Title: From Misery to Happiness Today
Disclaimer: Not true, and I don't own the Lion King or any songs from it.
Summary: Sometimes freedom and answers are only a freight train away.
A/N: Written for gingerrstar, whose prompt included "I'm a lonesome traveler and I'm on my way", freight train vagabonds, acoustic guitar/harmonica, wheat grass, freight train sex. This took forever, but I realized I was try too hard, so I scrapped the first version and came up with this. Hope you like it!
“I’m a lonesome traveler and I’m on my way…”
Brendon has lost count of how long he’s been on this train, how long he’s sat against the warm metal wall that rumbles underneath him, shaking his whole body as he’s swept forward to nowhere, anywhere. It doesn’t really matter.
He doesn’t know how many days he’s spent sitting with Ryan, a guitar in one hand and a pluck of wheat grass in the other.
He doesn’t know how many sunsets he’s seen in the distant west – red, orange, yellow, pink turned to dusky blue and nearly white. He doesn’t know how many golden-gilded fields he’s seen while sitting in the doorway to his freight car.
He doesn’t know how many stories, how many songs there have been. He doesn’t know much anymore, but he knows one thing.
Glancing over at Ryan, who has the guitar this time and is humming to himself, he sees him duck his head to look at the strings, his messy hair falling over his eyes. It hasn’t been cut in a long time. Brendon can’t remember the last pair of scissors he saw.
It’s supposed to be an experience. It has been.
“I’m just a lonesome traveler,” Ryan murmurs to the guitar, twirling a stalk of wheat between his fingers and Brendon thinks of Huckleberry Finn. “Just a lonesome traveler, but I’m on my way.”
They are on their way. To what? Neither is sure.
Ryan glances up from the guitar and his eyes meet Brendon’s. There’s a pause and then a smile spreads, warm and slow, across his face in the dimming sun.
“You know what would be awesome?”
Ryan glances up from his college packet at Brendon sprawled across his parent’s living room couch.
“Hmm?” he asks distractedly, searching for his student I.D. number.
“If we just got away.”
Brendon sits up a little, staring over at Ryan. “Yeah, like, before you leave. Before you have to go.”
“I’m not going anywhere yet.”
“You’re going to college.” Brendon’s eyes say more than his mouth does as he stares at Ryan.
“That’s months away.” Ryan dismisses him and returns to his searching. He needs to fill out these FAFSA forms before the end of the month.
Brendon hitches himself up on the couch, hanging over the back to stare at Ryan.
“It’s not long enough.”
Sighing, Ryan sets down his paper and lopes over to the couch where Brendon immediately snuggles into his side.
“I won’t be far away. You and Spencer can come visit whenever you want.”
Brendon doesn’t look pacified and just burrows into his side. “I still think we should get away,” he mumbles into Ryan’s tee shirt.
“You’ve always been a dreamer, Bren. Just don’t stop.”
The nights are dark except for the stars. Brendon lies awake sometimes, staring out the open door at the pricks of light that never change. They never move, never dim. They are constant.
Otherwise, not much is constant anymore. The train is always moving, sometimes pausing for a day at a time to unload cargo, because this is a freight train, after all. It has a purpose.
Brendon wonders sometimes what his purpose is. He stares at the dark sky and watches the moon change from gibbous to gibbous, new to full. The moon has a purpose.
A rustling sound behind him doesn’t stir Brendon as he sits in the doorway and stares upward. If he were to look out, he would see only darkness, but knows that beyond, things are rushing past unseen.
“What are you doing?” comes the soft whisper in his ear and he feels the light press of a body against his back.
“Just thinking,” he murmurs as the breath ghosts over his ear and there’s a soft sigh behind him.
“That’s my job.”
Brendon smiles carefully, still not turning his gaze from the stars.
Ryan shifts behind him, crawling to his side and glancing up too. “What are you thinking about?” His nudge to Brendon’s shoulder is playful, but something else lingers in the touch.
Brendon blinks upward. “Just stuff.”
Ryan is quiet for a minute. They can feel the wind whipping past and Brendon wonders for a minute how fast the train is going.
Then Ryan’s mouth is next to Brendon’s ear and his warm breath has Brendon’s eyes fluttering closed.
“Tell me about this stuff,” he murmurs, his lips brushing against Brendon’s skin and not ignoring the shiver that passes through Brendon’s body.
Brendon swallows and turns to Ryan, meeting his eyes through the gilded moonlight. His mouth quirks and his hair falls in his eyes as a burst of wind whips inside.
Ryan’s hand is careful as it pushes the hair out and waits for Brendon.
“I think you already know,” Brendon whispers and Ryan smiles, cupping Brendon’s face and bringing him in for a sweet kiss. Their lips linger together and Brendon sighs as his eyes close, remembering.
Ryan pulls back almost immediately, his eyes wide and staring at Brendon.
“What the fuck was that?” he demands, scrambling away from the couch and looking as though he might be sick.
Brendon watches helplessly. He wants to say something, but he can’t. He never can.
Ryan is wiping at his mouth as though that will erase what just happened.
“You-you kissed me,” he sputters finally, his eyes searching out Brendon’s, whose are downcast and guilty.
“I’m sorry,” Brendon mumbles, even though he really isn’t. He’s not sorry at all.
“Y-you can’t… fuck!” Ryan is running his hands through his hair repeatedly, muttering to himself. “Brendon!”
Brendon doesn’t say anything. His gaze is down and he’s not watching Ryan pace, agitated.
Ryan is taking deep breaths, trying to calm himself as he finally stops moving.
“Nothing happened,” he says finally, letting out a resolute breath, and Brendon’s eyes flash upward. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” Brendon asks, and he’d be lying if his lower lip wasn’t trembling a little.
“No, nothing,” Ryan repeats firmly. His hands are shaking and he balls them into fists as he stares at Brendon. “So you want to go over to Spencer’s?”
Brendon takes a second, biting his lip and blinking back painful tears that block his throat and make it difficult to breathe.
“No,” he replies finally. “I just want to go home.”
Ryan tugs Brendon away from the edge of the car, away from the wind that whips past. Brendon goes willingly, letting Ryan push him down and remove his shirt, pushing it aside as he leans down, sliding their lips together.
“I know it all, huh?” Ryan asks, his voice quiet even under the wind and the rumbling train beneath them.
Brendon just sighs and slips a hand under Ryan’s shirt, breathing deeply into Ryan’s neck as Ryan’s mouth grazes his skin.
Ryan used to smell like clean soap and strawberry shampoo, but after weeks, months maybe, of this, he smells like dirt and train smoke, like sweat and wheat. Brendon likes this better.
Ryan’s hips on Brendon’s have his mind swirling, jumbling together as he tries to remember, to think why this is all happening. Then sharp hips dig down and rational thoughts are left to wither on the train tracks in cities long past.
The movements are hot, flurried, desperate even though they have all the time in the world.
“Ryan,” Brendon moans as Ryan presses in a finger, angling sharply inside his body.
Brendon’s body shakes a little as Ryan presses a bite to his thigh, a soothing tongue laving the skin seconds later. The flush is all over his body, reddening his cheeks, making them biteably pink. Ryan just strokes over the warm skin, almost caresses Brendon’s cheek before dropping to his stomach and tracing the trail of hair downward.
Brendon is shivering under Ryan’s touch and he swallows thickly, gasping sharply as Ryan’s fingers twist and pump in.
“R-Ryan,” he mumbles, grabbing for Ryan and finding his shoulder. Heaving him up, their eyes meet and a second passes between them. Licking his lips, Brendon stares.
Ryan moves first, surging forward against Brendon’s mouth.
The kiss isn’t soft or easy. It’s hard and demanding and Brendon wishes it never had to end. His lips are red, swollen from Ryan’s sharp bites. His tongue flicks over Brendon’s bottom lip and he sucks it into his mouth.
Ryan’s fingers are still tight in Brendon’s body, but he removes them in favor of pressing his cock against Brendon’s entrance.
Brendon lets out a shaky breath against Ryan’s lips as he feels the tip pressing in. His fingers dig deep into Ryan’s arm and his eyes close against the slight flash of pain.
It didn’t happen. That’s what Ryan tells himself. That’s what he lets Brendon believe. It meant nothing. Kissing his best friend did not happen.
Ryan is straight. He likes girls. He’s going to college so he can be with Keltie. They decided that, years ago.
“Ryan?” Brendon asks nervously one day, when Spencer has gone to the bathroom and they’re left in the living room alone for the first time in a while.
Ryan doesn’t answer but casts a careful glance at him.
“I didn’t mean to ruin anything.” Brendon looks sad, sadder than Ryan has ever seen him. “I just wanted you to know.”
Sighing, Ryan still doesn’t reply.
“I still think we should get away, before you leave for good.” Brendon is speaking to his lap and not looking at Ryan.
Ryan pauses. “I’m going to college to be with Keltie.”
“It’s months away,” Brendon continues. “Things change.”
“Things don’t change like that.”
“But they can.”
Ryan looks at Brendon, who is still staring hopelessly at his hands. He pauses. “We should get away?”
Brendon nods. “Yeah. Away.”
Brendon gasps and his back arches into Ryan, breathing sharply and squeezing his eyes shut against the heat that spreads from the tips of his toes to the apples of his cheeks as Ryan moves within him.
The movements are fluid and easy, practiced and simple. Ryan’s hands glide over Brendon’s skin, brushing over his torso, ignoring the bruises on his upper arm. His mouth is pressed against Brendon’s throat, muttering words into it as he thrusts quickly.
All Brendon can feel is the heat rushing over his skin, the tightness in his stomach as he gasps and arches again, coming on Ryan’s stomach. He whimpers a little as he pants for breath and feels Ryan letting go inside of him.
He sees Ryan’s face scrunch up just before and then hears the sharp grunt as he comes, his hips slamming forward and then the slow slide as they melt onto the rumbling floor of the car.
Ryan lays on top of him, his hot breath puffed against Brendon’s bare chest in the cool night air. His fingers splay across Brendon’s shoulder and he sighs, his eyes closing.
Swallowing, Brendon tilts his head outside to where the stars haven’t moved.
“Ryan?” he asks softly, listening to the rush of wind and trying to feel Ryan’s heartbeat against his own.
“Hmm?” Ryan murmurs and Brendon feels the vibration.
“What are we?”
Ryan cracks open his eyes and pushes up to Brendon’s level, laying his head on the hard floor and gazing at Brendon through the moonlight.
“Freight train vagabonds,” he replies, pulling Brendon’s face to him and brushing a kiss against his lips.
And that’s what they are.
“Disney is amazing.”
Ryan barely rolls his eyes as Brendon speaks, his eyes never leaving the television screen where the Lion King is playing. Spencer just shakes his head and ignores Brendon.
They watch for a few more minutes, and then Brendon snuggles closer to Ryan, ignoring the way he stiffens slightly and keeps his eyes resolutely on the screen.
“Are we still getting away?” Brendon whispers, his hand sliding onto Ryan’s thigh.
Ryan pauses. “Why do you want to?”
Brendon bites his lip and looks up. “Because it’s our last chance.”
Sighing, Brendon stares at Ryan and Ryan sees the longing, the question Brendon has always wanted answered but has never asked.
“To be free. Don’t you want to?”
Ryan hesitates, biting his lip as he thinks. Finally, he nods jerkily. “Yeah, I do.”
Brendon smiles softly and reaches for Ryan’s hand, twining their fingers together and sighing contently as the movie rolls.
The sun is setting again in the west, sinking beyond the tall mountains that jut into the sky. Everything is golden and orange. Brendon sits in the door and fingers his harmonica as he listens to Ryan plucking at the little acoustic guitar behind him.
Glancing back, he watches Ryan for a moment and sighs. Ryan’s eyes flick up to meet his and he smiles.
“Thinking about stuff again?”
Brendon gives a little laugh and blows into his harmonica for a second, hearing the mesh of chords hum in the air.
“Better than talking about stuff.”
Ryan smiles indulgently and hums a little tune to himself. “I like when you talk about stuff. It makes me think about stuff.”
“Good stuff?” Brendon asks curiously and Ryan nods.
Brendon pauses as he listens to the guitar chords. “Are we gonna go back?”
Ryan doesn’t look up from the guitar, but his fingers still. “Do you want to?”
“Not really,” Brendon admits. “But I think we have to.”
Ryan is silent for a minute. “Think it’ll change?”
“I won’t," Brendon promises, scooting back to Ryan’s side and breathing in his scent of dirt and heat.
Ryan nods, hitching up the guitar in his lap and playing a simple melody while Brendon leans into him and stares out the car at the sinking sun.
Ryan hums for a second and then sings softly.
“It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best.”
Brendon’s face curves into a smile and he listens as Ryan returns to humming and he grasps his harmonica tight as the train rumbles on into the west.