summary: "This night, like most, was nothing short of unspectacular." All Dominic does is walk, every night, instead of sleep. One night, he notices a lone figure in an ice skating rink, and long story short, meets who will become the most important person to him.
feedback: I appreciates it, my precious.
disclaimer: I think if I owned Muse, you would know about it. They're a bit famous so I doubt it'd be something easily hidden.
warning: Implied sexual relations, but other than that, it's pretty goddamn fluffy.
note: I've been toying with the plotline for this the last few days, and I'll admit, it's changed a lot since how it was originally going to be. But whatever, I honestly rather love this one-off, so I hope you do too. Anyway, I'm exhausted so peace up, A-town down. Oh, and thanksies to my bb lalalive23 for reading over some bits.
Night has always fascinated me. I’ve always loved the moon, constant but forever changing. The stars, a million dotted imperfections.
I wish I could say that’s why I never sleep anymore, why I always find myself walking the streets of London at audacious times of night (or morning, more preferably), but alas, I would be lying.
I as well wish that my reasoning could be explained, or that I even had a reason in the first place. See, I honestly have no desire to sleep. There are no dreams full of scary monsters and void space, no unwanted memories waiting to take hold of my subconscious. I just, very simply, do not want to. I no longer see the point in it.
So instead I walk.
I had my neighborhood memorized the first three nights, after which my body gave into its deprivation, and I learned that a human cannot, in fact, survive on an average of an hour of rest per day. After that, I spent another two nights learning the turns and alleys of the lesser part of south London. While I’ve lived in this city most of my adult life, I still have yet to remember how to get from point A to point B without ending up lost and withdrawing to a taxi.
And so I continued. Traveling greater distances each night, or sometimes just staying on my flat’s street, I would walk. Occasionally I’d stop at a darkened park and sit on the swings, resting my legs and connecting the points of Orion and the Gemini twins, Canis Major and his younger brother.
I started my nightly tradition nearly a month ago, going out around midnight and returning at dawn, staying home only when my body physically resisted and demanded to lie down.
This night, like most, was nothing short of unspectacular.
I’d lost track of what street I was on, but I wasn’t worried – it was a frequent happening, and I knew I’d find my way eventually. I was nearing a shopping center, the street lamps flickering, when I first saw him.
It was initially just a glance to my left and to my right, a habit of checking for cars despite the fact no one would be driving at 2AM. But, the moment I swiveled my head to the left, I saw a lone figure gliding across the surface of a small, definitely closed ice skating rink a hundred or so meters away. Curiosity piqued, I immediately turned, my path altering, and I B-lined to the entrance.
The gate was swinging with the wind once I reached it, and I was confounded that it was open without any sign of being forced. The walls circling the rink hindered my view of the person and I only caught glimpses as I went through the gate, leaving it hanging open as I shoved my hands in the pockets of my leather jacket and headed to the bleachers that had been left when a football field was replaced by the rink.
I climbed up, taking a seat a few rows up, and leaned forward with my arms between my knees. The stands were placed at the head of the rink, the man skating with his back to me and close to turning around. From this distance I could see that he was dressed in black jogging pants and a matching jacket, his hair dark and skin pale. He had fantastic balance on the skates, and for a moment I wondered if I was slightly stalkerish for sitting and watching. In my defense, I was curious as to why he was out here and how he got in, and ultimately my curiosity always won.
I shivered a little when the wind picked up, though it was surprisingly warm for late February, the sky above me inky and cloudless. I could see Venus shining, smiling at its intensity, and I glanced back down to find the man following the curve of the rink and starting his trek back to the front. For a few seconds I wondered why he made no motion of seeing me, realizing belatedly that his eyes were closed. He had a plain white tshirt under his jacket, a startlingly bright and daresay intrepid blue and red striped scarf wrapped his neck, the length of it rippling behind him. As he slid closer I saw that he had a small, secretive smile curving his lips, and the thought fluttered through my mind that he was actually quite lovely.
It seemed he chose in that moment to open his eyes, and I allowed myself to believe it was because he’d heard me, and that the sudden jump in my heartbeat when his eyes automatically found my person was not because of the keenness in which he stared back. Granted, I noticed a miniscule jump when he did notice me, but it was as if I’d imagined it after a short while of holding his eye contact. The smile never left his face and he slowed down, the harsh scrape of steel against ice the only sound other than my hushed breaths.
Within seconds he was leaning against the wall, his arms folded and his face tilted like a birds as he looked up at me, and I was again taken aback by his delicate features. High cheekbones giving way to the slope of a square jaw, deep-set eyes alarmingly blue, his mouth small and skin smooth.
His voice was sudden and should’ve been expected. “I’d say you were creepy for watching me, but my ego is rather large. Besides, you don’t look that worrying.” He was silk and rough, quiet but loud enough that I didn’t have to strain to hear.
I quirked an eyebrow at him. “The unassuming are usually the most dangerous.” And it was true; this man had no idea if I was a mass-murdering serial rapist that prayed on the few, poor, unfortunate souls that roamed the empty streets at early morning.
My comment garnered a wider smile, the spread of his lips revealing white teeth, one of which stood out quite comically. He cocked his head in the opposite direction but was quiet, which did absolutely nothing to sate my curiosity, instead making it all the more fearsome.
So I pushed on. “Why are you here? And how did you manage to get in?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t want you to hold back your questions, stranger.” He snorted out, and I felt myself uncharacteristically blush. “I snuck in, obviously. I couldn’t sleep. Though I should ask you the same question.”
Unthinkingly, I smiled back, a rarity nowadays, and simply shrugged.
The beauty of owning my own store is that I am, essentially, my own boss, and thus able to choose what days I want to work and what days I’d rather spend elsewhere. For instance, the aquarium.
I’d been here since opening, strolling through the different exhibits and staring for a good half-hour at a family of seahorses for no apparent reason other than to admire their simplistic and frail beauty. Though, mostly I watched people.
In reality, it’s not that disconcerting of a pastime. Seeing people walk by, talking with those near them, living their lives oblivious to the world – it’s all quite refreshing. Much more than my monotonous life. When my boredom is too extreme, I like to imagine what they are saying, how their conversations will play out based on their facial expressions and physical reactions. Body language sometimes says more than a few words ever could.
Loud, childish squeals suddenly jerked me out of my reverie and I turned to find the source of such high-pitched and frankly unnecessary sounds. There was a moderately large group of 8 or so year olds standing in awe before the shark exhibit at the complete opposite of where I sat. In the middle of them stood another, his height difference not that severe but I could still tell he was an adult, probably their teacher.
It’s funny how in a matter of oh, maybe three seconds, your entire mood can change.
For example: the herd of children excitedly moved en masse, changing their positions from the wall of Blacktip Reef Sharks to something apparently far more interesting – which in my honest opinion I don’t see how anything is more interesting than sharks, but I digress. While they migrated, their tiny feet shuffling and horrendously loud noises coming forth from their mouths, their teacher turned which them, and as happenstance would have it, that teacher was either Matthew, the man I met at the skating rink, or his doppelgänger.
I immediately froze, my eyes going wide at the unexpected sight of him. It’d been well over two weeks since that night. Nothing of importance truly happened, we’d simply exchanged names and he plagued me with questions of which I felt obligated in return to ask a few of my own. His name was Matthew and he was 29, or maybe 18, or maybe 34. He was either an architect or a musician or a freelance photographer. I don’t jest; he quite literally could not decide just who he was, and for the majority of the few hours we spent in each other’s company, I couldn’t pinpoint a persona either. Honestly, I don’t even know if Matthew is his real name, though since he only offered one name I’m rather confident it is Matthew, and not something wildly eccentric and vaguely hippyish like Autumn Night. That early morning, however brief it was, has stuck with me since. Maybe it was because of the simple bizarreness of it all, sitting cross-legged opposite this quirky little dude till the sun rose talking about seasons and sub-atomic particles, Yahtzee and Nietzsche. Or maybe it was just the pure chance of it all, finding an idiosyncratic person willing to sit down and humor me.
In only a few seconds, Matthew had turned around, smiling at a brunette girl looking up and talking to him. In an even shorter time, Matthew was lifting his head, doing a lazy sweep of the area, and in the space between my heartbeats, letting his eyes drift over me once before snapping back with the quickness of a stretched rubber band.
If I was in a particularly amused state of mind, I would have laughed at the way his eyebrows shot up his forehead in shock, or the way his jaw dropped ever-so-slightly and caused his lips to part into a small O. But, unfortunately, my physical being had other plans, and instead my heart rate increased tenfold, a smile threatening the corner of my mouth, and I became decidedly nervous.
Which is just downright ridiculous for a 31 year old man who is definitely not in middle school, and thus should not be acting like one who is.
As fast as Matthew’s expression came, it was gone, replaced with a surprised smile which made his eyes shine even from the distance. He turned to one of the small people surrounding him, bending slightly at the waist, and pointed in my vicinity. The heads closest to him all swiveled –it was oh so very disturbing – and nodded in unison, and before I had a chance to fully process the last minute, he was striding confidently towards me.
The closer he came the more I noticed about him, like how his eyes seemed all-the-more bluer thanks to the dark, slate grey V-neck he wore, or how his ebony hair was on this side of sex-ruffled, or how he had a 5 o’clock shadow, or even how his legs seemed beautifully long in his black pants.
In the time it took me to admire his physical appearance, I had turned fully around and he had come to stand before me, hands on both hips and a wide smile on his face.
“I’d ask if you were stalking me but you don’t know anything other than my first name, of which could very well be fake.” I sighed inwardly at the sound and texture of his voice, automatically forgiving myself that lapse into middle schooldom.
“Is it?” It had been a worry of mine, couldn’t hurt to ask.
“What are you doing here?” I just barely stopped myself from cringing at the way I hurriedly spit the words from my mouth, worried that they sounded rude, when in reality I just wanted to fit as much conversation time in as I could before he was beckoned away.
“On a field trip, clearly.”
“You’re a teacher?”
“No, silly, I’m substituting.” He smirked slightly, quirking his eyebrows as he studied me. “Wha-”
“So you want to be a teacher?” This time I wasn’t quick enough to stop the cringe when I realized I’d cut him off.
It seemed he was trying to not laugh. “I didn’t say that, dear.” My heart fluttered at the pet name and I wondered why I was suddenly so nervous over the littlest thing. It was hardly something to get worked up over. “I do odd jobs, here and there. I have a major in science so their school’s principle deemed me worthy of substitution a year back, and they’ve stuck with me ever since. I think it has something to do with my blinding personality. What are you doing here?”
“Observation, it seems.” I smiled, my awkwardness dissipating slowly.
He hmm’d and nodded, glancing behind him at the group of children. “Would you like to observe over there?”
I too nodded, on my feet before he could turn his head back towards me.
A spattering of days later, following the afternoon at the aquarium, I sat behind the front register in the bookstore my father handed down to me when he retired. It was slow today, as it usually was for a small, hole-in-the-wall place, but I have my regulars and enough attendance to live comfortably.
And, of course, my mind could not escape him.
Really, I don’t have many friends. Maybe a small handful that I’ve kept in contact with since I left university, but probably only one that I actually can say I’d step in front of a train for. On top of that, I’m not a social butterfly. I don’t see the joy in parading around saying hello to this person and how do you do to the next. And so I find it to be a very acceptable reason for my thoughts to circulate around this new and intriguing person who I definitely did not feel anything bordering romantic towards whatsoever. Though, I’m a fool to say I didn’t find him insanely attractive.
I’d learned his last name. Matthew Bellamy, the science substitute, dog walker, short story writer, the latter of which I found immensely interesting. Sadly, he wouldn’t tell me the pseudonym he went under. I had asked him why he never stayed with one job, and he didn’t have an answer. Said he could never decide as a child and it followed him into adulthood, though he finally settled on an age – 28. I still don’t know if he was taking the piss or not.
I stifled a yawn and continued to amuse myself with a piece of paper I was folding into various shapes. The last several nights I hadn’t felt as strong a desire to leave and walk as per usual, sleep sounding more and more welcoming each time. I still didn’t rest anymore than a couple hours when I did choose to lie down, and even then my rest was fitful, as if my body rejected the very notion of such a thing.
I was in the middle of folding an origami crane when the bell above the door dinged, signaling a customer. Jumping to attention, I straightened myself up, placing my halfway complete paper crane on the countertop before glancing up and welcoming whoever it was that had walked in. Though, as life goes, I faltered mid-sentence when my eyes fell on the amazed expression of a certain Matthew Bellamy.
I broke the silence after I collected myself. “Now I’m starting to believe that it is, in fact, you who is the stalker in this relationship.” I said it before I realized what I’d said, a single eyebrow of his raising at the term.
“I prefer to elude such negative connotations and instead go with something much more promising, such as it is fate that causes all of these chance meetings.”
When he said things like that, I found it increasingly difficult to ignore any type of affectionate feelings I may or may not have towards him.
“Well, that is more positive and less distressing.” I moved to lean against the counter, my arms folded. “I take it you came here looking for a book and not just me, yes?”
“Ah, sadly you are right. I dunno what kind of book just yet, though. I prefer to walk around, get a feel for the place, before making any sort of rash decision.”
“I’m not surprised.”
He made an amused face, looking at me from the corner of his eyes as he turned on his heel. He was casual today, dressed in a faded Prince tshirt, the outline of two doves a stark contrast to the bright purple of the background, and loose, torn jeans. He went through the aisles, glancing here, brushing dust off there, and I couldn’t help myself. I watched him.
Possibly fifteen minutes went by before he returned to the counter, his hands empty. I placed a second completed paper crane next to its brother before cocking my head to the side in question.
“I don’t think my subconscious wants a book.”
“Then why did you come into a bookstore?”
He shrugged. “Maybe it was telling me something, like it knew I’d find something else I wanted in here.”
I won’t deny that my heart skipped a beat, a warm feeling settling in the base of my stomach that I hadn’t felt in years.
He took my lack of response as answer enough and continued. “I was thinking while I went through the aisles that we’ve met three times, this being the third, and since it’s usually the charm of all numbers I should act upon it cos I don’t feel like waiting for you.”
“Pardon?” I would say I was genuinely confused, but I had an inkling of a thought that I knew what he was referring to.
“You know what I’m talking about, silly. I’m asking you on a date, so that, perhaps, we can run into each and it’ll be planned, at a specific time, at a specific place.”
I stared at him, wide-eyed. “That works with me.”
He smiled, his head tilted, and shoved his hands in his back pockets, and I definitely saw how the force of his hands pulled his jeans down far enough to reveal a sliver of skin, and I flirted with the idea that he did it on purpose. “Good.”
Yeah, it was on purpose.
He was atheist but found religion fascinating. He had what he described “hippy, existentialist bullshit ideas” on life, and yet was the most unerringly optimistic person I’ve ever met. His favorite color was color and his favorite activity was living. He listened to all kinds of music and would never play favorites, though he secretly preferred classical above all else. He could play somewhere around six different instruments, though he explained that if you can make something melodious with a table, it was technically an instrument. He was quite the apt performer in countertop drumming. He read classic and contemporary literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and manga. He’s probably the most unique and interesting person I know.
In return for every question I asked him, he was allowed to ask twice as many in return. His reason for this was because I already knew more about him than he did about me, and I couldn’t deny. I just don’t like talking about myself. He told me that was because I’m “ashamed of my life and myself,” and I told him we wouldn’t get anywhere if he tried to psychoanalyze me.
He just laughed but continued to, as I’m apparently adorable when I blush and am as easy to read as a dictionary.
I told him he was beautiful, the kind of beautiful people would write poems about, and he was silent for a long while before he reached across the park table and traced the outline of my lips with his forefinger. His touch was electric, and too soon he drew back his hand and was launching into a descriptive explanation of a phenomenon called retrocausality.
He told me afterwards he wanted to keep me and hoped I wouldn’t mind, and I told him he didn’t have to worry, he could have me.
It was the morning after our third date, three weeks after our first, and I woke up to radiantly bright sun in my eyes and soft hair tickling my nose, a warm body pressed against the length of my own. Memories flooded back to me, reminding me what happened the night before. Flashes and images of our bodies sliding together, moving together, raced through my head. I remembered how he was nothing but serious and soft and silent, no room for histrionics as we became acquainted with each other’s body.
We fell asleep tangled together in the spread of my bed, the comforter and sheets twisted around us. It occurred to me as I glanced over the top of his head and saw the clock announcing it was 10:20AM that I had slept at least ten hours without a problem.
My movement woke him, his body stretching felinely, back arched and arms above his head. I let my hand hover over his hip, admiring the slopes and cut lines of his form. He moved his own hand to rub the sleep out of his eyes, and I snorted at the state of his hair.
I smiled, his voice rough from a mix of overuse last night and no use while he slept. “Hello, Matthew.”
He rolled onto his back, scratching idly at the sparse hair under his navel, and glanced at the clock as well. His head flipped back over, his eyes on me, wide with some sort of emotion. “You slept.”
I nodded and he smiled sleepily, yawning as he rolled back into the welcoming embrace of my arms. I’d told him about my lack of desire to sleep, and that it was the reason we met that night, and how I’ve been sleeping more often. He was worried and all but begged me to see a doctor, but I was against the idea.
“I think it’s because of you, to be honest.” I whispered into his hair, the silky strands brushing against my skin and making my nose twitch.
“Oh? Do explain.” His speech started to get slow and I recognized it as his tell that he was close to falling asleep. I pressed my grin into is hair, tightening my hold of him.
“Dunno how to. You’re just my special gift, is all.”
“Don’t get preachy on me, Howard.”
I huffed a laugh and felt him smiling against my chest. “I’m serious, Matthew.”
He threaded his legs with mine, our bodies touching in every place possible. “Yes, I know. Let’s go back to sleep, shall we?”
The last thing I heard was the sound of his voice humming the rhythm of some unknown, beautiful piece.