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The Last Bus There Is

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He should’ve figured this, that all those lost will converge at the bus station, and that the buses will be late, and that there’s wind too sharp for breeze, no stars, his lighter’s shit and he can’t even get his cigarette going under this weak-ass moon.

He’s finished the hot, noiseless weeping that pushed him through the walk here. He’s not going to start again. A car door slams and his fists clench without a thought, head ducked and knees loose and ready before he hears, “Shakespeare!”

Here he is, lanky and ruddy, fishing in his pocket for his lighter and tossing it to Tom, who almost fumbles it. He’s shaking when he lights, when he inhales. Shaking when he holds it up to Jim, in the split second before, when he knows their hands will clash and turn, holding on for fuck knows what. It’s dark, it’s late, it’s fucking lonely and each lets the other pull him in. Tom’s lips are cold and Jim’s face is hot under his hands and someone’s saying please in their mouths, please and yes and the start of something else, maybe, when the clouds shift and they part. Awkward steps, hands in pockets, lips and eyes shining as Jim says, “So — where you off to?”

Tom pulls out his ticket and Jim reads, says they don’t have ships there like nobody’d know without his telling them, and when Tom shrugs and says that yeah, but that was the next bus, Jim doesn’t laugh at him at all. He shrugs out of his coat, holds it out for Tom, who’d run without his and even now can’t feel the chill properly. The fit’s ridiculous, baggy and louche. Betty looks askance at him when the bus arrives and she climbs down to Jim and they wave him up the stairs. Ridiculous, the way it folds around him like a blanket when he leans against the window and ridiculous, how he didn’t check the pockets until they were an hour out of town, his finger caught on broken glass and nothing for it but hold it, bleeding, in his mouth.