t h a n k s: To everyone at the Corner, especially River, Lise, Jono, KG and Mel. Merci beaucoup, people!
d e d i c a t e d _ t o: River and Lise.
c h a p t e r _ n i n e
I hate sleeping in the same bed as Rick. He always, always, nicks the sheets, and, on occasion, my pillow. Okay, so I don't care about the pillow. I don't use it anyway, but I hate it when he pulls the sheets away from me and exposes me to the cold air. Also, I hate cold air. Bit of an disadvantage when living in Norway, by the way.
True to form, while I was trying to get some sleep before the long, looong car-trip that I knew awaited when I woke up, he nicked my sheets. Which woke me up. I fought the sheets back, fell asleep again and then woke up _again_ because he'd nicked the sheets. Again.
After the fifth time, I gave up and curled up around him. At least that way I could get some body heat.
I was awakened some times later by the feeling of someone watching me. I lay still, waking up properly, trying to figure out who it could be. Wasn't Rick 'cause I was still more or less laying on top of him, so it had to be... There was the sound of footsteps, then someone bumping into something, then rather inventive swearing. Izzy. I opened my eyes, untangled myself from Rick and rolled over to look at him.
He was standing on one foot in front of the kiddie bed, looking annoyed.
"Mornin'," I said.
He jumped a mile high. "What the fuck...! God, Alex! Are you trying to scare me to death?"
I laughed at him.
"Would you two shut up? I'm trying to sleep," Rick's voice sounded grumpily from underneath my pillow, which, of course, he'd managed to snatch at some point during the night.
"Well, you're going to have to wake up anyway," Iz said after glancing at his watch. "It's been six hours."
Rick burried his head deeper under the pillow in response. He's not really a morning person, you see. Izzy isn't really either, but I was willing to bet money on him not having slept at all during those six hours. He's got a slight touch of insomnia, see, but if I remembered correctly he had slept for a while in the van, and hopefully he'd get some sleep when we were on the road again.
"On the road again," I hummed as I got out of bed. "Just can't wait to get on the road again..."
Iz rolled his eyes at me. "I'm going to see if this place has any breakfast. Try not to sing too much in the mean time."
I beamed at him. I know my singing is horrible. It doesn't stop me from doing it, however, even though I suspect Rick wished that it did. The curse of having a perfect pitch. I rummaged around in my suitcase, trying to find something I could sit for hours and hours in a car in. And, if I couldn't find that, then just something that didn't smell like sweat and sleep would do marvelously. I found a brown sweater and some track pants and disappeared into the bathroom.
Fuck. Toothbrush. Of course I'd forgotten to pack my toothbrush. I have a toothbrush curse or something. During the last five years I swear I'd bought at least thirty toothbrushes. I kept forgetting them when I moved on. I sighed and splashed water in my face. Well, I'd have to eat breakfast then. Unless I wanted to be able to kill people with a breath. Hey, could come in handy, that...
I got dressed and wandered back into the room. Rick was still burried under my pillow, not looking like he was intending to get up anytime soon. I grinned, walked up to him, took a firm grip on the sheets and pulled.
"Alex!" Rick growled, peaking out from beneath the pillow, showing off his wonderful bedhair in the process.
I snickered. "Up and at it, Rick. Iz is off finding breakfast and we're going to have to take off in a bit."
"Okay, okay, Jesus," Rick muttered and kept muttering as he rolled on to his feet and made his way to the bathroom, absently grabbing some clothing from his bag on the way.
"I'm going over to see how Jana and Jubilee are doing."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."
I made my way down the corridor and banged on the girls' door.
"Alex. You two awake?"
Jubilee opened the door and gave me a sleepy look. She was dressed in a huge, pink 'I think I taw a puddy-tat' t-shirt and her hair could almost compete with Rick's in the 'worst bedhair ever' contest. "We're up. This place have any food?"
I shrugged. "Don't know. Iz went to find out."
She looked down the corridor and grinned. "I think he found some." She turned around to shout into the room, while I turned to look for Iz. "Jana! This place's got breakfast!"
Iz was walking down the corridor, slight scowl on his face, balancing a trey with a pile of some unindentifiable pastries, coffeecups, two juice boxes, the little jam and butter boxes these places alway have and... My eyes widened and I gazed at Iz with absolute adoration. Sugar buns. He'd found sugar buns somewhere.
Granted, licorice would be better, but sugar buns were a really good substitute.
"You shouldn't be walking around here," was the first thing he said when he came close. He frowned at me.
I blinked at him. "Huh?" Oh. On the run. Sort of green skinned. Right. "Oh," I said sheepishly.
He shook his head. "God, Alex, sometimes..." he trailed off.
I narrowed my eyes at him. "What? Sometimes what?"
"Nothing... You just. You can't walk around like this. You're a mutant."
I looked at him in astonishment. "I know. It sort of occoured to me when I looked in the mirror some decade ago and discovered that I was turning a nice shade of green."
He rolled his eyes. "We're on the fucking run, Alex. Maybe you should start to remember that, eh?" And he walked past me and soon after disappeared into our room. I stared after him. I knew we were on the run. Hell, I knew that better than anybody. I couldn't pass for a human if I wanted to, all the others could. No, I thought, remembering Remy's eyes in the car mirror. Not all the others.
Jubilee put her hand on my arm and I started slightly as her secrets, now almost familiar enough for me not to notice, danced about in my head. "He's just worried, you know." She looked at me with strangely old and serious eyes. She's seen a lot of the world, for a seventeen year old. For anybody, really. It was easy to forget that most of the time.
"I know." I smiled at her. "Meet you by the van in an hour? Provided it hasn't flown away during the night."
She nodded. "Got'cha."
She disappeared back into her room, and I went to let the guys know. I knocked on their door, and Jackie (Jake?) opened the door, eyes twinkling with laughter.
"Bonjour, Alex. Comme etes vous?"
I blinked at him. "Ca va. Et vous?"
"Ca va." He grinned. "Hey, you speak French."
I nodded. "I'm very multi-lingual. Comes from not being American."
He sniggered. He looked... almost like his female self, but not quite. His male shape was more... square, in a way. Those amazing blue eyes which could rival Bobby's were the same though.
"Anyway. I figured we'd have an hour to get dressed and eat, and then we'll rendevouz at the van?"
He nodded. "Sounds good. Mickey's in the shower. I'll let him know when he's done."
"Okay." I turned to walk away, then stopped and turned back. He gave me a quizzical look. "What do I call you?"
He frowned at me, then laughed again. "Jake. My name's Jake. Well, Jacob, actually, but if you call me that, I'll start looking around for my father."
I grinned. "Okay. Jake it is then."
When I came back to our room, Iz and Rick was sitting on the double bed, happily munching pastries. They had managed to leave me two sugar buns and I went for them immidiately with a little happy sigh. Rick's eyes crinkled at the corners as he sipped in his coffee. Iz was shoving food into his mouth with one hand and channel surfing with the other. He stopped briefly at a news channel.
I savoured the taste of the first sugar bun. Lovely. Firm, yet soft. A bit dough-y, but well baked. With sugar sprinkled on top. Ahhh.
"Hey, that's Trish," Iz said, pointing with his jam-covered pastry.
"Turn up the volume," Rick said, licking jam off his fingers. Iz complied.
"---Mutants. The British Embassy as well as the French and German Embassies have issued press releases saying that they are looking in to the matter and that it hopefully will have itself sorted out soon. In the mean time, one thousand persons are still missing." Trish's serious, if still slightly snowy face looked at us from the tv set. I was starting to think the snow had more to do with the age of the tv set than the weather outside. The weather, by the way, was still windy, but at least it wasn't a full blown storm anymore.
"Look. We're on tv," I said wryly, picking up the last sugar bun. Wonder if I could get Iz to get me some more before we left...
"This is a good thing. I think." Izzy frowned at the tv. "I don't like miss high'n'mighty very much, but she does want to tell the truth and all that. And she supports mutants. Think her uncle or some cousin thrice removed is one or something."
Rick nodded. "I think you're right."
"Which doesn't mean we're out of danger," I pointed out, eyeing the bun. Where to start, where to start... The first bite is always the best, because after that before you know it, the whole thing is gone. Poof! Up in smoke. I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting there eating them, only to discover that they're all gone and I have no idea how.
"'Course not." Rick grabbed another coffeecup. Long live the coffeine addicted. Rick just wasn't alive before he'd got a healthy (or rather, unhealthy) dose of caffeine in his system.
Izzy started flipping through channels again.
"Hey! The PowerPuff Girls!"
Iz stopped flipping and grinned. "Belle kicks arse."
"I can't believe you're watching cartoons." Rick shook his head at us.
I scoffed at him. "Right. Says he who watches Flintstones religiously."
"The Flintstones is a classic," Rick said.
"Sure it is."
"It is," Rick insisted.
"Uh-huh. And so's.. um.. what's that dog's name? Snoopy? No. Doopy. Yeah. Doopy is one of the great classics of modern television," Izzy said, moving to grab one of the juice boxes.
"I wouldn't go that far," I muttered.
"Neither would I," said Rick. "But Wile E. Coyote definitelly is."
"Who?" I blinked at him.
"The coyote who buys all those acme things to try and wack the... uh... ostrich-thing," Iz explained helpfully and a bit distractedly.
"Oh right. Yeah, okay, I'll give you that one." I bit my fingers. Damn. Finished the bun already. "Tom and Jerry."
"You know, they're actually pretty slashy," Iz said.
I stared at him in horror.
"Yeah, now that you mention it..." Rick looked like he was seriously considering it.
I stared in horror at _him_. "You're both bonkers. Kindly stop talking about Tom and Jerry slash."
"You know what's really slashy? The Smurfs." Iz grinned widely.
"The little blue guys? Dunno. They're kind of annoying, aren't they? Don't know if I'd want to slash them."
"Riley," I said, hoping to distract them. "Riley is very slashy. And Gunn. Riley _and_ Gunn."
Worked like a charm. Rick's head whipped towards me so quickly I feared he was giving himself whiplash. "Riley and Gunn?"
"Interesting," Iz said and tilted his head. He's not a big Gunn fan, really, but I guess the suggestion was nuts enough to catch his attention.
"Yeah, isn't it? And they're both sort of soldiers too. Though Gunn is more a vigilante I suppose," I babbled. "But that's beside the point, not that I actually have a point, but, ohh, look at the watch! Time's up, we have to go!" I jumped relieved on my feet, grabbing for my suitcase at the same time, over-balancing and landing flat-faced down on the suitcase.
Rick and Izzy rolled on the bed laughing.
* * * *
"Look! A Coop Mega! Stop the car, I'm hungry," Jake demanded, leaning forward to point. Mickey gave him a brief, annoyed look, but changed lanes.
I had been ordered to the back with the other non-drivers when Mickey had discovered that I didn't have a lisence. I prefered not to grumble about it since I probably would have been sentenced to the back anyway. The news from the radio hadn't exactly become more positive as we drove on.
Jana, Remy and Izzy sat in the back with me. We had pushed the seats up against the wall of the van, and sat on a blanket on the floor. We'd also pulled back the middle seat in front to use as a table. The last couple of hours, we'd been playing cards. Remy had kicked our collective butts in every single one of them. Even Buzzard.
"Did anybody say anything about food? 'Cause I'm hungry." Jana looked up and stopped frowning at her cards.
"Coop Mega, straight ahead," Jake said. "May I have your orders, please?" He twisted his head to grin at us.
"Pasta and orange juice. Give me a moment and I'll get you three dollars. No, wait. Six. I want a magazine too." I started searching through the pockets of my jacket, looking for money. "SFX if you can find it. Photographer or something if you can't."
"I'll have a coffee and..." Rick reconsidered. "Nah, I'm coming with you."
"Wok," Izzy said and folded his cards together. "Wok, water, schticks - Rick, you know what I mean - and the newest Buffy TPB."
"Yeah, wok for me too. But with coke and an issue of Cosmo." Jubilee ripped a piece of paper out of her notebook and scribbled down her order. Not a bad idea that.
I leaned forth to poke her. "Hey, Jubes. Could you write down my order too?"
"Sure, no prob."
"Stew, two meatballs, chocolate milk and Gatecrasher," Jana said. "Jubilee, are you getting this?"
"Chickenwings, pepsi and Whiskey," Mickey said. We looked at him. "It's a magazine."
"Pasta, sprite and pick up some newspapers," Remy said, not even looking up from his cards which he was rearranging for the tenth time or so. The kid is a card shark, I swear to god...
Jake and Rick collected the money and disappeared inside the store.
"Three of clubs," Remy said and looked at me.
I looked down at my cards. Of course I had the three of clubs. I sighed and handed him the card. Remy grabbed the card, rearranged his cards once again and turned to Izzy.
"Ten of diamonds."
Izzy didn't even glance at his cards, he just smirked. "Go fish."
"My turn." Jana looked intently at her cards, then turned to Remy. "Four of hearts."
Remy handed her the card.
Jana held out her hand towards him. "Four of spades."
Remy handed her that one too.
Jana beamed and added the fours to her pile of points. So far it looked like this round would go to her.
"I've been wondering," I said and looked at my cards. Seven of hearts, seven of clubs, eight of clubs, queen of diamonds, king of spades, ace of spades. Not too great cards. "Where's John?"
"In Australia," Jubilee replied. She was changing the CD in her discman. From Coldplay to Radiohead, it looked like. "All the foreigners are there. And Kitty and Bobby 'cause Kitty is ghost-y and Bobby is possible Alpha level."
"Not all of the foreigners," Remy disagreed, looking briefly up from his cards. "The fliers are with Monet in Morocco, remember?"
Mickey turned up the radio and shouted for us to shut up.
"...of seven pm today, the Mexican borders will be closed. Tune back in for more. This is Pam--" Mickey switched off the radio.
The van was silent.
"Okay," Jubilee said finally. "Now we're in trouble."
"Like we needed anymore of that," Izzy muttered.
"I want out of this country," I, well, whined. "I don't like it here anymore."
Izzy rolled his eyes.
"I might know someone who might be able to help..." Remy said slowly, reluctantly. He frowned. "Or, Jake might."
"Yeah?" Mickey had turned to look at him. "How fast can you get in contact with them?"
"Depends. But I'm going to need a phone. And I'd prefer it if Jake tried first. He should have a better chance of pulling it off."
So we sat there and waited until Rick and Jake returned from the store, both of them carrying two shopping bags. Jake slid the door open and bounced inside. "Geez, what's with the gloom, guys? You look like someone just died." He paused and looked horrified. "Oh god. And the award for the most tactless comment goes to Jacob Gavin junior yet again."
Izzy looked angry. Rick quickly dug into one of his bags and handed him a bottle of water.
Remy shook his head. "Noone's dead. As far as we know. But we do have a problem. Seems like the Mexican borders are closing as well."
Jake looked relieved. "Is that all?"
"Maybe you don't understand," Izzy said acidly. "But the borders closing equals us being stuck in the States."
Jake blinked. "How so? We just need someone to smuggle us over."
"And I suppose you know someone who can do that for us?"
"As a matter of fact, I do."
I ate my pasta and drank my juice and tried not thinking about how damn scared I really was, as Jake and Remy disappeared to find a payphone and call someone who hopefully would be able to help. Those two were more 'connected' than I felt comfortable thinking about. Somethings are just bad for your health to know about. I'd managed to keep the 'I'm fucking terrified' factor pretty low so far and I wanted to keep it that way. I wouldn't be of any help to anybody if I ended up gibbering in a corner.
Waking up by being kissed by Rick is an interesting experience. You should try it sometime. When Iz isn't around since he'd probably kill you. He's weird that way.
Anyway. Rick kissed me (I knew it was him even before I opened my eyes. The secret thing comes in handy sometimes), I responded automatically, he pulled away and I heard loud wolf whistles from somewhere near by.
I opened my eyes.
Jake slapped Rick on the shoulder as the latter sat back down, grinning widely. Remy picked up a used coke bottle and eyed it consideringly. Izzy was sitting with his back against the shot-gun seat and smirking. Jubilee was driving, Jana had curled up in cat-shape on the shot-gun seat and Mickey sat cross-legged beside Remy. Having taken stock of where everybody was, I returned my attention to Remy, who seemed to be in everyone's center of attention at the moment.
Remy solemnly placed the bottle on the floor of the van and spun it around. Jubilee hit a speedbump and the bottle flew into Jake's lap. Jake looked surprised.
"Truth or dare?" Remy said, grinning.
Jake considered it. "...Truth?"
Remy grinned wider as something evil obviously occoured to him. "All right. That thing with with Warren which you said wasn't a date, was actually...?"
Jake hid his face in his hands. "Oh god."
"That's what I thought." Remy looked smug.
Izzy sighed disgustedly. "Why do you ask such wimpy-ass questions?"
Remy shrugged at him. "I wanted to know. Not all of us can ask kinky sex questions, you know."
Izzy blinked in surprise. "Why the hell not?"
I thought this was as good a time as any to interfere. "What are you people doing? Besides corrupting whatever innocence there is left to corrupt."
"Playing truth or dare," Mickey said, looking as though he was having the time of his life. I wondered what kind of embarrassing questions/dares for Izzy he was thinking about.
"Ah," I said. I thought for a second, somewhat sluggishly. I'm not exactly the brightest of people when I've just woken up. "...Can I join?"
So I joined.
Jake spun the bottle and it landed pointing at Izzy. Iz beamed.
"Truth or --" Jake started.
"Dare," Izzy interrupted, beaming more. "Dare me."
"We're in a car. What the heck is there to dare people to do in here?" I asked Rick who was sitting closest to me.
"Well, so far, it's been kisses."
"Ah," I said, then paused. "Wait a minute..."
"Kiss Remy," Jake said gleefully. Obviously he hadn't much appreciated admitting that the thing with Warren had indeed been a date. I found myself wondering what they'd been doing on said date...
Izzy, being Izzy, made a big show out it all. Crawling across the van, looking strangely seductive considering. Of course, Izzy has a tendency to look seductive even if he's reading history for his night classes, so you know. Remy didn't seem to mind much.
That definitely wasn't a chaste little kiss, I noted.
God knew what the teachers at the school would do to me when they got their students back. Some 40 hours and I'd managed to make them all even less innocent than they already were. Not a bad feat that. Though Izzy would probably help. A lot.
Rick clapped loudly for the performance. "Encore! Encore!"
Izzy grinned and crawled back.
Remy stared at him and shook his head.
Izzy spun the bottle.
It ended up pointing at Mickey.
They locked eyes and grinned ferally at each other.
"Truth or dare?" Izzy challenged.
"Truth," Mickey said, narrowing his eyes. Obviously he thought he'd be safe that way. He was wrong.
"If you could do anything sexually to anyone of us present, what would it be and with whom?"
"Izzy!" I stared at him.
"Shh," Izzy said and waved his hand at me to make me shut up. Everybody else stared at Mickey and Iz, riveted, holding their breath for Mickey's response.
Mickey's eyes narrowed his eyes until they turned into tiny slits. "...It would be a long, hard fucking that made him so hot he'd lose the ability to speak or think, do anything but push back. And Rick."
My eyes widened. Oh-oh.
Izzy's eyes widened in outrage and I could see his hands balling into fists. "What?"
Rick seemed amused by it all, casually putting an arm on Izzy's chest (to keep him put, probably).
Mickey stared impassionately back at Iz. "You heard."
"Duh-duh-duhduuuh," Jake hummed. "Duh-duh-duhduuuuh."
Izzy relaxed suddenly, grinning brightly. "Well, I asked. C'mon, spin the bottle."
I found this far more frightening than his angry look.
The grin widened and Iz arched an eyebrow. Which is something he generally does only when he's plotting. It didn't take much thought to figure out who he was plotting against this time. I wondered if I should warn Mickey. ...Nah. He's a grown boy. He can take care of himself. Besides, he was asking for it.
Mickey looked thriumphant and spun the bottle.
It landed pointing on me.
"Truth or dare?"
"Eh..." Let's see... Kiss someone, have Mickey ask embarrassing personal questions, kiss someone, have Mickey ask embarrassing personal questions... "..Truth." I was going to live to regret this.
Mickey tilted his head and looked intently at me. "When was the last time you had sex, and who was it with?"
"...Why are you asking two questions?"
"'Cause that's how we're doing it. Answer the question." He grinned at me.
There was a collective snort.
I sighed. "All right, all right. Two weeks ago. And I'd rather not say."
Izzy was eyeing me strangely.
"Because I'd never hear the end of it," I muttered, scratching my neck.
Rick grinned at me. "Oh, do tell."
"Yeah!" Jake said, nodding vigoriously. "Tell. Share."
"Is it anyone we know?" Remy wanted to know.
"What is this? Twenty questions?" I knew I was turning dark green.
"No, truth or dare, and you aren't playing," Mickey said, grinning.
I muttered something.
"What was that?" Mickey leaned closer to hear.
Izzy stared at me then broke down laughing, a vaguely hysterical tinge to his laughter.
"Terry?!" Rick stared at me. "Sex-club Terry?"
I scratched my neck again. "...Yeah. See, when you sent me to pick up that lost boyband-er of yours, I sort of... Never mind."
Jake and Remy exchanged looks. Jake tilted his head. "Do I want to know?"
"I do! I do!" Izzy gasped out. "Details, man, details!"
"That wasn't a part of the question!" I objected, grabbing the bottle.
I spun it around before anyone could say anything else. I knew I should've just picked dare. Why don't I ever listen to myself?
It pointed on Izzy. Which, considering he was laying on the floor, taking up much of the space, wasn't a complete surprise. He sat up and gave me an expectant look.
"Truth or dare?"
"Truth," he said, obviously counting on me being to ...me... to ask him a real question.
Moron. Doesn't he know me at all?
"Why aren't you," I pointed at him. "With him?" I pointed at Rick.
Izzy lost his grin.
Rick winced audibly.
Mickey, Jake and Remy seemed ready to bring out the popcorn.
"No." I shook my head. "Answer me."
He gave me a near terrified look, then glanced over to Rick. He did this thing with his mouth where it looks like he's about to cry, which usually happens when he's pressed and doesn't know how to get out of the situation. He looked back at me. "I..." He worked his jaw a couple of times with no sound coming out. "Why... Why would I want to---"
I gave him an incredulous look. "Izzy."
He closed his eyes, pulled his legs up towards his chest, leaned his right arm against his leg, rubbed the bridge of his nose, and opened his eyes again, looking straight at me, eyes suspiciously shiny. "It wouldn't work. You know it wouldn't."
"You don't know that," I pointed out.
"Yes, I do." He gave me a shaky grin which wasn't even a shadow of his usual grin.
I glanced over at Rick. He was looking at Izzy with a shuttered expression on his face. Izzy followed my look.
"This is better than 'Days of Our Lives'," Jake commented.
"Shut up," Remy and Mickey said in unison.
"Ricky..." Izzy said, the almost-crying expression on his face again.
"Did it ever occour to you that I might have a different opinion?" Rick said, very calmly. I was surprised he replied at all.
Izzy bit his lip.
"This isn't exactly..." Rick hesitated, tossing me a not-entirely-friendly look. "It's too soon."
A small frown appeared on Izzy's brow. "What?"
"Yeah, what?" Jake echoed.
"Will you for god's sake shut the fuck up?" Remy said, exasperated.
Rick stretched a hand out towards Izzy's chin. Izzy flinched back. Rick shook his head and crawled over to him, putting his hand firmly on Izzy's face, making him look at him.
"I do think we could make it work, Iz," Rick said gently.
"But..." Iz still looked terrified.
"Yeah, there's a but," Rick nodded.
"Yeah." Iz blinked his eyes rapidly a couple of times. "Yeah, I know. I..."
"See, if we got together now, you wouldn't be able to handle it. I could tell you I loved you a dozen times a day and prove it too, you still wouldn't really believe me. You'd be... You'd become whoever you think I want you to be. And I don't want that."
Izzy looked down. I stared at the two of them. Was it too late to change my question now? To be honest, I hadn't actually expected Iz to answer it. Seemed like I'd underestimated his sense of fair play. Or he simply didn't want to lose. Izzy is a very bad loser.
"What do you want?" Iz said quietly.
"Look at me."
Izzy hesitantly did as told.
"You." A tiny, tender smile appeared on Rick's face. "I just want you."
"Awww," Jubilee said, glancing into the mirror with a grin. "Damn, you guys are cute."
"Fuck off," Iz snapped, eyes fixed on Rick.
I was relieved by it. Iz was starting to sound more like his usual self, which I far prefered from the terrified version.
"Me? You want me?" Izzy put his hand over Rick's, much like he was trying to make sure this was real and not some weird dream. "Do you realise how very fucked up I am?"
"Yes." Rick's smile widened. "It hasn't escaped my attention. I am, after all, the one who peels you off the ceiling when you're in your hyper-mood, and the one who sits with you on the roof when you're depressed so you won't kill yourself, and the one who lends you his beautiful classic of a car at any given day of the week."
And that was all true. Except the part about Martha being a classic. A classic piece of junk, maybe, but a classic car... Yeah, right.
"You guys do that too?" Remy blinked. "I thought we had the patent on that."
"The roof thing is actually widely popular," Mickey started. "In fact, in my business, we have a term for this kind of --" He shut up when Jake whacked him over the head and reminded him about the drama happening in the van at the moment.
"Ricky... I'm scared," Iz said in a small voice, then burried his face in the crook of Rick's neck. Rick's arms went around him and they sat there like that for a while.
"Not to interrupt anything," Jubilee said. "But if we're going to spend the night at a motel, there's one coming up down the road... And it _is_ past one am."
"You're not interrupting anything," I said, glancing over at Rick and Iz who didn't react at all. I look at the rest. "I suppose a bed is preferable to the floor of the van?"
"You think?" Jake commented.
So we stopped at the motel.
Izzy isn't what you might call a 'private person'. He usually had no problems telling complete strangers how he was feeling. In great detail, I might add. He's a sadistic son of a bitch when he wants to be. And that's often. But I still figured he couldn't be all that happy about what had happened in the van. One of the most important moments in his life, and the school brats were there to hear and see him be an insecure little kid.
Not that we - or at least I - didn't already know he was an insecure little kid. He puts on a grand show, Izzy does, but when it comes down to it, it's just a show and he can't hide behind it forever. Though I suppose he wishes he could. He's good at denial. If he had it his way, he wouldn't deal with reality at all. If there's something he doesn't want to think about, well, then he won't. No matter the cost.
So it must have hurt like hell to tell Rick and us _why_ he'd never gotten involved with Rick. Why he seemed to avoid the concept completely.
It's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
Not in Izzy's case. He knew, deep down, that he would never recover from having had Rick... and then lost him.
So he chose not to get in a situation where that might happen.
I could understand him. Or, I suppose I couldn't, really, but my imagination was good enough that I could at least imagine what he must be feeling and why he made the choices he made. If I had someone like Rick, I'd cheerfully jump straight into it, figuring things would work out. But Iz was far more intense than me. Whatever he did, he did with all his heart. Me, I always kept parts hidden away where no one could get to them. It was just the way I was.
Well, he didn't have the obvious intensity Iz did, but I knew it was there. He mated for life as well. Like Canadian geese or something. I thought Rick must have realised early that he wanted Iz, and probably laid a highly complicated battle plan too. He was without a doubt the smartest one of us.
I, and everybody else as well, tended to forget just who Rick was most of the time. He was usually so quiet and when he did say something, it was something that made sense only after cross-referencing it and playing the association game. If it made sense at all. Rick quite liked nonsensial conversations as well.
But Rick was twenty-six years old and one of the most successful producers in America. That wasn't something that happened by accident.
Of course, he was also a half-psychotic, nagging arsehole, but that's was fairly up-front and hard to miss.
Having this happen while we were running for our lives in direction Mexico, couldn't possibly have been in his plans however. And if it had been, I really didn't want to know about it.
"So," I said, weighing the key in my hand. I looked over at them. "Same room arrangements?"
"Hey, leave the love-birds alone!" Jubilee grinned.
I swear to god I could almost see Iz blushing. Which was impossible. Iz didn't even know _how_ to blush.
Must have been a trick of light or something.
"Well?" I glanced over at Rick, shaking the weird thought out of my head.
Rick looked down at Izzy, then looked a bit sheepish. "Would you mind crashing with Mickey et al?"
"'Course not," I grinned.
Jana made a weird little noise, put her hand over her eyes and said, very calmly; "Evil, evil mental image. Begone. I'm a wee innocent child. I do not think of such..." She removed her hand from her eyes and looked over at Rick and Iz. "Such... Please, please, take pictures! Video tape it! Let me watch!"
Innocent. Yeah, right.
"Yeah!" Jubilee nodded eagerly. "Pictures! I can sell them for lots of cash at the school..."
Izzy looked vaguely interested. "Sell them? What'cha say we split the profits -- mmmph!" Rick put his hand firmly over Iz' mouth.
"We are not videotaping, taking pictures OR holding a bloody life show!"
"Mmmph mmmh mph," Iz said.
I sniggered at them and handed them their keycard.