Category: Nathan Barley
Pairing: Dan Ashcroft/Jones
Genre: Character Study/Reflection
Length: 1-5k words
Notes: In some ways an alternate scene from Break the Silence [Webmistress Note: This fic had vanished entirely (no record in database), possibly removed by author?]. I had kick this idea around for “How Claire Found Out” in that one. But I still liked the concept, so expanded on it a little more for this! Also, has more of Jones and his take on his relationship with Dan, which I hadn’t explored in my first fic.
I’ll Get Back To You As Soon As Possible by Severa
Dan’s mobile went off, startling Claire. Dan wasn’t home, so he’d either forgotten it or left deliberately being in one of his moods. Claire dug around the sofa cushions to find the source of the incessant, annoying beeping. Pulling it free she saw Jones’ name light up the display. Claire answered it.
“Oh, sorry. Trying to call Dan.” He hung up before she could say anything.
A second later, Dan’s mobile rang again. “What do you want, Jones?” She asked.
“Claire? Sorry, I’m…hmmm….” He started muttering something about numbers.
“Jones! Don’t – don’t hang up! This is Dan’s mobile.”
“Oh. Is he there?”
“No, I don’t know where he is.”
“Where is he?” Jones sounded weird. There was a desperate whining edge to his voice she never heard before.
“I told you, I don’t know where he is.”
“But I need him.”
“Are you okay? Is there something wrong? Have you been hurt?”
“No. No. I just,” he took a deep breath and exhaled it saying, “fuuuuuck.”
“You don’t sound okay.”
“No, I’m not. I’m all jittery and horny. I need Dan,” he whined again.
Claire couldn’t help laughing. “I don’t know what you expect him to do about that particular problem.”
There was a pause. “What he normally does.” He sounded confused and more than just a little frustrated. “I’m going to try his mobile.”
“No! Jones this–” But he hung up. Not wanting to go through the same conversation again, she shut it off. Jones could leave all the irritated voice mails he wanted.
What he normally does.
He couldn’t have meant what Claire thought he meant. He must have not understood her. He was off his head anyway. But there was still the fact he clearly was desperate to get a hold of her brother, and that unfamiliar whine could have well been what a sexually frustrated Jones sounded like.
But she’d been living with them for months, and surely she would have noticed something by now.
About twenty minutes later, Dan came in. There was only the slightest unbalance to his step, meaning he wasn’t yet at his usual level of an evening’s alcohol intake. This was just a short stop before going out again. “Hey, Claire, have you seen my–”
She waved his phone at him. “Ah, thanks,” he said, grabbing it from her. “Why’d you switch it off?”
“Jones kept on calling. Was getting annoying.”
Dan nodded in understanding, waiting for the mobile to boot. “What did he want?”
As casually as she could, she told him. “Said he was desperate for a fuck and seemed to think you could do something about it.”
Dan pretended not to hear her, but she knew he had by the way his eyebrow quirked and the corner of his mouth pulled down like a tick. He didn’t say anything until after listening to a couple voice messages left by Jones. Claire imagined them not being so different from her conversation with him. “He’s clearly taken at least two other kinds of drugs on top his caffeine. He doesn’t know what he’s saying,” Dan said.
The mobile started beeping again. Dan answered, turning his back on Claire. “Yeah, it’s me…yeah, I know…okay…I left it…Jones. Jones…Where are you? Just stay there, all right? I’ll come and get you.” Dan ended the call, sighed heavily, and left without looking back at Claire.
Her mind was muddled with conflicting and incomplete thoughts and ideas. That Jones’ behaviour and words were merely the result of too many drugs was certainly believable. But Dan was deliberately avoiding her eyes, which Claire knew meant her brother was lying or at least keeping something from her.
She still hadn’t come to any conclusions when the front door banged open, then shut again. Dan came through the kitchen with an arm around Jones’ waist, keeping the smaller man upright. Jones was limp against Dan’s side, head against Dan’s shoulder. His eyes were closed and he had a small content smile on his lips.
“C’mon, pick your feet up,” Dan grumbled, “I’m not carrying you.”
Jones giggled at that and started humming the wedding march.
Claire just sat and watched as Dan manoeuvred Jones to the fold-out sofa. He tried to dump him there, but Jones grabbed on to Dan’s wrist, pulling him down onto the cushions with him. Claire bit her lip, trying not to laugh as Dan swore, disentangling himself from skinny limbs and twisted blankets.
Dan sat up, anchored to the edge of the bed by Jones curled up around his arm. He tried to pull free a couple times, but Jones was resolute and whimpered like a sleepy child who was having his teddy bear tugged away.
Giving into the futility of escape, Dan’s shoulders slumped, and he let out a long-suffering sigh. He flicked his eyes up at Claire briefly, then down again.
“Give him what he needed, then?”
“I suppose it does clear a few things up. See, I get your side of the ‘friendship’: a place to come home to and pass-out, an extra wallet to borrow money from, taking advantage of the generosity of a naïve kid. And I’ve never seen you pay him any rent, didn’t know why he lets you stay, plus with an extra family member. But I suppose a convenient and accessible fuck is as good as money for some.”
“It’s not like that.”
“Then what is it like, Dan? I’ve only ever seen you treat Jones with little more than indifference. But seeing as the rest of the world disgusts you, indifference is close enough to being in love.”
“Shut your mouth! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Dan surged up off the bed, Jones’ grasp slackened as he drifted to sleep. The movement and shouting caused him to stir.
“Then why don’t you explain it to me?” Despite her best efforts to keep her voice calm, she found it rising nonetheless. Fighting with Dan always made her maturity levels drop significantly.
“I don’t see how it’s any of your business.”
“Uh, because I’m your sister and currently your flatmate as well. So yeah, I think I have every right to know what exactly is going on between people around here.”
“No it-I don’t.” After a couple failed attempts of a rebuttal, Dan just growled and stormed off to the bedroom, slamming the door behind him. It was his only means of escape other than leaving the building all together, and she was sure taking the only bed, which Claire had been accustomed to using, was his petty revenge on her. She looked over at Jones. He had shoved a pillow over his head, guarding himself from the sibling tiff.
The next morning, Dan had already gone to work by the time Claire woke up. She found Jones in the kitchen, hands loosely wrapped around a glass of water as he waited for the coffee maker to finish dripping. He was paler than usual and he didn’t even look up at her and she entered the room. Claire wondered how much he actually remembered from the previous night.
“You feeling all right?”
“Hmm. Yeah. Just a headache. Took something for it.”
Claire poured herself a glass of orange juice and sat down across from Jones. She rifled through the morning newspaper, its sections already disarrayed and scattered across the table, the comics page at Jones’ elbow. Claire cleared her throat.
“He’s not indifferent.”
Claire closed her mouth, surprised Jones started first.
“He’s not indifferent,” Jones repeated, running a hand through his bed-mussed hair. “And I make enough, I don’t care about the rent. He’s been on a rough patch lately.”
Claire felt slightly sick to her stomach. She didn’t like having to sit there and hear Jones defend her brother. She was content with her disappointment in him. She preferred to think of Jones as yet another victim of Dan’s misplaced priorities. She covered her discomfort with disdain. “A rough patch that’s lasted ten years.”
“He used to be like you. Come to London, think you can change the world with your creative genius. I think having you here, seeing you still holding on to your dream when he’s stuck in a job he hates with no hope of escape. He knows he’s not where he wants to be, and that makes him a failure. He doesn’t need you reminding him all the time.”
He took a drink of water. Claire didn’t have anything to say in the gap. She was stunned. It was the most she had ever heard him say at one time. Fascinated, she found herself unwilling to interrupt.
He ducked his head, his voice lower as he started again. “And I know I’m not clever like you and Dan, but I’m not stupid or naïve.”
Well, now she did feel like shit. “I didn’t mean–”
“Yes you did.” He smiled at her, his tone not angry or accusatory. Just accepting her opinion. “And he’s more than a convenient fuck.” Jones stood up. Coffee finished, he went over to pour himself the first of many cups for the day.
“He doesn’t deserve you.”
Jones shrugged and laughed a little. “Probably.” He took his coffee and went back to the living room and his decks.
Dan resented her and her chances at a career? Claire had the looks and charisma in the family, and yet her older brother who looked like a tramp, and had all the charm of a wet sock managed to get a young, loyal boyfriend. Whereas the best she had managed recently were the advances and molestations of a rapping idiot.
She lit up a fag. “I really hate you sometimes, Dan,” she muttered.