Rarely Pure and Never Simple - carleton97

Sometimes, Curt wonders what his life would be like if he'd never left Arthur on that rooftop.

Depending on his mood, his imaginings tend to be either excessively rose-colored or excessively dark. He can't decide if Arthur would have saved him or if he would have ruined the other man. It's a silly thing to think about, especially since Arthur is with him now, but sometimes he can't help himself.

He's old enough to realize, though, that neither one of them had been ready for the other yet. He'd still had years of dancing with his demons ahead of him at that point and Arthur had been - god - so young back then. Young enough that it sometimes made the new-and-improved grown-up Curt wince when he thought about it.

It's better this way anyway. Better that they are both fully functioning adults with jobs - careers, even - and more in common than a hard-on for the pretty facade that was Maxwell Demon. It's better that Curt knows how lucky they were to find each other - and to find each other again - because he's already pissed away too many good things in his life and he's planning on holding on to Arthur for as long as he can.

Even if it means that, on the rare occassions he ends up sleeping alone, his nights are restless at best. And nights like tonight, when Arthur has been out of town for four days interviewing a radical political science professor somewhere in the middle of the country, Curt knows that sleep is not in the cards for him. Fifteen years ago, he wouldn't even have thought about sleeping at night. Ten years ago, a night like this would have ended three lost days later. Five years ago, he would have found oblivion for the night in the bottom of a bottle. He's been completely sober for twenty-two months now, though, and he'll be damned if a little insomnia knocks him off the wagon.

He knows it's safe to stay in their apartment. There aren't any drugs anywhere in the building and Arthur's rootbeer is the hardest beverage in the place, but he can feel the walls closing in and even the music isn't helping to keep them at bay tonight. And, really, Curt's never been one to play it safe.

So he pulls on a pair of jeans and his hand hovers over his leather jacket for a second, but he grabs one of Arthur's sweaters instead. The sweater is a big through the shoulders on him, but it's soft and it smells a little like Arthur and Curt feels warmer than the thin layer of wool warrants.

Outfitted against the brisk spring night, Curt takes to the streets.

One thing Curt has always loved about New York City is the way it lives up to its rep. It is the city that never sleeps and he's never appreciated that fact more than right now. Even though it's after midnight, the city is still awake and teeming with people. Some nights when he can't sleep and the shadows are reaching for him, he'll pull Arthur out of their bed and onto the streets with him and they'll wander until the sun comes up.

He's not wandering tonight, though. He's a man on a mission.

He doesn't pick the first place he sees and he practically runs out of the fourth because he didn't manage to survive over a decade of heroin addiction to fuck up his health at a tattoo parlor. At the eighth parlor, though, he's given a tour of the entire facilty; he's shown how the autoclave works and where the used needles are disposed and the little plastic cups they use to dispense individual servings of the ink colors. Finally satisfied he's not going to catch hepatitis or something worse doing this, Curt sits at the little table in the front of the shop with a pile of photo albums and a cup of coffee.

He flips through books filled with pictures of fresh tattoos, the reddened skin and still beading blood doing nothing to mar the spare elegance of the designs.

"You like my work?"

Curt glances up at the woman who is now sitting across from him. She looks to be a few years older than he is and there's something gentle about her manner that puts him at ease. "I do."

"I'm glad." She tilts her head to study him, but her smile doesn't fade. "You have questions?"

"The tour answered most of my questions about the process, but..." He trails off, unable to say exactly what he needs to.

"You want to know how you can get what's in your head into mine."

"Yes. Exactly." He's relieved she seems to know what he wants to say and thinks maybe this won't be as hard as he thought it would.

"I wish I could tell you I had some sort of mystical connection that let me see what you want, but I don't. What happens is you and I sit down with some coffee and you tell me what's on your mind." The woman pushes a previously unnoticed pot of coffee across the table and opens up a sketch book. "My name's Dorrie."

"It's a pleasure, Dorrie. I'm Curt."

"So tell me a story, Curt."

Curt takes a sip of the hot, strong coffee. "It all started in a club, on a rooftop, in London..."


Arthur likes to touch the stylized skyscape on his back.

After they've made love, or when they wake up on a lazy Sunday morning, or if he is wandering around their apartment without his shirt, Arthur will gently push him over onto his stomach or lay him down on the couch or simply brush a glancing touch over the moon and stars and reaching branches that grace his shoulders and back.

Sometimes, they'll fall asleep like that, with Curt on his stomach and Arthur's head resting in the small of his back and a hand spread over a shoulderblade. Sometimes they'll make love again, or for the first time that day; Curt can't help but respond to Arthur's touch, to the love and passion in it. Sometimes one or the other of them will whisper their secrets to the inky stars, hands clasped against the darkness that still occassionally came for both of them.

Sometimes Curt wonders what his life would be like if he'd never left Arthur on that rooftop.

But not very often.

The End

disclaimer: Velvet Goldmine isn't mine, but sometimes I like to pretend it is.

Created and maintained by carleton97.

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