Ethan Martin was two things indefinitely; skeptical and a taxi cab driver. He wasn't really proud of the last one, obviously. He knew ghosts didn't exist, what made you see the light before you died, and he knew that it was impossible that the Chupacabra existed and it was just wolves and things eating those cattle. He didn't believe in many paranormal things. The idea of Fate was depressing. Soul mates didn't seem like much fun.
And so, life was boring. Very boring. His job was just to transport lazy people and laziness was monotonous. It was also infective. He knew that if he got married and had kids, life would be much more exciting. But the idea of children screaming and throwing temper tantrums didn't seem like fun. Neither did having a nagging wife. It wasn't that commitment was bad. It was just that the thought of stopping his own life and living it the way others would want it didn't seem all that grand in his eyes. He'd simply stick to one night stands, it was much easier.
"Okay, lady, here we go. The total is-hey! Hey! You didn't even freakin' pay!"
He frowned, watching the woman he'd been driving run out into the cold, and he let out a melancholy breath of air. Why did that always happen to him? It could have been because he was never really paying attention but still, it wasn't his job to make people be good citizens. And why did he have to pick up the bad eggs?
And he'd hear it from his pig of a boss too. Especially since it had happened to him three times before in the past two weeks. Life was definitely cruel. He couldn't blame himself when others had tough times; he blamed the universe. It always had it out for people like him.
Starting his taxi cab again, he found himself drifting into thought. He hated when that happened. It always made him think of bad things. Or at least things he didn't want to think about. Such as how it was all his fault that he was stuck being so cab driver. He had been too lazy. He had thought video games were funner than books that were necessary for getting somewhere in life. And yet his dream had been to become a scientist. But he hadn't really cared or thought of the future. The future had seemed so far away. Or maybe he had wished it was far away, he didn't know. It had come and had knocked him on his ass.
He was reminded then when he heard 'taxi' that he was driving one and that he was supposed to be picking people up. Maybe that was another reason his boss didn't like him, he thought to himself, looking for who had called him. And when he did find who had called him, he knew he was definitely going to pick this person up. Definitely.
He couldn't say for sure if this person was a man or a woman, they had so many clothes on that he couldn't tell. Not to mention the weird goggles they had on and the winter hat covering their hair. He couldn't even tell what they looked like, really. He was taking a guess it had to be male because of the height. He pulled over, offering a smile. And to his shock, the person (man?) got into the front seat with him.
"Um, most don't get into the front seat," Ethan said, feeling a bit odd yet strangely curious. If they dressed like that, who knew how they spoke or what they talked about? He knew it had to be interesting.
"Oh. Is it against the rules, then?" It was definitely a male. He had a deeper voice than a woman usually had. He didn't speak like a guy, though, Ethan noted. He spoke more like some poet or writer or something. Definitely not somebody to go drink a beer with. The kind of guy who'd ask for something fruity and with some complicated name. And he wasn't even looking at him. It seemed kind of rude.
"No, not really a bad thing to do," Ethan replied, trying to choose his words carefully. "Just different is all."
"Is different bad?" He still wasn't looking at him.
"Not really." He sighed and changed the subject. "Where do you want me to take you?" Other cars were honking at him since he hadn't moved yet.
And finally, when the guy looked at him, he seemed to freeze. Well, Ethan couldn't tell very well, since he still had those stupid goggles on but his body definitely froze. It was odd but then again, everything about this guy was odd. He coughed, getting the man's attention and he smiled.
"Sorry, I got dazed a little, what did you say?"
Ethan gave an annoyed sigh. He would have glared but his boss always bitched about being nice to the customers. "I asked you where you wanted to go. You know, since you're in a cab and all, I guessed you had to go somewhere."
To his surprise, the man laughed. It wasn't like a man's laugh, it was like a giggly chuckle and Ethan wondered if this was a man at all. Men didn't laugh like that.
"Smartass," the man said after his laughter quieted. "Sorry. Um, take me to the hospital."
He gave him a strange look but began driving anyway, noticing he wasn't wearing his seat belt. He was supposed to tell him to wear one but he couldn't find it in himself to care. What was the likelihood they'd crash? He was a decent driver.
"So, you look well. Why are you going to the hospital?"
"Business," the strange man answered, looking out the window. He was smiling and Ethan couldn't see why he was. He was so outlandish. The man could have possibly been a murderer. Some nut that broke out of the loony bin. Or he could have been a famous rapist. He was just weird. But weird was interesting and interesting wasn't boring.
He made a turn, coming to a stop light behind a lot of traffic and growled in an exasperated way. He hated waiting.
"You're a doctor? Or a nurse or something?"
The man laughed again in that giggly chuckling way and Ethan had to admit, it was one of those laughs that made you want to laugh even if it was way too feminine for a guy.
"Me? A doctor? No way." He adjusted his goggles and sighed. "Do you always ask everybody this stuff? Or are you just being extra nosy with me because I'm wearing all this?"
Ethan felt a little startled that he had caught on so easily and he smiled and nodded, "You got me. But are you going to answer me?"
"Well, if I give you the truth, you won't believe me. Or you'll think it's a lie and expect me to give you the truth that will just be a lie."
"Wait, what?" He asked, confused. "Are you saying philosophical shit to me? 'Cause I'm not a philosopher and I'm not going to understand a word you say. Just tell me the truth and if I don't believe you then oh well for me, right?"
"You're right. Maybe I should tell you, then."
Why was the light still red? Why were there so many cars? Why was this man wearing so many clothes? Why, why, why.
"Then tell me!" He demanded loudly, making the man jump slightly. "You're stalling."
"Fine, fine. Don't be so pissy," He scratched the corner of his mouth and continued looking out the window. "I'm going to the hospital so I can steal a man's birth documents so he can start a new life because he was a druggy and got into a mess."
Things were silent as Ethan tried to process what had just been said. Drugs, hospital, stealing, documents? All the words came up randomly in his mind before he pieced it all together and began laughing.
"Good one. Trying to play some kind of trivia game with me so I can detect a lie or something? Pick a better lie. That's way too easy."
"See?" He sounded sad and Ethan stopped laughing and looked over at the man just a bit perplexed. Why was he sad? His joke had made him laugh. "I was being completely truthful but you didn't believe me."
His earlier theory on this man possibly being a nut came back to him as he sighed and tried to say in a completely serious tone, "Okay, okay. I can see you're not bullshitting me. So, are you going to bomb the place?" You weren't supposed to anger nuts.
"Yep. I guess you can call me a terrorist, kind of," he answered and Ethan tried hard not to laugh again. Though it was hard because he was weird and he said some freakishly odd things.
"You don't look like a terrorist. Or do terrorists wear all that clothing?"
"You see, that's a problem of yours I'm guessing, you judge. You cannot assume all terrorists are like the ones you hear about. It's like seeing one ugly, bald serial murderer and saying all serial murderers are bald and ugly. Especially since we know that cannot be true. There have been many handsome serial killers. Some with a great head of hair too."
He couldn't help it that time, he laughed. Loudly. This time, the man smiled and so he figured he was okay with his laughter. Maybe he wasn't so moody after all.
"Sorry, sorry," he mockingly apologized. "I will not be bad against your kind if I ever meet a terrorist again. But aren't you going to kidnap me or something for ransom? I mean, you can't get much from me and I'm not sure anybody would pay much but yeah. But don't kill me, okay? I want to live."
The man did that giggle laugh thing and nodded, though still not looking at him and Ethan couldn't figure out why.
"Well, I was going to say you're my hostage next but you're smart enough to figure that out. Congratulations. I mean, I just can't go tell you these things and then expect you to continue your merry little life, possibly ruining my secret, right?"
"Right," Ethan agreed, grinning. "But what are you going to do about ransom? You can't get anything from me."
"You can be my personal chauffer, alright? Drive me places. Sound fair?"
"Good. Now, you better drive. The light turned green almost a minute ago and everybody's honking at us. You should pay more attention."
And actually, there were honking noises and the light was green. He frowned and began his journey again, wondering how he couldn't have noticed something like that. He blamed the psycho in his car. But even so, it was one of the most fascinating talks he'd had in almost his entire life.
The hospital wasn't too far away but it was still somewhat of a distance. They actually didn't talk too much during it. He couldn't think of a single thing to say. He wanted to talk to him. To hear more of what he had to say. He was funny. Even if he was a nut, he didn't seem all that hostile or anything so he couldn't be too bad.
"Is there something you want to say?"
He jumped, looking over at the man next to him before quickly looking at the road ahead of him and gripped the steering wheel tighter, "No. Not really."
"Are you going to miss your life?"
"Why, are you going to kill me?" He was half joking but then who knew what to expect with an insane person? He had a feeling this person wouldn't hurt him but you couldn't always rely on instinct. You had to know facts.
"I won't kill you. I don't like to kill. It's a pretty big sin." He smiled. "I meant, are you going to miss things when I kidnap you? Miss your job? Miss your friends?"
He gave a short laughter and shook his head, "Forgot I was gonna be a hostage. But miss this crappy job? Yeah, haha, sure. I'm going miss my job. My boss is a really sweet man, you know. Yells at me over nothing."
"Yells at you over nothing? You seem like the type who it's easy to get angry at."
Ethan gave him a quick glare and frowned, "I forgot you were a philosopher. You can tell everything about me at just one glance, right?"
"That sounds more like a psychic, don't you think?"
"Both are full of shit," Ethan said, making a turn, they wear near the hospital. "But there wouldn't be much to miss. I don't really have much to miss. You know what I mean?"
"A little. I'm sorry."
"What? What are you sorry about?" he asked, definitely puzzled. There was nothing to be sorry about and he sighed. "Sorry about that whining and moaning? Seriously, we all have our bad deals in life and mine isn't exactly bad. No need to be sorry over something so stupid."
It was odd, definitely odd, but Ethan knew the man was smiling even if his eyes were on the road and the man was still looking out the window. He just knew he was smiling and it felt a little bittersweet when they pulled up to the hospital.
He was insane, Ethan knew that much. Going around, talking about being a terrorist and stealing things from hospitals. It wasn't healthy. There was something wrong with him but he still liked him enough. Even if he wasn't going to see him again, he didn't want him going to an insane asylum and that was definitely where he'd be going if he went in there, claiming to be a terrorist and demanding documents for some made up drug addicted person. He would have rather talked to him about blowing up some country he had never heard of.
"Listen; don't go in there, okay?" Ethan said, his face full of concern. "I can drive you home or to a family member, a friend, anything! I won't even charge you. Just don't go in there."
The strange man had been ready to get out but he slacked, finally looking at him, "Are you worried about me?"
"Well, yeah," Ethan admitted nervously, feeling on the spot because he was looking at him. It felt like there was a spotlight on him. "You seem like a really nice guy. Don't take it too seriously or anything. It's not like I'm sobbing for you or something. I just don't want you to get into any trouble. I'm being like any other good person and worrying for you."
"Thank you," the man said, still smiling. "We're going to be friends, huh?"
"How can we be friends? I'll never see you again."
The man's smile grew bigger and Ethan couldn't understand why, "Remember, you're my hostage?"
"This isn't time for jokes!" Ethan yelled, he felt angry and confused and just a bit scared. "You're going to get taken away to some place for insane people!"
"No, I won't. I've never been caught."
And with that, he ran out of the cab. Ethan had been ready to grab him but had reached air and it stayed there as he watched the 'terrorist' run into the hospital. It dropped onto the seat and he leaned his head against it. Even if the guy needed serious help, he still felt bad. He had liked that guy and maybe he had been right, they could have been friends. He laughed.
Of course one of the first worthwhile people he met had to be a nut. Of course. Life liked to screw with you and make you miserable.
He lifted his head and looked to the entrance, hoping that he'd come out even if he knew it was highly impossible. There were times you had to be optimistic, right? He'd give him at least ten minutes. Just in case he did-
It came from the hospital and his jaw fell open, there was smoke and out was running that strange guy with all the different clothes on. The guy he was sure wasn't going to come back out. The guy he was sure had just been a psycho.
"Hurry! Hurry! Step on it!" He screamed and Ethan followed the directions easily. "Left! Go left! Right! Right! Left! Quicker!" He did everything he said, still trying to make sense of everything in his head. Was this guy really a terrorist? But terrorists weren't like everybody else. They didn't drive in taxis and they didn't seem nice. This guy was nice. Yet he was sure he had just blown up the hospital and that wasn't very nice.
"Faster! The police are chasing us!"
"What the fuck do you mean the police are chasing us!? What the hell is going on!?"
"I'll explain later! Just go!"
Ethan heard what sounded like gunshots and he went faster, never remembering going faster in his life. It was completely terrifying. His blood was pumping through his veins at a chaotic rate and he could feel his heart beating haphazardly. He was sure it was unhealthy. He could remember thinking how boring his life was before but now? Now he was running away from the police with a terrorist in his cab. And there was no way they could get away. It was impossible.
After what seemed like hours, he heard his terrorist companion sigh and relax, "Okay, slow down a bit. We lost them. We got away."
"What!? How could we get away from the police!?" It couldn't be possible. The police wouldn't let something like this happen. "You just blew up a fucking hospital! How in the hell can you get away from the police!?"
"Not an entire hospital, just one section. It wasn't like anybody was hurt and I just stole one document."
He felt like he was in a dream. Like he was going to wake up any moment. Like how you felt after you lost somebody and didn't want to believe it was true. He was starting to regret ever waking up that morning. Or even seeing this 'terrorist'. He was going to die. This guy really was a terrorist. He really had been taken hostage. He felt like running out of the car, trying to get far away from everything.
"Okay, take a right here. We have to get to our hideout."
"Hideout?" Ethan repeated, mostly to himself. He gave a half-hearted, short laugh. His hands were shaking. "Duh, of course. Always need a hideout, huh?"
"Yes, of course," the man answered, smiling and looking at him. Ethan noticed how pale he was. He definitely wasn't one of the stereotypical terrorists he saw on the news, doing suicidal bombings all in the name of some cause that made no sense to him. He noticed randomly the most outer shirt he wore was some college university sweatshirt he didn't know.
"Now take a left here."
Ethan did and noticed that the area they were in was definitely not a safe one. It was what you'd call the ghetto, the slumps, the trash, and the bad place, anything he could come up with that meant shit. It looked abandoned. He felt even more nervous.
"Um, is it okay we're here?"
"It is. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing and besides, if anybody attacks us, I have a gun." He actually took it out, showing it to Ethan who just gulped. "I'm not going to use it on you. I promise on my mother's grave."
"Why do I feel like that doesn't matter much?"
"Well." He laughed, still in that giggly sort of way. What a weirdo. "My mom isn't dead so you're right, it doesn't matter much but I promise on her future grave I'll never harm you."
"You only just had me get into a car chase with the police. Who I'm pretty sure used fucking guns. Nothing dangerous or life threatening about that at all. What would have happened to me if we got caught?"
"Do you want to know?"
He laughed again, "Probably not."
"But I still want to know what's going on. And why the hell I haven't seen your face yet. Don't you think it's rude not to tell your hostage anything?"
"No, I think it's more like following tradition," he answered. "But don't you think it's rude to be cursing the way you are to somebody you just met?"
Ethan grinned. "That is pretty fucking rude."
He couldn't quite figure out why he was joking around with this terrorist, this criminal, because he really should have been scared half out of his mind and while he was still pretty damn uneasy about the whole thing, he just had a feeling he was in no real danger. It was like his instincts were telling him he was okay but, like he always said, you needed facts, not feelings. Feelings were very good manipulators. And not to mention the guy had a gun. That was enough to bring most people to tears.
"Okay, stop at that building," was the man's last instruction, his finger to a rather rundown building with a lot of broken windows. "I probably should warn you, there's more than just me."
He pulled up to it, looking at it with trepidation. "It doesn't seem too safe. And what the hell do you mean by 'more than just me'? I have no idea what's going on and I'm getting pretty freakin' sick of it. I don't know what you look like or your name or anything."
"But isn't it more exciting this way?"
"No," Ethan mumbled irritably. "It's a lot more annoying this way. And just gives off the whole 'I'm an asshole' vibe from you."
"If you want to know so badly, then why are we still in the cab?" He did have a good point and so, Ethan got out of the cab, waiting. The man laughed as he got out too, "And my name is Rayan."
"No. Rayan. Ray-an. Say Ray and then an. Put it together."
"Rayan?" Ethan said to himself, sounding it out and he shrugged. "Weird name."
"Why? Is it because it isn't common like Ethan?" He was teasing, Ethan knew but he felt a little uncomfortable by it because it was like flirting and this person was a guy. And he wasn't gay. It felt strange and just plain creepy.
There was a silence between them for a while as if he, Rayan, had known he'd done something wrong. Ethan found it ironic that something as simple as a tease had brought around the first awkward moment instead of every other bizarre thing that had happened. It was completely stupid.
"So, um, Rayan." It felt weird calling him by his name. Like he'd be 'that weird guy' for the rest of the time he'd know him, calling him Rayan felt unusually personal for a hostage situation. "What exactly is going to happen to me? You say you aren't going to kill me but I still feel just a little weird about all this. I've never been taken hostage before."
"For starters, hostages are usually scared," Rayan said. "So, you're already breaking the rules that never really existed. I'm supposed to demand ransom or some kind of payment. I think I'm supposed to tie you up, too. Do you really want to follow tradition?"
"No, not really," Ethan answered easily, his shoulders slumping from the growing pressure that was about to come. "But I'm kind of stalling things, huh?"
"Yes, you sort of are. But that's okay because if I was in your position, I'd want to stall things as long as I possibly could. But we have to go in, Ethan. And Kale has to hide the cab. We're easy targets. Especially me right now."
"How did you know my name and who the hell is Kale? Isn't that some vegetable?"
Rayan sighed, offering him a strained yet still polite smile, "Your license was pinned up in your cab. I saw your name. And yes, kale is a vegetable but the Kale I am referring to is a man. Now, come on."
He was pulling him by his arm into the building and Ethan tugged it away from him in annoyance and crossed his arms, feeling tense at the setting. It was definitely a sort of apartment building. It smelled like somebody pissed on the walls and he noticed a few dead rats. The whole thing wasn't very pleasant. He felt like he was walking to the gallows or something as morbid. He was confident he could trust Rayan but this guy had just blown up something and had a gun. You couldn't trust somebody like that. It was a simple and cold hard fact.
"Sorry everything is so gross in here," Rayan commented and Ethan could see his hat had slipped off just a little bit showing a tuft of black hair. He subconsciously put a hand to his own black hair and frowned. "We basically got this place from a druggy. It was his until we paid him off. Nobody lived in here except for him and he wasn't really all that sane either. He peed on the walls." That explained a lot. "Not too sure about the dead rats, though. But time to face destiny, Ethan. We're here."
"Destiny? Pfft." They were at a door that had some lock on it, which did seem like something of importance. His heart was pounding chaotically again and he gulped, fisting his hands at his sides. He was usually brave and not scared but he definitely wasn't feeling very courageous at the moment.
Rayan produced a key from one of his many shirts and unlocked the door, opening it in which almost seemed an almost cruelly slow pace.
"Hey, Ray! You're back!"
"Tom, its Rayan. Not Ray," Rayan said, pulling Ethan in, brushing past the tall, blonde man that was standing the doorway. He looked nice, though Ethan knew he couldn't make an opinion off of that. If he was friends with Rayan and lived in this building, then he was most likely a criminal too.
When 'Tom' looked at him, his blue eyes widened a bit and he gave him a strange look, "Um, Ray, this guy-"
"Is my newest hostage," Rayan interrupted. But Ethan wondered what he had been about to say about him. "Tom, meet Ethan. Ethan, meet Tom. The most annoying man you will ever happen to know."
"Hostage?" Tom asked, looking at Ethan and then to Rayan and chuckled. "Kinky, Ray. And if this guy is your new boyfriend, then what the hell are you?"
"Boyfriend!?" Ethan cried out indignantly. "I didn't agree to anything like that!
Rayan seemed amused by his outburst.
"Ohh, sore spot." The blonde man laughed causing Ethan to feel an instant distaste for him. "So, Ray, did you get the documents for the job?"
"Yeah," Rayan said and Ethan was wondering if he'd ever get to know what was going on. "Where's Kale? I have to give them to him and explain Ethan."
Tom frowned, "Don't you want to talk to me? Everybody always goes off to talk to Kale."
"That's because you're an obnoxious ass and Kale's smarter. Now excuse us," Rayan was tugging Ethan away again towards some other door, walking through it. "Ignore him, Ethan. He's a moron but he's a great guy all in all."
He found it hard to think that way when he had been accused of being Rayan's boyfriend by Tom. Even if he was nice, he was obnoxious like Rayan had said.
"So, is this Kale vegetable guy any better?" Ethan asked, letting Rayan lead him to wherever they were going. He was sure he had read somewhere you were never supposed to give into a kidnapper or murderer and you were supposed to fight them. But he couldn't imagine fighting Rayan and he had a gun. It didn't seem like a good idea.
"He might be if you don't call him Kale vegetable guy but other than that, you could definitely say Kale is nothing like Tom."
"Yes, I am nothing like Tom and please do not call me Kale vegetable guy."
Ethan jumped when a man walked in front of them. Now this guy did look like a criminal. He had a sort of glare about him that made you automatically respect him. With his cold, calculating eyes sweeping over him, he smiled and looked to Rayan.
"So, Rayan, I'm guessing your job was successful?"
Rayan smiled and handed him the documents he'd been carrying, "It sure was. And Ethan will be staying with us for the remaining two weeks. He's a taxi cab driver, his cab is outside. We'll have to hide it."
"Of course," Kale agreed, nodding and then looking to Ethan again. "So, Ethan was it?"
Ethan nodded, feeling a tad unnerved by the critical looks he was giving him, "Um, yeah. Ethan Martin." Why had he said his entire name?
"Ethan Martin? I didn't know that was your last name," Rayan commented randomly, seemingly oblivious to the treatment he was getting from Kale.
Kale nodded and then offered Ethan a smile, holding out his hand, "Well, my name is Kale Smith. I hope you don't mind too much if I do a background check on you. After all, this is a very sensitive situation and we wouldn't want you to ruin it. Understood, right?"
Ethan nodded again, looking over at Rayan who offered him a smile.
"Kale, we have things to do before you threaten my hostage anymore," Rayan said, taking Ethan's hand and pulling him away. "I'm going to show him to his room now."
Ethan didn't get a word in edgewise as he was almost dragged up the stairs, trying to say something but nothing came to mind. They stopped for a while and Ethan tried to talk.
But then Rayan was going again before he was brought into a room that was just as abandoned as the rest of the building and he glared at Rayan.
"What the hell do you think you were doing!? I thought I was going to fall down the stairs or something!"
"Sorry," Rayan laughed out, taking his hat off. "But I'm sort of excited, you see?"
Ethan frowned and glared at him, "Do I want to see?"
"No! Not like that!" He was definitely giggling now and the taxi cab driver wanted nothing more to ask him what kind of man giggled. Especially since teenage girls giggled but he held back. "You are wondering what I look like, right?"
"Well, yeah," he answered easily. "Of course I do. Who doesn't want to see their captor or whatever I should call you's face? You've had those damn goggles on all this time."
"Sorry, sorry. Safety precautions for one thing and also, well, you already know what I look like."
"What? No I don't! All I know is that you have black hair and pale skin. I don't know anything else."
Rayan smirked at him and took his goggles off, causing Ethan to gasp and to back away from him.
They were identical.
Notes: This was written for NaNoWriMo. And there's no need to give a review. Honestly.