Slow and smooth, the car pulls into the shadow under the bridge. They're as far into the middle of nowhere as they can reasonably get--far enough to be the empty side of LA; not so far there aren't several exit strategies--and Standard's still bleeding into the back seat's interior. He peers out the window anyway.
"Empty spaces--we can see anyone coming," he says, glancing back out. He licks his lips--dry, they're so dry; his body is panicking already and not doing little tiny stupid totally essential things like hydrating--and asks, tentative, "Can they see us?"
"No," comes the reply, "Not for another hour or so. The sun has to move."
Shadows were handy, then, Standard figured.
Where the fuck had this guy been before Standard got caught? Then maybe he never would have done time in the first place.
Oh, well. You lived, you learned. Or you died, maybe, in the backseat of a Chevy Impala, which was, in Standard's opinion, slightly worse than dying in the backseat of a 1973 Chevy Malibu, not that he was a huge car guy or anything.
"Man," Standard says, and then he can't think of what was supposed to come after that. He feels pretty light headed, even if he was lucky that the bullet didn't seem to hit anything too important. Thing is, though, Standard thinks, is that it's his body, the only one he's got, and so all of it is pretty damn important. Focus, though, he's gotta focus. His fingers are wet. Bloody. His shoulder hurts like the bitchiest goddamn bitch in the world.
"I'm leaving hand prints all over," he tells the front of the car, sort of generally, "That. That's not good for a getaway car."
Driver's seat boy turns around, twisting to look at him properly.
"Hey," he says, softly.
"Hey you, Blue Eyes," Standard says, tilting his head up, "Next time you go all superhero on my ass, think you could save me without running me over?"
"I didn't run you over," Blue Eyes says patiently.
"No, just clipped me, just tapped me, yeah, just a little baby push on the swings," Standard sighs, "It's just my hips, internal organs, who gives a shit, right? Nevermind. Better than a second bullet."
"We have to do something about that first one," is the reply, still soft. His eyes flicker down to Standard's fingers.
"You got, like, a mob doctor on speed dial, anything?" Standard grunts, shifts positions. "'Cause, fly boy, I sure as fuck don't."
"You're not bleeding that much--"
"--so the bullet missed all your major arteries," he finishes, before looking Standard right in the eyes. He speaks more slowly, as if he thinks Standard isn't paying attention. "It hasn't been too long. If you tell me where to go, I can get us there. There's still time. You can make it."
"Where to go?" Standard says, faintly. "What, you think I was kidding when I said I didn't have a mob doctor, what?"
"You've got to have contacts--"
"Contacts! Yeah, yeah." Standard licks his lips again. They feel kind of raw. The constant licking isn't doing anything but making them more chapped. "I got contacts. Oh, wait, no, I fucking don't. I had contacts, and then..."
There's a quiet moment. No frustrated sigh, no gritted teeth, just: quiet.
"We've got to find out how far this thing goes," he says, "But there has to be somewhere to go. We get you help, we go get Irene, we keep you guys out of sight while I figure some things out."
"Irene," Standard says, "Irene, Irene, Irene. You could just--you could just be waiting for me to die, man, so you can go back to her." Standard shivers. His arms, even to his own eyes, look pale, so he stops looking at them, deciding to stare at the man across from him instead.
For once, Standard thinks, fly boy looks shocked.
"I would never," he says, and those blue eyes are just the smallest bit wider than usual.
"No," Standard says, deflated, before the other guy can go on, "No, you wouldn't. I'm sorry I said that. I'm sorry."
"I'll take you to--" he blinks, and doesn't say Shannon's name as he turns back around, facing the wheel, "--I'll take you somewhere. But we can't stay there."
"You do know a mob doctor," Standard says, faintly accusing.
"I know a guy who might know a guy," is the only explanation.
"Cabrón," Standard swears, "Get the fuck back here; I want an audience when I'm dying."
"You're not dying," he says quietly, but swiftly, and he turns back around.
There's a soft little downwards turn, at the end of his mouth. Standard feels special. A facial expression, like that, just for him? No, it's for Irene. He knows that.
"How do you know?" Standard asks, and there's some honest curiosity in that question. "You a doctor or some shit now, too?"
"You're not," is the only answer. A beat, and then, "Can we drive now?"
"Since when do I call the shots on driving? Aren't you the driver?" Standard asks, voice breaking somewhere in the middle. He coughs. Maybe the car bumper did something to his lungs after all.
Fucking Chevy Impala.
"I am," he agrees, something warm slipping into his tone, "I'm just checking to see if you're done dying yet."
"Where'd you learn how to drive, anyway?"
"Where'd you learn how to--aw, fuck it. Forget it." Standard slumps in the seat.
"Ask what you really wanna ask," the driver says, "So I can answer, and we can drive."
"Always with the cars, you, the cars," Standard says, but he's gnawing at his lip again and looking far away. Precious seconds tick by. The shadow of the bridge has moved a little from when they first pulled in.
"You ever hit a girl?" Standard asks finally, so quietly they can barely hear it.
"You saw," is the short reply.
"Besides that, I mean, had you--had you ever hit a woman before?"
He sounds almost wary. If Standard wasn't so freaked out, he'd feel bad for the guy.
"Because you--! Jueputa, you just knocked her one and you knocked her good and she was fuckin' terrified, man. That shit ain't easy. Doesn't come natural."
"Lotta people say the same thing about driving, but..." Chevy Impala boy shrugs.
"Yeah, yeah, you had a race car in the womb. Was it the first time you hit a woman, really?"
"It wasn't the first time I hit someone," he says, "But it was the first time I hit someone like that."
"It don't matter to you?" Standard asks, but his incredulity is fading fast. "I mean, she was a good looking lady. That doesn't make a difference to you?"
"She set you up, what did you want me to do? You would have been dead, we all were supposed to be dead--"
"Stop it, stop it!" Standard makes a face. "Got it. You had to, you had to, right. It's not that I'm not grateful, exactly." Fuck, but... Standard bites his lip again, says in a smaller voice, "It didn't matter, did it? You didn't see her. She wasn't beautiful to you."
"But Irene," Standard says quietly, leaning forward, "Irene's beautiful to you."
Standard waits a long time.
Shadows shift, too slow to be seen.
Blood turns sticky.
"Yes," is the eventual whisper.
"Well, yeah, to me, too," Standard says, "But you knew that." He pauses. "But I knew your answer too, so."
"What about Blanche? Was she--"
"Was she my thing?" Standard asks. "Me? Nah." He pushes himself forward more; it hurts, but fuck it. "Me, I always had a thing for blonds."
The kiss is more than a little desperate, and it's kind of clumsy, and Standard can taste his own blood. It's sort of all he can taste, for a moment, but Standard's actually a pretty patient man, bleeding shoulder wound and all--
The mouth under his shifts, and there's a sudden soft, wounded sound.
Standard lets him go.
"Irene," is the only thing he says. He's got Standard's blood on his lips.
"There isn't a damn thing we can do between us," Standard says, "That would stop either of us going back to her in a heartbeat." He's been thinking about that lately. It's pretty obvious.
"That doesn't mean we can just..." He looks upset. Honestly troubled. If Standard had time to spare, he'd think the worried young man face was hilarious. It's funny because it's true. The best jokes always are. Worst ones, too.
"No, man, look, okay. I got it figured out, all right?" Standard's voice goes all low and urgent. "I seen the way you look at her, right? And the way she looks at you. And I know how she looks at me. And I know that you just put a hell of a lot on the line to save my ass just now, even if you thought at first you were doing this for her. So."
"You love me," Standard says, simply, "You love me because you love her and she loves me and you love her too much to think she could be wrong about anything." Deep breath. Here comes the hard part--except it's all been hard parts-- "We're in the same place. I want her. She wants you. I want you, too."
And maybe it's a little more complicated than that for him, something about the things he's seen recently, but Standard's trying to keep this short. He's been shot, after all.
"I think that's the first time I've heard you curse, good job," Standard says quickly, "Look, just, okay. I'm scared and I'm dying and I need you to get back here and kiss me for fucking real so I have something to hold onto until we get to your fucking mob doctor or whatever bullshit."
He's hardly done talking before there's a mouth on his, hard and wet, tongue pressing in swiftly.
It's almost like he's scared, and that thought makes Standard terrified.
And, wow, he's been terrified a lot in the past two hours or whatever, but this time terror goes straight to his dick.
He wonders if his beard is scratchy. If he survives this, they're gonna have to go on the run. He's probably gonna have to shave. Damn. He likes his beard.
Standard squeezes his eyes closed and locks his good arm around those board shoulders, and kisses for all he's fucking worth and then some.
By the time they pull apart, they're both panting. Standard sees his own surprise reflecting back at him in those blue eyes, but he feels like his are reflecting a similar thing. His gaze flickers down to thin lips. He doesn't really remember biting, but he must have.
"Okay, Blondie," he says, releasing a big breath into the new, thick tension in the car, "Now you can drive."
"Blondie? Are you serious?" There's a scoff, but he turns around in his seat, flicks the car keys.
"Yeah, man. It's your new name."
"Really," Blondie says dryly, "So what do I tell anyone who stops and asks what your name is?"
Standard's been ready for this.
"Deluxe," he says, promptly. He licks his lips again, but this time to taste--he imagines motor oil, gasoline. "Now drive, Blondie, drive."
He quirks his lips and shakes his head, but he drives.