A/N: So this technically way A/U probably doesn't make any sense and is couple pretty much only by insinuation. It's short but came about hard and fast. It's pointless and sucks but was pretty therapeutic for me. Anyway one last one here for a while sorry I could do better and it's bad (blame the fact I haven't watched the show in like a year so I shouldn't be writing it?). Title and sound tracked to "The Way I Tend to Be," by Frank Turner.
It's hot outside. Not just hot, it's freaking hot outside so hot the cheap cans of beer he's drinking are getting warm faster than he can put them down. It makes him miss Alaska when the cheap beer didn't taste as bad, not that it tasted that great half frozen, but at least it didn't make him visibly cringe when he took a sip solely because he refused to waste eleven out of twelve ounces of each can. And he knows from experience there's only so many nearly full cans he can hand over to Robbie before he ends up having to carry him back to the room their sharing in order to save one their per diem. Even if he knows he's going to have to carry Robbie back to the room anyway because that's just what happens on nights like this.
It's never comforting, first nights with a new crew trying to figure out a place amongst the guys that have been working there for a while. Going to a new location, getting side eyed by the guys that have been working in the area for ages, guys that think you took their buddies job or you're out for theirs. None of it is comforting. He's not out for anyone's job and he isn't trying to take anyone's job. He'd never show to anyone but most days he doesn't even know how he ended up where he is other than he is not all that smart and didn't realize a college mechanics course wouldn't have anything to do with automotive mechanics. If someone asked he would say that was his mistake but he turns out he's got a good mechanical inclination or something because he did really well in that class. Not like a switch to an engineering major good but good enough he got recruited for a summer job working on an oil rig in Texas. A job he took and...
From a site in Texas, to a site in California. From California back to Texas. Texas to Florida. He took that first internship and when it was over took any job they would give him that wasn't in Ohio. Some called it running, he wasn't one of them. Once on Florida he bounced around different spots while he got all his drilling certifications. It was waiting on a plane from Florida to Louisiana, where he met Robbie. And it was after that flight, the one and only night he ever spent in New Orleans, that he carried a way too drunk Robbie back to a hotel room. It wasn't to save on per diem. They had a day and a half to kill between getting to the airport and meeting the helicopter to take them to the offshore rigs. Neither of them had ever been in the area before and he let Robbie convince him that Bourbon Street was awesome. Something they had to experience since they had the time. They bought overpriced drinks in fancy novelty cups and carried them down the street, he got a little nervous the first time they passed a cop but turns out they were cool as long as you were cool so he stayed cool. They went from bar to bar drinking overpriced shots from those tubes you see in the high school science lab. He hadn't bothered to ask Robbie how old he was so the couple of times he got asked if the guy was twenty one he just nodded his head and the asker didn't seem to care after that. Apparently a nod was as good as an ID; until Robbie got so drunk he threw up in the street. That was kinda of frown upon so he slung the kid over his shoulder and started dragging him back to the hotel. A wrong turn put them in a shady area, or maybe it was several wrong turns because they were both pretty much kids and drunk but he still considers them lucky to have made it back to the hotel room alive.
But they made it back alive and onto the helicopter the next morning. They both puked on the flight and even though they didn't know much about each other it was considered it a bonding experience. And ended up traveling together for a while. From Louisiana to North Dakota, from North Dakota back to Florida. And again he bounced around Florida for a while but this time he had a buddy with him. Someone that shared expenses, but didn't ask questions. He liked that. That he had someone that just wanted to hangout and bullshit without any expectations. They were friends but they never really talked about who they were or how they'd gotten to that night in New Orleans together. He never had to talk about his history, where he was from, what he had done before... He never had to talk about Ohio. And he never had to talk about Rachel. And he liked that. Because those were two things he wanted to talk and think about as little as possible. It worked. It made it easy for him and he liked easy. They were friends shared expenses and drinks and chased girls on their nights on land. But he didn't expect it to last; he knew eventually it would end. Everything ends. And it did. They left the Gulf of Mexico in two completely different directions. He went north to Alaska and Robbie went south to Brazil.
...That's how he ended up where he is. From Ohio to Texas, to California, to Florida, to Louisiana. North Dakota to Florida from Florida to Alaska and now Arizona. That's geographically how he ended up where he is now. And despite the fact it's been a while some of those travels are also how he knows he can't hand Robbie too many more warm beers before he'll have to carry him back to the room. Which at this point he's far more concerned with getting back to the room and getting enough sleep than he is with drinking because they have a flight to catch in the morning.
It takes him handing Robbie three more warm beers, one of which he's positive went sour, before he can force his friend to leave the bar patio and stumble the few blocks to their hotel. He doesn't have to carry his buddy, but keeps close just in case and because he's the one with the room key. And the one sober enough to operate it. The thought of a guy capable of operating oil drills being unable to successfully get a card into a slot makes him chuckle to himself because in all this time he's never been so drunk he wasn't able to get into his room. There's been plenty of times he's been the key operator though.
As soon as the door is open Robbie falls face first onto the closest bed, it's a familiar pattern. He takes the bed closer to the bathroom, sitting down to take his shoes off before digging through his bag for pajama pants.
"What's your story, Finn?"
He hears the mumbles coming from the bed across from him and shakes his head with a laugh, "get some sleep man, we have a long flight tomorrow."
"I'm serious." It comes out as a slur, but louder than the mumbled question before. "I'm serious. I've known you... Too long now and we're back on the same path and I don't know your story. You know mine. I don't know yours."
He missed Alaska when the cheap beers were getting warm enough to hand off but now he really miss Alaska because there he didn't have a drunken roommate that wanted to ask questions. "I don't know yours." He responds as he pulls off his second shoe, hoping he can divert the topic away from himself long enough that his buddy passes out.
"I'm a dumb guy that barely made it out of high school, likes to drink and needed to find a decent job to support that habit. That's my story. You know that I told you that. But you're not dumb and you don't like to drink and..." Robbie's head hits the pillow and for a minute he breathes sigh of relief that the conversation will be over. But before he can even finish his sigh there are eyes on him. "You're not dumb. And you're not like me... You're better. What's your story?"
His sigh quickly turns into a harshly blown out breath. "My story is I was a dumb guy that barely made it through high school that didn't know what he wanted except a girl that knew exactly what she wanted and I wasn't going to get in the way because I wasn't good enough." He sharply inhales and closes his eyes. It's been long enough since he's had to think about this that he shouldn't have to force himself to breath but he still does. "I needed to figure myself out first. Then even when I thought I had it still wasn't good enough."
"So you left? Never went back?"
"Yeah I guess you could say that I left and never went back."
His friend gives a sloppy point in his direction. "I knew that! You never go home between sites. You keep on moving like... When we would meet up going to put next site you never talked about going home. Like you were constantly running from something. Not a girl though like you were running from yourself. The girl you weren't good enough for, she think that?"
His face squeezes together and he runs his hand down it, this isn't a conversation he wants to have. It's not the kind of conversation they're supposed to have. The only reason he's going to answer is he's positive Robbie will be too drunk to remember it in the morning. "No dude. She thought I hung the moon. She thought I was special. I'm not but she was... She is. I gave her a speech about letting the universe figure it out for us and sent her off. Did what I had to."
"The Universe figuring it out? That's bullshit bro. The Universe doesn't make things. You make the Universe. The girl, you know where she is now?"
He watches as his friend sloppily points at the ceiling in a pattern he can only assume is supposed to emulate the universe. He let's put a harsh breath at the question. He knows the answer because even if he didn't know the answer he would still know the answer. It's all the same. "She's a star. Like she was supposed to be."
"And what about you? What are you?"
A cheap laugh at his own expensive leaves his chest. "I'm a roughneck. An oil driller, just like you. Well with a few more certifications." He laughs off the questions as he slips under the blankets. "Other than that I'm just..." He lets out a sigh as he glances over and sees his companion is asleep. He wants to fall asleep to now but that doesn't seem like an option. He knows his buddy was drunk and won't remember most, if any, of this in the morning but he will. And it's brought up things he hasn't had to think of in a long time. Things he tries not to think. Mostly Rachel. For so long he's made himself able to not think about her except from time to time. This is just going to be one of those momentary times. "I'm just a guy who still wants to be good enough for that girl." He mumbles to himself as he turns over to go to sleep.
"Why did you keep handing me beer last night?" Robbie mumbles as they sit at the gate waiting for their flight.
"I handed them to you. I didn't force you to drink them."
"Handing them to me is forcing me to drink them."
He laughs and shakes his head and shushes his friend as a voice over the loud speaker catches his attention. He's expecting for them to call the boarding of their flight but the voice he hears is one in the distance for another flights. It rattles his mind for a moment and he shakes it off as he drops his finger and goes back to listening to his buddy rant about drinking too much. But he can't focus. Before he has a chance to shake it the same voice comes over the loud speaker and instead of hearing him talking about drinking too much his friend's words from the night before sneak into his mind.
"The Universe doesn't make things. You make the Universe."
He knows they were drunken words from a drunken man but... The attended comes over the loud speaker again and announces the flight getting ready to board. It's a total long shot that he even has a chance to get on it and he's not sure what happens when he gets off it but he knows that he has money in the bank and can always get another job because that's all it is, a job. "I..." He pauses, and stands slapping his friend on the back. "Don't miss your flight. I gotta go see if I can make the Universe, man."
He has no idea what he's doing as he steps on to board a completely different flight. But he's not scared because he's never really had any idea what he's doing, so it's not new territory to him.
He's out of breath as he enters the theater lobby. There was a speech about being really late and not being allowed inside until the doors open and he knows all that. He knew that before the first time he ever went to New York. And he knew he was going to be late when he got out of the cab to run six blocks. The running is why he is out of breath; working on oil rigs hasn't exactly allowed him a lot of time to keep up with his cardio. He holds onto the back wall and tries to catch his breath while he tries to listen through the walls at the performers on stage. Based on what he was told entering and his knowledge of the show he's beyond really late. It doesn't matter to him because he just needs to hear her voice again, he hasn't forgotten what it sounds like, he just needs to be reminded of it. The way it sounds. And he needs to see her. Not just her name outside. He draws a breath as the final number starts, hoping the mics are up loud enough... Then it's there. Her voice belting the same number he'd heard her sing a thousand times before and something in him relaxes. His breath steadies and he leans against the wall with relief because it hasn't changed. Honestly he probably could have made it out standing across the street; it just wasn't a risk he was willing to take.
The doors open as the number finishes and he's able to slip in as the crowd stands to applaud. He leans against the back wall as each performer comes out, and waits. His face slips into a smile as she walks onto stage. He doesn't clap; he doesn't make any noise at all. But his lips twist into a smile and it's the most honest smile he's felt in years. His eyes look out and while he's certain she can't see him from where he stands her gaze stays in his direction long enough he wonders if she does. His half smile gets broader at the thought. It doesn't matter if she sees him right now because she'll see him again. It's time he stops fighting and stops running and makes his own Universe.