And in other news:
Lindsey says: When you've got nothing, you still fight like a bastard to keep it, 'cause it's all you've got.
He's got a truck, and a guitar, and a hand that mostly doesn't write things he doesn't tell it to, anymore. Got a posterboard sign in the back, under a chunk of cinderblock, that says, "Cops suck."
Speeding ticket in the glove compartment for going 67 in a 65 mile an hour zone. He's not planning on paying it, but it makes him laugh when he takes it out and reads it, so he keeps it there, tucked into the accordion file with the registration and the receipts for the windshield repairs.
When you've got nothing, you hang onto it so tight, you can hear your joints bubble and squeak, as you grip the steering wheel.
This town's got nothing. It's another faceless strip mall that sucked its money from the highway running through it, and lost anything it ever had that made it look like a town. Might be houses and schools, out in that dark place part behind the K-Mart, but the biggest light on the road is the Motel 8 on the leeside of the big overpass.
Parking lot full of diesel rigs and guys with potbellies leaning against the cabs, cigarettes permanently dangling from their mouths. Toss the dead ones onto the gravel while they chat. Well, mumble. Truckers don't chat. They mutter, and they curse, and they throw beer bottles at the stage, as Lindsey found out when he played in the little bar in northern Tennessee, and he picked the wrong song on the wrong night-- but they don't chat.
They flirt with waitresses, though. The skinny, vanilla-haired woman in the pink uniform is leaning over the counter, doodling something on the check of the guy who came in just before him, the one with the double trailer of Beck's beer. He's ready to leave, drawling his last come hither, my room number's 176, bullshit, and Lindsey's just settling down to biscuits and gravy.
It's not that she's ignoring him; just the opposite. He's got that look, where they all want to mother him or fuck him, and some of 'em can't decide which. You know, except the one he actually wanted, who already had someone to do both with. That's why he chased this one away, when she homed in on him like a shark on a bleeding limb, the minute he sat down and stowed his guitar in the seat across the table from him. She bent close enough that he could smell the tang of bleach in her hair, while she asked him if he wanted grits with his sausage, and he's pretty sure she uses the exact same shade, though her ends are split and frizzed with it.
It's why he clipped his words off, not quite snarling, when he told her no, and looked out the window at the parking lot when she tried to give him the eye. He's got... No. He doesn't have his pride, lost that long ago, before he ever sang "Do Re Mi" in a bar full of California lawyers, and realized the only one who knew what the words meant was the green guy at the back, who kept shaking his head, like *Lindsey* was the one who didn't get it. But he's got his memory, of what he'd been pretending he had, woman's soft smell in his apartment, her clothes scattered across his bed. And from later, when she smelled of blood and he knew the helplessness in her voice was a game, had always been a game with him, he's got the memory of her fangs sliding across his adam's apple, and not sinking in.
He doesn't want to mix that up with a peroxide waitress in a smoky midnight truckstop, who called him honey, when she slid his plate in front of him.
When you've got nothing, you hold onto it until your fingernails break, then you grab on with your teeth.
Cowbells jangle as the door opens. Room 176 rolls out, and Lindsey almost drops his eyes again, except the guy who slips in through the closing door makes him laugh around his mouthful of biscuit, and he has to grab a swig of cooling coffee, just to keep from choking.
It's himself, standing politely in front of the Please Wait To Be Seated sign. Oh, this guy's smaller, thinner. Rusty colored spiky hair that looks like he slept wrong on it and really doesn't give a damn -- but he's Lindsey, all the same. Jeans, plaid jacket against the midwestern winter. Canvas duffel over one shoulder, and -- here's the kicker -- guitar case in his other hand.
Lindsey looks, without looking like he's looking. In the nightlit window, he sees his own reflection, sipping coffee now, and the other guy, alone at a table, making a meal out of the buck ninety-nine breakfast special. Egg and toast and a strip of bacon, and he almost looks like that would feed him, but not quite. That's not food; it's for putting some kind of taste in your mouth after a night of nothing but cigarettes and the same kind of coffee they're both sucking down. Lindsey doesn't do the cigarettes, but he's heard the truckers talk about it -- how they'll only order the special in the middle of a run, when they don't dare eat enough to get sleepy, but want something in their mouths that isn't menthol, for a change.
The special's not the only thing he's heard that about. He gets bored, on the road. Likes to pretend he's going somewhere, besides away from L.A., and if he picks one who doesn't tower over him or piss him off enough to make him want to chase the guy around the parking lot with his pickup, he can manage to distract himself from where he'd probably rather be. Got a mouth on him, he's been told more than once -- long ago by his daddy, later by people who thought he'd listen when they said it would get him in trouble -- and it's good for more than giving head. Spin a pretty enough song about where he's heading, what he's doing with that guitar and that truck and the sign in the back, and he might even get to receive, instead of give. Gets his room paid for sometimes, too, even though he doesn't need it.
This one needs it. Buck ninety-nine, and he's still counting change out of his pockets. Lays a crumpled dollar bill on the table, finally, then pays his check with quarters. Something like class, Lindsey guesses. He's not sure -- he never really had it, just learned how to fake what other people did, the ones he sensed knew what they were doing. At heart, he's still counting his own change when he leaves a tip, even when it's a five, for a five dollar meal.
The waitress gives him a confused look when he follows the other guy out the door, guitar case in hand. You didn't want me, but you left me the same tip as Room 176, when I would've done you for a smile? What are you, crazy?
Probably. When you've got nothing, you hang on to every little thing that comes your way, even your own insanity. He finds the guy with the guitar leaning against his truck. Sharp green eyes. Pretty. Pretty quiet. Very quiet.
"Take it you need a ride," gets him a nod, and a grin that says they both recognize how stupid the question was. "Where you heading?" sounds wrong coming out of his mouth, but someone has to say it, and he realizes it's not going to be his buck ninety-nine twin. Who, up close, isn't anything like Lindsey at all. Wears the same clothes, but he leans against the truck with a twitchless grace that Lindsey could never carry off. Breathes air in and frost out and doesn't even wrap the jacket closer around himself.
Then: "Nowhere special," and that lazy smile again, and damn, Lindsey likes him. He really wasn't intending to like him, had thought he knew exactly what he wanted when he rose from the booth and followed. He'd offer a ride, they'd drive, somewhere along the way Lindsey would sing him a story, and it'd be something a little different to hang onto later, after he dropped the guy off in some other faceless highway town.
Now he's not sure, and he laughs, nervously, when he offers the line back. "Nowhere special? I always wanted to go there." It's a riding off into the sunset line, in the middle of the night, and it's wrong, because they don't know each other at all, but it's right, too. It gets the smile to bend, just a little, at one end, and Lindsey's insufferably pleased with that.
His name is Oz, and he holds both guitars, one on the seat beside him, one between his legs.
Oz doesn't give a last name, and Lindsey doesn't ask for one, though he finds himself offering his own, something he doesn't usually do. When it's all you have, you hang on tight, parcel that information out on a need-to-know basis. Oz doesn't need to know, yet here he is, nodding again, and that small motion seems like payment for Lindsey's trouble, or something. Leaves him caught between feeling accomplished, that he's pulled a reaction out of his passenger, and vaguely slutty. Because he would have given it up for free, just like that waitress.
On the highway, heading nowhere special, Oz watches the dark cornfields roll past, and Lindsey watches Oz. Knows Oz knows he's watching, now, which doesn't piss him off as much as not being able to *not* watch. He likes this guy, and he doesn't particularly want to. He wants this guy to coax him into telling a pretty lie about where he came from and where he's going, but somehow "nowhere special" came out, the truth, and there isn't much to say about that. He wants Oz to ask anyway, and Oz won't say anything.
Makes him feel like a puppy, yipping for favors. Lindsey talks, to fill the silence, and he *never* does that, with his carefully random truckers, in room 176. He makes them ask him, uses his mouth for his own purposes, not to get some kind of reward. He doesn't give anything away, doesn't sell it, trade it, just plays the game to amuse himself.
He's not supposed to have to ask the questions. "Care if I turn on the radio?" Like it's not his truck, like he's not the one doing Oz a favor. But it earns him a shake of the head, and he bounces inside. Happy puppy. He suspects Oz is laughing at him, but kindly. "ZPL good?" It's seventies-eighties-nineties-rock-country-w
The song's whiny, post-Seattle stuff that misses the whole blowing-your-head-off-is-stupid point. It grits his teeth, and does nothing to slow the inevitable opening of his mouth and moving of his tongue. Speeds it up, in fact, makes him want to be more entertaining than this song, to apologize for subjecting Oz to it.
"What do you play?" His own question makes him cringe, but Oz looks sharply at him, and Lindsey knows he wasn't misheard. It's a bass; he can see it's an electric bass from the size and shape of the case, and Oz can see he sees it's a bass, like Oz can see the case between his legs holds an acoustic.
"A and E. And I'm working on B."
"Nice. And me and the chimpanzee agree that someday soon, you'll be a celebrity." Wavers between accomplishment and stupidstupid, not sure if they were playing tagline or not. Angry that he cares.
Pleased, when Oz smiles. Really smiles. "Well, maybe not soon."
"Rock?" he guesses. You'd think the hair, the ripped t-shirt with the band he doesn't recognize, would make it obvious, but he's been fooled before. They don't all wear cowboy hats.
"Devon used to think so. Then again, he thought kd Lang was a man." Oz scratches his chin. Adds, as if it's just occurred to him that Lindsey has no idea what he's talking about, "Lead singer. Spent a lot of time trying to get straight enough to find the stage. Sometimes he even remembered to bring his pants."
He's asking the right questions, to make Oz talk, and Lindsey gives up on being pissed that he's asking them at all, since hearing that voice say that many words in a row is doing things to him that make him squirm in his seat and pretend it's just that they've been driving for two hours. Something about the voice. It's the only thing he really has on him, see, besides the sacrosanct guitar, which doesn't count. That's not up for trade -- you don't sell, you don't lose, you give up everything before you let that out of your hands. Lindsey knows that, so the voice, used so sparingly, seems the most valuable thing in the truck with them right now.
It makes Lindsey want to rub himself against the gearshift, and offer him anything just to keep talking. Almost anything.
Oz had a van. He lost it in New Mexico, when three tires blew out and the engine fell into the road with a clunk. It was kind of like a Marx Brothers movie, he said. Only more surreal.
Lindsey doesn't think Marx Brothers movies are surreal. Doesn't think they're funny, either, but maybe he's been missing something. He's definitely missing something with Oz.
Like how he can just shrug, when he says it. Left his van beside the road, packed what he thought he could carry into the bag that's sitting in the truck bed now, grabbed his bass, and moved on. Headed for nowhere special.
Lindsey doesn't get how he could let go of it. Van he'd had for years, almost everything he owned. Stuff from wherever home was. Memories of his band. Oz just shrugs at him again. "I didn't lose anything by leaving it." Lindsey shakes his head. Yeah, he left things in L.A. Almost everything. But he left them on purpose. Life he hated, things he wanted to forget about, wipe out of his memory by never having to look at them again. What he needed, he took with him.
He says about half as much, and Oz nods. "Yeah, I get that. For me, though, it's all about portability." He taps his head. "I don't need the things, because it's all in here."
He still doesn't get it.
"A naked man never has to worry about pickpockets," Oz tells him. Lindsey thinks about Oz naked, and misses hearing where the quote came from.
Maybe Lindsey gets it, sort of, but he doesn't believe it. Doesn't work for him. He's met too many people, and things pretending to be people, who can take away what you have in your head. As easy as taking a house or a car, or breaking a window to steal your guitar from the front seat of your truck, which is why he always carries it in with him, when they eat. Oz always leaves his in the truck, and he doesn't get that either.
It's become an always. He's been two nights and two days with Oz, heading nowhere special, which is vaguely east, and already he's thinking in always. They always stop at little places like the truckstop where they met. They always have a waitress who looks both of them over, decides they're starving, and tries to give them free pie for dessert. Pun sometimes intended. Lindsey always pays, and Oz always acts like it's no big deal, because Lindsey doesn't want it to be a big deal.
They always sleep in separate beds, and Oz always pretends it's not weird that he's driving like a drifter, eating truck stop food, seems to have no job, but can afford a double at the Motel 8. Lindsey always avoids saying anything that would imply he could afford the Radisson Suites, if he wanted.
Two nights isn't always, though, not really. It's two nights, and on the third, Lindsey's lying awake in bed, in the dark. He knows Oz is awake, the easy way, because Oz is sitting in the window, watching. Singing, actually, something low and rhythmic that Lindsey can't quite make out. Slim bare shoulders outlined with silver behind them, head tilted as Oz sings upwards, to the roundness in the sky.
Lindsey listens, and isn't surprised when he gets hard. Hell, he's been hard the last two nights, lying a few feet away from Oz, feeling like the space between the beds is an ocean, and he'd fall in and drown if he tried to cross. Oz hasn't invited, and he's not *quite* that eager of a puppy, Lindsey isn't. Not quite willing to give up that much of the nothing he has left, to crawl into that other bed and offer himself without encouragement.
He's surprised now, though, that he's *so* hard. That it aches, that the soft movement of Oz' voice makes his dick throb and his fingers want to reach for it.
He's shocked at himself, when he sits up in bed and asks. "What song is that?" It stops him from thinking about trying to jerk off without Oz noticing, so maybe it's a good thing, even though it's made Oz stop singing. Made him look over at Lindsey.
"Not really a song. More like a chant. Then again, I'm not really a singer."
No, he's not. Not like Lindsey, who sings maybe a little better than he plays, and plays pretty damn good. Oz' voice is made for backup, and quiet whispering, and telling you the strangest things with a perfectly straight face, leaving you to decide whether you believe them or not.
Like Lindsey asking him, again, what's the song about? Chant, rather. And Oz saying, "It's a Tibetan thing. Anti-werewolf charm."
Lindsey sees the maybe serious, maybe not, face, and asks, "You're singing a spell for keeping werewolves away?" He's sure there really is one, sure if he'd needed one in the course of his duties at Wolfram and Hart, someone would have looked it up for him, in Records and Research. He can't quite imagine it would be what Oz was chanting, though.
"Doesn't keep them away. Keeps you from turning into one."
He's not sure if he's supposed to laugh or not. "Does it work?"
"So far." Oz moves away from the window, to his bed, and sits on the edge. Lindsey does laugh, now. Then he stops, when Oz doesn't join him, and he knows he read the look wrong. "Usually," Oz adds.
"You're a werewolf."
"Recovering." Then Oz laughs. It's small and odd. Warm and bitter at the same time.
Lindsey desperately wants to fill the silence again. He especially doesn't want Oz to realize he's harder than ever, under the covers. Something about Oz offering that up to him, another gift of that voice. Something he knows is the truth -- not just the crazy little guy with the electric bass *believing* it's the truth, but real. There's a werewolf in the room with him, during a full moon.
He wants to give something back, some valuable truth about himself, but he's got nothing, that he's able to let go of. Well, almost nothing. "I'm a lawyer."
"Recovering. Now I've just got a little evil hand problem." He's trying to remember which one, since it isn't the transplant that keeps creeping towards places it shouldn't be.
The laugh this time is free and open, and sweet as cold, clear air. After a while, Oz says, "You know, I can smell you."
Lindsey pretends, for a second, that he doesn't. Then he's glad Oz can't see him, because he's too old to look edible with a flush high on his cheeks. He'd just look silly. "So..." Since he's got nothing else to say.
"So I should finish that chant. Not *supposed* to need it anymore, but I don't like to play with that."
Oz is up and across the room, by the window again. Lindsey wonders if Oz can smell him from there. Smell his arousal spiking as the quiet music begins again.
He can't do it. Can't let either evil hand get up to what they both want to, even if -- and he's pretty sure it's true -- Oz wouldn't mind, because he gets it. Gets a hell of a lot more things than Lindsey does. Can't do it, though - too much like crawling across to the other bed would have been. Like throwing himself to the sharks. Lindsey needs something for his hands to do, so he reaches down. Side of the bed, where he keeps the guitar case. Didn't used to be so possessive of it, but now that it's all he's got...
It's an easy melody. You can barely even call it that, just an up and down sing-song, with a little dip in it, every third round. Every time Oz cocks his head at the moon. Lindsey finds a way to play the chords soft enough that he can still hear Oz' voice. Wonders if he'd hurt anything by improvising a harmony line, then just does it, humming in the right places to fill the spaces between Oz' drops and rises. Makes it hard to hold the guitar, sitting in bed, feeling himself rub against the wood through his boxers. Then again, it's not bad. He could almost pretend it's accidental, if he were bothering to pretend anything, now.
He's not. Nothing to pretend he's doing, or not doing, now. It's just their voices. Lindsey doesn't even know what he's singing, if he's weaving himself into the spell with his homemade counterpoint, becoming part of Oz' fight against the moon, or his love affair with it. Doesn't matter. This is something he can do, can share. Has to. It's not even a choice. It just comes out of his mouth, out of his fingers.
Then... then it's over. Oz stops first, and Lindsey finds an end. He's not perfect at improvising, not with a partner, but he manages not to make it awkward. Just a fading brush of the strings that he lets die away into silence.
When he looks up, Oz is standing in front of him. His eyes... His eyes look like they've swallowed every bit of light shining in from that full moon out there, like it's just a dead piece of rock hanging in the sky now. It's not fancy talk, Lindsey pretending he doesn't know where he comes from. Oz' eyes are *glowing*. Silver in the darkness of the room, the green reduced to a little ring at the edge of his irises. It's wild. Crazy. Crazy as Lindsey knows Oz isn't. Wild, though...
He's standing there. Still. Then he's not, he's taking the guitar very gently from Lindsey's arms, and putting it in the case. Sweet to it, like a lover. Tucking it in to sleep, and then he's back, something strange making Lindsey's face crinkle. He smells, Lindsey realizes. If Oz can smell him, he can smell Oz, now. Stronger than man musk, but not like a dog, the closest to wolf he's ever met. Makes him scared, and eager, and reaching, then pulling back.
Bouncy puppy, Lindsey. He feels ashamed, that he can't even stop himself from bouncing at this, this attention. This glowing stare from a creature who's not quite human, but never evil. He's never known a not-quite-human who was *never* evil.
Then Oz is crawling up on the bed, and his knees are on the outside of Lindsey's, and his hands press Lindsey's shoulders to the headboard, and he's *strong*. God damn, he's strong. Lindsey could die here, now, if Oz wanted him to.
He doesn't get off on that. All that time in L.A., he lived with the wolf at his throat one way or another, and it didn't make him hard, not the good kind of hard. He gets off on Oz, though. On the way he's lowering his face to Lindsey's shoulder, and sniffing. He gets off on the growl, he does. On the hands pressing him hard enough that the wood of the headboard hurts his back -- because they're *not* trying to hurt him, not more than he wants. There's no threat here, just thanks. He can feel it, in the rough tongue suddenly scraping against his collarbone, in the eyes that look up at him, in the mouth that warns -- "Don't let me bite you."
He's rolling, suddenly, Oz beneath him, staring calmly up. "I don't mind." He makes a horrible wolf puppy. Oz is too nice, not to laugh at him when he tries to growl.
"You would. It's contagious."
He thinks about bodily fluids, and how he's got nothing Oz could catch, and Oz has nothing that won't come from a bite, and he reaches for his wallet anyway. Because. Because it's in his mind now, and he feels like he'd look stupid in front of Oz, if he didn't.
Oz is taking it from him, getting up, and that's fine, that's just fine. Tearing it open with his teeth, which is silly and so goddamn sexy it makes Lindsey want to grind himself against Oz so hard and fast that there won't be any need for the condom. But he doesn't, he stays there against the pillows while Oz slips it on. Just watching as jeans are shucked, latex rolled over long, thin cock that juts darkly in the moonlight from the wide open window, or maybe from Oz' eyes.
Hands against that cock, graceful, strange. Then, suddenly, through the fabric of his shorts, against his own. Blankets kicked away, and looking down at guitar player's hands, like Lindsey's hands. Just like he'd looked down at all that time before Darla, and all those times she was there but not, out chasing her past as hard as he was running from his own. Not his hands, though. Not his because his mismatched ones, the ones only he can see don't match, are in Oz' hair. Soft tufts of red tickling his nose with the wolf-scent, tickling his fingers with smoothness while Oz is busy pulling his shorts down and tickling other things.
Christ, it's too fast, hot skin on his hot skin, and he shudders. He can't come now, he'll look like a fool. Bouncy puppy. Come now and he's got nothing for Oz but a place to put it.
It's okay. Oz holds him tightly, and he's not coming or going anywhere, except heels over head. Legs bent up, pushed so far back he half believes his knees are hitting the headboard, left to hold them there himself as Oz reaches down, and Christ... again. Lindsey doesn't ask, doesn't have the breath to ask, assumes it came from his pockets and is glad Oz thought to pack that up when he left his van, because he needs it. Definitely needs it as slippery fingers stretch him in ways he hasn't been stretched often enough not to need it.
It's sudden, and he's thankful for that. No warning when fingers are replaced by cock, just the wider stretch and tiny flicker of sick ohmygod and then in. Deep in, his body shaking against the pillows.
Oz is looking at him now, which he thinks might be embarrassing if the lights were on, and Lindsey tries not to wonder how much better those silvered eyes can see him, than he can see in the dark. Oz is... bringing his face close and lips on his and kissing. Pressed close with this man inside him and lips and what was that about bodily fluids? But he's not biting, just lips sliding against Lindsey's and tongue, and if this taste is wolf, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Sweet wolf, spicy and sharp in his mouth, and a soft thrust against him that makes him see things in Oz' eyes. Silver sparks, the light wavering.
Thrust again and again, and the silver is inside Lindsey's eyes. Given to him, lighting up his head and the room and just everything. When you have nothing... when you have nothing you can't pass it on like this, filling somebody up until he screams, growls, scrabbles at your back. Draws you closer and begs you to scrape your teeth over his nipple, just a little. Just a little isn't a bite. Oz has everything, and he's giving it to Lindsey, in this dark motel room that he can't even afford to pay for. Giving Lindsey exploding pleasure in his head, in his belly, shooting from his cock to warm the space between their skins, and the gift of *not* biting him.
Oz pulling his mouth away from Lindsey's skin, as he comes, and howls, loud enough to be heard back in that truck stop, probably. Loud enough to be heard two days ago, if Lindsey had been listening.
He waits until Oz has fallen asleep beside him, to get up. Thanks god that Oz isn't a cuddler, that there are no arms to disentangle from his, that it doesn't wake Oz when Lindsey rolls away and stands up. Staring at him in the moonlight.
He's naked, blankets and sheets pulled from him. The moon behind Lindsey now, he can see every inch of Oz. White muscles in repose, not so easy to see in t-shirts, but here, laid bare: he'd be stronger than he looked even if he weren't made of magic. Hair tangled and scrunched and looking no different than it will when he walks out the door in the morning. Cock no longer dark with blood, but soft against a shock of bright red almost-fur. Sleeping as deeply as its owner, resting on the pillow of a pale thigh.
Oz is naked before him, and Lindsey knows he wouldn't care. It's that easy for him. To give that up, give away everything he has, because Oz is just like that. What he is, he is. What he can, he shares. His thoughts, his music, his body. He's not worried about losing anything, because he carries it with him.
Lindsey gets that.
He gets it, and it makes him pack faster. Grab his pants and his bag and god, yes, the guitar case, he's not leaving that. Keys on the table and don't let them jingle. Please god, don't let them jingle. Don't let the door creak, don't let the draft of cold air across his skin wake Oz up.
Don't let Lindsey turn back around and look at him. If he looks, he won't leave. Ever.
He doesn't look. He's out into the cold and the wind is at him and it's *snowing* and he hates the fucking midwest. But the truck starts first time, miracle he hadn't even asked for, and he's free. Out of that parking lot and back onto the highway, and headed anywhere but nowhere special. Anywhere but here.
Oz says: A naked man never has to worry about pickpockets.
Lindsey says: when you've got nothing, you fight like a bastard to keep it, 'cause nothing's worth fighting for, when it's all you've got.
He's fifty miles away and squinting into the snowstorm, before he admits he still has Oz' guitar. Propped against his own in the passenger seat, because Oz always left it in the truck.
He doesn't turn around. He knows Oz won't mind.