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This isn't Arcata

This is because I cannot turn these two off - I can't! I'm not even sure I want to try anymore...I spent the entire morning typing this up. I 'm heading over to my mom's place for a few hours, and I'm hoping when I get back I can work on something else. If not, well, you'll get more Jack/Shawn and I'm not hearing any complaints...Watch out, angst ahead!!


            Shawn looked at the clock again and sighed, it was rapidly approaching seven. He had made dinner reservations for six and the movie he was supposed to be seeing would be starting in less than an hour. And still, no Jack. They didn’t get the chance to go out often, not with the amount of schoolwork he had faced in his first semester at Yale. After having just finishing his midterms he figured it would be a good time to leave his books and get the hell out of the apartment for an evening.

            Now he was sitting on the couch, copying notes from a text because his boyfriend had decided not to come home from work. Jack often came home late, but they had been planning to go out for more than a week. Shawn had tried calling his cell, and had picked his own up to do it again, before grudgingly setting it back down. There was already going to be four – maybe five missed calls when Jack finally got to his truck and realized he had left it in the glove box, again. If he bothered to even get it out; this wasn’t the first time that Shawn had come to the conclusion that Jack having a cell phone was not worth fifty bucks a month.

            As if glaring at the offending piece of electronics had willed it to come alive, his cell started to ring. It wasn’t Jack, he knew without picking it up, because when Jack called, on those rare occasions, the melody of I’ll Cover You, from Rent was his ringtone. No it was playing La Vie Boheme, also from Rent, which meant that it had to be one of his close friends, that small circle that had not so long ago been living under the same roof.

            Shawn picked it up, saw David’s name on the screen and sighed; he really didn’t want to talk to Jack’s best friend at the moment. Shawn was also close with David, too close, because he might say something about Jack’s absence that he would want to retract later.

            He flipped it open, “Hey.”

            “Shawn?” David’s voice was bordering on deliriously happy, and Shawn was already regretting answering the phone.


            “Is Jack with you? I’ve been trying to reach him all night; I’ve got some fantastic news.”

            “Join the club; I’ve been calling him for the past two hours. He’s probably still under a car, you know Jack,” Shawn told him bitterly.

            “You guys okay?” David’s voice had lost the exuberance from the beginning of the call. Hearing the concern made Shawn guilty, David didn’t get that excited to often.

            “Uh huh,” he told him dismissively, “What’s up?”

            “I got a job!” The excitement was back, “A real job, I mean, it’s just at The Post and it doesn’t pay much – but I’ll be writing. Little stuff, of course, but it’s going to give me some experience, and you know you can’t buy that.”

            “That’s great, Dave,” Shawn said, genuinely happy for David’s fortune. He had been trying to find a job as a journalist for almost six months. David wasn’t used to failure, he had been at the top of his classes, and every time a job had turned him down for lack of experience it chipped a little more of his confidence away. When he had mentioned giving up and taking a job in retail Jack had threatened to get on a plane just to knock him over his head for the stupidity.

            “Look, just don’t tell Jack until I get the chance to talk to him, alright?” the concern returned, “You sure you two are doing okay?”

            “Of course. Things are just a bit – stressful, I suppose. We’re both extremely busy.” Just as Shawn was always in class or studying, Jack was always at work. He put in extra hours, trying to stash some cash into his savings after the unexpected move to New Haven had drained it. They got by, mostly because they rarely went out, and their apartment was a studio. Shawn’s family sent him some money, but they had been more than a bit stingy when he had told them he had chosen to live with Jack instead of his friend Tony. They had assumed that the two of them had an argument over the living arrangements, and Shawn hadn’t wanted to enlighten them. If they had known just how close the quarters were he kept with Jack they might have reconsidered his monthly stipend. He had his own money, left to him from his grandmother’s will, but it was almost exclusively a college fund, and Jack wouldn’t want him to touch it anyway.

            “Only busy?”

            “Yes,” he sighed, “I really don’t want to talk about it, Dave.” He had always gone to David with his problems before, but once he and Jack had started dating he tried to keep their relationship between the two of them. It wasn’t that they had a lot of problems; it was that their lives had been turned upside down in less than a year. Sometimes Shawn felt as if they had moved to fast, and other’s he knew it wasn’t fast enough. He loved Jack, wanted him more than anything he had ever wanted before, but sometimes between Jack and Yale it was a bit too much.

            “If you want to talk, you know how to find me? Tell Jack I called.”

            “I will.”

            “Take care of yourself, Shawn,” he told him.

            Shawn found the continued concern comforting, even if he thought it was an overreaction, “I will, Dave,” he repeated.

            He closed the phone, looked at the clock, again, and then back to his notes. I should have spent the evening watching Rent, he reflected, at least that would have been enjoyable.


            It wasn’t until Jack pulled into the apartment complex at almost nine that he realized what day it was.


            Shawn was going to kill him. He had promised to leave work by five so they would have time to go out, something that they were starting to only do every once in a blue moon. When had things became so complicated? Had it really been that long ago that they had begged Tony to bunk with Dave that last summer in Arcata? It had been simple then, Yale had still been months away, and their relationship had been blissfully new.

            Jack had waited until almost the last minute to decide to move to New Haven, in fact it had been when Tony was pressing Shawn to finalize the plans for an apartment near campus. They had discussed trying the long distance thing, one of them flying back and forth at least once a month, but after David had mentioned moving to a larger city himself staying behind seemed pointless. Besides, Jack had wanted to be with Shawn, he could work on cars just about anywhere. They could pool some money together and worry about where they would live after Shawn graduated. Those were big dreams for a couple that was just starting out, but Jack had never really committed to anyone before – and he wanted to commit to Shawn.

            Jack braced himself at their doorway, wondering how he was ever going to make up the night. He slipped off his shoes before unlocking the door and stepping inside. Shawn was on the wooden futon that served as couch and bed, legs crossed underneath him. There wasn’t a book, paper, or pen in sight, it was one of the rare occasions that Shawn had turned on the TV. His not so rare choice of entertainment – Rent. Shawn loved musicals, that one in particular, Jack had heard the soundtrack so many times that he had known all the words before they had ever dated. He had always teased Shawn that musicals were so stereotypical of gay men, but secretly found it cute that his lover could be such a fan boy.

            Shawn’s eyes did not move from the screen, “Good to know you’re still alive.”

            “I’m sorry,” Jack told him, shutting the door, “I forgot.”

            Shawn whipped his head to look at him, “You forgot? I’ve been calling you for the past four hours. Tell me, what is the point in paying for a phone that you don’t use?”

            “I don’t want to get it greasy,” it was a lame excuse. Jack hated the grime that came with his job, but he hated being tied to a phone more. He would never be one of those people that had to have their cell with them at every waking moment, or texting instead of talking to people because it was just more convenient.

            “Fine, leave it in your truck, but would it kill you to check it every now and then?”

            “Look, I said I was sorry.”

            “It was one night, one God damn night, Jack,” he snapped, “You’re never here.”

            “And you are?” Jack challenged him. Shawn had broached a touchy subject that they had both spent too long ignoring. “Even when you are here you’re not here. You’re too busy being buried in Roe VS Wade or some shit.”

            Shawn finally switched off the television, “Roe VS Wade, seriously? Do you even know why I even want to be here?” his fingers moved restlessly across the arm of the futon, “It sure as hell isn’t because I’m worried about women’s rights on abortion. I had one paper, one on Roe VS Wade over a month ago.”

            Jack sighed, “What do you want from me, Shawn?”

            “To know you care!”

            “To know I care?” it hurt, and stirred up more than the lack of time they had spent together. The argument no longer had anything to do with a missed dinner date. “Do you even comprehend what I’ve given up for you? I moved over three thousand miles to a city where I know no one save my boyfriend –”

            “Tony’s here,” Shawn felt compelled to point out.

            “Tony isn’t my boyfriend – who by the way, is still hiding in the closet.”

            “What?” the edge in Shawn’s voice was fading.

            “You are in the closet,” he spoke the words slowly, as if explaining it to a child, “and it’s driving me mad!” Jack hadn’t noticed when they’d still been in Arcata, but there they had been surrounded by people they had known. Even though David, Tony, Will, and particularly Ethan had been put off by the initial relationship the unease had faded quickly. It wasn’t until after, once they had reached New Haven Jack had realized that Shawn pulled away from his touch if they were anywhere public. He never brought anyone home, not even to study, and the few people Jack had met he had been introduced as Shawn’s roommate. The first time he had dismissed it, but every time thereafter it stung.

            “I am not!”

            Jack shook his head in disbelief, “God, do you really not see it? You won’t even touch me outside these walls. I’m not asking you to make out in the park, just to not freak out if I reach for your hand when were walking down the street. Have you told anyone that I’m not just your roommate?” he challenged, “You think it’s easy to tell a garage full of mechanics that you’re gay? Gay men aren’t supposed to know how to check their oil or tire pressure, let alone how to change a motor. They're supposed to be prissy and feminine – those guys give me hell all the time because I love you. I just can’t do this, Shawn, I can’t.”

            “What are you saying?”

            “I don’t know. I have to go, I need to breathe.” Jack had to get out; before he said something he would be unable to take back.



Oooooh, angst! LOL. But angst is a lot of fun when it's done well (too bad that's not usually the case) and I really enjoyed reading this. It's logical, their reactions come across as natural and logical and true to their characters.

Oh, believe me, I can relate to David's excitement, given how many people take on whatever job they can get when their uni course doesn't exactly lead them in the direction they'd hope - yeah, I'm in those shoes right now. He'd be just thrilled, so I love how you wrote that!

I really like how you're using, abusing and distorting stereotypes with the pair, it adds a fantastic sense of depth especially as their edges contrast and rub against each other.

You think it’s easy to tell a garage full of mechanics that you’re gay? Gay men aren’t supposed to know how to check their oil or tire pressure, let alone how to change a motor. Their supposed to be prissy and feminine – those guys give me hell all the time because I love you. I just can’t do this, Shawn, I can’t.”

I love how the conversation so rapidly turns from neither of them being there physically to Shawn's absence emotionally, and this from Jack pretty much says it all. (Although, 'their' should be 'they're'...) It really gives us a good look at how couragous and confident Jack is, becuase that just can't be easy for him to do ... and he thinks harder than it would be for Shawn to spill, but I wonder what's keeping Shawn in?

You so know you need to answer that question as soon as possible, right?
I was curious to see how angsty Jack/Shawn would play out. I know, I keep throwing stereotypes all over the place with these two...and the Rent thing, I told Jason the other day I was going to pass it off to someone, I just didn't know who yet. Shawn totally fit the bill with that one, I couldn't decide what ringer to give his phone and then set myself into a fit of giggles.

As for the mechanics I've been around them all my life, and they can be some of the most vulgar men. I can only imagine the shit they must have given Jack...Thanks for noticing the their/they're, I hate it when I miss stuff like that.

I'm working on it...we'll see how much I can get done tonight.