|The Sudden Visibility of Sound
Author: seventhswan PM
A year after an accident that left him blind, Caid finally has a plan for Getting On With His Life. Unfortunately for him, he didn't leave room for falling in love with his sister's fiancé, who happens to be his new roommate. M/M slash.Rated: Fiction M - English - Chapters: 11 - Words: 41,534 - Reviews: 363 - Favs: 239 - Follows: 365 - Updated: 09-13-12 - Published: 03-26-12 - id: 3008199
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: MyLifeSoundtrack and Sakia Rumei are the best at all the beta things. Any remaining mistakes are on me.
Caid thinks that there's some kind of reset button on the progress of his and Josh's politeness that gets pushed every time they go to sleep, because Friday morning finds him screaming at Josh for letting Caid trip over a pair of shoes that Josh left kicked about in the living room.
"I would have said something, but you told me you needed to figure out where things are," Josh says, laughing when Caid hurls a shoe in his direction only for it thud against the wall. "That was respectably close," Josh says, and Caid makes a noise that sounds like he's going to rip out of his shirt on his change into the Hulk or something.
"When I said that, I obviously meant the permanent things, not the things you decide to leave lying around."
"Ah, well, you need to get used to using your eye stick anyway."
"I hate you," Caid says murderously. "I hate you so much."
"That is incredibly new and shocking information," Josh says, and Caid thinks Tally was having him on when she made it seem like Josh cared at all.
"Don't you have practice to get to?" Caid says.
"Nope," Josh says, "Unfortunately, it's still storming out, as you know."
"Do you have something else to do besides annoy me all day?"
"Now, Caid," Josh says, his footsteps moving into the kitchen. "I know you're nervous about your date with the boy who delivers your sex toys, but there's no need to take it out on me."
"I—" Caid yells, chest heaving on all the things he wants to say. Instead, he just flops down onto the couch and pouts quietly.
"Did you have something to say?" Josh calls, and Caid hears him opening the fridge and poking around inside.
He doesn't answer, because he is an adult, and he will not rise to the bait of someone who sings Rihanna songs in the shower.
It's muggy and hot when Josh drops Caid off at The Chancellor, but at least it's stopped raining. "Have a good time!" Josh calls cheerfully, which only makes Caid angry, since two seconds before getting out of the car, Josh had said, "Wow, a t-shirt and jeans, you sure are dressed to impress," making Caid wish he'd been brave enough to wear something a little nicer.
He grumbles a goodbye and hurries into the lobby of the hotel, eye stick sliding around in front of him. When he gets inside, he calls Eric, who says he'll be down "lickety split." Which is dorky enough to make Caid hide his smile behind his hand.
"Hi!" Eric says, coming up beside Caid and taking his arm in a comforting grip. "I'm glad you're here."
"Yeah, me, too," Caid says, grinning. "Thanks for coming down to get me."
"Oh, sure," Eric says. "I wish I could have picked you up, but we've been really busy. It's opening night, so, you know how that goes."
"Um, yeah," Caid says, even though he doesn't really.
"Ready?" Eric says, keeping his arm looped around Caid's as he leads them forward. Caid nods, his eye stick bumping over the entrance to the elevator. He pulls it close to his body as the doors whiz shut. "So," Eric says, as the elevator dings on each floor they pass. "We'll get up there and I'll seat you at your table. Then I have to get backstage. I'm really sorry this is kind of a crap date—"
"It's not!" Caid says, squeezing Eric's hand. The other boy's cheek rests on Caid's shoulder for a second, and Caid's pulse speeds up.
"Good," Eric says softly, his breath puffing out over Caid's neck. Caid thinks Eric might kiss him now, and his heart starts beating even faster. But then the elevator doors fly open, and Eric steps away saying, "But you can hang out after, right?"
"Sure," Caid says, hoping his disappointment isn't showing on his face.
He lets himself be led out and down a long hall before Eric opens a door in front of him to a flurry of sound. Caid stiffens, clinging to Eric while he gets used to the sudden change in volume, and Eric chuckles a little. "Sorry," he says, "Should've warned you—it's pretty crowded. Here, I'll get you to your table. I hope you're not lonely."
"I'll be okay," Caid says, still embarrassed by his reaction. He tugs away from Eric a little, trying to rely mostly on his eye stick as the other boy leads him down a flight of four stairs and pulls out a chair for him.
"Alright, it's one of those high tables so," Eric guides Caid's hand to the seat of the chair so Caid can feel how much he has to lift before he can sit on it.
"Thanks," Caid says, blush roaring over his cheeks. He wonders if anyone is looking at them.
"Yeah," Eric says, leaning in to give Caid a little hug that goes a long way to improving Caid's mood. "Gotta go. I'll come out during intermission if I can."
"Don't worry if you can't," Caid says, "I don't want to get you in trouble or anything."
"They can't fire me if they're not paying me," Eric says. "Besides, I want to see you. Anyway, shit, the lights are dimming—I have to run."
"Bye," Caid says. As soon as Eric dashes off, Caid realizes he doesn't even know what direction the stage is in, and he hopes Eric has angled him toward it. The back of his neck prickles, and he feels like everyone in the room is staring at him—the blind kid at a play, how sad. He grimaces.
If Tally were here, she'd reassure him that everything is fine, and if Josh were here, he'd tell Caid to quit feeling sorry for himself. Caid tries to do a little bit of both, relieved when the room's noise dies down and the play starts.
Not that he'd ever tell Eric, but the show is pretty boring for Caid. It's just that it relies heavily on unsaid comedy—people getting sucked through vases and wearing funny clothes—so Caid spends most of it chuckling half-heartedly and trying not to fidget too much. A few minutes in, a server sets a plate down in front of him, and Caid wants to ask what's on it, but is too embarrassed to do so. It turns out to be chicken cordon bleu and a salad, which is good, and a distraction from the fact that he has no idea what's happening on stage.
During intermission, someone comes to take his plate away, and he smiles in what he hopes is their direction, and then drops his hands into his lap, refusing to be upset if Eric doesn't show. The volume of the room ratchets up, and he loses himself in it, head bowed and fingers twisting together. He wonders if anyone is talking about him.
There's a squeeze to his shoulder and he flinches away reflexively, gasping a little. "Whoa," Eric says, "Sorry."
He sounds as embarrassed as Caid feels, and Caid sighs, plasters a bright smile on his face, and says, "No, it's my bad." He rubs his shoulder. "How's it going back there?"
"Oh, fine. No major upsets. One of the actor's costumes got snagged on a nail, but it's not a big deal," Eric says, and Caid can hear him pulling out the chair next to him before he climbs into it. Eric's hand covers one of Caid's and squeezes. "You having an okay time?"
Caid smiles. "Definitely." And if it's a little bit of a lie, the way Eric's fingers stroke over his palm more than makes up for it.
"Alright, crap, I have to run. I'll meet you here after."
"Okay," Caid says, trying to hold in his sigh as Eric hurries away.
The rest of the play passes slowly, but Caid gets through it by convincing himself that he is going to kiss the hell out of Eric later, and that it will be the fireworks kind, because he hasn't kissed anyone since before his accident, so he feels like the universe owes him a really good one.
He imagines cupping his hand over Eric's cheek and backing him against the wall of the elevator. Murmuring something really sexy before leaning in and brushing his lips over Eric's, which will be plush and wet, just a tease before diving in and committing to it, slicking his tongue over Eric's until the other boy is clutching onto him and sighing.
It'll be that kind of kiss; Caid is sure of it.
When the show is finally (finally) over, Caid kicks his foot impatiently against his chair as people shuffle around him, chattering about the show. He feels like he waits forever before he hears, "Caid, I'm here."
He smiles, hops out of his seat and says, "Hey." His pulse starts jackrabbiting when Eric puts his arm around him first thing. Maybe he won't have to initiate anything after all. "You were great! Or—I mean, I'm assuming. Nobody out here was complaining about shoddy scene changes or anything."
Eric laughs like he's surprised, like he finds Caid genuinely funny and he hadn't expected to. It makes Caid's cheeks heat pleasantly.
"Well thank you," he says. "It's my job to shimmy the actors through the human-eating vase, so, you know, I'm a pretty big deal."
He flexes his hand over the small of Caid's back and Caid grins and shuffles closer. "So, what, do you need to stick around an pass out autographs?"
"Nah," Eric says, "I pre-sign them and they sell 'em in the gift shop."
"Seriously?" Caid says, eyebrows climbing up his forehead.
"No," Eric says, laughing. "Why? Would you have bought one?"
Caid pouts. "Yeah right. As your date, I'd expect one for free."
"Here," Eric says, tugging Caid's program out of his hands. "Hey, Nia, come here. Do you have a pen?"
"It's possible," a voice says. "But you have to tell me who this hottie is first."
"Oh, jeez, Ni, don't be a jerk."
A cool hand grips his hand and shakes it enthusiastically. "I don't think cutie-pops here thinks I'm being a jerk, do you sweetheart?"
"Um," Caid says. "No?"
"Good. I'm Nia. I hostess here."
"Oh, that's cool," Caid says, leaning back into Eric's hand, which is still warm on his back. It's not that he wants to be rude, but she's a bit…overwhelming, and all he really wants is some alone time with Eric.
"This is Caid," Eric says helpfully, and Caid smiles in his direction.
"Oh!" Nia squeals, "You're the reason Eric's been on cloud nine all week."
Caid feels himself blushing, and Eric goes stiff behind him. "Right, can I please borrow a pen?"
"God, you're so cute, both of you. Red as lobsters. Anyway, here—a pen, sir."
"She a friend of yours?" Caid asks when he can hear her chattering from a safe distance away.
"Um," Eric says, "I guess. I mean, she goes to school with me, but I never actually see her unless we're here. She's cool, though."
"Huh," Caid says, laughing when Eric puts his program back in his hands.
"There you are, autographed and everything."
"I should probably have this framed," Caid says.
"Oh no question," Eric says. "I'm on the cusp of fame, so, I mean the value of that thing is going to sky rocket any day now. Although, frankly, I'd be offended if you hawked our second date memorabilia."
"I would never," Caid says, leaning into Eric, wanting to be kissed, willing to look a bit desperate if that's what it takes.
But then, "Lover boys! We're all meeting on the roof for an after party. You're coming right?"
"Want to?" Eric says softly, and damn it, his voice is so close to Caid's mouth, Caid knows they would have kissed if Nia hadn't opened her big mouth. Caid already has a clear picture of what she must look like in his head. She's probably one of those girls who wears scarves "from Europe" and glasses that look like she stole them from her grandfather or something. Also, he imagines she has huge buckteeth and bushy eyebrows.
He sighs and shrugs. "If you do."
"It's kind of a tradition," Eric says, and Caid wants to kick something, but he can hear the traces of guilt in Eric's voice, so he doesn't say anything. It's possible he's too wound up, and that he should just call Tally to come get him—let Eric have a good time with his friends and try this again another time. "We don't have to though."
"No," Caid says, forcing a smile. "It'll be fun."
"Okay," Eric says, and Caid can hear he's enthusiastic about it, probably smiling wide and happy. It makes him feel like an ass for being so grumpy, so he tries to knock it off.
He reaches for his eye stick and bumps his hip into Eric's. "You ready?"
"Yep," Eric says, taking his hand. "The elevator will take us to the top floor, and then we have to climb a flight of stairs to get to the roof."
"Alright," Caid says, nervousness swirling in his gut. He maybe should have paid attention to the whole "roof" thing before agreeing to this. The idea of being so exposed up there and not being able to see anything is kind of terrifying.
Once they're actually there, it becomes less "kind of terrifying" and progresses into full-blown distress. He clings onto Eric immediately, not caring about how embarrassed he might feel looking back on his later. "Um," he says, "I think—could we sit down?"
"Sure," Eric says, pressing him onto a bench and settling down next to him.
Caid wishes he had a wall at his back, or some kind of hint at how far he was from the edge. Is there a lip or does the building just drop off with no warning? He takes a deep breath and swallows. "So," he says, "Who all is here?"
"Most of the backstage people. The actual actors have their own thing. Um, well, Nia's here, I'm sure you can hear her."
And yeah, Caid can. She's crowing about her top five celebrities she'd like to sleep with. "I mean, Michael Fassbender is obviously my top choice," she says. "But it gets tricky when I get to four and five, because on the one hand, it's Natalie Portman, you know—you can't just relegate her to number five. She went to Harvard. But then, I also can't leave Robert Downey, Jr. down there. He's Ironman." She sighs like this is something that keeps her up at nights. Caid rolls his eyes.
"Do you have a top-five list?" he asks Eric, smirking and elbowing him gently.
Eric laughs. "Is she talking about that again?" Caid nods. "Well, hmm, I think I'd have to think about it. What about you?"
Caid shrugs, "I don't really keep up with stuff like that, I guess."
"Yeah, I don't know, pop-culture? Josh is always giving me a hard time about it. He works at a high school, so he says he knows all the celebrity gossip and stuff so he can relate to his students, but I think he's just really into it." In fact, anything Caid does know about who's who for his generation is what he's learned from Josh. Just last week, Josh came home talking about how Ryan Gosling had saved a woman from being hit by a taxi, and when Caid had said, "Is that the guy that's gonna be in the new Spiderman movie?" Josh had gasped like he was actually affronted, and made Caid sit through Lars and the Real Girl, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and The Notebook all in a row. Caid thinks that if Josh had a top-five list, Ryan Gosling would definitely be on it.
"He sounds fun," Eric says, like he's confused about what he's supposed to say.
Caid winces. "Not really. Anyway, um, so you're still in class over the summer, then?"
"Yeah," Eric says, "I'm a molecular and cellular biology major, which is like—well, they don't have a pre-med program, so I'm trying to get a lot of gen-eds done so I can focus on taking the required classes for med schools on the West Coast."
"Wow," Caid says. "I wouldn't have guessed you'd want to be a doctor."
"No?" Eric says.
"Oh," Caid blushes. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded. I just—I only know about your theatre stuff, so." He twists his hands together in his lap.
Eric laughs. "No worries. I just really like theatre. Plus, extra-curriculars never hurt anybody's CV." Caid laughs nervously, feeling out of his depth. He never went to college. He'd planned to, but then the accident had happened, and he hasn't really thought about going back. He guesses it's something he'll have to think about soon—either that or finding a job, but both of those things make his stomach roil uncomfortably, so he pushes the thoughts aside. "Anyway," Eric is saying, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Uh," Caid says, "I don't know." The truth is, he used to sort of want to be an air traffic controller. He's always felt the best when he's dealing with the stress of something not directly related to him, when feelings don't matter, but numbers and weather patterns and plane parts. Plus, they make a hell of a lot of money, which never hurts.
"Oh," Eric says, when it becomes apparent that Caid isn't going to add anything to that. Caid feels bad about making this awkward, but he really can't think of anything he wants to do with his life other than just get through it.
The wind whips around, and Caid huddles against Eric, still half-petrified, but unwilling to admit it. He really wishes he knew how far from the edge they were, because it feels like he might be sitting right on it, legs dangling out over traffic. Eric puts his arm around Caid's lower back, fingers toying with the belt loop at Caid's hip. Caid turns his head, and right before Eric kisses him, Caid knows it's going to happen, and he sort of wishes it wouldn't, because he's scared, and annoyed, and he feels like a loser next to this pre-med student with a CV and a plan to move to the West Coast.
The kiss is chaste and close-mouthed, sweet noise when they separate. "Oh," Eric says, like he's surprised even though he's the one that initiated it. "Um."
"Again?" Caid says, putting his hand on Eric's thigh and angling to face him.
Eric kisses him again, their lips clinging together, dry on the outside and wet as Caid sucks on Eric's bottom lip. He doesn't really know what to do with his hands, because it's not really the type of kiss where they grip on and tug, so he just lets them set on Eric's legs awkwardly. It's not anything like he imagined earlier. There's no overwhelming urge to lick into Eric's mouth. No tingling lips and rapid breathing. When he sighs, it's not the kind of sigh he'd thought it would be.
Nia catcalls them, startling them apart, and Caid draws his hands back into his lap. Down on the street, a horn blares, and Caid flinches again, so annoyed it's hard to remember what just happened. Eric laughs uncomfortably and says, "I should probably get you home, huh?"
"Yeah," Caid says, unable to keep the frown off his face. "I'm kind of beat."
The car ride home is a blur of embarrassment, with Eric chattering about the fact that they've got two shows on Saturdays and Sundays, and he really misses having weekends free, not to mention how it cuts back on his hours at UPS. He pulls into the driveway and turns the car off. "I had a good time tonight," Eric says softly, and Caid nods and tries to smile, but he's sure it looks more like a grimace than anything.
"Me, too," he says. "I hope we can, uh, do it again sometime."
"Yeah," Eric says, and there's a squeak of leather as he shifts to kiss Caid on the cheek. And that, of everything else that's happened tonight, is the worst—a clear dismissal. Caid balls his hands into fists. "I'll call you."
"Okay," he says, proud of his voice for staying level and somewhat upbeat. "Later."
His eye stick skids along the walkway to the front door and he lets himself in, closing the door behind him and leaning on it, the anxiety he's been barely keeping at bay all night crashing in on him. He sighs angrily at himself, and starts up the stairs, letting his hand slip over the wall to guide him. He feels sick to his stomach, and just wants to let Tally hold him and tell him all the embarrassing things that have happened in her dating life, but he's sure she's asleep by now, curled up next to the only boyfriend she's ever had. Caid wishes he were that lucky, sometimes. There's something to be said for shared history—for having someone who's known you since you were young and still likes you anyway.
He goes into the kitchen for a glass of water, trying to be quiet, because the rest of the house is, but when he turns on the faucet, he hears Josh startle from the living room.
"Caid?" he says, clearing his throat of sleep.
"Yeah, sorry. Why are you out here?"
"Oh," Josh says, "I uh, must've just fallen asleep or something. How was your date?"
"Fine," Caid says, gulping down water as an excuse not to say more. "Where's Tally?"
"In bed," Josh says, and Caid hears him settle back onto the couch.
"Um, don't you want to go to bed, too?" When Josh doesn't answer, Caid puts his glass in the sink and walks to the couch, curling his hands over the back of it. "Josh?"
"I'm actually sleeping out here," Josh says, and his voice sounds so tired, Caid feels sorry for him for a second.
His flash of sympathy doesn't last long though, because Tally would have had to be really angry to make Josh sleep out here. "What'd you do this time?" he asks, pouring all his anger from the night into the question.
Josh sighs. "Go to bed, Caid." The couch shifts as Josh rolls over, and Caid doesn't know if he's moved to face him or to put his back to him. Either way, he doesn't care. He wants to push because he can, because he's been holding back all night, because Josh can take it.
"You're an asshole," Caid spits. "Whatever you did to my sister, I'm going to find out about it."
Josh scoffs, and there's a breeze in front of Caid's face as he sits up, his breath panting out over Caid's cheek. His hand curls tight around Caid's wrist, and Caid hisses in pain, struggles to pull away. "Listen, you ungrateful child," Josh whispers, and it's like all the air has been sucked out of the room, panicked tears springing to Caid's eyes. "I'm not in the mood to indulge your self-absorbed bullshit right now, okay?"
He lets go of Caid's wrist like it's making him sick to be holding it at all, and Caid cradles it to his chest, which is heaving as he stumbles out of the room to his own.
Caid huddles under his covers, stomach aching and pulse fluttering. As he lies there, trying to think of a way to calm his breathing, he can't stop running through the bad moments of the night, playing them over and over until he's cringing and covering his face with his hands. The worst of it is Josh's voice—low and spiteful, calling him child—breaking whatever trust might have been building between them with one definitive word.
A/N: So the play that Eric's working on is one I saw as a kid. I don't actually remember anything about it other than the human-eating vase that my dad let me shimmy through after the show. I think it was maybe called Something's Afoot?
Thanks again to everyone reviewing, and to all the anons I can't personally thank! I want to cuddle each one of you…unless that's not your thing, in which case I would respectfully shake your hand or something.