take this burden - part 13
[ fool for love - lord huron ]
‘Just wait until I catch my breath.’
He Tian and Mo Guan Shan woke up around ten.
The atmosphere in the room was odd.
Not bad, just…odd.
They both packed a change of clothes and the food Jian Yi had put together for them last night.
They’d decided to take He Tian’s car.
Walking through the parking lot, He Tian checked maps on his phone.
‘GPS says this is a 16 hour drive, not 12.’
‘Not when I’m driving, it’s not.’
He Tian blinked at him, surprised.
‘Oh, so you’re driving, huh?’
Mo Guan Shan raised an eyebrow, holding his hand out for the keys.
The dark haired man smirked, tossing him the keys, curious as to how this would go.
Jian Yi and Zhan Zhengxi watched from the balcony a few stories up.
‘Twenty bucks says they kill each other.’ Zhengxi quipped as they watched He Tian relinquish the keys to his beloved car.
‘I’ll take that bet.’
To say they drove in silence would carry a negative connotation.
He Tian, in another surprising act, had handed over the auxiliary cord for Mo Guan Shan to play his music.
He sat back and listened.
He remembered, years ago, Jian Yi telling him that if you care for someone, listen to their music.
Put your phone down, clear your mind, and listen.
He’d never heard most of the songs Mo Guan Shan played.
His playlist seamlessly flowed from song to song, each making him wonder what they made the man feel.
Mo Guan Shan drove like a maniac, weaving fluidly through the traffic of overwhelmed tourists.
They made record time out of the city, quickly reaching the, seemingly endless, expanse of desert.
It was a nice day.
One of the three of four they’d get that year, so they drove with the windows down.
After about an hour, He Tian turned the music up to hear over the wind and Mo Guan Shan seemed to remember he was in the car.
‘I’m sorry, do you want to play something?’ He asked, reaching to remove the jack from his phone.
‘No. I like this.’
Mo Guan Shan eyed him skeptically.
He Tian responded by turning the music up further, drowning out his possible protests.
Another hour passed.
Mo Guan Shan turned the music down.
‘Do you want to talk, or…’
Reading the atmosphere in the car, He Tian simply turned it back up.
They exchanged a small smile and continued on.
Two hours later, Mo Guan Shan pulled into one of the gas stations that quickly became few and far between.
He Tian stepped out, being closer to the pump, swiped his card and entered the necessary information before Mo Guan Shan exited the vehicle.
‘Need anything from inside?’ He Tian asked.
The other man shook his head.
He Tian bought a few soft drinks, not knowing Mo Guan Shan’s preferences.
He slid back into the car.
Mo Guan Shan, already in the driver’s seat, handed him the cord, more insistent this time.
He Tian took it, carefully choosing a playlist as Mo Guan Shan gratefully accepted a drink.
They were both silently content with the relatively comfortable silence.
The sun began to set.
They’d been in the car for nine hours.
‘We should find a hotel for the night.’ He Tian suggested.
‘I’m fine to drive.’
‘What’s the hurry?’
Mo Guan Shan contemplated that.
‘I suppose there isn’t one.’
He Tian searched nearby hotels on his phone and directed Mo Guan Shan to a place in the closest cities.
They pulled up in front of the hotel where a valet stood at the entrance to take their car.
Mo Guan Shan’s eyes widened.
‘I can’t afford to stay here, dude.’
‘I can, and I’d be getting the same kind of room regardless.’
‘I can’t let you pay for everything like this.’
‘Sure you can.’
Mo Guan Shan parked and He Tian pulled the keys from the ignition, exiting the car and handing them to the kid, slipping him a few bills in the unspoken agreement to find him a good spot.
Mo Guan Shan followed him inside helplessly, standing behind him uncomfortably as he checked them in, assuring the girl behind the counter that two double beds was fine.
They took the elevator to the top floor in silence.
He Tian let them in, dropping his bag on one of the beds and rooting through the mini fridge.
Mo Guan Shan did the same, sitting down next to his.
‘When you said you’d come along, I didn’t expect…’
He Tian dug in his bag, shaking his head and making his way to the sliding door that led to the balcony, gesturing for Mo Guan Shan to follow.
He handed Mo Guan Shan a beer and offered him a cigarette.
He took them both with a murmur of thanks.
‘Mo Guan Shan…’ He Tian started, lighting their cigarettes in turn.
‘I have plenty of money, and I’ve spent the last few years painfully bored.’
‘The last few days with you have been anything boring. You could have rented a car, driven through the night, uand ended up at your parents house.’
‘OR we could’ve taken my car and stayed the night in a nice hotel with room service and a pool.’
Mo Guan Shan looked at him expectantly.
‘Do your parents know you’re coming?’
He’d completely forgotten to call them, he realized.
‘So, let’s get drunk, go for a swim, order breakfast in the morning, and go from there.’
‘I didn’t bring a swimsuit.’ Was the only argument Mo Guan Shan could come up with.
‘Neither did I.’