Greg did not disappoint on his promise. After the three of us had gathered a few supplies from the snake sister’s camp, not that there was much that we could use other than the magically powered spotlight and heater, we set off with our very impatient rattle snake friend leading the way. Normally, I would have been skeptical about allowing a snake to lead me anywhere. I had already had a lifetime’s worth of serpents try to kill me, and it wasn’t like snakes were the most honest of creatures in existence. I knew that I could trust Greg though, and I was glad that I did. By the time the sun was setting, we could see Las Vegas in the distance.
We entered the city as the sun set. I said goodbye to Greg and let him slither off into the wasteland, probably to continue hunting for his next meal. We walked through the city, Sarah and I marveling at the sight of the place all lit up like it was and Justin behind us humming, “Viva Las Vegas,” and stopping to dance like Elvis every few steps. As glorious as the site of the city all lit up was, it was a virtual hellhole. People walked the streets, going every which way, yelling at others to get out of the way, and making it nearly impossible for us to get anywhere. Cars were constantly flowing up and down the streets leaving nowhere for people to cross and honking at anyone who tried. After spending about five minutes there, I already wanted to leave.
“Okay,” Justin said just as his humming was beginning to get annoying, “We made it this far, what now?”
“We find a way to Los Angeles,” I said shrugging my shoulders.
“Aww,” Justin complained, “But we’re in Las Vegas, we should savor the time here, have some fun, have a night on the town!”
“What could three teenagers do in Las Vegas,” Sarah argued, “We’re not old enough to get into…well, anything.”
Justin’s face turned sour. “I guess you’ve got me there,” he said, “But we could at least stay the night at one of these hotels. I’m beat from traveling all day…how about that one over there?”
He pointed out a towering building that we were standing right outside of. The place was clearly a luxury hotel meant for someone with loads of cash. There was no way that we could afford a room there, and even if I could sneak us in with my powers we would be thrown out before we could get settled in. Besides, I wanted to get to Los Angeles as fast as possible.
“No way,” I said.
“Have you seen that place,” I said, “There’s no way we could afford that.”
“I think I can help us there,” Sarah cut in.
I looked over at her as she pulled something from her back pocket. She held up something that looked like a photo I.D. After a closer look, I realized that she was holding a dark green credit card with the name, MATTHEW LONG, printed in shiny silver letters. She was smiling as my jaw dropped at the sight of it.
“WOO HOO,” Justin screamed, “I knew there was something that I liked about you!”
Sarah blushed, “Thanks.”
“Sarah,” I said, “How did you get that?”
“I stole it from my dad’s room before I ran away,” she said.
“Wouldn’t he notice that it’s gone,” I asked.
“Please,” she said, “He has a million of these things. It’ll be a year before he realizes that one of them is missing.”
She looked away from me and at the hotel. I could see that she had stirred up some bad memories when she pulled that card out. She was probably thinking that her dad would notice that his credit card was missing before he realized that she was. I knew it was hard growing up without a family. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to grow up with one that didn’t care about you.
“Alright,” Justin said bringing Sarah back to reality, “Tonight we live in luxury.” A wide smile crossed his face. “First I’m getting a shower, and then I’m ordering from room service and eating everything in that hotel.” He pumped his fist into the air as he yelled out the last part. “And then it’s off to the rich people’s pool!”
Sarah and I started laughing as Justin went on about his plans for the rest of the night. I really did want to leave as soon as possible, but I guessed that we could all do with some rest and relaxation. Justin and I had been sleeping out in the wilds for days on end, and I had no idea how long Sarah had been away from home. It wouldn’t hurt if we wasted just one day.
“Oh yeah,” Justin said, “No more roughin’ it for this demigod.”
He started walking toward the hotel, but I stopped him. “Wait!”
Justin stopped and spun toward me. “What now,” he asked, “Are you trying to ruin the greatest night of my life?”
“No,” I said, “But this place doesn’t seem right.”
I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was getting an uneasy vibe from the hotel. I couldn’t sense any monsters in or nearby, but the place definitely pulsed with a very evil sort of aura. There may not have been any monsters there now, but they were in and out of this place often. I read the sign for the hotel, which I had to squint to do. The Lotus Hotel And Casino. Something about the word Lotus made me feel like my suspicions were all too correct.
“There’s something off about this place,” I said, “I think we should stay somewhere else…How about there?”
I pointed out another luxurious looking hotel. It wasn’t as big as the Lotus hotel, but I figured it would suit Justin’s tastes. Sarah seemed to be okay with whatever we did, as long as we got to sleep at night without any interruptions of the deadly kind. Justin looked at the Lotus hotel and then at the one that I had recommended.
“But this one’s bigger,” he complained.
I gave him a hard stare. He understood what I was telling him. There was no way that we were staying at that hotel, no matter how glamorous it looked. Justin still looked like he wanted to debate the topic, but he submitted quickly. He knew that, when it came to sensing danger, I was an expert.
“Alright,” he said, “I guess I can settle for that one. Anything’s better than sleeping out in the cold again.”
We made our way across the street, taking longer than we should have, and went into the hotel. We had some trouble at the front desk, the woman wondering what three teenagers were getting a hotel room for, but Sarah somehow managed to convince her that we were getting it in our parent’s place and that they would be there soon. I still have no idea how she managed to do it, but we got the room, courtesy of Sarah’s father, and were making our way to it in no time.
“I don’t know,” Sarah said when we asked how she did it, “I’ve just always been very persuasive for some reason.” We decided not to question her.
We got to the room and were silent with awe. Sarah didn’t want to put too much on her father’s card in hopes that he wouldn’t notice the charge, though her idea of too much was very different from mine. Because of that, she ended up getting one of the cheaper rooms, which didn’t make Justin very happy. Despite it being cheap, it was in no way small. The place was bigger than my room back at the orphanage was which is actually saying a good bit since my room was the entire attic. The hotel room was probably about twice that size though. There were two beds, a full kitchen complete with a stove, sink, dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc., a bathroom that looked like it was designed for the queen of England, and a living room area with a pull out sofa bed, coffee table, and a wide-screen TV that was bigger than a Cyclopes.
“Woah,” Justin said, “This place is awesome!”
“You’re telling me,” I said, “I didn’t know they made TVs that big.”
“I call first dibs on the shower,” Justin yelled as he darted for the bathroom.
“No way,” Sarah said as she ran after him, “I’m first.”
Justin got there before she could catch up to him, slammed the door, and locked it behind him. “Too slow,” he called outside to Sarah, who was now beating wildly on the door.
“You jerk,” she yelled, “Haven’t you ever heard of ladies first!?”
She continued to beat on the door, but Justin showed no signs of giving in. “Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll let you use the shower first, if I can get in with you.”
Sarah’s face turned beet red. “In your dreams you pervert,” she yelled.
“Suit yourself,” Justin called back. Sarah kicked the door so hard that I was surprised she didn’t knock it down. I could see that it was time for me to interject.
“Okay,” I said pulling Sarah away from the door, “Why don’t we let Justin take a shower in peace.”
I pulled her outside of the room and shut the door behind us. Her face was still red and she looked like she was ready to kill someone. I knew how annoying Justin could be, but I thought that he was taking things too far. Even he usually knew when it was time to quit with the jokes. I wonder why he acted so differently with Sarah.
“That jerk,” Sarah vented as she calmed down, “How in the world do you deal with him day in and day out?”
“You get used to it,” I said, “Besides, he’s usually not so bad, maybe he’s just getting used to having another friend around.”
“Friend huh,” Sarah said, “You really think of us as friends?”
I looked at her quizzically for a few moments. She wouldn’t meet my gaze. “Well, yeah,” I said, “I would say that we’re friends.”
Sarah kept looking at the door of our hotel room without saying a word. “I’ve never had friends before,” she said, “I was always sheltered when I was young. I never got to make any friends.”
The look on her face was different. She wasn’t there anymore; she was engulfing herself in her past. I could see that she had been through a lot more than she had let on, despite wanting all of us to avoid keeping any secrets after mine and Justin’s fight. Whatever she was thinking about, it must have been painful. I saw her trying to hold the tears back.
I placed my hand on her shoulder and smiled as she looked at me. “I’ve never had any friends before either,” I said.
She was silent for a long time. “I guess we’re both new at this then,” she said with a smile.
“Yeah,” I said backing away from her, “Now let’s go.”
“We need to get ourselves some new clothes,” I said, “There is no way that I’m walking around in these rags anymore.”
We made our way to the hotel’s lobby where we found a small shop that had all kinds of clothes for sale. Sarah looked like she was in heaven as she looked through what they had. I just wanted to change into something that wasn’t nearly torn to shreds. I picked out a new pair of black jeans and a shirt of the same color that had a depiction of the grim reaper on it.
After I was finished I went looking for Sarah, who I had a hard time finding. After searching for a bit, I found her by the women’s changing room wearing a frilly pink dress and checking herself out in a mirror just outside of the door. There were so many other outfits and dresses hung on the door that I thought Sarah was planning on buying out the entire store.
“You’re not really considering that are you,” I asked.
“What’s wrong with it,” she asked without looking away from the mirror, “Don’t you like it?”
She turned around and spun so that I could see her back before she stopped and faced me again. She held the bottom of the dress out a bit so I could see the whole of it. I felt my face heating up and hoped that Sarah wouldn’t notice my face turning red, which she obviously did. I couldn’t deny that she looked really good in that dress.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s to say…” I cleared my throat and allowed a moment to gather my thoughts. “It’s not that I don’t like it,” I said, “I just don’t think it would be practical. You know, in a fight.”
Sarah turned and looked at herself in the mirror again. She had a far away look on her face again. It wasn’t the same as it had been before. She was smiling and looked happy as she swam in her memories. It was the first time I had actually seen her looking happy while thinking about her past.
“Are you really getting all of that,” I asked thinking that I might take the chance to see what I could learn about her.
Sarah spun in front of the mirror again, her face lighting up as she did. “No,” she admitted, “I just really like shopping for clothes.”
“That seems kind of unlike you,” I said.
“It is,” she admitted her expression becoming distant again, “But…”
She trailed off. She wasn’t looking at me directly, but I could see that she was staring at my image in the mirror. Her hand moved slowly to the side of her waist, where she would usually have her dagger, Truth, sheathed, but it wasn’t there. I could tell what she was thinking. She was wondering if she could trust me. I think that she really wanted to, but it was hard for her. She must have been afraid that Justin and I might abandon her, like her father did.
“But when I was a little girl,” she continued on, her hand still pressed against her side where Truth should have been, “My dad was always away on business. I used to wait around for days, sometimes weeks, for him to come back. There was no one there to take care of me other than that woman. She was only dating my father then.” She paused for a moment. “When he got back home, I would run and jump into his arms and beg him not to leave again, but I knew that he would, and probably soon too, and then he would take me out shopping for clothes. It was a stupid thing, but it was the only time that I got to spend with him.”
She was looking at herself in the mirror again. She was trying to hold back, but I saw the tears dripping from her cheeks and onto the dress she had on. The way she used to talk about her father made me think that he was an awful man that would have given his daughter away just to make a few hundred bucks. I was starting to think of him differently now. He sounded like a man that really cared about his daughter and maybe he just couldn’t hold onto their relationship and she just slipped through his fingers.
“That sounds like it was a lot of fun,” I said.
Sarah looked up, brought back to reality by the sound of my voice. The tears were gone, but her eyes were still a bit red. She turned and looked at me, wondering what I had to gain from comforting her. She couldn’t fathom the fact that I was just a friend that was worried about her.
“Yeah, well,” she said turning back to the mirror, “That’s all in the past now. He hasn’t taken me anywhere since he married that woman. He cares more for her than he does for his own daughter.”
“I don’t think so,” I said, “Maybe he just wants the two of you to get along. I’m sure he cares about both of you, but it’s probably hard for him when the two people he cares for most are always fighting.” Sarah looked back at me, a hint of anger showing in her eyes. “Sorry,” I said quickly, “It wasn’t my place to say something like that.”
Sarah softened and turned back to the mirror. “It’s okay,” she said, “I know you only want to help.”
She was sad and distant again. I decided that it was best for us to leave the store. “Come on,” I said, “Let’s get going.” She nodded her agreement, but she didn’t look back at me.
Sarah ended up deciding on a simple outfit of a white long sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans similar to the one she was wearing already. I grabbed what I had picked out and we made our way to the checkout. Before we got there, I realized that we should probably get something for Justin to wear too. He was probably dying to get out of his torn up jeans as much as I was.
“Don’t worry,” Sarah said, “I’ve got just the right thing for him.” The devious look on her face told me that Justin was not going to like whatever she had picked out for him. I have to admit that I was a bit eager to see what she had cooked up.
We bought our clothes and made our way back to the room. Inside, we found Justin doing some target practice, using some expensive looking paintings on the walls as targets. A recreation of the Mona Lisa had two arrows sticking out of the eyes and one in the dead center of the forehead. A painting I recognized as The Scream had an arrow stuck in the guy’s mouth and another in his chest. Justin was getting ready to fire another arrow when we came in.
“What do you think you’re doing,” Sarah screamed at him.
Justin was so startled by her that he accidentally loosed his arrow as he turned towards us. I used my shadow manipulation to redirect the arrow which flew into the kitchen and shattered a coffee pot to pieces. Glass and plastic fell to the floor as the arrow impaled the wall of the kitchen, ending its deadly journey.
“What the heck man,” I yelled, “Are you trying to kill us!?”
“It’s her fault,” he retorted indicating Sarah.
“My fault,” Sarah questioned, “Who’s the one firing arrows inside of an expensive hotel room at even more expensive paintings!?”
Somebody in the room next to us started pounding on the wall. “Keep it down over there!”
Justin and Sarah eyed each other closely. I would have tried to stop them, but the way they were glaring at each other would have sent a dragon crying for his mommy. Sarah stomped over to Justin and held her finger in front of his face, inches from his nose. Justin flinched at the action.
“Listen you,” she said, “You can’t go around destroying expensive paintings. Do you want to get us thrown out of here?”
“Come on,” he retorted, “Your dad can afford to replace them. Besides, what’s the use of this room if I can’t have a little fun?”
Sarah backed away from him, but her expression remained hardened. “Yes, my dad can afford it,” she said, “But if I charge too much to the card, he’ll realize that it’s been stolen and he’ll cancel it. Know what happens then? All of this,” she indicated the room, “Is gone. Poof.”
“Alright,” Justin said, “I won’t break anything. Promise.”
She eyed him for a long time without saying a word. “Good,” she said coldly.
Sarah walked over and sat on the edge of one of the two-person beds. She continued to look down at the ground, her eyes still showing that she was irritated. Justin watched her closely, a hint of anger showing on his face as well. This was not good. We weren’t going to get anywhere if these two were fighting all the time.
“So,” I said in an attempt to break the tension, “I guess the bathroom’s open now. Why don’t you go ahead Sarah?”
She looked up and at me, then at Justin. “Okay,” she said, “But make sure he doesn’t try anything funny.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Justin said. Sarah didn’t seem to buy it.
Regardless, she stood up and went into the bathroom, taking her new clothes in wither her. Justin leaned back against the couch behind him and looked over at me. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he looked angry about it. I thought that having Sarah around might make things a bit easier for both of us. It looked like things were only getting worse though.
“What’s her problem,” Justin asked, “I’m only having a little fun.”
“Cut her some slack,” I said, “She’s not like us. She was sheltered when she was little and…”
“Am I supposed to be sorry for her,” he cut in, “At least she had a family.”
“I’m not saying that you should pity her,” I said, “I’m just saying that you should try and see things from her perspective, maybe she doesn’t appreciate the way you talk to her.”
Justin stared at me, still looking like he was angry. I didn’t want to sound like I was taking sides with either of them. I wanted all of us to get along otherwise we were in for a long trip. It was obvious that he was thinking that I was against him in all of this. I never thought that playing referee would be so difficult.
“Whatever,” Justin said. He started out the door.
“Where are you going,” I asked.
“Like I said, I’m going to the pool.”
With that, he walked out of the room and slammed the door as he left. I let out a sigh as I stood there alone. I went over and sat down at the couch in the living room. I listened to the sound of the shower running while I sat in silence. When the quiet became too unnerving, I found the remote for the television and turned it on. I flipped through the channels and ended up stopping on a documentary about Ancient Greek civilization.
After some time, the shower stopped running. I heard Sarah shuffling around like she was looking for something. After a moment, I heard her stomp her foot in frustration and saying something that I couldn’t hear very well. She knocked on the door of the bathroom.
“Hirius,” she called, “I think Justin took all of the towels out of here. Can you hand me one?” She was quiet again before adding, “Justin I swear if you try anything you’re a dead man.”
“He left,” I called as I stood up.
“Good,” Sarah said.
I searched around the room and eventually found where the towels were. Justin had obviously taken them out of the bathroom as every one of them was dry. They were piled across the hall from the bathroom door. On top of the pile was a note that took me a little while to read. It said, Good Luck, and then it had a drawing of a smiley face that was made to look like it was winking at me. What in the world was Justin thinking when he wrote this? And had he really planned on leaving us alone?
“I found them,” I said.
Sarah opened the door a bit and reached out. “Here,” she said.
I handed her the towel, being careful to avoid any awkward mishaps, and Sarah snatched it from my hand quick as lightning. I walked over to the beds and sat down on one. My stomach growled in hunger. I grabbed the phone on the nightstand between the nightstands and looked up the number for room service. I told the lady what I wanted, using the menu provided in the drawer. Afterward, I hung up and waited.
Before long, a knock came at the door and I answered. The guy at the door gave me two trays, each one full of all kinds of different foods, including three full sundaes that I ordered for us for dessert. Sarah came out of the bathroom as the guy that brought up our food was leaving. She was wearing the clothes she had bought earlier.
“That smells delicious,” she said. Her stomach growled in agreement. “I’m starving,” she finished, her face turning red.
I took the tray and set it down on the coffee table in front of the couch. I listened to the documentary still playing on the TV while I ate. I didn’t care much for anything else but my food. I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days, which I hadn’t. It felt great to finally have some food in my stomach.
I finished my meal in seconds and woofed down my sundae even faster than that. By the time I was done, Sarah was barely half finished with her own food. She seemed pretty absorbed in the documentary that was airing, so I thought it might be best if I didn’t bother her. She didn’t even notice me getting up.
I went to the bathroom, eager to take my turn to finally get cleaned up. I made sure to take my new set of clothes in with me, as well as a towel. I scrubbed myself down as thoroughly as I could and several times at that. If I hadn’t eaten in days, then I couldn’t even remember the last time that I had been able to clean myself. Well, really clean myself anyway.
I got out, feeling great now that I was clean and feeling like a brand new demigod. I dressed myself and went to leave. I stopped when I noticed my own reflection in the mirror. I wiped the steam from the mirror and looked at myself. It was hard to believe how much I had changed in just a few years. My hair had grown longer. It reached past my shoulders now, longer even than Sarah’s was. My eyes had darkened. They used to be a bright brown, but they had darkened to a near black over the years. Maybe that was a side effect of being a son of Hades. I had gotten taller over the years and I had gone from being a scrawny little kid to being a well built teenager.
I was happy about the changes. I used to be disgusted with myself. I was too much of weakling to do anything when I was a kid. I was useless. But I wasn’t like that anymore. I was stronger now. I wasn’t just some weak kid who, no matter how hard he tried, couldn’t make any difference. A smile crossed my face.
I left the bathroom and found that our hotel room was silent, the TV off now. I had hoped that Justin would be back and that I could talk to him and Sarah, but he was nowhere to be found. Sarah, on the other hand, was sitting cross-legged on one of the beds facing away from me and out the windows on the far wall of the room. The blinds had been pulled aside so that she could see the view of the city, which wasn’t very impressive since we were only a few floors up.
I walked over and sat on the edge of the other bed so we were looking at each other. We were both silent for a while.
“You always wear black, huh,” Sarah asked, “I mean I know you’re a son of the god of death and all, but you don’t have to advertise it.”
“I don’t think that’s why I do it,” I said, “I think it’s just because of the fact that I’m sort of gloomy all the time.”
Sarah shook her head. She put her hands in the shape of a square and looked through them at me like they were a viewfinder for a camera. “So much wasted potential,” she said as she looked me up and down, “If you dressed in something a bit nicer, maybe got a haircut too, I bet you could be quite the lady’s man.”
“Maybe,” I said a bit embarrassed, “But having Justin around is like having the world’s most potent woman repellent.”
Sarah looked away from me at the mention of Justin’s name. “What’s his problem,” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I guess that’s just how he is, you know?”
“Well, you have to think of it from his side too,” I said, “We weren’t raised like you. We didn’t have families and I think he’s kind of jealous of the fact that you had yours.”
“And you’re not,” she asked.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” I said, “But I think it might be a bit harder on Justin. I was really young when I lost my mother, too young to remember much about her other than the fact that I loved her. Justin’s family died more recently. Up until then he had a happy family life. It might be hard for him to see why you ran away from home, despite having a good reason to do so.”
Sarah was silent for a long time. She was looking past me and out of the window. I thought that she would get mad at me the way that Justin had done earlier. I figured that she would accuse me of taking his side, but she looked like she was actually considering what I had said. So this was what it was like to have your words taken seriously.
“And why is he such a…” She stopped for a moment, searching for the right word. “Weirdo,” she decided.
“I guess you mean the flirting,” I said, “He’s like that with every girl. I think it’s just the fact that he doesn’t know how to act with girls, you know? Maybe you should just let him know that you don’t appreciate the way he talks to you.”
“You might be right,” Sarah said, “But he’s just so frustrating the way he…he…”
Her face turned red and she stared at the ground, trying to hide it from me. I may have been reading things wrong, but I think I was staring to get at what Sarah found so frustrating about Justin. I’m not sure if it was fair for her to get mad at him for that though. Even I had a hard time seeing it.
“Just give it some time,” I said, “I’m sure he’s just warming up to you is all.”
Sarah looked up at me, her face still red. “Alright,” she said with a smile.
At that moment, I heard the door open and Justin walked in, I didn’t even realize he had taken a key for the room with him. He stood at the door and looked at us. He was soaking wet and leaving a trail of water where he walked. A small pool was starting to form at his feet. I started laughing at him. Even Sarah couldn’t hold back.
“That didn’t take long,” I said as he had only been gone for a little over a half an hour, “What happened to the ‘greatest night of your life’?”
Justin looked down at the floor. “They wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a bathing suit.”
“Then how did you get wet,” Sarah asked.
He tried to hide it, but I saw his face turning red. “Because I ran in and jumped into the pool,” he said.
“Were you the one that was screaming, ‘no one can stop J-man!’?”
Sarah and I started laughing. Justin made a mocking imitation of us as he walked into the room and grabbed one of the towels still lying in a pile across from the bathroom. He tried drying himself off, but there was no way that he was going to. He walked over and stood between the two beds and waited for us to stop.
“Hey,” Sarah said when she was able to breath again, “Look, I just want to say…”
“Before that,” Justin said, “I want to tell you, I was thinking about what Hirius told me before I stormed down to the pool, and I think he was right. I’m sorry about what I said and how I acted. I guess I’m just not good with other people’s feelings.”
Sarah was caught off guard by Justin’s words. She looked over at me like she was wondering if she was actually hearing this. I nodded to her, encouraging her to say something, not just sit there with a dazed look on her face. She looked back at Justin.
“Apology accepted,” she said, “I guess I should apologize too though.”
Justin laughed. “I don’t know what you did wrong,” he said, “But I guess I can forgive whatever it was.”
“So,” Sarah said, “Friends?”
Justin offered his hand in a friendly gesture, but Sarah stood up and hugged him instead, much to his surprise. I watched them for a moment as I sat there, glad that they had finally made up. I was starting to think that maybe things would get better for us, but then a thought occurred to me. I was thinking about my conversation with Sarah only moments ago and a fear came over me. I was afraid that I might be left alone again.
“Hirius,” I heard Sarah say. I looked up at the two of them. They were each standing with one arm stretched toward me and the other around each other’s shoulders. “Come on, you’re a part of this too.’
I sat silently for a second before I stood up. The three of us stood between the beds all wrapped in a group hug. At that moment, I stopped worrying about being left alone. Even if I was right about Sarah, I didn’t think that my friends would leave me.
“Well,” Justin said as we pulled away from our embrace, “Now that we got the sappy feely, feely crap out of the way, I could really use a change of clothes.”
“Oh yeah,” Sarah said, “We bought a change for you earlier. There’s a bag on the couch.”
“Alright,” Justin said, “Thanks guys.”
He went over to the couch. Something about the smile on Sarah’s face told me that he shouldn’t be thanking us just yet. He found the bag and pulled out the pink dress that Sarah had tried on while we were at the store. He held it up and his face turned red, either with anger, or embarrassment…or both.
“What the heck is this supposed to be,” he yelled. Sarah started laughing. I fell over onto the bed behind me as it became impossible to hold back my amusement any longer. “You really expect me to wear this?”
Sarah tried to speak, but she could barely get a word out. “What,” she said when she managed to calm down, “I think it suits you.”
“Suits me,” Justin questioned, “I do NOT wear dresses!”
“Well then,” Sarah said, “Consider that revenge for what you said to me before.”
Justin’s face was bright red by that point. I would have intervened by then, but I was too busy laughing my head off to say anything to either of them. “Alright,” Justin said, “Maybe I did deserve that…But I still need a change of clothes.”
“I think we should worry about that tomorrow,” I said, “Its starting to get late and I think we should go to bed.”
“Well what am I supposed to sleep in,” Justin asked.
I sighed. I used my powers and summoned the backpack that we kept our supplies in. Luckily, we had an extra set of clothes in there that Justin could at least sleep in so I wouldn’t have to hear him complain about it all night. I grabbed the bag and threw it to him. He caught it and walked to the bathroom without a word.
Sarah and I sat back down on the beds and looked at each other. “So level with me for a moment,” I said. I was still kind of on edge about this subject, but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. “You like Justin?”
“Well yeah,” Sarah answered immediately, “He’s nice, when he isn’t being Justin.”
“That wasn’t what I meant.”
Sarah’s face turned red and she looked down at the floor again, avoiding my gaze. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Come on,” I said, “I may not have interacted much with other people, but I’ve been all over the world. I think I’m at least close to being right here.”
“I can’t really say that I do,” she said, “I told you already that I was sheltered when I was a kid. I don’t really know what it means to ‘like’ someone.” She looked up at me again and added, “I’m really not sure how I think or feel about either of you.”
She nodded. “Don’t get me wrong,” she said, “I trust you both, and I love being around you guys, but I don’t know anything about having friends or what friendship even means, let alone what it means to ‘like’ a person.” She fell silent for a moment before asking, “Have you ever ‘liked’ anyone before?”
I sat silently for a moment as the question caught me by surprise. “I did once,” I said, “I never told Justin about her, but a couple years ago I met a girl in Michigan named Sarena.” I stopped as I thought back to the time I spent in Morenci. “She was smart, and kind, and beautiful. I almost ended up spending the rest of my life there, but certain…circumstances caused me to leave.”
“What was it like,” Sarah asked.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” I said after a minute, “My heart would beat faster when I was with her. I thought about her all the time, I still do sometimes. I wanted to be with her all the time, even though I knew I couldn’t…I don’t know what else I can say. It was the kind of feeling that made me want to do a lot of really stupid things even though I knew that they were stupid.”
Sarah smiled and looked up at me. “I’m not sure you’re right about me then,” she said.
“Give it time,” I said with a smile, “I spent about two months in Michigan before I really started to feel that way about Sarena. Either way, I’m glad that we’re all friends at least.”
Sarah looked like she had more to say, but Justin walked out of the bathroom at that time. His hair had been combed down straight. He had finally managed to dry himself off and he was now wearing an old white T-shirt and a pair of black jeans that had more holes in it than I could count plus a few scorch marks.
“Well, I feel great,” Justin said, “Now to decide who sleeps…”
“I call dibs on this bed,” I said.
“I call this one,” Sarah said raising her hand.
Justin looked between the two of us. “Oh no,” he said, “I am not sleeping on the pull out couch.”
“I don’t think you have a choice,” Sarah said.
“Unless,” Justin started as he stared at her.
“Do NOT finish that sentence,” she told him.
“Alright,” Justin said as he backed off. He went over to the couch and, after a good bit of trouble with it and moving the coffee table, he pulled the bed out. Afterward, he looked around the room like he was trying to find something. “Is there any food,” he asked, “I smell food.”
“I put what was left in the kitchen,” Sarah said, “Your sundae was half melted, but I put it in the freezer.”
“Awesome,” Justin said as he darted to the kitchen. He ate what was left of the food and then inhaled his sundae all in a matter of seconds. When he was finished, he went to the sofa bed and lay down. “Tonight we sleep in comfort,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said using my powers over shadows to flip all of the lights off, “And tomorrow we go to Los Angeles.” I lay down and fell asleep.