the_water_clock: abstract painting (Lavender and Mulberrry 1959)
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Author: Clio
Title: Sensoria
Pairing: John Hughes: Phil "Duckie" Dale/Cameron Frye
Rating: PG
Summary: "Once you were a lonely playboy heading for a simple joy." Oak Street Beach, Chicago, summer 1986.
Length: 2800 words
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created by John Hughes and owned by one of the large media companies in a complicated arrangement to which I am not a signatory. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Notes: Written as a Yuletide New Year's Resolution, which requested Duckie slash.

Kenny Rogers was right: you gotta know when to fold 'em. Or maybe it was don't take your love to town. Duckie wasn't big on country music.

Whichever it was, at some point while dancing with the very nice but strangely strong blonde at prom he realized that if Andie was really happy with Blaine, then she wasn't the person he'd thought she was. Oh, she could still be a good friend, a great friend, but she wasn't the girl he'd fallen in love with. And that was fine.

Well, it was fine after a period of secret bedroom brooding so extensive that his father threatened to take away all his Otis Redding records. After that Duckie decided that Glenview was over for him, at least for a while, especially as Andie and Blaine were not a couple he wanted to be a third wheel with.

So he decided to get a job at the beach for the summer. It was only a bike ride to the bus to the El to the bus, and if he kept biking he'd be seriously buff by the time he left for college. Or at least not gain weight selling ice cream and hot dogs for three months in one of the tiny shacks that dotted the beach. On the first day he talked the manager into letting him wear a panama hat instead of the silly paper thing they handed him. On his first day off he made four hours of ultimate summer mix tapes to play through the little booth's crappy speakers. By the end of that second week, he had a full tip jar and a happy manager. He'd even almost convinced himself that he didn't miss Andie.

The snack shacks sat between lifeguard towers--one shack per two towers all along the beach--and shifts and days off made for four lifeguard regulars at Duckie's shack. Mariel was lithe and blonde and made eyes at Jaime, the lacrosse player who was usually on the other chair during her shift. She laughed at Duckie's jokes, mostly just to show off her laugh to Jaime who was far too taciturn to tell any jokes himself. Duckie mostly liked Mariel because she was not short and red-haired; after that he didn't care much. Tom would have reminded him of any number of jock assholes, except that he was really friendly and his girlfriend Laurie was sweet and liked hanging out with Duckie while Jack was working.

And then there was Cameron Frye. Word was that Cameron's father was some ultra-wealthy power type who'd got his son one of the coveted lifeguard slots, which annoyed Duckie. Being a lifeguard paid well, and once you were in you were usually asked back, so to waste that on a kid who not only didn't need the money but probably didn't need to work at all was the kind of thing that happened all the time, sure, but it still wasn't fair. The kid himself seemed sort of scrawny for a lifeguard, but he was intense and serious, so Duckie figured whatever he lacked in strength he made up for with watchfulness. He never said much to Duckie or anyone else, just picked up his free water during his breaks and drank it sitting in the shade under his chair.

One Saturday morning in mid June, after he'd been working almost four weeks, Duckie was rolling his bike across the not-yet-opened beach to the shack. One of the lifeguards was swimming laps--Duckie couldn't tell which one, but he recognized the regulation orange swim trunks. He was so mesmerized by the swimmer that he had to force himself to look away for a while or he'd never get the shack set up. By the time he glanced up again, the lifeguard had finished and was emerging from the water. It wasn't until he had grabbed a towel and started walking toward the shack that Duckie realized it was Cameron. Walking, his movement lost the easy grace he'd had in the water and became stiff and awkward again, but Duckie realized that Cameron wasn't scrawny at all when seen on his own terms rather than standing next to burly Jaime or Tim. He was muscular, but taut; all potential energy, like a coiled spring.

"Wow," Duckie said, under his breath, and then wondered when he'd started ogling guys.

"Hey," Cameron said, tossing his head slightly to flick his wet hair out of his face. "You don't have a coffee maker back there, do you?"

"What? Oh, yeah, yeah, I already made a pot." Duckie poured some of the brew into a styrofoam cup and set out the box of sugar packets and creamer.

"Thanks," he said, still a little out of breath. He sampled the coffee before adding one sugar and three creams. "I've never seen you here this early in the morning."

"Got an early bus."

"I thought you biked here?"

"All the way from Glenview? No."

"Oh, I thought you were a city kid. I'm from Winnetka. I don't remember seeing you around New Trier, so you must have been at Glenbrook."

"Glenbrook is a dump. I'm so glad I'm out of there."

"All high schools are dumps," Cameron said. He paused, then asked, "What's this song?"

"Um, Martha and the Vandellas, 1964. 'Dancing in the Streets.' It's a classic." Duckie tried to keep the "how could you not know this" out of his voice; one goal for the summer was to stop being such a fucking snob.

"This is that song David Bowie and that guy from the Stones did for Live Aid, isn't it? I knew it sounded familiar."

That guy from the Stones? "Mick Jagger, yeah. But the original is so much better." Oh well, so much for not being a snob.

Cameron listened for a moment. "No, you're right, it is better. What radio station is this?"

Duckie shook his head. "It's a mix tape I made. Commercial radio sucks."

"Huh. I never knew anyone my age who listened to music that old." Cameron had a geeky, lopsided sort of smile, but all Duckie could think was how blue his eyes were. Then he looked down at his watch. "Gotta go unlock the gates. Thanks for the coffee."

"Sure, anytime," Duckie said as Cameron walked away. He went back to refilling the ketchup pump, trying not to panic about how he'd just checked out another guy's ass, and then heard footsteps approaching the shack.

Cameron's head appeared around the side of the opening. "What time does your shift end?" he asked.

"Three," Duckie replied.

"I'm done at four," Cameron said. "If you're willing to wait, I can give you a ride home."

"Um, well, that would be nice, if you're sure--"

"No problem. See you then." And the head was gone.

Duckie went for a swim after his shift to wash the condiment-and-hot-dog-steam film off his skin, then laid on a towel not far from Cameron's chair. As he slathered his just-barely-tan skin with SPF 30, he looked around the beach. His love for Andie had been a constant in his life for almost eight years, since the moment he met her, and he'd always thought that his constant checking out of boys was more of a fashion thing than, well, something else. After all, he'd never thought about kissing them; he'd only thought about kissing Andie. When he'd kissed Iona, that night at Cats, he'd thought he didn't enjoy it that much because he was angry, or because he really wanted to be kissing Andie. He had always loved looking at Andie, but fags admired well-dressed women, didn't they? Andie was right when she said he hated change. What if she'd just been a distraction all this time, something safe to cling to because he didn't want to think about ...

He blinked and shook his head, then looked up and down the beach. Staring at boys in their swimsuits could not be explained by an interest in fashion, especially since his eyes lingered on chiseled jaws and chests just beginning to tan.

Well, shit.

Deciding it was too much to contemplate all at once, Duckie laid back on his towel, tipping his hat down over his face. He must have fallen asleep, because he was rudely awakened by something very cold and wet landing on his stomach.

"Hey!" he said, grabbing his hat and sitting up, only to see Cameron laughing at him, a piece of ice in his hand.

"You should take another swim with me," Cameron said between chuckles. "No AC in my car."

Cameron and Duckie walked to the small staff parking lot, both still wet and Duckie pushing his bike. When they stopped in front of a white Nissan Sentra that had to be at least two years old, Duckie asked, "This is your car?"

Cameron smiled. "Yeah," he said, opening the back door to put down the back seat. "Why?"

Duckie shrugged, trying to cover his surprise. "I guess I figured--"

"There's a difference," Cameron interrupted, as he walked to the other side of the car, "between being rich and being spoiled." He pulled down the other back seat. "Should fit now." He moved next to Duckie and opened the trunk.

Duckie lifted his bike into the back, putting his bag next to it. "Sorry."

Cameron scrunched his nose. "I don't blame you. We're members of the country club; I know the assholes that go to Glenbrook. Don't worry about it."

Duckie nodded, but as he got into the passenger seat he wished he could hit "restart" on that conversation. He appreciated the sheepskin covers on the seats, which were a damn sight cooler on his thighs and back than vinyl. Cameron started the car, and a familiar sound came out of the speakers.

"Hey, Cabaret Voltaire," Duckie said.

"Yeah," Cameron replied, backing out of the space. "Ferris is always leaving his tapes in my car."

"No, I like it."

"So do I, which is why I didn't remind him he'd left it." He grinned deviously.

Duckie chuckled. "Wait, Ferris Bueller?"

Cameron had a sheepish grin that Duckie thought looked pretty adorable on him. "Yep, my best friend, Mr. Ferris Bueller, who has no car of his own and keeps leaving his tapes in mine."

"I'm glad he did," Duckie replied. They were silent for a while, listening to the music and driving through the late Saturday afternoon city traffic.

Once they were on the Edens Expressway headed out of the city Cameron said, "So, I heard they're making another one of those movies at your school this summer."

Duckie rolled his eyes. "Yeah, it's supposed to be about some guy from the wrong side of the tracks who dates this popular girl but leaves her for his similarly impoverished long-time best friend."

"Don't approve of the story?"

"It's pretty fucking improbable if you ask me."


Duckie sighed, looking out the side window. "I've had the same best friend since the fifth grade."

"Really?" Cameron interrupted. "So have I."

"Really?" Duckie looked at Cameron, smiling. "But are you in love with your best friend?"

"Ferris? Uh, no."

"Well, I was in love with mine. But Andie picked a rich guy over me. So you see, that plot would never work."

"Oh," Cameron said. After a moment he added, "I'm sorry about Andie."

"Eh, it was a couple of months ago. I'm over it."

"Is that why you took a job at the beach?"

"Yeah, you know, I like Blaine and all but I didn't need to spend the summer with Blaine and Andie." Duckie sipped from the Pepsi he'd grabbed from the shack. "So why are you at the beach? Shouldn't you be in an office someplace?"

Cameron made that sheepish grin again. "I drove my father's 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California out the backdoor of the garage and off a forty-foot drop into the woods behind our house."

Duckie's eyes widened. "You weren't hurt?"

"I, uh, wasn't in the car at the time."

"But you said you drove it?"

"Yeah, it's a long story. Morris decided I needed a more lucrative position than being an office-boy-slash-intern at his architectural firm. I'm lucky I can swim, or I'd be working construction at one of his job sites."

"Do you have to pay for the whole thing?"

"No, just some of it, plus bring this piece of shit car to college with me. It's more a punishment than anything else." Cameron paused as he changed lanes. "Funny thing is, I don't feel punished, particularly."

"Well, I'm glad," Duckie said, more flirtatiously than he'd meant to. Great, Duckie, he thought, why don't you just bat your eyelashes at him? Then the car slowed down.

"Shit," Cameron said as traffic pulled to a stop. "Must have been an accident. Well, it's not like I have any plans tonight. Ferris is taking Sloane to see Mona Lisa."

"Me neither." Duckie tapped his fingers on the dash for a bit, then said, "Well, there's a band at Cats tonight, only the doorman doesn't like to let me in, so ..."

"That jerk Dice? Whatever with him; I can get you in." Cameron turned in his seat, looking at Duckie more squarely. "That, that would be good, let's do that."

"Great," Duckie replied, trying not to squirm. He felt hot, though he wasn't sure if it was from the setting sun, the lack of air in their stopped car, or the way Cameron was looking at him.

Then suddenly Cameron sat forward and kissed Duckie. It was a good kiss, wet, no tongue, but Duckie didn't have a chance to really get into it before Cameron pulled away.

He turned forward in his seat again and clenched the steering wheel. "I meant to do that. I meant to do that. I meant to do that. I meant to do that."

Duckie grabbed Cameron's chin to turn his face toward him, which shut him up. He looked at Cameron for a moment, letting himself just stare into those blue eyes, and then he leaned forward and gave him a good, solid kiss. Cameron, thankfully, relaxed into it, and there were even tongues ...

And then there was a very loud car horn.

The boys pulled apart and looked up to see that traffic had started moving again. Duckie sat back in his seat as Cameron frantically put the car back in gear and got going again. Cameron looked over at Duckie and they both started laughing.

"Wow," Duckie said. "That was pretty bold of you."

Cameron grinned sheepishly, again, which just made Duckie want to kiss him. "Yeah, Ferris thinks I should stop being afraid of things and I agree with him, so I wanted to do it and I did it. You're the bold one."

"Me? You kissed me first!"

"But you told me about your crush on your best friend," Cameron said.

"Yeah, Andie." Hearing the name, Duckie fell back against his seat, his hand over his eyes. "Oh, man."

"What?" Cameron asked.

Duckie started to laugh; he couldn't help it. "Andie is a girl."

"A girl?" Cameron laughed, too. "Oops."

"I will, however, admit to a less-than-wholesome interest in the volleyball scene in Top Gun, if that makes you feel better."

"Ooh, yeah, that was an eye-opener for me, too. I guess I got lucky then."

"I'll say. Uh, I mean, yeah, I think we both did." Duckie looked up at Cameron and smiled, then looked forward. "This is my exit coming up."

They took the off ramp and drove through the streets of Glenview to Duckie's house, listening to the stereo. After they'd unloaded the bike Cameron asked, "You, uh, still want to go to Cats tonight?"

"Definitely, definitely."

Cameron nodded. "So, I'll pick you up at eight?"

"Sounds good. Should we, um, exchange numbers or something?"

"Oh, yeah," Cameron said, and leaned into the car to rummage through the glove compartment for paper and pencil.

As he checked out Cameron's ass, Duckie wondered why this wasn't more disturbing, then remembered that most of Glenbrook South High School thought he was a fairy anyway.

"So," Duckie said, handing him his number back and pocketing Cameron's, "you uh, probably shouldn't kiss me here, or someone will bash your windshield with a baseball bat."

Cameron nodded. "I'll see you in a few hours, then."

"You better," Duckie replied. He watched as Cameron got back into his car and waved as he drove away, then turned to go into the house.

"Once you were a lonely playboy heading for a simple joy," he sang to himself. He couldn't wait to call Andie. He wondered if Cameron liked Otis Redding.

This was going to be an excellent summer.

Date: 2007-01-21 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, yay! Clio, this is fantastic. Your Duckie is just perfect, and Cameron is adorable, and the way their worlds collide is completely believable. :) And hooray for the Some Kind of Wonderful reference. ;)

Date: 2007-01-22 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay, I'm so pleased you liked it, and that you thought the "meet at the summer job" worked!

The funny thing is, PiP isn't a favorite of mine, so unlike SKoW or FBDO or Sixteen Candles if it's on TV I often don't bother with it. I started writing the story when I'd just seen FBDO again but hadn't gone out to get PiP, and when I rewatched PiP I was surprised how many details about Duckie I remembered (like his riding a bike and how desperate and yet sort of performative and sexless his crush on Andie was). So I'm so pleased you liked Duckie and Cameron!

Date: 2007-01-21 11:09 pm (UTC)
ext_6866: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
OMG, that was wonderful. I would adore Cameron's little sheepish smiles as well, and the two of them are a hilarious couple. I guess because Duckie's definitely got a bit of Ferris in him, and as we know from that movie, Cameron is more of a match for Ferris than one might think. (Loved that Duckie of course knew of Ferris.)

The Some Kind of Wonderful reference was hilarious too. LOL!

I admit I also love Duckie getting over Andie. I always found her an incredible pill.

This was a particularly funny story for me to read today because I just saw "But I'm a Cheerleader" and a lot of Duckie's thoughts to himself reminded me of that: "Everybody looks at other girls that way!" "But they're not thinking what you're thinking when they do it."

Date: 2007-01-22 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you!

Duckie totally is a charmer like Ferris, and Cameron both is attracted to and can handle a charmer. When I rewatched FBDO I saw that Cameron made that sheepish smile many, many times and he was so adorable doing it, too. The other thing I realized is that while of course when I saw the movie for the first time I fell head over heels for Cameron (and I'm still half in love with him now) almost the entire movie really is about him, not Ferris. Ferris does all these things, but many of the times he's talking to us, he's talking about Cameron, not about himself. There is so much information about Cameron that he isn't really the secondary character that you think he is. And of course, he gets the big scene. So when the prompt said I got bonus points for slashing Duckie with another Hughes character, there was no other choice.

Molly Ringwald developed a kind of iciness as she got older, so while I adore Sam in Sixteen Candles I find both Andie and Claire from The Breakfast Club to be pretty annoying. And when I rewatched PiP I saw Duckie's crush on her to be desperate but also performative and oddly sexless—like, he wanted to love and worship her but I never felt like he wanted to kiss her, which is odd given that they shot the whole film with him getting her in the end.

I could not resist a Some Kind of Wonderful reference! What was really interesting, too, about writing this is being able to write about a universe I understood intimately. I was going into senior year in the summer of 1986. I knew people who drove 1984 Nissan Sentras (it was really fun to freeze frame the shot of Cameron's car and verify the model using the pictures on wikipedia). I had a 1985 VW Golf with a tape deck myself and OMG the mix tapes, and sitting in a hot car in the summer on a highway that isn't going anywhere still a little damp from swimming and wearing only your swimsuit and some shoes is VERY familiar. I can't believe that was 20 years ago!

Date: 2007-01-22 02:10 am (UTC)
ext_6866: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
LOL--I didn't even get into the Time Capsule effect. All those references took me back. When they talked about seeing Top Gun--that was one of the movies playing in the movie theater where I worked that summer so I totally pictured them going to my movie theater.:-) Also, I used to ride my bike to the beach club when I was a cabana girl.

And totally agree about Duckie. Though I wanted to say I also liked the thing about Duckie saying that if Andie really liked Blaine she wasn't the girl he thought she was, which I thought was just true, because Andie never really had to *work* for Duckie's crush, and Blaine was so...what was there to see in him? (Besides that kissing scene in front of the headlights--Andrew McCarthy did some great kissing scenes as a teenager!)

As you said, Duckie's own crush seemed mostly performative and sexless. I think I remember looking at the movie not too long later and really *feeling* like Duckie was one of those characters that came just a bit too early to be the gay friend he would be today, and kind of already was. (The biggest example of that kind of character being Murray on the old Mary Tyler Moore show.)

That's necessary for his friendship with Andie, really, I think. Because personally, if I were a girl, I wouldn't feel right hanging around with this boy so much if I knew he was really in love with me. It would be unhealthy for both of us--he'd start to resent her, he'd totally sabotage her dates with other guys, she'd be keeping him from finding someone else. Yet Andie never takes him seriously at all as a possible boyfriend. It only makes sense if there's an almost subtextual understanding that Andie's kind of a beard, and that all Duckie wants is to be able to pretend to want her that way. Her ending up with him, otoh, would be ridiculous.

And that's a great catch about FB and Cameron. At first I was just thinking well yeah, because Cameron's the one who changes, but I think it's more than that. Because the whole magic with Ferris is that he is, well...magic. He's perfect. And how do you have a hero that's perfect and unable to be touched by mere mortals? You can't. So if Ferris is the genie, he needs to have a mortal that's his "charge" or his project in some way.

Damn, that's so interesting. You could probably really decontruct all of that movie under that sort of mythological idea. Ferris is whatever magical being who's decided to bring something to Cameron, and the principal is almost like a Wotan character, because there has to be a possibility that he could actually catch Ferris at the end there.

Date: 2007-01-22 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Blaine's appeal is so similar to Duncan Kane's, I think. He's just this nice, mostly steady, kinda boring, good looking guy.

Ferris is totally the genie! He's even dancing to the theme song from I Dream of Jeannie near the start of the movie, which I always took to be an homage to the midday TV you watch when skipping school. They refer to this at the end, too, when Sloane says that he knew what he was doing when he got up that morning. Plus Cameron has that whole nervous repetitive speech habit which is sort of like magical speech, like a mortal trying to evoke something magical: "I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go."

And there's also Jeannie Bueller's plot of getting over herself and Ferris and her perpetual sense of unfairness through not only the kiss from the boy in the police station but also she and Ferris having the common enemy of Ed Mooney. When she runs into that house she has every intention of turning Ferris in, but once Mooney comes into the equation, she flips, and in some sense she flips for good, thanks to both Charlie Sheen and Ed Mooney who delivered her to Charlie in the first place.

(Btw, if the story had been longer, I was going to imply that Charlie Sheen and Duckie are brothers, since they are now on Two and a Half Men, but there wasn't really room for all that trickiness.)

Random weirdness: at the baseball game, Sloane is keeping a box score. It's such an odd little character note, especially as we really don't get to know her all that well.

Date: 2007-01-22 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was going to imply that Charlie Sheen and Duckie are brothers, since they are now on Two and a Half Men, but there wasn't really room for all that trickiness.

Brain goes splooooey

I was actually going to ask you about that, but then it gets too confused in the meta to try and type while donating blood and I just couldn't think it through properly, but, of course, Charlie was Alan Ruck's boss in Spin City which is clearly in a different universe and I had to go confirm the dates so I went on IMDB for a sec and Alan is fifty now?

I need to go lie down and weep.

Date: 2007-01-22 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't have words for how dork-brain happy this made me. I lost it when they mentioned filming at the school. When is that poor school NOT being filmed at? Poor exploited exteriors . . . and Cameron meaning "to do that" just took me to a different world, where Proof's "Hal" [not Jake, but the real-deal] rules over all capable and companionable dorkey men and they lounge about completely unawares of how desirable they are.

I need to buy movies. I need imdb to make me a list that will be THE List so I can sleep at night without obsessing, for once.

Date: 2007-01-22 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Why are those capable and companionable dorkey men not beating a general path to my door? Hello?

One of my highest aims in life is to make you happy, Val, which you should know. So that you liked it makes me incredibly gleeful.

Date: 2007-01-22 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just read this again as I luxuriated in my snow morning and god, it's still so really wonderful and cute. I love Duckie as the proto-gay-best-friend and he just feels so lovely and young and innocent and oddly full of wonder for a boy who just had his heart so broken. I mean, that's the joy of Duckie - that he is so full of life and the innate capacity to enjoy it even when things have gone to shit and still be like, huh, will you look at that. He reminds me of one of my kids that way (I bet you can guess which) and it really comes through in the reading of this.

Anyway. Yay! Warm summer fic for this long-delayed-winter!

Date: 2007-01-27 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! And thank you so much for the rec, I really appreciate it!

Date: 2009-06-27 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was terrific and how much do I love the comments deconstructing the movies. I haven't seen these movies in years really and I wonder how I'd see them now. This is really making me want to watch them again. I was never a PIP fan though I'd eat Andrew McCarthy up with a spoon, but I did love Duckie and Cameron for that matter so I kinda adore this. (also, love the idea of Ferris being a genie)

Date: 2009-07-15 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Meg ([ profile] sistermagpie) is such a meta-queen that she's on [ profile] metafandom's follow list, though what she tends to write isn't what you tend to find on metafandom, if that makes any sense. Things just get deconstructed when she's around!

You should watch them because it's remarkable how well they hold up, and yet how different they seem now. Duckie and Cameron were always my favorites in those movies—I think only in Sixteen Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful do I prefer the main romantic pair, and I have no time for The Breakfast Club at all. But I do love them together; they're adorable!

Thanks so much!

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