Nick used to be a big fan of road trips. That was before his life became one long, endless road trip, back when hitting the road meant friends and good music and enough drugs to keep everybody buzzing for as long as they wanted to drive.
He used to think he wanted to see the world – hitch his way through Europe, sample the really quality stuff in Amsterdam or hang out with all the expatriate wanna-bes in Prague for awhile. Life was all about new experiences, after all, and if he drifted from one party to the next for as long as he could he'd consider that a pretty good life.
Funny how a few months of staring at the same dashboard could cure him of his wanderlust. He's been staring at the same scenery out the windows of that fucking Charger for too long now, and as far as he's concerned if he never sees the inside of a car again it'll be too soon. That's the reason they're standing at the bus station even though they're down to their last few bucks, why Sean didn't put up a fight when Nick suggested they ditch the car that never belonged to them anyway and find some other way home.
And 'home' is a funny word considering they've been living in motels and that fucking car for way too long. Not that he's really complaining, because the charm of hitching wore off long before he met Sean, and it was nice to have somebody at his back when he got really sick. For awhile there they both thought he might not make it, and he knows if Sean hadn't been around he wouldn't have. It was Sean who kept him going, Sean who nagged and begged and coaxed him into not giving up, and in the end it was Sean who wasted the fucker who gave him the disease in the first place.
So he owes his life to Sean, and he's not as weirded out by that thought as he expected to be. Then again, there are a lot of things he never would have predicted, and standing at a bus station in the middle of nowhere waiting for the Greyhound to Orlando is a big one.
"You sure about this?" he asks for the hundredth time, getting an eye roll and a grim smile from Sean.
"How many times are you going to ask me that? I told you, she's my sister."
In Nick's experience family ties have never meant all that much, but Sean seems pretty convinced that his sister's going to put them up no questions asked for as long as they need. It's not that he's ever had a problem taking handouts, but when the charity's coming from someone with a vested interest in Sean it feels different somehow. More like there are strings attached. He's tired, though – too tired to deal with the idea of letting Sean go. "Which means she'll be glad to see you. She doesn't know who the fuck I am."
"Yeah, she does."
That's news to him, because as far as he knows Sean hasn't talked to his sister more than a handful of times since this whole thing started. He thought Sean stopped calling when it got a little too hard to explain what he was doing, and there's a selfish part of him that was almost glad about that. Now that he's cured he hates himself for it just a little, but at the time it seemed right that they only had each other to rely on.
Only now it's all over, they killed a second Forsaken – his this time – and they've got the rest of their lives to worry about. He could have gone back to Texas, looked up whatever friends were still around and crashed with one of them until he got back on his feet. Sean could have gone back to L.A. and found out whether or not he really burned all his bridges in the movie industry. Nick's pretty sure he didn't – thinks maybe that's just a speech Sean made for his benefit, because he knows Nick's not going to California and he isn't ready to say goodbye yet.
He waits until they're on the bus to ask the question, making sure he doesn't have an excuse to change his mind. They make their way to the back out of instinct, sharing a seat instead of spreading out to give themselves leg room, because they've been living practically on top of each other for so long that they don't know any other way.
"You told your sister about me?"
"I had to tell her something," Sean answers, settling in next to the window and turning to look at Nick, eyes wandering over Nick's frame out of habit, because he's still checking for signs of the disease even now that it's long gone. Or maybe he's still expecting Nick to die on him any time now, and that thought makes Nick's chest tighten even though he knows he's cured.
"So...what? You told her you were out seeing the country with some guy you met on the way to her wedding?"
Sean grins at that, glancing out the grime-covered window as the bus pulls out of the station. "I told her you were a friend and you needed my help. When I called to tell her I was coming she asked if you were still with me. She asked if we minded sharing the pull-out couch."
"Not like it would be the first time."
What he wants to ask is if Sean's sister thinks they're just friends, but he doesn't because he's not sure he wants to hear the answer. He doesn't even know what they are – friends, fuck buddies, or maybe just a convenience. They met under pretty weird circumstances, after all, but that's all over now and they're still together, so it must mean something. He didn't have to get on the bus to Florida, and Sean didn't have to invite him along in the first place. So if they have to play 'just friends' in front of his sister Nick can deal with that, at least until he figures out what Sean wants from him.
He glances out the window at the scenery rolling by, watching another in an endless series of highways. And it seems like they should have seen the entire country by now, but they've been so focused on the goal the whole time that Nick doesn't really feel like he's seen anything. Before Sean it was just one ride after another, worrying about making enough cash to keep going and keeping a low enough profile to stay below the cops' radar.
Once Sean was in the picture he didn't have just himself to worry about anymore, and it was easier to keep going when he had somebody else to focus on. He saw even less of the scenery then, because it was safe to sleep while Sean was driving and he didn't have to worry about where his next ride was coming from. He still worried about letting his guard down too much, but when he did Sean was right there to pick up the slack.
"You ever been to Florida?"
"No," Nick answers, glancing at Sean to find the other man watching him. His heart stops for a second, then picks up again in double time and he's so screwed if just looking at Sean makes him glad he's already sitting down. "Closest I ever got was New Orleans. I don't think your guy liked the beach much."
"What about you?"
Nick shrugs, their shoulders pressing together when he slides down in his seat. "It all starts to look the same after awhile."
"You just haven't seen the right beach yet."
Sean grins, and the way he's looking at Nick makes him want to do something crazy like reach for his hand. Or maybe kiss him right there on the bus. It's mostly deserted anyway, and the few other passengers are sitting up front near the driver, probably to avoid Nick and Sean. He knows what they must look like, traveling in the same clothes they've been wearing for months, covered in scratches and road grit ground into their skin so far he's sure it'll never come out.
In a way he's glad they look a little dangerous, because it keeps people away from them and it means he gets Sean all to himself just a little longer. In a day or two they'll be in Florida and he'll have to share Sean – with his sister and her husband and whoever else still remembers Sean enough to give a damn that he's still alive – but for now they're still all they've got, and he's selfish enough to want to keep it that way for as long as he can.