This one’s a bit different from other Modern AU stuff because it doesn’t feature characters from a particular story. I liked the idea too much to try and alter it to fit my usual Modern AU standard, though.
Sully’s car wasn’t fancy enough to be anywhere near Gavin’s house, but here it was, at Gavin’s house. He just hoped he could get what he’d come here for and get out before he caught the aristocratic and had to choke himself on sniffing salts.
Fortunately, the huge front doors opened as he pulled up to them and before he’d gotten out of the car, Owen and Gavin were there with Darby between them. They’d planned some date night—which knowing them meant they planned to fuck in rooms other than the bedroom—and had asked Cal if he could have Darby for an evening. Cal had said yes until he’d remembered that he was going to a movie with Wes and Travis, and Mick and Joey had decided to go out to eat and it had all already been planned. Sully had had plans of his own, which he’d intentionally not invited anyone to because not one of his many boyfriends had a speck of fucking taste.
But apparently Darby liked music, and someone needed to watch him, and Sully figured if he could get him young maybe he could teach the kid to appreciate good music. Plus, Sully was a good fucking person. So Sully was taking Darby with him to the show.
“Let us know when you’re bringing him back,” Owen said, hand on Darby’s shoulder. Darby was wearing a fucking button-down and a pair of dress pants with a belt, and his vaguely brownish hair was combed. He was making a particularly unimpressed face as he tugged at a sleeve.
Sully shrugged. “He can crash at my place tonight. I’ll bring him back in the morning.”
“You don’t have to…”
Sully had already waved Darby to the car. “It’s fine. Have fun.”
Darby followed him, getting into the passenger seat and starting to do up his seatbelt, then stopping when Sully didn’t bother with his. Sully smiled at him and pulled out of the driveway, waving at Owen and Gavin. “You look like a dumbass.”
Darby looked up at him, signing something. Sully faced him, and repeated himself, more slowly, and in French.
Darby could read lips a little bit, but only in French. Go figure.
Once he’d gotten the gist of it, Darby grinned and hooked his thumb backwards at the house, sticking out his tongue. Sully nodded. “You can’t go to the concert looking like a prep school puked you up. Let’s get you a change of clothes first.”
So Sully drove to his place, and while he did that, Darby spotted something on the floor and picked it up. It was Sully’s phone, and he dicked around with it for a second, handing it to Sully at a red light. He’d sent a text to someone, a wolf emoji.
Darby took out his own phone and soon Sully’s binged. Thanks for taking me out.
No problem, Sully said, texting and driving because fuck the police. He was a good enough driver not to kill anyone who mattered. Sorry I don’t know how to talk. You’ll have fun though.
They got to Sully’s place and walked up the three flights of stairs to get there. Sully pushed open the door and led Darby inside, thinking idly that someone should have a talk with him about not letting essential strangers drive him to sketchy neighbourhoods and take him into their apartments. But that was for another time. He led Darby right into the bedroom and pushed open the closet. Take whatever you want, he texted.
Darby’s eyes went wide as he looked in the closet, then at Sully. Sully smiled, tugged on Darby’s sleeve and made the same face the kid had made earlier. Darby grinned, squirming out of that stupid button-down faster than he should have been able to.
Sully had really liked watching twelve-year-olds get naked once, but it had lost its appeal around the time he’d turned thirteen, so he turned around quickly when Darby started unzipping his pants, and went out into the living room. He had absolutely no doubt that Darby had shucked his underwear too and really someone should have a talk with him about not getting naked around people he barely knew. No fucking shame, that kid. Which, fair enough, shame culture was shitty. He was a smart kid.
It took Darby over twenty minutes to come out of the bedroom, to the point where Sully was trying to decide what to do—it wasn’t like he could knock on the door to hurry him up, and barging in was a bad idea. He’d only just remembered that he could text when Darby came out, and well…he was impressed.
Darby had found an old t-shirt of his from when he’d been an angsty middle schooler, with a picture of a blood-spattered man howling at a full moon on it. One of the sleeves was ripped off to expose the whole arm (and the temporary tattoo Sully had worn on his arm in the seventh grade), and he’d found a pair of black jeans that were actually Cal’s, a little too big on him, ripped all down one leg, giving the impression that half his body had been attacked by something. He’d tucked the shirt in on the ripped side, and he’d materialized a violent green belt that Sully had never seen before and was wearing it unclasped. He’d also found Sully’s mostly unused hair gel, fixing that terrible part Gavin had given him and tousling his hair so that it almost looked like wolf ears.
What kind of middle schooler knew how to fucking dress that well?
But he was grinning like he’d won the fashion lottery, so Sully grinned back. “That’s way better.”
He had a feeling Darby understood him even without translation.
Sully himself was wearing a faded shirt that had once displayed allegiance to a movie he hadn’t seen, and his own jeans, which needed washing, because nobody serious tried hard for a show like this. Everyone would let Darby get away with it since he was a kid, though. And he somehow managed to make his scavenged look seem like he’d just tossed it on by accident, so he’d fit in.
Darby eschewed the perfect white shoes Gavin had given him—had that fuckhead never been a kid, honestly—and stole a pair of Joey’s that were by the front door, which were patterned with red scales because Joey had exactly two interests and dick-patterned shoes were hard to come by. And then they were off, Darby practically bouncing in his seat. As they sat at a red light that Sully couldn’t run because some assholes on the green were going, he pulled out his phone. You ever been to a concert before?
No! What kind of music is it!
Sully chuckled. The good kind.
I’m so excited.
Sully got a break in the traffic and raced forward, and didn’t answer his phone again. They got to the place about twenty minutes later, about thirty minutes late for the show, which meant it should be starting in about fifteen minutes, and Sully parked in an alley and led Darby to the place. Darby scrambled after him, fearless even though this was clearly a sketchy area.
The bar wasn’t the shittiest place in the city but it didn’t have fancy amenities like ‘cleanliness’ or ‘adherence to the fire code.’ A basement room with treacherous steps leading down and crappy lighting inside, an old tile floor and lighting that barely lit anything, it was a bit dingy and rough. Not an ideal place for a kid, but it wasn’t like there were strippers or any—scratch that, Sully saw two off-duty strippers at the bar. But it wasn’t like the place employed strippers or anything.
It was the kind of venue where Sully always listened to live music. There were a dozen or so tables around, just over half of them occupied. It was the kind of music where if more than thirty people showed up, you didn’t fucking play it.
Darby looked around in wonder as if he’d never seen such a magnificent place. Yeah, Sully had figured the kid had taste. His eyes landed on the shittiest table in the room—the one right by the bass speaker—and he headed for it, claiming it for them. Sully wandered over to the bar. “That one of the boyfriends we keep hearing about?” The bartender, a lanky guy named Pins who looked like he should have piercings but didn’t, asked Sully.
Sully snorted. “Yeah, Pierre Trudeau Middle is my usual scoping ground, you know. I’m babysitting him, okay? Get me a pint and some fucking like, apple juice for him or something.”
“You know you really can’t have a kid in here.” Pins started to get the drinks as he said it.
“Watch me,” Sully challenged. “He likes music. I’m going to teach him to like good music. His fucking…” he waved a hand, trying to decide what the fuck Owen and Gavin were to Darby. “Parents dressed him in a button-down and slacks like he was going to church.”
“Fucking child abuse.”
“Exactly. He needs a good influence in his life. Kid’s going to grow up right if I have to kill someone and plant the knife in his bedroom.”
“Maybe start smaller than that? Teach him not to pay parking tickets or something.”
Sully snorted. “Please. He’s not a baby.”
And so Sully took their drinks and went back to the table. Darby was on his phone, and Sully’s was buzzing in his pocket. This is so awesome! Everyone seems so cool here!
Sully slid the juice to Darby and nodded. Damn right. I don’t go to boring concerts.
Nobody’s going to make me do drugs right? Darby asked. Gavin would lock me in a boiler if I did drugs.
Sully rolled his eyes. Nobody’s going to make you do anything. That’s the whole point. Even Sully was willing to concede that Darby was too young to be handed a joint. Maybe in a few years.
Darby grinned. If he had a fucking tail to go with those gel ears it would be wagging. I bet that’s not true.
You’d stop me if I tried to take my clothes off.
Sully thought about that for a second. He would definitely do that, in fact. Taking them off would be wasting all the time and effort you put into putting them on.
Nah, after I found the shirt I just grabbed some random stuff and put it on, Darby insisted.
What the fuck took you so long, then? Sully asked, giving him the eye as Darby sipped his juice. There was no fucking way he’d just pulled that out of nowhere by mistake.
I had to send selfies to my friends and the light in your room sucked.
Sully couldn’t help but laugh at that, and he reached across the table and patted Darby’s head, messing up his hair while he was at it. Shithead, he texted, while Darby glared at him and fixed his hair.
I’m taking that as a compliment, he sent a second later, after he’d finished repairing the damage.
Darby blushed at that, strangely. Be quiet, the music is about to start.
Sully glanced at the small stage and sure enough, the band was coming out now, setting up. It still took them a while, doing instrument checks and whatever the fuck else musicians did before playing music. But the first time they did a proper sound check Darby grinned. Sully had felt a low tremour from the bass.
A few minutes later the set properly started, no introduction or anything stupid, just music. It was loud as fuck, too loud for the space, and Sully could watch his drink vibrate with it. And Darby lit up like the lightbulbs in this place didn’t, something Sully could only call wonder settling onto his face as he shut his eyes.
It was the kind of scene where people sat there and listened without expressing much, just taking in the music. Darby didn’t do that. He was expressive as hell, bopping in his chair, his shoulders moving, his hands tapping on the table, on his legs. Halfway through the set he took his shoes off, which Sully wouldn’t have recommended given the state of the floors, and stood up, moving his chair aside a little so he could feel the music in his feet.
Watching him was enlightening, honestly. Sully had never thought too hard about the physical vibrations of the music, focused a little on the sound. But now he paid attention to the way the music felt in his legs, his chest, the way it ran through him in fits and starts, taking over his whole body, not just his ears.
And he wondered if that was half of how Darby, who knew how to experience music this way, was feeling.
The music wasn’t Sully’s favourite—a bit too tonal for him, edging toward being too mainstream—but it was serviceable. Sully knew the band’s frontwoman Sheila a little. The two of them had dated the same guy in high school until they’d realized that was what they were doing and had mutually dumped him and dated each other instead.
Around the fourth or fifth number Sully pretended not to notice Darby eyeing the mouthful of beer left in his glass, and let Darby snatch it and drink it back, only giving up the act to laugh when Darby nearly choked, and had to down the rest of his juice to get the taste out of his mouth. Darby glared at Sully as if Sully had made him to that, but stopped when the next song started, getting distracted again.
When the set ended Darby leapt in place and waved his hands in the air in a sign that Sully recognized. The band actually seemed surprised—nobody applauded usually. Sully was about to pipe up and tell Sheila what he was doing when she smiled. “Looks like someone wants a fucking encore.”
And so they played three more songs, and Darby just bounced and grinned the whole time, dancing to the vibrations. It was honestly kind of hypnotic to watch him being so fucking happy.
After the show, Sully went up to Sheila while Darby was in the bathroom. “You guys got an LP or something?” he asked. “For the kid?”
“Sure.” Sheila pulled one from nowhere, handing it to him. “Free of charge if you bring him to our next show.”
“Dunno, you planning to be good at the next show?”
Sheila punched him. “How’d you get a kid anyway? You kidnap him or something?”
“Rescued him from rich people.”
He caught up with Sheila for another twenty or so minutes while Darby dicked around in the bathroom—probably taking more selfies, Sully wasn’t going to fucking ask—and the two of them left, Sully holding Darby’s shoes and the LP as they made their way back to the car. Darby was signing excitedly the whole way and Sully just smiled and nodded. He had a good enough idea of what he was probably saying.
There was a parking ticket on Sully’s car, which he crumpled up and tossed away before getting in. Then he started the drive back to his place, Darby intensely texting the whole way, but not Sully. Probably bragging to all his friends.
When they got back to Sully’s place, Darby followed him up and, once inside, tossed the LP at Darby. “Here,’ he said, pointing at him. “For you.”
Darby’s eyes went wide and he grinned like mad, phone out. Thank you!
I’m going to another show next week, want to come?
Darby nodded vehemently.
Good, because you’re the only person I know who’s cool enough to join me.
Darby blushed at that, bouncing in place. Sully punched his arm. Darby retaliated by hugging him. He was a pretty cool kid, honestly.
And he had good taste, which was what mattered.