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Smooth on the surface (like a rubber duck)

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Jensen's sitting in the cabin of his Mack. It's long after noon, the road smooth under the tires, the sun staring at him from the southwest. It's been uneventful, empty road and no bears doing traffic control. Sand's whirling on the black two-lane. He's hauling a tank trailer and crossing Arizona, and he knows this stretch of road well. He can see all the way to the horizon and the speakers are blaring "Highway Star". His fingers twitch on the steering wheel, want to try out the notes and rock the hell out the guitar solo.

Suddenly, out of nowhere a red convertible appears in his mirrors. It attacks the opposite lane and accelerates to go around Jensen's rig. Jensen's seen enough of hot heads on the road that he doesn't take it personally, just scoffs a little and keeps his eyes on the road. But the driver in the convertible slows down and drives alongside Jensen. There's no one coming their way, so Jensen relaxes a little, takes a good look at the driver to see what's going on.

The driver of the red devil convertible is a guy and he's hot.

Aviators glinting in the bright sun, hair to his shoulders and occasionally catching in the turbulent air, cheeks dimpling as he catches sight of Jensen. Jensen smiles back, partly relieved that the guy isn't giving Jensen the finger or challenging him to a race. Instead, his right hand drops slowly to his thigh and inches up towards his crotch. The guy's got something going on, the denim of his jeans bulging, and then he looks at Jensen and strokes his dick.

It's a nice sight, the guy's definitely enjoying what he's doing, licking his lips and tilting his head, and Jensen's got a real good view from his cabin. The guy's smile is infectious, so Jensen smiles back and blares the horn to let the guy know how much he appreciates the show.

There's still not a car in sight, so they drive side by side, the red convertible and his black truck. Hot guy's jerking himself off for real now, grinding his dick against his palm, and when he comes, his speed slows down for a second before he pulls back up next to Jensen's cabin. He toots the horn, salutes, and accelerates to go past Jensen.

He's gonna have to pull up to take care of his own chubby at some point, but he honks the truck's horn in response and laughs as the guy puts more yards between them.

Some days are good like that.

 

*

 

Some days are not good and you don't know what you've got until it's over.

Just a mile up the road, Jensen's dick is still throbbing, and his foot is heavy on the gas because he needs to get to truck stop to take care of it. The red convertible is parked on the shoulder behind a cop car. Smokey signals him to pull over too. Jensen glances at the speedometer and curses.

He hops out of the cabin, log book already in hand as he sights the cop walking toward him. Hot guy's getting out and leaning against the side of the car. He's got long legs and the aviators on again.

The cop's name plate says 'Stuart' and he's looking like business, but Jensen ain't got the time, or the money, for a speeding ticket.

"Log book, please." The cop gets straight to the point.

Jensen hands it over, intending to co-operate fully. What he is not intending to do is not try to talk himself out of this.

"Well howdy there. I see you got the Jaguar there." Jensen motions towards the red car. "Crazy driver. Don't think the twink is wearing any underwear. He flashed me when he took me over a mile back."

The sun's beating hot on Jensen's neck, but the cop's roll's slowing down right there and Jensen pushes on. Might be that the day isn't completely lost yet.

"Yeah, pulled up next to me and looked like he wanted me to pull over. Very indecent."

The bear's eyes widen, chin lifts, and Jensen knows he hit a target. There's a shark's smile on the cop's face.

"Public indecency, you say? Say, I'mma let you off with a warning. Don't let this happen again." The bear stalks back to the Jaguar and Jensen wastes no time getting the hell out of dodge. The hot guy spots him as he eases past them, looking slightly pissed, and Jensen waves at him, because no way the guy's going to jail and he gave Jensen a good show. And because he's a gentleman like that.

 

*

 

Some days the road's all you know.

"Breaker one-nine, with a smokey report. There's a bear heading east on I-40 at mile marker 243. Anybody copy? Over."

He receives a reply through the CB before he has time to set down the mic.

"Howdy, Jackal. Appreciate the report. What's your twenty?"

"Heading east at about the same spot." Jensen pauses for a second. "That you, Kane?"

"It's me, old partner. I'm less than a mile behind your back. Got Huxley with me, too."

Jensen can't fight a smile. He's known Kane for a good ten years, met when they were both rookies and since then they've hit bars and hit the road together whenever they can. Jensen's usually a loner, even runs his truck independent outside unions, but Kane's got a country soul and a longing for the wide open and he knows how to keep his distance when Jensen needs it. Kane's a good friend. He introduced Aldis in some dive bar in Okietown a couple of years back, when the guy was starting out. Aldis is bit of a geek--hence they gave him "Huxley" as a handle--and Jensen can't figure why the guy's trucking because he's really fucking smart, but hey, to each his own.

It makes Jensen feel better to have the guys on the road with him. They can grab something to eat, catch up, and ride together for a while.

Kane's got a load of pigs and Aldis ain't too happy about the smell. They're putting on a show on the CB, and Jensen's content to just listen to the two of them snark.

 

*

 

Some days start up nicely, but turn sour with one crackle of the CB.

The CB comes to life after a few miles of silence.

"Breaker one-nine, breaker one-nine. This is Yellow-eyes, headed west on I-40."

"Good afternoon, Yellow-eyes. You have a bear report? Over."

"Blue skies and no bears in sight. Over."

"Copy that. Thanks, man. Over and out."

They've tightened up their little convoy of sorts, and Aldis decides to over take Kane to escape the smell wafting in.

"C'mon, Kane. I'm dying here. You're defiling my truck with that stench. I'm gonna take the rocking chair."

Jensen watches from his mirrors as Aldis speeds up and switches lanes, but Kane retaliates by speeding up too. Aldis is running a lighter load so he'll overtake Kane in time, and Jensen decides to help the guy out by making room for him and hits the gas. Besides it's always fun to get a rise out of Kane. He may look like he bites but he's really a puppy at heart.

There's no on-coming traffic and the road's bear free, and they hit 75 miles an hour just as Aldis is finally getting settled behind Jensen.

Like clockwork, Kane comes back. "Dammit, Jackal. Where's the love? You make room for the newbie and make me suffer the smoke coming out of that two-bit rig?"

"Hey, my Mack's the fastest there is, so keep your blasphemy to yourself," says Aldis with mock offense.

Their tones are light and this is what it's always like with them. Jensen's about to join in, but as he's rounding the corner, a white unmarked cop car sitting on a wide pullout comes to view.

"Guys, we have a bear in a plain white wrapper."

Jensen brakes but it's too late, the cop's already signaling them to pull over. The dust hasn't settled when they jump out of the cabins, and the sun hits Jensen hot in the back like a damn battering ram.

"You ain't no Yellow-eyes, Fred, you're Yellow-bellied like a coward."

Jensen stands next to Kane and Aldis, staring at the familiar sheriff. "Guys, meet Papa Bear himself. Should've known it was you on the CB."

Sheriff Lehne's staring at the three of them like he hit the jackpot. "Hey, I'm only doing my duty and protecting the people. You were doing 75 and endangering the fine folk on the road. I'm gonna have to write you a ticket."

"Wasn't anyone on the road. Except for a dirty cop," Aldis retorts. He's always had a mouth on him.

"I don't believe in police entrapment." Lehne turns to Jensen. "I could write you all up for doing 75, but on the account of we being old friends, let's say you were doing 70. That'll be 35 bucks. Unless you want to have your day in court. I'll just impound your rigs and show you to the nice jail I've got."

Aldis huffs. "This is bullshit. I barely got enough money for food."

"How much, Fred?" Jensen asks.

"50 bucks," says Lehne.

"What is this, an auction?" Kane asks.

"60 bucks."

"For fuck's--" Aldis begins, but Jensen cuts him off.

"Shut up, guys. It's gonna be easier to pay up than to bust him."

They collect the bills and fork it over, and Aldis bites down on his parting words after Jensen looks at him sharply. They get back in their trucks and pull off.

"Where do you know this guy, Jackal?" Kane's never been quick to anger but his voice sounds tight.

"We have history. Fred there gave me my first ticket, and he intends to give my last as well."

Lehne's always been a stick in his side, always finding anything and everything to complain about: log book not being filled to Lehne's liking, a broken tail light that was working on the last stop Jensen took before being pulled over, any amount of speeding and the list goes on. In reality what really got a bug up Lehne's ass was the girl Jensen was giving a ride the first time they met. Lehne tried to make Jensen sound like some kind of psychotic rapist and the girl stood up for him--called him a proper southern gentleman unlike the representatives of law enforcement--and that did it.

Jensen's not sure if Lehne's witch hunt had never started if he knew Jensen was gay or if Lehne had beat him up for it instead of settling for writing him tickets.

He grabs the CB. "How about we stop for something to eat? Ain't in a mood to drive right now."

Aldis and Kane murmur in agreement.

 

*

 

Some days you have to choose what's important in life.

A dusty roadside diner comes up after five more miles. He stops here almost every time he drive through these parts. A low white building attempts to blend in with the sun-burnt grass and sand, but the signs on the road side and the meters outside are enough to alert everyone to its presence.

Jensen parks next to the rigs already parked on the yard and hops out of the cabin. Kane's being a sneaky fucker and grabs him into a hug right as Jensen's feet land on the asphalt. They pat each other's shoulders when they separate and by then Aldis comes up to them.

"Awesome to see you again, man," Kane says.

"You too, Chris. And Aldis." That hug's a short one, arm behind shoulders, pat on the back, and yet it's still more contact than Jensen's had with people in a few weeks.

They stroll in and Jensen's feeling much better about this day. A good burger, maybe a steak, trading stories with his friends. At least Lehne won't be shadowing him now that he got the ticket in.

Jensen orders the steak and leaves the guys for a minute to head to the men's room. When he comes back, his eyes catch a familiar face hanging with Chris on the counter. Aldis has probably gone to get a table, but the hot guy from the Jaguar is there.

He pulls an epic bitch face when he sees Jensen coming. Chris turns around to check what's going on.

Obviously, he's missing some pieces of the puzzle, because he turns back to the hot guy. "That's the ride I was talking about."

Of all the times that Chris attempted to set Jensen up with a guy, this is maybe the one with the worst timing if you read the guy's body language even a bit. He's fucking staring daggers at Jensen. Kane can't be that oblivious, can he?

"What's up, Chris?" Jensen asks, trying to sound casual.

"Jared here's looking for a ride. Told him you had a working AC and no pigs to haul." Chris fucking winks at Jensen when Jared doesn't see.

Jared decides to disagree with what's going on. "He's the guy who told the cops that I flashed him."

Chris looks back at Jensen and bursts into laughter. "That figures."

For some reason Jared's looking less pissed now and more confused, like he didn't expect this. Maybe there's even some vulnerability in his eyes and posture because all he sees are strangers ganging up and laughing at him. Jensen realizes that the guy is kinda young, at least several years younger than Jensen himself. He feels bad for the kid.

Jensen tries to ignore Chris snorting next to him. "What happened? Did he give you a ticket?"

"A ticket? The fucking cop wanted me to blow him. I told him that I wasn't going to do it on the side of the goddamn road, so I sent him to a motel of his choice. But the radiator of the car was about to overheat so I had to pull over here. Can't fuckin' go anywhere with the car for a while, so I need a ride before the guy realizes that I'm not waiting meeting him."

"You'd just leave your car here?" Jensen's eye brows are raised. The Jaguar isn't some piece of shit cheap clunker.

"It isn't mine."

Jensen's about to wonder about that, but right then Lehne walks in.

The volume in the diner goes down. There are truckers occupying several tables and none of them are too fond of cops. They keep eating and drinking their coffees but keep a careful eye on what's going on.

Lehne looks around and gets an ominous grin. He heads towards the tables and Jensen realizes he spotted Aldis. Bad shit's about to go down, he can feel it in his bones. Lehne stops next to Aldis who resolutely keeps his eyes on his plate and keeps eating.

"You got money to pay for that?" Lehne asks.

Aldis still doesn't look up. "You know I don't."

"Get up then, I'm arresting you for vagrancy."

That gets Aldis to look up. Jensen heads to the table hoping to defuse the situation, but it's not looking good. Lehne's too determined.

"Lay off, Fred, you got your fun already. I'm paying for him."

The sheriff pulls out his gun then. It surprises the whole diner, because nobody's talking and cups and utensils are being placed down.

"Sorry, Jackal, not happening. He admitted to not having money. I'm going to have to book him now."

Aldis stands up from his plate of chicken, and Jensen can tell just by the set of his shoulders that he's not going to leave voluntarily.

It's a stand-off.

Until Chris comes up behind the sheriff and breaks a bottle on his head. Lehne goes to his knees, not giving up the gun but shaking his head like in a cartoon and aiming more carefully. Jensen's left no choice but to kick the gun out of his hands. Lehne gets up and comes at him and Jensen gets in a right hook. It's like the guy's made of brick and mean spirit because Lehne's not going down. Aldis joins in but the other patrons are trying to stay out of it. Three of them get the sheriff pushed to the floor.

Right then the day takes a turn for the worse if it's at all possible that things could go worse.

Two more cops walk in.

Jensen recognizes Stuart, the bear who pulled him over but let him off with a warning. The guy looks furious as hell. The other one seems just confused. Stuart heads straight for Jared who's still standing at the counter.

Jared shifts, uncomfortable, now slouching a bit more but facing the cop. There are definitely bad vibes in the air, so Jensen leaves Lehne for Aldis and Chris who should be able to handle him now that he's down.

"Hello, Mr. Padalecki. I believe we have some unfinished business, so why don't you step outside nice and easy and we'll take care of that."

Jensen steps into the cops line of sight and blocks his view to Jared. He can tell the exact moment when the cop realizes Jensen's bleeding. The cops take a look around the diner, something they missed when stepping in and they spot Lehne held on the floor.

Fuck.

The cops go for their guns and full hell breaks loose. Someone throws a bottle at the cops, they duck, and suddenly everyone is in on the fight.

Jensen dishes right hooks and pulls the cops off other truckers. Stuart gets him in the back with an elbow which puts him down for a moment. Lehne's broken out of Chris and Aldis's hold and is like a bull in a china shop.

Glass and plates are broken everywhere and chairs break when they're being used as weapons and to break falls. Slowly, the truckers overpower the cops and the cops are cuffed to the bar stools and each other.

Jensen makes sure to take the cops' keys and throw their guns out of reach. Then he heads out.

Chris calls after him. "Jensen, where are you going?"

"Out of state."

A chorus of "hell yeah, why not" and general cheering follows. Jensen sees Jared frozen to the spot next to counter, face as white as his knuckles. He's got a bag in his hands and he's looking at Jensen with a lot surprise and a little bit of confusion.

"C'mon, kid. You still want that ride?"

Jared doesn't say anything but he moves first out of reflex and then with purpose and Jensen doesn't stay to wait before heading out. The other truckers are gleefully smashing the wind shields of the cop cars and pulling out the distributor caps and every wire they can. Aldis and Chris hurry to their rigs, smile tugging their lips, even though they're in deep shit now.

Jared follows Jensen to his Mack, looking unsure whether getting in is a good idea, like Jensen is an axe murderer or has a really short temper on regular basis.

"You're welcome to come, but you don't have to. You didn't do anything wrong, so the cops can't pin this on you."

Jared reaches for Jensen's face, swipes his forehead with his thumb. It comes away bloody.

"Nah, I'm coming. I heard I'd be in good hands with you," Jared flashes him a smile, the dimples Jensen already saw. The kid climbs into the cabin, slim hips, ragged jeans and all. A wave of warmth washes over Jensen's body, settling on his cheeks, but it's easy to pin that on the sun still high enough to warm his face. He swings the door on the passenger's side shut after Jared's settled in and gets in behind the wheel.

The kid looks pretty good sitting there, already more relaxed.

He pulls out of the yard first, Chris and Aldis right behind him, and at least eight other rigs behind them. They're headed for the state line for starters and Jensen would feel a lot more pissed about the whole thing if it weren't for his friends on his back and the kid with a smile that rivals the sun. He checks his mirrors again and puts the pedal to the metal.

"Looks like we got ourselves a convoy."

This day makes you an outlaw.

 

 

---end---