Pairings: a bitter kind of Pete/Carl, Carl/Adam if you squint.
A/N - Heavily inspired by the Elliot Smith song 'Twilight', from which I've pinched the title. This fic has no relation at all to glittery vampires...instead, it's RPS, set around about the time of the 'Babyshambles Sessions'. Spurred on by all the wonderful pictures and videos from the recent Carl/Adam gig, and by the fact that I really quite miss writing dear Carlos. I hope you enjoy it, and, as ever, comments are very much appreciated.
Carl’s eyes blink open slowly, once, twice, revealing a room soaked in grey half-light, all barely illuminated shapes and darkened corners. It must be early, not long after he had stumbled into bed, just a few snatched hours of slumber perhaps. Nevertheless, it’s been so long since he’s seen the morning that a part of him yearns to get up and greet it, as if the warmth of the sun’s rays will throw off the grip of the midnight-dark excess they have fallen into, so far down that Carl can’t see a way out. He swallows, moves to get up but in doing so jostles the sleeping body curled up besides him, finds long arms wrapping around him, holding him in place.
“Back to sleep Carlos, yeah? ‘s only been a few hours.”
Peters head nestles into the crook of Carl’s neck, his words breathing across skin, and Carl almost starts before allowing himself to relax into the embrace. It’s nice, this, if heartbreakingly unfamiliar as of late. He can’t remember Peter being there earlier…was he just too out of it to remember? He sighs, softly, forcing away bitterness and disbelief. He lets his heavy eyelids fall closed, breath soon evening out to match Peter’s, submerging headfirst into something more reminiscence than hope…
* * * * *
Carl buries his head further into the warmth of his pillow. Someone is at his door with a battering ram. Fucking invading armies, zombies breaking down barriers and dancing the tango atop his poor abused skull. He groans, squeezing his eyes tight and hoping to escape wakefulness. A hand traces along his spine.
“Want me to get the door?” The voice isn’t softly slurred syllables, but clipped, and decidedly feminine. He’s glad that the pillow obscures his expression. He shouldn’t have expected it to be different, shouldn’t have expected him to be real, not just another hopeful delusion. He’s been dreaming about Peter a lot recently, they used to be idealised memories but now it seems as if the present is seeping in, leaving even his dreams coloured by loss and bitterness. It’s hard to maintain an idealised version of someone when you see them everyday.
“Just leave, will you?” He sighs into the pillow. The hand snaps away, a manicured nail catching his skin in its haste.
“Fine.” He hears the noise of clothes being hastily donned, heels clacking against the floor. He raises his head, idly curious as to what she looks like…given that he can’t remember, he must have been out of his skull last night, although that’s hardly unusual. These days, he’s lucky if he remembers more than one night a week.
His gaze is met by narrowed blue eyes…dark brown hair, angrily pursed lips….christ, he’s sleeping with girls that look like himself again, that’s never a good sign. She walks to the door (that’s still shaking under the barrage from outside), turning back to him just before she turns the handle.
“I lied by the way, I haven’t even heard of your stupid band…” she pauses, and perfect lips curl into a bitter smirk. “…and the sex was terrible. Bye!” She waves the fingers of one hand briefly, before tugging open the door, storming quickly past a bewildered Gary standing with arm upraised to knock.
Gary shrugs. “What’s her problem?” At Carl’s look, he laughs. “On second thoughts, I don’t think I want to know. Hey, I’m hungry, want to go get some lunch?”
* * * * *
“No, no…that doesn’t sound right.” Peter frowns, sucking his bottom lip between his teeth. “Just…just…it’s the wrong feel, y’know?”
Carl gestures at Peter’s guitar. “Play it again then.” A half smile flickers across his lips as he watches his friend nod slowly before bowing his head, fingers haphazardly placed across frets, sliding casually from chord to chord, softly humming a melody over the top. He repeats the progression over and over, familiar with how Carl needs to immerse himself in a song completely, to see it so clearly that the flaws reveal themselves.
“’kay. Think I’ve got it.” Peter stops, watching expectantly as Carl fiddles about with some of the chords before nodding. “Change the third chord to a minor, it’ll sound better.”
Peter tries out the progression out with the new chord, before beaming at Carl. “That’s it! Less joyful, more…eh…reminiscent? Someone looking back on good times, caught in memories…knowing that they’ve changed completely but will never change at all, not really…stuck in their own skin…” He trails off, looks down to the floor.
“You can change everything about yourself, but you will still be yourself.” Peter looks back up at Carl’s words, mouth open slightly, eyes wide. Carl feels self-conscious, and turns away, reaching for the bottle of whisky on his amp and taking a deep gulp, relishing the burn.
“Carl, I…” Carl’s breath catches in his throat for a long, painful moment. It’s been so long since they’ve really communicated that he doesn’t quite know what’s going to happen next. Of course they still write together, still talk and laugh and joke. They play their respective roles to a tee, look at the surface and there’s still Pete’nCarl, indivisible, inseparable, two halves of a whole. But underneath…the floorboards are all rotten, they both know it, but neither will say, they’ll just continue prancing up and down, maintaining this façade until everything gives and they fall, fall apart and can’t find each ever again. But still there’s hope, a small faint belief that they can stay together, make it work, cling to each other, find the right words…
Peter’s phone rings, and he springs to his feet, his guitar clattering to the floor.
“Hello?….Just in the studio with Carl….No, it’s not important. Have you-….yeah?…Great. Be right there.” He turns to look at Carl, somewhat apologetically. “Listen, I’m going off to meet a friend for a bit. We’re done for today, aren’t we?”
Carl shrugs, takes another drink, not looking Peter in the eye. There’s a kind of bitter satisfaction in the uncomfortable way in which the other shuffles from foot to foot in the silence. Carl knows that Peter desperately wants him to speak, to tell him that it’s okay, so he doesn’t.
“Well…the song’s good. It’ll be something special, I reckon. I’ll…I’ll see you tomorrow Carlos.” Peter retreats from the room, from Carl, the door slamming behind him.
Carl sits in silence for a few minutes, before standing, placing his guitar on a stand before picking up Peter’s from where it’s abandoned on the floor, leaning it carefully against an amp. He picks up his whisky and heads out the door, turning out the studio lights and smiling sadly as he leaves.
“Yes Peter, we’re done.”
* * * * *
He’s hammered. Completely and absolutely rat-arsed. Glasses of whisky winding around, thickening his blood stream and carrying depression to his head and his heart. A figure hunched over the wooden bar, hidden beneath leather jacket, dark hair and cigarette smoke, demeanour warning away those who might care to approach. He must look like the illustration for a cautionary tale…he certainly feels like one.
Even Gary couldn’t stand him tonight, chased out of the bar by Carl’s bitter comments and general air of hostility. He’d left a few dollars and escaped, telling Carl he’s see him in the morning when he felt better. John had already ditched by that point, with some girl he’d been chatting up all night, and Peter…well of course Peter wasn’t fucking here, never was these days. Always just Carl. Alone. Forsaken. Desolate. Drunk…
Peter? He turns, most probably squinting, almost hitting the newcomer with his lit fag.
“Oh. ‘s you.” Not Peter. Adam. Makes sense really, Pete’s American accent was never that good. Carl takes another drink, humming ‘Who’s Got the Crack’ to himself. Adam fucking giggles.
“You’re wasted, man.”
Carl bristles, glaring. “Well what d’you expect? It’s…” He looks at his wrist, but he’s not wearing a watch. “…whatever the fucking time is. Late enough anyway. ”
Adam gestures, his smile not faltering. Carl suspects he might be slightly high. Weed, most probably. Maybe he has some left. “There’s a clock on the wall.”
“Fuck off. Why’re you ‘ere anyway?”
“You called me.”
“Yeah. I was honoured, phonecall from Carl Barât, famous Liber-tine. Got right on my night horse and galloped straight to you.” he slides the adjacent stool, laughing at himself, or maybe at Carl. “Mine is the first number on your phone, yeah? Gotta love the alphabet.”
“I dunno. Maybe.” He doesn’t quite get what difference it makes, but Adam always did ask odd questions. No grip on reality, that boy. He pulls over an ashtray and stubs out his cigarette, lighting another straight away, offering Adam the pack as an afterthought, but he declines with a wave of his hand before turning to order a beer from the barman.
“So, where’s Peter?” Adam asks once he has a chilled bottle in his hands, craning his head and looking around as if expecting him to jump out from behind a wall, looking disappointed when nothing happens.
“Fuck knows. Not here anyway.” Adam fails to notice the tightening in posture, the hunch of shoulders and slam of glass on table that would warn most to change the subject, instead he chases after it like an over-enthusiastic puppy would an idly thrown stick.
“Wow. Y’know, I’ve never hung out with just one of you before. It’s kind of cool. Like seeing Indiana Jones without his hat.” He chinks his bottle against Carl’s empty glass. “Can my friend get another whisky over here, mister? Jameson, yeah?”
Carl nods. “Cheers.” He digs around in a pocket for cash, but Adam gets there before him, handing the barman a few dollars and thanking him. Carl picks up the new glass that’s been placed in front of him. He very nearly downs it in one gulp, but stops himself, seeing as Adam has just bought it for him and that might seem a touch ungrateful, taking a measured sip instead. “Pretty sure y’see Indiana Jones hatless in the films. Not that special.” Christ, most he’s sodding said all night and it’s about Indiana-bloody-Jones.
“Oh.” Adam shrugs. “Never watched them.”
Carl rolls his eyes. Right. Course he hasn’t. “Wait…does that mean I’m Indiana Jones, and Peter is just the hat?” He grins for the first time tonight. “Think I like that.”
“Whatever you want, oh beautiful Carlos.” Adam’s giggling again, kissing him on the cheek, like a fifteen year old girl, he is.
“Fuck off. Stop being patronising, y’div.” The smile from earlier has frozen on his face though, and the alcohol has stopped churning up his blood, settling down into a pleasant liquid warmth. He feels very nearly human for the first time in a long while. “Thanks.”
Adam grins. “You’re welcome. Drink up cowboy.” He gets to his feet, pulling his jacket on.
“You going?” Surely he only just got here? Carl chews his lower lip, anticipating the waves of depression that will no doubt submerge him once more after his silly, insane friend is no longer here to distract him. Adam just laughs, tugging Carl up from his stool.
“We’re going outside for a smoke. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you to fend for yourself amongst the demons of the night just yet.”
“But you can smoke in…oh. Oh, yeah.” He grins, understanding suddenly. “After you, Mister Green.”
“Why thank you, Mister Carlos.” Adam replies, before slinging one arm over Carl's shoulder's and pulling him, laughing, into the night.