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Be Bold, Be Bold, But Not Too Bold, Part One
Reply to MongibelloPosted to the allslash mailing list October 5, 2001
Title: Be Bold. Be Bold.
Pairing: Sean/Nick, pre-slash
Ratings: PG-13 for safety, some language
Archive: List Archives are welcome to it. As well as the Roswell Slash Archive.
Feedback: Its like air to me. Send it on over to email@example.com
Disclaimer: Who do these nice boys belong too? I just wish they were mine.
Summary: A reunion.
Note: I don't know if anyone actually reads Forsaken fic, but the bunnies attacked. Whither they go..and all that rot. Dedicated to Lucy for all her yummy Forsaken fic. I bow down.
The title comes from the traditional story of Mr. Fox. There's a refrain in it that starts "Be bold. Be bold. But not too bold." This is part one.
Three months of driving. Three months of greasy food in roadside diners. Three months alone in my head and I was beginning to think the only thing I'd learned was that Waffle House did indeed have the best coffee in America.
The first few weeks were the easiest. I had the pain from my injuries to distract me. More importantly and much more pleasantly, I had the pain pills to lull me to sleep at night. They kept me from having to think about what the hell I was doing out here and why the hell I was doing it. I slept in my car that first month to save money (money from my rapidly shrinking savings account) but when the pills ran out I gave up on that. Without my prescription haze to knock me out I lay awake most nights; watching black and white re-runs with crappy reception was the only thing that kept me sane.
Until I started doing it Nick's way. I finally figured his method out by accident and immediately felt like the village idiot. In my defense it wasn't as though Nick had spelled it out for me, all he'd really told me was how the vampires covered it up. Leave it to Vampire Hunter Duh not to think about WHY Nick knew that. A newspaper with a tantalizing headline left on the counter of a greasy spoon was my first clue. 'Bloodbath in Kansas.' Something about the article reminded me of Megan's story. From there it just got easier, using instinct(what I could find of it anyway) and my firsthand knowledge of the forsaken I finally figured out how to decode newspaper stories about murders and the occasional accidental death and see which ones had been committed by my vampire. Nick's vampire; searching for him had another beneficial side effect. I found if I tracked the vampire, I didn't even have to think about Nick. And I could sleep without 'I Love Lucy' again.
I hadn't completely stopped hoping or watching. I still held my breath every time I passed a hitchhiker. Still sped up so I could get the disappointment of it not being Nick over with as fast as possible. So when it finally was Nick, I had to slam on my breaks to stop in time and back up slowly so I could catch my breath.
It felt right to have Nick back in the passenger seat. I hadn't even realized how unbalanced the car had seemed before until Nick sat down. We drove for a few hours, talking about where Nick's vampire might head if we couldn't catch him in Denver. Nick dragged a bundle of cut out newspaper articles and we compared notes like a couple of cops. We talked about which restaraunt chains had the best patty melts and the cleanest bathrooms. I brought up every little thing from the banal to the downright boring to avoid the real issues. There wasn't any more talk of how this wasn't my fight and I was careful not to say anything about how terrible Nick looked. So I was surprised when it was Nick who finally broached the subject of his disease.
"I talked to a doctor in Florida. He's working on a new cocktail. He says it should be able to buy me another year at least." I guess he was trying to sound hopeful, but to me he just sounded tired.
"That's great." Yes, I am lame. "When were you in Florida?" Happily steering back to the banal and boring once again, I planned on asking if the weather had been nice to follow up.
"First place I went. Seemed like a good idea, guess it was." I decided if he was fishing I wasn't going to bite. Couldn't he see there were things that I just didn't want to talk about?
"So why Florida?" Have I mentioned that I'm lame, oh have I? Well, I'm also weak willed.
I could see him well enough in my peripheral vision to know he shrugged. "Wanted to see the ocean. One of the things I wanted to do before I started hunting again." In case he never got another chance was the unspoken finish, in my mind at least. Again with the things I didn't want to face.
I was saved from replying by the sound of my own stomach. It was loud enough that it startled us both and we laughed. Too long and too loud for something that silly. But it felt great.
There's something to be said about roadside cafes; havens for weary truckers and vampire hunters. There's a sameness to them that's more comforting than any McDonald's or Burger King. Plus there's waitresses, and real pie. It might have once been frozen but at least its the right shape.
Nick did a quick and silent sweep of the place before we chose a booth. There were only three other patrons, but from the dirty plates on most of the other tables it was evident that we'd just missed the lunch rush. There was a couple in a booth in the back and an older man at the counter. Nick placed himself so he could watch both the other diners and the door.
"Its daylight, Nick, don't you think you're being a little paranoid?" It was the first really personal thing I'd said since I picked him up.
He relaxed a little and sprawled out on the seat. I sat down across from him and pulled a menu out from behind the napkin holder.
"I hope we get the girl," he said, surveying the waitresses. The girl looked a little younger than us, the other was a woman who looked well into her forties.
"Why?" The girl wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination and I really couldn't think of any other reason.
Nick groaned when the older waitress looked our way and smiled. "Be right with you, boys." She stacked a few more plates and set them on the counter for the girl to clear away.
"You'll see. It doesn't always happen, but I got a feeling about her." Nick made a show of being really engrossed in his menu.
The waitress, identified by her name tag as 'Hi, my name is Vikki', pulled her order pad from her apron and smiled at us.
"You boys know what you want to drink?" She sounded slightly out of breath. I've noticed this is a common trait among waitresses of this particular type of restaraunt.
Nick was still pretending an intense interest in the sheer number of things that could be done to a hamburger patty.
"I think we're gonna go ahead and order." I got a widening of her smile in return. One less trip for her I guess. "I'll have a vanilla coke and the double patty melt plate with fries." I could practically hear my arteries screaming in protest.
"What about you, hon?" If you are extremely lucky you can still find waitresses in this country that'll call you "hon". Vikki had one of those great motherly vibes about her that actually made me jealous that she was directing this endearment towards Nick, who I was sure was not going to appreciate it.
Nick surprised me by smiling at her. "Steak, rare as you can legally serve it, and fries. Water to drink."
Vikki cocked her head to the side and her forehead knitted in concern. "Are you okay, hon, you look kind of flushed."
"Just got a cold."
Vikki pursed her lips. "Well, you look like you've got a fever. I've got some aspirin in my purse I can get for ya." She was almost asking, but not quite. She turned back to the kitchen before Nick could respond anyway, leaving him looking amused, but not at all surprised.
"I take it that happens a lot."
"If its day time. If its night they usually think I'm on drugs. She wasn't bad. There was a waitress in Arkansas that actually dragged out a thermometer and tried to take my temperature."
As he was talking he pulled off his sunglasses and started rubbing at his eyes. I hadn't really gotten a good look at them in the car and now under the harsh lights of the restaraunt I was glad. The whites of his eyes were streaked with red, his pupils were bigger than they should've been and even his irises seemed darker than I remembered. They topped off the haggard look his face had taken on since the last time I'd seen him. Vikki was right about him looking flushed; he's cheeks were as red as a choir boy's. There were pale yellow circles under his eyes and his skin had a sheen of sweat even in the aggressive air conditioning of the diner.
I must have been staring. It was hard not too. When I finally came back to myself I realized he was staring right back. I tore my eyes away and looked out the window beside us. He sighed and rubbed at his eyes again.
"I look like shit right?" His tone was dead serious and more than a little sad.
"Well, you could use a hair cut," I leaned forward a little and sniffed dramatically, "and a bath, but-"
"Sean, I look like shit." He ran his hands through his hair and locked his eyes with mine. Time stretched while we sat there just staring at each other. Finally he sighed again, the sigh of the extremely put upon. "A haircut, really?" One corner of his mouth quirked up and I smiled widely back at him.
"At least a bath. You've got a couple of layers of dirt just begging for a bar of soap."
He smiled a little wider. "Now you're just being mean."
Vikki returned with a tray full of drinks. She beamed maternal concern at Nick as she sat a large glass of orange juice and a couple of aspirin down on the table next to his water.
"The juice is on the house. You need the vitamin C, so drink up."
Nick grinned at me as she left again. "Looking like shit has its perks."
"Yeah, I'm jealous."
"Well, I could just infect you again, then we'd get all the free OJ we could drink."
My concern was temporarily relieved when I saw that at least Nick still ate like a pig. He cleaned his plate and then proceeded to polish off the rest of my dinner and still had room for apple pie a la mode. Vikki was very proud and sweet and I worry that she might have risked her job for all the free things she slipped us before we left.
Nick was like an infant after a feeding when we left the diner; groggy and burping. It was still early, but we made a silent decision to go ahead and settle in. Our shelter for the night was like any of the hundreds of motels in America. And like at least half of them it had a loud bar across the street. At least the guy at the desk didn't have a monkey.
Nick was dozing in the passenger seat when I pulled around to our room. I bumped his shoulder to get him awake and he shot me a sleepy smile.
"I've got some stuff in the trunk, help me out."
He groaned. "You brought luggage? How long do you expect this piece of crap to hold out? We could be hoofin' by tomorrow."
"Stop whining and get back here." I unlocked the trunk and pulled a couple of bags out, rooting around in one until I found what I was looking for. Nick ambled around to the trunk and leaned against the side of the car.
"I got you a present."
"Oh, Sean, its not even my birthday!" He batted his eyelashes at me and started bouncing a little. "Whadja get me, whadja get me?"
I pretended to ignore him being adorable. I tried to ignore that he was utterly adorable. Yeah, it almost worked. "You can't open it till we're in the room. Get the bags."
He narrowed his eyes at me.
"Get the bags or you aren't getting diddly squat, mister."
He laughed at me, but picked all of our bags up and started towards the door. "Diddly squat?"
Every time I check into a motel I vainly hope that somehow the insides will be better than the outsides. It never happens. The same twin beds with ugly floral comforters and matching curtains. And the same iffy looking tv against the wall.
Nick dropped the bags roughly onto the floor. "Ok, fork it over."
I'd wrapped the package myself in brown paper almost three months ago right after I bought it. I was surprised to see how carefully he unwrapped it. I'd pegged him as the rip and shred type. He kept shooting me odd glances as he did so until he got down to the square white box. He hesitated and looked up at me with something like apprehension on his face.
"Its not going to bite. Open it." My voice sounded strange even to myself, hoarser than it should have been.
The ring inside the box was slightly tarnished with rust. I'd gotten the worst of it with jewelry cleaner and then silver polish, but some of it had been impossible. It was large, obviously a man's ring, with a bright red stone set in its center. I hadn't bothered to get it appraised so I wasn't sure what it was really worth.
"Its a ring." He was holding it away from himself. That odd apprehension was obvious in both his face and posture.
"Its a funny story, actually. Not really funny ha ha, but you know what I mean."
"What is this?"
I sat in a chair across from the bed where he was sitting and settled myself in for a little story.
"Right after I got out of the hospital...I was out one day while the car was in the shop and I wandered into this old antique shop. Which was just strange, because I hate those places, but they had a bunch of old books. So I asked the guy there if they had any on vampires. And he...he asked me the same thing you did. 'How much do you know about vampires?' So I lied I said nothing. So he tells me a story. He tells me your story, about the French knights and the ones you told me about that had been killed. Then when he's finished he pulls that ring out of the display case and tells me it belonged to one of the knights. Says its supposed to protect the wearer from the forsaken." The whole thing came out in a rush and I was struggling for breath at the end. I was also praying he wouldn't just laugh at me. "Its probably crap, but I thought you might like it anyway."
He was so quiet and still I was afraid he might have fallen asleep with his eyes open. He was just staring at the ring in his hand. He finally looked up at me and gave a slight smile. It was a little too small for the ring finger of his right hand, but it fit perfectly on the left. I tried my damndest not to see any symbolism there. I went ahead and added it to the list of things I just did NOT think about.
He kept his head bowed for a while after that. When he finally looked up his eyes were wet and impossibly redder. He reached his hand out...and we shook. It might have been warmer than an interview handshake, but it was still a handshake. I couldn't help but be disappointed.
"I'm gonna go get that bath." He stood but didn't move for a minute, just looked down at me. He reached a hand out, the tips of his fingers barely brushed my cheek as he passed me on the way to the bathroom.
Alone again, naturally.
Continue to Part Two
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