Defunct Lines of Dialogue

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by templemarker

Notes: For Lia in Yuletide 2003. Read it there.


Justin glanced at Ted as they walked through the door to the foyer. “Brian’s party?” he asked, already knowing the answer. Ted nodded, saying nothing, and Justin sighed. It amazed him, sometimes, how little he had to say to Brian’s friends. And really, he considered them his friends too–Emmett liked him, Michael tolerated him, and Debbie loved him, but Ted never seemed to pay him much notice.

They were the first real gay people he’d ever met, and he’d latched on to them. Justin knew they weren’t the sanest people around, or the most emotionally mature; if his mother had his way he’d probably be meeting barely out of the closet overly-intellectualized gayboys from the right class and social structure–if he could ever get her to talk about what she wanted for him. It wasn’t worth thinking about any more, owing to the fact that he rarely did what his mother said and her desires were motivated more by her idea of what would make him happy rather than what actually would.

What made him happy was Brian Kinney, and Justin was determined never to give that up, no matter the cost. He was smart enough that he knew a good thing when it came along, even if it was in the overdosing, chain-smoking, fuck-your-brains-out kind of package.

Justin and Ted stepped into the elevator, and Justin pushed the button as Ted pulled the grate down. They both looked up expectantly, as if looking at the ceiling of the elevator would make it rise. The elevator moved with a jerk, throwing Justin slightly against the wall. He winced and rubbed his shoulder where it had hit, cursing softly.

Ted looked over, but made no move to help, and Justin gave him a weak smile. Ted didn’t exactly fit into Justin’s definition of “friend,” anyway, even though that definition was pretty loose these days. He’d always been the odd one out, well-liked by his teachers and classmates even while they muttered about him behind his back. “That weird Taylor kid, you know. The one who’s always drawing.”

Sometimes he wondered if he had “gay” written on his forehead, or if there was some kind of marker that identified less-than-heterosexual people so that the entire world could see. Even before he’d come out, loud and proud and slightly less than concerned with the rest of his frustrating suburbanite community’s reaction to his new fierce defense of his life and sexuality, he seemed to catch all the flags on the bully radar, and all the fey and queer jokes bandied about throughout school had always been directed at him. What luck, then, to actually be everything that the fuckers at school named him.

A loud screeching noise and the abrupt jerk-stop of the elevator knocked him out of his thoughts. The lights flickered, then went out in the elevator shaft, and he and Ted were suddenly bathed in red warning light. A shrill ringing filled the air, and Ted started pressing buttons, trying to get it to stop. Really, as if they needed a light and a buzzer to inform them of the fact that the elevator was stuck between floors.

Ted must have done something right, because the ringing stopped. Ted was opening the door to the phone inset in the wall when they heard Debbie’s worried voice call down, “Are you okay, kids? The elevator’s stuck!”

Justin and Ted looked at each other incredulously, and Justin swore he heard Ted mutter under his breath, “Here’s your sign,” before shouting back, “Yeah, Debbie, we’re fine. I think we’re stuck between” he paused to check the front wall, “two and three. Is Brian calling maintenance?”

There was murmuring that they couldn’t quite make out, and finally Debbie yelled, “Yeah, he just called. They said they’d be out as soon as they can, which, knowing the nature of building maintenance, is set to be awhile. Are you guys going to be alright for awhile?”

Justin slumped against the wall, sliding down to sit against it and splaying his feet out. Man, all he wanted to do tonight was drink and get laid. It was a good plan, one he had enacted many times before with varying levels of success. Stupid elevator.

He called back, “Yeah, Deb. We’ll…talk.” He looked at Ted, who raised an eyebrow back at him. “Or something.”

“Alright, Sunshine, you just sit tight. We’ll check back on you in a couple minutes, okay?” There was a pause, and some more mumbling conversation. “What, Michael? Oh shit–just hang in there, you two, dinner’s burning! I thought I told you to check the temperature on the oven! God, how did you all survive a day?”

They heard her putter off, and Ted sat himself down carefully against the wall opposite of Justin.

Eventually the smell of burned lasagna wafted down to the elevator, and Justin’s nose wrinkled in disgust. He was looking forward to Italian tonight–Melanie and Lindsay had promised to bring tiramisu, which was one of his favorite desserts, and Debbie made a great lasagna and garlic bread, when she was so inclined. Brian had even hit one of his generous moments and brought out the ’85 merlot he kept stashed away for no apparent reason. And now dinner was likely to be takeout, Chinese from down the street or maybe pizza if they were too pissed off at dinner being ruined.

Probably Brian’s fault, Justin thought, annoyed. He looked up when he heard Ted humming.

The red light shone off Ted’s face, making him look even more dour than usual, and Justin played with the shoelace of his right sneaker, thumbing the frayed edge and pulling loose a few strands of cotton. An awkward silence filled the air, and Justin cursed himself for not choosing the path of exercise and taking the stairs. Even arriving at the loft winded, with Brian making fun of him, was a far nicer option than sitting here with Ted, having nothing to talk about.

“So, Ted,” he heard himself say, and shifted restlessly against the floor. “Opera, huh?”


Leave a Reply