Chapter Twelve

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The sun had barely begun to rise when May and Welkin met Dom at his truck. Trina stood huddled, not quite awake, listening as Dom rattled off a few last minute instructions of things to be tended to in his absence.

"I got it dude. Fuck, it's not like you've never left town before," she complained between yawns.

"I'm just making sure my beloved teammates have everything they need while I'm gone," Dom replied as he hitched his pack into the truck bed. "Is that so wrong?"

Trina rolled her eyes and shoved her hands deep into her pockets. "I'm going to forget all of this as soon as I go back to bed out of sheer spite."

Trina was not a morning person.

Dom laughed merrily, more than accustomed to his colleague's sour attitude when roused pre-sunrise, and continued packing the truck. He reached out to May and motioned for her bag.

"Let me toss that in for you."

This jarred a memory in May.

"Hang on," she said, slinging the pack from her shoulder down to the ground. She rustled around inside, unearthing the Champagne bottle from the sweater she had wrapped it in for safe keeping, and secured the bag closed once more. "Here, now you can toss it in."

Dom did so, gleefully.

Meanwhile, Welkin peered over May's shoulder curiously. "What is that?"

"Actually," she replied, turning to face them. "I was hoping you could answer that. Emandi asked me to give it to you."

Now that they could see the old bottle clearly, Welkin's eyes grew wide with surprise.

"They remembered," the Star whispered as they gently took the bottle from May's outstretched hands. "How wonderful."

"Y'all ready to roll?" Dom called from the other side of the truck. He had his door open and had hoisted himself up so he could see them over the cab.

Welkin's head snapped up. "No."

"What?" May squawked in surprise.

"Not yet. Give me a little more time." Welkin shoved the bottle back into May's hands. "Hold onto that until I get back, and for goodness sake, be careful with it."

May, Dom, and Trina stared at one another in gobsmacked silence as Welkin raced back into the building.

"That's the liveliest I've seen them since they got here," Dom remarked as he swung his truck door closed again. "What's going on?"

"I'm honestly not sure," May replied, half curious and half annoyed. Every minute they weren't on the road made her anxiety intensify a little bit more.

Inside, Welkin had already woken Matti. With his help, the Star buzzed around the garage collecting bits and pieces of scrap metal and various tools. None of it made any sense to May, but within 20 minutes they seemed content with their haul and were finally ready to go.

"Many thanks for your assistance, Matti," Welkin called over their shoulder to the still-stunned and bleary-eyed mechanic, who offered only a mumble and small wave in reply before turning around and lumbering back toward the dormitories.

Welkin shuffled back to the truck, a box full of what looked like junk resting on their lean forearms. Dom jumped up and lowered the tailgate just in time for Welkin to drop the box into the truck bed with a calamitous clang. Immediately they began rooting through their spoils, plucking out various odds and ends and leaving the rest in the box.

"What in the world are you doing?" May questioned, watching the Star work with increasing concern.

"Just a small project for the road, that's all," Welkin responded, shoving the box further into the bed and raising the tailgate with a slam. "Shall we?"

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