Fic: So I Got To Thinking...
Title: So I Got To Thinking...
Pairing: A little bit of everyone, but mostly Jules/Fab
Disclaimer: None of this is true; I imply nothing about any member of the Strokes
Summary: Julian's thoughts about the Strokes during their downtime
It was never the way it looked, he tells everyone now. They were never that close, they were never that united. They don't see each other that much now. They don't go out for dinner or go to the movies. They don't look each other up when they're in the same city. It didn't happen like that, he always says now.
He sees the looks on the faces of journalists who interviewed them back then, 8, 9 years ago. He refutes what they reported in the beginning, tells them it was all for show. He believes that now. It felt real at the time, but it couldn't have been. He must have been wrong. Everyone walked away so easily, he must have been the only one who thought it meant something.
He's happy now. He is. He loves Juliet. He's terrified and excited about having the baby. He thinks his album is good. Sometimes he thinks it's great, but is mostly convinced that, at least, it's good. The tour has been good. He looks forward to more shows. The crowds have been receptive, and it's been easy to get back into the tv and talk show circuit. When it came time to book Conan and Jimmy Fallon, he'd had a moment of panic - what if the name Julian Casablancas meant nothing to people anymore? What if he'd left it too long? But it had turned out fine. Apparently, if nothing else, his actual name wasn't forgettable.
There were occurences that made him believe he'd been influential, that he'd been a success. Getting a call to do a Converse commercial with Pharrell. Being asked to do a comedy track with Andy Samberg. The song had been ridiculous, but it had made him laugh, and Ryan had reported an increase in the sales of Strokes albums for a short time after that.
There were times he could talk about the Strokes fondly, like an old man reminiscing on a porch on a summer evening. When he didn't have too much time to think about it, he could answer questions about the Strokes. The glory days.
And sometimes, when he was alone in hotel rooms, or when he looked in Juliet's eyes and realized he loved her but wasn't in love with her, he was right back to his lowest. He remembered how his mom had cried every day for months after his dad left, and he understood it now. He understood the searing pain of having your heart torn out. He knew what it was like to feel secure and happy and fucking euphoric, only to discover that the other person - people, four of them - could just walk out and move on.
He did see them sometimes. It wasn't like they never saw each other. And he wanted to tell them things, but he couldn't actually express himself in words unless they were in a song, and that would be too difficult. He couldn't just put things out there for everyone to hear and analyze, things that were meant only for his four best friends. Former best friends. Best friends forever? He didn't know. He went into the studio with Albert to record some backing vocals and track some base for a song on his first album.
It wasn't you, Albert. It wasn't the songs. The songs are fucking great, but that's just it. They sound great with you singing them. Maybe I was wrong to think nothing could work for the Strokes unless it was mine, but it was so hard for me to concede any control to you guys. It meant so much to me that I wanted it to always be perfect. I'm sorry, Albert.
In the beginning he'd wondered why Nick hadn't gone the solo route, because Nick could play guitar better than Albert, and he could sing, Julian knew, and he had ideas, same as the others did. He and Juliet went to Ella and Silvan's 4th birthday party - at Amanda's invite - and Nick had been polite. Hugs were exchanged, civil words, but for the first time, Julian saw that Nick's big blue eyes were full of hurt.
Weeks of sleeplessness followed, thinking about it, thinking back, fucking dreaming about Nick. What had he done? He thought back to the first few weeks he had known Nick - a stupidly tall and skinny kid with the sharpest features (Nick is a model, his dad had said when he'd met him) and so sophisticated, even then. Smoking cigarettes, drinking wine, watching French movies. He was fucking 13. Julian had thought nothing could phase Nick, so full of confidence and swagger.
Nothing except Julian's rejection. Hindsight was 20/20. That one perfect day. Almost perfect. As close as made no difference. Julian and Nick cutting class to go smoke weed in the park, and Nick brought a friend - a tiny, exotic looking boy with shiny black ringlets and sparkling brown eyes and the skankiest Chucks that Julian, himself a conisseur of skanky Chucks, had ever seen.
In his memories, that day had been all about Fab. Love at first sight sounded totally gay, and anyway, Fab had been a little annoying too, all twitchy and giggly, pulling up the grass and going to look at the ducks in the lake, and climbing the tree they were sitting under when Julian just wanted to fucking chill, God - but Julian had fallen in love with him that day. Properly in love, the way couples were meant to be. The way he'd never been with Juliet, and never would be.
And he'd never really thought about Nick on that day, but if he thought really hard, Nick had become distant. He had looked disappointed. He had never thought of Nick being in love with him but fuck, maybe he had been. At first he had rejected it as nonsense. No way. If Nick thought Fab had stolen Julian, wouldn't he be mad at Fab? Nick and Fab were so close.
But no, of course not. People didn't get mad at Fab. Of course Nick would be mad at Julian for rejecting him, not at Fab for stealing Julian's attention. And it went on. Nick's ideas for songs, solos, arrangements - overruled by President Julian. Not good enough. Fuck.
I didn't know what you felt for me, Nick. I was 15, I was a total dumbass. I didn't know shit. You were so cool, and you had this distance about you, like you were above everyone else, like nothing could get to you. You could walk into any room and think you were the best thing there. I would have killed for some of that confidence. You made my songs sound amazing, always. You knew exactly what I was going for. You could play anything I asked you to play. I didn't know how much it bothered you that I didn't consider what you wanted to play. I'm sorry, Nick.
His dreams were always vivid, even when he was drunk and coked up. Alot of weird shit, mostly, like he was still tripping when he was asleep. He dreamed about Fab alot, and when they were together every day, those dreams were great, and after the Strokes, those dreams were torture.
Fucking in Fab's bedroom, both of them giggling and Fab shushing him pointlessly, because his parents were in the room next door, and of course they knew what was going on. Walking Fab home after whatever party they'd been at, holding hands and actually feeling fucking romantic, because the streets of Manhattan were magical sometimes, when they allowed moments like that. Making out at the door of Fab's apartment building while the night doorman pretended not to notice. Hanging out at the park or at someone's apartment, not giving a shit what anyone thought because it felt so good to have little 15 year old Fab tucked under his arm, pressed warmly against him.
Endless fucking tour dates, people shitting on them because Room On Fire sounded like Is This It, show after show after interview after show. Going to Fab's bed and knowing that he would be loved there, knowing that whatever anyone else thought of him, Fab thought he was beautiful. The security of knowing that when everyone else was sick, fucking sick of each other, ready to beat the shit out of each other at any moment, for any reason, Fab could make them all smile just by existing. Fab punching some asshole in the face and breaking his hand, because the guy had dissed them. Had dissed Julian. The very fact that all 118lbs of Fab would fight a guy twice his size to defend Julian. Fab wasn't afraid of anything and Julian selfishly used him as a shield, as a comforter, as the unknowing keeper of his heart.
One morning Fab had sent him a text from LA, in answer to a question Julian had asked a couple of months earlier.
"Finally named the band - Little Joy. You like?"
And Julian had excused himself from breakfast and locked himself in the bedroom and wept, because Jesus fucking Christ, that was exactly Fab. Exactly. His little joy.
You were perfect from the very first moment, Fab. You gave me everything, and I gave you so little back. I never really thought that I deserved you. I thought if I could fuck it up abit, then you'd come down to my level, and maybe then I could feel like I was worth your time. Your love. I'm sorry I hit you. I wanted you to fight me, I wanted you to hit me back. You were always better than that. You forgave me every shitty thing I ever did before I even did it. You loved every bit of me. You believed in everything I did. I was weak, and I took the easy route of getting married and starting a family. I was always afraid you'd leave me, and that it wouldn't last forever. Now, I think it could have. I'm sorry, Fabrizio.
He was sick the first morning they were to go into the studio. He ate breakfast and puked; he showered and then puked again. Keep your distance, keep your distance. It won't be the same. It will never be the same again. I can't get hurt like that again. Be professional. This is a job.
Albert has shorter hair and it's visibly receding now, and he's quieter. Albert has had a hard time. His smile is still wondrous. Nikolai is silent and solid in the background. Nick has ridiculous long, flowing hair and super tight jeans and too much chest showing, and he has ideas, and Julian likes them. Maybe not more than his own ideas, but they'll go slowly and see.
It's the same. It's not the same, but it makes him feel the same. Excited. Happy. Ready to take on the world, all five of them, together. He's afraid, but guess what? Fab is not. Never is. Fab is tucked under his arm again, pressed warmly against him, and Fab hasn't got much bigger than he was when he was 15, and his touch, his laugh - they make Julian feel the same way.