See You on the Flip Side~
Warm air, sheets, the nameless scent of clean sweat smudged with ever lingering motor oil and a cold night. Endless stretches of blacktop that map the warm, living skin beneath his hands in scars and experience. With the lights out, he can't see eyes he knows are gold and green. But the blackout hides all the hurt, and makes it so much easier to pretend things aren't the way they've always been. Will always be.
Amongst the soft slide of much wanted and long missed kisses there is sparsely time for words. But it's the only time he ever really says anything at all. A litany of pain wrecked praise that is so much blessing yet far more curse.
It's the only time he loves.
Deeply, irrevocably. In the snatched hours between dark and dawn. When they hide beneath blankets of silk smooth darkness, and press close. Smooth away the aches of months with searching fingertips that explore the places found and known and lost then found again. Tracing the mouth he understands, tasting bittersweet tears that never, never, never fall. Feeling the smile against his skin when he drops the weight of time from his shoulders, and feels only the press of bone, muscle and skin. With all sweet words whispered, feather light, into his hair. 'Love you, miss you, need you so much.'
'Love you so much.'
Every sentence. Every syllable a brand to his bones. Shaking him, pressing so deep he's blind, all he can think, can feel, summed up in the one word he repeats like benediction. Isa. Isa.
To Isa he will cling, let him fill the empty space in his bed, in his head and in his heart, until he's off again. Leaving nothing but Polaroid's and pain in his place.
Isa is not even gone, yet it's tearing him open like the doors already closed. It rifts his insides, and he's choking on the air between their kisses, tangling his fingers in the long, soft strands of Isa's hair. Folding his legs up around Isa's hips. Gripping tight like he can stop the dawn from catching Isa's tattered wings, and dragging him back to the million miles of road between here and never.
"Need you too, Isa. Need you so much" He says, fumbling and folding back the layers of cloth from Isa's shoulders. Feeling the smooth skin that's nothing but dips and valleys of shadow. Hiding away the white lines of scars and twisting, winding patterns of ink that burn like solar flares on the insides of his eyelids. Whenever he closes his eyes.
There's wetness on his cheeks. Isa can't see but he feels, and he knows, like he always has, and he kisses away the tears, slides road calloused hands across his skin and pulls him close. Hands that would hold up the earth and keep it turning. "Don't." Isa says, and the words burn in hot air across his neck, lost between gasps and the press of hips to hips. "Love you. Always love you."
He loses his head in a tangle of inky darkness and the warmth of skin he's craved in its absence, the night fluttering slowly away. A crow in a gale. He knows. He knows it will be a long time before he sees Isa again. A millennia stretched between them that he looks upon with no less than utter despair. Isa still smells like rain swept asphalt, but his skin is hot and smooth, and he touches like he won't be gone in the morning. Talks like it's the forever they will never have. Because that's the way things are.
It's in soft, loving warmth he falls asleep, Isa's hand over his heart, with the dregs of exhaustion pulling his insides to the earth, and swallowing him deep with dreams. Memories of long ago, when there was no road, and no weight of the world. When Isa's thoughts weren't too big for bones, and neither of them drowned in the cacophony of white noise that drove a wedge between the need they shared. The one that made every reunion agony, and every parting worse.
It has been so long, but when he wakes, he is still warm. Still wrapped up in Isa likes he were home.
He's not fooled. It means nothing except that Isa can't go without his goodbye. The precaution he takes with every person lest he never see them again. Part with words of kindness to die without regrets. With Isa's fingers tracing circles on his naked sides he wonders if there are a hundred houses on whatever roads he takes, and a hundred different ways he says goodbye.
Then he knows that's a lie. In the light, he won't cry. In the light he can look. And he does, traces the lines of a face he knows so well with his eyes, and finds the things that have changed. A scar on his lip that's new, a tenseness and sorrow to his mouth that's not. The air around him swelled and weighted down. Time to go.
"I'm sorry" Isa says, and makes him pull away. Rolls out of sleep churned sheets to find his jeans. If he was sorry…
"Then don't go."
Isa reaches out from the bed, touches his back so lightly, so lovingly, it burns. They both know it won't happen. They both know it can't, because nothing changes, except for how it's worse than it was before, but not as bad as it will be. If there is a next time. If Isa chooses to ride back in with the wind.
Isa touches, then pulls his hand away. "I'll see you on the flip side, huh?" he says, sounding so tired, but so hopeful. Because Isa is strong, and it is so, so wrong.
"Don't say that to me…" He sighs. Heavy. Defeated. I'll see you on the flip side. Because the next ride he takes he'll wind up splattered across the sidewalk. He'll be gunned down, run down, beat down. Body never found. And he would never even know. Because wherever Isa goes, he has no address, and no phone. No way of knowing when, or if he'll come home. "Please…I don't…I can't, okay Isa? I just can't."
Then Isa's dressed and gone, walking out the front door with one lingering kiss, a touch to the lips, and the promises he doesn't speak because he can't keep them.
The roads are wet, the bikes wheel's shiny, and he rides to the east, with clouds ahead, and the sun shiny on the leather on his back.
Leaving him alone, again, to a house that goes so quickly cold. With Polaroid's for company, and months to wait for Isa to make him feel whole.
He wades through his life where it sticks to his legs like molasses, eats with no real hunger, and sets his pictures out on the floor. Folded at the corners, creased with love and age, smudged with tears and fears. Leaving him starfished amongst memories with a billion gallons of despair crushing him into the carpet. Isa's ink burned behind his eyelids, and an unknown amount of unknowing ahead.
There are already pictures in his head. Of twisted lumps of metal. Of what years and years of this would be like. Stretching, endless, nameless, between here and everyday till the end of them both. It sucks air from his lungs, leaves a disease growing in his chest. Black and malicious. Destroying everything he stands for till he collapses under the weight and is nothing without Isa. Nothing without Isa.
For months, his mouth stays sealed over every word he wants to scream. The people he knows notice nothing different, because this is the ways its always been. Occasionally they will ask about the handsome biker that haunts the house in faded photographs. His same old, same old friend, with the smile that's as captivating as the northern lights, and eyes that see nothing but the horizon.
For a year, he curls up on the inside, getting sicker with fear. Sicker and sicker, blacker and blacker. Because it's not long enough, not the longest he's been gone, but every day is another day too long. He pictures in his mind, Isa while he rides. The coldness behind his eyes, and every demon at his heels. The seasons folding beneath his wheels, if they still roll.
Who knows. Isa could be gone. Could be gone, and he hadn't even been told.
I'll see you on the flip side.
I'll see you on the flip side.
He finds himself muttering those words with every parting. Bitterness laced with every syllable, like arsenic in an almond biscuit. Thinking of the end of things, how close, or far they are. The blackness as he waits for Isa only ever gets darker.
And it feels like so long. Fifteen, sixteen months. Marking him with bones that never showed before, Till he's waiting, every night, where he can see the window and the door. Blinking at every bike that rolls past, at every tall man with green eyes. With perfectly unkempt clothes. Squirming dread and sorrow inside his chest, till it's burning up his throat, making him choke. And choke. And choke.
He needs to talk to him. Needs to tell him in so many words, so many things. Ones that get tangled in his head, amongst all the years and years or ugly, self sentenced torment. The thing that twists, like barbed wire, between them, through them, and drives them towards early, early graves.
In the rain it's worst. He waits, in the light of nothing but the television, with his eyes on the window. Watching the blacktop glisten like an oil slick in the headlights of every passing car.
He pictures in his head every turn. Every high speed mile on a bike that's far away. Every treacherous mound and stone. Every obstacle in Isa's road, that would trip him, and turn him into garden mulch. That this rain could mean that Isa was months gone, and he really wouldn't know.
Then there's the crunch and roll of wheels on wet gravel. The growl of an engine, and water pouring off the wet shine of leather, metal and plastic, and he's up off the couch to the door.
It's been so long. And the blackness in his chest isn't gone, nor the equal rage, despair and indignation, but he can't help his smile. Wide and aching. Seeing Isa alive and well.
Their reunions are gradual. The way they've always been, and will always be. There's a devil on Isa's back, and though his smile is slow, it's so bright, it glows. And they embrace, in the hall, and he feels like he's falling out of the rabbit hole. Close and warm and so well known.
He wonders for a moment if it's a dream. One that he'll wake form aching a cold, because Isa isn't coming home. But it's real. Isa is fine, he still smiles, and he's still strong. He's back and he's warm beneath his dripping clothes. He laughs like the world inst sitting on his shoulders, and he hasn't been gone for over a year. A year…
He wants to be angry. For the days wasted away. For the time he spends in endless pain, because Isa can't find it in him to stay, but happiness crushes it flat to the floor. There's no room for mourning someone who's not dead or gone.
They sit close, shared space, shared air, and though their words are few they mean so much. He asks Isa to sit back, to relax. Twines their hands together in the blue shadows of a Saturday night special. They don't talk about the road, of the things between. They do talk about days old, days gone by. A childhood spent close, and side by side.
He finds, in the light, every new line, and ever new scar. Every ache and hurt, and eventually, the kisses he missed. Sweet and deep, like the oxygen he hasn't been breathing for over a year.
They stumble upstairs. Shed clothes like months, leaving a sparse wake from room to room. Then they fall into darkness.
It's not right. It hurts too much, every touch, like deaths sickle. Cleaving open his chest and spilling out a blackened heart, but he can't stop. Cant slow down to say all the things he needs, because Isa is the air he breathes, everything he wants, everything he sees, eyes wide open or tight closed. The words can't move between them. There is no room. So he loves the best he can. The only way he knows how, with so little time between now and dawn. The dreaded moment the door falls closed and he is all alone. For god knows how long.
And Isa spills words of love. He touches like nobody else. Smell and tastes and feels like the irreplaceable. Scorching unseen marks back onto his skin and making this thing irrevocable.
It's terrible and wonderful. But he can't help the happiness he feels beneath his skin, just to have Isa close. Until, that is, dawn brings its inevitability. He wakes warm, and safe, and loved, but with a stone in his heart. The blackness pushing its way up behind his eyes as hollow dread fills him to the brim. That Isa is going to leave, again. Like always.
And for the first time, in the daylight, he cries. Tearless, soundless sobs that shake his bones. Feel like shivering in the cold. Enough so that Isa wakes, even before the sun has truly breached the sky, and pulls him close. "What's wrong? Hey, shh. What's wrong?"
He cant bear it. Can't hear it, and act like Isa doesn't know. Tears away from the touch, feeling scaled and frozen all at once. He means to rebuke, to be angry, to be cruel, but his words come out desperate. Hurting. "Don't leave me. Don't go."
Isa's face shuts down. A lighting flash of blinding sadness before he goes cold. Turns his face away. "You know I want to stay but-"
"Then stay! Please!" He's begging, shaking like a leaf. Sick and cold and scared and filled with grief. "Don't leave me alone! I can't do this anymore, Isa. I can't hold on another year. I can't live off the hope you'll be coming home. Isa I'm…"
"You're what?" And Isa stands, his back turned, shoulders tense with the weight of the world, and silently, he pleads for Isa to face him. To see exactly what he needs.
It doesn't happen. Never does. And he tears up. Water streaking his cheeks, and endless, nameless, chasm of black opening up beneath his feet. His voice shakes when he speaks. "Nothing…nothing. Nevermind." Then he hides inside. Doesn't let it show. Isa sighs. Wraps him in a hug. Holds him close, kisses him dear. And its sweet, and beautiful, and horrible all the same. "I'll see you on the flip side."
"Yeah…I'll see you on the flip side."
Then Isa is gone, like the wind. Rain washes every trace of him away. With time. And he fades. Winter folding into summer, and spring again. The house filled with quiet ghosts and Polaroid's. Dripping taps and cobwebbed corners. A molasses life that's worthless to all who don't, and did, live it.
Autumn fall through, in shriveled leaves. And the rain wet the streets once more. Sleet and ice. Treacherous stretches of black. And a year to the day, Isa rolls in. Rolls home. With plans to stay, not for a day, but for always. He knocks on the door and is surprised to find not his lover, but his lovers mother. Tired and worn.
"Hey, where's Sammy? He here?" He asks, and her hand flutters like a dying bird.
"Oh sweetheart. Didn't you hear? Sam's been a whole year gone."
"Isa....Sam died last December. He had cancer…we thought you knew."
I'll see you on the flip side.
I've been working on this in dribs and drabs for awhile. So far, I like it almost best of my little one-shots. I'd like to know what you all thought? Good, bad, ugly? Review. Coz you love me. :D
If anyone can pick the song this was inspired by, they get a free oneshot on anything they choose. Hint: Pearl Jam