Crash And Burn

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SAN DIEGO

After another meeting with Ahlaam's family, Ahmad finally returned home to California. Though he had wished to stay longer, prior responsibilities prevented him. For one, he had an eight week course on teaching to attend as per his job requirements at a private, faith-based school. After the first two weeks, the course included three days per week on-site work, with him being put into a classroom as a teacher's assistant and receiving a small salary for his time. That all began in the week of his return.

Aside from work issues though, he also had to put serious effort into finding a new home. Ahlaam had said that she wouldn't mind living with her in-laws initially, but Ahmad wanted to get out of his mother's home before it could come to that. He'd already been searching for places online, and once back, he linked up with Yahya to see if he knew of any affordable options.

Together, the two of them visited a few small houses and apartment complexes over the course of three days. Most of them, unfortunately, were out of Ahmad's price range, considering he was only starting as an elementary school teacher. Yahya promised to find him a decent place, though, and so the search continued.

Presently, Ahmad was just leaving an apartment whose address Yahya had texted him. Yahya himself had not been able to join him for a walk-through, but in the end it wasn't completely necessary anyways. The place turned out to be another dud, and Ahmad had brought his cousin, Mustafa, along for company.

Even though Mustafa seemed to be quite different than the preteen Ahmad had said salaam to when he left for Madinah, he found it surprisingly easy to reconnect with him now. Mustafa had always been a clownish, self-proclaimed geek, and even though he tried hard to seem cool in his teenage years, Ahmad recognized the inner goof behind the act. They no longer shared all the same interests, with Mustafa getting into basketball, anime, and music, three things Ahmad could do without, but it all worked out regardless.

After giving only a small bit of advice, Ahmad tried relating Mustafa's music to poetry, hoping by that to draw him out of it in a non-preachy way. As for the anime, Ahmad had several exciting and unique books with stories comparable to and greater than the anime shows his cousin loved so much, so that gave them talking grounds. And on the topic of sports, while Ahmad personally was no fan of basketball, preferring soccer and even parkour over it, he had no real opposition to it.

The one thing they really bonded over though was talking about their crazy family. Ahmad had heard about many of the crazy stories and happenings that took place in his absence, and the two had a good laugh over most of them. As they drove down the street, passing the high school Mustafa had recently graduated from, a story came up about a fight he'd gotten into there.

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