i_am_tl_dr: (library)
[personal profile] i_am_tl_dr
Title: Urban Spelunking
Characters: Quentin Kinley and Tyler Jordan Graham
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 2190
Notes: Their early friendship needs fleshing out. Here's some meat on the bones.

Timeline: July 2013

Meet me after work? the text said. Tyler Jordan couldn't help smiling as he tapped out a reply.


Quentin's reply was a pin on a Google map, a building deep in a neighborhood that Tyler Jordan knew was almost entirely abandoned. Bring a flashlight. Quentin added.

r we being felonious or just racking up misdemeanors?

That entirely depends on what we do once we're there.

ok ya but did u have plans?

I have a couple ideas. It's a surprise.

oooo ok I like surprises

You'll like this one. Tyler Jordan wondered for the next couple of hours what Quentin had in store for him, until he finally got off work and set off to find his friend. He drove past a dozen abandoned factories before he caught sight of Quentin lounging against the corner of a building, and Quentin smiled and came over to the car.

"Park between these buildings," he said. "We probably won't see another car while we're here, but there's no need to advertise our presence."

"What is this place?"

"Used to be a car factory. It's been shut since the late 90s. I've broken into most of these buildings at some point or another."


"Why not?" Quentin shrugged. "I was a bored teenager and I liked to be alone and in places I shouldn't have been. And there's still some cool stuff in a lot of these old factories. C'mon, I've been in this one before, I know exactly where we’re going." Tyler Jordan parked where he'd been told and rummaged in his trunk for a flashlight before Quentin lead him around to the back of the building and up a rusty old fire escape.

"When's the last time you were here?"

"Mm... a year ago? Spring of last year. It was raining a little last time." They got to the roof of the building and Quentin looked around and snorted. "There's more empty needles up here this time. Careful where you step."

"Are we gonna get jumped by a junkie?"

"Nah. Don't worry, I'll protect you," Quentin said, and Tyler Jordan snorted.

"Only if I use you as a projectile weapon."

"Shut up. Here, hold this..." Quentin pushed his backpack into Tyler Jordan's hands and pulled what turned out to be a lockpicking kit from the front pocket.

"What the fuck is that? Are you a burglar?"

"No. I don't break into inhabited places. Just abandoned ones." Quentin arched a brow at Tyler Jordan, waiting for more questions, then started to pick the lock on the roof access door when none were forthcoming. "Except for the time I had to pick the lock on my own apartment. But that was inhabited by me, so it doesn't count."

"Don't you feel unsafe living in a place you can get into without a key?"

"It was the place I lived before this apartment, and if I'd waited for the landlord to let me in I would have been sleeping in the hallway. Anyways, I'm decent at this. If it had been too easy to pick, I wouldn't have felt safe, but it took me a little while to do it." Quentin bit his lip in concentration, twisting the picks for a minute or two, then brightened and tugged at the door, which came open. "There we go. Follow me and watch your step." He pulled a flashlight out of his backpack and slung it on again, flashing Tyler Jordan a grin before he started down the stairwell.

"When did you learn to pick locks?" Tyler Jordan's flashlight was a lot brighter than Quentin's, one of those heavy-duty tactical flashlights that was overkill for a Boy Scout camping trip but had looked cool next to the other kids' normal flashlights.

"High school. I learned a lot of illegal shit in high school. Well, mostly while I was suspended. Not in high school but during those years."

"Did you get suspended a lot?"

"Yeah. I got into a lot of fights. That was most of high school for me. Drama with fighting and drama with singing."

"High school for me was mostly orchestra, band, and Boy Scouts. I was an upright citizen." Quentin snorted.

"Hope you don't still think you are. Cause I don't know any upright citizens."

"Oh, hell no. That's part of the reason I broke up with Maria, you know. She wanted me to be a model citizen and I wanted to have an interesting life."

"I thought she wanted you to be Mormon."

"What's the difference?"

"I dunno, I thought Mormons were kinda sketchy."

"Well, I mean, it is a cult." They made it to the ground floor and Quentin turned to look at Tyler Jordan. "Where are we now?"

"Factory floor. C'mon, this way." They walked past old, rusting machinery and dilapidated conveyor belts, until Quentin shone his light on the tall, empty wall and stopped. "Right here."

"What's here?" Tyler Jordan shone his flashlight around as Quentin pulled off his backpack.

"Our canvas," Quentin said, and unzipped it to reveal several cans of spraypaint. "You ever tag something before?"

"No," Tyler Jordan said, grinning as he took a can of green paint. "Nothing besides bathroom walls with sharpies. Is this a hobby of yours? Are you a secret artist?"

"Not really," Quentin said. "You don't have to be an artist to make a mark, though. I've tagged a few of these factories already. Only inside. The only people who see are the determined ones."

"That's cool."

"I haven't tagged this one yet. I thought it would be cool to bring you somewhere fresh." Quentin grabbed a can of red paint and shook it, shining his light on the wall. "Some people leave the same mark everywhere. I put something different wherever I go. Clearly I'm doing it wrong if I want notoriety, but I'd rather leave something more interesting than my name."

"What do you put?"

"I'm not telling you. If you wanna know, break into some of these other buildings."

"Secrets don't make friends, Quentin."

"You're already my friend," Quentin said. "Aren't you?"

"Yeah, of course."

"Then you should accept the challenge. Cause I'm not telling."

"Fine, be that way." Tyler Jordan stood in front of the wall with his arms crossed, head tilted slightly as he thought about what to paint. "What sort of thing do you usually do, then?"

"Song lyrics, sometimes. Lines of poetry. Always words. I can't draw for shit."

"You're deeper than you look."

"Shut the fuck up, I look plenty deep." Quentin elbowed Tyler Jordan on his way up to the wall, shaking the can of paint again before he cracked the cover off and aimed it at the wall. Tyler Jordan just snickered and took a step back, watching Quentin write, his usual cramped handwriting magnified but still messy. "I'll show you who's fucking deep," he muttered, walking along the wall to write a line, then doubling back to scrawl another beneath it.

"The troubles of our proud and angry dust are from eternity, and shall not fail," Tyler Jordan read when Quentin stepped back. "The fuck?"

"It's poetry, you uncultured swine," Quentin said, and yelped when Tyler Jordan pegged the cap of his spray paint at his head. "Ow! I'm joking, Christ. You're totally culturally literate."

"It's a real poem?"

"Yeah. I bought a college lit textbook for a dollar at a yard sale and read the whole thing one summer. Some of the poems were cool enough to remember. This one's, um... Housman. You'll like the rest of it."


"The troubles of our proud and angry dust are from eternity, and shall not fail. Bear them we can, and if we can, we must. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale."

"Ha, you're right, I do like that." Tyler Jordan studied Quentin in the harsh light of his flashlight's beam. "I didn't take you as the type to memorize poetry."

"Yeah, well, I'm probably a lot of things you can't tell by looking at me," Quentin said. "You look like the kind of sentimental boy who has notebooks of his own poetry under his bed."

"They're lyrics, not poetry," Tyler Jordan said with a smirk. "Cause I'm a musician. Dumbass."

"A musician without a band," Quentin said.

"Don't be a dick, Q. I have a drummer. Drums plus guitar equals a band, a real basic one, but it's still a band."

"I thought you were a bassist."

"If it has strings, I can play it," Tyler Jordan said flippantly. "I prefer bass. The bassist is the backbone of the band. And as soon as I find a guitarist, that's what I'm gonna go back to doing."

"What about vocals?"

"Why, are you volunteering?"

"Fuck no."

"Then stop asking me questions, man. I'm working on it, okay? Unless you wanna be in the band, I'll let you know when the band comes together."

"Fair enough," Quentin said, and he waved at the wall. "Come on, then. If you've got notebooks full of lyrics you can figure out something to spray paint on a wall."

"I'm not enough of a pretentious douche to write my own lyrics on a wall inside an abandoned building. That's just begging for non-recognition. Who says I'm gonna write words, anyways? Maybe I wanna draw something."

"Then hop to it, bro. Unless you'd rather stand here all night instead of exploring. Or unless you're too much of a Boy Scout to do a little graffiti."

"I was an Eagle Scout," Tyler Jordan said.

"So you were a super-special goody two shoes?"

"Sounds like someone's jealous he was never a Boy Scout."

"I'm not a team player," Quentin said flatly. "But I am an urban dweller. Traipsing around in the woods earning merit badges sounds like a waste of a summer to me."

"Yeah? So what did you do with your summers?" Tyler Jordan stepped up to the wall and wrote in a much more legible hand the world is not enough. Quentin arched a brow at him and shrugged.

"Followed my brothers around. Petty theft. Climbed a lot of park trees. After I learned how to break into places, urban spelunking. In high school, stealing booze from my friends' parents and getting wasted, getting schwaggy weed from upperclassmen and acting more stoned than we actually were. Got in a lot of fights. Fucked around with my girlfriend. Spent a lot of time in the library. I don't know, I wasted my summers too, I just did it the way poor kids do it."

"Oh." Tyler Jordan blinked at him. "Yeah, that's not how I spent my summers."

"Why, how do rich kids spend their summers?"

"A lot of camping trips. Music lessons. I followed my brother around a lot, too. I'd follow him around the neighborhood on a hand-me-down skateboard. Traveling. We'd go visit our grandparents in New England for a few weeks every summer. My dad liked to take us out of the country, though. We've been to every continent except Antarctica."

"No shit?" Quentin jerked a thumb at Tyler Jordan's graffiti. "So you've seen the world and it's still not enough?"

"It's a Bond quote, jackass."

"Whatever you say, rich boy. I've never even been to Canada, let alone another continent. I've barely been out of Detroit." Quentin shoved his can of spray paint back into his backpack and scowled at Tyler Jordan.

"Whoa, where's the classist aggression coming from? I'm not criticizing you. Did I say something wrong? What the fuck just happened?"

"Forget it," Quentin said.

"You're not gonna murder me for being a bourgeoisie pig here where no one will ever find me, are you?"

"I'm not gonna promise it's never gonna happen, but I'm not planning on it now," Quentin said, and he cracked a slight smile at Tyler Jordan's look of concern. "No. Seriously, forget it, I get touchy. Are you done with the paint? Come on, there's cool shit in the next room you should see." Tyler Jordan picked the cap up from where it fell after he threw it at Quentin and tossed the paint back into the backpack, then knocked his shoulder against Quentin's.

"I'm never gonna put you down for where you came from," he said seriously. "I might put you down if you're gonna be a defensive dick about everything, but I think you're pretty cool, okay? Don't bite my head off for things I didn't even say."

"Sorry," Quentin said, ducking his head until his hair fell into his eyes. "I'm just-- never mind. Sorry."

"You're the one who knows what he's doing right now out of the two of us," Tyler Jordan said. "I'm literally on your turf. I'm one hundred percent in your hands right now. And this is really cool. Show me the next cool thing."

“All right,” Quentin said, and he wrapped his hand around Tyler Jordan’s wrist and pulled him away from the wall where they’d left their marks and deeper into the derelict factory.
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