When it Rains
"Jack, come on. I have to get home." Jack Kelly, leader of Manhattan, striker, and sometimes, as far as David could see, sure he was as great as The Powers That Be, was laying out in the sun like an old, fat pussycat. He mumbled incoherently as David stood over him, blocking out the sun.
"Come on, Jack. Up," he grabbed onto Jackís wrist and pulled. When that didnít work, he tried to reason with him. "Jack, we donít have time to loaf around all day. Iíve got to get home."
"Aw. Come on, Dave," he patted the grass next to where he laid. "Itíll be nice. Itís cooler down here. Plus, weíve been working real hard all day. We ainít got many left before you go back to school. Just lay with me for a few seconds. Itís a hundred-and-five in the shade. Just take a little break with me, Dave."
Because Jack could sell ice to an Eskimo, and because everything David could think of sounded exactly like something his mother would say, he sat down. More precisely, David sat down and groaned, letting his muscles relax and his eyes shut as his mind lost focus. David laid in that park, body cradled by the cool grass that prickled his neck between his collar and his hair, right next to Jack and felt more comfortable in his skin than he had felt since the day that Jack had decided not to go to Santa Fe. He set his cap over his head and let his body rest for what could have been seconds or an eternity.
"Up aní at Ďem, Davey!" Jack said above him, as cheerful as David had ever seen him. "We gotta get to work, just like you said."
This had been exactly the reason that David hadnít wanted to lie down in the first place. Jack couldnít be forced to get up if you shoved a stick of dynamite down his pants. However, once Jack decided somethingóanythingóhe would do it with all his energy and will power. This included getting up.
David groaned because, in Jackís mind, that probably included getting him up as well. He felt his stomach sink as his papers got yanked out of his hands. He knew what was coming next. He knew that after Jack did a count he would pull David up. David knew that he would actually succeed. David would want to kill Jack, but he would not actually do anything because he didnít really have it in him to hurt anyone, but especially not Jack of all people.
He let out a loud, frustrated noise as he heard the flip count. David could see Jackís strong, brown hands riffling the back and white pages in his mind, and he almost smiled at it. Then he remembered what was coming next. He let out a sound that was something akin to a whine.
What came next he did not expect. What came next was Jackís laugh, warm and in the back of his throat. "You just stay there, Dave. There ainít too many here. I can get Ďem."
David tried to sit up a little on his elbows, but he failed miserably. As far as he was concerned, his body and the ground were now connected as one.
"Jack," he groaned out, "you canít sell all of those by yourself."
Jack made that disbelieving laugh that David always thought sounded a little bit like the cry of a dying squirrel. "Who do you think youíre talking to? There are only about twenty papes here. I can get Ďem sold in fifteen minutes. Flat."
"Wanna make it a bet? I win, we splitÖ 70 to 30," he gestured to himself and then to David, "for the next week."
"I win, you have to stay at my house tonight," David chirped, out of nowhere, into the middle of Jackís little speech.
"Deal," Jack spit into his hand and held it down to David, who just looked up at his palm like a dead fish had just attached itself to the end of Jackís wrist. There were times where he could handle a spit shake, if it were because of some deal that was big and momentous and life changing. This, however, was a friendly bet, and David felt no need to cover his hand with a mix of Jackís and his own hot, sticky spit.
Jack just rolled his eyes at him. "Wimp," he chided, without any venom. "Iíll be back. Fifteen minutes," he said and David could tell that he was smiling and pointing down to him, even though he had already closed his eyes.
He wasnít sure how he was supposed to keep the time because he didnít have a watch. He also lacked that innate ability that Jack had to keep track of how much time had passed. David never understood how Jack did it, and he didnít know if it was because he had grown up on the streets, he was just aware of time passing because he was always so afraid of it, or it was just one of those crazy Jack things that you couldnít really explain and you didnít really want to because it ruined the beauty of it.
David was planning on just letting Jack come back when he was finished, gloating and praising himself as the King of All Salesmen. He wasnít worried about Jack cheating because Jack wasnít going to have a problem selling all of the papers, time limit or not. This was Jack Kelly and he could sell fifty papers in fifteen minutes on a day like this in the park.
David smiled a little, on reflex, when a shadow blocked out the sun that was bathing him in warm light. He could picture Jack, cocky smile and wicked eyes, looking down at him. When he opened his eyes, what he saw was a Jack that looked nothing like what he was expecting. This Jack wore a defeated expression and held one paper in his hands. "Must be losing my touch, huh, Dave? Cowboy couldnít even sell twenty papes alone."
Just as David went to say, Donít worry, Jack. Everyone has bad days. We can live without selling one lousy paper. I donít think weíll starve, when something kind of cold and kind of warm and very wet hit him hard on the hand.
"Jack!" he sat up and flung his cap onto his head in one sudden jolt. "Did you just spit on me?"
And Jack wasnít even pulling an innocent look, so David had to believe him because he had to believe Jack when he looked all dumbfounded and a little bit plain dumb. His belief wasnít really hindered by the fact that he felt another wet drop hit his shoulder. Jack couldnít be responsible because David was looking straight at him and not even Jackís spitting talents were that impressive.
David let out an unflattering squawk when more drops of wetness bombarded him. "What is--"
"That," Jack started, and David could sense the total and complete mockery in his voice, "would be rain, David. Comes out from the sky up there," he pointed and smiled that open, gaping smile.
"Yeah, I know that. Why is it raining, though?"
"Youíre the smart one here, Davey. You explain it to me."
David just glared at him.
"I mean, why are we just standing here I the rain? Why arenít we going home so we donít get wet."
"Dave, stop yelling. Itís just rain. You ainít gonna melt. Besides, it hot out. This is kinda nice, actually," he lifted his head to the sky and let the rain, which was growing consistently harder, wash the dirt and sweat down his face as thunder rumbled in the distance. He made a noise, somewhere deep in the back of his throat, like he was calling back to the thunder.
David gapped up at him from where he sat on the ground. He watched as rain poured down Jackís face and rolled out of his dirty hair. His eyes were shut loosely and he had a look of pure bliss on his face. David had never seen anyone look like that in his whole lifeóso in the moment and simply happy. It was beautiful beyond the ways that all of his words could describe.
"Jack, letís get home so we arenít soaking wet."
"Aw, Davey, a little water ainít gonna hurt us. Besides, itís not raining that hard."
"Yeah, but my house is pretty far away, so no matter how hard itís rainingó"
David was interrupted because it was at that very moment that the sky decided to open up and pour down on them. Jack chose this moment to take off running as fast as he could. David stood behind him in disbelief.
He shouted down the street at Jack, "What are you doing?!"
Davidís feet ran without him thinking. Maybe it was instinct to get home and out of the rain. But by the way his stomach was knotting, he was sure that what he was really running after was Jack and after that memory of the first day they met.
"Jack," David put his hands in front of his face to try and shield himself from the dirty water droplets being pelted at his hands. "Jack. Stop it."
Jack had stepped one foot in the Jacobsí apartment and started to shake his hair out, effectively spraying David and the kitchen with grease stained rain. Once he was done, he flipped the wet strands off of his face.
He called into the dark apartment, "Hello? Anybody home?"
"Jack, would you stop yelling before you bother everybody in the building? No oneís home. Cut it out."
"Ok," he smiled the most charming smile that he had, "all I need to know, Dave," he nodded and started unbuttoning his shirt and laying it over the table to dry. He stretched his shoulders out, his thin undershirt soaking wet and sticking to him. Davidís mouth went a little dry in a way that he chalked up to selling in the hot air all day.
"I canó" Davidís voice caught unpleasantly in his throat as Jack started stripped his under shirt off. He cleared his throat again, "I can get you something of mine to wear."
He was having some trouble getting the soaking shirt off of his head and David took a moment to watch the way his stomach muscles twisted up as he strained to break out of the shirt. He laughed from inside of the tangle, "I donít know if itíll fit, Dave." He finally freed himself. "Iíll be fine like this."
David Jacobs knew a lot of things. He knew what the Jack would logically not fit in his clothes. He knew exactly why it rained. He knew what the weather would be like on the streets as soon as it stopped raining. David also knew that it would not be fine for him if Jack stayed in the middle of his dining room without a shirt, baring his pale skin and lean muscles. He knew by the way he could feel his neck turning red that Jack could not stay like this if David wanted to keep anything horrible from happening.
"Wonít youÖ um, be cold without a shirt on?"
Jack just stared at David like he had a fish swimming out of his mouth. Then he spoke very slowly, "Itís about one hundred degrees out, DaveÖ"
"Well, I mean, my sister or, god forbid, my mother might be home soon. And I donít know if they should see you like this."
"Dave, Iím pretty sure your maís seen boys without their shirts on."
David looked extremely flustered and a little like he had gotten slapped across the face when he heard the insinuation.
"I didnít mean it like that, Dave," he laughed. "I just meant that sheís your ma and everything, so sheís seen you in your skins."
David did not feel like this was the moment to explain that David tried to spend as little time as possible not being fully clothed. He decided that his penchant for never even being a little bit naked was a discussion that could be saved for later, or rather, never.
"And Sarahówell," he chucked and then sobered up almost too immediately. "Ok, Davey. If itíll make you feel better, go get me something."
When David got back from searching around his dresser for his largest shirt, Jack was sitting at the kitchen table, hands behind his head with his eyes closed and a dreamy expression on his face. David looked down Jackís bodyówhere his tan neck turned to pale, Irish skin that was perpetually hidden from the sun. The light glinted off of the rain that still slicked down his skin a little.
"Jack, Iíve got your shiróWhat are you doing?"
He opened his eyes just enough to grab the shirt from Davidís hands and pull it onto his frame. He shut his eyes again and pushed out the chair next to him with his foot.
"Jack, what are you doing?"
"Dave, would you just sit and be quiet. Listen," he said almost like it was something holyólike it was the name of God. His eyes flickered just a little under their lids. "Listen to that thunder, Dave. Justócome here," he pulled him by the wrist to Davidís bedroom, through the window and out onto the fire escape.
"Just look at it like this," Jack said, nodding his head out at the city.
The rain fell in loud drops and trolleys swished through puddles in the street. Everything was quieter like this. Every building was slicked dark with rain. Jack held his hand out and came back with a soaking wet palm.
"Itís quiet," David said, words sounding big and important, even though they were nothing but simple observation.
"Yeah. I donít mind it so much, beiní here, when itís like this."
He held his hand out under the shower again. This time, he pulled his hand back and ran it through Davidís hair, matting it closer to his head.
"Jack..." he started.
He cupped water in his hand and ran it through Davidís hair again. This time, he left it tangled in the curls and pulled David close. "Donít talk right now, okay?" Jack said with a soft smile. It sounded softer than anything that had ever come out of Jackís mouth. It was even sweeter, and a thousand times more genuine, than Jack sounded even when he was selling something.
David thought that this was a stupid thing for Jack to tell him because how was he supposed to talkósupposed to think with Jack looking at him like that? With Jack this close to him and breathing into his mouth? With their bodies touching just a little and Jack radiating heat in Davidís shirt, which was just a little too tight for him?
The next thing that happened was something that David could not add up because this was Jack and this was David, not Sarah or some girl that Jack found in a theater. He couldnít really figure out how Jack had gotten this close and how he was touching him now. What David couldnít understand was what this was because he was pretty sure that Jack was kissing him and there was no logical reason that Jack would be kissing him. It didnít matter what David felt because that was wrong. Jack didnít kiss boys. Except for once when he had been very drunk and David had been minutes from tears, but that never happened, because Jack didnít kiss boys and David didnít cry.
Jack pulled away and smiled down at him. "Stop thinking like that, David."
David felt dizzy and the fact that Jack understood that his brain was buzzing around like a hive of bees just made him had a thousand more questions, except that it made sense that Jack could hear his thoughts in a weird way that made Davidís heart drop into his stomach.
"What are you doing, Jack? What was that?"
"That was a kiss, Dave," he smirked.
"I know that! Why? Why did you kiss me? Me?"
"I wanted to."
David Jacobs had never been so close to pushing someone off of a fire escape in his entire life.
"Dave," he sighed, "I wanted to kiss you and Iíve wanted to kiss you for a long time, so donít ask me why."
"I canít do this. Youíre my best friend, Jack."
"I know that. Thatís why itís perfect that you kissed me."
"You kissed me!"
"Alright," Jack nodded, "if thatís how you see it." He closed the distance between their bodies and kissed him again.
This time, David stopped thinking and focused. He focused because he didnít really want to think about how it didnít add up. He wanted to feel Jackís rough lips and smell him and let Jackís wet hair drip down onto him.
Somehow they had ended up sprawled over Davidís bed and his lips were sore and his clothes were a little disheveled.
"You had one paper left on purpose, didnít you?" he smiled at Jack, who looked happier than David had ever seen him.
"You know, you could have just asked me. I would have let you stay here. You could stay here every night if you wanted," he fiddled with the buttons on his shirt and tried to straighten the collar out.
"Thatís not why, Dave. I know I can come here. Iíve seen how your ma feeds me," he laughed and sighed. "I just didnít wantóI know youíre leaving me soonóto go back to school and everything. Well, I thought maybe youíd still sell with me on weekends or the afternoon edition or something if Iówell, if you thought I couldnít sell like I used to."
"Is that what all of this was about?" David said, trying to be casual. David Jacobs had never successfully looked casual in his entire life. "Is that the only reason for all of," he waved his hands in the air, "this?"
"This?" Jack kissed him again and laughed. "No." Jack didnít offer an explanation because Jack didnít offer explanations ever. "Though," he laughed again, onto Davidís shoulder, "I wouldnít really mind it if you wanted to stay because of it."
"I guess Iím just going to have to sell with you, Jack. Whoíd have thought, Jack Kelly, Cowboy, Leader of Manhattan, couldnít sell twenty lousy papes without his Walkiní Mouth?"Back.