Word Count: 823
“Breathe,” said the voice on top of me. Rayn had wrestled me to the floor so I was on my front with my arms pinned under his butt as he straddled my back. I gasped in a huge lungful of air and road dust, coughing it back out again, yelling at Rayn to get off me. He forced my head down into the floor, my face pushed into the asphalt. “No. Breathe, Cancer.”
His fingers twisted in my hair gently, and just sat on me like that, telling me to calm down until I managed it. Eventually, he let me up. I dragged myself up to my feet and brushed the dirt off the front of my shirt and pants, little clouds of hot dust fluffing up from it.
Rayn left me to it, going over to Joe. “Cancer says he’s sorry,” he said. “Well… he won’t ever say it, but he is.” I moved just close enough that I could over hear what they were saying.
Joe was shaking his head, “he’s a psycho,” he was saying.
“The doctors said it was antisocial personality disorder. But I guess they’re pretty similar,” Rayn said thoughtfully, like he was thinking about the differences between the two.
“He nearly killed me,” Joe protested, “he would’ve killed me if you hadn’t arrived!” I glanced over at him and the fear he was trying to hide from us. I didn’t feel bad about it, I just wanted to get back on the road and keep moving. Rayn opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but he closed it again and changed his mind.
“He wasn’t going to kill you. If he was going to do that he would’ve had his gun out or something.” I get the feeling he was probably going to tell Joe that I went easy on him.
“You didn’t see the look in his eyes,” Joe murmured.
Rayn looked up at him, this sort of half smile on his lips. “I grew up with him. I’ve seen it plenty of times,” he said bluntly. I fixed my eyes on the floor at that – Rayn had been on the receiving end of more than his fair share of my bad moods. I’d never really hurt him, but it was true, he’d seen that look a lot.
A troubled look flickered across Joe’s face as he thought about something. His gaze darted from me to the horizon in the opposite direction to me. I didn’t need him to spell it out that he was thinking about going on alone. I think he was weighing his chances of survival with or without me.
“I don’t know if I want to constantly be in fear of him like that,” Joe confessed. I shoved my hands in my pockets and turned away.
“You get used to him. If you can stay on his good side, he’s the guy to have for something like this. He’s not all bad, he’ll look out for you.” Bless him. Rayn always did try to make me sound like a nicer guy than I was.
“I guess,” Joe admitted, a bit reluctant to say it out loud, like he was being forced to remember that I’d saved his life already more than once.
“You might even grow to like him,” I could hear the smile in Rayn’s voice, “he makes a good big brother.” I reflected the smile a little bit, glad at least that he still had some faith in me.
“Well I guess if we want to avoid the dark we should get going,” Joe said after a couple of minutes. I looked up at the sky, and the sun was slowly starting to sink through the sky. It was like watching a massive orange ball being dropped into hazy, multicolored oil.
Rayn nodded, “I’ll drive,” he announced, climbing straight in the driver’s seat so quick there was no time for me to argue. Joe climbed in the back and I joined them in the car, sulking in the passenger seat. Rayn was acting like an adult for once, looking like a stressed out mom looking after a pair of annoying kids.
“I’m pretty sure I’m getting a black eye,” Joe announced after a while. I turned in my seat and looked at him. Taking his face between my thumb and first finger, I made him tilt his head so his face was in the light.
“You’ll be fine, I didn’t hit you that hard,” I grunted, inspecting the damage. Sure he’d have a bruise, but it wasn’t much worth whining about. He pulled his head back out of my grip and went back to looking out of the window moodily.
“I’ll find you an ice pack if I can when we stop for gas,” Rayn said, trying to appease him a little.
“Thanks,” he muttered, sounding annoyed at something. Boy do I know how to make friends.