During the Flashbacks
Preceded by Frankie's Place
- The morning sun hit Claud's eyes full-force, punctuating a skull-splitting hangover with horrid cheerfulness. He groaned and shifted, his whole body protesting. Just opening his eyes was difficult, it felt like swimming for the surface and never hitting air. Sigurd was laying on top of him, pinning him to the couch and tangled in their half-dressed limbs. What had they done last night? He couldn't remember anythi--blonde hair. It took approximately three seconds of processing time before his brain spit out this conclusion: Not Sigurd, NOT SIGURD. The adrenaline rush from the panic was so strong it hurt. He lay there, stuck, naked, sticky with--oh god what had they done last night?
- Frankie sleeps peacefully as Claud struggles. It had been such a good night... each time the nightmare had tried to surface, the steady heartbeat beneath him sent everything back to blissful dreamlessness... which is interrupted by Claud's sudden sharp terror- Frankie cries out. Her body-? She's dead. SHE'S- Claud's racing pulse hums underneath. Frankie sighs and his embrace tightens ever so slightly. A single fleck of light floats off.
- Claud tensed at that cry, ready for the worst, but to his surprise the other man settles down on him again. The hug actually helps to calm him a bit, focus his mind. He tries to hold as still as possible, taking measured deep breaths. He had to wake Frankie up sometime, they couldn't stay like this forever, and the waiting was brutal. He closes his eyes, tries to assume a neutral expression, didn't want any of the internal horror and shame to show. He runs a hand through that blond hair, speaking quietly, "Frankie?"
- She's calling him... gotta wake up, gotta kiss her in the mouth- Frankie's fights to open is eyes. "Wha'd ya do ta me las' night, angel'a mine?" he croaks, laughing softly. The room spins slowly into blurry focus. For a moment, it's their tiny, shit apartment, and she's looking up at him with that evil flirtatiousness. As he shifts to kiss her, she burns away in front of him, leaving...? "Mm...?" He stares at... himself? No. Where is Sigurd?? Frankie rolls off Claud. "Where..?" His cheeks turn red with Claud's embarassment and he tries to cover himself.
- Claud can feel love and affection rolling off Frankie, and he feels all the more guilty for it. He holds still as he--no Frankie--orients himself, mentally stumbles around, and then rolls off the couch. He tries to get his pants pulled up as quickly as possible, no don't look, and sits up much too quickly. His head drops into his hands as the room spins and his blood pounds in his ears. How did the night get out of hand? And how could he have let it? Finally he croaks out, "A-are you okay?"
- Frankie looks around the room rather than at Claud. Two years worth of memories.. that plush carpet had seen him through some rough times, the gramaphone... even the crushing hangover is like an old friend. Where's Sigurd though... Claud speaks. Ok... not himself... maybe his other..? Can't feel him well though, but he does want to care for and protect him. That's both Frankie and Claud's need, but he hasn't a clue about that, of course. "'m fine... Right. Prairie oyster, you'll feel better'n no time." Not sure where Sigurd is... or.. Vivi? Steven?? Poppy- Frankie chokes and sparks as the final pieces fall into place. He straightens up, revulted by the sticky mess. Shower, soon as the kid's ok.
- Confusion threatens to crowd out even what little clarity Claud had gained since waking, and he floats a little in between, but headache and sobriety push back and he's grounded again. He realizes Frankie spoke and just makes a small sound, "Mnn, thanks." Oh god how was he going to explain himself?
- Oh god. What had they- Frankie knows what they've done. It's far too obvious. He kicks a traitorous whiskey bottle aside as he drags his aching body to the kitchen. He should kick Claud out. Never let the little bastard come near him again- Frankie rubs his pounding head. It's undoubtedly Frankie's fault. The bed of empty bottles. His filth. The kid was blameless. Frankie cracks an egg into a glass. Worcester, hot sauce, pepper, salt. Like it's a normal night of drinking. Frankie returns, even manages to look Claud in the eye, though his expression is one of self loathing.
- Claud startles a little when Frankie approaches him, he'd been running scenarios and reciting apologies in his head. He looks up to take the glass and in the split second their eyes met he knew he needed to put that all aside for now. "Hey. No. Don't beat yourself up over this... please?"
- Frankie shoves the glass into Claud's hand. "Just shut up-!" his headache soars, and he continues in a hissed whisper. "Just shut up. Focus on yerself. Not me, for gods sake, that's all I was tryin' ta do, I never meant-" Frankie's waxy skin tinges green. Disgusting. He loved Claud so much, and when the kid needed him, he'd gone and literally fucked it all up. "Get yerself cleaned." he demands, not entirely unkind, jerking a thumb to his bathroom.
- Claud winces in sympathy, and not just because of the connection. He's about to protest when he's pointed towards the bathroom. He sags a little in defeat and nods his consent. Through the anger, the guilt, the pain and the self-loathing he could feel Frankie's love for him, and well-meaning concern. Why could he not see this before? Why were these things only clear to him in hindsight. He looks at the sad concoction in his glass, sighed and tipped it back. It wasn't half as bad as he felt. In the bathroom with the door closed he concentrates on numbing his emotions. He could not break down in front of Frankie. Absolutely not an option. But worse yet was he honestly didn't know why he now felt so conflicted.
- Frankie makes himself a drink, splashing a bit of vodka into it. A lot of vodka. Gulps down the slimy burning thing, retches, but keeps it down. Washes the glass, washes his face. The water drives his electricity mad. Don't think about how badly the kid needed help, how lost he was... or how Frankie had taken advantage of it. Filthy pig. A fag and a pig. Frankie bends low and lets the water pour over his head.
- Claud scowls as he washclothed himself clean, still getting the gist of Frankie's thought process. He almost doesn't say anything but that last bit--/So what does that make me?/ he mentally asks after Frankie got his head out from under the water. He braces himself, but he was not going to let Frankie beat himself up for something he had no control over. /There was a part of me that knew I shouldn't, but I still wanted to./ There. He said it. Sort of.
- Frankie hadn't realized Claud was still connected to him. had assumed once they'd put a wall between them, Claud's vibe was done. He'd be incredibly proud if he wasn't so ashamed and angry. He can't even demand the kid to get out of his head, as that was the whole fucking problem. The water pounds on his skull. Frankie reaches for the vodka. /You are a very good person. What I think of myself is no reflection of you, Mister Claud./ Even mentaly, his voice is clipped, cold. /What you want is good. I am pleased you are thinking about that at last. However, It has nothing to do what's in my head./
- Claud starts to shake, scared now that he'd actually stood up for himself. /Look I just--I can't take you seriously when you say one thing and think another. And, and I do the same thing too, but I'm trying to change that about myself. So, so.../ Where was he going with this? He turns away from the mirror, can't bear to look at himself, has to lean on the vanity for support. /I know I'm being a hypocrite but focusing on myself don't work, I try to help other people instead, but it never lasts, I'm sorry I'm so sorry.../ He covers his face with a hand, pain tensing his features.
- Frankie feels Claud's fear and curses himself. The square standing up to the mafioso's thoughts, as uncomfortable as it is, is fantastic. It's what he wants. Despite his squirming emotions, he sends Claud the feeling... Another gulp of vodka, tipping the scales from hungover back to ever so slightly drunk. /What in my head has nothing to do with you, Mister Claud. You do not need my affirmation to do what you like.../ Hah. He says that now, but yesterday, he'd been very supportive. He sticks his head back under the faucet. /Stop apologizing/ he demands. /You are a good person, nothing here was your fault. I fucked you over. Your confusion is simply because I put you in an unfair situation. Calm down. Take a breath./ Frankie shuts off the tap and goes to the bathroom door, trailing water. He knocks softly.
- So they were back to formalities. He had hoped... The feeling of Frankie's pride washed over him, an unexpected breath of fresh air. /Hey it takes two to... have sex./ he stopped that saying halfway through, not wanting to ruin tango by association. He still wanted to learn how to dance it from Frankie, he felt sick at the prospect that he might have to stop his lessons. /I coulda' said no, but I didn't--/ he still jumps at the knock even though he felt Frankie moving towards him. He mopped his face with the washcloth one last time and just then noticed that he was still wearing Sigurd's dog tag. He considered taking it off and hiding it in his pocket, but what would that accomplish? Frankie deserved to know the real reason, the only reason, why Claud was upset about last night's activities. He opens the door.
- Frankie pictures it as he stares at the door. Come with me, I'll help you with your vibe, you poor, lost little soul... fill 'im up with enough drinks to drown a fish, and in the morning he thinks it's his fault. /God damn-/ "God dammit Claud, how the hell could ya have ssaid no when I was pourin fuckin drink'ss down your motherfuckin throat?!" He looks at the telltale bottles strewn around the couch, failing to recall that he'd consumed most of them himself. Pig. Fag. Frankie can't even look at the square.
- "I don't... remember drinking that much..." Of course he never did. That was kinda the point of drinking. He tried to think back to the specifics of last night and was met only with the pain of his hangover headache. He thought back to the first time they met, how he had kept leaning towards Frankie like a plant into the sun, how he was still doing it, even now. "L-look, I wouldn'ta come here if I didn't trust you, okay? An-an' 'sides, our vibes work really well together, s-so maybe that contributed?" He can't just say what he wanted to say; every time he looked at Frankie he felt guilty, apologetic, and somehow his statements turned into questions.
- Frankie forces himself to look at Claud.. bruised, clothes trashed... and a little stab of memory. Light everywhere, hungrily pulling them off Claud's writhing body... He shudders and takes a step back "Great. Ya trust me. Ain't that swell." Just look what that lead to, he demands silently. "This ain't just a little vibe slip up, kid," he hisses severely, unforgiving of himself. He can't show Claud this part of him. The kid doesn't need to know anything else, doesn't need to see him acting like this. The sparking stops. Frankie withdraws emotionally, into his cold professional place. "I will get you a change of clothess. Shower if you like. I will have a car brought for you, and food, if you wissh."
- As soon as Frankie withdrew, Claud could feel it, that cold indifference, and it hurt him more than anything else had that morning. He was scared, he knew how Frankie felt and yet he was frustrated with him, and before he could tell himself to leave well enough alone he opened his mouth in protest, "I mean I'm attracted to you. Or your vibe. Or both, goddamnit I don't know which is which anymore." He'd be speaking with more force and volume if his throat hadn't constricted, his voice cracking with an embarrassing squeak. He looked away, stared hard at the floor, face and eyes burning, hands clenched into fists at his sides. He was scared, and a little angry, but so tired. So fucking tired.
- Frankie can feel the hurt, with the vibe. But caring had lead to this. Claud's too strong to protect himself, and Frankie had just... He cringes. His gut instinct is wrong. He's a filthy creature, no one could trust him, not even himself. He got to leave well enough alone, not interfere with Claud's emotions any further. Frankie's simply an instructor, not the guy's goddamned love...er.... Frankie's cold expression falters at the confession. He glows with pride and pleasure at the compliment- but his expression turns angry- it is Claud's fault he did this... He's not a fag, Claud tricked him-! The innocent squeak kills the evil thought. His own fault. "I am a handsome man. My vibe's nature is to draw attention. None of that puts the blame on you, and none of that excuses my behavior last night." Frankie turns away. "Now. A change of clothes."
- Logic caught up with him too slowly, and watching Frankie's emotional confusion--he regretted speaking his mind. He was just confusing him, hurting him further. He sagged, defeated, and too exhausted to resist any longer. /Alright./ He'd take that explanation for now, because in all honesty, he really didn't know. But it was a disturbing thought, and made him wonder if he could just be attracted to someone for them and not because of any vibe interference. He looked down at himself, his shirt missing several buttons, clothes all rumpled, and love bites all over. New clothes or ruined clothes, either way Sigurd would be asking questions. He was not looking forward to that discussion.
omg the bites ahhhh *W*... lol he can tell Sigurd he ran into a stepper with a bite vibe =w=
(Nah, he'll tell him, he doesn't want to keep any secrets, no matter how embarrassing. Plus it's never a good idea to when you share a psychic link =w= )
Woops. Yea, I guess that's my first thought after playing chronic liars XD
- Frankie silently walks to his closet, It's ridiculously circular, both trying to assure one another, and all that's achieved is the other kicking themselves. Frankie almost laughs. This is idiocy. New tactic. He returns to hand Claud a fresh silk shirt, black dress pants, and purple silk boxers, unfortunately the least inappropriate pair on hand. "These are long enough, but too large. I will have my man bring you ssomething that fits." He locks on the Square's downcast eyes to avoid the telltale bruises. "I am an adult. You will stop feeling guilt this instant, or I swear to god I will hurt you kid." He threatens steadily, businesslike. "Now. It'ss clear what our next step will be. You will shut me out, I will shut you out. We will force you to keep your vibe to yourself."
- When Frankie returns, Claud's still standing in the doorway of the bathroom, feeling lost, feeling like he should be doing something. He looks up, nods, takes the clothes. Claud wasn't expecting the threat though, and couldn't look away, like a deer in the headlights--eyes round and staring. He listened and nodded again, but no more certain how he'd complete that command than if Frankie had asked him to fly. He finally looked down at the clothes he was handed--very fine clothing, reminded him too much of Sigurd's. "I'm gonna go shower now..." he mumbled, not sure why he was saying it, still asking for permission probably.
- Frankie is conflicted. He's good at keeping people at a distance, even his vibe helps achieve isolation. But though he's quite familiar with leaving fear, hurt, and anger in his wake, being connected, forced to empathize with Claud ruins his resolve. "I-I am... Thiss'is the only way- I'm trying to help you goddammit!! You want ta dance with me? We'll have a swell old time like we were before? And in two weeks, or three, or- fuck, there won't be you left, and you'll be suckin the goddamned cock'a the first horny bastard ya run into every day!!!" Frankie roars- Yes, this is second nature. And it's what Claud needs... after all, the words are grounded in truth.
- "That's..." he has to hold onto the doorjamb for support, "That's true..." he's shaken, Frankie was right. He'd gotten off the hard drugs, but he was still an addict, and was still at risk of ruining his life with this vibe addiction of his. Connecting with people, feeling as they felt, hell just feeling at all was wonderful, but if he didn't control it, it would control him. And then a more disturbing thought hits him: he was behaving the way his sister had been, just before she left, and what Frankie had predicted could very well come true, because that was how she was behaving before she died. Claud had never thought of it in that light before, he couldn't understand her behavior then--it was so foreign to him, but it became apparent to him now just how terribly she had been hurting, and how helpless she had been. And she had been the strong one. Doubt and worse yet, despair, clouds his thoughts, he couldn't do this, she couldn't--hadn't, he wasn't smart or clever or strong, maybe if Gladys were still alive, but she wasn't, oh god, "I'll think of something." He fights to keep his emotions from showing, ashamed, but he was fooling himself if he thought Frankie wasn't getting every bit of his panic.
- He nearly goes to Claud's side as he collapses- All his intentions of keeping Claud at a distance can't compete with the fact that he's a huge sucker for emotion vibes... He's swept away in it as Claud remembers his twin. No specifics, just the square's intense contemplative, sadness. He had expected the kid to go into a dismissive rage, as with other steppers he'd used his cruel honesty on... Claud not only fails to dismiss, but respectfully takes it as insight. Frankie realizes quite suddenly that he is holding the other man... When had he... ... "We ain't gonna let it get that bad. No more'a what happened here. You ain't weak, jus got a beautiful, powerful vibe ina world that likes ta eat up power and pretty thingss'n turn em nasty. Yer good, 'nd yer vibe'ss good." He's completely failing to detach... But it's not about him, he realizes. Claud has to do it for himself. All his electrical outrages would not change that. "Don't lose hope... please. I need ya not to." He chokes. "Shower, or don't. I'll order ya some clothes and breakfast."
- Claud is surprised but grateful for Frankie's support, he was literally going weak in the knees. He takes deep, shaky breaths and tries to regain some sense of composure. He listens to what Frankie was saying, tried to focus on his words, to stop himself from panicking. He screws his eyes shut, nods, and forces himself to stand. He nods again, stands on his own. "Okay. Thank you." He meant it. "Thank you." Because he couldn't say 'I'm sorry.' He takes the clothes and disappears into the bathroom, closing the door as quietly as possible.
- Frankie's sour stomach turns when Claud thanks him, but manages to offer a thin smile. Withdrawing was not the answer, for once in his life, but what else is there? Frankie makes a quick call. Food, clothes, the necessities for Claud are covered. Leaving the hard stuff... Frankie tries to plan... It's so much better, contemplating that rather than what he'd done... Unwillingly, his eyes slide to the couch. He'd made the kid powerful, promised him a better life... Frankie'd known all along it was a lie. Power equating happiness?? Claud was more vulnerable than ever, after what Frankie's done to him, and he'd taken advantage... Frankie rubs his face in frustrated disgust.
- Claud strips and plunges under the hot water, the relief in his sore muscles contrasted with the deep remorse he was now feeling. Hindsight, 20/20. A tiny sniffle or pathetic gasp was all he let escape as he cried, but unless you were listening very closely you wouldn't have heard a thing. He honestly isn't upset about last night's events specifically, although they were unfortunate, and he has no idea how to talk to Sigurd about it. He's embarrassed and sorrowful about being the weaker twin, about not having been there for Gladys during the Dance War, about his inability to see it her way, for all his empathic abilities, when she was upset, confused, and begging for help. Once he finally surfaces from his self-loathing he notices the background hum that could be felt, and almost heard even without the connection, that meant that Frankie was upset. He quickly finishes washing, towels off and dresses, tying his wet hair back in a simple ponytail and folding his old clothes neatly. It was no big deal, buying new ones, but spendthrift habits die hard. He noisily opens the door, wanting to give Frankie as much warning as possible. The shirt hung off his shoulders almost comically, but the boxers and trousers weren't too terribly loose. Everything was very comfortable though, and it was nice just being washed and in fresh clothing.
- Frankie cannot hear Claud crying, but he can certainly feel it. He covers his face as the misery and guilt threaten to drown him. Only thing for it- do something. Frankie begins cleaning the mess in they had made. Quietly, he pours all thought into making the place spotless once more.. but it's interrupted by a sharp pain from their vague connection- Sigurd. God. GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HIM?! And his twin... Frankie's just like all the other assholes out there, taking advantage of this vibe... Made the kid hate himself for being so beautiful and caring..! The warning gives him time to wipe his eyes clear of any traitorous wetness. Claud comes out looking clean, even innocent, in that too large outfit. "Food'n clothes'r on the way..." What can he do?? "Look, I was serious. If you do much as think of blamin this on yerself, I'll.." what will he do... He's already done so much to hurt him. Shit. "Food's on it's ways, anyhow.
- Claud just smiles sadly back at Frankie when threatened. He knew it was just Frankie's language. It was okay, that's how his dad talked to him a lot too. Sure enough the other man's resolve fades and he turns away. "It's okay." he smiles, still sad, he knew he couldn't hide that, but in a way glad that they had gotten down deep into the root of some of his problems. Surgery never felt nice and neither did this, but it had to be done in order to heal. "I think, I think I'll be okay. Thank you." he nodded a few times, mostly to himself. "Could I get a glass of water?" he moves towards the kitchen, perfectly happy to get it himself.
- It's not simply Frankie's language. He is a man of violence. He's hurt men for less. But he's not drunk- too drunk- and he does have quite a bit of investment in Claud's well being. Not to mention, the kid reacted perfectly. Pulled at every string Frankie had, in just the right way. How could he possibly be angry at that sad, resigned smile?? Frankie quickly sets aside the broom and beats Claud to the kitchen. He's as bad as the square, without the excuse. He needs to please, is ready to do anything to make the kid happy.
- Claud understands how similar they are, and lets Frankie get him the drink. He sits on one of the tall chairs and nurses the water down, head still pounding. After a few moments of silence he finally speaks up, "You know, I've learned a lot this past day. Maybe not the best way of doin' it but, well, I have learned a lot." He wondered if this was making any sense. He needed Frankie to know that the night's events weren't a total loss, that they had actually made progress. At what cost, he wasn't sure, but at least there was some gain.
- Frankie erupts in laughter when Claud claims to have learned something?? Well, sure. Not to come to Frankie's place, for one, Don't ever take drinks with the mafioso, for two. This list could go on an on.. "Not the best way? God if that ain't the biggest fuckin understatement." But he knows Claud is trying to lighten the mood, and he feel obligated to follow along. "So. What did ya learn, Mister Claud," he asks encouragingly, trying to sound as if it's just another lesson.... Where the fuck's the fellas with the food, he could really use a distraction.
- As Frankie laughs Claud simply sits there, trying not to emote one way or another, his headache still persistently hammering on the back of his eyeballs. He has to remind himself that this is just how Frankie deals with feeling distressed, he shouldn't take it personally. "Well, fer one thing I now know that alcohol, or anything that lowers my inhibitions, makes me more susceptible to losing control; I know, this should have been obvious, especially on accounta my dad bein' an alcoholic, shoulda known' I'd be at risk for the same thing. So no more drinks, at least until I can get this under control.
"I will never be the dominant personality in any situation, it's simply contrary to my nature, so instead of trying to change that, I'll have to work with it. I'm starting to suspect that meditation will be a good place to start, and maybe also a serious examination of Buddhist principles. I can't be moved if I'm grounded.
"An' I think my sister was right, she suspected that our vibe causes us to be polyamorous. I've always fought against this on account of my thinkin' it was just a way of excusin' promiscuity, but if it's true then I gotta figure out how ta' deal with it, can't keep pretendin it ain't a part of me."
Claud comes out of his cold, calculating place and returns to his former exhausted warmth. "Just theories for now, anyway."
- Frankie, eyes downcast, listens to Claud, remembering his resolve half a year ago to quit. Before he realized, regardless the consequences, life was too hard that way. Well... was sobriety worse than this mess? ...yes. Worse than being killed by a low level UG bastard's trick? ....yes. And then Claud says something startling. "Does it matter, yer parents drinking?" Too surprised to hide his ignorance in time. Erk- "Ok. Yea. If you think ya can stay off the bottle, that's fantastic. Just- don't try cold turkey, right?" He says confidently. He knows about that... But the truth is, he's floundering, simply trying to keep up. Meditation? Buddhism? Frankie's completely out of his depth. Er- Kid's still talking. Polyamorous? Solid ground. "Look, lovin lotsa people, that ain't no crime..." Another of Poppy's mantras- served him very well- Wait. Wait... Frankie pauses as the weight of what Claud's said actually sinks in. Despite everything else, he actually sparkles when he realizes just how much of a breakthrough this is. Claud is figuring out what is part of him. Just a theory?? Hah. "It's.. 's'a good one." He feels a glimmer of hope for the first time since waking up.
- Claud answers the question, without condescension or judgement. "Yeah, when my dad went in for rehab the counselor sat down with our family and talked about genetics and um, "predisposition" towards alcohol abuse and not handling alcohol well, I don't remember much--I was pretty young--but it scared me when she said that I'd probably be like him and I should be careful." he bites his lip and looks down, embarrassed. "I thought I could get away with it, but when it came down to it, I dealt with the hurt just like my dad did." When Frankie warns him against a sudden stop, he nods. He'd been virtually living in vendies ever since he stopped his substance abuse, it was almost more than he could take.
He smiles when Frankie assures him he isn't just rationalizing, that it was possible to truly love many people. He smiles again, wider, his headache easing up a bit when Frankie actually sparkles. Oh if he had enough people to love him he would probably never need to eat or drink or sleep, just live forever sustained on their approval. "Thanks." he speaks softly back, too tired to offer apologies for his seemingly random ideas, too pleased to ruin this mercifully painless moment.
- Frankie listens intently. Sure, he'd been worried that he'd be like his dad when he drank, that's why he didn't touch the stuff for so many years... But it wasn't the case in the end, and anyways, that was just... logic, not... genetics and... science. But Claud sounds pretty sure about it all. Frankie looks at the pile of bottles on his carpet. His parent's fault? Uh. Frankie looks slightly stunned, but tries to keep up. "W-well, yer doin ok now, ain't ya?" ...Last night was not ok. He rubs his pounding skull, filled with conflicted feelings. But Claud's smile does wonders. His headache even seems to fade a bit. God, Poppy always knew what to say. Frankie sighs and glows at Claud in a half-awkward, half-comfortably silence. Interrupted by a rhythmic knock on the door. A jolt of panic- Frankie isn't remotely presentable- and the mafioso goes to his door. Breakfast and Claud sized clothes are waiting.
- Before Claud can respond, there's a knock at the door and he turns away, not wanting whoever it was working for Mr. Valentine to see him. He didn't figure mafia underlings would ask questions, but just in case. Maybe he'd even look like a girl from behind... He starts to seriously re-consider what he was going to tell Sigurd, and what he was not. On the one hand he didn't want to keep any secrets between them. On the other hand he didn't want to make Frankie look bad. He still wasn't sure what Frankie and Sigurd's relationship was, but he'd hate to jeopardize it. It was one thing to make up his mind about himself, it was another to make it up when his decision involved another person. Suddenly Frankie was at his side, food in hand. "Oh-th-thanks." This gave him an idea--it was a start at least.
- Frankie drops a plate of fruit and cheese at Claud's side and sets the clothes on a chair. He can feel Claud wondering about something.... no specifics, at least. God, he'd like to be alone in his own head for just a moment... "Ah... gonna wash up. You get some'a that inya, alright." He gestures to the food, his mind elsewhere, as he leaves Claud at the table alone without properly seeing that he's all set. Close the door, horrible sticky clothes off, shower on. Thank you lord.
- Now that Claud could actually see what it was--"Oh man, thanks." he repeats with a little more enthusiasm. He was afraid it was gonna be all fried and greasy stuff, this he had a chance of keeping down. Only when he sets in to eat does he realize how well Frankie'd been taking care of him, denying himself of fresh clothes and a shower. His first instinct is to feel guilt, he stops that right quick and turns it positive: admiration at Frankie's self sacrifice. Then he focuses down on his meal and nursing some food into his empty stomach, letting his mind drift into that happy place where no thoughts were had, and no intrusions made.
- Frankie's vibe goes crazy again, dancing joyfully in the water, a contrast to the haggard stepper. He lets the noise of static and water envelope him, unspeakably grateful as the filth washes away. Is this going to be... ok? Despite the impossibility of it, the thought does cross his mind... Just a mistake. People made mistakes like that all the time, a few too many drinks, didn't mean they're gay or nothin... And Claud isn't scared or angry... though there's clearly dread, though not of Frankie. He'll ask after.... Frankie sighs as the water runs over him. He just wants to stop thinking, but the kid had just thrown some disconcerting ideas at him- He can't do anything right now with the kid's attraction, but the alcohol thing... Was it really only a matter of time before he turned into Frank? That could never happen, he won't let it. Though... he's done some things on the job... maybe it's already happened... He tugs at his hair miserably, and Claud's positive feelings trickle on in. Frankie finishes. A quick shave, fresh clothes. When he opens the door, he feels much less like he wants to die.
- The background static of Frankie's thoughts, combined with the food, and how totally exhausted he was--Claud starts to doze. He fully intended to start cleaning up while Frankie was in the shower (he knew Frankie'd never let him help otherwise), at least help to undo some of the mess he'd helped to make, but here he was, nodding off in his breakfast. He hears the door open and he looks up, confused, disoriented. It takes a moment before it registers where he is and who that is. He stretches with a few pops and realizes he hasn't changed into the better fitting clothes yet. "I um, mm musta' nodded off." he mumbles, rubbing at his face. He doesn't make any move to get up though, so tired.
- Frankie prepares mentally for questioning Claud as he rubs his hair dry. Can't let the square squirm out'a it, if the kid's dread has something to do with his vibe, Frankie needs to know.... The kids asleep. Tired. Of course the poor guy's tired... Probably got'a hangover the size'a purple district... and who knew when they'd actually slept? As he tries to recall any detail of last night, he's overwhelmed with sudden vague confusion- Where was- isn't this- Claud speaks. Just vibe. Just vibe. It's ok. He's gettin what the kid is- "Yer Claud. Partner dancer, got'a lovely connection vibe, and don't you forget it, mister," he smiles softly- and stifles a sudden yawn. "An'it looks like you could use'a bit more shuteye. I can call ya a car, but I do got'a bed if ya need." His smile becomes a bit fixed. He's being hospitable, not... suggestive.
- Claud smiles back, relieved that Frankie seemed be speaking to him on less formal terms. "I'm um. Hmm. I'm getting used to this--being tired all the time I mean, 's been like this alla this month and mosta last." He shrugs a shoulder like falling asleep on his feet all the time is no big deal, "But I really should get home as soon as possible, thank you for the offer though." a hint of dread again, uncertain worry. Home. What a mess he'll find there.
- "That... well that ain't right, is that new too?" He asks, forgetting that he's trying to lay off, let the poor kid be. He's essentially a battery, it rubs him wrong when people are tired...Unbidden, his vibe creeps towards Claud. He spots it- No. Bad. Stop that. "Ah. I'll call ya a car, we'll discuss next practice-" The dread. It hits him rather hard, suddenly Frankie wants to just lock himself away and hide in a bottle rather than deal with everything- "CLAUD- God-" He wipes sweat from his otherwise clean skin- "Ok. Ok just. Tell me what's goin on with you." His voice is level, but he is shaken.
- When the feeling bounces back to him it's been amplified, and he grips the edge of the chair, heart suddenly racing, "S-sorry--!" he screws his eyes shut against the pain and forces deep lungfuls of breath in and out. Keep it together Claud, come on. "Sorry..." he mumbles again as soon as the feeling subsides a little. He swivels on the chair to better face Frankie, looking at the floor, hands clasped together. "I'm um. I'm worried. About, about havin' to explain myself to my um," his mouth moves a little as he tries to figure out the right word, "to my lover." And then he concentrates on not thinking, not feeling anything at all, if possible
- He feels the backlash hit Claud- ughh- god- Ok if they're gonna get through this Frankie has to keep it together, not let the vibe do this to him and therefor the kid. Frankie plucks the vodka bottle from where he'd left it. A quick gulp cuts through the feelings. And Claud seems to have it under control. "Jus shu'dup, alright. It's fine." Frankie tries to sound composed, but his heart is still pounding, and hi vibe is again creeping back towards the square with his barely hidden concern. ".....What?" ...What. "Why in God's name would you do that??" He spikes in panic- ok, Claud understood that they'd both been drunk, accidents, hahaha- but someone else?? Knowing about this??? About his horrid urges?? "You don't need ta do that, Claud. You shouldn't do that," he says with a hint of a warning
- Claud stares back at Frankie, shocked, scared, trying to suss which feelings were his own and which ones weren't. "Wh--what, you, you mean not, not tell him?" It felt wrong. Not to mention futile. "I'm I'm--we've connected, he might find out anyhow. I don't think he'll be mad, we're not real serious or--" No. Stupid. This wasn't about himself. He grimaces, "This isn't fair to you at all. I'll take the blame, tell him, tell'im most of the truth." Lies by omission. "Blame anything else on, on dreams." His stomach twisted, it felt so wrong.
- Frankie had nearly killed other men for even mentioning that he'd flirted with them while drunk- This?? THIS?? Frankie's gentle, affectionate vibe turns nasty- still not a problem for Claud, of course, but Frankie's expression hints that that is something that can be remedied. "I mean don't fuckin tell NO one about what may'er may not'a happened here, kid. I know you ain't deaf." Claud's fear- it's subtle, mixing seamlessly with Frankie's own. They're going to know. Everyon'es gonna see, he's a filthy faggot, and then it's all over. "Blame- Goddamnit, that doesn't- That's got nothin ta do with it- FUCK!" Frankie slams the bottle down next to Claud. "You wan't fair? Then shut yer goddamned mouth, boy," he hisses at the square, covered in electricity.
- Claud flinches away from the sound of the bottle and looks up, his gaze locking with Frankie's, couldn't look away. The feeling from the night previous came creeping back--yer gonna die Claud, no one to hear you scream, won't find the body--"Don't you got nobody?" he whispers, eyes shifting left and right, as if looking for something. It broke his heart to see Frankie like this, hating himself, angry, alone, denying himself of loving company just because they happened to have the wrong chromosomes.
- It's still so much harder, keeping this up while connected to the source of his rage. Even as the red fury pounds in his skull, the trickle of Claud's emotions steadily slithers in. Staring into Claud's eyes, feeling the sense of mortal peril. He sees himself, how he must look... he's not gonna kill the square, who is he kidding? But he can't have people thinking he's-! Claud's words sever his thoughts like a knife. "I- I have-" Poppy- no. Nono-NO. Frankie steps back. Bella- NO. Vivi. But. "It's completely different-" he desperately, vaguely protests. But.. but Poppy said that kinda thing was ok... Poppy is dead. It's just him and his filth, and he's not going to bring himself to hurt the little bastard that's radiating pity, of all the fucking things, so why is he even bothering here?? " There will be a car waiting for you. Get out."
- He doesn't argue, doesn't make any brave motions to comfort the other man. He grabs his shoes and runs like the yellow coward he was. He doesn't try for the elevator, instead opting for the stairs, which he leaps down, two and three at a time. He stumbles hard a few flights down and smacks into the concrete landing wall. He sinks into a corner, rubbing at his face, but the tears won't stop coming. He slaps a hand over his mouth, god no he's in an apartment building, he can't have a freakout here. He puts on his shoes, fingers feeling thick and clumsy, forgetting how to tie a bow for a few moments. Finally he just settles for a tangled mess and presses his face against the cool wall, body gently convulsing with the contained sobs. Couldn't save Gladys, can't save Frankie, gonna lose Sigurd... he screws his eyes shut and puts everything he has into creating a barrier, a wall, anything, god, please, make it stop--!
- Frankie can feel the kid long after he's left the apartment- He finds himself weeping uncontrollably along with the square. What had he done??? The kid was trying to be kind and he'd just- gone and, done what he always did- He tries to contain the hurt that he had caused- holding himself, trying to be stronger. What kind of a man cried like this?? Goddammit- Frankie howls miserably into his arms. Even as the square feels more distant, the convulsing wont stop. He tries to take a gulp of the liquor to drown out the feelings, but can't get it down amidst the sobs. Blinded by tears, Frankie manages to crawl to a wire, gonna go up, far away from this place- when he hits a mental wall, sending him sprawling. He sparks and weeps, but... was that.... Frankie fingers the wire almost reverently.... Claud. It was what he'd needed to keep him out.... Frankie smiles weakly. It's far too much for him to deal with. He plunges into the grid.
- Claud gasps in a shaky breath--it, it worked? He waits a moment, two, breathing hard, waiting in the silence--ah there it was. The barrier flickered, threatened to fail, he stands up and hurries to the elevator, gotta get outta here fast. He tucks in the too-large shirt, tries to not look like a completely disheveled mess, for Frankie's sake. He looked up, wanting to know if he'd be okay, simultaneously not wanting to know for fear of only feeling guilty for not being there, for not having done differently. The door dings and he walks into the lobby, gets out the door as fast as he could without outright running. There, indeed, is a car waiting for him.
- The floor drops out from under him and the walls fall away. Suddenly it's all too bright to bare, but beautifully so, like seeing heaven and the angels and the pearly gates, and Frankie is gone. He can't feel Claud - can't even remember Claud. There's too much going on up here. He's overwhelmed, and that's what he'd needed. Frankie sits against his apartment wall, saved, for a time.