Notes: This one is for Sharon, who requested it a while back. I finally wrote it!! And for my sister, who once she heard the idea never ceased to bother me about it ^^;;


Road to Nowhere
by Cheeseburger of Doom


After checking his ticket, he saw that he would be seated next to a guy who looked about the same age as he was. Shishido had been hoping that the train would be mostly empty, so he could sit by himself and brood. His luck just hadn't been that good lately, though. He would have to settle for sitting next to some stranger and brooding, instead.

Shishido didn't have any luggage to stow away, so he just sat down. The other boy looked up, briefly, and then went back to reading his book. Shishido tried to see the title, but that would have required moving closer and actually sticking his head under the cover, which would be a little obvious. He was curious, but not curious enough to make the guy think he was crazy or something.

Shishido had wanted to spend the ride by himself, but now that he was sitting with someone, he found the silence uncomfortable. In retrospect, he should have brought his own book, or a magazine, or something. Maybe he should have gone home to pack first; that would have made more sense, considering he wasn't planning ever to go back. He'd just have to start over; get a job somewhere, and start supporting himself. At least that way he'd be doing something with his life.

Shishido's seatmate looked up at him again. Shishido realized too late that he'd been staring. Well, what else was he going to do.

"Where are you headed?" the guy asked.

Shishido didn't really want to answer that question, but the awkward silence was too much. He had to do something, or he was going to go stir crazy. "I have no idea. You?"

"Anywhere but here."

"I agree."

So, Shishido wasn't the only one who wanted to get away from everything. There were probably many other teenagers out there feeling as useless as he was; but most of them didn't just hop on a train on the road to nowhere.

"Kajimoto Takahisa."

"What?"

"My name."

"Shishido Ryou. What are you reading?"

Kajimoto looked down at the book. "Something science fiction. It's very bad."

"Why are you reading it, then?"

"I want to know the ending."

"Oh."

The conversation was getting nowhere fast. Shishido looked out the window, and watched life pass him by, just like he'd been doing for the past few months. He hated feeling useless; he hated the way things had been going lately, and sometimes all he really wanted was to hit the rewind button, and go back to when he'd actually been able to have some fun -- but that wasn't really possible.

Which was why he was running away.

He wondered where Kajimoto was going. From the sounds of it, he was also trying to get away from something; he didn't seem to have any clear destination in mind. Maybe they had something in common; how could he ask a question like that without sounding like a jerk? "Do you feel like a worthless piece of crap?" probably wouldn't sound all that great to someone who didn't know what he was talking about. Maybe he could ask if he worded it differently, but how else could he phrase it?

"Why are you running away?" Kajimoto asked, as if he could read Shishido's mind. In fact, Shishido was worried that he had for a moment; and if he could read minds, then what would he think of Shishido's thoughts that he was rather good-looking, and -- but no, he couldn't have read Shishido's mind, he was just curious.

"Life hasn't been going so well," Shishido replied. He didn't really want to go into details, because it would probably sound stupid and petty. What if Kajimoto had real problems that he was running away from? He would think that Shishido was so immature.

Even if he was immature, he didn't need other people to know that.

"Does life ever go well for anyone?"

"I think it goes well for some people. It used to go just fine for me, until recently."

"That must have been nice."

"It was."

Shishido stared at his hands for a while, and noticed for the first time that his lifeline was very short. That definitely did not make his mood any better.

"You don't have any luggage."

"What?"

"You didn't bring any luggage."

"It was a spur of the moment decision. I was walking past the station, and decided to get the hell away," Shishido said. "I didn't think about going back for luggage."

"I've been planning this trip for ages, but I still don't know where I'm going. Maybe to stay with my aunt."

"Why are you running?" Shishido asked. Kajimoto had asked him first, so it wasn't a rude question anymore.

"I'm tired of going home and finding my mother passed out on the floor because she drank too much. I'm sure she misses my father, but he's been gone for five years already."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"He didn't die, he left us."

"Oh."

"I think that might be even worse, since it was a conscious decision."

"Yeah."

"It's pretty easy to talk about this to a stranger," Kajimoto said. "Do you think I'm terrible for abandoning her?"

"Not really. If she's been drinking all this time, then she abandoned you first, right?"

"Yeah."

Shishido decided to tell Kajimoto his own troubles. Even if they did sound lame in comparison, it was only fair, since Kajimoto had spilled his guts.

"I don't know what to do anymore," he said. "I didn't make the regulars on my tennis team this year, even though I thought I definitely would. I guess just because I was good in junior high doesn't mean I compare with everyone in the world."

"I quit tennis after junior high."

"You played?"

"At Johsei Shounan."

"Were you the buchou?" Shishido thought he might vaguely remember this guy, now.

"Yeah, I was."

"I think I remember."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"So, you're running away because you didn't make the tennis team?"

Shishido winced. When put like that, it sounded so pathetic, but he didn't think that Kajimoto meant it in a bad way; he was just asking. "Mostly, but there are other things too. I was a pretty big jerk in junior high and I had a bunch of jerk friends, but after I got a clue, I stopped hanging around with them. There was this one guy I got close to, because he was my doubles partner, but we drifted last year since he wasn't in high school yet. He came to my school this year, but -- he doesn't really need me anymore."

Ohtori seemed to be getting along rather well with Hiyoshi -- which meant that Shishido's hopes of becoming more than friends were next to nothing. He'd only realized just how much he'd missed Ohtori when he saw his face again. He should have kept in touch, but he hadn't, and now it was too late.

"You're feeling lonely, then."

"A little. I could probably try and make more friends, but it seems like too much trouble."

"I've never had many friends, for that same reason."

"Haven't you been lonely?"

"Always."

"Oh."

Kajimoto looked out the window. "Where will you get off?"

"I don't know. I haven't actually thought about it yet."

"Do you want to get off with me?"

Shishido was about to refuse, but then he thought, why not? He and Kajimoto seemed to have a lot in common. At least he would have some company while he was stranded in the middle of nowhere.

"Sure," he said.

Kajimoto smiled. "Pick a number."

"A number?"

"Yes, any number. Well, a relatively small one."

"Seven."

"We'll get off at the seventh stop then."

"Okay."

"Would you like something to read?"

"Do you have anything that isn't bad?"

"I think I might."

"Then sure, I wouldn't mind."

Kajimoto rummaged around in his bag, and tossed Shishido a novel. Shishido had never been all that big on reading, but he really had nothing better to do at that point. Maybe he would find something better to do after seven stops.

*

They wandered about in the city they'd arrived in, and tried to find ways to pass the time. Shishido had no idea how long they were going to stay there, but he found that it was better to just not think about it. It was easier to enjoy himself, and his newfound freedom, that way.

They ate lunch at a little café, and though there wasn't very much conversation, it was good company. They looked in several different shops; and they both stopped and stared into the window of the sports shop.

"Do you miss playing tennis?" Shishido asked.

"I play for fun, sometimes, so not really."

"I liked the competition. Winning was everything. I'm a loser, now."

"Not a loser," Kajimoto said. "I think you might just be a quitter, though."

"Yeah, that might be true."

Shishido didn't have much money on him, which he realized (much too late) was going to be a problem, eventually. He would have to make it last until he could find that job, or whatever.

It was getting late, though, and he wasn't sure if he even had enough money for a hotel. He didn't want to say anything about it to Kajimoto, though. He still felt like a huge moron for not bringing anything he'd need; he just hadn't thought about it.

"Let's stay here for tonight," Kajimoto said, stopping at a hotel. Shishido wondered once more if the guy was a mind-reader; his timing was uncanny. Well, he was probably tired, too.

This was a moment he hadn't been particularly looking forward to, however. "I don't have enough money."

"I have enough for both of us," Kajimoto said. "I've been working part-time, and saving."

"I don't want to make you go broke --"

"Just for tonight, it'll be fine," Kajimoto said. "We'll think of what to do in the morning."

Shishido didn't really want to argue any further; he wanted a bed to sleep in, and a shower for the morning. He was probably too used to the comforts of home. This running away thing had its downsides. Still, it was nice to be far away from all his troubles; somewhere he didn't have to face any of them.

*

They ordered room service for dinner, even though it was expensive. Shishido helped to pay for that, at least, and felt a little better.

He watched some TV while Kajimoto sat at the desk and read his book.

"You said that book was bad."

"It is."

"You want to know the ending that much?"

"I hate starting a book and not finishing, even if it's bad."

"Most of the time I don't bother to even start, so I don't really get it," Shishido admitted.

"Not everyone likes to read."

"True enough."

All that seemed to be on TV were documentaries and really bad romance movies. He finally settled on a documentary about the life of a sea snail; fascinating stuff, really. Before he knew it, he was asleep.

When he woke up, he could feel someone sleeping next to him. He panicked for a moment, until the day's events came back to him. He got up to go to the bathroom, and when he came back, Kajimoto was sitting up.

"Did I wake you?"

"I couldn't sleep anyway," he admitted.

Shishido crawled back into the bed and sat beside him. It was a strange situation, but everything about that day had been strange, anyway. It didn't matter if it got any weirder -- could it get any weirder?

"What was that guy to you?"

"Which guy?" Shishido wondered if Kajimoto made a habit of asking random questions like that.

"The one you said you got close to, but doesn't need you anymore. What was he to you?"

Shishido felt his face getting hot. He was just glad that it was dark in the room.

"A friend," he said.

"That's all?"

"What kind of a question is that?"

"I just wondered. It doesn't really matter."

"That kind of thing doesn't bother you?"

"No, not really. I just wondered if it bothered you."

"It doesn't."

Shishido shouldn't have bothered wondering if things could get any weirder; they just had. He was definitely feeling uncomfortable at this point, sitting next to this guy in a bed in a hotel, after running away together -- well, then maybe what he could sense was about to happen was inevitable.

"Shishido --"

"Call me Ryou, all right? Especially if you're going to fuck me."

That got a chuckle out of Kajimoto. "All right then, Ryou."

*

Shishido didn't really want to move, even though when he cracked open one eyelid, he could tell it was morning. He was sore, and he hurt -- well, in embarrassing ways. In fact, he was just plain embarrassed after what had happened last night. He didn't really regret it though.

"Are you awake, Ryou?"

"Yeah. Unfortunately."

Kajimoto laughed. "Do you want to go anywhere today?"

"We could just wander again."

"If that's what you want to do."

"Yeah."

They got up and dressed, and checked out of the hotel. They wandered around the city again for most of the day. They went to a movie; it wasn't a very good one, but it was good enough to entertain them for a while.

It was starting to get dark again when Shishido's conscience returned. They couldn't keep doing this; they had to figure something out. They couldn't keep wandering aimlessly because they were going to run out of money, eventually. And even though his problems were far away, they still existed -- running still hadn't solved any of them. He still felt pretty worthless, and doing nothing wasn't going to make that any better.

"I was thinking about going home," Kajimoto said, digging into Shishido's thoughts once again. "I can't stay in hiding forever, even though it would be nice to keep on doing this."

"I was just thinking the same thing," Shishido said.

"I just don't want to have to face my drunken mother again."

"You can come to my place whenever things get really bad," Shishido said. "My mom will make you dinner. Or whatever."

Kajimoto smiled. "I might take you up on that offer."

"You'd better."

"You can call me whoever you feel lonely," Kajimoto said. "We can do something."

"Like have sex?"

"I was thinking more along the lines of going to a movie or something, but that also works."

"Maybe we should play tennis sometime," Shishido said. "You can help me improve so I can make it on the team next year."

"Sure. I'd be glad to help you."

"I still don't know where I'm going, though," Shishido said. "I just feel like life is one big road to nowhere."

"Well, maybe it is," Kajimoto said, "But we can go nowhere together, right?"

"Yeah. That sounds okay."

They went and bought their train tickets. That cleaned out Shishido's money; maybe it was a good thing that they'd come to that decision. This time he sat beside Kajimoto instead of across from him; he fell asleep with his head in Kajimoto's lap. Kajimoto would wake him when their stop came -- since they had a destination in mind, this time.

*

"Where have you been?" Shishido's mother demanded.

"I'm sorry, Mom," he said, and he really was. He should have at least left her a note; after all, his mother loved him very much. He felt much more grateful for her, after having heard Kajimoto's story.

"That doesn't answer my question, Ryou."

"I took a trip," he said.

"Next time you want to take a little trip without telling anyone, don't," his mother said. "I was so worried about you!"

"Thanks, Mom."

"Don't try to get out of trouble by sucking up to me, young man."

Shishido couldn't help himself; he had to laugh. His mother did not look very amused, so he retreated to his room.

Life was pretty useless sometimes, but there were some things that were worth living for. He dialed Kajimoto's number on his phone, and waited for him to pick up.

"Hello?"

"Do you miss me yet?" Shishido asked.

"It's been a half hour."

"Yeah, I know. How's your mom?"

"Drunk," Kajimoto replied. "I was expecting that, though. I think it will be okay."

He didn't say it, but Shishido had the strangest feeling that Kajimoto wanted to add, "As long as you're around". Maybe he was getting psychic, too.

"I think it will," Shishido said. "I'll be here whenever you need to come over."

"Thank you."

Maybe Shishido would be a bit of a loner at school, but he would have someone to talk to after school, now. He and Kajimoto could get together sometimes, and do whatever to pass the time. (Making out was always a good option. They'd had a rather extended goodbye kiss while hiding behind a dumpster, just before they'd parted ways that afternoon. It had left Shishido a little unsatisfied, but pretty content just the same. Next time they would have to do more. But not behind a dumpster. Dumpsters tended to smell like -- well, like garbage.)

"Good night," Shishido said. It was getting late, and he was tired. At least he'd get sleep tonight, though that didn't sound nearly as good as what he'd been doing last night -- well, there would be more of that, other times.

"Good night, Ryou."

Shishido's grin refused to leave his face, even after he fell asleep.




The End

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