Links to the song:
To drive along roads at night, watching as the headlights flickered over the edges of the road and brightened the dark in a halo across the ground, was the best way for Mark to get some sleep. The soft bumps on the ground helped to relax his body, rigid and structured tensely from a day of stress, and the quiet hum of the engine served as a soft lullaby. It was a wondrous experience, to let music fill the silence and to breathe in the air that flooded in through the open windows around him. It didn't matter whether it was twenty degrees or four, it was all cold and caressing as it grazed across his skin. He never didn't get goose pimples. It wasn't the thrill of driving fast that drove him to the deserted night roads, it was the cool air and the white-noise that made everything better.
He didn't have to focus or give any special attention to what he was doing, it was second nature to change lanes or take off through the smaller lanes of roads in the countryside. There was no pretence, nothing that weighed him down as he watched the white lines on the tarmac speed towards him and passed under the bonnet where they framed the car.
Nevertheless, it didn't mean that he wasn't careful, he always was. His hands always stayed on the wheel, except when he changed gear, and his eyes never got distracted by the road signs that pointed in every direction with hoped of taking him to a new place. If anything, he was more vigilant. It was that ability to remain hyper-aware for so long that allowed him to rest peacefully at night, his eyes scanned and stared until they felt the familiar tethers of sleep try to draw them closed. The light gleamed into his eyes, ensuring that he wouldn't stray from his well beaten path until he reached his home.
That night, however, was one of the many times when Jackson hadn't asked to come along. His incessant chatter was what made Mark smile, what made him want to drive on until Jackson had told him everything about everything. He could get lost in the workings of the younger man's head and feel everything that was described in such minute detail that he could feel it embedding itself as a memory he could have lived himself. He loved to hear Jackson talk, to fill the quiet spaces in Mark's mind that no music or engine rev could never even get near. Jackson kept Mark grounded while letting his head run through the clouds, it was something that nobody had ever done for him before.
It was as though Jackson knew that Mark needed that, that beneath the silent moments were thoughts as loud as thunder and an imagination that needed to be worked into something tangible. If there was one person to understand him, it would be Jackson and he's like to think that it was the same when the situation was reversed. He hoped that what Jackson needed was for somebody to listen to the nonsense he spouted and to take things in but not always respond, as if Jackson had so much going on in his mind that he just needed it out to be able to function properly.
Mark found it harder to go home, to drive into his garage and escape up the apartment building to his bed. There was nothing pleasing about a bed that was bare of any other life or even golden warmth that played in his dreams as he slept. He felt robbed. There was nothing to break his fall or cushion the blow of being alone.
He shifted out of his thin jacket and shoes at the door, hating that there were no others lined up beside his and he just wanted to curl up on the sofa to sleep. It was difficult, everything was so much harder without Jackson there and it was easy fro him to want to give into the urge to run back out to his car and head down one of the long winding roads. He placed his keys on the hook that was empty, the quiet clinking echoing around the lifeless apartment and he tiredly stretched out before retreating down the hallway to his bed. The soft cotton didn't appeal to him, not when it was colder than the taste of mint and he hoped that sleeping on Jackson's side would help to ease off some of the feelings of isolation that crept up in his absence and in the dark.
Mark closed his eyes, hating how hard it was do so without having somebody looking back at him to make sure he drifted of nicely. There was something bright and equally as noisy in his bedroom, smiling faintly at how much it reflected the man he missed more than anything. It was with that hope of keeping the light and the sonance around him that he picked up his vibrating phone and answered it with sealed eyes.
"Don't be lonely," the voice came over the crackling speaker, "I can feel it from here, stop it."
Smiling was second nature when talking to Jackson and he felt his lips open to show his teeth in the most affectionate manner, "I can't help it."
"But talking to me makes it better, right?" Jackson asked, his voice toning down to what he thought was a whisper. "Or rather, me talking makes things better. It saturates your mind until my thoughts are all you can think of."
Mark hummed, his body relaxing into the spot where Jackson's scent was the strongest in the room, his fingers slipping between the two layered pillows and moving side to side to release more of the smell that he'd missed the source of. "Keep talking."
And Jackson did, he spoke in an excited manner that reminded Mark of a puppy barking with its new toy but it still served to massage his muscles until they were soft enough to relax. His boyfriend told him all about what he'd seen, heard and felt while he was working halfway across the world. The scenes painted themselves in Mark's head, the long streets of shops and the sun hanging heavy in the sky to rain down in hot rays. He could imagine Jackson's golden skin, how it would have grown darker under the light and how vibrantly that would make his other half glow. He could hear the happiness, feel the happiness, coming through in Jackson's voice as he supplied things for the voids in Mark's head to swallow up easily.
The elder, while remaining mostly quiet, answered with snorts and laughs as Jackson got into his flow of speaking and he knew he could sleep peacefully, having had the hanging feeling of being alone chased out of his mind.
His dreams were vivid, like memories replaying in his head and he knew it was Jackson. His boyfriend projecting images of mornings that looked like glasses of Tequila Sunrises and he could feel the love projecting from one chest to another. It kept the nightmares out, the sense of loss he felt without Jackson sleeping beside him that often drove darker dreams and it was a good replacement. He could see what Jackson could, he was living there with his boyfriend and he could feel the sense of protection that Jackson always brought. There was no mistaking their connection and Mark could only see the man he loved everywhere.
Waking up was easier, Jackson's phone still connected to Mark's and he could hear the way his boyfriend spoke in confident English. The familiarity of the voice and the language helped to settle Mark, even if the speech wasn't directed at him and he showed visions of the smoggy view outside of their apartment window as a good morning site. He could hear how Jackson fastened the pace of his words and within two minutes he was talking into the phone's receiver. "I think my good morning sight was better than yours."
"It's because of you that we live here," Mark laughed quietly, using his shoulder to hold his phone to his ear as he fumbled to grab a towel from the linen cupboard. "Don't complain about the smog to me."
"I would be willing to forgive you, if you showed me you looking in the mirror," Jackson teased, making Mark look in the mirror and project the vision of him doing so to his boyfriend, to which came a loud coo on the receiving end. "Is that a towel? Are you going to shower? Can you show me that too?"
"Jacks, it's like midday in Wellington and you're in public!"
The Hong Kong native laughed, loud and comforting, "It was worth a shot."
It was firm and delightful, the feeling of Jackson's hand on his knee and the warmth he felt in contrast to his goosebumps was unrivalled. He slipped deeper into adoring his boyfriend as the nattered on about nothing important, sometimes talking about the way the shadows left by their car's headlamps created illusions and Mark couldn't help his smile. His cheeks hurt, they ached, but the pain was welcomed after the loneliness he had felt without his boyfriend by his side. This was ritual. Jackson and Mark together, that's what was meant for them and not solitary journeys into the night. Not being thousands of miles apart and all Mark wanted to do was take one of his roads and follow it until they were in one of the country parks on the island, where they could hide from the world and stay together
"Would you run away with me if I asked you to?" He interrupted Jackson, the younger man looking at him with a smile that reflected Mark's exactly. "If I just turned this car around and headed for the tunnel to China, would you come with me?"
Mark slowed the car down, watching how Jackson faltered in the corner of his eye with only the light reflecting off the road.
"Do you have $25 with you?" Jackson asked, making Mark crease his eyebrows and nod slightly. "Then let's go, just me and you."
Mark's hands froze up on the wheel, he hadn't expected Jackson to have taken him seriously and he could feel the simmer of excitement bubble up in his stomach. "I was just joking."
"I could feel that you weren't, Mark," Jackson laughed, his airy attitude making Mark relax a little, "Take the Eastern tunnel and we'll stop in Kwun Tong for the night then decide if we want to go up to Shenzhen in the morning."
Mark looked at his boyfriend for a minute, road signs flying past them and in a split second decision, he took the next turning and started heading north to the Eastern Harbour Crossing his hands began to sweat around the wheel and Jackson continued to talk. It was the only comfort he had in their moment of spontaneity and he wondered if Jackson knew that he meant fro them to run away completely. That they would drive until they found somewhere to stop and spend the rest of their time there, or that Mark would be more than willing to drive and never stop if Jackson was in the car with him. He wouldn't mind their car being their home as long as Jackson stayed by his side.
Jackson, for once, responded to Mark in the calmest and quietest way he could have, he peeled the elder's left hand from the wheel by leaning over the dashboard and he kissed the ring finger on his left hand. It was something Mark did to show his affection when emotions clogged his throat and mind, a silent 'I completely understand you'.
Mark didn't want to sleep, he could feel his dreams creeping into his reality and Jackson laughed when that thought was projected straight to him.
They both took a deep breath in, the driver pressing on the accelerator as they moved further along their road to nowhere.