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11 February 2012 @ 08:13 pm
Ride On  
Title: Ride On (Part 1 of 2)
Author: dracoslovebunny
Pairing: DooSeung
Status: Oneshot
Genre: AU, Romance
Rating: R
Warnings: Slash (not graphic), past abuse/death, underage drinking
Word count: 8,338
Summary: In which Hyunseung is a wanderer, and Doojoon finds himself wandering too.
A/N: Written as part 1 of the final installment of my ALL-PAIRINGS 15-fic self-challenge. Each fic is a standalone (not part of the same storyline as the others). Fics are prompted by A Little Left of Logical. Title is the prompt. This one was too long to be put in one part!

A/N 2: So, we've reached the end of this challenge! I'd like to take a minute to thank some of my more dedicated readers and reviewers who have really stuck with me through this and made it worthwhile: vbkrghufbvhrg, fprimadonna, pieceofsaddy, decodexx, gdragonette, cybersuji, volatileflame, cast_no_shadow0, madiwi, crazy_ryzz, syn2554, its_rayning... I'm sure there were more of you following along, and I've just forgotten to mention you, so my apologies for that! I'd also like to give a warm hug to the girl that really got me through this last one behind the scenes (it got tough to keep writing here at the very end!), oulan. You know every DooSeung I write is for you. Every review has been appreciated, and I hope you all like this final installment as much as you've liked some of my other pieces.

Previous Installments:
Accident/KiWoon // Imitation of Life/JunWoon // Passing Flame/JunSeung // The Moment/KiSeob // Crave/DooKwang // Massage/DooWoon // Burn/KiSeung // Snack/DongSeob // Letters from Nowhere/2Jun // Lie to Me/JunKwang // A Little Curious/HyunWoon // After/JunSeob // Dare/DooSeob // Innocence/HyunSeob


Hyunseung hated when he was called pretty. He had been hearing it for too long, from just about everyone he'd known back home and just about everyone he met. But he hated going hungry and sleeping on the same bench two nights in a row even more, so he put aside his desire to seem masculine as he applied eyeliner and lip gloss expertly in the dingy bathroom at the Fullerton truck stop not far outside Santa Ana his last ride had taken him to.

Adjusting his shirt and jacket, Hyunseung stepped back - carefully avoiding the suspicious puddle on the concrete floor - and looked himself over. He smoothed his hands down his sides, then looked at his eyes and batted his eyelashes. A mild sound of disgust escaped him. It would have to do, he thought. Pausing just a moment longer to tease his hair a bit, he left the bathroom and headed back out to the road. He knew how things worked on these roads - ass, gas, or grass. And Hyunseung was broke. He had only one way to pay for his rides.

Walking backwards along the shoulder of the road, Hyunseung held his bag close to himself. Traffic was light, and it was almost a full minute before he heard the approaching sound of a vehicle. He stuck his thumb out, angling his body as well - four weeks on these roads had been more than enough time to teach him a few tricks about getting picked up - and stepped backwards very slowly as an eighteen-wheeler approached. But the driver barely offered him a glance and didn't slow as he drove past Hyunseung. With a sigh, Hyunseung dropped his arm. He turned forward and trekked along, slinging his bag over his shoulder.

As the day wore on, Hyunseung had to remove his jacket, stuffing it into his bag unceremoniously. The heat of late Spring had him sweating through his flimsy grey t-shirt, and he reminded himself that the next time he scraped together enough cash beyond what he needed for food, it would serve him well to invest in some sunblock. Summer was fast approaching, after all.

Early afternoon brought an increase in traffic, and Hyunseung didn't even bother turning forward anymore, his hand stuck out toward the road, thumb up, feet leading his body backward as naturally as anything. Dozens of vehicles passed him, and only a handful slowed, but still none stopped. Hyunseung hoped his next ride - if he managed to get one that day - was a bigrig, because truckers always had the best stories and were usually willing to provide a meal or some cash as well as covering a lot of ground before leaving him off. And their lives on the road usually meant that it had been awhile since they'd had a pleasurable touch, so when they received their payment for the ride from Hyunseung they were usually quick to finish. Sometimes, if Hyunseung was picked up late enough, the driver was working the night shift and would let him sleep in the truck while they drove to their delivery destination. Sometimes, the drivers let him ride for free.

Hyunseung figured he would never be really used to this kind of lifestyle. He was kind of thankful when early evening approached and traffic slowed again, because honestly his arm was getting pretty sore. He let it fall to his side gracelessly and appreciated the steady drop in temperature that cooled his heated skin. He stopped at the next gas station he came across and used most of the rest of his money on a shady-looking but relatively cheap sandwich. He refilled his water bottle from the tap in the bathroom, wondering to himself why it was that he had never managed to find a semi-clean gas station bathroom, and carefully reapplied his makeup.

For a long time, Hyunseung studied himself in the mirror. His eyes looked tired beneath the makeup, and his cheekbones looked more pronounced from all the weight he'd lost. He touched his cheeks, thinking that at least it made him look more feminine, and therefore more appealing to the drivers that picked him up. Shame churned in his gut briefly, but it was quickly muted by the low grumble of hunger and Hyunseung made himself remember why he did what he did. Shame had no place in his life.

He left the bathroom and sat himself on the short wall beside the parking lot, eating his dinner slowly. The sun had begun to set, he realized, as he stood and brushed himself off. Making his way back to the side of the neverending road, he resumed his journey. He would need to pull out his jacket soon.

Hyunseung's bare arms had just begun to protest the cool night air when, finally, a car slowed, then stopped. The car looked nice, Hyunseung thought to himself, something black and shiny-brand-new. He hurried forward to the front passenger door. The window was lowered.

A man, well-groomed and seemingly not much older than Hyunseung, in his early twenties at the latest, peered out at him from the driver's seat. "Where are you headed?" the man asked directly.

Hyunseung looked briefly up the road, then gestured in that direction and replied, "North."

There was the familiar clicking of the car's doors unlocking as the window began to slide closed. "Hop in," the driver called out just before the window closed completely. Hyunseung didn't hesitate to acquiesce. He slid into the passenger seat. The car had that new-car smell, and Hyunseung drank it in as the man in the driver's seat pulled onto the road. The radio played softly, letting out some song Hyunseung had never heard.

"Doojoon," the man offered after a time. He held his hand out to Hyunseung but kept his eyes on the road.

Hyunseung accepted the handshake. "Hyunseung."

Doojoon returned his hand to the wheel. "So, Hyunseung, what are you doing out here?"

"Traveling," he answered vaguely. "You?"

"One-man road trip."

Hyunseung toyed absentmindedly with his seatbelt. "How long are you on your road trip for?"

Doojoon was quiet for a long time before replying, "I haven't decided yet."

The silence made Hyunseung feel like he'd stumbled across a bad topic, so he didn't continue that line of questioning. Instead, he felt it necessary to tell Doojoon, "I don't have any money to pay for gas."

"I didn't ask for any," Doojoon returned shortly.

Hyunseung sank further into his seat, wanting to disappear. Doojoon was uncomfortably blunt, but Hyunseung had no room to complain. A ride was a ride. They lapsed into silence again.

According to the clock on the dashboard, over half an hour passed before Doojoon commented, "I don't know where you're headed so let me know when you want to be let off."

"I don't really have a destination."

Doojoon cut his eyes over to Hyunseung briefly, then back to the road. "Neither do I."

Running his fingers against his thighs, Hyunseung spoke quietly, "Thank you for picking me up."

"As long as you don't try to rob me or kill me, it's no problem."

Hyunseung couldn't help but chuckle. "No, I'm not that kind of hitchhiker."

Doojoon smiled, again sparing a brief glance in Hyunseung's direction. "Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, a little," Hyunseung answered honestly. "Gas station sandwiches don't exactly fill the tank."

"Well, I hope you like greasy food." Doojoon took the next exit off the highway. He pulled into the closest fast food joint and drove around to the drive-thru window. "Is a burger okay?"

Hyunseung nodded. His stomach made its agreement known with a quiet grumble, the smell of deep-fried food entering the car through Doojoon's open window and making Hyunseung aware of just how long it had been since he'd had a sizeable meal.

Doojoon placed his order with the black box beside the building, then asked Hyunseung, "Two burgers?"

"One is fine," Hyunseung insisted.

Doojoon eyed him before adding two burgers to the order, and a large order of fries. As they pulled around to collect their food and pay, Doojoon commented, "You look half-starved. A little extra food will do you wonders." Handing Hyunseung the bag of food, Doojoon found his way back onto the highway.

With what looked like a practiced skill, Doojoon rooted around one-handedly in the bag of food and pulled out a burger, then unwrapped it and began eating, his eyes still trained on the road. Hyunseung pulled out one of his own burgers and took a large bite. The heat and flavor filled him with the kind of deep satisfaction only greasy fast food could provide a man so used to eating cold day-old sandwiches.

"How long have you been traveling?" Doojoon asked around a mouthful of food.

"Close to a month now," Hyunseung told him once he'd finished his bite. "When did you start your road trip?"

"You're looking at day one."

The conversation fell away from them as they ate, Hyunseung enjoying the feeling of his stomach growing fuller and fuller. It had been a few days since he'd been anything close to full.

As Doojoon finished off the last of his food, he asked, "How long are you going to keep traveling for?"

Hyunseung shrugged, then, realizing Doojoon wouldn't see the gesture, answered, "I don't know."

"Got any family out this way?"

Hyunseung gathered their food wrappers in the emptied paper bag as he responded in his most neutral voice, "I don't have a family."

Doojoon gave him an uncomfortable sideways glance. "Sorry."

"It's fine." He looked around the interior of the car, directing his attention to the backseat where he found a shopping bag already half-full of trash. He added the fast food bag to the collection and returned to his forward-facing position.

Looking hesitant to ask, Doojoon queried, "Do you have a home?"

Hyunseung picked at a clasp on the side of his bag with his nail. "Not yet."

Rather than becoming more uncomfortable, Doojoon suddenly seemed to become irritated. With a huff, he reached over and opened the glove compartment, pulling out a small handful of individually wrapped wet wipes. He held them out to Hyunseung. "You should wipe off that ridiculous crap all over your face. There's nobody here to look pretty for."

Hyunseung didn't take the offered wipes immediately, and Doojoon shook his hand at his passenger. Accepting the handful, Hyunseung again tried to sink into his seat. He lowered his visor and flipped open the mirror, then tore open a wipe and quickly began the process of cleaning off his makeup. When he'd finished, he got a good look at his sunken, tired face. Closing his eyes against the image, he put the visor back up and turned his face toward the window.

Doojoon let him stare silently out the window for awhile before telling him, "You're not going to find what you're looking for spending your time in truck cabs giving head in exchange for basic necessities and whatever ground the driver-of-the-day is willing to cover." He barely spared a glance at Hyunseung, who had turned a shocked expression his way. "But if that's how you choose to get around, so be it. Consider tonight a night off from those duties."

That feeling of shame had returned to his gut, twisting around and making him feel nauseous. Now he didn't have the familiar sensation of an achingly empty stomach or sore and swollen feet to push aside any thoughts that what he was doing was wrong. Now he felt trapped in the passenger seat of this shiny-brand-new car next to a man who could tell who - what, really - he was just by the look of him, and his shame only grew as he realized he was thinking how great it was that he didn't have to provide sexual favors to make up for the meal he'd been given. This wasn't the person he'd envisioned himself becoming. He felt suddenly angry at Doojoon for his presumptions and attitude, and for making him feel so ashamed. "And what about you?" he bit acidly. "I might do a thing or two you'd look down on to provide for myself, but you're just sitting here, living pretty, brand new car, stack of cash in your wallet, not a goddamned care in the world. Not everyone has that luxury."

"No, they don't. I'm not exactly as carefree as you seem to think, but I've been pretty fortunate so far."

Hyunseung was surprised by Doojoon's agreement. A flush rose on his cheeks as he looked away. The ride became silent again.

Sometime just past midnight, Hyunseung felt his eyes growing heavy. He didn't know how much longer Doojoon would drive that night, or if maybe he was planning to drive through until morning. "If you want to drop me off, that would be fine," he commented. "I should probably find a place to stay for the night."

Doojoon looked at him for a moment, then instructed him, "Sleep."

Hyunseung studied the side of Doojoon's face. As uncomfortable as Doojoon's words had made him throughout the drive, Hyunseung couldn't help but be thankful for everything he'd provided him so far - and completely free of charge, at that. He leaned his head against the headrest, eyes still trained on Doojoon. He was kind of intriguing in his own way, this well-off stranger driving into the night with no end goal and no backstory he was willing to provide, kind enough to pick up a stranger and give him everything he needed for the night yet harsh enough to make whatever judgement calls he wanted. Hyunseung hypothesized to himself about Doojoon's possible past, and what could have led to his planless road trip. His wandering mind continued to turn and formulate as he closed his eyes and felt himself drift off.

~~~~~~~~~~

The glowing green numbers on the dash board told Hyunseung it was a few minutes before three a.m. when he woke up. Doojoon's hand was on his shoulder, gently shaking him. He furrowed his brow as he oriented himself. "Come on," Doojoon was urging him, and he watched the man step out of the car before copying him. The car beeped as Doojoon remotely locked it. Hyunseung took in the sight of the rows of doors with big brass numbers that bordered the sidewalk just beyond the parking lot. For a motel, the place looked relatively un-shabby. He followed Doojoon to the door closest to the car.

When they stepped inside the room, Hyunseung could tell it was the same shade of rundown as every other motel he'd ever been to. Doojoon seemed to be secretly cringing at the appearance of the place while doing his best to hide his discomfort. Hyunseung, on the other hand, thought to himself that a motel was better than a car, and a car was better than a bench, and in the overall hierarchy of sleeping situations, it might not be the Ritz but it would do.

"They only had rooms with one bed left," Doojoon informed him apologetically.

"That's cool," Hyunseung shrugged, dragging his tired feet across the threadbare carpet toward the bed. "I'll take the floor."

"Don't be stupid. It's a Queen, there's enough room for both of us." Doojoon walked around to the other side of the bed, sliding onto the mattress and pulling the covers up to his chest. He turned to face the far wall and reached out to set the alarm. "Get some sleep; we need to be out of here by ten."

Hyunseung stood awkwardly at the side of the bed, then hesitantly crawled under the covers as well. For a minute he considered setting up a barrier of bedclothes between them to make things less weird, then thought that doing that was likely to make Doojoon think he was weirder, really, being uncomfortable sharing a bed with a guy. Truthfully, he just wanted to take one of the blankets off the bed along with a pillow and set himself up on the floor. Doojoon was a strange kind of guy, Hyunseung thought, forceful in his decisions and unyielding. After awhile of thought, the slow sound of Doojoon's heavy breathing met his ears, and the rhythm helped lull him back to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~

Nothing in particular woke Hyunseung later that morning. When he opened his eyes, he found himself significantly closer to Doojoon than when he'd fallen asleep. The other man was still sleeping, though, so he slid away from him as quietly as possible. With a glance at the clock on the nightstand, he saw that it was barely seven.

He headed to the bathroom to wash up and put on his usual layer of makeup. Despite what Doojoon had said the night before - despite how he'd made Hyunseung feel - Hyunseung knew that the makeup was a necessary part of this gig. Observing his eyes for any mistakes, Hyunseung recapped his makeup and tucked it away, then left the motel room without disturbing Doojoon.

Hyunseung stretched his arms above his head, feeling well-rested for the first time in a long time. The sign out front told him there was a complimentary breakfast in the lobby, so he found his way there and grabbed two plain bagels before heading out to the road. Saturdays usually brought a lot more traffic than weekdays, so Hyunseung prepared himself for a lot of thumbing as he stuck one of the bagels in his mouth and turned to face the oncoming traffic.

Left to his thoughts as he attempted to flag down a ride, Hyunseung found himself thinking of Doojoon. He wondered what the man would think when he woke alone, and knew he would be relieved. He had been one of the more generous drivers Hyunseung had met in his time, but everyone's generosity had its limits.

Saturday morning wore on slowly, but the temperature was cooler than it had been the day before. Despite the heavy traffic, drivers weren't forthcoming with rides that morning, and with a glance at his cheap digital watch (purchased from a 50-cent machine near the beginning of his journey) he saw that it was nearing nine-thirty. Doojoon had probably already woken and was preparing to leave the motel.

So it was a surprise to Hyunseung when, less than ten minutes later, a familiar shiny-brand-new black car pulled to the side of the road just ahead of him. He stopped walking as he saw it slowing to a stop and turned to stare.

Doojoon stepped out of the car, leaning on the roof and looking at Hyunseung in an unamused fashion. "Hey babe," he called out, "I can give you a ride wherever you need to go, if you let me have a ride too. If you know what I mean."

Hyunseung scoffed and turned away from Doojoon.

"Hey, come on. Get in the car."

With a shake of his head, Hyunseung tried to ignore Doojoon. But he found the idea of getting a ride this early in the day pretty appealing. Finally turning back to Doojoon, he asked, "I wasn't enough of a burden last night?"

"You weren't a burden. If you were, I would've dropped you off somewhere and carried on with my ride alone."

Hyunseung kicked a little bit at the road, looking at his foot, then walked over to the car. With a grin, Doojoon slid back into the driver's seat. Hesitating just a moment longer, Hyunseung joined him in the car. "I think we could both benefit from a little friendly company," Doojoon commented offhandedly as he pulled onto the road again.

"I'm thankful for the ride, but you're not exactly what I'd call 'friendly company.'"

"Well, then, company, at least."

Hyunseung shrugged his assent and stared out the window. It wasn't long before Doojoon opened the glove compartment and pulled out more wet wipes. Hyunseung didn't need him to say anything as he accepted the wipes and removed his makeup again.

"So, why'd you take off this morning?"

"Figured you'd want to skip that awkward morning-after conversation."

"You make it sound like we slept together and I'd have to let you down about it being a one-night thing."

"There are parallels."

Doojoon half-shrugged a shoulder as he said, "Well, then, I guess this is the awkward running-into-each-other conversation where I tell you I had a good time and wouldn't mind a repeat performance. At least for today."

"And then we can have that morning-after conversation tomorrow?"

"We'll see how it goes."

When they fell silent this time, Hyunseung reflected that it was a lot less strained than it had been the night before. Doojoon reached out and turned up the volume on the radio. Hyunseung lowered his window and stuck his arm out to let his hand catch against the wind. The song playing was some soft rock song, with a mellow rhythm that set a lazy kind of mood in the car. Hyunseung closed his eyes as the rush of air coming in through the window tossed his long hair around his head. It was nice, he reflected, being in that car again, seeing a familiar face. It had been too long since anything had been familiar to Hyunseung.

"Tell me something about yourself."

Hyunseung's mind was pulled from its wanderings awhile later at Doojoon's request. He pulled his arm back into the car and looked at the driver. Doojoon spared him a glance, his expression inquisitive.

"What, like, anything?"

"Yeah. Something I might not be able to figure out just looking at you."

With a small frown, Hyunseung racked his brain for something to say about himself. He was never very good with self-reflection, and his curious mind found a lot of things interesting that most people couldn't care less about, so choosing something was a bit of a challenge. Doojoon didn't pester him, though, as he took his time deciding. Finally, he said, "Until I was like thirteen, I always thought I'd grow up to be a singer. I love singing, but I'm not that talented."

Doojoon gave him a small nod. "I thought I'd play professional soccer."

"Were you any good at it growing up?"

"I wasn't bad. I wasn't amazing, either."

"Well, everyone has dreams when they're a kid."

Doojoon raised an eyebrow. "Most people still have dreams when they're adults, too." He looked over at Hyunseung. "Do you?"

"Dreams don't get you anywhere." Hyunseung took a slow sip off his water bottle. "I prefer to exist in the tangible world, not the world of make-believe in my head."

"You could have a little of both, you know."

"Yeah, but what would be the point? So that every time I look around I'm increasingly aware that my dreams will never come true?"

Doojoon had that unamused look set on his features again. "Well, if you never set any expectations on yourself, you'll never be disappointed, right?" He scratched absently at his arm, seeming to become lost in his own thoughts for a few moments. "I still have dreams. Goals sometimes, and other times just fantasies. Like hitting the lottery or getting superpowers. But my goals, meeting someone, living happily with them, providing for my family someday and getting to come home from work and have my kids run up to hug my legs, I can attain those. I'm not saying I will or I won't, but it's what keeps me going day after day, the idea that I can." When silence had stretched between them for some time, Doojoon asked, "If you let yourself have dreams, or goals, or whatever, what would they be?"

Hyunseung sighed quietly to himself. "To find a place to sleep at night, and to figure out my meals every day."

"More than that. Bigger."

Hyunseung stuck his hand out the window again and turned his face away from Doojoon. They drove on, the sounds of music and passing cars filling the quiet between them. In a soft voice much later, Hyunseung said, "To find a real home."

If Doojoon had heard him past the music, Hyunseung couldn't tell. He kept his focus on the passing scenery as they continued north toward a destination neither of them had managed to figure out just yet.

~~~~~~~~~~

"What do you want for lunch?" Doojoon asked as he took a seemingly randomly chosen exit off the highway.

"Oh, um, whatever. I don't care." Hyunseung shrugged, looking around at the city streets and the groups of people out front of buildings and along the sidewalks.

"They've got diners, steakhouses, fast food, chinese food, what are you in the mood for?"

With another shrug, Hyunseung replied, "I don't know, a diner maybe?"

"Diner it is, then." Doojoon drove around, looking for a diner that wasn't too crowded.

"Lot of people out," Hyunseung commented.

"It's Cinco de Mayo today," Doojoon informed him. "It'll be even worse by tonight." He pulled out his cell phone and handed it to Hyunseung. "If we make good time, we can be in Portland by tonight. Try looking up a place we can stay, and call for reservations so we're not stuck sleeping in the car."

Hyunseung took the phone and stared at it for a bit, a little surprised that Doojoon was giving him a place to stay again that night. He began fiddling with the device, figuring out its browser settings and finally managing to search for a hotel. He dialed the number as Doojoon parked outside a small, old-fashioned-looking diner.

After the first hotel was a bust, and the second was also fully booked, Hyunseung managed to contact a place with available rooms, but informed Doojoon with a frown that they were going to be stuck in a one-bed room again.

Doojoon simply grinned and said, "Well, maybe this time I'll be able to catch you sneaking out of bed." Hyunseung frowned deeper and handed him back his phone before following him into the diner.

~~~~~~~~~~

Hyunseung had only registered the "Now Leaving California" sign out of mild surprise. He knew they'd be in Oregon by the end of the day, but he was still a little thrown by how far he'd managed to travel with Doojoon in just about 24 hours. They'd found something greasy and fast to eat for dinner that evening just past the California-Oregon border, and Hyunseung felt the way he always did when he left another state, like maybe this time he'd find what he was looking for. Maybe within the confines of this state's borders, he'd finally find where he was supposed to settle down. Maybe he'd find that chance he'd been seeking to make his life into something more.

Doojoon was generally quiet throughout the ride, which Hyunseung had come to expect, but the farther they traveled, the more Doojoon seemed to be smiling. Eventually he had to ask, "What are you so happy about?"

Doojoon glanced over at Hyunseung, trying to straighten out his expression. "I didn't realize I was making it that obvious." He let his smile fill his face again. "I've never been out of California. I've always wanted to just go somewhere. And now I have."

"What are you hoping will be out here? Everything's the same no matter where you go." He didn't know if he was trying to convince Doojoon or himself.

"If everything was the same no matter where you went, then why are there different places at all? Why isn't it just one big single community? Why do you bother traveling?"

"The places are basically the same; I'm just moving around enough to keep the view interesting." Hyunseung put his feet up on the dash board. Doojoon reached out and knocked them back down. "Do you feel like a new man or something now?"

"No." Doojoon shook his head. "But I feel kind of reckless. Like we should be doing something wild and crazy. I mean it's Cinco de Mayo and we're crammed in a car flying our way across the country, instead of out having a good time."

"I've never celebrated Cinco de Mayo," Hyunseung informed him, "and frankly, I'm not interested. You can go ahead, I'll just keep heading north without you."

Still smiling to himself and completely undeterred by Hyunseung's pessimism, Doojoon told him, "It was just a thought. Besides, we need to make it to Portland tonight. Our reservation is there."

Hyunseung soon found himself studying Doojoon's profile again, but this time it was to take in the sight of the man with a smile. He looked a lot better wearing one, Hyunseung decided. After a time, he commented, "Well, if getting out of Cali makes you happy, then I hope you get out of there more often. You could stand to be a little more cheerful." Closing his eyes, Hyunseung leaned his head back and listened passively to the music streaming from the car's speakers for the rest of their trip to Portland.

~~~~~~~~~~

Hyunseung wiped the condensation from the bathroom mirror, looking at his freshly-cleaned face and wet hair. He'd decided to take a shower while Doojoon headed out to grab them some midnight snacks. He had to admit that just one and a half days with Doojoon, getting a full night's sleep, and having three meals a day had done wonders for him. He felt energized despite it already being midnight. His eyes didn't look as sunken.

Adjusting the towel around his waist, he turned to look in the full-length mirror. His fingers skimmed over his lower ribs which were just barely visible. A month ago, he couldn't have said even that much of them could be seen. Then his hand made a path along long, white scars that moved from his chest and ribcage to his back. His fingers found each one and copied its pattern, as though in confusion. But he was far from confused about where these had come from.

Dropping his hand away from his back, Hyunseung turned back to the bathroom sink and turned on the tap. There was nothing to be done about those scars now. He grabbed his toothbrush and began brushing his teeth.

The bathroom door swung open, revealing Doojoon in the doorway. Hyunseung looked up at Doojoon's reflection in the mirror above the sink, then turned to him in surprise.

"Sorry," Doojoon stated immediately, stepping back from the doorway to close the door.

Hyunseung let out a frustrated noise, then spit out his toothpaste and began tugging on his clothes. It had been obvious in Doojoon's expression that he'd seen the scars, and that had been all he'd been able to see. For as long as Hyunseung could remember, that was all people saw on him if they were ever given the chance. He could still remember the taunts in school after the first time he'd had to change in front of the other boys in gym class. He felt fairly certain that Doojoon wouldn't say anything about them - though, considering what he'd said the night before when he'd only just met Hyunseung, maybe he would - but he knew he'd be thinking about them, making judgements, deciding the kind of person he thought Hyunseung was based on them.

Giving himself a brief once-over, Hyunseung left the bathroom and told Doojoon, "Bathroom's free."

Doojoon kept his eyes lowered as though ashamed of himself as he went past Hyunseung to the bathroom. Hyunseung, meanwhile, did his best to act like nothing had happened. He sank onto the bed and rifled through the shopping bags Doojoon had brought back. There were some snacks, chips and pretzels and the like, as well as a couple sodas and a six-pack of beer. Hyunseung took out a beer and popped the top off, then drained a third of it. He reached over to the nightstand on Doojoon's side of the bed and grabbed the remote. Sipping slowly at his beer, he turned on the television and browsed through the channels before settling on a live broadcast of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations still in full swing somewhere outside their motel room.

When Doojoon returned from his own shower, Hyunseung was onto his second beer and had opened a bag of chips. Doojoon slid onto the bed and grabbed a beer for himself, turning his attention to the television. They ate and drank in silence as they watched the festivities. Hyunseung had to admit that as much as he'd said he had no interest in Cinco de Mayo, the people on the screen looked like they were having a good time, and part of Hyunseung wanted to have that kind of fun.

"Where did you get those scars?" Doojoon asked when he was halfway through his first beer.

Hyunseung gritted his teeth. He had been hoping Doojoon would follow his lead in pretending that he'd never seen them. After another long pull off his beer, he told Doojoon, "I don't really like to talk about them."

Doojoon didn't bring it up again. They continued watching the television without conversing until awhile past midnight, when Doojoon said, "We should get to sleep."

Hyunseung didn't argue, curling up beneath the covers and facing away from his bedpartner as Doojoon shut off the television and lights.

~~~~~~~~~~

"Where are we going?"

Hyunseung followed Doojoon as the man passed his car and continued down the road on foot.

"I didn't come on this road trip just to spend time in the car; we're having fun today. Or you can carry on with your journey without me. It's up to you."

Hyunseung took a few quick steps to walk beside Doojoon. "What kind of fun are we talking about?"

Doojoon paused and looked at Hyunseung. "How old are you?"

Scuffing his foot against the ground and not looking at Doojoon, Hyunseung replied, "Twenty-one." When Doojoon didn't reply, Hyunseung looked up at him to find him wearing a look of skepticism.

"How old are you really?" he asked.

Hyunseung heaved a sigh and looked away again, toward a group of people dressed in red, white, and green. "Seventeen. I'll be eighteen in September."

"Christ, you're underage?" Doojoon sighed as well, then continued walking down the sidewalk. "I thought you were like nineteen. Anyway, I guess we're going to have some good, clean fun, then."

Hyunseung turned to walk backwards beside Doojoon and look at him, countering, "Age is just a number. Who gives a shit if I'm seventeen?"

"Well, legally speaking, everyone. You can't even buy a pack of cigarettes on your own. I could be put in jail for fostering a runaway, unless you're emancipated."

With a scoff, Hyunseung turned back around. "My foster parents aren't the type to come looking for me, as long as they keep receiving checks like I'm still there."

"They know you're selling yourself to get rides across the globe?"

A blush began to rise on Hyunseung's cheeks at the mention of his previous behavior. "They never knew what I was doing, even when I was living with them. I told them I was leaving before I took off, and they just told me not to sign anything under my name or get a job until I turn eighteen or the checks will stop and they'll report me missing."

"They sound swell. I can see why you left."

"You don't know the half of it." Hyunseung nudged him. "Now where are we going?"

They turned a corner, and Hyunseung saw the groups of people growing larger as they went, most of them sporting vivid red, white, and green outfits, flags, banners, and other paraphernalia. "It's the third day of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and we're gonna be Mexican for a day."

Doojoon stopped walking in front of a vendor selling t-shirts and flags. He gave Hyunseung a once-over, then purchased a shirt for him sporting the colors of the Mexican flag. He held it out to Hyunseung, who quirked an eyebrow at him as though to say, 'You must be kidding.'

"Just put it on, don't be so pestilent."

With a slight scowl, Hyunseung took the shirt and pulled it over his head. Meanwhile, Doojoon purchased a shirt for himself as well and tugged it on. Letting out a chuckle, Hyunseung reached out and fixed Doojoon's ruffled hair. Grinning, Doojoon spun in a circle and asked, "How do I look?"

"Like a fool," Hyunseung replied, but he was grinning as well.

"Come on," Doojoon said, nudging Hyunseung and then heading deeper into the crowd. Hyunseung was quick to follow.

~~~~~~~~~~

What Doojoon had referred to as "chiles rellenos" Hyunseung immediately renamed "deep fried pepper filled with the fires of hell" after a single bite. He fanned at his mouth in what must have been a ridiculous display from an outside perspective, but to Hyunseung was perfectly necessary in cooling his tongue.

"They're not that bad," Doojoon told Hyunseung, laughing at his antics. As though to prove his point, he took a large bite of the stuffed pepper himself. "Oh, they used a really spicy sauce," he commented around the mouthful.

"Tortilla, por favor," Hyunseung asked the food vendor desperately. He bit the flour tortilla as soon as it was in his hand. Shaking the remainder of it in Doojoon's direction, he said, "You're trying to kill me."

"I've had you alone in my car for hours on end in the past couple days; if I wanted to kill you, I already would have."

Hyunseung took another angry bite of his tortilla. "Does Mexico have any food not designed to burn one's mouth to ash?"

"If you think Poblanos are that bad, I'm not even offering to get you a habanero. Look, they have enchiladas." To the vendor, he asked, "Es picante?"

"No, very mild," the man replied with a heavy accent.

"Dos, por favor," Doojoon held up two fingers and then pulled out his wallet to pay as Hyunseung took the food.

After he'd paid, Doojoon accepted one of the enchiladas from Hyunseung and took a bite. He looked at Hyunseung, who was eyeing the new food with deep suspicion.

"You heard the guy, it's mild."

Hyunseung looked over his shoulder at the vendor as they continued up the road through the crowds. "He's Mexican. He doesn't understand what 'mild' means."

"I'm sure he understands what it means. He'd have to; he has to sell his food to people like you."

Hyunseung set a skeptical expression on his face, but finally took a tentative bite. When he felt no burn, he took another, larger bite. Doojoon was studying him for a reaction, so after finishing the bite he commented, "Not bad."

"Good." Doojoon took Hyunseung by the arm and led him around to a small stage where a band was setting up to play. Hyunseung leaned against Doojoon's side as the band began playing a few minutes later. He had to confess that this day was turning out to be a lot of fun overall, despite his earlier misgivings.

~~~~~~~~~~

Hyunseung felt exhausted from dancing and laughing. Somehow, around midday, Doojoon had managed to attach them to a small group of five people with whom they were now sharing their time and laughter. They were locals, and they had been to the Cinco de Mayo celebration altogether several years running. With their guidance, Doojoon and Hyunseung were definitely making the most of their time.

For the last hour, as the sun had slowly set and the music had risen in volume around them, the group had danced together, learning some of the traditional dances being shown around as well as just letting their hair down and moving in their own way. It was barely eight, but Hyunseung already knew he'd sleep well that night.

One of the older-looking men in the group walked up beside Doojoon aside as they made their way away from the crowd still dancing to the music. "How old is your boyfriend?" he asked.

"Oh, he's not my boyfriend," Doojoon shook his head. "And he's seventeen."

"Alright." He pulled out a brown paper bag. "We were going to drink this after hitting up a few bars, but since you guys can't go with us, you can just have it."

"Doojoon, you can still go with them," Hyunseung commented.

Doojoon accepted the brown bag and took a look at its contents. The bottle of tequila inside looked expensive and the entire label was in spanish. "Thanks," he said to the man. To Hyunseung he said, "I'm not going to make you spend the rest of the night alone. With my luck, if I try that, you'll be gone by the time I get back."

The rest of the small group came around to say their goodbyes, and then Doojoon and Hyunseung were left alone. Doojoon glanced around at street signs in an attempt to figure out the way back to their motel, and Hyunseung took the tequila from him, opening the bottle and downing two mouthfuls.

"Hey, hey," Doojoon took the bottle back. "Maybe we can try not getting drunk as fast as possible?"

Hyunseung shrugged. "Just trying to have a good time, you know, like you wanted."

Doojoon rolled his eyes. "Come on, let's head back to the motel."

With a scoff, Hyunseung headed down the road away from the crowds. "The night is young. Viva la vida! Why do you want to go back so soon?"

"Figured you'd want to drink somewhere safer, considering your age."

"Come on, I'm not gonna get fall-down wasted or anything. Let's stay out."

"Fine, but if I think you've been drinking too much, you're going back with me, and no backtalking."

Hyunseung pursed his lips. "What am I, five?"

"Hyunseung..." Doojoon said warningly.

"Alright, dad, whatever you say."

~~~~~~~~~~

Hyunseung didn't know exactly how much he'd had to drink, but he was definitely feeling it as the colors of the celebration popped vividly and his skin felt warmed from the inside. He and Doojoon had wandered around the more deserted outskirts of the festivities for some time, passing the bottle back and forth as they went. Neither of them were stumbling or slurring, but Hyunseung could tell by the color in Doojoon's cheeks that the older man was feeling the effects of the alcohol as well.

They had rejoined the main crowds, adding to their cheering and chanting. They made their way toward a particularly sizeable crowd, joining in their dancing as the heavy sound of traditional Mexican music filled the air around them. At least a third the people in the crowd were soaking wet, and it didn't take long to figure out why as they came across a huge fountain that people were running around and through.

"Get on my back," Doojoon instructed Hyunseung as he dropped down to one knee.

"No way," Hyunseung brushed off the idea with a wave of his hand.

"Why do you make everything difficult?"

"Fine," Hyunseung caved. As he wrapped his arms around Doojoon's neck and lifted his legs, he added, "But I swear to God, if you take me anywhere near that fountain -"

Doojoon stood to his full height and didn't let Hyunseung finish, instead heading straight for the fountain and getting them both soaking wet. Hyunseung shouted and clung tightly to Doojoon as a stream of water covered him from head to foot.

"I'm gonna kill you," he hollered at Doojoon as the other man laughed and spun them in a circle. "Let me down."

Doojoon ignored him. He spun Hyunseung around again, laughing, running through another stream of water. Finally, he let go of Hyunseung's legs and allowed him to get down. Hyunseung was quick to step out of range of the fountain. But as Doojoon approached him and brushed his wet hair out of his eyes, he was all smiles.

"I'm really gonna kill you," he told Doojoon, "tonight, in your sleep."

"Oh that's real brave," Doojoon scoffed. "Wait until I'm not on my guard? Is that the only way you can take me down?"

"No but it's the easiest."

Doojoon laughed aloud and shook his head quickly to shake free some of the water in his hair. Hyunseung guarded his face from the unexpected spray with his arm, them shoved Doojoon's shoulder. "You're such an ass," he said, but the statement lacked any bite. In retaliation, he shook his own head in Doojoon's direction, his longer hair causing a much bigger spray of water. Doojoon simply laughed.

Hyunseung didn't know if it was the fact that they weren't in California anymore, the fun that they'd had throughout the day, or the tequila they'd had to drink, but he couldn't recall Doojoon smiling and laughing as much in the entirety of the first two days he'd known the man as he had in the last hour alone. If this was how Doojoon behaved usually, Hyunseung hoped they spent quite a bit more time together before parting ways.

When Doojoon kissed him - leaning in quickly and catching Hyunseung's lips unexpectedly in a gentle peck - Hyunseung was surprised, but didn't show it outwardly. As music still blared around them, bodies in the crowd both wet and dry gyrating to the rhythm like some kind of giant organism of which he and Doojoon were just small parts, Hyunseung took Doojoon by a beltloop and pulled him closer, joining in the dance.

~~~~~~~~~~

As Hyunseung pulled off his wet clothes, he realized he was much drunker than he'd intended to get. He barely managed to peel off his layers without assistance. Donning a pair of boxers and his last clean t-shirt, Hyunseung hung his wet clothes haphazardly by the shower and left the bathroom, stumbling a little on his way out. The lights were out except for the glow of the television.

Doojoon, looking significantly more put-together than Hyunseung, had already changed while Hyunseung had been occupying the bathroom. His clothes were placed by the heater, and he was lounging on the bed in a bathrobe.

Hyunseung managed his way over to the bed and sank down beside Doojoon, leaning his head on the man's shoulder. He was a little dizzy so the headrest was helpful, but mostly he just wanted to be closer to Doojoon. It was a foreign concept to Hyunseung, wanting to be close to someone like this, and he strongly suspected the tequila had a lot to do with that.

Fingers threaded through his own where his hand lay on the mattress between himself and Doojoon. The television played softly through the room, some rerun of a soccer game showing. Hyunseung pretended to pay attention to who was scoring what, but all of his focus was on the way Doojoon's thumb ran slowly over his own. After a time, Hyunseung gave up pretending and lifted his head to look at Doojoon. Doojoon, he saw, hadn't been paying attention to the game at all either.

Hesitantly, Hyunseung leaned forward and pressed his lips to Doojoon's. Doojoon pulled Hyunseung closer to himself, tilting his head to deepen their kiss. Hyunseung felt particularly dizzy as Doojoon kissed him, and soon he had to end the kiss to pull in large lungfuls of oxygen and try to steady his brain.

Doojoon didn't give him much time to recover before stealing another kiss from him, this time shorter and immediately followed by another. He guided Hyunseung into his lap, wrapping his arms around him.

Hyunseung untied Doojoon's bathrobe between their bodies. It fell open to reveal Doojoon's boxers and t-shirt. Doojoon kissed his way down Hyunseung's neck. Leaning his head to the side, Hyunseung sighed softly at the sensation of lips on his skin. He skimmed his hands past Doojoon's chest and then under his shirt.

Doojoon caught his wrists, stopping him. "Don't," he ordered quietly.

Hyunseung turned a confused look to Doojoon.

Doojoon pulled Hyunseung's hands to his face and gently kissed his palms. "I don't want more than this." Despite the drinks he'd imbibed, his expression was clear as he looked at Hyunseung. "I'm not one of those guys... one of those drivers that picked you up looking for a good time and willing to give you a few miles of road to pay you for it."

Leaning his head on Doojoon's shoulder, Hyunseung brushed his nose against Doojoon's neck. "I know that."

"Do you?" Doojoon pressed his lips to Hyunseung's wrist. "Do you know what it's like to have someone caring about where you sleep at night, if you're getting all your meals, or if you can provide for yourself without needing to resort to... extreme measures, rather than if you give a good enough blowjob?"

Hyunseung closed his eyes and pulled his hand away from Doojoon but didn't move from his position in Doojoon's lap. "No."

Doojoon lifted Hyunseung's head to look him in the eye. Reopening his eyes, Hyunseung really wished he could put his head back down. "Well, I care. And you deserve to have someone that cares about all that."

Hyunseung pushed at Doojoon's chest, trying to crawl out of his lap. "What are you talking about? You're drunk."

Doojoon stopped Hyunseung from leaving his lap. "It's not the alcohol talking."

"Doojoon, you don't even know me."

"What else do I need to know about you to know if you deserve someone in your life that cares whether you wither away on the side of the highway?"

"I don't."

"You don't what?"

"Deserve that... any of it."

"Yes, you do." With a hand on Hyunseung's jaw, he brought their lips together.

Hyunseung fought against his hold, pulling away from the kiss and trying again to slide out of Doojoon's lap. Doojoon held him in place. "Fucking stop it," Hyunseung protested in a thick voice.

"No." Doojoon kissed him again, more fiercely. "Sooner or later I'm going to want to go back to California and you're going to keep heading wherever it is you're hoping to end up, and I won't be able to make sure you're eating or have a bed to sleep in, and it's gonna fucking kill me."

"You're going to regret saying all this blabber in the morning."

"No, I'm not. But you... I won't be shocked if you're gone by the time I wake up. The only reason I shouldn't have said any of this is because you don't want anyone concerned about you, because then you'll have to give a shit about yourself like they do. Do you really hate yourself that much?"

"Yes." There was no hesitation in Hyunseung's reply, but his voice was filled with the tears he refused to let come to his eyes.

"Why?" Doojoon asked, and the question was whispered against Hyunseung's jawline as Doojoon brought his lips to the soft skin there.

Hyunseung didn't answer. He leaned his head back down on Doojoon's shoulder, his eyes closed tightly, the alcohol making his head spin a little. His hands curled into the fabric of Doojoon's shirt as though the grip would prevent him from crying. He didn't even know why he felt like crying all of a sudden; so what if he had met some altruistic stranger and traveled with him for a couple days? So what if this man thought he was worth something? What did he know?

~~~~~~~~~~

Part 2
 
 
 
wicked l'il flamevolatileflame on February 12th, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)


*off to the next part!*
fprimadonna: pic#115956583fprimadonna on February 15th, 2012 01:19 am (UTC)
Thank you for the scream out...I came back yesterday but I was still confused,happy,excited and I hadn't noticed your updates...SORRY D:
Seungie has stolen another piece of my heart during the concert (unfortunately he didn't notice me even when I did peace signs D: but he sat in front of me with his legs open *_________*)




btw I'll review the story in the next chap ^^


Rabbit Rabbit: hyunseung whitedracoslovebunny on February 15th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
THISMANISFLAWLESSOMGOMGOMG I am so incredibly jealous of youuuuuuuu~

Hyunseung, bb, why didn't you notice my friend with the peace signs?!?

And hahaha, it's no problem not noticing the updates, turns out vbkrghufbvhrg was on a skiing trip the same time you were off to Berlin for the concert so neither of my top two commenters were around when I posted this! Oh, you guys and your busy lives. But like I said to her, you guys wait patiently for me so I'll have to wait patiently for you too! ^_^

Love ya~! <3<3<3
fprimadonna: pic#115956583fprimadonna on February 15th, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL this is a really bad coincidence...wow skiing *__* I love mountain but I can't really go often to snowboarding D:
Rabbit Rabbit: doojoon angstdracoslovebunny on February 15th, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
I've never been skiing or snow boarding. I'm afraid of heights... But I think I would like to learn how someday, and to learn to get over my fear too.
fprimadonna: pic#115956583fprimadonna on February 15th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
at the right time we will face our fears and beat them
Fighting *___*/
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