Haha! I love a good road trip. I firmly believe the best way to learn about anyone is to take a multi-day ride across the country with them in a vehicle of undetermined size.
This fic may be Yullen/AreKan (whatever it's called)... secretly ship it in the universe (even though it will never be canon), so if that's a problem for you, might be good to switch to something else. Sorry about that.
P.S. title image is from National Lampoon's vacation. Haven't seen the movie in over a decade but the pic was too hilarious to pass up.
Cats Don't Need to be Boarded
Allen strapped his last bag onto the back of his motorcycle. It contained the three changes of clothes he'd need for the trip and dogfood for Timpcampy (Since that dog ate much like Allen, it took up a quarter of the backpack space). The young man would be renting the tux when he got to Florida, making that one less thing he had to pack.
One thing concerned the white-haired young adult – his motorcycle wouldn't start.
It was only ten years old. A sleek, apple-red Harley-Davidson. The first thing Allen had bought (and actually owned himself) while living with Cross Marian. The motorcycle had never failed him – not during his last year of high school (when Lavi was in his prankster phase and had locked the tires together during finals), not when Allen had started college (located over twenty miles away), and not last week when he'd needed to escape a particularly vengeful band of card sharps.
Allen's faithful bike had even accommodated Timpcampy – the golden retriever fit snugly in the ruby side-car Allen had installed years ago; he'd felt bad leaving him alone all the time, and the shaggy dog was surprisingly well-adapted to life on the road (probably thanks to his puppy-hood at Cross' side).
And yet, when he needed the bike to travel across the country for his best friend's wedding…
It wouldn't start.
As if his thoughts summoned the woman herself, Allen's phone buzzed. Pulling the device from his back-pocket, he paused long enough to see 'Lenalee' on the screen before answering.
"Hi Allen!" She greeted in her usual cheer. "How's the trip coming?"
The white-haired adult took a look at the leather seats of his bike, gaze traveling to the keys still in the ignition.
"Hey! I'm actually just about to take-off."
While not strictly true, Allen wanted to think positively. The bike was probably just… warming up, or something. It'd be fine if he left it for a few minutes, right?
A bark from his left alerted both listeners to Timcampy's ('Tim' for short) entrance to the garage. The dog was carrying its red leash in its mouth as it marched in. As if to remind Allen not to leave him behind, the retriever cozied up to the young adult, chocolate eyes staring up with excitement.
"Tim's ready to go, aren't you?" Allen smiled, rubbing the dog absently behind his floppy ears. The dog's tail was wagging so hard Allen was concerned it would fall off.
"How's the wedding planning coming?" The white-haired man asked.
A groan from Lenalee over the phone. "You know, Bookman seems like a quiet guy, but he's actually very…"
"Yeah," she chuckled. Lenalee's voice was absent the stress most women had when their wedding was in less than eight days.
"I love him to death, but between him and my brother…" a fond sigh. "At least Klaud is here. She's great at keeping everyone in line. Without her, the wedding would be a mash-up of tea-drinking and stiff-collared dresses." Her voice lowered and got closer to the phone, as though Lenalee was trying to keep anyone from overhearing. "Personally, I'm looking forward to the honeymoon. Lavi's found us a place by the beach so we can jet-ski, and then at night he's going to take me out on the water for some fooling around. I mean, he's so good in bed it's just-"
"Lenalee! Please, you're like my sister, I don't need to-"
The laughter over the phone stopped his pleas. "Ok, sorry Allen! I'll save the sordid details for Kanda."
Allen rolled his eyes on instinct. "You mean Bakanda?"
Ignoring the derision in his tone, Lenalee continued, "Yeah, he got back from Japan just fine… actually, he should be passing through your area sometime this afternoon! I just talked to him and he said he was able to make good time."
Figures. Allen grunted in response, eying his unresponsive bike. "I guess I'll see you in a few days."
"Of course! Keep me updated. I worry about you and Tim on the highway, especially with that bike of yours."
Allen spluttered, "What's wrong with my bike?!"
"Er, well, it's kind of old, you know. I mean, you're what, a thousand miles away? Are you sure it can handle that long of a trip?"
The white-haired man forced cheer into his voice, unwilling to accept she might be right. "Don't worry. It'll be fine."
"Uh huh," Lenalee said, obviously disbelieving.
The bike only had to make it from Maine to the Florida Keys (Lavi had chosen the destination for the ceremony because of an obsession with Humphrey Bogart, and for some weird reason, Lenalee hadn't objected). Allen had the route already planned and would make it not only in time for the wedding, but the rehearsal dinner and the bachelor party (And, no, Allen wasn't best man – Komui had been given the honor… something about winning over the in-laws? Allen couldn't remember all the details, just the intense groveling Lavi had done when he'd broken the news).
Lenalee continued, "Well, see you. Oh, and maybe text Kanda before you leave home – you still have his number, right? Maybe you guys could get dinner or something. Hey, you could even travel together!"
Sure. When they're selling snow cones in Hell. "Yeah, I doubt he'd want to do that."
"…You might have a point. But just- oh shit, I've got to go – Bookman and Klaud are arguing over the flower arrangements. Love you!"
Allen sweat-dropped at his disconnected phone. Had Lenalee just… swore?
Maybe the wedding-day stress was getting to her more than he'd thought.
A bark from Timpcampy brought his master back to the task at hand: getting his bike started.
And, staring at the leather seats, a maniacal grin crept onto Allen's face – he'd get that thing running even if it meant spending the rest of the day at the mechanic's shop; There was no way in hell Kanda was beating him to that wedding.
Kanda crossed the Canada-America border a little after nine in the morning. Driving his raven sedan, the long-haired Japanese man soon entered the New England forests, not finding them different from the woods outside of Montreal. He'd managed to leave so early thanks to a few days of rest to recover from the jet-lag after his return flight from Japan.
Due to the early start, Kanda Yuu found himself in Albany, New York four hours later. Between the snacks he'd brought from home and the hotel reservations he'd made in advance, Kanda was feeling relaxed at how easy the first day of traveling had gone. Granted, making it through the New England territories had taken some strategizing, thanks to the traffic from the eastern cities.
With his music and some books-on-tape, Kanda didn't plan on making many stops. Not to say he had a problem staying awake, but he knew from experience that long drives got tedious quickly. There was no reason to make the remaining 21 hours of American countryside any longer than it had to be.
Why he had to drive so far in the first place was beyond Kanda. Just because that stupid Usagi didn't want to hold the wedding in Boston. No, in his typical fashion, Lavi had insisted on making it difficult for everyone involved, holding the ceremony almost two thousand miles away. Kanda hadn't been going to go at all when he heard about that.
But… it was Lenalee, and therefore, impossible to say no.
What she saw in that stupid rabbit, the Japanese man could only guess.
With the help of said music and a week of preparation, Kanda was finally starting to relax. Or, at least, as much as Kanda Yuu could ever relax about something he'd been forced into doing.
That relaxed state quickly vanished when the Bluetooth in his car picked up a call.
The word 'Moyashi' quickly flashed over his car's phone. Thanks to the automatic setting Kanda hadn't had a chance to change, the car answered the call on the second ring.
"What," he snapped, trying to tune-out the call as he merged with the 87 loop around Albany.
"Hello to you too, Bakanda," the Moyashi snapped, all but used to the greeting at this point. "Hey, are you still in Albany?"
"No," he growled, which was technically true. He was just entering the outskirts of Albany, after all – not the same as being there.
"I know you're lying. Lenalee put a tracker on our phones, remember, incase we had problems on the road? She told me you crossed the Mohawk River ten minutes ago."
"Why the fuck do you care where I am? Worry about yourself on the damned road."
"I am! That's why I'm calling." An irritated sigh crackled over the car speakers, as if Allen were trying to reign-in his anger. "I need… ugh. Damn it, I…"
What followed were words spoken too quietly for Kanda to hear.
"Speak the fuck up, Moyashi," he snapped after navigating a particularly aggressive 18-wheeler.
"Shut it, Kanda! I'm… I need. Your help."
"Tell me something I don't know."
"My bike broke down," he growled back. "I'm stuck in Albany. I need you to come get me."
Kanda didn't bother trying to suppress his smirk. He could just imagine how much that statement burned coming out.
"Take it to a mechanic."
"Already did. He said it's going to be five days before they can get the right part in to fix it."
"Take a bus."
"You know it's not going to get there in time! And before you say it, the flights are still booked – I already checked."
"Sucks for you."
"And you too," Allen quipped in that malevolent sweet voice that suggested he was getting the upper-hand in this debate. "How are you going to explain to Lenalee how you showed up at her wedding without one of her best friends? A friend you left stranded in New York?"
"You were stranded when I got here," he snapped again.
"You sure that's how she's going to see it?"
Kanda couldn't help thinking the two of them were like kids threatening to tattle to their mom. Strangely, that thought didn't make him any less concerned over testing Lenalee's patience. Especially when the Chinese woman was already stretching her sanity pretty thin on the wedding planning.
Yet, Kanda wasn't about to give in that easily.
"You have to spend time with Lavi."
"Keep the Usagi the fuck out of my hair," He growled, irritation with the whole event returning.
The last thing Kanda wanted – and knew without out a doubt would end up happening – was the stupid rabbit nagging Kanda about hooking up with the bridesmaids. If Allen were around, however, he could field some of Lavi's anxious energy. Or so the dark man hoped.
Between Lavi's riling and Tiedoll going on and on about Kanda settling down and getting married… someone would end up dying at that wedding. And it wouldn't be Kanda.
"Sure. Fine," Allen agreed readily. "I'm sending you the address for the diner I'm at. See you."
With that, he hung-up.
Kanda shot the Moyashi a quick text as he exited the interstate. After all, if Allen were waiting at a diner, there was no telling how long the Japanese man would end up waiting should the Brit get too involved in his meal. The more notice he gave, the less time he'd have to spend in this damned town.
And, sure enough, when Kanda's black sedan pulled up at the curb outside the sixties-style tin-sided restaurant, the white-haired man was already outside.
Allen stood on the curb with a dark duffel bag at his feet. Wearing a pair of cotton cargo pants under a thin cotton t-shirt that managed to show-case the muscles he'd developed in the past few years. Also, like his increased strength, displaying the mottled left-hand and red-striped tattoos on his arm. The man had even pulled his ivory hair into a low pony-tail, leaving only a few strands around his face, not bothering to hide the scar over his left eye like he'd done when they were kids.
Allen looked… surprisingly good for someone bumming a free ride.
Kanda had just rolled his window down, about to tell the Moyashi to put his stuff in the back, when he spotted a large breathing carpet at his side.
Allen, whose face had been shadowed by the sun at his back, stepped closer to the car. "What's wrong?"
Kanda's sapphire eyes turned accusingly to the panting mutt. "That is not getting in my car."
"What? But, Kanda, he's… He's Tim! I can't leave him," The white-haired pleaded, hands ruffling the golden retriever at his side.
"That thing sheds," Kanda growled. Not that he needed to explain himself. "It's my car for fuck's sake, and that thing isn't going."
Instead of getting enraged like the Japanese man predicted, Allen crouched beside his dog on the cement walkway. Holding the dog's boxy head with one hand, he drew the panting muzzle to his own cheek.
"But… Kanda... how can you turn this face down?" Allen pouted, trying to act like seventy pounds of hairy, slobbery dog could be diminished to a pair of sweet chocolate eyes. Eyes that were more interested in the bird overhead than his master's attempts at bumming a ride.
Kanda started rolling up the window.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Allen pleaded, crawling over to the car, hands grabbing the top of the window glass. Kanda, however, was perfectly willing to crush those fingers, only stopping when Allen continued, "I'll clean the car! If he sheds, I'll pay to get it cleaned."
The prettier of the two scowled. "Leave him in a kennel."
Moyashi rolled his eyes. "Please. Like you do that with Golem."
"Cats don't need to be boarded anywhere," Kanda countered, almost offended Allen could compare Golem to… whatever that was on the sidewalk.
Then, Allen tried to copy Tim's impression of puppy eyes. Grey pupils widening, looking up at Kanda from the windowsill like a begging child. "Come on, Bakanda. Tim's never been by himself. He always goes with me. He gets anxiety attacks. I can't leave him alone in a kennel."
Allen, instead of threating like usual, realized the Japanese driver had the upper-hand. The Brit was out of bargaining chips with his bike in the shop and no real plan to get to Florida without missing his reason for going.
Even if the pleading and begging was so stupid it was almost laughable, it didn't hurt Kanda's ego any.
"He makes a mess," The Japanese man growled, tilted eyes narrowing, "And you're dead."
Allen scoffed, dropping his pleading façade now that he was home-free. "Lighten up. The journey is half the fun."
"I'm not taking a journey with shitty dog puke in my thirty-thousand dollar car, Moyashi," Kanda snapped.
"It's Allen, Bakanda," the other man returned.
The driver watched the pale adult pulled a coral beach-towel from his duffle. After opening Kanda's back door, he threw the blanket over the back leather seats in back. Then, he gave Timcampy an 'up' command, the dog obediently hopping inside, ruby leash still clamped in its mouth.
"Thanks Kanda," Allen, mood improved, said from the shot-gun seat. "This is a pretty nice car. You just buy it?"
"Yes. If you like it that much, tell that dog to quit slobbering."
"I can't. He's nervous – happens all the time. Maybe roll the window down and he'll feel better."
Kanda shot him a quick glare before refocusing his eyes on the road. "No."
"It gives me a headache."
"Surely you can suffer a small headache for the dog. Or, you know, your leather seats."
"I don't have to suffer anything," Kanda growled. "he's your damned dog."
A bark from the back row startled Kanda so bad he nearly jerked the car into the neighboring lane. "What the fuck?"
"Tim, it's Ok," Allen soothed, hand reaching back. "Kanda's just being his crabby self. No need to get angry."
"Keep that dog in line or you can walk to Florida."
"Ok, Ok, sheesh, I'll be quiet," Allen appeased, as if Kanda had been the one in the wrong. "So, time for some music?"
"Forget the music. Tell me if this is the right exit."
"What do you mean? It says the exit number right on your fancy GPS. Can't you read?"
"I'd read it just fine if you hadn't been so busy distracting me," Kanda snapped. "Answer the damned question."
"It says to… Wait, why are you exiting here?" Allen asked, pale face narrowed in confusion.
"Because," Kanda growled, gripping the steering wheel so tight it was a wonder it was still intact.
"Then take the 84 to Scranton instead. It's more direct than the 90 to the 88 or whatever the hell you're talking about."
"The GPS is taking us on the route I planned three days ago. Leave it alone."
"Hey, I've driven this before, you haven't. Might be time to benefit from my vast years of experience."
The dark-haired man scowled, still focused on the signs to take the right exits. "Being Cross' caddy does not count."
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Allen's grimace. "Fine. Get lost. See if I care."
"We are not getting lost. It's New England for God's sake. There are too many interstates to just 'get lost'."
"Um, actually, New York isn't part of New England. And we left that like an hour ago."
Oh, for the love of…
"Out," Kanda snapped, jerking the car into a shell station exit. Time to kick both the Moyashi and his slobbery carpet out of the car. Let them walk to Florida. Lenalee be damned.
"Wait, Kanda! Ok, Ok, you can decide the route!" Then, not-so-quietly, Allen added, "Even if it's a stupid one."
"Stupid is driving a bike that doesn't work across country, baka. Shut the fuck up."
"My bike works just fine!" Catching Kanda's scoff, he amended, "Ok, well, it did, but that wasn't my fault. It just needs some extra care. It's ten years old, so I guess it's expected."
Fifteen minutes later had the dark sedan pulling back off interstate 90 and onto the 88 southwest. Loaded with a panting retriever in the back, a peppy Brit in the front, and a Japanese driver who was starting to think he'd just been played as Tim slobbered over his back windows.
It was going to be a long, long, 21 hours.