All right, he admits that it isn't the best way to get a sense of what it's like to be Alex, but laying on his bed with his windows wide open is a start, he guesses. However, when one is limited to the campus of a boarding prep school, one becomes almost desperate.

He's listening to Alex's favorite CD (a Phantom Planet mix) and reading his favorite book (A Separate Peace) and letting the sunshine in to drift over his pale body, smelling Manhattan air (smog and grease and life) and concentrating on why Alex hasn't been Sunshine lately.

He isn't coming up with anything.

Alex has not smiled in weeks, to Scott's recollection. His face is stony and passive and beautiful, as always. He's void, though, of the carefree optimism that is usually trademarked to him, and everyone starts to worry.

Especially Scott.

Who is Alex? Obviously his material possessions couldn't define him, or else he's a compulsively jealous boy who couldn't tell you if he was kissing you now and who enjoyed the scent of car exhaust. That isn't Alex (Scott would know). Alex is sweet and kind and gentle and Sunshine.

So that's how Alex finds Scott, laying in his bed, almost asleep. Alex's hair is disheveled and his blue eyes aren't bright. He throws a Spanish book on the floor next to Josh's bed.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Alex says, without any bite or vigor. He doesn't look Scott in the eyes, or look at him at all. Scott longs for days when Alex could lock the door and fall haphazardly across Scott's prostrate body, eyes glittering and smile magnified. Now, he'd settle for a tiny smile, a hint of light in those familiar, beautiful blue eyes-or even a reason why he can't have these things any longer, and so suddenly. Scott's chest aches, but he manages a smile.

"Sitting in your room, drinking your perfume," Scott says. Alex gets the reference.

"I don't wear perfume. Get out."

"Wondering which day of the week I'll die on now," Scott continues.

"I can see you're laying in my-"

Scott sits up with a smile. He's for the attention now. "Laying in your bed, unscrewing your head, trying to-"

Alex sighs in exasperation. "Nothing's wrong."

"Figure out what's wrong inside, so you don't hate yourself tonight."

He's standing now, and he's closer to Alex than he has been in weeks, and it's becoming a familiarly heady situation. He doesn't reach yet, though. He won't, until he can't help himself.

"Stop it. Please go away," Alex tries pathetically. Scott reaches, touches Alex's arm. He starts to pull away, but Scott backs him into the wall, crowding him a little, hands on his shoulders.

"So now you fall asleep, inside a tambourine, next to broken headphones and your high school yearbook."

Alex's eyes close, and Scott's hands cup his face lightly. He's pretty much singing at this point, into Alex's ear. Their foreheads touch.

"I wrote on the final page: wish I could have stayed around to watch the last band play."

"I heard they just broke up yesterday," Alex finishes.

Scott is quiet; in the moment. Then he says, "I heard they got back together."

"Oh?" comes Alex's small voice.

"Yeah. I heard that one of the members was upset, but he sorted it out by talking to the other members because there's no band without him."


"Nope. No solo acts, and definitely no replacements."

"But what if the other guy just feels like he's going crazy inside every time they play and he doesn't know if he can handle it?"

Scott's arms fall around Alex's waist. It seems even smaller than before. "Maybe all of the band feels the same way, but they're too good to break up."

Alex chuckles; Scott can't see his face, but he hopes it's real. "Can we stop speaking in metaphor?"

"I miss you," Scott says.

"You don't understand-"

"I do understand."

"You don't-"

"Then tell me."

"I can't!"

"You can."

"Goddamnit, Scott, just stop!"

"Okay." Scott disentangles himself, and Alex almost leans forward to will him to stay.

"I'll go back to my room," says Scott. "I'll be two doors away, and I'm not going anywhere."

"Why not," Alex whispers contemptuously.

Scott sighs, void of any mirth. "Where would I go?"

He leaves the room.

Alex falls down to his bed and sighs; he inhales Scott.

sitting in your room, drinking your perfume, wondering which day of the week i'll die on now. i'm lying in your bed, unscrewing your head, trying to figure out what's wrong, inside, so you don't hate yourself tonight. so now you fall asleep, inside a tambourine, next to broken headphones and your high school yearbook. i wrote on the final page, 'wish i could have stayed around to watch the last band play.' i heard they just broke up yesterday. frequenting the local black and red, and how that band played-you really had to stare. you'd hardly be aware that you were blinking, hardly be aware that you were blinking.phantom planet, "the local black and red"