fifty-eight

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"Honest to God, I had very low expectations for Elijah today," said Nicholas in a light-hearted gesture.

"Hey!" exclaimed Elijah, placing a spoonful of rice into his mouth. 

Humaid's dark eyes twinkled. "I gotta say that I am a hundred percent with Nick."

Elijah merely glared at the bunch, huffing. "Of course I would take him out to eat at the finest dining!"

At this, Humaid raised a questionable brow. "At a Kabob store?" he asked, biting back a smile. 

"Okay, I have like a hundred bucks on me. If you wanted rich restaurant food, you'd be starving," retorted Elijah. "Have you seen those five star restaurants? They give you twigs to eat. Twigs!"

"Those are called vegetables, Elijah," corrected Nicholas in a mocking tone. "Vegetables."

"Disgusting!"

The group erupted into a fit of laughter at the twisted look of revulsion painted across his best friend's visage. A feeling of ease swept their table, erasing the previous grief that etched the Younes twins' hearts and the disappointment from Nicholas's. With one call, Elijah saved the day.

Instead of allowing his friends to wallow in their bittersweet night, he took matters into his own hands. Elijah led them to a popular Kabob store near the university, a store renowned for its famous dishes ranging from gyro sandwiches, salmon platters, variety of kabobs, baklava, and spices. Although many Muslims lived in the area, not every store had halal meat available to the Muslims.

Fortunately for them, this particular store did, hence its popularity among Muslim residents and non-Muslims with a diverse taste in foods.

"Jokes aside, I can't imagine a better way to spend a bachelor night than hanging out with friends," said Nicholas, cerulean eyes softening as he gazed at his friends. "Thank you all for everything. I'm forever indebted to you guys."

Elijah groaned. "Nick, I love you, but for the love of God, stop with the sentiments."

He narrowed his eyes distastefully at his friend. 

"However, I do have one request before you're married," grinned Elijah, a mischievous glint touching the edge of his pupils and displaying the coy smile of a fox. "As my best friend, you're compelled to grant it."

"Oh, boy," chuckled Humaid, leaning back against his seat as if he was watching a cinema. "This should be good."

Haroon sipped his drink, tilting his head in agreement. 

Nicholas rolled his eyes, swirling the water in his cup. "What do you want?"

"A Nemo plush toy."

Nicholas instantly reddened in embarrassment, flush with the intimate memory of his secret gift to Dina, a token of their inside joke, one that he regretfully cued Elijah in. 

"Y-You're crazy," stuttered Nicholas. "Why the hell would you want that?"

His best friend gave him puppy dog eyes, pouting. "Because I'm going to be so lonely," he whined. "I'm like a goldfish. I forget things when I don't see it often."

"Glad to know that I'm reduced to an 'it' instead of a him," Nicholas said dryly. 

"Ah," interrupted Haroon, stroking his chin. "So, that plush toy you gave Dina had a meaning to it."

Elijah and Nicholas both paled, which Nicholas didn't think was possible for a man as confident and troublesome as Elijah. Sure, Elijah was humble with humility on the days that mattered, but in the comfort of his friends he was as average as any other guy, a student of law and a friend of games. 

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