A/N: duuuude. been a while. so. here you go?

I crack open one of the to-go containers. Some sort of chicken and rice. I taste it gingerly. Sweet and sour, one of my favorites. Got lucky, too, because there's enough for a meal.

The Styrofoam crackles gently in my hands as I fish the chopsticks out of my backpack. I eat.

For now, the night is warm, though I know winter will come crawling back on it's icy paws for another season. When the snow falls and the snowflakes spin down to meet the earth, who knows where I will go. I don't. Time will tell. Or it won't.

I finish the food, then throw away the container. I pick up my guitar and sling my backpack over my shoulders.

I walk away from the bench, towards the park, with its pond and ducks and soul happy people. Although the night keeps them away. The park will be quiet and shadowy and lonely.

It's not far from here. I walk.

Arriving at the park, I follow the concrete path to the center, then off the path through the trees. I select a nice, safe feeling patch of grass between two bushes and a tree, and set my guitar down, where it is hidden by the bushes and then curl up, using my backpack as a pillow.

I am woken by the sun, birds chirping. My mind goes immediately to my guitar. It's fine, still nestled in its hiding place. Then unbidden, comes a memory.

Laughter. Here, in this park. Duke's arm around me, protective, like a brother. People, friends, a picnic. The colors are bright and the ducks in the pond splash.

Then it's gone. Fleeting like a bird. I realize suddenly that I'm crying. I sit cross-legged, and whisper a word into the sunny morning air.

"Why?" The breeze carries the word far away, and with it the memory. My tears continue to fall, making small round damp spots on my tattered jeans. Tiny round salt water droplets, my own miniscule melancholy ocean. The sadness wraps around me in a tight, constricting embrace, around my heart. I wipe away the tears, the ocean vanquished. I pick up my bag and my guitar and leave.

A new day. Rebirth of the sun, back from the far side of the moon. The far side of the stars. I told Jabber I'd meet him at tiny record store where he works, he wanted company this early when he'd be alone in the shop, with only the dusty vinyl filled with frozen music. So I leave the park and the memories behind, taking only a bit of dirt with me.

The record shop is empty, except for Jabber. I go in, the bell tinkles my arrival.

Jabber looks up from his magazine. "Hey, Clyde."

"Hey, Jabber. Can I pick the spin?" I ask, using our term for choosing what plays out of the musty speakers. I set my guitar and backpack in the corner behind the counter.

"'Course you can." He replies, then sets down his magazine and walks over to me where I'm looking at the indie rock section. "You doing okay?" Jabber asks. For all his spikes and chains and black leather, Jabber is the opposite of how you think he's going to be. His exterior might be all spiky and sharp and edgy and scary, but he's all soft and fluffy and kind and gentle.

"I'm…." Was I doing okay? "No, I'm not okay." There. It's out there.

"Sweetie, come here." Jabber opens his arms, chains clinking. I fall against him, and his arms encircle me, holding me tight. And the tears from earlier resurface, and I sob into his leathery, smoke scented shoulder. And I cry.

Later, when my tears have dried, Jabber reclines in one of the threadbare armchairs in the back of the shop, me in the other, and asks.

"What's today?"


"The significance?"



I sigh. "Duke's." Many of mine and Jabber's conversations go like this, one word triggers another.

"Oh. Oh, dear." Jabber knows my story, as well as I know his. "I think Johnny Cash is in order." He gets up and plucks a record from a bin, puts it on the turntable, and sets the needle to spinning. Jabber's cure for most things is Johnny Cash. The first bars of "I Walk The Line" start to play. Jabber sits back in the chair, and reaches across the gap between us to hold my hand. It's a comforting thing, not a romantic thing. Jabber likes guys, and I prefer to fall in love with a person, not their gender. Jabber and I sit there, listening to The Man In Black, hands connected.