lap. "Sorry about what?"

There was a long pause. So many things to be sorry about lay between them. Which one was he going to pick?

"About earlier. I shouldn't have snapped."

Of course. Pick an easy one. "Sure. Don't worry about it."

Another pregnant pause. "It's just… It's the way it's got to be. You understand?"

No, he wanted to shout into the phone. No, he didn't understand. It shouldn't have to be that way. It was wrong. All of it. Instead he pretended they were still talking about the party. "Yeah. Just didn't feel much like small talk. I'll make more of an effort next time."

"Oh. Okay. Okay, then." He was silent. "You okay?"

AJ rolled his eyes. Oh yeah. Just peachy. "Fine."

"Okay. Umm… Doing anything special?"

"Chilling. Hanging with the mutts. We're about to watch a movie."

"Oh. I should let you go then."

"Yeah. Better. Look, I'll talk to you later, k?" He hung up as quickly as he could. He looked down at the dogs strewn across the couch and chuckled softly. "Probably shouldn't let you guys up on the new leather, should I?" He stroked the thick brown fur under his hand. "Ah, who cares. It's my place now. Can do what I want."

Tank whined and pushed his head deeper into AJ's lap.

"Yeah, baby. I love you too. And you love me, hunh? You won't leave me, will you? You'd never walk away just because you got scared that people would find out."

Tank raised his head and licked his fingers before settling back down.

"Didn't think so." He leaned forward and grabbed the converter off the table, turning on the television. He channel surfed for a few minutes before stopping on some poorly edited movie of the week. He wasn't sure what it was about, but at the moment some dark-haired man was skinny-dipping in a swimming pool. His long, thin body cutting through the water with a sure stroke…

Every face that I see
Every cup of coffee
Every song just reminds me of you and me
Every naked body
In every late night movie
Everything just reminds me of you and me
You and me

AJ turned off the television with a decisive click. "Maybe I should have borrowed Nick's book," he sighed into the darkness of the room. "Quantum physics has got to be better than this."

Song clip

Next track: The Truth

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Kat's Meow