XLV: ROAD TRIP

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chapter forty-five; road trip

"Thanks for letting us borrow your car, man," Luke said, knocking fists with Ashton, who was currently acting like he regretted the decision. "We'll see you in a couple days."

"If you hurt my baby," Ashton said, patting the car's hood gently, theatrically sighing."I'm going to kill you. Violently."

"Yeah, don't do anything gross in it," Becca retorted, handing Ava a bag of snacks they had bought together, full of water bottles and seaweed chips and sour gummy worms, through the rolled down passenger side window. "Ashton drives some of his high school kids from Easthallow Point around this thing. Don't contaminate it."

Ava snorted in response, rolling her eyes and running her hand through her hair, the blue now in the beginning stages of fading and becoming faded blue-green. "Ew. Never."

Becca nodded and turned to Calum, the closest to Luke on the other side of car, and he then punched Luke in the shoulder. "So then you don't do anything gross in it. By yourself or otherwise."

"You guys make me sick," Michael said sarcastically, standing behind everyone else, leaning forward on his crutches. He was in a particularly bad mood since his doctor had told him the cast would need to stay on for an extra week since Michael was too clumsy and insisted on walking. "Ava, I love you. Luke, hands to yourself."

"Yeah, yeah." Luke waved his hand dismissively, rolling his eyes, before getting ready to turn the key in the ignition. "I love you guys, and we'll send pictures in the group chat."

"Wait, where's Ragnarok?" Calum asked, peering through the other side at Michael, who had just held the cat a second ago. "She was just right there."

"She still is." Michael reached into the pocket of his oversized black hoodie to reveal a moving lump of fur, Ragnarok purring peacefully, sleeping. He balanced himself on one of the crutches more than the other to make sure he didn't drop her. "She was up all night watching TV."

Becca laid a hand on Ragnarok's soft fur, petting her with a fake frown on her face. "Oh, you poor thing. Mike's got you watching anime with him, doesn't he?"

Michael rolled his eyes, but was clearly smiling before carefully placing Ragnarok back to her nook in his hoodie. The cat had fit in nicely with the group despite joining the friends late, and no one had ever seen Becca so giddy than when she was playing with Ragnarok, and Ashton arguably insisted the most on pet-sitting whenever Michael went out to parties. No one was immune to the kitten's charm, and mainly, everyone was just glad that they weren't the ones who had to feed and take care of her on a daily basis; though knowing that Michael was the only one who Ragnarok had to rely on did provoke them to stop by his apartment more than usual as of late.

"Bye, nerds!" Ava said after, giving Becca a hug through the open window, followed by Michael. "Ashton, you're my favourite. Be responsible!"

"Wait," Calum and Becca spoke in unison, "Ashton is your favourite?"

"Drive, Luke, drive! Step on it," Ava urged dramatically, only for Luke to barely pull out of the parking lot, probably going two miles per hour. "Oh my God, you grandpa."

"Shut up, Ashton's van is bigger than my car. Besides, we wouldn't want to hurt his baby."

The van lurched forward, hitting the speed bump that was placed just before you entered or exited the parking lot, and soon their friends could only be seen if Ava craned her neck and stared out the window, or if she kept her eyes on the rear-view mirrors. Her dress lay in the backseat in such a manner that ensured it wouldn't get wrinkled, Luke's borrowed tux from Calum placed directly underneath, bow-tie and all.

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