Joy Ride

Part One

Chapter One

For someone like Blake Brennan high school was a huge inconvenient pain. And the worst thing? He was fairly sure post high school wouldn't be any better. But he couldn't in all fairness paint his life as all that bad and he didn't because he knew what he had in his life and knew others had it worse. He had good grades, an unorthodox guardian who cared a great deal about him, a bad ass job that he loved, and a thirst for more, more, more. If only he could condense his life down to that, then everything would be perfect. But he couldn't. He was still stuck in high school; stuck having to attend it for most of the day and being surrounded by so many pains in his ass for a number of hours every day for nearly an entire year more.

"At least," Blake grumbled as he ran a hand through his dark auburn hair, walking down the hall towards the doors that would lead him outside, "it's senior year."

"Talking to yourself again, fag?"

That would be one of the pains in his ass now. And not the good kind. Christian Foster. Apt name. Went great with his hypocritical beliefs and prejudices. Blake forced the smile to stay on his face. He knew better than to talk to himself aloud at school. But it was one of his habits and even after three years of trying to cut it out at school, he was never able to and it was yet another thing about him people targeted.

He didn't know if he could last an entire year more without finally snapping, and despite his better judgment, Blake opened his mouth for a retort but he was thankfully interrupted by Christian's new jock friend. "Not now. We need to get this project done or you don't get to play."

Blake stared after that one, watching him throw an arm around Christian's shoulders and turning him till he was facing the lockers. He was apparently forgotten. As he walked away, Blake looked over his shoulder at the new guy and found his stare being returned full force. The guy was new at the school and yet he was massively popular already. His name was Justin… something. Blake watched him, wariness creeping into him. Justin. The name didn't seem to fit him. He was the big type. Though he wasn't too big. Not overly muscular. Just tall, dark, and handsome. Sometimes those were the worst gay bashers. The power was hidden. The way this new boy moved told Blake that he would be knocked out from just one fist throw from that guy. And yet…

He'd had an odd encounter with the new guy two weeks ago. In the school, after classes had gone. It hadn't been a great run in since Blake had been in a 'situation' at the time with the art teacher. They were found in a nice dark maintenance closet in the locked art room. Blake had no idea how the jock had ended up there, but he had and he'd walked in on the scene as if the classroom door had never been locked. Blake hadn't even heard the closet door being opened.

The jock had stood there for about half a minute. Staring at Blake and then at the frozen petrified teacher. He had then looked back up, smirked at Blake, and then he just left without a word. Blake had expected to get his ass kicked the next day at school by Justin's friends. But nothing happened. The slurs hadn't picked up. Everything was the same. As if Justin hadn't told his friends. Blake found it all odd. But he figured David- the really hot untalented art teacher- had gone and talked to the jock. Because not only was Blake's ass on the line- not like David cared about that- but David's job was on the line as well for being with a student.

Blake didn't know why he kept getting messed with. It was a big school. He wasn't the only known homosexual there and it wasn't like he was flamboyant or anything. Yeah he dressed classy, but that was only because he liked to look good. It galled him to even think about going to school in wrinkled jeans and t-shirts. So yeah, when it came to clothes he was kind of gay but that was really all that made him stand out. Nothing else was special about him. Nothing else- aside from his lack of interest in girls- indicated he was a raging homosexual.

Blake laughed at himself as he left the school, heading for sidewalk. He had work to do. He didn't want to spend any more time trying to figure out what made the other students tick. They weren't worth his time.

Two years he'd been here. Two years and it was time to go. He had things to do. This forced vacation had lasted long enough. He really couldn't stand this place anymore. It was all well and good to explore, but when he actually had to live there because his shit was busted, the place became unbearable. These people were so… infantile. The systems which they dubbed 'governments' were going to crumble and the people with it. Those with respect didn't deserve it, while those who deserved it were scorned. It made no sense. This place made no sense. He had to get out of there and get home. Only… he needed help. He'd spent the last year and a half searching for help. He hoped he found it today. It was doubtful, but he always had hope. He just… he really didn't want to have to call his brother for a ride. He'd never hear the end of it.

Pointed towards the garage, Fen nodded his thanks to the man behind the counter and made his way to the car garage where he was told he'd find the guy who was responsible for his truck. The guy at the counter never said if they'd fixed his truck or not and this had him preparing for disappointment again.

Fen looked around and noticed the place looked empty. He heard music playing from the radio across the room and he also heard something… maybe whistling. "Hello?" he called out above the music.

The whistling stopped. "Yeah?"

He turned halfway towards the back of the shop where five cars were lined side by side; three of them lined up behind another car. "I was told to come back to talk to you about the truck."

"You the Chevy guy?"

He walked towards where he thought the voice was coming from. "The black one. Yeah."

The guy didn't say anything back right away, and Fen continued his progress until he found a man halfway hidden underneath one of the cars.

"Give me a minute."

Fen leaned against the opposite car, crossing his arms over his chest and watching the man on the roller-on shifting as he did whatever it was he was doing. "Sure. Take your time."

"It's nice not hearing sarcasm for once."

A grin sprung across Fen's face. He wondered what the mechanic looked like. He didn't have to wait long. Soon the guy was sliding out from underneath the car and Fen immediately recognized the face and eyes brought into view. Those hazel eyes widened on him. Widened with shock first and then there was wariness.

"You." That was about all Fen could think to say at the moment. He seriously hadn't expected this one to be a mechanic. He was hardly one to be surprised but he was surprised right now. And pleased, though he didn't think too much on that. Not when the guy was looking like he was preparing to get beaten up.

Blake climbed to his feet. He took the bandana off his hair and used it to wipe the grease off his hands. "Yeah. Me."

"You're a mechanic?" Fen just had to make sure.

A sardonic grin appeared on Blake's face. "An awesome one. I can fix anything."

"Did you fix my truck?"

"Yeah, about that," Blake started somewhat warily, peering at Fen who seemed to be holding his breath. "There's some shit under your hood I've never seen before… where'd you get your truck? Outer space?"

Fen forced out a laugh. "So you couldn't fix it."

"Just said I could fix anything, didn't I? Yeah, I fixed it. Was hard, but I've got magic fingers." Blake raised his hands and wiggled his digits. He smiled at Fen without thinking about it. Without remembering exactly who he was talking to. "Fixing your truck provided me lots of fun. Break it again, would ya? I'll fix it again for free."

This time Fen didn't have to force a laugh. The mechanic had a brilliant smile. "That's great. Thanks."

"No thanks needed. It's my job."

Fen looked around, shoving his hands deep into his pockets. He noticed from the corner of his eyes that the mechanic- Blake- was slowly backing away from him. Creating space. The smile was gone. He could guess why. "I'd heard a lot about you from around town. This shop. They say a genius mechanic works here."

Blake shrugged.

Fen turned back and met his gaze dead on. "I came here looking for that genius."

"Any specific reason why?"

"You can relax. I'm not about to jump you."

"Who says I wouldn't enjoy that?"

It was clear the mechanic hadn't meant to say that aloud. Especially since those eyes widened and fear entered them. He took a large step back. Fen decided he would ignore that comment, for now. "I'm not about to beat you up."

Blake took another step back and then turned around, walking towards the office, towards the safety of people he knew. "Truck's all ready for you." He stopped suddenly and turned back. "I'd… really appreciate it if you wouldn't tell anyone from school where I work."

Fen smirked that smirk again and walked passed him. He didn't answer till he was opening the door that would lead him back into the customers' part of the office. "If I told I wouldn't have you all to myself anymore, would I?"

Blake stared after him. That could have been a flirt. And even though he wanted to take it like that, he knew better. It was safe to assume that had some underlying threat to it.

Blake tapped his pen repeatedly against the opened book as he stared across the library with unseeing eyes. He was pondering the enigma known as Justin; the jock who seemed to break out of the stereotype. Blake was kinda happy to meet him. Only because he hated running into actual stereotypes. It made the world seem bland. So when he was surprised by a person's character, he was always pleasantly surprised.

Blake jerked out of his thoughts when the seat across from him was suddenly occupied by the person he'd been thinking about. Blake sucked in a breath, his eyes widened, and he quickly looked around, expecting to see the jock's friends all around him, intending to beat the shit out of him. He found no one except those that had already been in the library. But even those students were staring over at them with shocked expressions.

Not everyone in the school was a douche but most everyone thought he was an unfriendly person. They listened to rumors, and others were afraid to go against those who hated him… they were all sheep. So it was a surprise to see anyone talking to him, let alone voluntarily sitting near him. And especially the new heartthrob of the school. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome... something. Blake couldn't recall this guy's last name. It wasn't really important.

He really didn't care no one talked to him here. He was fine with that actually. He couldn't really didn't see himself becoming friends with any of them. He only tolerated coming to school because he had to. But nothing made him have to talk to people, so it was almost a blessing no one liked him. Despite all that, he found himself strangely excited. Something about this guy made him curious; made him want to talk. Maybe just to confirm that Justin was the same as the rest. A sheep; a douche. A mean ignorant mother fucker.

Then the guy smiled and it was dreamy. As was the follow low rich voice. "Hello again," he greeted.

Blake released a breath and smiled unsure. "Um, hey. Justin, right?"

It took a moment for the jock to answer. He frowned as if confused, and then he nodded. "Yeah, Justin. That's my name."

Blake rose a brow. Had he forgotten what his name was? "Right."

"What are you up to?"

"What do kids usually do in the library?"

The guy nodded and leaned back in his chair until the front two legs lifted from the ground. Blake found himself smiling freely now, hoping that chair would tumble backwards. Yeah, he had a little mean streak. "Did you want something?" he asked instead of rudely kicking out.

"Not really."

Blake's shoulders rose and fell. "Huh." The jock's smile morphed into a small smirk. "Not to be rude, but you do know your reputation will be burnt up to hell if you keep sitting here talking to me."

"My reputation…" Justin snorted. "What do I care about reputation?" Blake raised both brows in surprise. "By the way, my truck? It purrs. You really must have magic fingers," he said, looking down at said fingers, which were long and thin. Blake looked down also, tapping a finger against the desk. His fingers were also scratched up with little scabs in some places. Gained from working on cars half the day and well into the night.

"I do."

Justin shook his head. "Still can't believe you're a mechanic."

Blake tensed. "Why?"

Justin raised his pale blue eyes to Blake's face. "You look like you've just walked off the set of a magazine photo shoot."

Blake found himself grinning at the table. Maybe even blushing a little too. If Justin were sincere it was an awesome compliment coming from such a hottie. "Appearances can be deceiving."

"Yeah, they sure can," Justin replied lowly, more to himself.

"Seriously, you don't care the whole school may turn on you?"

"No, I don't care. Besides, you have magic fingers and I… well I have magic, plain and simple. These little assholes do, say, and think what I want them to. I've been here two months and already I'm king."

Blake laughed. It was true. Justin wasn't being cocky. They ate out of his hand. And it was a pleasant surprise to know Justin was intentionally being manipulative. It was too bad they couldn't be friends. Blake thought he might enjoy getting to know Justin better.

He sighed and stood, starting to pack his things away. Justin sat there slumped in his chair, watching his every move. But he didn't say anything and he didn't stop Blake from leaving. Blake gave a short wave as he walked away, vaguely wondering what the purpose of that visit had been but not really caring enough to find out. He knew it wouldn't happen again.

And then it came as a complete surprise when as he sat down for lunch- at a table that quickly cleared as soon as he arrived- Justin appeared and sat down directly opposite him a minute later. Blake pulled the ear buds that were blasting music out of his ears and left it dangling over his shoulder as he stared in bewilderment at the jock across from him. "Have you lost your mind or something?"

"Or something."

Blake frowned. "Either you're clueless or you know exactly what you're doing and if it's the latter then that makes you an asshole. I thought maybe you weren't. You were different. But this just proves me wrong. I'm not stupid. I know what you're doing. And thanks. Thanks a lot."

Justin's eyes widened a little at the hostile tone. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Blake snorted. "Sure. You don't realize by sitting here in front of the entire senior year, you've just put a bigger target on my fucking back. I just…" he hissed and stood, ignoring his lunch and grabbing his bag and trying to ignore the venomous glares coming from those who regularly left him with bruises. "I'll be sure to name my next black eye after you."

Blake quickly left, leaving Fen staring after him in surprise. And then he shook his head. He hadn't actually thought of that. He cursed under his breath. Blake was right. He just put a bigger target on the mechanic's back. Fen growled under his breath as he stood and turned to head back to his friends. Some damage control was in order.

Three days passed and the last two Blake had missed school. On the third day, Fen and his purring truck pulled up into an empty driveway of a two story house. It was small, tall and narrow, but well kept. It looked like it had recently been given a new paint job and a new roof. He sat there in his truck, staring at the house and wondering why he was making an effort like this. Sure he needed Blake's help, but he didn't need to go about getting his help this way. He admitted silently, foolishly, he wanted it to be this way.

Sighing in annoyance with himself, he opened the door and climbed out. He grabbed his backpack before shutting the door and walking down the path and up the porch stairs. He knocked briskly on the door, vaguely wondering- hoping- if Blake were even home and wondering what his parents were like. And he was more than curious to know why Blake had skipped school two days in a row. He'd had to miss school himself on Monday, so he wasn't sure if Blake had actually missed three days…

The door opened to reveal a short man. The man's face was wrinkled, showing off his age, and yet he had a full head of dark hair. Only the sideburns and the short beard were white. Stark white. The man was leaning back and not looking at Fen. Instead he was looking back into the room. Fen heard the television blaring.

The old man grunted.

"I'm looking for Blake Brennan. He lives here, right?"

Finally the old man turned to him. He raised a brow, looking him up and down before grunting again. Fen momentarily thought there was recognition in those eyes, but he quickly dismissed that thought. No one would ever come close to guessing about him.

He was about to announce why he'd come, but Blake came into view then, walking out from another room. He didn't see Fen standing out on the porch. "I wish you would tell me in advance when I need to go shopping again instead of waiting until there's nothing left in the pantry."

The old man grunted yet again, his eyes already going back to wherever he'd been staring when he opened the door. Blake turned at this and finally caught sight of him. Fen narrowed his eyes. Blake had two black eyes and a busted lip. He had a bandage over his left cheekbone and two fingers on his right hand were fixed with a brace.

The old man disappeared into the house as Blake approached. The mechanic stepped out onto the porch. He didn't even try to crack a polite smile this time. A silence descended and Fen couldn't help but shift when he caught the accusatory glare the other boy was giving him. He deserved it.

"You look nothing like your dad," he finally said.

Blake looked like he didn't want to speak, but finally he did that graceful shrug thing. "He's my guardian. Not my dad."

"Where are your parents?"

Blake studied him intently before looking away. "Throwaway baby. Found outside of a firehouse. Or at least that's what he says," he gestured back towards the house. "What do you want?"

"Noticed you weren't at school the last two days. Thought I could bring your work."

Blake backed up closer to the doorway. "Leave me alone."

Fen studied the damage done to the others face again. It really pissed him off this was still going on. That it had gone on the day he'd missed school. He'd have to persuade the little boys some more to quit doing it. He thought he'd made himself clear. "Don't you have any support? Any friends?"

Blake glared, stepped back, and slammed the door in his face. "That's a no then."

He'd known it already, having been watching Blake at school for a while now. No one talked to him and Fen couldn't understand why. They hadn't spoken a lot, but from the time they had talked- and from all the watching he had done- Fen liked Blake's attitude, his personality. Blake was a decent guy all around, smart too. Fen knew the reason why Blake didn't talk to people wasn't because no one talked to him. He didn't' talk to people in case he was talking to the wrong kind of person. But obviously Blake didn't mind putting himself out there when it suited him otherwise Fen didn't see how he could have gotten the art teacher in the position he'd caught them in.

Walking in on them hadn't really been a surprise. He'd known the art teacher was into boys. And no matter what anyone said, gay or straight, Blake Brennan was sexy. That was all there was to that. In fact Fen knew this was one of the reasons why Christian messed with Blake. Christian was also into guys. And the rage he passed onto Blake was because of that. Because of his upbringing, his family Faith, he'd been told it was wrong and had to hide it. And it enraged him and he took it out on an easy target, on someone who refused to hide himself. Fen shook his head as he lifted his hand and knocked again. This planet was fucked up. No wonder it wasn't on the MAP yet.

The old man opened the door again. Without even taking his eyes off the television the old man stepped aside. "Up the stairs and to the left," he grunted out.

Fen didn't hesitate to step inside. He followed the directions and his ears, hearing music now blaring from a room upstairs. As he walked up, he felt eyes on him. He didn't turn to look but he wondered why the old man was staring at him. He got the impression the old man was surprised and yet relieved. Fen wondered why.

"I didn't set it up," he said the moment the bedroom door had been opened after he knocked. "I didn't know they were going to do that."

"I told you what would happen."

"Yeah. I'm sorry. Tell me about it?"

Blake looked at him like he was crazy but Fen acted like it was a perfectly reasonable question so after a pause, he got the story. "It was like always. They ambushed me on my way home from school. The girls were there too this time. They only stood back and laughed. Guess they didn't like seeing you talking to me. Maybe they were afraid I'd turn you gay."

"Little shits," Fen hissed.

"That's the company you keep."

Fen took a breath. "Can I come in?" he asked waving into the room Blake was blocking.

"I'm not one hundred percent you weren't involved. I'd appreciate it if you left," Blake said bluntly and Fen nodded and stepped back, though he wasn't prepared to leave yet. He needed to make some progress first. He could understand Blake's thinking though.

"Can we talk at least? Somewhere?"


Fen shrugged. "I brought your school work," he said again, holding up his backpack.

Blake stared at the bag before looking off to the side, his forehead lined with creases. Obviously he was trying to make up his mind. Fen waited quietly; studying Blake's face and becoming increasingly angry over the bruising and trying not to show it. Finally the mechanic nodded. Instead of stepping back to allow him into his room, he stepped out and led Fen back down and into the kitchen. He waved to a chair sitting at a round table. Fen took the seat.

"Want something to drink?"

"Yeah, thanks."

Things were quiet for a while. Fen sat there sipping on his can of coke, trying hard not to grimace at the taste. He still wasn't used to it even after two years, while Blake unabashedly stared at him. Still with suspicion.

"I'm going to tell you a secret," Fen finally said. Blake straightened in his chair. "Christian wants you." He paused and looked into surprised eyes and smirked. "It's no surprise why."

Blake blew out a breath and then laughed. "Fucker."

Fen shrugged. It was the truth even if Blake didn't believe him. "So… how long have you been a mechanic?"

"Ever since I can remember. Diaeran- yeah, I know. Weird name. He says I've been tinkering with things since I was a baby."

Fen had stiffened and raised a brow when Blake mentioned the name Diaeran. It wasn't a weird name. At least not to him. It sounded familiar. Too familiar. He turned and looked over his shoulder to find said man sitting on a couch in the living room which was across the way from the kitchen. The old man's eyes were glued to the television. And even though his eyes were glued to that tv set, Fen had a feeling the old man was listening to every word.

He turned back to stare at Blake. "Cars your only thing?"

"I work on anything I can get my hands on."

"How old are you?"

"We're in the same year. You figure it out."

Fen hummed. "Afraid to tackle something you've never seen before?"

"Is there a point to these random questions?"

"I took my truck to several shops before being able to find someone who could fix her and fix her properly."

Blake cocked his head. "Do you know mechanics?"

"I know enough. But not enough to fix things when shit hits the fan. You can fix anything?"

Before Blake could answer, a gruff voice answered from the other room. "He can fix anything," the old man said firmly. Blake nodded with a wide smile.

Fen grinned and stood. He dug into his bag and brought out notes and worksheets and put them in front of Blake, who was staring at a small sticky note pressed against one of the papers. "My number. In case you need help or more notes or something," he explained even though he knew Blake would never call him. He was still unsure as to why the jock was talking to him.

"See you at school."


"If I talk to you, I'll make sure no one is around. I don't want your pretty face hurt anymore."

It was funny hearing the sputtering coming from the kitchen as he left it and headed for the door. He called out a good bye as he stepped out of the house. Just as he stepped down from the porch, a hand grabbed onto his jacket. Fen looked over his shoulder to find the old man there.

"Take him with you. When you go, take him with you. He doesn't belong here."

The old man was back in the house with the door shut before Fen could ask what he meant because surely he didn't mean what he thought he meant. That would imply the old man knew. But how could he. No one did. He shook his head and walked to his truck, deciding to forget about it. The old man was probably senile. And yet, over the next few weeks, Fen could never put the words out of his mind.