|Train of Thought
Author: InSilva PM
Some conversations are easier to have with someone you don't know at all. Angst warning. One-shot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Rusty - Words: 1,976 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-18-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5002131
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Train of Thought by InSilva
Disclaimer: I don't own either of them.
Summary: Some conversations are easier to have with someone you don't know at all. Angst warning. One-shot.
A/N: Sorry. Not cheerful in the slightest. But on the other hand, not "VK". :) Nothing is.
Abe was in no rush. All that was waiting at home for him was an empty flat and a TV dinner and a recorded chat show: hold-ups just deprived him of his own company, a processed meal and Johnny Carson. So when the train halted in between stations because of an incident further up the line, he smiled a weary smile to himself and dug a bar of Hershey's finest out of his pocket and settled in for the long haul.
The subway carriage was deserted now. All the late-night stragglers had gradually disappeared. Yes, he was on his own apart from one other man sitting a couple of seats further down on the opposite side, arms folded, his legs stretched out in front of him, his ankles crossed, who had been there when Abe had got on the train; who had let other passengers step around him or stumble over him; who hadn't moved at all. Smartly dressed young man, Abe thought, though the sunglasses seemed a little out of place at this time of the night.
Abe tore through the wrapper on the chocolate bar and noticed the young man's head turn a fraction. Abe smiled and reached into his pocket again.
"You want a bar?" he offered and the young man straightened up in his seat.
"No, you're OK. But thanks."
Polite young man. Soft, gentle voice. Abe nodded and bit through chocolate and caramel. He munched in silence for a moment or two then looked back over at his companion.
"Never can allow for the unexpected, can you?" Abe smiled indicating the stationary train.
There was what sounded like a hollow laugh from the other.
"No. You can't. Sometimes you can't even allow for the expected."
There was something in his tone that made Abe frown. A weariness and a hopelessness and a despair and Abe sat up a little straighter. And it would be easy not to say another word because a stranger's problems were bound to be involved and complicated and maybe there was nothing Abe could say or do to help. But maybe there was. And it might take a little time to listen but something Abe had plenty of was time.
"You sound like you could do with someone to talk to, son."
This time there was no doubting the emptiness in the laugh.
"I could. I really could. I've had no one now for three days and seven hours and fourteen minutes. I could really, really do with someone to talk to who is going to listen and understand and who is going to know exactly what to say whether it's out loud or not. Someone to talk to that you wouldn't have to say a damn word to."
The misery was rich and Abe was guessing a broken heart.
"Abe Kettleby," he said by way of introduction.
There was a momentary hesitation and then, "Rusty. Rusty Ryan."
The sunglasses were pulled off and Abe could see the man had been crying and hadn't been sleeping. Broken heart. Definitely a broken heart.
She's not worth it, son, was on the tip of his tongue when Rusty sat forward in his seat and leaned his elbows on his knees and started talking.
"You ever wonder what the best way to go is?"
Suicide. Oh, God, he was talking to a suicide. Abe swallowed as Rusty went on.
"You ever think about whether it's best to die suddenly with no time to say goodbye or whether something long and drawn out and bit-by-vicious-bit agony is better. Because at least then you can be sure people know how you feel."
The question was and wasn't rhetorical. A new picture started forming in Abe's head. A sweetheart taken from Rusty before her time. Illness separating them. The romantic in Abe teared up for a moment before the overwhelmingly practical took over.
"It's better for the person dying, I'd think, if it was quick," Abe said finally.
"Yeah." There was a humourless smile. "You'd think. Depends what they went through before though. Depends whether there was anguish and pain and suffering before the quick. Depends whether they were on their own. On their own and you weren't there. Not knowing. That's got to be bad, right? Just not knowing. Not knowing who or how or when or even why."
The conversation was moving on and Abe wasn't certain he was keeping up. Not that Rusty seemed to need him to. He was happy enough just letting the thoughts pour from him.
"Course, there are other ways. Other ways people can die. Other ways people can be taken from you without even being taken from you."
That, Abe understood perfectly. His little sister, Margaret, knocked off her bicycle by a car and in a coma for so long before his parents had turned off the life support machine. His memories of Margaret, pale and lifeless and still alive, fled at the sound of the almost-sob.
"And then again, sometimes, you know the who and the when and the why and you can imagine the how and you know what? It's just as fucking awful."
Rusty ran a hand over his mouth and blinked furiously. Abe waited.
"I loved him so much…" Rusty said quietly and there was a ghost of a sigh. "You ever have someone you never want to live without? You ever find someone who made life worth living? Who made the whole damn world sing for you?"
Abe shrank back a little. No. He could honestly say he hadn't. His little cosy world stopped and started with his apartment and his meals for one. And this was about a him. Abe took another look at Rusty. Well, there was no way of telling nowadays and he liked to think he was broad-minded.
"We never talked about it," Rusty said softly. "We didn't dare. Because that would mean there was an ending. And that would mean things would change forever. And we lived for the day and the hour and every fucking glorious second."
His face crumpled and Abe thought To hell with it and fished out a clean handkerchief. He crossed the carriage and sat down beside Rusty and handed it to him. Rusty wiped his eyes and blinked his thanks.
"You know another thing? You want so much for people to know how much they mean to you. How you would have been nothing without them in your life."
He wiped his eyes again and Abe thought he ought to say something.
"You think he didn't know?"
Rusty's mouth twisted into a smile through the tears. "He knew. Oh, he knew."
"You weren't sure?" Abe wondered.
"No. I knew too." Rusty sighed. "We told each other every day in every way. And we knew it from the first moment we saw each other."
"Ah…the thunderbolt," Abe nodded. "Like 'The Godfather'."
"Apollonia," Rusty said. "Yeah. For both of us," he murmured. "And after Apollonia, who's going to settle for Kay?"
He looked at Abe.
"We knew. We told each other. Endlessly. It still wasn't enough. Forever and it would never be enough."
Rusty's eyes were… Abe blinked at the maelstrom of emotion in them then squeezed his arm. "He wouldn't want you upset, son. I'm sure. Whatever way he went."
Rusty laughed mirthlessly. "He went unfairly."
They'd been found. They'd been found and there were too many of them. And none of them were too bright but they were too big to argue with and the only thing that was slowing them up was the fact that they had apparently been told to find one of them. Finding both of them was something of an issue.
"But we're only meant to take one of them back," the argument was going and even as he and Danny were debating the wisdom of trying to hit their way out of there, the conversation started down a different line.
"We only need to take one of them back."
And they were looking at a gun.
"Gentlemen," Danny said and his voice was as richly compelling as it ever was. "Perhaps I can help. May I?"
Obediently, they stood back and Rusty watched Danny, watched him carefully, waiting for a cue, waiting for a clue. And then Danny had turned and looked at him and reached over and his eyes were full of the impossible and the immense…
"He kissed me. He kissed me like it was the first time for the last time."
Abe's head was whirling with the story; it sounded like something out of "The Untouchables" and Robert Stack all mixed up with some sort of foreign film. As he put the otherworldness to one side, Abe saw Rusty wasn't quite with him any more. That he was somewhere else entirely. And then Rusty's eyes flickered and he came back to the carriage and Abe.
"Not that we…we weren't…" He was silent. And then, "The bastard!"
Said with feeling, said with ferocity and Abe frowned. He couldn't be talking about the same man.
Rusty raised his eyes up to the ceiling of the carriage. "He knew we were being looked for. He knew they wanted blood. He knew it was going to be final. Bastard punched me out."
"Punched me out and went with them. I came to and he was gone. Bastard. I am so angry with him."
Abe's eyes were wide. There was genuine fury in the young man, trembling through him, burning white hot.
"He still wouldn't want you to do anything stupid," he pointed out gently and the anger submerged.
"No," Rusty smiled. "He wouldn't."
"He'd want you to live."
"Yes. He would."
Abe looked at him sharply. "What are you planning?"
By way of answer, Rusty reached into his jacket pocket and pulled the revolver free. Abe shrank back. Suicide. He'd been right, right at the beginning.
"Son…Rusty…you don't want to kill yourself! There must be something to live for!"
The look of amusement was too bright and too desperate and too sharp and too lacking in anything approaching real humour.
"There must be, mustn't there?"
There was a pause and then Abe squinted a little closer at Rusty and he said, "You're going after them, aren't you?"
Rusty looked at the gun in his hand for a long moment and then put it away.
"But he wanted to keep you safe," Abe said quietly. "If these men are as dangerous as… Then they'll… He died…" Abe swallowed. "He died for you…"
The words hung in the air and Abe saw the emotion rippling through Rusty, pain and fury and love and Abe saw a glimpse, a tiny, tiny glimpse of the exceptional and the extraordinary and the never-ending keening of a separated soul. And then it was all buried and there was a nonchalant shrug.
"What can I say? Self-sacrifice. It's kind of a life choice."
And Abe saw the determination and the implacability in Rusty and there were no words. He found the Hershey bar and pushed it into Rusty's hand and Rusty nodded his thanks.
The train started up again and they continued their journey in silence.