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 [ENG] Shy in the Face of Danger

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Erandir

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Number of posts : 25
Age : 30
Ort : San Francisco
Registration date : 2008-04-06

PostSubject: [ENG] Shy in the Face of Danger   Wed May 21, 2008 3:00 pm

Shy in the Face of Danger
Rating: PG13
Summary: Set in a Neo-Victorian/Steampunk America, while on a family trip a young boy experiences a culture clash that will change his life.
Warnings: Homosexual relationships (nothing explicit).
---------

Shy hated family trips. They were such a waste of time and money. They went every year, sometimes twice, despite Shy’s complaining. By now they must have been to every important and trivial landmark in the country. In fact, they were beginning to return to places they had already been in the past. This was due, mostly, to Shy’s younger sister, who was just getting old enough to remember the experience.

This year the trip was by train and hired steam carriage to see monuments to extinct animals. While the trip to see million year old bones was at least educational, Shy did not really see why it mattered. It was interesting to know what creatures had once lived here, but did he need to spend his entire summer going around seeing them? Books could teach him just as well.

And with books he would not be standing in the middle of the desert on the verge of heatstroke. Shy had already removed his jacket, and rolled up his sleeves, and unbuttoned his collar. But even inside it felt nearly 100 degrees. It did not help that this stupid building had a glass roof and no fans, turning it into a veritable greenhouse.

“This must have been what it felt like before they died,” his mother had said, enthused by the most inane things, as always, and probably now teaching his sister how to pronounce all the names wrong. At least they weren’t paying attention to him, and that meant Shy could do whatever he wanted until the sun started to go down and he had to meet them back at the entrance.

That was why Shy was now headed to the display where the bones were still in the rocks. It was the only room they were unlikely to bring his sister, who was likely to break anything that was within arms reach.

To Shy’s great relief it was slightly cooler in this room. One wall was completely open to the outside desert; another was the rocky mountainside where the fossils had been discovered. On the high ceiling two fans rotated lazily, fogging the glass skylights beside them with the steam that escaped their motors.

There was no one else in the room, something Shy was grateful of as he wandered over to the rail that was meant to keep people from touching the display. But Shy could see charcoal, and some ink scribbles on both the rock and the bone. Shy was tempted himself, but he had nothing to write with. He did, however, duck under the rail and step forward to touch the fossils curiously. He had never touched a bone before.

“I do not think you are supposed to touch those.”

Shy nearly leapt out of his skin. With his fingers only a breath away from the bone he yanked his hand back to his chest as though he had been burned. He dropped his jacket as he spun around and searched for the speaker.

There was only one other figure in the room, standing where the room was open to the outside. He was dressed in the strangest outfit Shy had ever seen. The man had dark tan skin, the sort that any of Shy’s city friends would have been horrified to even think about. His hair was also the longest Shy had ever seen on a man, and this figure was definitely a man. His shirt, which looked as though it had not been washed in days, hung open, revealing the man’s chest. His pants looked as though they were made of leather. Shy had never seen clothing made of leather before; it was usually used only for furniture. And the man wore no shoes. His feet were protected from the hot desert sand by only a fair of light leather sandals.

He was, by far, the strangest figure Shy had ever seen. But at the same time, he was also the most beautiful person Shy had ever seen. In the city the man’s dark skin and long hair would have been the source of laughter and gossip, but out here in the desert Shy felt like the one who looked strange.

“I… I… uh…” the boy stammered, suddenly realizing that he had been staring. His face flushed red in embarrassment. “I did not… Did not think that anyone else was here.”

The man took a few steps closer and Shy could see that he was smiling faintly. It made him blush all the brighter to know that he was a source of amusement for the man. “You should probably step away from there before someone comes to get you in trouble.”

Shy stammered again and scrambled under the rail, picking up his jacket and beginning to dust it off as he stood. But he froze when he looked up to find the man standing only an arm’s reach away from him. Shy’s breath caught in his throat as he saw the man’s face up close. His eyes were a light brown, almost amber in color. A line of dark face paint ran across his left cheekbone and his hair, half tied back to keep it off his face, had feathers tied into it.

“What is your name?” the man asked. His accent was not one that Shy had heard before, but he liked it.

“Sh-Shy,” the boy answered as though he were in a trance.

“Shy,” the man repeated, still smiling. “I am called Danger.”

“Danger?” it occurred to Shy that he probably should not be talking to someone who called themselves ‘danger’. But so far the man did not seem dangerous. “Is that really your name?”

The man chuckled softly, “My tribe named me Dangerous Wind,” he replied, “They call me Danger because it is shorter. Is it really that much stranger than Shy?”

The boy’s blush returned full force and he looked down. “No,” he admitted softly. And then something else occurred to him and he looked up again. The man had mentioned a tribe, and there was only one people he knew about who had tribes. “You are one of the natives.”

Danger laughed again, making Shy blush and think he had said something wrong. But the man did not seem upset. “If you were born in this country then you are a native as well.”

Shy felt like a fool now, because he realized that the man was right. His eyes dropped to the floor. He was not sure what he was expecting, but it was not for the man to ruffle his hair and tilt his chin back up. “But I know what you mean,” Danger assured him softly, “And yes. My people are native to this land. Where are you from?”

Shy gulped, trying to get his pounding heart to calm down. “My parents are from England. They both came here as children.”

“Ah,” Danger replied thoughtfully, “But I did not ask about your parents. Where are you from, little sparrow?”

“We… We live in Boston,” Shy stammered.

“You certainly are far from home,” The man observed. “What brings you all the way out here?”

“Vacation,” Shy replied. He was certain that by now the man must be able to hear his heart pounding. Already it was so loud that Shy could barely hear his own thoughts. Not that his thoughts were terribly coherent anyway. “My parents wanted my sister to lean about the fossils.”

“A noble cause,” Danger commented, turning to look over at the rock wall and the bones embedded within. “But you are not interested?”

“I have already been here,” Shy told him, feeling his heart beginning to calm now that the man was no longer looking at him.

“Ah,” Danger murmured, and fell silent for a long moment. He looked so thoughtful that even Shy did not speak for fear of interrupting. “Your parents are probably looking for you,” he said finally, taking his eyes off the stone and looking at Shy again. “You should probably be getting back to them before they start to worry.”

Shy felt suddenly disappointed. He wanted to stay here with the strange man for a little longer. But he did realize that Danger was right. The sun was getting low in the sky, making shadows stretch across the landscape. “Will you be here tomorrow?” he asked suddenly.

Danger appeared surprised for a moment, and then he smiled softly. “Will you?”

“Yes,” Shy replied. “We are staying for two nights, but have nothing planned for tomorrow.”

“Then I will be here tomorrow,” Danger assured. “And I hope that you will be here as well.” He bent slightly and pressed a chaste kiss to Shy’s head, then turned to leave.

Shy did not stop him; could not have if he had wanted to. He stood frozen, cheeks bright red. He could still feel the dark skinned man’s lips against his skin. This vacation suddenly seemed a lot more interesting.

-----

Shy’s parents did not ask many questions about what he had been doing once he told them he had just gone off to explore the museum on his own. He was relieved, because he was terrible at lying. The only person in his family he had ever been able to lie to successfully was his sister. And she was eight.

That night he could barely get to sleep he was so excited about seeing Danger again the next day. He knew his parents would not be happy if they knew he was meeting with a strange man like Danger. But he d id not really care. The man was absolutely fascinating to him. Even after he finally fell asleep the man was a figure in his dreams; dreams that embarrassed Shy when he thought about them the next morning. But those dreams also made him more eager to meet with the man. He wanted to figure out just why he could not get Danger out of his head.

Shy at his breakfast quickly, and announced to his parents that he was going to explore the desert around the museum and hotel. After promising not to wander too far he was allowed to run off and do as he pleased until sundown.

The boy went straight to the museum. He made his way to the room that was open to the desert, the same place he had met Danger the day before. But when he got there, approaching from the outside, the wall was closed off. Shy had not noticed it the night before, but there was a large door that rolled down from the ceiling to block the open wall. Why was it closed? Shy had been so excited to get here that he had forgotten to look at the time and to bring his watch. Was he so early that the museum wasn’t even open yet?

With a sigh, Shy realized that he was going to have to wait. He had not actually expected to be here before Danger. But there was nothing to do about it now. The boy moved over to the wall, where it was shady, and sat down upon a carved stone bench probably put there for overheated tourists. The shadows were still fairly long and the bench was cool beneath him. It was rather comfortable, actually, and Shy leaned back against the wall, letting his eyes slide shut.

He must have fallen asleep because the next thing Shy knew was the loud clanging of the door rolling up startled him into awareness. The boy sat up abruptly and blinked in the glare of the harsh desert sun. The shadows were much shorter, he noticed first, and turned toward the nose that had awoken him.

The door had been opened from the inside, now rolled all the way up into its casing. A man stood in the opening, tying off the ropes and chains that held the door in place.

Shy jumped to his feet when he spotted the man. “Danger!”

The man looked over at Shy in surprise, and then he smiled. “You are here early, little sparrow.”

Shy grinned and went over to the man. “I wanted to see you again,” he explained, “And there was nothing else I wanted to do today,” he added, feeling a little embarrassed.

“There was nothing you wanted to do?” Danger asked, a little surprised and amused.

Shy blushed a bit because there was something he wanted to do, he as just too embarrassed to admit it. Instead he said, “Well… I-I did rather want to see what the desert is like for someone who lives here.”

The man smiled, “I can show you that,” he replied, stepping out into the sun. Shy could not help but stare. Against the red-brown desert landscape and beneath the golden sun Danger’s dark complexion looked perfect. Shy felt, standing beside him, that his own skin was painfully white under the harsh sun. Danger turned to the younger boy and smiled. “Anything you want to see first?”

Shy shook his head mutely. It felt like he took ages to speak again. “Whatever you want,” he breathed.

“Alright, come on, then.” He motioned for Shy to follow him as he began walking into the wilderness. Shy followed after him eagerly.

They walked in silence for a while. Danger seemed to know exactly where he was going, which impressed Shy to no end. Everything out here looked the same to him, but clearly his guide did not feel this way.

Danger slowed at one point and looked back at Shy, “Do you feel up to a little climb?” he asked, “There is a bluff where you can see for miles, but it is sometimes hard to get to the top.”

Shy eagerly agreed, although he was not entirely certain he would be able to complete the hike. Already he was sweating and his breathing was heavy. But this was the land Danger called home, and he wanted to learn about it. The man seemed to realize this, thankfully. He knew that Shy’s body was unused to the dry heat and direct sun. “We will go slowly,” he assured, “And tell me if you are tired, we will stop if you need to rest.”

“I will tell you,” Shy promised. Even if he did not it would probably be obvious when he needed rest. He just hoped he would not embarrass himself by being too pathetic.

The bluff that Danger brought them too was a gentle rise that could not have been more than a few hundred feet at its highest. It was not nearly as daunting as the mountains and cliffs that Shy could see in the distance. The path they took was easy at first, but grew steeper the closer they got to the summit. They stopped twice for Shy to catch his breath, but Danger was barely winded. It made the boy feel terribly out of shape even though he knew it was just the harsh weather that he was not used to. And when he called for them to stop for the third time Danger would not let him.

“We are nearly there,” the man said encouragingly. He took Shy’s wrist and tugged gently to keep him going. “You can make it.”

Shy let Danger pull him the rest of the way to the top of the hill. When they got there Shy was panting and had to lean against his knees in a most undignified manner. But it was surprisingly cooler up here. A warm desert breeze blew over them, cooling Shy’s sunburned skin. When he had caught his breath the boy stood up straight again and finally got to look out at the view.

The grueling hike was certainly worth it. The boy could see for miles in every direction from this vantage point. Back the way they had come Shy could see the sun casting shadows from the buildings of town. The train tracks glinted as they ran off into the distance. A little further beyond the town he could see a river. It ran off through the desert, circling around the hill where they stood and then delving into a deep canyon.
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Erandir

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Number of posts : 25
Age : 30
Ort : San Francisco
Registration date : 2008-04-06

PostSubject: Re: [ENG] Shy in the Face of Danger   Wed May 21, 2008 3:05 pm

“It’s beautiful,” Shy breathed. There was so much to take in that he almost felt overwhelmed. Staring out across the vastness of the desert he felt small and insignificant. When finally he was able to tear his eyes away from the view Shy turned back to Danger. “Where do you live?”

The man moved to stand behind Shy and bent to be at the boy’s eye level. “Do you see there?” he asked, pointing outward, “Where the river first begins to turn west?”

“Yes,” Shy replied softly. He could feel his heart beating quickly again, but not longer because he was winded.

“Just beyond that is where my people live. You may not be able to see the village from here.”

Shy squinted, and he thought he could make out some shadows on the plains. But he was unsure if they were really there. “I think I see it,” He said softly. “It is so far from town. Do you have to walk all that way every day.”

“Unfortunately,” Danger replied, standing up straight again. But he made no move to step away from Shy. It was no wonder, then, that he was in better shape than Shy, who had never walked more than a mile in his life. “But it is not as bad as you might think,” the man added, as though able to tell what Shy was thinking. “I was raised here. The heat is not as bad for me as it is for you. If you lived here for a while you would grow used to the climate as well.”

“You must think I am terribly pathetic,” Shy murmured, blushed to add to the heated flush of his cheeks.

“Not at all,” Danger assured him, though. “You are different. Your body is accustomed to different conditions. That is not necessarily bad.” He smiled and rested a hand affectionately atop the boy’s head. “I am actually quite impressed with how well you did today.”

Shy felt his heart flutter. He had impressed Danger? Even though he had only done something that was mundane for the man, he felt proud of himself. “I… Am glad that I did,” he said shyly, “I do not want you to think badly of me.”

“I could not think badly of you, Shy,” the man told him gently. His hand slowly trailed down the boy’s cheek to hold his chin. “You are unlike any other white man I have ever met.”

Shy did not fail to see how significant that was. If Danger came into town nearly every day to work then he would have met hundreds of Shy’s people. The boy knew he should say something, but his voice refused to work. Not that he needed his voice to work at that moment. As Shy stood there trying to think of something to say the dark skinned man leaned in and pressed his lips feather light to Shy’s.

The boy swooned. The pounding of his heart and the heat of the day were finally too much for him. Danger caught him easily and Shy gave a small moan as he rested against the man’s chest. “We need to get you out of the sun,” the man said, and Shy was not sure if Danger really thought it was the sun that had made him faint. But Danger set him back on his feet and stripped off his shirt and Shy did not care anymore what the man thought. “Here, this should help,” he said, draping the cloth over Shy’s head. “Can you walk?”

“I… Think so.” The boy mumbled, but after a few steps he stumbled. So maybe it really was the sun and not the gorgeous half-naked man who had just kissed him.

Without a second though Danger picked up the boy; holding the overheated body to his chest as he started back to town.

-----

Danger carried Shy all the way back to the museum as though he were nothing. The boy had told him multiple times that he could walk on his own, but Danger refused to put him down. It was a little embarrassing, but Shy was actually enjoying himself far more than he would ever admit.

When they arrived at the museum again Danger set his cargo down on a shaded bench. Shy immediately lay down, far more exhausted by the heat and direct sun than he realized now that it was cooler. The bench was not as cool as the one he had sat on that morning, but it was mid afternoon already so that wasn’t surprising. “Stay here,” the man told him gently, “I am going to find you something to drink.”

Shy could only nod slightly before the man was gone. He was actually somewhat thankful for the time alone; it gave him the chance to sort out his thoughts and feelings. He still had Danger’s shirt, and he pulled it to his face, breathing in the smell. He almost moaned. Though it smelled a bit like himself now, the shirt smelled mostly of the man: sweat and desert dirt and sun.

What was wrong with him? Shy had never felt this way before. Fainting when kissed? Smelling a shirt? Those were not normal things for a boy his age to be doing? Maybe for a girl is age, but that made him feel even more pathetic so Shy tried not to think of it. Instead he pulled the garment over his head to block out some of the light and let his eyes slide shut.

What was even worse to think about was what would happen the next day when Shy had to leave with his family. Chances were he would never see Danger again. He told himself that it really should not matter, but he could not help how his heart ached when he thought about leaving.

Hearing footsteps, the boy opened his eyes and, recognizing Danger, sat up slowly. The dark skinned man had brought a bottle of water from the gift shop, which he opened and handed to Shy. “Thank you,” the boy murmured as he took the bottle and drank some. As he drank the man sat down beside him and Shy looked over nervously. Did Danger really care that he would be leaving? He had kissed him before, that had to mean something. Should he ask? Should he say anything?

“I… I am leaving tomorrow,” Shy finally said, the words coming out faster than he had intended.

Danger did not say anything, he did not even turn to look at the boy. Shy began to think that he didn’t even care. Then Danger spoke again. “Where are you headed?”

“West,” Shy answered, “Northwest, I think.”

“On the morning train?”

“Yes,” he replied, and he bit his lip nervously. The man’s voice was devoid of emotion, which worried Shy all the more because he could not tell what Danger was thinking. Was he only pretending to care? “We will be going home by the Northern line,” he added, hoping the news that he would not be coming back this way would elicit a reaction.

But Shy had no such luck. The man only nodded thoughtfully. The boy felt his throat start to tighten with the same pain he had felt thinking about leaving. It seemed like that kiss had not meant anything after all, and Danger was just going to watch him leave. That upset Shy more than he had thought it would, but he would not let the man see him cry. So, summoning up the courage, he leaned over and kissed the man’s cheek. Then he ran; leaving the man’s shirt and the water bottle behind. And this time it was Danger who was left frozen and staring.

--------------------------

To Be Continued.
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PostSubject: Part Two   Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:56 pm

Shy in the Face of Danger
Rating: PG13
Summary: Set in a Neo-Victorian/Steampunk America, a young boy experiences a culture clash that will change his life while on a family road trip.
Warnings: Homosexual relationships (nothing explicit).
---------

Shy did not speak to anyone else the rest of the day. Save curt answers to his parents’ questions he was dead silent. He locked himself up in his hotel room and packed and re-packed his things to try and keep his mind off the dark skinned man who had probably already forgotten about him.

The next morning he was just as silent as he stood on the train platform with his family. His gaze kept wandering back toward the town and the direction of Danger’s village. He did not know what he was hoping for. After all, he was fairly certain the man would not be coming after him. If he had wanted to, wouldn’t he be here already? Or would he not have said something the night before?

The train rolled to a stop before them with a hiss of steam and a creek of breaks. Shy let out a sigh as he picked up his bags and followed his parents up the stairs onto the train. He spared one last glance back over his shoulder, but there were only the other tourists getting back on the train. It really was too late, now, so the boy turned back around and followed his family to their cabin.

His mother asked him what was wrong when they were putting their baggage in the racks, but he just said that he was overly tired from the heat. Thankfully they all seemed to believe this. That was good, because Shy really did not feel like talking to anyone right now. He much preferred wallowing in his own heartbreak.

The train let out another sigh and hiss of steam as it prepared to start moving again, but despite the creak of gears as the wheels started turning the train only lurched forward a few feet before jerking to a stop again. The passengers were jostled and instantly Shy’s mother began to worry that there was something wrong with the train, but the boy’s sister noticed something outside the window where she was plastered. “That man is late,” the young girl declared, “Doesn’t he know you have to be on time?”

“What man?” Shy asked, his heart leaping into his throat as he leaned over her to see out the window. He could hardly believe his eyes, but there, running down the boarding platform, was the very same man he had thought he would never see again. “Danger,” he breathed, eliciting a confused sound from his sister. Pushing away from the window he stood up and headed for the door to their cabin, “I…. I am going to get something to drink,” he stated as he pulled the door open and went out into the hall.

Once away from his family he took a moment to calm his racing heart. And then he started toward the door where he had seen Danger come in. The further he walked the quicker his steps became as he grew more desperate to see the man. Halfway down the third car he searched, the door at the other end opened and the dark skinned man stepped through. Shy skidded to a stop, only a few paces away from the man, his breath stolen away by the sight of him.

The man stopped as well, and Shy thought he even looked a little surprised. For a moment neither of them spoke. And then Shy managed to get a few words out. “You… Followed me.”

Danger opened his mouth to reply, but at that exact moment the train lurched forward again, starting off on its trip. Shy lost his balance, and Danger reached out to catch him, but a second lurch sent him off balance as well and both toppled to the floor. Shy landed flat on his back with Danger atop him.

Instantly, the boy’s face turned bright red and his breath caught in his throat as he looked up at the man. He could not help but notice how suggestive their positions were, and even Danger seemed, for a moment, at a loss as what to do.

When the man’s mind returned to him he climbed to his feet and held a hand out to help Shy off the floor. “Sorry,” he said softly.

“It is alright,” Shy mumbled as he tried to collect himself. He fidgeted with his clothes, straightening them over again. When finally he regained his composure, at least a little bit, he looked back up at Danger. “Why did you come after me?” he asked.

“Because I realized that I needed to see you again,” the man told him. “I am sorry about yesterday. There was a lot I needed to think about.”

“It is alright,” Shy said again, and the two fell into a strange silence. The boy felt awkward. He straightened his jacket again self-consciously. “Do… I told my parents I was getting something to drink… Do you want to go to the dining car?”

Danger smiled, “I would like that. But first, will you help me find my cabin?” he asked, and his smile turned a bit sheepish. “I am afraid that I have never actually traveled by train before.”

Shy was surprised to hear this, although he supposed he should not have been. If Danger had been born in that small desert town there was no reason he should have been on a train before. The town had only one station, and the trains came only once a day. But it was also a little odd for Shy to have finally found something he knew that the man did not. “What is the cabin number?” the boy asked, and Danger handed him his ticket, clearly unsure how to read it properly; and Shy was more than happy to help him. “It is in the car next to mine,” the boy told him happily, and turned to head back the way he had come.

Shy lead the man back down the train, not really realizing how far he had wandered until they finally reached the car where his family was. “This is my cabin,” he told the man, pointing to the number over the door to make sure Danger noted it. “Yours is in the next car,” the boy continued as they passed the cabin, and only a moment later they were standing outside the smaller cabin that had the same number as Danger’s ticket.

“This one is mine?” the man asked, and Shy nodded as he handed the ticket back. Danger opened the door and looked in. The cabin was small, with only a single bed and nothing more. The man dropped his one bag, on the bed and took the key that hung on a hook beside the door. After the door was locked again he turned back to Shy. “Thank you,” he said, “Shall we go to the dining car now?”

“Yes. I think it is this way,” Shy replied, pointing down the hall.

---

The dining car was empty, which was no surprise considering they had been traveling for less than an hour and it was still morning. Shy and Danger sat down at a table in the corner. Shy did not get anything to drink because he wasn’t actually thirsty. Even if he had been he would have been more than happy just to sit with Danger.

“I suppose I should explain what happened yesterday,” the man said before Shy had a chance to even open his mouth. “I am sorry, again, that I did nothing at the time. There was a lot that I needed to think about; a lot that needed to be sorted out before I followed after you.”

Shy nodded silently. He should have known that. Danger had a life and a job; he could not just drop everything to run after some boy he had just met.

“But I thought about everything,” Danger continued, “And I realized that if I did not follow you I would probably regret it for a very long time.”

Shy felt his heart skip a beat. The man had felt as cheerless upon his leaving as Shy had? “Wh… Why?” he asked softly, not knowing what else to say. He just wanted to be certain that he was not reading too much into the man’s words; that he wasn’t imagining things.

Danger smiled softly, seeming a little amused. “That kiss on the bluff did not mean nothing,” he said, “And I assume the one you gave me at the museum did not, either. When you told me you were leaving I had to realize that I would never see you again if I did not follow you. I should have said something then, but I had to talk to my family and the people I worked for. I did not want to get your hopes up if I was unable to follow you.”

“I am glad you did,” Shy breathed softly, smiling across the table at Danger.

The man’s own smile widened a bit, and he reached across the table to gently take the boy’s hand in his own. “As am I,” he replied, bringing Shy’s fingers up to his lips and kissing them softly.

The boy blushed faintly, but he could not have been happier. If this was not love he didn’t know what was. But he knew he had to keep this from his parents for a little longer. He doubted if they were believers in love at first sight. And even if they were they probably would not want their son to be in love with a foreign man he hardly knew. Not that he blamed them. Shy himself was a little apprehensive, but he was falling fast and hard. And even if this turned out to be a disaster, he knew he would never regret it.

---
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PostSubject: Re: [ENG] Shy in the Face of Danger   Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:57 pm

The train ride was, on the whole, relatively uneventful. Shy did not spend much time with his family. This was something which was strange for him on these trips, but though his mother worried his father told her than their son was growing up and it was normal for teenagers to want to spend less time with their parents.

Shy was incredibly thankful that no one ever asked what he was doing when he was not with them. If he had said even that he had made a friend they would want to meet that person. And Shy was still afraid of how they would react if they knew he was spending all his time with someone like Danger. Though Shy was certain that the man would never take advantage of him he did realize that Danger was much older and more world-wise than he. His parents would worry about things like that. His father might do something rash. No, introducing Danger to them could wait until they reached their next destination.

The trip was only a few days, less than a week before Shy’s parents told him they would be getting off at the next stop. They were half way through Nevada; in the middle of nowhere in the desert again. Were all fossils in the desert? It certainly seemed that way to Shy.

But while he was glad to be off the train, the boy was also worried. Apparently their destination was more off the beaten path than their previous. It would be another full day by steam-car to reach the nowhere town where the fossils were located. He was concerned, because he did not know what to tell Danger. Could he really expect the man to just follow him around like this? Like a dog?

That was what he told Danger, mere hours before the train would arrive at their destination. “Apparently we are going even further,” Shy said as they sat in Danger’s cabin. “Another day, at least; heading North this time.”

“Another day?” the man asked in surprise. “What is out so far that your parents would hire a car?”

“More dinosaur bones, I’m certain,” the boy answered, rolling his eyes a little in exasperation. This whole trip was pointless in his opinion. Well it had been pointless, until he met Danger. “You do not have to follow. You have come this far… And we’ll come back to catch the train again in a few days, I’m sure…” Shy trailed off because in all honesty he wanted the man to follow him.

Danger nodded thoughtfully. At times like this Shy was never able to tell what the man was thinking. His face was unreadable; something that occasionally worried the boy. It made Shy remember just how short their acquaintance had been so far; he still knew very little about Danger. The man spoke little unless he deemed it necessary or he was poking fun at Shy. So the fact that he was silent was not strange, but Shy often worried about what the man was thinking when he was silent.

“Do,” Danger said after a long moment of thoughtful silence, “You want me to come?”

That surprised Shy. He had never thought to say what he wanted; he had been too worried that it might make Danger feel forced to come along. When the man asked outright Shy couldn’t lie to him. But Shy had fears, mostly about his parents, and thought it might be better if Danger stayed behind for now in order to avoid questions. Even though, in truth, he did want Danger to stay by his side.

“I do,” The boy admitted, unable to lie. “But you have already come this far, I would not ask you to go so much further out of your way. Especially with the cost…” Shy, admittedly, did not know how much their train tickets and the hired cars had cost them, but he also did not know how much money Danger had to spend.

“Why should I not come?” Danger asked, not uncurious as to the boy’s reasoning. “I have come this far. Perhaps you could introduce me to your parents and I would not have to hire a car for myself.”

Shy did not fail to see the logic in this suggestion, but the very notion of introducing Danger to his parents terrified him. “Well, I,” the boy stammered as he tried to come up with an explanation. “My parents are very… old fashioned when it comes to… relationships.”

The dark skinned man stared at Shy curiously for a moment, as though he did not understand what he meant. And by all means he may not have. Shy realized belatedly that Danger had been raised in a different culture, and the customs of another might not make sense to him. “You think they will not approve of me because of my race?” the man asked.

“Yes,” Shy replied, “And because of how short our acquaintance has been; and many other things besides. I… I think it might be better to wait a while longer.” He felt ashamed admitting these things, especially since Danger did not seem worried in the slightest.

“And what if you were to introduce me as merely a friend?” Danger asked curiously.

This was something Shy had never thought of before. In fact, he had put very little thought into how he would introduce Danger to his parents when the time came. What were they? Certainly they could not be called lovers. And there had not even been anything in the way of courtship as Shy was accustomed to. He was not entirely certain Danger even thought of them as more than friends; he had never bothered to ask. And despite what had happened in the desert, nothing of an even remotely romantic nature had happened since.

“I think that may go over well enough,” Shy told him awkwardly, and with a little shame. He would have to ask the man later where he believed this acquaintanceship was going, but for now the boy had to return to his own car and prepare to make leave again.

-----

When the train pulled into the station in Austin, Nevada Shy disembarked with his family. He helped his father to get their bags out of the baggage compartments and onto a trolley. Old fashioned as ever, his father insisted neither his wife nor daughter do any sort of manual labor. It annoyed Shy, but he put up with it, too anxious now to bother putting up any sort of argument.

While his father went off to find the car that they had hired for the next few days Shy waited with his mother and sister. The boy scanned through the crown that bustled too and from the train, searching for the tall man with the long hair and dark skin. Danger should be getting off at this station as well, unless he had changed his mind and wanted to go home.

There was no sign of the Native, though. Danger should have stood out amidst the crowd; with his dark skin and his unconventional clothing. So where was he?

“Shy?”

The boy jumped in surprise and spun around. He had not heard the man come up behind him, and had not expected it either. Danger stood there, a small amused smile on his features. The man had pulled his hair back into a pony tail at the base of his neck, buttoned up and tucked in his shirt and washed the smudge of face paint from his cheek. He still wasn’t wearing proper shoes, but just these small changes to his appearance were enough to make him look almost proper and sophisticated.

Danger stared at the boy expectantly for a moment, until it became clear that the boy was not going to say anything for a moment. “Is this your mother?” he asked, turning to the woman with a charming smile.

“Oh, Y-yes!” Shy was jolted back to reality. “Mother this is Danger. Danger this is my mother, Mrs. Ainsworth, and my sister Sophia.”

“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” Danger said, taking the woman’s hand and kissing her knuckles politely. “And you too, little miss,” he added, doing the same for Shy’s sister.

Mrs. Ainsworth looked up at the dark skinned man in surprise, clearly surprised and flustered. “Well, it is a pleasure to meet you as well,” she replied out of courtesy. “How is it that you know Shy?”

“I met him on the train. He helped me to find my cabin,” Danger informed them. “And he kept me company for the journey.”

“Oh, so then you are why he was running off at all hours and not joining us for meals,” the woman said. She looked pointed over at her son, who knew enough to look ashamed for doing so.

Danger smiled, “I am afraid so. I am sorry if I caused you any trouble. It is only that I am traveling alone and it can be quite lonely at times.”

“Where are you traveling to, if you do not mind my asking?”

“Just exploring,” the Native replied. “I have never been West before. When Shy told me that his family was stopping here I thought that I would take a break and see what there was to see as well; and to meet you, of course. He speaks of his family so often I found myself eager to meet you.”

Danger shared a few more words with Shy’s mother, and the boy was amazed at how easily he was able to spin a tale that told only half the truth. He was not outright lying, except maybe about Shy talking about his family, but he made their acquaintance sound much more innocent. The man had clearly taken to heart Shy’s comment that his parents might be skeptical about him, and had put a lot of thought into his story.

Shy was also surprised by the eloquence with which Danger spoke. Even when they had first met Shy had never heard him talk like this. He sounded like a properly schooled gentleman, not at all the barbarian Shy was afraid the dark skinned man would appear to his parents.

And when Mr. Ainsworth returned to bring them to the car the Native was introduced and not a word was said about the oddness of his name (except by little Sophia, who was quickly quieted by her mother). Shy was utterly shocked. He had never expected it to be this easy to introduce Danger to his parents, and yet he had hardly had to do anything at all.

Maybe this whole thing would work out after all.
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