Summary: Huh. I don't think this is what "actually" happened... but it was a nice idea to write, anyway. :) Plausibility means nothing.
Justin doesn’t go back to his and Daphne’s apartment, not immediately.
Cody had given him a ride out to Hobbes’ house, and after what happened, obviously he has to walk home. It suits him fine, though. It's a long way, but maybe he can catch a bus, use the time to get his head sorted.
He's not sure he can face anyone he knows right away, anyway. There's too much going on in his brain – or too little, he's not sure. For the first time in weeks, months, Justin’s mind is completely clear of forethought, past nightmares, lingering pain, and most of all, the anger...
No. He’ll think about what isn’t there later.
Justin can’t help but feel a sense of dread. He can’t tell if all of it is really gone, all the bad stuff, really and truly, for good, or if the relief is just temporary.
It can’t be erased, just like that. Just by another random homophobe shitting his pants.
For countless blocks, as he passes from the suburban streets back into the taller and grayer city, he walks carefully, feeling like if he jostles himself too hard all those old things will come crashing in again.
But Justin keeps walking. He’s never really done that before. He's just walking, with no destination in mind. It's kind of nice. He feels alone, but at the same time, it's like he's part of everything. The stars are out, and the air feels crisp and clean.
Justin reaches downtown, and sits down on a bench. He has no idea what time it iss, but it's probably getting pretty late. Daphne will be worried.
But no. It isn’t time to go home, not yet.
Justin catches a bus to the Marriott, and goes into the lobby. There's a girl behind the counter wearing a green vest and a tie. She's chewing gum and looking utterly bored.
“Hey,” says Justin, but it comes out hoarsely, so he tries again. “Hey.”
The girl looks up, startled. “Oh. How can I help you?” She raises an eyebrow and glances at him up and down. He must look pretty frazzled.
Justin tries the old stand-by – shameless flirtation. “Yeah,” he says with a wide grin, which is surprisingly easy to pull off, “I have a really weird question, but it’s really important. Do you mind?”
The girl shrugs, smiling back. “Sure, what’s the question?”
“Do you have a specific ballroom, someplace here, where you would host high school proms?”
She looks at him strangely. “Huh?”
“It was a couple of years ago now,” Justin says, “But I came to a prom here, and I don’t remember any of it, and I just... I just really need to see the room.”
He enters the wide, dimly lit space, and he doesn’t see any shadows.
No memories come rushing back, no glorious flashes of Brian looking hot, nothing about their dance, or the love of all of it, or the music or even what color Daphne’s dress was.
But it’s the room, and maybe it means something, and at the same time, maybe it doesn’t mean shit.
Justin crosses the room slowly, until he reaches the center, then he just squats down and traces one of the scuffed laminate wooden tiles. The clerk-girl eyes him from the open door, arms crossed, probably itching to get back to her chewing gum.
Justin closes his eyes, and the floor is cool against his fingertips.
He was here.
And it doesn’t hurt, that thought, and even though Justin’s not nearly ready to visit the hotel’s parking garage, especially not in the middle of the night, he feels like he can breathe again and not worry about falling apart.
He feels strong, and not in the way he’s been feeling these past few weeks, but in an entirely new way.
Maybe the Posse, and Cody, did help him. And he proved something tonight by facing Chris Hobbes, even if he’s not entirely sure what it was.
He remembers Cody screaming, remembers how he didn’t even hear the words, how his thoughts started scattering and careening away like dozens of trains, how he could only hear the clack of the wheels on the tracks next to the yard.
He can feel the softness of Hobbes’ mouth like his own hand was the barrel of the gun, remembers wanting to push harder, pull the trigger, make him pay.
He made Chris Hobbes afraid.
And then he’d made Chris Hobbes go inside his house and lock the doors behind him.
There’s no going back from this point.
Justin nods to himself, traces the grain of the floor again, thinks randomly This is my right hand, and straightens up.
“Thanks for your help,” he tells the girl. “I really can’t thank you enough, you’re a complete lifesaver.”
Justin isn’t exhausted, not at all, and that’s probably a good thing. He wouldn’t be able to deal with Daphne if he were incoherent. Hell, he might not be able to deal with her anyway, but every small thing helps.
His legs are sore and aching, and his gimp hand is starting to cramp. He thinks for a moment how hellish it’ll be to patrol tomorrow night, then thinks, oh wait.
Justin gets his keys out of his pocket and unlocks the door. He pauses a second before opening it, because he can hear Daphne’s voice on the other side. She must be on the phone.
The moment he steps in, Daphne squeaks and says “Oh my god,” tossing the phone down on the couch and leaping over to him.
“Are you okay?” she says. “Shit, shit, Justin, are you okay?”
Justin nods. “I’m fine, Daph, really.”
She hugs him for a minute, and takes a step back, surveying him up and down. She nods and cocks her head to the side. “Did you kill him?”
Justin gapes. “Fuck, Daph, how can you even ask that?”
Daphne laughs, letting the nervousness visibly flow off her, relief taking its place. “Hey, you poophead, you knew I was gonna ask.” She pauses and gets an Oh shit look on her face, and without a word, whirls around, grabs the phone off the couch, and drops it in Justin’s hand.
“Daph, what –“ Justin hears the faint voice coming from the cordless phone, and says “Fuck, Daphne, you didn’t –“
Daphne shrugs, and Justin puts the phone to his ear.
“ – ck you, you little cunt, where the hell did you go? Is he there? Is he – Daphne!” Brian is yelling, and Justin cuts into his tirade.
“Brian?” he says, and the line falls abruptly silent.
“Brian,” says Justin, “I’m home, and I’m fine. So I’m guessing Daphne told you about Cody’s latest plan, huh?” He can’t bring himself to be pissed at her for that.
He can hear Brian breathing. “Put Daphne on,” he says abruptly.
Justin says, “What?”
“Put Daphne on,” Brian repeats. “And –“ He pauses and doesn’t continue.
“I love you,” says Justin, because he needs to, and Brian needs him to, and at the sound of Brian’s shuddery sigh, he hands the phone to Daphne.
“Mmhmm,” Daphne says after a moment, face intent. “Mmmhmm. Right. Got it. Okay. No... yeah. Yeah. Okay, bye.”
Daphne hangs up and goes to the fridge. She opens the freezer and pulls out three or four half-finished tubs of ice cream, and piles them in a plastic grocery bag. Then she stalks over to the TV and grabs Justin’s battered VHS copy of Yellow Submarine, and something that looks suspiciously like a rented DVD of Gladiator.
“Grab any junk food you can, like those chips and the left-over salsa,” says Daphne, “and a change of clothes. We’re going to Brian’s for the night and I don’t want to hear a word out of you, mister.” From her tone and posture, she looks like she’d be waggling a finger at him a la Debbie if she didn’t have both hands full.
Justin just stares at her for a second, and she stares right back.
“Yeah, I told him. I asked him to talk you out of it,” she says finally. “And he said no. That it had to be your deal. But I still don’t think you should have gone, okay? So fuck you. Asshole. And when we get to Brian’s, you’re going to tell us everything...” she inhales deeply and breaks the stare. “Or, I dunno, we’ll do something really mean. We’ll tickle you. A lot.”
Justin smiles. “So, the left-over salsa, and what about that onion-flavored bean dip that’s been in the cabinet for ages?”
Daphne smiles back at him, her eyes suddenly watery. “It’s perfect,” she says, “Brian’ll pitch a fit. Do you think we can -”
The next instant, she’s tossed the ice cream and movies on the couch and she hugs Justin again, harder, burying her face in his neck.
He hugs her back. “Hey, Daph,” he says softly, “The ice cream’s gonna melt,” but he doesn’t let go. Her hair smells like flowery shampoo, and he rests his cheek against the side of her head.
“It’s better that way,” Daphne says, “Well, okay, not really, I hate melted ice cream, but I don’t really care –“
And Justin has to laugh, and soon Daphne is giggling against his throat, and they finally disengage from each other.
“I’m okay,” Justin says again, and Daphne grins.
“Okay,” says Daphne, “Good.”
7 Minutes by Circlesquare
just how long will these days take
waiting for an earthquake
seems one already came
when the buses are electric
you don't gotta be so quick
writing up your name
cause in the plate-glass city here
we build things pretty, dear
they all go down in flames
and all your bleeping and glitching
won't sound so bitchin
if time keeps on the same.
new friends to make
hope you can stay
so we can say
leave the party for a joyride
cause baby time is on our side
or so we'd like to claim
can't believe we've gotta take down
all the dudes who break down
it's something in the rain
and bout your friend in the coffin
babe it don’t happen that often
don’t hang your head in shame
cause all your popping and locking (?)
you rollin and rockin (?)
might still, might still remain.
new friends to make
hope you can stay
so we can say