Oh, you guys. This was supposed to just be a one-shot, but, thanks to your reviews, especially the one written by .music, I've been inspired to continue it. You are all horrible, naughty people, and I love you deeply.
So here's chapter two! I hope you enjoy it.
"Are we there yet?"
Cobb squinted in the rearview mirror. "You're kidding, right? We just left."
"I know…" Yusuf fidgeted uncomfortably in the passenger seat. "But I really need to pee."
"You'll have to hold it." Cobb turned his attention back to the road. "We'll get gas in about an hour. You can go then." Eames leaned over from the back seat.
"Can I put in a cassette?"
"No. I already have something in the tape deck. You can turn that on, if you like."
Eames pressed the buttons on the dashboard and returned to his seat. Beside him, Arthur was staring out the window. His head raised as the music began to play tinnily through the speakers.
"Is that in French?" he asked. Yusuf groaned.
"Oh God, not more of this!"
Cobb's nostrils flared dangerously. "Mal made me this mixtape."
Eames snorted. "It sounds like a bear with a head cold."
"It's Serge Gainsbourg!"
"EVERYONE SHUT UP!" The guitarist shouted, silencing the complaints of his band-mates. "IF YOU INSULT MY GIRLFRIEND'S CHOICE IN MUSIC ONE MORE TIME I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL BREAK AN AMP OVER YOUR HEAD!"
Eames fell back against the cracked leather seats, pouting. Arthur reached over and grabbed his hand in an attempt to be comforting. Eames responded with a lecherous grin, and Arthur immediately regretted doing so.
Yusuf glanced back a few minutes later and grimaced. "Ew! Guys, do you have to do that in the car? Even with Sir Gains-More moaning in my ear I can still hear you two sucking face."
Arthur flushed as the broke apart. "Sorry."
"I don't blame you. I blame your disgusting horn-dog of a boyfriend."
Eames stuck out his tongue. "Like you're one to talk. I saw you with that blonde girl after last weeks' show. You had her skirt up so high it was practically a scarf."
Yusuf shrugged. "I can't help it. I'm a man of insatiable desire. And anyway, everyone knows that the drummer is always the sexiest member of a band."
Eames laughed so loudly that three miles away, the Richter scale in a research facility registered an earthquake of 4.0.
Cobb glanced into the rearview. "You okay back there, Arthur? You're awfully quiet."
Arthur nodded. "I'm cool. I'm just not used to being in a car with this many people."
"Ah, darling. You simply haven't lived yet!" Eames slapped a hand on his knee. "This is the true American experience. Every young, red-blooded, apple-pie loving man should get a chance to drive cross country, to see the REAL America!"
Yusuf raised an eyebrow. "You're from England."
Cobb looked over his shoulder, shooting Arthur a small smile. "It's not the American thing that makes this cool. It's getting out and being independent. It's about spending three months in a cramped, overheated vehicle with people you may or may not be able to stand, listening to the same cassettes over and over again, sleeping in shitty motels and sometimes the car when you can't find a shitty motel, and spending your nights drinking beer and playing music for people who are so drunk they probably couldn't tell whether they were listening to Judy Garland or Robert Smith. It's about fending for yourself in a world you're probably not qualified to be in. It's being dropped in at the deep end of the swimming pool, only the deep end is the highway, the swimming pool is the world, and your water wings are a second hand Econoline van with ragged tires and a braking problem." He furrowed his brow. "I think my metaphor is confused."
"Um, don't worry, I got the gist." Arthur smiled faintly. "It's just weird, you know? I mean… this is the most independent thing I've ever done. Isn't that depressing?"
Yusuf shrugged. "A little."
"Have you called them yet?" Eames shot him a concerned look. Arthur shook his head.
"I left a letter with Pilar at the house when I went to pick up my stuff."
"What did it say?"
"It just explained everything. I told them I was going away, I didn't know when or if I would be back, and that I would be sending Ariadne letters, so if they felt like finding out where I was or getting in contact with me they could ask her."
"How did Ariadne take it? I forgot to ask."
"She wanted to come." Arthur laughed. "She likes you guys, you know that."
"Is Ariadne the brunette who wore the scarf to the show at Mike's?" Yusuf looked suddenly interested.
"Yeah. She says she's going to try to get to one of the gigs when we're in Chicago- she has an uncle there she's going to be staying with." Arthur raised an eyebrow. "Why? Interested, Casanova?"
Yusuf averted his gaze. "Hardly." He scoffed. "I wouldn't date a high school student." He shot a pointed look at Eames, who rolled his eyes.
"College student, come September." Arthur looked wistful and went back to staring out the window. Eames patted his hand.
"It's overrated anyway, love."
"Take it from me," Yusuf raised his hand in a mock-swear. "It's boring as Hell. You sit in lectures all day and get stoned all night."
"You might." Cobb snorted. "Some of us actually study."
Outside the car road signs rushed by as the dented van sped along the highway, moving into the East and out of California.