Disclaimer:Brothers of the Head belongs to Brian W. Aldiss. I am not profiting financially from this piece of fanfiction, nor do I intend to. Anything related to the film belongs to the filmmakers and Brian Aldiss respectfully - the idea for this piece of work, however, is my own.
Barry stared around him at everyone else having a good time. Paul was talking seriously with Tubs about something. He hadn’t looked Barry’s way all night. Of course not. It was Tom and Barry... Barry had thought that Paul saw only him, but he must have been wrong.
Tom was... Tom was all the way across the room. That was strange for Barry. Nearly three months after the separation and he sometimes still moved when Tom did. For the first month, after they were released from hospital, Barry followed him around everywhere because he didn’t know what else to do. Tom seemed to have been planning it all along, always moving, always on the go. Like he had a list of things stored in his head “Things To Do Once I’m Separated from Baz – Un-Barry Me.” Barry knew that Tom was getting annoyed with his presence.
So then Barry had turned to Paul who made time for him when he could but that wasn’t much... eventually Paul seemed to drift away all together. Distancing himself. His looks and touches grew less frequent. (Barry didn’t know it was because Paul wanted to keep their friendship just that. A friendship. Having another relationship with the lead-singer of the band could only cause problems. After all, look what had happened to Chris... and to Paul.)
“Hey, you,” Barry looked up as Laura sat down next to him. “What’s wrong?”
He looked away. “Nothing,”
“You look sad,” she said softer.
“No...” he wanted so desperately to reach out to her because he knew her and... but he didn’t, and she didn’t either... there was an awkward moment. Laura didn’t know how to act around Barry without Tom. Not really.
He missed home. Robbie always knew how to decode his feelings... no one here did but Tom, and his brother wasn’t doing a very good job of that lately.
He stood up, without a word and walked away. He hesitated by the doorway where Paul’s jacket lay on a table. With a quick glance around the room he slipped his hand into the pocket and yes, pulled out a small makeshift envelope full of white-yellow powder. He slipped it into his pocket and walked out with one last glance at Paul.
He slipped into the downstairs bathroom where it was quiet and made a line of coke on the countertop, one foot against the door so no one could open it. The lock was broken. He leaned down, snorting the drug. He licked his finger and gathered up the residue before sucking it into his mouth. When he straightened up again, wiping some of it from underneath his nose he stared at his reflection in the mirror. It had always used to frighten him when he was younger, if he stared at himself long enough. His pupils would dilate and after a while he didn’t look like himself anymore.
And now Tom wasn’t with him. He was setting himself up for a bad trip and he knew it. There was still enough for another two lines in the bag he guessed, finally looking away from his reflection and gazing at it. Well... Paul wouldn’t miss it. Barry slipped it into his back pocket, keeping it for later.
He wandered back into the recording room. It was as though he hadn’t left. Laura was dancing with Tom behind the glass wall where the record player was to a song that was too quiet to hear correctly from where Barry stood. He found Paul again and went over. His lips were already numb from the cocaine and he coughed a little, clearing the excess from his throat.
“Paul,” he said, but Paul didn’t hear him, laughing with some guy Barry had never seen before. They were too close and Barry felt a strange heat rise up inside him. He reached out to touch Paul’s hand without thinking, and Paul jerked it away. Barry’s eyes widened at the abrupt movement.
“Barry,” Paul said. There was an apology in his face, but something else there too. A warning. “What is it?” he asked gently. Barry noticed how he moved closer, as though to fix the fact that he had pulled away.
“I... wanted to talk. Come have a fag with me or--” He hadn’t known that that would come out of his mouth, but suddenly it seemed like a good idea. An answer. Of course Paul would talk with him... Paul never failed him.
Not until this moment.
“Not right now, Baz,” He said. He must have seen the hurt in Barry’s eyes because he added quickly, “Later, okay? I promise.” But he was distracted. He kept glancing back at the other guy, and Barry slowly stepped away. It was easier after that.
“No, never mind.” He walked out. Paul stared after him for several moments after he even after he disappeared from the door.
Cocaine wasn’t enough right now. He needed something stronger... but what could he find that was stronger than cocaine? Ah... Jack was here. He sometimes helped with the camera equipment and could usually be found passed out on the sofa outside the recording room. He always carried a needle on him, and Barry had heard mention about mixing heroin and cocaine. It was supposed to be amazing. And dangerous.
He hesitated at the stairs, then turned and backtracked to the front hall where everyone’s coats and bags were. He rifled through all the coat pockets, finding a few fags he wanted to keep but no syringes. He stopped, listening intently to the chatter in the recording room. When he was sure no one was coming out any time soon he crouched down and began going through the bags. Finally he found one. He wasn’t sure if it was Jack’s, but he recognized the colour of the drug already in the needle and he closed his hand around it. There wasn’t much there, but it would do for his first time.
He took the stairs all the way up to his and Tom’s room. It was easier on the cocaine and he felt like he could run fucking laps right now, and beat every single fucking person down there, and he was still slightly off-kilter, off-balance, without Tom around.
And if he and Laura wanted to fuck later, Barry thought settling himself cross legged in the middle of the bed with a book and a straw, they could go somewhere else because he didn’t fucking care.
He shifted, pulling the baggie of cocaine from his jeans pocket and contemplated it. He knew you were supposed to shoot it into your veins with the heroin, but he didn’t know how to go about doing that. He put the cocaine aside, and let the needle roll out from his hand. He’d never actually seen it done but he knew the just of it. He held the needle up again, pulling the little plastic cap off and staring at it... he had a moment of doubt...
Paul was always telling them not to use this... well... what the fuck did he know anyway? He set the needle down, still unsure, and instead leaned over and poured the rest of the cocaine onto the little table by the bed and sucked it all down. He choked, never having done that much as once but he managed to swallow it all, tasting the bitterness of it on his tongue and swallowing several times to get rid of it. He coughed again. He hoped it had cost the bassist and that he didn’t get it for free as he sometimes did. Revenge.
He lay back on the bed, one leg bouncing erratically as he picked up the needle again and stared at it in the dim side light.
“Not now, Barry.” Paul had said. Paul never turned him away before, just as Tom had never left his side. Just as Tom had always, always said that they would never be apart.
Well... they were now. Emotionally and physically. Barry was alienated, on his own little planet. Isolation. He wondered vaguely if anyone could even see him anymore? Can you not see me? Can you not see my eyes on you? His hands were shaking from the cocaine and the needle slipped, rolling onto the floor. He swore and reached for it but it was too far away.
Barry stood up and a glint of metal caught his eyes. The knife was still up here, sitting on the windowsill. The big one that... the one he’d tried to hurt Tom with when they were still together.
He very slowly walked over and picked it up. The cocaine in his veins made him ready for anything, and his mind-frame made him more upset than he ever remembered feeling in his life. He could see his reflection in the blade, and had to blink and shake his head to focus on it. You. He thought. You’re fucked up and everyone knows it. His shoe hit the needle and sent it spinning off across the cold floor as he left the room.
Just down the hall was a little bathroom, and he slipped inside. This one had a lock. He placed the knife carefully on the counter and turned to lock the door. It was tricky because the lock stuck, but he finally got it.
He wasn’t happy. The cocaine wasn’t doing that. He needed to do something, he needed to be moving or singing or bleeding. His brow furrowed. Where had that thought come from? But then he realised that it had been clear since he’d picked up the knife, only he just hadn’t heard it in the mass of other thoughts.
He moved to the bathtub, sitting on its edge. One leg on the inside of tub, the other on the floor. He was facing away from the chipped white of the inside of the bath. He wished he could stop shaking; he needed heroin... to calm him down. But then remembered that he’d left it in their room and couldn’t figure out how to do it anyway.
He turned his left arm over, tracing the veins with his eyes... where did you inject it? Which vein? Did it matter? What if it didn’t go in right? Would it still work? He remembered again that he didn’t have the needle.
The knife was cold against his arm as he traced a vein from his wrist to his inner elbow. It made him tense, but he didn’t care. He liked the jolts of fear it sent through him. How hard would it be to... cut?
It’s the join, Barry thought, and then it was. He drew the knife across quickly somewhere between his wrist and his elbow, and for a moment there was nothing. Then pain. A line of blood seeped out and he hissed, biting his lip. Right. This was his arm, not the join.
It hurt. He did it again. Tommy should be able to feel it. And Paul? Paul had never felt anything for him anyway. Barry’s eyes narrowed. Another cut, this time down, towards his wrist. Maybe he could just... to find the vein...
He pressed down, bracing himself, tensing and drew it sharply over the inside of his elbow. A cry escaped him that he didn’t remember making and he wasn’t sure that it had hurt quite that much. He let out a long, low noise of pain but he couldn’t... feel it. What was wrong? Wasn’t he here at all? Why couldn’t he feel? He needed Tom for that. Needed Paul...
But his arm was open now. He could just pour the heroin in... but... oh yes... it was still in their room.
Fuck... the knife slipped in his hands and he grabbed for it. It fell into the tub and that’s when he realised just how much blood there was everywhere. The leg of his jeans was coated in it and soaking through to his leg and the knife had left a pattern like paint on the inside of the tub. He tried to stop the bleeding, holding his hand over the inside of his arm, but it seeped out through is fingers, faster now that his heart was racing.
He was panicking... oh no, this hadn’t been what he meant to do... He just wanted to show them how much he hurt.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” he was whimpering to himself as he tried to stand up, get a towel to stop the flow. His hand was covered in it now. It was dripping to the floor and there was too much to stop all at once. The room spun around him and his foot caught the edge of the tub. He fell.
Downstairs, Tom’s eyes moved to the couch. Where was Baz? Fear gripped him like he’d never really felt. Where was Barry? He had thought that before, but never with this much urgency because Barry had always at least been present... at least in body. The fact that his brother was not physically in his line of sight surrounded him and made him gasp and pull away from Laura.
“Tom?” she asked, but he was already out of the room. Paul looked around. “What--?” he began, but there was no answer. The two of them followed.
Through his state of shock, Barry heard the sound of Tom’s voice through the door and he sounded a million miles away. He sounded frightened. Serves him right Barry thought at the same time as Tommy, help.
The door was forced open, and Paul was thankful, for once, that the lock stuck Barry hadn’t managed to get it locked right. That relief evaporated almost as soon as it had come, however.
“Oh,” Tom said and was down on the floor next to his brother who was cradling his bleeding arm to his chest. He was deathly pale and his eyes were half-lidded.
In that instant there was so much confusion. Laura was the one that fished the knife out of the bath, looking sick, and Paul dropped to his knees as well, fought Tom away who struggled against him violently, “No, NO! Stop—Fuck off Paul don’t-- don’t touch him!”
Paul didn’t even try to argue with him, he just fought him back until he had enough room to grab his shoulders and shove him. Tom hit the wall and Laura stepped in, blocking Barry from his view and taking Tom’s face in her hands, talking to him. He was sobbing now, but Laura left him, standing up to grab the towel Barry had been reaching for and handing it to Paul who pressed it against his arm. “Hold it up,” Laura was saying, “So the blood doesn’t flow into it.” Paul circled Barry and crouched down again, bracing his arm against his thigh, his hands pressed over the towel. He was too shocked to do more than that. Laura had taken control of the situation and he let her. Thank God for Laura, Paul thought, Thank God, because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do this on his own.
Tom realised that the situation was under control now so his struggles were less violent. The bathroom was incredibly cramped with four people in it. Nick appeared in the door and swore, staring.
“Go call an ambulance,” Laura snapped at him, placing her own hands over Paul’s on the green towel. He slipped his away and held Barry’s cold wrist.
“He’s going to be fine, Tom,” Laura said, but her eyes met Paul’s and Paul had to look away, because she didn’t look sure. Not at all.
Later, in the hospital Tom paced up and down the room, up and down, up and down until his footsteps became almost soothing like the ticking of a clock. A rhythm that made sense. Paul was sitting with his face in his hands. Laura was staring at the wall across from her, her hands folded in her lap where she’d drawn her legs up under her on the chair. Visiting hours were long over and the room was lit only but dim lights along the wall. The too-bright fluorescent light shone in through the glass window of the nurse’s desk, however and rimmed the doors of the hallway Barry had disappeared down.
Paul thought it seemed selfish to say, ‘This was my fault,’ but he couldn’t help thinking it... He knew it was stupid. He kept his eyes away from Tom who wouldn’t look at him anyway. After a while, Laura stood up. “Does anyone want some coffee?” Paul shook his head, and Tom ignored her.
She disappeared, the heels of her boots fading long after she did.
“Tom...” Paul said softly after a moment, not looking at him. Tom stopped. Paul still didn’t look up... not for several moments. When he did, Tom’s face was a hard mask. No emotion.
“Why--” he began, but he didn’t know what to say. Tom stared at him, not moving an inch.
They looked at each other, and just as Paul was about to look away, the mask broke and Tom swallowed. “I shouldn’t have left him alone.”
Paul shook his head. “I don’t think it was just that.”
“No, I knew Barry needed... me to be there and I wasn’t...”
“Tom--” Paul took a breath, then stepped closer to them. He took Tom’s shoulders, gently at first in case Tom tried to fight him off again. When he didn’t, Paul slid his hands more up to his neck. “Listen to me. This... it’s never anyone’s fault, okay? Not yours, not Baz’s. It’s just... it happens, and I think Barry will be fine,” Paul added hurriedly, to convince himself as well as Tom. “But this is the same thing that happened to Chris. Chris Dervish. Okay?” If I sat around and thought that it was my fault for all these years, I would probably be dead too. And I can’t blame anyone else. It was just Chris, and Chris’s... decision.”
Tom’s expression had softened, but he looked more upset now. “Barry’s going to be fine. You have to believe in him. That’s the difference, maybe. No one ever thought Chris was going to make it, and no one thought he would fix his problems, so he didn’t.” Paul stopped and looked down, swallowing back the emotion. When he met Tom’s eyes again, so much like Barry’s, he was collected. “Barry has reasons for staying here. And you’re one of them. You can fix things now.” Neither of them had noticed Laura’s footsteps returning or when she stood in the doorway, her hands around a paper coffee cup.
“...You’re one of them,” Tom said after a moment, but with such sureness that it was a little startling. Paul regarded him seriously before smiling and shaking his head, but Tom’s hands came up and held his wrists, making sure he didn’t pull away.
“You’re one of them,” he said, with such intensity that Paul’s smile faded and he studied Tom’s face. “Barry...” but Tom didn’t finish because his eyes had drifted to Laura. He and Paul pulled away from each other slowly.
“I ran into the nurse. She told me he can come home tomorrow... he’s all right.” Laura said. Tom let out a shaky breath and crossed the room to her. She took him into her arms and buried her face against his shoulder. “I want to see him.”
Paul stood alone in the centre of the room, but somehow he didn’t feel alone.
Maybe this was a second chance. To believe in someone with everything he had... and maybe, if Barry wanted to...
But first, Paul would help fix him. He would stop reaching out blindly for every person that showed him the least bit of interest because those people meant nothing to him. His thoughts drifted to the handsome boy at Humbleden that he’d turned Barry away for – a shag – nice and safe and free of consequences. He and all the others, they were just substitutes for something so much bigger.
And maybe Paul felt like he could handle that right now. This time, Paul knew, it would be worth a try, because there was proof now, that not everyone would turn out like Chris.
- Just For a Moment