Log:Coffee Shop Talk
Jade sits at one of the round tables in the bench seat, leaving a chair across from him. He's in tapered jeans, with a long-sleeved button-down in sapphire blue silk. He might be wearing a touch of eyeliner, or he may just have lashes that long and dark. On the table in front of him is an espresso in a little cup, and there's a half-eaten blueberry muffin on a plate. He's ignoring the crowded coffeehouse in favor of a book, Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It must be fairly new, who even knew those two had collaborated?
Hector is wearing a Desire Tee and strategically torn and safety pinned jeans. He's definitely wearing eyeliner. He drops down across from jade carrying a bright red Italian soda. "That any good? I like the Endless."
Jade looks up from his book and fixes Hector with a bland stare. Then he glance at his book and says, "Yeah, it's good. It's funny. I like the demon Crowley." He kicks out the spare chair for Hector. "I like your shirt," he says. "Death is my favorite, though."
Hector sits across from him and with no self consciousness licks some escaping whipped cream from the side of his cup. "I'll see if the library has it." Another quick lick of his tongue and then he leans back, "Death is everyone's favorite, I think. It's easy to be a little in love with her. Desire is harder because of the cruelty, but we can't turn our eyes away, can we? There's something beautiful and incredibly tempting about that androgyny, that amorality. I know it's delirium who loves Destruction, but I think desire absorbed and embodied his function once destruction stepped away."
"They're all right, I guess," Jade says. "People say it's tempting, but when they have it, they don't know what to do with it. The Buddhists say desire is the root of all misery. I'd believe that." He tears off a little of his muffin and pops it in his mouth. Then he says, "I haven't read too mcuh of the Endless, but I like Gaiman's work. He's a good storyteller."
Hector sucks on his straw, "I don't know much about Buddhism, besides the stuff in year of Living Dangerous. You know, with the puppets?" He thinks, then he quotes, mimicking Billy Kwan's accent, “All is clouded by desire, Ajuna, as a fire by smoke, as a mirror by dust." Another sip, "I'd like to here more. Catholicism hasn't done me much good." He flicks the cross earring with a finger. "They're really good, the endless stuff... Well okay, the first big storyline has good stuff in it, but it's a little uneven. The issue where Death turns up is when it really takes off.
"I'm Catholic," Jade says. "Nominally. We're not really all that observant, I guess." He closes his book in favor of the burgeoning discussion. "Buddhism is kind of cool. There's an eightfold path to Nirvana. The state of bliss, not the band. Right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. This path means to develop the three essentials of Buddhist discipline: ethical conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom." He pauses, then says, "I've read about it." Like, whatever.
Hector laughs softly at the bliss joke, but he listens carefully to the explanation, "What do you mean by Mindfulness? The rest... sounds like good things to work toward." He studies him, "Is it the Catholicism that is making things hard for you? I know some guys who struggle over the condom thing."
"Right mindfulness," Jade says, "is to be aware of what's going on in your body, in your mind, your emotions, your ideas and thoughts. It is knowing what drives you, what repulses you, and knowing essentially who you are, all the good stuff and bad stuff. Right concentration is the next step; you nurture or discard what is or isn't useful, positive, and helpful to your growth. You want to get rid of things like lust, hatred, and jealousy and replace them with joy and happiness."
As for the question of his Catholicism, he shrugs and says, "I don't struggle over the condom thing. I mean, it's not like it's an issue, anyway."
Hector cocks his head, "Can there be happiness without desire though?" He sips his soda and gets whipped cream on the tip of his nose. "It wasn't just condoms i was thinking of. Mother church isn't fond of people like us."
"I mean, yeah, I guess," Jade says. "There's supposed to be joy in simplicity and contentment in a lack of want. You just nurture that feeling instead of longing for things. There's no point wanting what you can't have." He takes a sip from his tiny cup. "Like I said, we're nominally Catholic. We're not hardliners, and besides, I'm not exactly doing any sin."
Hector says, “I meant more... I wanted this soda and i'm enjoying drinking it. I mean, yes, I miss surfing and the Ocean like you wouldn't believe, but I'll have those again. i just need to be a little patient and i suppose that counts as suffering, but surfing feels really good. I enjoy doing it. I'll surf again.”
"The soda, surfing, and the ocean are impermanent," Jade says. "The nature of existence is suffering. The cause of this suffering is desire and attachment. The end of suffering comes about from the elimination of desire and attachment, and the eightfold path is the way to attain that." He shrugs. "Don't ask me, man. I'm Catholic. I turn my pain and suffering into a fashion statement."
Hector laughs, "Oh me too." He flicks the cross earring again. "I think impermanence is part of the beauty of things though. Like sunsets or Autumn leaves."
"Both those things are cyclical," Jade says. "There will be other sunsets and autumns. Until the sun becomes a red giant and absorbs Earth into its corona." He's just a ray of sunshine today. "Besides, you're happy, so of course that shit makes you all moony and romantic. When you're miserable, it all sucks. Sunsets just mean you have to go to bed and autumn leaves mean it'll be cold and gray again soon."
Hector shakes his head, "I am happy about somethings, yes, but my Mom's still dead and my brand new Siblings hate me. I am alone in a strange place in whole lot of ways it's hard to explain. An Outsider in a place where everyone knows everyone and the... politics are intense. I know about impermanence, but I don't think holding on to the few familiar things left is what's making me unhappy."
"I doubt Spear is capable of hating anyone," Jade says. "And I'm not telling you any of this stuff is true, I'm just saying that's what Buddhists think. If you don't like it, take it up with the Buddha. I just got curious about what Nirvana meant and read some books."
Hector laughs, "That's fair. I suppose I'm getting way too intense about religion." he notices the whipped cream and licks it off his nose absent mindedly. "Man, Kolbein is a genius, isn't he?"
"He's pretty cool," Jade says. "I like that their music is so raw. It's just pure feeling, and it's not sugarcoated. I'm more into alternative bands, anyway. Top forty is too cheerful. It doesn't really speak to me. I think if I fronted a band, I'd just scream."
Hector nods, "Like Prong or Metallica." He mimics yelling, but in an indoor voice, "Who's fist/Is this anyway!"
Jade snorts and says, "Yeah, maybe. I don't think I'm metal, though. I'm just mad all the time. I don't know when I got so angry. I just hate my life, like, all the time. I don't even know why. I just hate everything." His brow furrows in genuine confusion. "I dunno. I guess that's just who I am now."
Hector gives him a steady look, "It doesn't have to be. Seems like you just need an outlet."
"Which in our case we have not got," Jade says. "Look at it this way, I'm getting a jump start on being a bitter old queen. I'm sure they have to come from somewhere."
Hector shakes his head, "That's an ugly stereotype. Boys in the Band is so... So Boomer." He says the B-word with the contempt of the young. he thinks, "Okay, so writing a punk song for you to scream to is out. how about dance? You're a choreographer, right? Maybe a modern dance piece that expresses your fury."
"I don't know," Jade says. "Look, what do you care, anyway? So what if I'm angry all the time? You could've been that outlet, but you're not. So don't worry your pretty head. I can take care of myself."
Hector says quietly, "Because I do. Also, in trying to set one harm right I did more to someone else."
"Is that what you were doing?" Jade says, "Setting a wrong right? Did you get back together with him out of guilt? That's not a very good reason to be with someone." He shrugs a slender shoulder. "It's not like you owe me anything. It's just... it's just something stupid that happened and that's life."
Hector shakes his head, "I love him and I hurt him badly. He forgave me. I think we're good together. He's one of the few good things left of my old life. I'm doing my best at Arizona and failing miserably at it. I... I never meant to hurt you."
Jade shrugs again. "If you're not interested, you're not interested. It's not your problem. I'm just a bitter person by nature, so don't worry about it. You're just one in a long, long list of failures, and you won't be the last." He smiles thinly an takes another sip of his espresso.
Hector shakes his head, "I was interested. You are smoking hot. I just wasn't sure if you were interested too and then Cash surprised me and he's... not ever really thought about non-monogamy. I mean, I wasn't sure you and spear weren't... sort of interested in each other? Because he talks about you a lt and you're obviously important to him only I couldn't work out if it was platonic or not."
"Oh, like if you weren't monogamous I'd just be game to be another notch in your belt?" Jade says. "I have some self-respect. And you could have asked, you idiot. Hey, are you and Spear an item? No, no we're not. Look, just forget about it. You could've had this, you went with 'die of AIDS' guy. Have fun with that."
Hector shakes his head, eyes still steady and serious, "I'm not interested in notches. If I were to try to... to court you it would be with songs and flowers. I am patient. I have been with two guys I didn't love and with one girl I didn't and one I thought I did. It turns out I'm...." He looks away pained, "Not good at casual. Not even a little. It hurts to much." He takes a deep breath, "If I'm with someone now I want it to be all the way."
Jade says blandly, "And I'm just supposed to ignore the fact you're going all the way with someone else? Like, when you're going out, am I supposed to just be at home with nothing to do? And just pretend he doesn't exist? I don't think that works. It's kind of hard to feel special when you're number two."
Hector closes his eyes, "I can't win with you, anymore than I can with my sisters. I will always be the bad guy. I get that."
"No one can win with me, Hector," Jade says. "It's one of my defining qualities. Besides, I never said you were the bad guy. I'm saying how would that work? If I'm completely loyal to you and you've got someone else?"
Hector opens his eyes, "I'd never ask that, Jade, and anyway he and I need to talk a bunch more about things like this. If I were doing openness or some kind of negotiated thing, it'd have to be reciprocal."
Jade eyes Hector oddly. "I can't even get one date, how would I get two? I swear to God, if there were just a switch I could flip, I'd be straight. Do you know how many problems that would solve?"
Hector smiles crookedly, "Yes, but it'd make new ones. Trust me on this." He cocks his head and says carefully, "It might be easier to get a guy to ask you out if you weren't telling everyone you're straight though."
"No," Jade says. "I wouldn't get asked. At least by saying I'm straight, I spare myself the indignity of it all. If I tell people I'm gay, every slime mold from the skeezier reaches are going to crawl out of the shadows to darken my doorstep, because most men are disgusting, and then I have to deal with that nonsense."
Hector looks rueful, "It's true. My little pin landed me in bed with Morrison Lester and you don't need that kind of attention." He asks, curious rather than offended, "Do I count as slime mold?"
Jade snorts. "Morrison Lester has zero interest in me. I'm just a kid to him." He glances at his espresso, which has gone cold by now. "No, you don't, but you picked the other guy. You never asked me. But you remember how we met? That's the kind of guy I'll end up with, and I'd rather be alone."
Hector says, “We're the same age, you and I, but I don't think you'd enjoy sneaking around with him and getting dumped unceremoniously if you started to show affection." He sips his drink, "I remember how we met. You met two guys that day: One was scum, but one was willing to fight for you."”
Jade nods and says, "Yeah, and the one who was willing to fight for me picked someone else." He finishes off his cold espresso and makes a face. "That's just the way it panned out. Besides, you would've fought for anyone in that situation. I should hardly take it personally."
Hector says, “You're worth fighting for. You deserve someone who'll step between you and the Lester's of the world and you're too beautiful and clever not to have someone love you like that.”
Jade says, "You're preaching to the choir, Hector. Why do you think I haven't just gone out and fucked someone? You think, with all the tourists that come here every year, I couldn't find someone willing to fuck and run? There are more than enough sleaze bags in this town to get off with. Not one of them deserves to even look at me. Guys like you? Who will fight for someone? Who'll take the punch? They're rare. And they're taken."
Hector bows his head, "I'm sorry, Jade. I really am. I just... don't think you should give up."
"I barely even tried," Jade says. "I didn't get past thinking about it before it was too late, and honestly, that's just the way it pans out. None of it matters. In three months, I'm out of here, and I'll be too busy to even think about stuff like this."
Hector says ruefully, "I can't wait for college, Jde. I really can't. This has been a terrible year."
Jade briefly touches Hector's hand. "I'm sorry about your mom," he says quietly. "I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to my parents. I'd be totally lost. For what it's worth, I really doubt Spear hates you. He doesn't hate anyone, and you're his brother. I mean, my brother drives me nuts, but I'd still take a bullet for him. Just don't ever tell him that."
Hector looks up again, startled at the touch, but doesn't pull away, "I don't really know how to be a brother, I think, and the three of them are so tight together. What's your brother like? I'm not sure which one he is. i'm still learning names."
"Theodore Marchant," Jade says, "and the stick up his butt has a stick up its butt. He's older, he's competent, the perfect son, and I know my dad likes him better. But he's my brother. I love him." He shrugs. "I don't know about your sisters, but just tell Spear hey, I'm having a really hard time here, and I could use a friend. And be kind to him."
Hector says firmly, "I really like him. Of course I'm kind to him and I do plan to keep trying. I worry about him you know? I think a lot of people don't understand him and people can be mean about that.
"I don't really understand him," Jade admits, "but I understand enough. He's genuinely sweet, where most people are assholes of one kind or another. He's the one person I can trust never to be pointlessly mean. I wish people were kinder to him. He wouldn't hurt anyone."
Hector says, “I wish I hadn't hurt him. We were getting to be friends. We were writing a song together and I lent him my death safe sex special, and got my friends to send me a bunch of safe sex pamphlets from home because he wasn't comfortable discussing it with a brother but I worry about his safety, you know?"”
"Cash hurt him," Jade says. "You just happened to be the guy he hurt him over. And yeah, I can imagine he's not happy about it. Just... meet him on his level. Give him something nice or do something nice for him, tell him you're sorry. Mind you, if you were my brother and stole my boyfriend I'd julienne your flesh and step on your eyeballs to feel them burst under my heel. But Spear isn't like me. Spear will forgive you."
Hector nods, "That's fair, though in my defense, I didn't know I had any brothers until like a month before I came to live here. I think I know something he'd like. It's good advice, thank you."
"Oh, my spite is rarely fair, Hector." He smiles sweetly. "It just is." The smile fades, and he says, "Seriously, though, just keep in mind he's feeling like the guy who didn't get picked. It hurts. It really sucks to think you're lesser than the other guy, like there's something wrong with you. No one should have to feel like that."
Hector says, “It wasn't that anything was wrong with Spear. It was sort of the problem with me and sean from back home. Sometimes it's hard to feel... what you need to feel for a lover when you grew up together. Like I know it doesn't make a difference for some people. It's just sometimes it does. We tried to make it work when we both first came out, but it was just... frustrating so we stopped. Not that they ever got beyond kissing, but I got the impression that's maybe why they never got beyond kissing." He blushes faintly, "But maybe I have the wrong impression."”
"Of course there's nothing wrong with Spear," Jade says, "but he feels like there is. I feel like there's something wrong with me that 'die of AIDS' guy is the preferable option. You can talk your reasons all you want, but it feels the way it feels. Don't just listen to Cash's version, either. Everyone's version is self-serving. Listen to Spear, too. Don't tell him he's the guy no one wants. Show him."
Hector says, “I keep telling him that, that a lot of his trouble dating here is context. That he'd have lots of guys wanting to kiss him if this were, say Seattle, that he's tiotally my friend drew's type. It's just this town's a little too small for his level of cool.”
"The thing is," Jade says, "when he goes to bed at night, and he's alone, and he knows when he goes to bed tomorrow he's going to be alone, too, and he wakes up alone, all you're saying is words. Words coming from the guy who got the happy ending. Give him things he likes, pay attention to him without Cash or any mention of Cash. Words won't fix it, actions might."
Hector studies Jade, "Will that work with you?"
Jade shrugs and smiles a little as he says, "I'm not your brother. It's bound to do more good than telling me how much you want to be with me, then go to him while I sleep alone. You could try gifts. If I can't have people, I might as well have things."
Hector chuckles softly, "Gifts. I'll work on that. I'm going to try. you have my word on that jade."
Jade rolls his eyes and says, "You don't have to. It's my problem, not yours. I have at least some self-awareness. Besides, I was unhappy long before we ever met. I've always been the one who never quite measured up, not in my family, not in drama, not anywhere. That's not exactly on you."
Hector thinks that over, "Your family situation.... That sounds hard. I don't know what it's like to have everything be a competition with people you love. I don't think it's a kind way to raise children."
"It's not like that," Jade says. "My parents are great. They treat me really well. It's just, you know, Theo's smarter, Mona's a better fashionista, Thea's a more talented dancer. The twins are chips off the old block. What do I bring to the table? I'm good at getting high and being a freak."
Hector says, “You're clearly the best looking and you are very good with words. Also observant, i think.”
Jade eyes Hector dubiously. "It's not the same," he says quietly. "Nothing has ever come easily. I spent the first few years of my life just trying to survive. I was born really weak. They thought I was going to die. Look, a therapist would have a field day with me. The point is, my bad attitude didn't just spring fully formed out of nothing when you picked the other guy so don't feel too bad about it."
Hector gives him a crooked smile, "I'm glad you survived." He thinks, "So you are tenacious, you fight hard for things. That's good and rare in people who are born into families like yours. It's an advantage if you look at it the right way.
"What do you mean families like mine?" Jade asks. "My family is great. I mean, yeah, my parents give us a lot of nice things, but I know how hard my dad works for us. I don't take it for granted. That's why I want to excel. I want him to have a reason to be proud."
Hector says, “I'm not saying your parents don't work hard. I'm just saying that where I'm from, there are a lot of kids who grow up rich who don't know how to work at things that don't come easily to them. Not all, but it's a thing that happens. You want to excel on your own terms and you have the strength to keep at it when things get hard.”
"I mean, what else am I supposed to do?" Jade says. "Everything is hard, and nothing is the way I wanted it to be. Of course I have to keep trying. I can't let my people down."
Hector smiles, "I think I like that about you, that you don't give up, that you care about people. Those are good qualities in a friend."
Jade rolls his eyes again. "Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I'm freaking amazing. Just unsatisfied, and people who are satisfied stop trying to excel. It's a net good thing, honestly."
Hector says, “So the opposite of Buddhism, really? Suffering and desire spirring you to strive?”
"Oh, I'd be a terrible Buddhist," Jade says with a laugh. "I need my suffering and desire." He glances at his watch. "I should get going. I've got stuff to do at home."
Hector stands, "So would I, I think." He points to the beautiful androgynous face on his shirt. I'm not read for that Nirvana yet."