Paint, Art, And Truth

Hugh had it coming really. Ever since he'd laughed at Callum saying that he'd painted back when Callum was "researching" Billy with Hugh's band, which really meant lugging around as many amps as his skinny ass could carry, showing he could pull his own weight and shit...

...and to be fair, Hugh was high, if only on the performance, Bruce had taken Callum aside and asked that he keep a very close eye on his rock and roll protégé. Consider it a dry run, he said, maybe if he can get his act together now, it will bode well for the filming...

And it did, Hugh stayed with Callum on the tour, keeping the sober drunk bastard company while the rest of the band went and knocked it back and some, and then Hugh'd stayed the course all the way through shooting...

And then he'd blown it when the band had taken him out to celebrate the end of the shoot...

It made Callum want to cry, not just for Hugh and that he kept on dragging himself back into hell, but for himself and that he hadn't pulled himself together younger, that he could still fall all the way back there if he wasn't careful...

...if he wasn't careful to avoid Hugh.

But now, Hugh was on one of his clean runs, and hopefully maybe he'd see something he liked enough to stay here in the land of the clean and sober...

Callum hoped so, and then they'd gone seen some art and Hugh'd listened all quiet attentive while he explained about modern American art and his tattoo and stuff, and then Hugh'd said that it proved that he read books about other things besides fart hammers and they'd laughed until the security quit throwing them dirty looks and looked like they wanted to throw them. Hugh read a lot, Callum had found that weird at first, looking at Hugh's bunk on the bus with its ever-present stack of tatty paperbacks, which looked like they'd been picked by a blind guy or something, Crichton and existentialist philosophy rubbed shoulders with the latest Atwood and some book about rains of fish.

Not that it was going to save him from what he had coming or nothing.

Maybe 'cause Callum wanted to think it wasn't about vengeance or shit but rather about saving Hugh from himself, giving him enough interesting shit for him to stay around rather than disappearing into a chemical fog again. And well, Callum wasn't going to write Hugh literature or anything, he wasn't Paul or Don the multitalented freaks loved by the grannies of Canada (though, in Don's case, the hipper kind of grannie...), no he was just some skinny malnourished unrecognised artist, largely 'cause he couldn't paint like he could act, like good. Sure, Paul made approving noises and had bought one for the house; but then he was married to a woman who matched the scheme to the dogs, big muddy messy dogs. So he was going to paint Hugh.

Not that he was going to ask Hugh first or nothing.

No, he'd just tied him to the bed and opened up his box of brushes.

He'd been blessed by Hugh being such a fucking heavy sleeper, what with all the living on tours and in shitty band houses and stuff, plus, whatever Hugh might think living in close proximity to enough sub woofers and speakers and noisy fucks with guitars for years must have done something to his ears. There were times when Hugh was totally unlike Callum, nervous insomniac Callum with his almost-stutter and the whole shy thing going for him. But then, there were also times when he was so like Callum it fucking hurt, there, right at the core of him.

Which is why now Callum's running the soft dry brush between Hugh's shoulderblades, increasing the length of his strokes until he almost hits the tattoo (which Callum really wouldn't be surprised if it said something like "die gaijin bastards" and had been got when Hugh was stoned; 'cause he'd asked Hugh again and again and all Hugh had done was clammed up. Anything, even Hugh being a stoned idiot with an evil sense of humour was better than what Callum knew in the pit of his stomach to be the truth; the girlfriend, the woman he knew one day Hugh would marry and make beautiful expectorating babies with) and Hugh gets a little restless in his sleep but doesn't wake, doesn't even strain at the ropes around his wrists.

Let's face it, not really the effect that Callum was working towards even if the happy noises Hugh's making in his sleep are sounding a hell of a lot more relaxed than when he came here. Hugh was, Callum wasn't quite sure, what he was sure was that either the band would implode or Hugh would, and well, if Callum was a gambling man he'd back Hugh all the way, even if the band were just as down and dirty and outnumbered Hugh three to one. The problem being there would still be a vacuum even if Hugh won, and Callum didn't want his favourite motherfucker sucked away, sucked down, until he exploded too. Hugh likes bad scifi more than Callum, made Callum see some movies and stuff and now Callum knows all about explosive decompression and how it's kind of messy (he also knows about Hugh yelling "ye-haw" in his ear... like Callum thought, deaf and kind of morbid, the creepy hilarious kind, not the goth self despair kind, or at least Callum hoped Hugh would keep away from the self despair this time, but then that would involve Hugh not being sucked down again.)

And sure, if Callum had anything to do with it Hugh wouldn't get sucked down, Hugh would be fucking flying. So Callum presses a little harder, goes a little further down his spine and gets a definite groan, goes down a little further still and gets a grind of the hips into the mattress. Callum keeps it the same a bit, and then moves up again. Hunger is one of those things that means you have to wake up, that or eat your pillow and while Hugh's mouth is big...

Callum's not meant to be having those kind of thoughts right now. He's meant to be the one keeping together, Hugh's the one who's meant to lose it, lose himself, lose everything. Hugh groans, pulls at his left wrist and then tilts his head to the side, thinking.

Then there's the rumble of Hugh's voice, more reasonable than Callum was expecting and more together, clearly being clear does something for Hugh's brain run speed or something and that might explain a lot, "Would you mind telling me, why I'm tied to the bed."

It's a perfectly reasonable request, so Callum ignores it and sweeps back down again, 'cause Hugh's sounding way too rational for this shit and if they start talking now it would be all therapy-circle like and too much thinking and then Hugh would start sinking again in a mire of self criticism. Callum picked some of the songs for the Mountie show soundtrack, 'cause Paul was already working himself into the ground and they needed some stuff that meshed with t he new cop and of course Callum totally knew what Cubically Contained was about. He may be pretty, but he ain't totally dumb, if he was, he'd be in fucking Hollywood.

And yeah, you couldn't get less Hollywood than here, but fucking? Maybe, if it was what Hugh needed. What Hugh wanted probably encompassed everything from fucking to naked groupies to booze to cigarettes... it was hard to tell, he probably also wanted an hour to talk literature with Atwood and maybe half an hour with Breugel and a time machine. Restraint was not one of Hugh's qualities. What Hugh craved, though, was pretty simple, something chemical in a little bag or a twist of tinfoil or a syringe; something to make the rest of the shit, the wanting, the needing and most of all the fucking mediocrity of every second between the last high and the next go away, whammo, like that.

Only, then, eventually Hugh would go away, and Hugh was smart, he knew that, even when he didn't want to.

So, Callum was helping him, keeping the seconds interesting, keeping the little highs going so Hugh wouldn't go looking for the big one. And to do that, Callum need Hugh not to be all rational, not to be talking and thinking and shit, so he sent the brush straight down Hugh's spine, almost to the end, almost to where Callum wanted to go, but not quite, and got a groan and a grind...

so, Hugh was almost certainly hard down there, so Callum got his special new brush, the one he'd bought from the drugstore with some mighty odd looks, and sent that under Hugh, and wiggled it around some until he got a long cry of "fuck" with some really interesting vowels and fricatives and you'd almost think it was fucking Icelandic or something.

Callum had managed to cancel talking circle for the night, though if Hugh was good, he might give him his harmonica back in the morning. Callum grinned and pulled the brush out and got another moan as Hugh futilely pushed the whole weight of his body down trying to trap it there.

Grabbed a bigger wider brush and painted a couple of strokes across Hugh's shoulder and a couple more across the backs of Hugh's chunky thighs. Callum wanted to grab them, knead them, feel the muscles underneath, but then that would screw with the whole idea, even if it might relax Hugh some, it wouldn't be enough, it would only be transitory. When Callum paused, Hugh bucked again.

Clearly Hugh knew a good thing and wanted more. So Callum went and ruffled that hair of his instead, almost like a brush, really, one of the classy sable ones, not the cheap synthetic shit. Callum knew you needed to reassure people when you had them like this, even if all they wanted was for you to fuck them into the mattress, Callum had learnt that the hard way, bugging out, when somebody, not Hugh, not Paul, nobody, got him almost there and then ignored him and concentrated on himself.

Suddenly Callum's very cold. There's sweat down the back of his neck and it feels weird and wrong and totally not like that make-up stuff they use when they want sweat, 'cause that doesn't make his lungs quit breathing or his eyes feel like they're open with needles... and his hand has stopped, there in Hugh's hair.

"Callum?" Hugh turns his head, the hand moves with, unresisting, and looks and realises that's there's nobody home in Callum's eyes, 'least nobody Hugh quite recognises, "shit!" and Hugh pulls his right hand real hard, and 'cause Callum knows what he's doing and shit it comes free and Hugh rolls on his side a little and wraps a meaty arm around Callum's waist, "sush, it's okay, somebody attack you with a brush in grade school?" something in the back of Callum's head knows Hugh isn't serious, knows Hugh has seen what's really up, knows Hugh's just distracting, but the rest, just grabs the lifeline, "Came home painted green one day, my mom wasn't pleased at all, and then there was the time when," and rambles on about parties in London, where he fell asleep in a youth hostel and woke up with purple eyeshadow and glitter powder and didn't realise and went down to breakfast, left and started busking on the Underground and nobody fucking told him he looked like he'd been attacked by a bunch of Glitter Punks, not even the transport police when they'd moved him on.

And Callum's breathing again. And Hugh gives him a look that says, I know you don't want to talk about it and that's okay, you want to get back to the program or do you want to just fuck?

And Callum just sweeps the brushes off the bed and that's Hugh's answer and he pulls himself up, Callum had never tied his feet even though that was asking for a kick in the head or somewhere worse, and grabs Callum's head in his hand and pulls him close and kisses away the tears and then Callum realises that this isn't a one way street and they both get what they need.

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