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It's not the first time they've been too tapped to get a room for the night. Money's not easy to come by, after all, because Sean was pretty much tapped when he finally caught up with Nick and since then they've been more focused on finding Nick's Forsaken than on finding ways to earn a little cash. He still feels a little guilty every time Nick picks somebody's pocket, but it's Nick's life or some trucker's cash, and as far as Sean's concerned that's a no-brainer.

Not that he's said that to Nick, but he has a feeling he doesn't have to say the words out loud. He's the one who gave up his entire life to track Nick down, drove every road he could find for three months until one day he just got lucky. And they haven't talked about why he did it, but every once in awhile Sean catches Nick looking at him and he thinks Nick knows. He'd have to be stupid not to figure it out, and if there's one thing Nick's not, it's stupid.

But he's not thinking about that, because Nick hasn't said anything and that means he doesn't want to deal with it. Sean's not sure if he's waiting until he's better or if he's just not interested, but he tries not to think about that either, because it's not like it would matter. Even if Nick told him nothing was going to come of their friendship Sean would still be here, tagging along after Nick and keeping him going when he's so sick he wants to give up. It's just easier if they don't talk about it, because as long as he can pretend Sean doesn't have to feel so pathetic.

He sees the sign for a rest area and slows down, glancing in the rearview mirror to make sure the road behind them is still deserted before he pulls onto the off ramp. It's a risk, because there's no telling what might be waiting for them in the darkness of the abandoned rest area, but Nick's been passed out for an hour and if Sean doesn't stop for a few minutes he's going to fall asleep behind the wheel.

He hopes Nick will just stay asleep, but as soon as the car rolls to a stop Nick stirs and blinks a few times before he focuses on the dark building in front of them. "Where the fuck are we?"

"Rest stop. I just need a couple minutes."

"You need some sleep is what you need," Nick answers, emphasizing his point with a loud yawn. He closes his eyes for a second before he looks at Sean again, holding his gaze just long enough to make Sean squirm before he looks away. "I'll drive for awhile."

And they've had this argument a thousand times, so Sean just rolls his eyes and pulls the keys out of the ignition. "I'm fine. I just need to stretch my legs for a minute."

"You're a stubborn bastard, you know that?"

"You should talk," Sean answers, but his grin fades when he catches Nick's dark expression.

"I'm serious, Sean. I'm not a fucking invalid, and you're not my mother. Jesus, you act like I'm already dead."

He winces at the last word, stomach clenching into a tight ball of…something at the word he tries really hard not to think about. "Don't say shit like that."

"Then stop acting like I can't even wipe my own goddamn nose."

"No, I mean…don't say that. Nobody's dying here. Okay?"

He sounds more fierce than he means to, but he can't bring himself to take it back. He doesn't care if he sounds desperate or pathetic or all those other words Nick could probably come up with, because it's the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and he's not talking about this. He's not letting Nick talk about this, not after everything Sean's done to keep him alive.

Nick rolls his eyes this time, but he's not quite looking at Sean and that's the closest Nick ever gets to guilt. "Okay. Sorry. Jesus."

"Fuck you, Nick. You haven't eaten a decent meal since yesterday and we can barely afford enough gas to get us to the next town. So yeah, I'm worried, and if you don't like it that's too fucking bad."

"Alright. Christ, Sean." Nick shifts on the passenger seat, leaning forward a little and Sean can feel those eyes on him, but he doesn't look over. Then a hand lands on the back of his neck, under his jacket and he swallows against a full body shudder. And it's not like Nick's never touched him before, but this is different – almost tentative, like he's not trying to get Sean's attention so much as he's trying to calm him down. "Look, we'll get some money tomorrow, okay? We just need to make it to a town or a truck stop or something."

He doesn't want to give in, to pretend everything's fine just because Nick says it is, but those fingers feel warm against his neck and it's hard to stay mad when Nick's stroking his skin. He lets out a sigh and leans back, half expecting Nick to pull away but instead he just buries his hand in Sean's hair. "How'd you do it before?"

"Do what?"

"When you were on your own, did you just lift wallets every time you needed cash or what?"

It's a question he's thought a thousand times, asked once before when they first met and got a vague answer that left him with the feeling Nick didn't want to talk about it. And he's tried not to think about it, tried not to wonder, but his imagination is relentless and even now he finds himself picturing Nick on his knees in some bathroom somewhere. The image makes his stomach turn, but his cock twitches too and he hates himself for getting off on the idea of Nick blowing some stranger for money.

"Mostly, yeah. Why?"

"No reason," Sean lies, and then Nick does pull away. He's still looking at Sean, though, and Sean swallows hard and forces himself to look over.

"Jesus, Sean. I wasn't turning tricks or anything."

"I know," Sean says way too fast, heart pounding too loud and he's sure Nick can hear it. Sure Nick's going to tell him to fuck off and get out of the car, walk right out of Sean's life and that thought makes him want to laugh, because Nick is his life. He gave up everything for this…this quest, and he doesn't know what else to do anymore. He can't even think about the possibility of failure, because there's nothing for him to go back to and he's not even sure he wants to go back.

"I thought about it." Nick's voice is low in the silence of the car, and for a second Sean's not sure whether he really said it or not. But then Nick looks away, out the window and Sean knows he's not hearing things.


"Easy money, right? When I first started, I got propositioned a couple times and I thought about it. But I never went through with it because I wasn't sure how easily this thing could be spread."

Sean doesn't have to ask to know what he's talking about; the disease crawling in Nick's veins, making his temperature spike and making him crave things that make his stomach turn to think about. He can tell by the look on Nick's face that he's thinking about the disease, thinking about what happens if they don't find his Forsaken in time. Thinking about what happens if he's with Sean when he finally breaks, when the disease gets too strong to fight off. But that's something Sean never thinks about, because if Nick turns he can't say for sure he wouldn't do whatever it took to keep them together.

"Besides, I didn't really want to fuck those guys," Nick adds, glancing over at Sean as he says it and there's something about the way he's looking at Sean that sends a shiver down Sean's spine. "You were the first."

And now Sean's sure he's imagining things, but Nick's still looking at Sean like he can't decide whether to bite him or kiss him, and Sean's not thinking about what that means. "So why didn't you…?"

"What, fuck you that first night after you found me? Because I'm still not sure how easily this thing spreads, Sean. The last time you were infected the drugs didn't work, remember? I'm not taking that kind of chance. Not with you."

It seems like a cheap excuse considering, because if this is the only time they've got together…but maybe that's exactly what Nick's been thinking all this time too. He wants to ask what happens now, if he's just supposed to pretend they don't want each other. If he's supposed to pretend he wouldn't do anything to keep Nick alive, to keep him from turning into one of those things. But he has a feeling Nick doesn't have any more answers than he does, and if Nick's going to be stubborn about fucking Sean the least he can do is kiss him.

Before he realizes what he's doing Sean's leaning in, hand on Nick's too-hot neck to pull him forward. Nick's mouth opens to protest, probably to tell Sean not to be stupid, but before he can gets the words out Sean's mouth is pressed against his. Nick's mouth is even hotter than the rest of him, wet and open and he lets out a groan against Sean's mouth before he pushes his tongue past Sean's teeth.

His hands fist in the front of Sean's shirt, dragging him closer and there's a gearshift in the way, but Sean doesn't even care. He doesn't care about anything except the fact that Nick's kissing him, that he's not pushing Sean away and telling him all the reasons they can't do this. Maybe it's because he knows they haven't got much time left, or maybe he's better than Sean at convincing himself they're going to find his Forsaken before it's too late. Either way he's not letting go, and when his hand slides down Sean's chest to press hard against the front of his jeans Sean gasps against his mouth.

And it feels good, but it's not even close to what Sean wants from him, so he reaches between them to tug his jeans open. When Nick still doesn't protest Sean takes Nick's hand and pushes it inside, past his zipper to curve around his cock. He wants more – wants everything – but the angle's kind of awkward and even if they climbed into the back seat he's pretty sure there wouldn't be enough room to do this right.

He's pretty sure Nick wouldn't go for that anyway, because as soon as Sean reaches for the button on his jeans Nick tenses and pulls his mouth off Sean's. "Don't."

"Why? It's not like I'm planning to blow you," Sean says, the words coming out in a breathy gasp that should embarrass him, but he's been thinking about this way too long to care how he sounds.

Nick's grip on him tightens and Sean knows he's picturing Sean on his knees with Nick's cock in his mouth. Sean's pictured it more times than he can count, and if he thought Nick would let him he'd try to make it work even in the cramped back seat. But Nick's hand is still on his, just holding Sean's fingers against the bulge in the front of his pants and when Sean presses down Nick lets out a low moan.

"No chances," Nick murmurs, breath too hot against Sean's cheek and Sean wants to argue, but he knows it won't do any good. Because Nick's more stubborn than he is, and maybe if they had any condoms Sean could talk him into it, but they don't. So he doesn't argue, but he presses down against Nick's cock again, his heart skipping a beat when Nick thrusts up into his touch.

Nick's hand is moving on his cock again, thumb sliding through precome and Sean thrusts awkwardly into his grip with each rough stroke. It's nothing like Sean pictured, but Nick's mouth is on his neck and he's grinding into Sean's hand and just knowing Nick wants more from him is enough. It has to be, because he knows Nick well enough to know he's not going to give in.

He gasps against Nick's cheek, tongue darting out to taste salt and heat and Nick. He wants to say something, to tell Nick he gets it or maybe to tell him how much better this could be if he wasn't so stubborn, but he's way too close and a few rough strokes later he's coming in Nick's hand.

He's still panting when Nick pushes his hand away, reaching for the button on his own jeans and sliding his zipper down. Sean forces his eyes open to watch, fingers twitching with the need to touch and it doesn't seem fair that all he can do is watch Nick get himself off. But it's better than nothing, and he's still trying to catch his breath when he leans in and opens his mouth against Nick's neck.

"I want you to fuck me," he whispers against Nick's skin, feels the answering shudder and knows Nick's picturing it. "I've wanted you since that first day when you asked me for a ride. I wanted to suck you off in the Mercedes, make you come in that old lady's car."

He punctuates the words with tiny kisses along Nick's neck, across his jaw to the corner of his mouth. When he reaches Nick's lips Nick turns into him, mouth open to let Sean's tongue thrust in and out in time to the rough strokes of his own hand. His hand that's still covered in Sean's come, slick against Nick's skin and Sean wants to taste. Wants to know how they taste together, but he knows Nick won't go for that either. Won't let Sean lean over and lick him clean, won't even let Sean taste their mingled flavors on his fingers.

And he hates this, hates that he can't have everything he wants from Nick while Nick's still himself. But what he has is better than nothing, and he'll take Nick's free hand in his hair and his mouth against Sean's, panting for breath as he comes in his own hand. His eyes are closed tight, like maybe he thinks if he doesn't open them he won't have to deal with this. But they can't stay like this forever, because the rest stop's still deserted but eventually someone will come along.

"Jesus, that was hot," Sean murmurs, only half-aware of the sound of his own voice and he's never wished more for a cheap motel room with questionable sheets.

He's not sure when Nick became a mind reader, but as soon as he thinks it Nick opens his eyes to look at Sean. "Tomorrow we'll get some money and find a decent place to spend the night."

"And condoms," Sean adds, shaking his head at the look Nick gives him. "Don't even say it. We'll play it as safe as you want, but you're not taking this back now."

He leans in again before Nick can argue, one hand in Nick's hair to fit their mouths together. And Nick might try to argue with him later, but at least Sean finally has a foolproof way to shut him up.