Oh man, we're at the finish line already? I'd like to keep on writing this, but eventually the car will run out of gas and Denmark will run out of gas money. This fic's been quite the experience since it's different from what I've done in fanfiction before and I've liked writing it a lot. Thanks for all the support, it was very lovely! The airport is fictional, by the way, like the diner.
Reviews are really appreciated, and thank you so much for sticking through with the whole thing (: /casually drives off into sunset
And so without further ado...
Driving into a city-like area feels jarring after such a long stretch of highways and roads winding through acres and acres of farmland and forests. The clear break in the weather did not last long, and rain has been going on for a good fifteen minutes.
But he's wondering if that applies anymore. He's not been dwelling on his raw anger as much anymore. It's still there, but it's been subdued to make way for questions bigger than what kind of revenge to take on his ex band-mates.
What he's going to do for the rest of his life is one of them.
It's been a dream to make music his livelihood and he has previously taken comfort in the fact that if he's stupid enough to go after such a big gamble, at least he has three other guys following him. But good things don't always come to those who work hard for it and just because he's had fucking visions about using his talent to make it big doesn't mean it will actually happen.
Remorse starts to take over anger, because he feels like he's wasted away a good portion of his life playing dirty bars and sharing a cup of noodles for dinner with a few other people instead of getting an education that would secure his future and hazing freshmen.
It's bad that he feels so old and without options, even though he hasn't reached his mid-twenties yet. He just doesn't want to end up looking like Lars, who looks like he's been through too much for too long.
And every day he's woken up, knowing exactly what he's supposed to do. But when he wakes up tomorrow morning, or the afternoon depending or whether or not he decides to drink himself into a stupor, he will be clouded with insecurity.
The airport is around twenty minutes away now, and Chris supposes it will be his last twenty minutes with someone who he now supposes he can call somewhat of an acquaintance, if not a friend. Judging by Erik's character, it will most likely be the former.
Conversation between him and Erik has been there, even if it's been sparse. Now that he knows a little about Erik, the silence doesn't seem as invasive as before. They roll along the road to fuzzy Radiohead coming out of the car radio and Chris feels like they have been driving forever.
He decides to make the best of it and try for one last continuous conversation before they part ways.
"Don't you think it's odd?" he starts after a thorough minute of searching in his head for a conversation topic. "We don't know each other and we've probably told each other more than we've told anyone else."
Really, the only reason that applies to Chris is because Erik's been the only one he's had to talk to for the fresh first hours he's spent after being kicked out of his band.
"You think so?" Erik asks, voice near monotonous as he watches the suburbs start to roll by. "I found it easier to talk to someone I don't know."
Chris wants to point out that compared to himself, Erik hasn't talked very much, but bites his tongue on that judgement because maybe Erik's said much more than what is the norm for him.
"Maybe we're not strangers anymore." he suggests.
"We haven't known each other long enough to be friends." Erik says, and Chris shrugs off the bluntness with his own.
"Never said that's what we were." he says simply. "Acquaintances, I was thinking."
"You thought wr-" Erik catches himself, and Chris raises an eyebrow because this man was just recently talking to him about things his brother and him would do when they went up to the cottage. This yo-yo'ing of moods has gone from being slightly curious to slightly annoying a long time ago, and Chris covers his irritation with a gritted grin.
"I suppose I did." Chris says. "Hey, at least I'm not making you pay for half the gas."
"...I can if you want me to."
Chris wait till he makes a left turn at a crowded intersection to answer.
"Nope." Chris shakes his head. "What goes around comes around. Hopefully this leads to me being able to cut a break."
In music, maybe. In life, definitely.
"I hope you do."
Chris finds this phrase familiar; pretty sure it's the same words his mother said to him when, at the age of eighteen, he told her he was going to ditch post-secondary education in favour of touring the world and making it big.
"So where are ya flying down to?" Chris asks casually, steering the conversation away from the uncomfortable.
"The east coast." Erik replies, and Chris is not going to ask for additional information if it's not readily given. As bad as he wants to know where on the east coast.
"Beautiful place." He hums and makes the general comment, with lack of anything better to say.
"Do you have a card?" Erik asks suddenly and Chris blinks and looks at him for a second. "Like a business card or something?"
"Plannin' to do some lines before you fly off?"
Chris sees a glint of the sour look he received out of his peripheral vision, and gestures to his glove compartment. Erik silently opens the box and rummages, finally taking out the cleanest card he can find, a business card for a local Chinese restaurant under the management of one Yao Wang. It's from when Chris is looking for jobs in between (sad excuses for) tours, and he regularly goes to be a waiter or a deliveryman to gain some cash for living.
Erik does nothing afterwards; just flips the card over and over again in his hands, looking extremely pensive. Chris just assumes Erik is bored out of his mind and needs something to do other than make decent conversation with the man who's driven him for a few hours now.
Chris thinks he needs to sidle his anger over the band and not take it out on Erik, because now is as good as any a time to stop being his stubborn and admittedly slightly obnoxious self. He's been telling himself this for quite a while now, but maybe meeting a person out of the blue is the exact type of thing to start the ball rolling on that change.
The airport seems to arrive pretty soon, and before Chris knows it, he's pulling up in the passenger drop-off zone. The area is crowded, and seeing so many people bustling around makes Chris realize that for the past few hours he's felt detached from the world and large crowds are bringing him back to reality.
And maybe the fact that now it's time for Erik to leave is part of it as well. Because Chris knows that in the future, if he thinks back on the day he was kicked out of his precious band, he'll remember the silent blond he spent a long car ride with just mere hours after the event.
"Well..." Chris doesn't know what to do. Offer to walk him inside the building? Give him a goodbye hug, slap him on the back and tell him he'll see him around? "I suppose this is it."
"Appears so." Erik says, and he's going through his bag again. Thirty seconds of quiet mumbling and searching later, he fishes out a black pen.
"This," Erik says, as he scrawls numbers onto the back of the card. "Is a number. I'm not going to tell you which number it is, but if you call, I will pick up."
Chris gives a bemused look, as Erik hands him the card. "Maybe I can pay you back one day."
Maybe they'll become friends. Because that's exactly what this opening the door to.
"Thanks." He replies, looking at the digits. The area code seems familiar, so it seems legitimate enough. It surprises him that Erik does this, but he supposes that Erik is thinking along the same lines as him; if you've travelled around nine hours with a stranger without them taking you into a forest and killing you then there's a potential for friendship.
Erik shuffles around a bit more, gathering himself to go out. Knowing he has Erik's number places Chris at some sort of odd peace; he is suddenly thinking that maybe a blunt but quiet friend is just what he needs.
"Sorry for being a burden for so long." Erik replies honestly while he pulls the hood of his jacket up to shield himself from the rain, and Chris waves it off, even though an apology has been the last thing he's been expecting from Erik.
"No problem, kid. You take care then." There's not much else they can say to each other.
Erik's mouth twitches and Chris thinks he's about to say something, but the blond's lips curl upwards.
There is something strange in Erik's expression. The small smile seems genuine, which slightly bothers Chris. And him and his observational skills are damned if that look isn't a sincerely apologetic one.
He steps out of the car and grabs his bag, slinging it over his shoulder. He stands with the door open for a second, then bends down slightly so that his face is at level with Chris'.
"Thanks." he says, and it's barely audible to Chris.
And with that, Erik has shut the door of the car and has disappeared into the large main building, effectively walking out of Chris' life as silently as he walked in.
For now, because Chris has his number and Chris thinks that he should actually give him a ring later down the road, maybe when he's reached home. Erik is not as loud and obnoxious as the rest of his friends, so maybe Chris can start a collection of decent friends with him. End of one chapter, start of another.
Chris is about to pull out his wallet to stow away the card, but something at the foot of the passenger's seat catches his eye. It shines and Chris leans over to pick it up and look at it. It seems to be a driver's license, and has probably fallen out of Erik's wallet while he was fumbling around. Chris easily recognizes the blond hair and the blank, dull, and slightly bored stare given by dark blue eyes. Even that little odd curl that sticks out to the side from the nape of Erik's neck (a detail he has forgotten to ask about, but plans to in the future) is there. He is about to get out of his car and run down Erik to give it to him, when his eye catches something.
It's what he doesn't recognize that unnerves him; it's a tiny detail he almost over looks.
It takes a second for the shock to come, but when it does, it sucker punches him right in the gut.
A bitter taste is forming in his mouth and he sees the date of birth. Quick mental math tells him that Jakob is the fresh age of eighteen. And is no doubt Erik in this photo; hell, he's even wearing the same shirt in the license. But the name...the name is not the same. Neither is the age.
Jakob Davidsen...All of eighteen years old
Chris stares, because he can't think of anything else to do. Is he jumping to conclusions? What if it was his brother and he had just taken his ID? Why was Chris thinking this, even when Erik himself has told that his brother looks much different than he does.
Because he never stopped being a stranger and you drove him all this way anyways
The rain is tapping against the window, as if telling him to hurry up. More literate are the cars waiting behind him for his spot. Chris can't bring himself to move; he doesn't know whether or not to feel betrayed that Erik (Jakob) lied to him. But why should he be feeling betrayed?
Because they were right and you are emotionally unstable and a stranger getting the best of you like this just proves that.
They were never friends in the first place, just strangers that crossed paths. Strangers that unloaded their burdens on each other, even if minimally in both length and truth. Chris finds himself wondering the extent of which Erik because that's who he'll always be to Chris has fabricated his story. He also finds a part of him saying that Erik is the little brother in his story, and no older brother figure exists- and if he does, he's certainly not Erik.
Cheated. Yes, cheated would be the word. Nine hours, and he wasn't given any truth whatsoever (as is his assumption) and he doesn't know whether to blame Erik for deceiving him or himself for actually expecting to be told the truth. After all, why would Erik (and it would always be Erik because even after this, the name Jakob seems too foreign) tell anything to him? They aren't significant in each others lives.
And Chris still can't help but feel a bit hurt. All this talk of Erik being comfortable enough around him to share at least a sliver of information seems to have had settled in more than he previously realized. Maybe if it was an ordinary day, Chris would not have been that affected. After all, how many times has he given a fake name at the bar?
But he hates this. Maybe it's because this is the second time within a span of two days he has been told a significant lie.
"It's not completely you, mate, it's us too."
"You can call me Erik."
Chris is sure that his presumptions of Erik being a runaway, not an upset college kid, is completely true. The familiar sense of curiosity sets in as he leans his head back against the head rest, and this time it blends in with slight guilt that he's probably helped some kid escape and there are good people wondering where the hell Jakob Davidsen has gone.
There he goes, assuming again. Maybe Erik has had a good reason to change his name, to run away, to hitch a ride from him to the airport.
Yeah, smoking would be just a lovely habit to pick up, right beside his love for drinking and riding bicycles and reading fine literature.
In the middle of his thoughts, he realizes something is cutting into the skin of his palm. It's the business card with the number scrawled onto the back.
First, he wants to just toss it out the window. Erik was probably not telling him the truth.
Then he remembers the honest look that Erik gave him, and because of that, because of that one stupid look, he decides to keep the number. Because maybe Erik hasn't lied. It can never hurt to try, and Chris wants to put a little bit of faith into those ten digits.
Anyways, he has Erik's license. He'll need to call him to return it to him because he doesn't think that going in right now to give it to him in person will be a good idea. He tucks the card and the license into his wallet, and he tucks his wallet into his pocket.
He turns the ignition, much to the relief of the car that's been waiting patiently for his spot, and gives one look towards the airport. Too many people to see if Erik's suddenly realized he's lost something and decided to run back to get it.
Smoking while driving's outlawed in the province, but Chris fishes a cigarette out from the barely used pack. He lowers his windows slightly, enough to make sure the scent doesn't get too overpowering but not so much that he's barreled with rain and the smoke dies out.
And that's the only company he keeps all the way back to St. Catherines.