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Author: [livejournal.com profile] rachie_grl6
Chapter: One
Pairing: Eventual Zac/Taylor
Word Count: 2275
Author's Note: This began as my NaNoWriMo story for 2011. Recently I was re-reading through some old fiction and came across this gem. I was intrigued! I'm finally starting to edit so hopefully I'll be posting fairly regularly. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

“Good evening gate B14. We appreciate everyone who has been waiting for Southwest Flight 5657 with service to Tulsa.”

The speaker system left much to be desired as it crackled in and out around the waiting area of the airport gate. Elderly couples, young singles, families with small children, and everyone in between quickly and eagerly turned their heads towards the employee making the announcement. They were more than ready to board the plane and be on their way to Oklahoma.

Zac had been lightly snoozing in his seat, music playing through his headphones from the travel playlist he was constantly updating on his iPhone, when the woman had picked up the phone by the counter to announce the newest message concerning the already much delayed flight to his hometown.

Finally! He thought, this was getting ridiculous. And I’m really fucking tired.

Zac sat up, shaking his head to try to drive the sleepiness away from his body for a moment. He knew that as soon as he was seated he could sleep until they landed. Just the thought of being unconscious for any period of time sounded like heaven after the long day he’d had.

Several hours earlier…

Zac had gotten up at approximately four am, give or take a fifteen minute snooze, before hopping in the shower to wake himself up and get clean as he knew he had a very full day ahead of him. He’d been planning a trip to Tulsa to visit family and take in a few concerts while he was there. It was to be a short trip but a much needed vacation and break from work nonetheless.

“Don’t stop believing. Hold on to that feeeeeeeeling!” Zac belted out the words to the song that played on the radio he’d set up in his bathroom upon renting the apartment in Pennsylvania. Not that showers were boring. Okay, yes they are somewhat boring. But Zac had always had a thing for music and what better way to entertain his obsession than listening to it at every possible moment in the day.

As the song came to an end so did his singing and Zac slipped a hand down and began stroking. No matter how long or short a trip away from home was, he always had a tradition of getting off one more time in the privacy and comfort of his own home as he knew he wouldn’t get the opportunity again until he had returned. Once finished, he rinsed off a last time and pulled the shower curtain open before stepping out and wrapping a towel around his waist.

“Alright, time to get this show on the road.” He muttered under his breath as he wiped his hand across the fogged mirror to display enough of the glass so that he could begin his bathroom routine. Zac grabbed his electric toothbrush from its perch on the charging dock and flipped up the cap on the toothpaste with his other hand before squirting some on the bristles. He replaced the tube to the counter and pressed the button on the brush to start the vibrations.

Zac was buzzing with excitement about visiting his childhood home and seeing his family. It had been far too long and no matter what, Pennsylvania just did not compare to Oklahoma. It was going to be a good day and nothing could sour his mood, nothing at all.

Several hours later…

“God damnit!” Zac cursed under his breath once he heard the bad news. He usually wasn’t such a grouch when it came to these types of things but it had been a mothereffer of a day and he was tired and cranky, not to mention hungry. All those added up to an angry, frustrated Zac who wanted to punch something.

He rose from his chair and not so gently hauled up his backpack to his shoulders and jetted over to the counter to get his updated flight information for the following day. The employees behind the desk looked frazzled and were as apologetic as they could possibly be but they knew that people hated to have their travel plans interrupted and even worse, disliked being stuck in a strange city in a hotel or even worse, the airport itself, until the next available flight. Unfortunate for them, they had to bear the brunt of anger that should have been more appropriately directed toward Mother Nature given her hand in the situation was the only reason for the cancellation.

Zac maintained his patience as much as he could as he moved to the front of the line. “Good evening sir. Can I have your boarding pass and ID and we’ll see what we can do to get you on the next available flight out tomorrow.”

Zac fished the paper out of his pocket and the ID from his wallet before handing them over to the gentleman across from him. The employee, whose name was Paul by the name plate over the left breast pocket in his shirt, took the items and began searching the computer for something for the young man who was far more tolerable than the last family. The father had come unglued and demanded to be put up on the airline’s dollar with dinner, breakfast, and lunch for the next 24 hours plus taxi service and a list a mile long of reasons why he did not want a voucher for a future flight because he was never going to fly this airline again due to the shitty service he’d been provided that day.

Paul could feel the headache deepen after that transaction had been completed and he desperately wanted to get all these people on their way so he could get home, pop a few Aleve, and fall into bed. He’d been forced to work a double shift and was feeling the effects of being in an airport for 20 hours, just like some of these people had been. But they didn’t know that or care to know that and therefore he had to put on a happy face; try to pacify the extremely cantankerous customers without scaring away anyone who would hopefully travel on that airline for future flights. So yeah, Paul was happy that this young man, Zachary Walker, had been relatively quiet so far.

Paul internally groaned when he saw that the only flight available was late afternoon the next day. Unfortunately you cannot give a seat where there is none available and he had to inform the man standing in front of him that he had over 12 hours before he could even think about getting out of Detroit.

“The soonest I can get you to Tulsa is tomorrow on the 2:25 flight.” He told Zac.

Figuring this was just another part of the shit-tastic day that the universe was bestowing upon him, he didn’t even really worry about the fact that he was going to miss almost two days at home and that with flying home on Monday that he’d really only have 2 and a half days at home. The alternative was to go back to PA and forgo the trip altogether but no matter what his decision was, he wasn’t going to be leaving that night.

I suppose I should just keep my plan for Tulsa. I will at least get to go to the concert on Saturday night.

“Yeah, that’s fine. But what do I do until then? Do I have to sleep in the airport or …?”

“We’ll give you a voucher for a hotel near the airport, a taxi ride to and from, as well as a food voucher for tomorrow that can be used inside the airport. We can also offer you a $400 voucher for a future flight.”

“Oh,” Zac said disinterestedly. He was grateful for all that but was really just exhausted and wanted a bed. “Okay. Whatever.”

Paul cleared his throat and went back to the screen to key the confirmation for the young man. He printed out the new vouchers along with the updated boarding pass for the next day’s flight.

“Here you are. Again, sorry for the inconvenience and I hope you have a good night.”

“Thanks man.” Zac gave him a slight smile. He hadn’t ever worked in an airport but had gone through a stint in retail and he knew how crabby people got and vowed to never give someone in customer service a hard time because it just didn’t sit well with people on either side of the equation.

Zac stuffed the papers into his pocket and picked up his duffel bag before turning from the counter. Paul took a deep breath and began his apologetic spiel to the next customer who looked like she would rival the father from before. It was going to be a long night.

Families were milling around the gate area, some making plans to get to a hotel for the night and some for getting back home as this had been their initial departure. No one was in a particularly good mood and everyone was exhausted. Zac stuffed his ear buds back in his ear, his hands in his pocket, and settled his gaze toward the floor as he made his way to the ground transportation section of the airport.

“Oomph” Zac groaned as he smacked right into something.

“CRAP!” A voice who belonged to the body that Zac had apparently walked right into rang out. Zac quickly righted himself and turned towards the man only to see that his coffee had spilled all over the front of his clothing.

“I’m so sorry man. I wasn’t watching where I was going. Uh…” Zac began apologizing profusely. He felt like a jackass but was honestly not surprised that his awful night had just gotten worse.

“No, no it’s okay. I’ll live. I was sort of distracted anyways.” The guys’ cheeks flushed a deep red shade as Zac looked him in the eyes. His blue eyes held contact for a second then flittered away. Zac took in the rest of him as he sputtered away at why the collision was his fault and his fault alone when Zac already knew that it was both of them. The guy had dirty blond hair that was semi-long and he was tall and thin but definitely filled out. He was wearing tight white jeans, cowboy boots, a lose fitting red V-neck tee and some sort of scarf. Definitely not Zac’s style.

“Hey,” Zac said, interrupting the babbler in front of him. “It’s not just your fault. It takes two to run into each other. I am really sorry about your clothes. Especially, um, your pants. I’m guessing coffee stains don’t come out of white pants very easy.”

“Oh these? I’ll just throw them out and buy a new pair. It’s really not a big deal. Oh and I’m Taylor by the way.” Taylor extended his non-coffee drenched hand out.

Zac took Taylor’s hand in his and gave it a firm shake. Despite Taylor’s outward appearance, he had a strong handshake and a fairly low-pitch voice which led Zac to believe he was not as fruity as he’d first assumed. “I’m Zac.”

Taylor smiled at his new acquaintance. “So where are you headed to tonight? You seemed in a hurry but I don’t think there are any flights out this late, well except the one I’m on to Tulsa. I was trying to get back fast when I saw everyone stand up. I guess they finally are going to let us board.”

“About that. Yeah, I’m going to Tulsa too. But they aren’t letting us board. They actually cancelled the flight and everyone is milling around because they are trying to figure out alternative travel plans. I already got mine booked for tomorrow so I was heading to ground transportation to get a taxi to the hotel for the night. I’ve pretty much gotten the run-around today so I’m tired and anxious to get out of an airport.”

“Well that’s just fucking great.”

Zac was amused to see Taylor get frustrated. He knew the feeling and this guy seemed nice enough to talk to. Even though he was desperate to get to a bed, Zac didn’t mind standing there a few more minutes.

“Yeah.” Zac had nothing more intelligent to add.

“Well I guess I’d better go see what they can do for me. Maybe we’ll get on the same flight out tomorrow and we can sit together. If nothing else, we can bond over our crazy travel stories.”

Zac smiled at his mate and nodded his head. “Sounds like a plan. I’ll let you get going and perhaps our paths will cross again soon. Have a good night man.”

They shook hands again in parting and Zac turned to go find a taxi while Taylor dumped his coffee in a nearby trash can and walked toward the long line at the counter to find out his newest travel itinerary.

“Where are you headed?” The cab driver turned around to ask Zac as he climbed in the back seat.

“I think the Mariott that’s closest to the hotel. Southwest is putting a bunch of us up since our flight got cancelled. Oh yeah, I have this voucher for you too.” Zac handed up the paper to the cabbie who looked visibly pissed. He must not like to work for those. And even though Zac was normally generous on tipping he decided to just forgo it altogether. It had been a mostly ridiculous day and he was ready for it to be over as quick as possible, his patience running out fast.
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