Jerry’s really very, very tired but he doesn’t want to be, he doesn’t want to stop, he wants to carry on on on and on, he wants to zoom off into the night, he wants to explode. He doesn’t know what he wants. He wants to reach down the crowd’s throats and grab the laughter out of their guts, he wants to scream in their faces. He doesn’t want to think anymore, he doesn’t want to be trapped inside this skin that he can’t even feel. He doesn’t want to be lonely. He wants to go home.
Dean is spread-eagled in one of the rickety dressing room chairs. His arms are flopped over its arms and his head is tipped right back. There’s a new cigarette dangling from the fingers of his right hand, nearly brushing the floor. He’s still catching his breath, eyes closed and skin shining with sweat. There was a lot of dancing tonight; it goes like that sometimes. Dean’s top button is open but, by some miracle, the knot of his tux tie is still intact and it looks weird, like it’s strangling him. It makes Jerry feel awful.
Jerry’s brain is whizzing at a million miles an hour and he’s itching out of his skin so hard that his whole body’s turning numb with it, but there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do and no stage that’ll have him until tomorrow night and he has to calm down, he has to calm down. So he walks toward Dean. He wants to crawl into his lap and hide until the feeling passes. He wants Dean to carry him around in his pocket.
He’s horrible to Dean sometimes.
Dean’s smoke is in Jerry’s lungs and he can taste him over the bleach and greasepaint smell of the dressing room. Dean’s a little drunk and Jerry can tell just how much he’s been sweating by the wet curl of his hair and it should be disgusting but it isn’t because Dean is his only friend. Wherever Dean is, that's the only safe place in the city. In the whole world even. He realises that going home is as easy as crossing the room and touching his friend.
Dean senses him coming closer and slits his eyes open. He lifts his head up a little, and gives Jerry a lazy smile.
“Hey,” he says.
Jerry just stands there with all the words crowded up behind his lips and nowhere to put his hands and everything is just a numb ache. Tears are stinging his eyes and oh he hates it, hates that that should be the only thing he can feel. Dean’s eyes go soft as they meet his own, and the smile fades. He flicks a glance over to the door and then back to Jerry. Straightening up a little in the chair he pats his own thigh.
“C’mere,” he says.
It takes Jerry a moment to make his feet move. Once he gets close enough Dean reaches out and gently takes his hand, pulls him down into his lap and wraps his arms around him. Jerry can’t speak. He thinks that if he opens his mouth now nothing will come out but radio static. He turns his face into Dean’s neck, shuts his eyes and just stops.
After that he’s nothing but soft weight on top of a body that loves him.
He drifts in the blackness.
Time must pass; slowly he begins to come back to himself.
The first sensation he becomes aware of is a lovely mobile pressure against his side. Dean’s broad palm is firmly rubbing his flank as though he’s a spooked horse, hard and steady. Down and up and down and up and down and. The tips of Dean’s fingers are just brushing his spine, the heel of his palm is bumping over his ribs. That small span of his body is coming back to life now, at least. He is ribs and a spine, and a set of burning eyes, and that’s something after all.
In his imagination he always pictures himself and Dean connected by something like electrical wires. Not the cumbersome ones of reality, earthed and insulated, but something more like a fairytale. Delicate copper wires fine as spun silk, glittering between them like a spiderweb. Sometimes the wires stretch so thin they pull and hurt him, like when they fight or misunderstand each other. Sometimes they grow so strong and sweet, and sing with such seductive energy that he can barely feel anything but Dean.
He can feel them now, wrapping around him sure as Dean’s arms. Now he is ribs and a spine and burning eyes and all of the fine, living wires that connect him to Dean and carry the current between them.
He stays very still and breathes, and the breath inside him forces the ribs toward Dean’s hand and Dean’s hand presses the breath back out and there’s a rhythm there, and that’s better. Before he knows what’s happening he has lungs too, and the lungs work with Dean’s hand to move the air in and out and together they’re turning him back into a living animal. Now that he has lungs he knows he must have a mouth too, for the air. He finds it: it’s pressed against the stiff cotton of Dean’s collar, dampening it with breath. It must have been there a while.
It’s almost but not quite what he wants; he still needs to go home. So, he drowsily opens his eyes and reaches up, gently tugs one end of Dean’s tux tie loose and watches as the knot unravels itself. Dean helps him, pulls the whole thing off and drops it on the floor while Jerry sneaks a finger heavy between his buttons and slips each one free in turn. One, two, three…
“Hey, what’s this?” Dean asks softly.
“I want look at you.” Four… he pushes his hand inside.
“You ain’t seen enough of me already?’ Dean strokes the back of Jerry’s hand through the white shirt, not restraining, just asking. He angles his head down into the cramped space between them, tries to see the face Jerry doesn’t quite have yet.
Jerry stoppers his mouth and mutely shakes his head, drags his hand all the way up Dean’s chest to his neck, then along his jaw and back down. He feels horribly young. The fine silver chain Dean wears around his neck catches on his fingers, so he carefully follows it downwards until he gets to its little round pendant. Resting his head on Dean’s shoulder he examines it closely, rubbing his thumb over the image of an almighty man holding a staff, a tiny child on his shoulder. The silver is so warm.
He wants to leave something of himself with this talisman, to press something of his own magic into the metal and help the man and the child protect Dean. He worries that it might not work that way though. It might be sacrilegious to think that type of thought even. And anyway, Dean might not want a thing like that from a person such as himself. He isn’t like Dean, in a lot of ways. Some of the ways make him feel dirty. His vision is blurring again.
“That’s Saint Christopher.” Dean says softly. “He’s been with me a long time.”
“Longer than me.”
“Longer than you.”
Jerry keeps looking at Saint Christopher, his thumb stroking and stroking, and he knows what he wants to do. His voice barely works.
“If I kiss him, will I break him?”
He feels the breath Dean doesn’t take. “Never,” Dean says.
That’s permission enough. He raises the pendant to his lips and lets the weight of his lashes close his eyes. He puts everything he has that’s worth having into his mouth, and passes it to Saint Christopher with a kiss. Now Dean will have both of them looking after him, and he’ll always be safe. Jerry closes his fingers around the pendant and rests his whole fist against Dean’s chest. He feels the wires humming with life.
He wants to bury himself in the warmth of Dean’s neck and go back to sleep, but Dean tucks his fingers under his jaw and coaxes his head up. He wants to tell Dean that he’s sorry he doesn’t have much of a face at the moment, but Dean doesn’t seem to mind anyway. He’s looking at Jerry closely with slightly reddened eyes. Jerry’s sure his own must be far, far worse. He doesn’t think his partner’s voice has ever sounded so soft.
“If I kiss him,” Dean says, looking earnestly into his eyes, “will I break him?”
He smiles at Dean and one of the tears spills over.
“Yes,” he says, as emphatically as he’s ever said anything in his life. “Please break him. Please. There’s hardly anything left.”
He closes his eyes and feels Dean’s arm shift against his back as he moves to cover the nape of Jerry’s neck with one warm hand. Jerry lets his head tip forward just a fraction so that their brows are pressed together. They stay like that for a breath and it feels as though Dean is about to tell him something, but instead of words against his mouth there’s a kiss, soft and knowing. The movement it takes to bring their mouths together and apart is so small that it hardly feels like kissing at all, more like telling a secret, speaking very close. It’s like being under a spell. Again, Jerry thinks. Tell me again.
Dean tells him again.
The wires pulse hard and his heart kicks back into life.