Title: then believe that we have lost our eyes.
Warnings: Cursing. Slash. Sex. Angst. The Apocalypse.
Summary: The world ends on a Thursday.
Notes: I have no explanation for this. At all. It just...happened and I'm so seriously in love with it. Inspired by certain songs, but overall by Manchester Orchestra's "I Can Barely Breathe." Beautiful song. Listen to it.
Anyway, I sincerely hope you like this. I love it, and I can't say that of a lot of my stuff. PS: If you can guess the song at the end of the second part, you win mega e-love and possibly something awesome. Srsly.
The world ends on a Thursday.
The Earth, when she goes, goes surprisingly fast. Funnily enough, though, the lead-up takes forever.
This is how it ends.
Or, alternatively, how it begins.
Zach's head snaps up, peering at the heavy gray clouds with something akin to anticipation in his green eyes.
"Don't get your hopes up," Julian huffs, setting a box down. Dark hair falls into his eyes and he bats it away impatiently.
"It's been getting more frequent, though," Zach protests.
"God," says Zach, "Be more of a killjoy, okay? I'll be over here, doing something fucking useful. Asshole."
Julian rolls his eyes, following Zach back into the supermarket. They're gathering supplies while they still can; crates of bottled water, canned food, anything nonperishable. At first, when the panic had set in and the generalized looting had begun, they'd gone after the things they wanted. Televisions, stereos, CDs, everything electronic, but now--
("Why not, man?"
"Because until your body evolves to the point of digesting a whole TV, you're fucked if that's all you've got."
"But we could--"
"Do you think we're actually gonna get to use any of this shit? World's ending, babe. Deal.")
--they're sticking strictly to necessities.
"Sonuva-- Jules!" Zach bolts from a corner of the store, skidding to a stop a few feet from Julian. "Dude, dude, look what I found. Just came out." He shoves a shiny CD case in Julian's face, bouncing on his heels excitedly.
"Zacharias," Julian replies sternly. "What did we just talk about?"
The other boy's smile fades. "C'mon, Jules, seriously. Please?"
Julian sighs and runs a hand through his hair. He tries to avoid Zach's kicked-puppy expression and fails.
"We'll need a player and some batteries," he mutters.
The sound Zach makes it somewhere between a squeal and a squeak. He tucks the CD to his chest and spins in place, twice. Finally, slightly dizzily, he leans in to Julian and plants a slow, soft kiss on his lips.
"Love you," he breathes.
And then he's off like a shot, bounding across the other side of the store once more.
Julian sighs again and shakes his head, but he's smiling.
Zach pokes his nose out from under his blanket and smirks in what he thinks might be Julian's direction.
"Told you," he says, and sticks his tongue out as well.
Julian just makes a noncommittal noise from his curled-up position in the armchair. "I'll bite it off," he warns, and Zach's tongue retreats back into his mouth. "Anyway," he continues, "thunder doesn't mean rain."
This time Zach's whole head emerges as he kicks his blanket away. He stretches, collapses back onto the couch with a yawn, and turns sleepy eyes to his best friend. "Does too."
"No," snaps Julian. "What about lightning storms?"
Another yawn. Zach maneuvers onto his stomach, still holding the other boy's gaze. "What about them?"
"All thunder and lightning. No rain."
"And," Julian repeats, voice raised slightly, "don't you think that could be the case here?"
There's a moment of silence. Thunder rumbles in the distance, rattling the glass in the windows.
Slowly, as if unsure of his answer, Zach murmurs, "No."
Julian blinks at him; with all the anger drained from his voice, he asks, "Why not?"
Zach's green eyes flicker away from his to lock on one of the windows. Gray storm clouds swirl across the sky. For a fraction of a second, Zach's face hosts an expression that makes Julian's hands shake.
"It smells like rain."
They're both quiet after that.
In the background, Zach's new CD plays softly. Amid a tentative piano melody, a man sings about rising tides and burning worlds.
"T-minus six days and counting," Zach chirps. He stumbles off to the side of the street as Julian throws a half-hearted punch at him. "Houston, mayday, SOS. We have confirmation of a jackass on the radar, repeat--"
He breaks off, laughing, as Julian actually hits him this time. He struggles to get away, his shoulder stinging, but Julian wrestles him into a headlock. After a moment, Zach goes limp and mutters, dejectedly, "uncle."
"Idiot," Julian retorts fondly. He drops a kiss into the other boy's hair and releases him. For a moment, Zach seems reluctant to leave his embrace, but then he's skittering away, grinning.
"Takes one to know one."
"Oh," says Julian, "you're mature."
They continue walking, the streets around them are empty and echoing with their footsteps. Glass storefronts and wooden doors are shattered and smashed on either side, the gray pavement of the road glittering with debris. The city's been evacuated for close to a week now, and even though the exodus itself was enforced--
("Are you sure--"
They lay curled together in the darkness of someone's basement closet, until the police sweeps have moved on and the speakers blaring messages of all citizens, please exit to the North and mandatory evacuation, for your own safety, please proceed have long since died out.
Their noses touch, and breaths are exchanged.)
--there are always ways out of it.
They'd considered leaving, briefly. Newscasters preaching long (endless) rains that would damage (destroy) a great deal (everything) and their own pessimistic natures had convinced them otherwise.
Meteorologists had given a deadline of two weeks, maximum.
"I wonder," Zach says suddenly, kicking a rock as he walks. It skips down the street and out of sight. "Do you think it'll be like, normal rain with a lot of wind? Or that kind that comes down so hard you can't see through it?"
Julian's silent for a moment before shrugging. "Both."
Zach makes a small noise of agreement and steps carefully over half a splintered door in the middle of the street. He looks like he's about to say something, but instead peers up at the sky, eyes narrow. A moment later, when lightning crackles across the sky, he flinches. Sea glass eyes cut over to Julian, who frowns.
"Jules," says Zach.
"I know," Julian replies. He shifts his backpack, heavy with new supplies, and opens an arm toward Zach. The other boy scurries to his side and lets the arm wrap loosely around his waist.
Between the two backpacks and their proximity, it makes for awkward walking and it slows them down some. Even so, it's not like they have anywhere to be.
Julian's arm stays around Zach's waist, thumb brushing a sliver of hip. At some point Zach turns his face to the other boy's neck and just breathes in as they walk.
They're silent the rest of the way home.
Zach's breathing is sharp and staccato in the near silence of the room. The shift-slide of skin on skin and the bed's disjointed creaking echo eerily, framed by Julian's sudden harsh intake of air.
He leans in, dark hair shadowing his eyes, and he captures Zach's mouth in a frantic kiss. Both of them sigh in harmony; their teeth click as Zach shifts, wrapping shaking arms tight around Julian's neck. Julian grins into their kiss and works one hand between them. Zach gasps, head tipping back, and clouded eyes flutter open to glare at him.
"Cheater," he pants, hips canting upwards into the touch against his will.
"Your point?" Julian peers down at him, still grinning ridiculously, and twists his wrist.
Zach struggles for breath and manages, "That you're--oh. Oh, god."
"Not quite," Julian replies and dips down suddenly, nuzzling into Zach's neck. He stays there a moment, nose against Zach's racing pulse, his hand moving steadily. Zach's murmuring a constant stream of nonsense into his ear, all vowels and eternal endearments. The words fade until they're just warm sound, and then a small noise in the back of Zach's throat.
Julian mouths a wet trail from his collarbone to his mouth and kisses him again, deeply, swallowing the sound. His hands find their way to the small of Zach's back and lift, hitching the other boy's hips up and against his own. Julian hisses, grinding down harshly and the sound that tears out of Zach's throat is broken and wanting and needy and it's suddenly very obvious how long this isn't going to last.
Moments later, Zach's whole body tenses; his arms, still looped around Julian's neck, tighten spasmodically. And then, with a shudder running along the entire length him, he lets go. His head drops back against his pillow, sweat-matted blond strands falling into his eyes and across his cheekbones. He licks bruised lips, forces heavy sea glass eyes open, and smiles a little at the sight.
Julian's hovering above him, propped on elbows and gritting his teeth. He's staring down at Zach likes he's just witnessed the Resurrection in real time, and his hips are rocking almost subconsciously into Zach's.
"Hey," Zach breathes, and twines one of his hands through the other boy's hair, carding gently. He summons what's left of his energy and arches up; at the same time, he moves his mouth along the edge of Julian's jaw, dropping kisses. He reaches his ear and murmurs, "Now." He quickly works a hand between their bodies and simultaneously nips Julian's earlobe hard.
Julian's hips jerk and, shocked, he comes with a hoarse moan.
Later on he'll think back and wonder if he actually said (godwhynowwhy) (loveyousomuch) (alwaysalwaysalways) certain things.
But for now, his eyes are slipping closed and Zach's already out like a light and, really, it's all too easy to kick aside the ruined sheets and bury himself in the warmth of his best friend.
So he does.
Zach wakes up to long fingers brushing through his hair and a feeling of being ridiculously, wonderfully out of it. He squints into the darkness and catches a glint of familiar eyes. Satisfied, he curls further into the tangle of sleep-warm limbs and makes a pleased sound.
The fingers in his hair pause, then resume. Julian's other hand migrates from being fitted against Zach's hip to resting on his neck, thumb rushing along his jaw. Zach's pleased sound elongates into a soft, continuous hum of pure content.
"I'll miss this," he sighs. He closes his eyes again and angles his chin up until their noses brush. The thumb sketching his jaw line dips into the hollow of his throat.
"What?" Julian asks. "The world?"
Zach cracks an eyelid and fixes Julian with a surprisingly serious expression. "Fuck the world," he says, and that look, the one that makes Julian feels like he's falling apart in slow motion, skates across his face. "I'll miss you."
Julian's heart thumps wearily in his chest as he draws back on what he remembers feeling hours before. Heat curls in his stomach, and, out of breath, and leans his forehead against Zach's. With all the conviction he can manage, he says, "I'm not going anywhere. I'll always be here." A pause. "Always, always, always."
Zach blinks up at him. "Yeah?"
"Yes," Julian says, and because it's the only thing left to do, he kisses him.
Zach tastes like stale soda and desperation and, oddly enough, it's perfect.
They stay like that for a long time.
They lay curled together on the balcony, watching the sky. The clouds are heavy and low and impossibly black. Lightning jumps between them at regular intervals, and they wince in unison each time.
A thick cover bundles them up; the wind is fierce and coldly wet. Zach's head is tucked under Julian's chin, and they've been sitting there for hours.
Zach shifts and turns in Julian's embrace to face him. His eyes find Julian's face, flick to the sky, and then back.
"It feels like I'm looking into forever," he says. His voice is quiet, subdued.
Julian shrugs. "Maybe you are."
Night has fallen. They're in the same spots they've been in all day; empty water bottles and wrappers sit just inside the balcony door.
Lighting still dances across the sky rhythmically. Zach's fingers tap in time to a soundless beat.
"Figures," he says.
Julian looks at him, completely exhausted and wide awake.
Zach's fingers go on tapping.
"That we'd get a light show."
"Jules," Zach says suddenly. His eyes are wide in the on-off dark. "Jules."
Julian blinks over at him. He frowns. "Yeah."
"I'm scared. Terrified. I don't. What are we doing? I--" Zach cuts off abruptly, beyond words.
"No, hey." Julian swallows, his throat suddenly dry. "C'mere."
Zach scoots over into warm, waiting arms and sighs. "I can't do this."
"You can," Julian breathes into his neck, tightening his arms. "We are."
"I love you," Zach murmurs into his mouth, frantically. "So much."
Julian just kisses him back with all the force he can muster and prays for daylight.
"Always, always, always."