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Hitchhiker

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It was a chilly night. Percy stood on the edge of the highway, his arms were folded, trying to keep the scarce warmth of his sweater from escaping. When he breathed, tiny clouds of fog floated into the air in front of him. It was dark, the stars the only lights that he could see, but they were cold and so far away.  Percy wasn’t sure what time it was, but he knew it was sometime past the early morning hours. Maybe two o’clock? How long he had been standing in the cold was also unknown. It felt like it had been hours .

    Somewhere in the distance, Percy saw lights-two glowing yellow eyes moving swiftly towards him. He stepped back and against his better judgement, stuck out his arm, letting his cold hands slowly curl into fist and popping up his thumb.

    The vehicle kept going.

    Percy let his arm drop, sad and angry and terrified and very much alone once again. It was so cold.  The boy began to walk down the road again, feet turning to ice cubes in his sneakers, the light of the stars helping him to find his way. He passed road signs, his destination observed to be sixty miles away. Sixty miles of walking in the dark, in the cold, alone. Percy would have cried, but that would mean the tears would freeze to his face.

Another car, Percy stuck out his thumb, the car kept moving.

He couldn’t blame the drivers. It was late and it was dangerous to pick up strangers from the road. For all they knew, Percy was a hockey mask murderer. Heck, the people driving could be murderers. Did he really want to risk it?

Yes. Yes he did. He was cold.

Ten or more vehicles passed within the space of what felt like two hours. Percy was just about ready to give up. Just one more try. He stuck out his thumb.

A shiny truck pulled over beside him, the colour was hard to make out, it was to dark. The windows rolled down slowly.

“Hey, are you alright?” A man, looking to be no older than Percy himself, leaned over his smaller passenger, who made an angry huffing noise as he was squished against the seat.

“I-I was j-jus-s-t won- wondering if I-I c-c-could get a r-ride t-to the c-c-city.” Percy’s teeth were chattering uncontrollably, his whole body shuddering.

“Fuck, you’re cold .” The driver elbowed his passenger. “Come on, Nico. Get out and put him in the middle.” The passenger, Nico scowled.

“Would you give me a second? Please, Jason.” Nico unbuckled his seatbelt and pushed open the door. He hopped out of the vehicle and ushered Percy inside, his face still a bit grumpy looking.

The dome light was on and it cast the two men in a washed out, yellow glow. The driver, Jason, was blonde with kind, blue eyes and a worried, white toothed smile. He was built like an Abercrombie underwear model, his heavy winter jacket unzipped. The grumpy one, Nico, was dark haired with long curls. His eyes were such a deep brown that they were almost black, his brows were drawn together suspiciously. He was smaller than Jason, wearing an overlarge winter jacket and skinny jeans. He too looked like he should be modeling undergarments.

“Th-Thank yo-ou,” Percy breathed, scooting into the middle seat of the truck. The blonde scrunched his brows and then turned to reach behind the seat, pulling out a neatly folded, blue blanket. He proceeded to wrap Percy up in it. The grumpy man climbed back into the vehicle, his side brushing against Percy for a moment before he managed to fish out the seat belt and clip it around Percy’s waist. He did the same for himself and then closed the still open, door. The light stayed on for a brief moment before blinking off, leaving the three boys in the dark, the headlights and controls the only things casting any light.

Jason reached for the control panel and cranked up the heat, tilting the vents fully towards Percy’s shaking form. Percy sighed as the heat started to relax his taut muscles. “Thank you,” Percy said again, his voice less forced and shaky.

“You’re welcome,” the grumpy guy said. “Now what the fuck were you doing out there?”

“Nico!” Jason scowled, sounding scandalized and reaching over to swat the boy’s curly head.

“Ow.” Nico deadpanned.

“What my friend here, Nico, means is, why were by the side of the road so late at night, wearing only a sweater. I mean, it’s winter.” The man rephrased the question, eyes kind even in the dark.

Nico mumbled quietly, sounding mostly to himself. “That’s not what I meant and I am your boyfriend you dumbass.”

Percy shrugged nervously, casting his eyes towards the floor.

“We’re not going anywhere unless you give us an answer,” Nico said. “We’re not harbouring a criminal if that’s what you are.”

Percy glanced at Jason, who besides shifting awkwardly, did nothing.

Percy let out a sigh and spoke quietly, almost a whisper. “I’m not a criminal. I was just coming back into the city with my boyfriend. We were at a party, I was talking to someone and well...Luke gets jealous. We had a fight in his car- I mean, I told him it was nothing, they were just friends but...he didn’t believe me. He told me to get out, so I did... but I forgot my jacket in his car. I mean, I figured he’d come to his senses and apologise or something...but he just...drove off.”

Jason and Nico stared at him from both sides. Percy sunk lower in his seat, hating that he was afraid. His head feeling kind of funny.

“Your boyfriend left you on the side of the highway, at night, wearing nothing to keep the cold out, because he was jealous of some other person at a party.” Jason said, staring at him incredulous. Nico leaned back against the seat and let out a low whistle. Percy scrunched his eyes closed.

They didn’t believe him. They were going to kick him out. His breathing felt too quick, his chest practically jumping.

He heard the gears shift, they were moving.

Percy breathed a sigh of relief.

It was a moment before anyone talked, voices low and concerned. Jason’s eyes flickered to Percy’s face and then back to the road. “Are you two really...serious?” Jason prompted. “I mean, the guy ditched on a highway. Will you be seeing him again?”

Percy sighed, he was feeling really sleepy.
“We’ve been on and off for years. He does this kind of stuff all the time and usually I would dump someone who pulled crap like this... Luke and I have known each other for a long time. He has issues... I can’t just abandon him.”

“But he abandoned you,” Nico grumbled.

Percy smiled sadly. “I guess I’m just a bit more stubborn than I should be.”  He scrunched his eyes shut, everything was swimming around.

“I’ll say,” Nico breathed out.

“Are you warm enough?”Jason changed the subject, something Percy was glad for, he didn’t want to explain everything. He felt like if he talked about it anymore, he would puke.

“Yeah...thank you.” Percy paused, suddenly confused and a bit scared. “You guys aren’t psycho or anything right? I mean...you aren’t going to kill me…?” Jason glanced at him, taking in his tired appearance.

“Um...no? Nico forgot to bring the shovel so, I guess we’ll have to let you go.”

Nico snorted next to them.

“Oh. Good.” Percy said, smiling a little strangely before another shiver rippled through him and he almost bit his tongue off. “Fuck.”

“Nico, how warm is your body right now?”

“I don’t fucking know. I’m like a freaking corpse on my best day.”

“Then are you awake enough to drive?”

“Yeah. Of course.”  

“Switch with me.” Jason said, looking pointedly at their passenger who was still shaking with little aftershocks.

“Sure, okay. Yeah.”Nico said, looking slightly worried.

Jason pulled over again and once more, the doors were open. Percy shook against the cold that entered the vehicle. The two boys switched sides so that Nico was in the driver's seat and Jason sat in the passenger side. As soon as the doors closed and seat belts were buckled, Jason’s arms were wrapped around the boy in the middle. Jason pressed as much of his body as he could against Percy’s smaller one. “I thought you said you were warm enough.” Jason sighed.

“Thought.. was... too.” Percy slurred the words a bit, leaning against Jason and closing his eyes.

“Hey now, don’t go to sleep on me. Ask us where we were driving back from. Come on, I need you to stay awake for me.”

“Where you coming back..?”

Nico caught on quickly. “My half sister owns a horse ranch a ways out from here. Supper was running a little late. We make our pasta from scratch and the flour got everywhere because somebody dropped the tin.” Nico glowered at Jason for a moment, but there was no malice in it. It was actually pretty affectionate. That look kind of made Percy feel warmer.

Jason commented back to Nico: “In my defense, I told you that I couldn’t cook beforehand.”

“Maybe, but I thought you may have had some experience with balancing.” Nico spoke dryly, smiling crookedly.

The blonde man shrugged and Percy could feel it in his own body. “Maybe I slipped.”

“Maybe I tripped you.”

Percy couldn’t help the laugh that tore through him then, the two boys were so sweet to each other, it was nice to watch. There was silence for a moment before Percy felt someone brushing his bangs back out of his face.

“Hey, there. Are your feet cold?” Jason asked, noticing the melting snow on his sneakers. Percy hadn’t even answered him before the bigger male was shushing him and cooing, reaching for his feet and pulling off the wet shoes and socks. “Better?” Percy nodded, his head feeling heavy.

“How’s he doing?” Nico asked, glancing over at his boyfriend who was trying to warm the boy between them.

“He should be alright, but I think we should stop by the hospital, just to be sure.”

“Okay. It shouldn’t be long now, I can see the lights.”

The boys conversation faded into background noise and a faint outline of the world became nothing.