A/N: So this is what happens when you visit the graffiti bridge in your town, and discover Halsey's BADLANDS. (For the record, every chapter will be titled after a song from BADLANDS.)
Please read and review, it would mean the world.
Chapter 1: Roman Holiday
"But for now let's get away, on a Roman holiday."
"You shouldn't be here, you know." I pushed off the heavy steel doors, now that I finally had company. The boy who said those words meant them, but smiled anyway. I could only shrug, and I didn't grin at him like I wanted to. He continued to walk forward until he leaned his shoulder on the metal doors, and I resumed my previous position, facing him. There was no one else that we could see, and if we heard anyone coming we could easily hide. It was why he loved it.
"Neither should you, but you're always here," I answered. He continued to smile.
"Well it's expected of me. You, however, are the reason teachers get up in the morning. How do you think they would react if they realized that you were skipping? With me no less?" I had to laugh at his words. He was clearly trying to amuse me, and it was definitely working.
"They won't because I'm finished with my classes," I said. He raised his eyebrows.
"And what about the teachers you TA for, like the little teacher's pet you are?" he pushed. His words would come out of others with actual heat, venom, but he said it like it was a good thing, at least when he said them to me.
"There's nothing for me to grade, no quizzes to make. They can handle life without me for a day." There were actually short essays for me to possibly read over, organize by good to shitty. There was just no way in hell I wanted to read thirty papers of careless handwriting.
"Well then welcome to my humble abode. What brings you here?" I started to fidget with my fingers, trying to come up with words.
"I've got an issue with writing, it's Writer's Block," I explained slowly. He furrowed his eyebrows.
"That's that thing where your mind cockblocks itself, right?" he checked. (Everything in my head paused for a minute so I could completely focus on rolling my eyes.)
"Yes. And now I need some inspiration, so I would like to ask you something," I started. He smirked at me.
"Well I think I can come up with an activity that would inspire you," he joked. At that moment I became aware that I would spend the rest of the afternoon rolling my eyes.
"Right, no. Just take me on a delinquent's adventure. Something that the elderly assholes think poorly of, that you might find… aesthetically pleasing," I explained. He squinted at me.
"Yeah, okay, just don't use words like that. Nerd." With a wink (and an eye roll), we walked absentmindedly to the car lot. He started humming, something that I realized he did quite often, and it sounded nice, almost like he put genuine effort into not sounding terribly. I wasn't going to tell him that straight out though; I knew he didn't want to be called out on something like that.
"I hope you realize that I don't have a car," he said casually, and I could hear the laughter in his voice. He was amused that I had assumed we were going to his car. (To be fair, I was pretty sure he was the one who started walking this way first.)
"We can take mine, as long as you tell me one thing: how do you get to school?" I watched his face for a reaction, waited for a reason to be concerned.
"I- okay, I lied. I do have a car. It's a piece of shit though, so it's in the shop. Had to beg my mom to drop me off," he confessed. I laughed.
"Oh, right, but not where everyone else gets dropped off, right? You had her drop you off like, two blocks away or something," I teased, and I swear he reddened.
"I didn't actually have to say anything, she did that herself," he grumbled, and I could only keep laughing.
"Your mom's helping you protect your bad boy image, aw. I bet you're a huge mama's boy," I giggled. He groaned.
"You're terrible, I don't know why I put up with you," he muttered. I couldn't stop giggling, because wow, he was all talk and no bite. (That's not true, actually, I've seen people with the bruises to prove it, but he'd never bite me- figuratively anyway.)
"Because I put up with you. Here, take my keys, I don't wanna drive," I said, and I tossed him the keys. He paused for a second.
"You're trusting me to drive us?" he checked. I blinked at him.
"Well yeah. You've managed to keep yourself alive so far," I said. I kept walking forward, trying not to break out in a grin. I couldn't say why messing with him gave me such a rush, but I wasn't looking for an explanation.
We reached my car and he raised his eyebrows when I told him it wasn't locked. (Who was going to steal my dirty car when there were plenty of other, more appealing cars surrounding it?) We slid in, and he had to readjust the seat to his height, after he squeezed himself in. He grumbled to himself as I laughed at him, at how hysterical he looked in the seat meant for a much smaller person. I even took a picture, and his entirely put-out face made it priceless. It was a keeper.
"Do you have any place in mind?" I asked as I played a stupid puzzle game. I wasn't going to point out that I could tell he was being extra safe as he drove my car. I had to remember to let him keep some of his image intact.
"Yep, and before you ask, you'll see when we get there," he said, just to be in control. I rolled my eyes.
"Okay, dude, whatever you say," I conceded. He grinned brightly, and I snuck another picture.
He drove downtown, passed the gym I had a membership to, and pulled in behind a restaurant that never seemed particularly busy, but apparently did enough to stay open. He parked in the tight spot next to the dumpster, shifted the gear to park and turned the engine off, in the span of seconds. He paused, and then turned the upper half of his body entirely to me. His grin practically split his face in half. I couldn't quite give in to his expectations of me responding in kind, so I merely raised an eyebrow.
"You're lucky I brought my bag with me today, you know," he said, and I didn't let my eyebrow down, because now he had more to explain.
He gestured for me to follow him in getting out of the car, and he opened the door behind the driver's. He yanked open his backpack, and pulled four cans of spray paint out. I guffawed, because it wasn't a big backpack and he genuinely must only use it for a vandal's tool bag.
"You're right, I am lucky. I suppose I can guess what we're going to do today," I smiled, and he smiled back.
"This, Ashleigh Reyes, is my favorite place to partake in my favorite hobby." He said it like it was a dangerous secret, Joker's smile and all, and it was all for show, all for me. I let myself show how entertained I was.
"Well then, Isaac Fletcher, show me the way," I whispered back to him. I whispered because after all, it was his secret. His eyes gleamed with excitement, appreciation. I noted that I did something right.
"This way," he whispered back, even quieter. He took my hand (I let him), and we snuck our way to the slightly wooded area behind the restaurant's parking area, to a slope where large, flat rocks made a sort of path. We traveled down, he kept me from slipping, and then we stepped back up more rocks embedded in the earth, and down again.
It was the area under a bridge, the kind with two slanted pavements on either side and pillars to hold it up. There were train tracks that ran under the bridge, perpendicularly.
It was clear that Isaac wasn't the only person to have ever discovered this place. There was everything anyone could expect to see at a place for spray painting. There were initials in hearts, vague and pointed insults, sad lyrics, and actual artistic creations that deserved to be protected, kept from being sprayed over. (There were also dicks, racist slurs, and swastikas, but I resolved to go over the worst of it, put something nicer over them, or just wipe them out period.)
"This is exactly what I wanted to see," I breathed, and Isaac was clearly relieved, and a little proud. He handed me two cans of paint- one silver and one purple. In his hands he held green and black. As I remained awed by the sight before me, he looked around and sought a place to begin working. He tugged me forward gently, and brought me into focus again.
"Come on, Reyes, we haven't got all day," he muttered with a grin. I laughed.
"You're right, we don't."
Actually climbing up the slanted concrete was difficult, but once you went a little up, a little down, the rest was easy. ("Stay clear from the white though, that shit's slippery," Isaac called, right before I stepped on a patch of white. Oh.) If I hadn't worn tennis shoes I would have been screwed. I managed to scale up to the near top, a good twenty-five feet from the ground. I sat for a minute, took in the view.
I pulled out my phone, needing to take pictures of the art. There were eyes that seemed powerful, and words from underground activists that I needed to see. There were lyrics from songs I actually knew, and little pictures of simple things that resounded strongly as symbols for whoever put them there.
I carefully moved horizontally, finally satisfied with the amount of pictures I had taken for the time being. I stuck my phone down my shirt, between my bra and chest, but made sure Isaac wasn't looking first. Carefully tearing off the wrappers, I stuck the torn paper into my jeans and uncapped the purple spray paint. Shaking it, I thought of the first thing I would actually put down.
I.F. is a good boy. There, let him find it. I punctuated it further with a smiley face, and tried not to burst out into laughter.
"Having fun up there?" Isaac called. He was in the middle of a broad stroke (spray?) and he wore an expression of concentration.
"The funnest," I said. I recapped my purple and unwrapped the silver. The spot a few feet higher and to the left of me was mostly clean, most likely due to how high it was. In order to stay put and not feel like I would fall, I had to twist my body around to the point that it almost pinched my sides. (My back seemed fine with it.)
We're not crazy; we're just not okay. That was just something I felt like someone who would come here needed to see to feel better. The semicolon was a mental health symbol, and I wanted to get one tattooed on my side. The words were silver, the semicolon was purple, for the purpose of emphasis. I smiled at it, nodded, and then slowly made my way down.
"Don't fall," I heard from my left. I rolled my eyes and heard laughter.
"Careful, I might paint over that project you're working on," I warned playfully. He mock-gasped and I had to laugh.
We spent another hour there. He mostly worked on that one part, but once he was finished with the product and satisfied with it, he ventured on to do smaller pieces. We made our way around both sides of the railroad tracks, and at the end, I had almost run out of the purple, and completely out of the silver. He'd run out of the black pretty early on, but pulled another can of red out. The boldness of the color seemed to overtake him as he ran excitedly around and sprayed on and over as many places as he could see. I had run out of the ideas by that point and was mostly taking pictures of things I'd done (for memories) and what others had done (for inspiration). Once I noticed his second wave of energy hitting, I pointed the camera of my phone at him.
While he continued to pursue his favorite hobby, I laid back on the concrete and looked over the photos. I edited and cropped some, and played with different filters, different levels of color saturation. I almost didn't notice when Isaac laid down beside me.
"You took photos of me," he noticed with a grin.
"Yeah, I'm turning you into the cops later," I replied back easily. He snorted and then just laid there. I let him watch me play with the pictures, and every once in a while give some input, which was helpful, surprisingly.
We must have just been in that position for a few minutes before he scooted closer to me and put his lips to my ear.
"I need your help completing something," he whispered. I looked at him, and my eyes went slightly cross at how close he was, but then he was up and moving down the slanted concrete much faster than I could. I put my phone in my pocket and made my way to where he was.
It was the first piece he had worked on, and I was amazed. I couldn't say I was shocked at the quality, someone who graffitied often had to build some skill, and something told me he was the secretly artsy type. It was just that, well, it was good.
He made a perfect oval on the wide, concrete column, and in it captured all of the pieces on both slabs in essence. Meaningless lyrics and initials along with symbols painted over symbols were pieced together, literally like a puzzle. Each thing touched the others, and the center, a perfect circle, remained untouched.
"Give me your hand," he whispered. I held it up for him to take, still looking at the details of his work, and he put my hand to the right of one of his. He reached down and took my purple from earlier, and spray painted over my hand and slightly over his. Then he picked up the red, and sprayed over his hand and slightly over mine. He never went out of the boundary of the circle. After he was done and lifted his hand away, I took mine away. (Both of us had the back of a hand that was completely covered in paint, and it would be annoying to get off, but I didn't care.)
"It's perfect," I said quietly. Without using my purpled hand, I pulled out my phone and pulled up the camera app. I took several pictures, some were copies and some were from different angles, but I had to make sure I got every shot I could take of it.
"You really like it?" Isaac asked behind me. I stopped, finally, and turned to him with the most reassuring smile I could muster.
"I fucking love it," I said.
When he smiled I took a picture of that too.
A/N: And that's the first chapter of that. I'm not entirely sure how long the story is going to be, but I've already written four chapters. There's probably going to be one or two more after that.
Please review, and if you want to have an input about what kind of romance stories you want to see, head to the poll on my profile.