It's finals week, day 1. And it was a hard day for Cash. Coming off the cast party and a...wild night previously, he struggled. He was found waiting for Hector in the parking lot, laying down across the back seats. His legs were hanging out of the open door. He complained of a headache. Vivian /insisted/ the boys stay with her. It's close to the school and adult supervision is a good thing. So she's retired to her bedroom, leaving the kitchen and it's table open for study.
Cash is having trouble concentrating from the sounds of him. Grunting, groaning and quiet cursing as he flips back a page in his book or notes. His Spanish finals are coming and Spanish isn't terribly hard. He is stressed.
Hector sets aside his own vocabulary lists and comes to stand behind Cash, rubbing his shoulders, and humming 'Fast Car.' He's been really good, staying sober at the party, not even taking a sip or toke. The clove scent is from aftershave not cigarettes. He kisses the top of his need, "What can I do to help, Cashew."
Cash leans back against, Hector and closes his eyes. "I'd say..a break? But these first two days are my hardest so, I need to stick with it. I can't think, though. I can't seem to just. fucking. think!" He groans and buries his face in his arms. "I'm a bad test taker. I even get extra time." He looks back at Hector. "Got any weed?"
Hector runs thumbs up side of his neck, "I do. Did you... want me to try to make brownies?"
"That is too much fucking work with the butter and Vivi will smell it. Let's just go out back and smoke a bowl or something. Got a bowl? I can make one from foil with the help of a drinking straw. Let's sit under the stars and get stoned, baby. Please?" He coos and offers fluttering blue eyes.
Hector is so very tempted, but he kisses his temple, "The Painkillers know this house, Love." He wraps his arms around him, "We could open a window maybe, and lean back in if they come. I know, I know. Buzz kill."
Cash grunts and pushes up from the table. "Do they know the house? Ms. Hellenbrand is a teacher too. I hang out with her on the grounds as much as I hang out here. Or maybe they read my mind and knew who to target to upset me? We don't have enough information and they have fucked with us in ages. I'm basically cured from their hold on me. I'm sick and tired of sitting inside every night. It's a nice night, man. Perfect for hanging out back and smoking. So let's do this fucking thing." He takes Hector's hand and gives a gentle pull out of the kitchen.
Hector tugs back, "It's in my room... Couldn't we sit in the window? As if it were a bench?" He closes his eyes, "I will do this with you, if it's what you need."
"You are doing that thing again." Cash frowns and turns away. "If it's what I nee--You are scared. And that's fine. I don't care if you are scared but I can't stand it when you are clearly trying to placate me." He circles back to the kitchen table and slumps into the seat. "Maybe...AP Lit. I'll study words in English now." He is so, so mad.
Hector looks really confused, "What do you mean be placate? Of course I'm scared. Vampires are trying to kill us. They threatened our families. I have a lot to live for and don't want to die. At the same time? I love you and I'll follow you anywhere."
Hector is met with silence as Cash changes his books around. "It's just right fucking there, man." He says, finally, eyes in his book. "I'm...I think we might be in the clear. In the clear enough to fucking smoke weed outside under the fucking stars and then come back in and study more." He looks up and closes his eyes. "What I mean by placate is how you try to keep things all cozy for me at the expense of you. I...I don't have proof to throw in your face. Just a feeling. You give, give, give. What'll happen when you drain that well?" He falls silent a moment. "I know you are only with me to /help/ me, by the way. Vivi let it slip. You are only trying to help me." He is bubbling inside.
Vivian Hellenbrand lives two doors down and across the street from Cash's family. Felicity would know the house and probably came to visit more than once as a music lesson was finishing. First, piano, then guitar and voice. Cash was good and Ms. Hellenbrand always fought for Cash and his talent. At school, she is a hard woman. And tougher on Cash than average to offset any favor she showed him. Beneath the cool, tough exterior, she loved Cash as her own. And his school pictures have recently framed and hung, in an interesting design that centers on his senior picture, surrounded by his Pre-K through High School Junior. A full timeline of Cash.
Hector brushes fingers against his hair, "I'm not though. I want to help where I can because I love you but you aren't some... charity case." He half growls those last to words. "You're a grow ass man whom I happen to find ridiculously sexy, whom I love making music with. I'm with you because I enjoy you. Fucksake, Cash, do you think so little of me?" There is really hurt and pain as he asks that question. He freezes when the door rings, the vampires never being far from his mind. He hisses to Cash, "Please get the water pistol just in case?"
A voice calls from outside. "Guys? Are you there? Please be there." And then some quieter muttering which is harder to understand.
Cash doesn't move. He just stares. His stubbornness comes to full manifestation. "Nothing will happen if you don't invite it in." He looks back down at his notes. "No. I think whole god damn world of you. But...I-I can be fooled. Vivi said you promised her you'd get me to college. It was all you wanted for me." He doesn't look up from the notebook until the voice calls. "Oh. It's just fucking Felicity." Cash pushes from the table. "I'm going to tell Vivi that she's here."
Hector rolls his eyes, "Of course I'm trying to get you to college. I'm trying to get ME to college. I'm trying to get Silver to Virginia and Spear to New York. I want people I care about to not die and get out of here to places they can have fulfilling lives. Jesus Fuck! That's not about... Fuck!" He growls that last and stalks towards the door, flinging it open, but not inviting Felicity in. He steps out of the way, but leaves it to her to test the threshold.
Felicity has her arms wrapped around herself and is looking over her shoulder when you open the door. "...three, one hundred seven, one hundred ni... Oh, thank god! I lost track of time at the library. There was a whole vector transformation series I was working on and it took longer than I thought it would and then I got a little distracted... What's wrong?" She darts inside and wraps her arms around Hector kind of clinging to him.
"Did you ever think that us getting getting into college and out of this town is /not/ your responsibility in the fucking slightest!" Cash hisses. "Is it even your business?" He raises his arms as he walks down the short hall to Vivian's. "What would happen if I just didn't got to USC, hrm?" He leaves at that, knocking on the narrow door at the end of the hall before heading in.
Hector clings back as he closes and locks the door behind her, "I think we're having a fight." He looks back over his shoulder at his ranting husband, and asks very softly, "Are you breaking up with me?"
Felicity looks after Cash's retreating form, looks up to Hector, looks back after Cash. "What the fuck? Though I think there's a good music program at Pasadena City College, so we could carpool from wherever we're living." Pause. "You two are NOT allowed to break up. No. No. no. no. Because if you two break up right now. People are going to blame me. No matter what the actual case. They will. So you are going to sit down and talk until whomever is being an idiot stops. Even if it's both of you. Especially if it's both of you. How did this start?"
Hector is utterly stricken and very, very still, "I didn't want to go outside and get stoned with him. They know this house. The Painkillers. Only now he thinks I'm only with him to take care of him. I...don't understand what I DID."
Felicity stares at Hector, stares at Hector some more, then looks down the hall. "Cash de la Huerta, you get back here right now and talk to your husband and me. I know you don't look him in the eyes very much, but I absolutely promise you that no one looks at someone else the way he looks at you out of pity or obligation."
Cash stalks back into the living room. He's every once Freeland in this moment. His arms are crossed, jaw is stiff and set, his heels may as well dig in. "Love, obligation and pity are not mutually exclusive, you know? You can feel all of them towards a person at different times. I have been nothing but a burden since the day I walked into his life, Felicity." Cash speak in a precise sort of way, slow, deliberate and clinical. "Lust can be in there too."
Felicity...did you know that he broke up with me the first time because he couldn't take care of his mother and me at the same time. That was the reasoning I go. A time when he needed someone more than anything...he /choose/ to push me away because I'm so, so needy. And you tell Vivi that...he grumbles and shakes his head. "No. We are not breaking up. I don't have a blade here sharp enough to skin my ring finger right now." It's hard to read his tone here but it always is when he goes cool.
Hector winces, "Not take care of. I couldn't... be a good boyfriend. I couldn't do boyfriend stuff. Sex, dates... emotional things. I realized I was wrong immediately." The pain in his voice is fresh and raw. "I keep saying I was wrong and you were right. We should have taken you with us back East. You could have supported me when it got bad. It got really bad, Cash. You should have been there to hold me like you wanted to be, but I thought... I had to be strong all the time. I hurt and I shut myself away, okay? I was being a guy and I was stupid and it's not all one way!"
Felicity steps away from Hector and crosses her arms right back at Cash. "And that was him being an idiot. Which he has acknowledged. That does not mean that you need to make the same mistake. He is not with you because he wants to help you; he wants to help you because he loves you. You have the causation wrong way round and it's messing up your logic. 'If A, then B' is not logically equivalent to 'If B, then A'. I will break out the truth tables if I need to.
"You are a joy to him, not a burden. And if he thought that that joy would be tarnished by his grief, well, again, we're back to that was him being an idiot. But it is not okay for you to cut off your nose to spite your face. If you really don't want to go to USC, then fine. We'll figure something out. If you're just throwing away something you will love or at least something which will benefit you enormously to hurt him, then no. Just no. That is not acceptable. It's a poor risk-reward balance and you are smarter than that."
One day, Cash will look back on this moment and delight in the choice to bring Felicity in. His jaw relaxes first. "You know how bad I am at math." He grumbles. He doesn't want to budge. Not fully. Not yet. "Of course, I want to go to USC. I will go. I..." He shrugs. "I'm a Freeland. Do you know how far we will go to make a point? This point can only be made if I get my electrician cert and stay here instead. Everyone's nightmare but my parent's." He looks at Felicity with darting glances. "You're correct. I have it wrong." And this is how and when he moves, figuratively.
He looks towards Hector. "It's me, right? Big, red haired, broken brained Cash de la Huerta é Freeland. I just want to look at the stars with you again. You can't see stars in L.A. Stars and a few stolen beers from Vivi and...normal. Normal shit." He sniffs. "Am I a joy, Sky? Am I, really?" He sniffles and then tears come, hot and unwanted. "Sorry...sorry. Ii had a moment. Have. Having. I believe but I can't be trusted. My brain can't be." He whines and covers in his face, racing to the kitchen.
Hector gazes at Cash, careful not to quite meet his eyes, much as a man on a desert island looks at an approaching boat, "Cash, don't stubborn me away. You're the sun in my sky. You pull me up when I start to spiral. I love your brain and your heart. you are joy, Love, and have been whenever we were together." Then he' running after, tthe sprinter, the sturdiest Thistle, trying to catch him and hold him, a mouthed 'thank you' cast over his shoulder to the wisest and most beautiful of women.
Felicity mutters. "I mean, not right' at this moment, but usually." And she's following more slowly after, though the tension is now slowly leaving her shoulders and she's shaking out her hands and arms. The backpack gets discarded somewhere in a corner along the way, then she grabs an egg of silly putty out of the front pocket and starts playing with it, stretch, squish, pop bubbles. repeat.
Cash grabs Hector and clings to him. Just clings. "I'm sorry. Finals are stressful and I am a pain in the ass when I'm stressed." He slowly releases but holds to Hector's hand. He uses a free one to wipe his eyes. "I will have doubts for a while. I'll always be afraid. That can't be helped because I trust people so readily. I have to be careful. It'll pass. I'm sorry for rattling you." He hugs Hector around the neck. "Vivi said any smoking can be done in the kitchen. Just close the door and open the windows."
Hector clings back, stroking his back, "You scared me, Love, but you're worth it. You're always going to be worth it." He nuzzles his ear, "If you ever feel I'm not treating you like a man, you really can tell me, okay?"
Felicity closes the door behind her and leans against it, continuing to pop her silly putty bubbles. POP. popopopopopopop. stretch. "We love you. Please remember that." more popping. "I promised no drugs. So I'll just stay over here."
"Okay. Okay. You've never made me feel like that. Which is why I jumped to the worst conclusion, I think. I figured I missed it or you had tricked me. But I will speak up from now on." Cash sniffles. "I can't fucking study now." He looks back to the living room. "Y-You, I mean...I could play for you guys." The piano in Vivi's living room is a brown upright that looks just like it from a an old church, some time ago. The keys are labeled for teaching. "I've been working for a few arraignments for fun. Covers, I mean. If...if you want..."
Hector gazes at Felicity, trying to decide whether to give in to peer pressure or keep her company, but cash solves it for him, "Did you want to jam, or just perform?
Felicity blinks, eyes going wide. The popping stops for a moment and then increases. "I... I mean, yes, I would love to hear what you're working on, but I didn't mean you two couldn't smoke, just that I can't. So I'd stay over here out of inhaling range." She shifts to that thing where you pull the silly putty just right to sort of snap-break it.
"Sit with the lady for this one. Then we jam. This is a song for her so...you know how the women get. Leaky faces." He winks. "You pulled us from the brink tonight. It probably won't be the last time." Cash sits at the familiar piano and plinks out a few notes with one hand, setting up his hand scribbled composition and notes. The one that shuffles to the top reads very boldly at the top. FELICITY'S WILD HORSES He says, looking over to her. "I've always liked this song and after you came back, it played in my head over and over...I had to put it together or I'd die with it stuck in my head." And he starts. It's not terribly complex. The piano is meant to just back his vocals. But the change from Rolling Stones to Cash is pretty interesting.
Childhood living is easy to do//The things you wanted I bought them for you//Graceless lady you know who I am//You know I can't let you slide through my hands//Wild horses couldn't drag me away...
Hector grabs the tissue box in one hand and reaches for Felicity's hand with he other, "You really did save us, Red." He settles in to listen with the box on his lap. Is he tearing up a little as cash sings? Oh yes.
Felicity blinks and blinks more as she spots the title, then lets Hector take one of her hands. As Cash actually begins to sing she watches him and bites her bottom lip. And then she's starting to cry, too. "Oh, now, that's just not fair. At all. I... how do I even respond to that?" Her free hand flaps a bit, though she's still got the silly putty in it.
Cash finishes with a held note that is more showy that his usual. Maybe he's developing actual style. He stops, breathes and flexes his hands before looking at his weepy audience. "It's a good song but, uh, my arraignment needs polish..." He'll begin to list the problems, only getting to about four before throwing up his hands. He moves to sit beside Felicity, on the other side. He puts his arm around her. "I meant that, you know? No one is going to take me from you from now on, Venus. No human, at least. I want you in my life, making it brighter by the hour. If...if Hector is my rock. You are my lighthouse. You will always bring me home, safely. Best female, non-family thing that has ever happened to me. I love you and I always have. I always will." The fact that his big clear blue eyes locked onto hers just drives the point home. His eyelashes are still so long and pale. When he breaks his gaze, them seem to drape halfway to his cheekbones.
Hector offers her the tissue, but doesn't try to touch, let alone capture the flpping hand. He gently bumps her shoulder, "You fit, Red, and you just... make everything better by being a part of it."
Felicity can't take a tissue, hands full. One's still holding Hector's hand, squeezing occasionally, and the other is holding silly putty and flapping and then Cash finishes the song and she looks briefly frustrated as he starts critiquing it, but then he's there and looking in her eyes and saying those things and she sort of melts against him, nodding into his shoulder and trying not to cry more. "Words too hard. Used up earlier. Love you. Both of you." Still not letting go of Hector's hand. At least the hand with the silly putty is relaxing again.
ROLL: Cash rolls brains+1 for: : x1 : x1 : x2 (Pair) : x1 -- Match Value: 1 (Raw: 1 5 6 5 2 -- d6)
ROLL: Cash rolls brains+1 for: : x1 : x2 (Pair) : x1 : x1 -- Match Value: 1 (Raw: 3 6 2 4 3 -- d6)
ROLL: Cash rolls brains+1 for: : x1 : x2 (Pair) : x2 (Pair) -- Match Value: 2 (Raw: 1 6 3 3 6 -- d6)
"I know that feeling. When Hector proposed, I was so overwhelmed I did the same thing. So, we're going to sit here and ponder the beauty of our love until..." He leans against her and back. Finals, Day 1 and the kid is beat. "Aitch, those came out of the blue notebook. You have my permission to read it now. Since we are future collaborators and all." The blue notebook is his songwriting notebook, currently open on the piano. He guards it like a junkyard dog and claims it's filed with trash. Yet, he is trusting Hector to look. "You should look at my cover of Cohen's Hallelujah. I wrote some flute parts, though I don't know the instrument well." He keeps holding to Felicity, snuggling her close.
Hector nuzzles her hair, "Words are not needed. There's cuddling." He smiles, "Thank you, Cashew. I know how much trust that takes." He blushes a little and loves down at his hands, "Would you... like to hear what I've been working on?"
Felicity takes in a deep breath, lets out the deep breath, looks frustrated at the silly putty and then frowns at it a moment before setting it on top of the kleenex box. "Okay. I'm better. Don't scare me like that again, please." That stated she snuggles in against both of them. "More music. I like the music."
"Yes! Please!" Cash says, enthusiastically. "I didn't know you had time to work on anything between saving ever senior in our class, one at a time. Why do I underestimate you?" Cash pulls Felicity closer to him. "I'm dying to know what's in your head." As for the notebook. "I'm minoring in songwriting at USC. So, I can only improve, I guess? So, share the notebook with the best composer I know personally. Mo' better."
ROLL: Hector rolls Brains+1 for: : x1 : x1 : x1 : x1 : x1 -- Match Value: 0 (Raw: 6 3 5 8 7 -- d8)
ROLL: Hector rolls Spirit for: : x1 : x1 : x1 : x1 -- Match Value: 0 (Raw: 2 6 4 5 -- d6)
ROLL: Hector rolls Brains+1 for: : x2 (Pair) : x1 : x2 (Pair) -- Match Value: 2 (Raw: 3 2 5 5 2 -- d8)
ROLL: Hector rolls Spirit for: : x2 (Pair) : x2 (Pair) -- Match Value: 2 (Raw: 2 1 2 1 -- d6)
Hector is all about the snuggles just generally, "I would like to second the no more scares. That was fucking terrifying." He rises, kissing the tops of their heads, "I need to get my guitar. Hang on." He scurries off to his room and returns with his guitar and his black notebook where he writes things he's working on. He settles on the piano bench sideways, facing them, the notebook open on the piano in case he gets lost. He starts to play, but it's all wrong, a discordant jangle that makes him wince and then blush to his ears. "Sorry."
He sits and tunes it properly with the piano, then takes a deep breath before letting it out slow. When he's ready, he opens is eyes and tries again. It's finger picked rather than strummed, and he has managed to make the opening section sound the way wavelets washing up on sand look. There is a loneliness and longing to the passage, but also a quiet beauty, but then it picks up it's tempo, the fingers of his right hand dancing, while his left slides up and down the neck like a crab scuttling, the occasional squeaks of fingers on strings implying seagulls. The passage builds into something heavily influenced by classical guitar in the Spanish or Portuguese style. It is wild and passionate and practically begs to be danced to. His hands go flat on the stings, silencing them for a measure. Then slowly a reprise of the original them starts, but this time it is warmer and somehow not lonely at all, as if the sun has come out after a storm and everything is washed clean. The rhythmic roll of the finger picked cords picks up the waves again, but now what was a lonely walk at water's edge is a kind of love song. Unfortunately it sort of trails off. He ducks his head and gives them a sheepish smile, "I don't know how to finish it."
Felicity snuggles more and more into Cash as Hector plays. Her smile has returned, not one of her super sunny ones, but the quieter one of pure contentment that's honestly rarer. As Hector finishes, she shivers and sighs happily. "Ohhh," she breathes out. "I like that. A lot. The end needs something, or maybe just to repeat the wave a few more times, quieter each time." Pause. "Or end on a sparkle kind of note, like a glint and let it echo."
"I married that man." Cash whispers, at some point in the middle. "You are such an artist with an instrument, man. No wonder they took me for vocals." He says, eyes wide with admiration, professional and personal. "I can...almost put something to it. We should work on it after finals...and prom...and so on. It'll be fun. You are amazing." He sounds a little jealous but in not a dangerous way.
Hector thinks that over, "A sparkle kind of note... I'll play with it and see what works." He flashes her a quick, shy smile, "Thank you." He rubs the back of his neck, "I can never tell if things I wrote are good." He chuckles, "Cashew, I broke my string in the audition. They have no idea how well I can play... If you can think of something, I'd love that. I want to work together. I like performing with you; I always have."
Felicity yawns and snuggles sleepily. "D'you think Mrs. Hellenbrand would let me nap on the couch?" Pause. "I should call Ellen and tell her where I am, but I don't want to. I want to nap. Tired, now."
"Hector, unless you like...hit me with some creative differences bullshit? I will work with you for the rest of my life. Do you think we can blend classic rock with Spanish influence? Black influences? Oh, oh proper Blues. My mind's on fire. But, yeah, Hector...of course. We'll record our first album and get best new artist at the Grammy by...2000. At least." Cash yawns and nods at Felicity. "She said if you wanted to stay, you can sleep out here." He leans in. "I'd invite you to our room but it's like a closet already." He kisses her and gets to his feet. "I'll grab your blankets and stuff." He passes Hector. "Broke a string? No shit? And still aced it. So, no. They don't know how awesome you are. But they know you are awesome."
Hector sighs sadly, "There is no way we can fit you in our room with us...." he perks up, "I'm all about fusion. Exploring styles, experimenting. I don't want our songs to be Credence samey. I want it to be... exciting." He shakes his head, "They took me on the strength of piano and flute." He catches Cash's hand and tries to steal a kiss, "I love you and married you on purpose. Never forget that." Went he lets go it is only to come kiss Felicity, "I think you may be the best of us, and I love... how you look when you are happy."
Felicity waves a hand at all the room too small bit, but collects her kisses. "Couch is good. I like couches." Blink, and then one of her sunbeam smiles and another kiss for Hector. "I'm going to go sleep now. She stops back by her backpack on the way to the couch to pull out her extremely pink teddy bear and curls up on the couch, promptly falling asleep with it.