Truck Stop

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Chapter XVIII.

Lincoln woke up to someone cursing a blue streak. As he blinked open his eyes groggily, he could make out Jupiter swearing so much, he could make a trucker blush.

“Someone turn the fucking light off,” Jupiter grumbled.

Lincoln squinted at him in the early morning light. “That’s the sun.”

“Okay, well, turn the fucking sun off,” Jupiter whined, refusing to open his eyes. Lincoln searched around the couch for his phone, turning it on and checking the display. It was only 7:32 in the morning, he’d slept for about two hours. Unfortunately, he had to get up and shower since he had a lecture at 8:30.

“Yeah, unfortunately I can’t do that,” Lincoln commented. “I’m gonna take a shower, help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge.”

“Do you have class?” Jupiter asked, getting up and stumbling after Lincoln into his bedroom. He sat on the edge of the bed while Lincoln gathered clothes for his shower.

“Yeah, I was thinking I could go to class, let Tsuyoshi and Xavier rest for a bit, then we could go see Oliver?” Lincoln suggested, unbuttoning his shirt shamelessly.

“Okay,” Jupiter agreed. “Wow, I didn’t know you have abs, what the fuck?”

“I do go to the gym,” Lincoln said, shrugging his shirt off. “Fuck, it’s cold.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

“Shut the fuck up, Watson,” Lincoln shot back, grinning. He picked up his stuff and headed into the bathroom for a quick shower. Yong-sun wasn’t home so he could use up all the hot water to relax his sore muscles. It was hard for him to find his body wash among all of Yong-sun’s soaps, conditioners and lotions; he ended up using some strawberry-kiwi shit.

Upon re-entering his room, having sufficiently scrubbed away his feelings for the time being, Lincoln found Jupiter lying on his bed reading his Deadpool comics. He rolled his eyes, grabbed a sweater from his closet and went back into the bathroom to brush his teeth

“Jupiter!” He yelled after rinsing his mouth.

“What?!”

“Do you want to brush your teeth?”

Jupiter was silent for a moment. “Sure, I’ll just use Yong-sun’s toothbrush.”

Lincoln pulled a face before opening the cupboard and taking Yong-sun’s pink toothbrush out of the holder and handing it to Jupiter, who walked in still carrying one of the comics. Jupiter grinned and snatched the toothpaste from the sink, shooing Lincoln out. The taller male rolled his eyes and walked away, picking his bag up from the ground and gathering his shit from the coffee table. Xavier and Tsuyoshi were still asleep on the floor, somehow managing to kick off the blankets covering them. Lincoln pulled the blankets back over their frames before picking up his phone.

Hajime 9m ago

Where are you guys?

asleep at my apartment lol

we’re heading over after my class ends

Delivered

Shoving his phone into his pocket, he put on his bag and walked out the door, tripping down the stairs until he was outside. The cold air greeted him like a slap to the face, instantly making him shiver. Lincoln sighed and pulled his hood up to cover his unruly hair before power-walking to his school.

Lincoln frowned when he walked through the gates and spotted the crowd. He could hear a bunch of people screaming and could make out Adalric and Dex attempting to get away, Dex acting like a bodyguard and holding people out of Adalric’s way. He quickly jogged to their aid, dialing campus security.

“Okay, people, move along! Nothing to see here!” Lincoln hollered, ushering people along. Freshmen, Lincoln thought as they shouted at him. Was Adalric really this famous? These people were acting like he was Pete Wentz or Rihanna and not just a new actor. Thankfully, security showed up and cleared the way for them.

“Oh my god,” Adalric sighed, nearly collapsing on the ground if it weren’t for Dex holding him up. “Why is this my life?”

“Because you’re famous?” Lincoln replied, shrugging. “What are your majors?”

“Right now it’s CS,” Adalric answered, adjusting his glasses. “It’s my first year though, so I might switch. And Dex is a film major.”

“Oh shit, really? That’s impressive,” Lincoln smiled.

“Speaking of which, have you seen Oliver? He’s supposed to be in Dex’s film,” Adalric said. Lincoln recoiled slightly, his smile disappearing from his face.

“Um, Oliver is in the hospital right now,” Lincoln said truthfully, before regretting it. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to have shared that information. “Er, sorry we didn’t text you.”

“It’s okay,” Adalric said, waving his hand. Dex nodded. “We aren’t close, I know. I hope he gets better soon, whatever has happened to him.”

“Yeah, me too,” Lincoln agreed, glancing at the time on his phone. “Ah, shit, I gotta get to class. See you guys later.” He waved and they went their separate ways. Lincoln checked the time on his phone before cursing under his breath and jogging towards his building.

He made it to his lecture, just barely, but found he couldn’t concentrate. Lincoln was still worried about Oliver. The dreams he had were unsettling and it was hard to convince himself that they were only dreams. He felt helpless, having no idea what Oliver had gone through and no clue on what he could do to support his friend.

Lincoln wrote his notes down mechanically. He could hear what his professor was saying, but he couldn’t process any of it. If he wasn’t so afraid of failing, he probably wouldn’t have been able to write anything at all. Still, he was impatient throughout the whole hour, and tapped his fingers irritably when his professor spent another ten minutes reviewing an assignment they had to complete.

When he could finally escape (and praise the lord for having only one morning class), Lincoln was quick to rush across campus and to his apartment. He only had a couple hours to visit Oliver before he had to go to work.

Unlocking the door, he was surprised to find everyone awake and sitting in the living room. Yong-sun had returned at some point and was sitting on the couch in one of Lincoln’s sweaters.

“Your hair is so messy,” Tsuyoshi scolded. “I can’t believe you went out like that.”

“Don’t judge me,” Lincoln said, pointedly staring at the bird’s nest atop Tsuyoshi’s head. Jupiter reached over to untangle Tsuyoshi’s hair while Lincoln dumped his stuff in his room and shoved a beanie over his own unruly locks.

While everyone shuffled off to take turns in the bathroom (minus Yong-sun, who crashed in Lincoln’s room even though he had his own bed), Lincoln picked up the dictionary that Jupiter had given him and opened it to a random page.

What he hadn’t noticed the first time around, that there were things written in pencil next to the definitions of words. Lincoln felt his face heat up as he realized that Jupiter had written, next to all of the positive adjectives, embarrassing messages like “this defines you” and “described you perfectly”.

Flipping through the pages slowly and skimming through all the messages, Lincoln found one that wasn’t a compliment. He almost thought he was imagining it.

Date

/dāt/nouna social or romantic appointment or engagement.

And beside it, Jupiter wrote “something we should go on.”

A date.

Jupiter wanted to go on a date with Lincoln. He felt his heart hammering in his throat and swallowed harshly, re-reading the words over and over again. He felt like he forgot how to breathe.

“Hey, Lincoln.” Jupiter wandered out of Yong-sun’s room wearing a pair of ripped blue jeans that must belong to him and a cream sweater that was probably Yong-sun’s. “Are you ready to–”

He faltered when he caught sight of Lincoln’s expression, the dictionary still clutched tightly between his fingers. Jupiter’s eyes fell on the page and he looked up again, worry clouding his features.

“You don’t have to–”

“Yes,” Lincoln said quickly, interrupting Jupiter who fell silent. “Yes, I would love to go on a date with you, Jupiter Kim, you jerk.” He laughed breathlessly, dropping the dictionary back on the table. Jupiter still looked unsure, so he crossed the room in long strides and pulled the shorter in a hug, wrapping his arms around Jupiter’s tiny frame.

“You’re free on Saturday, right?” Jupiter mumbled into the material of Lincoln’s sweater. “We could go for lunch.”

“I’d love that,” Lincoln assured him. “Where are we going?”

“I dunno,” Jupiter said, stepping back with a frown. “I didn’t think I’d get this far, to be honest.” Lincoln almost rolled his eyes but stopped himself just in time.

“Ready to go see Oliver? Yong-sun said he hadn’t woken up yet when he was there,” Tsuyoshi said, walking in. His hair was now reasonably tamed. “Jackson and Hajime are still there.”

“Really?” Lincoln asked. He pulled out his phone, grimacing at the battery percentage and fired off a text to Jackson.

oliver awake yet?

Delivered

To his surprise, Jackson replied immediately, which made Lincoln suspicious. Weren’t phones supposed to be turned off in hospitals?

miss JACKSON r u nasty now

Nurse said he just woke up

bring me hashbrowns

Lincoln sighed, pocketing his phone and rolling his eyes. Tsuyoshi left, presumably to get his bike, while they waited for Xavier, who finally stumbled out of the bathroom.

Stopping at a cafe to pick up food for Hajime and Jackson (while Lincoln complained about cheating on Happy Go Lucky), the drive to the hospital was otherwise short and soon, the four of them were tumbling into the waiting room where Hajime and Jackson were sitting.

“You look like shit,” is what Jupiter said in greeting, plopping onto the shitty couch next to his best friend.

“Oh, so I look like you?” Jackson replied instantly.

“Oliver’s parents and the cops are talking to him right now,” Hajime informed them, not even flinching when Tsuyoshi collapsed on top of him, exhausted from his high-paced bike ride. “They’ve been in there for about twenty minutes now, it shouldn’t be long.”

“We brought you food,” Lincoln said, holding up the large white paper bag. Jackson lit up when he caught sight of the hash browns, and he didn’t look so dead anymore. While Hajime and Jackson munched on their breakfast, Xavier and Lincoln played checkers on Xavier’s phone and Tsuyoshi went to colour with a little girl sitting on the opposite side of the waiting room.

Five minutes later, Xavier had promptly kicked his ass, so Lincoln went and joined Tsuyoshi at the plastic purple table, listening to the little girl talk as he reached for a picture of a ladybug.

“I’m afraid of dogs,” The little girl was saying. “The big ones are really scary. I get made fun of at school because I don’t like dogs.”

“It’s okay,” Tsuyoshi said, putting down his blue and green Crayola crayons in favor of turning to the little girl. “I’m afraid of cars.”

“Why?” The girl asked curiously, brown eyes going wide like saucers.

Tsuyoshi glanced up at Lincoln hesitantly before looking back at her. “Someone I loved very much got in an accident and passed away.”

“Oh,” The little girl said. Surprising both Lincoln and Tsuyoshi, she leaned over and hugged the Japanese man consolingly. “I hope you’re happy now.”

“I’m very happy now,” Tsuyoshi said, and his smile was so blinding that Lincoln felt kind of dazed. Eventually, the little girl’s mother returned from wherever she had been and gave them dirty looks, so they got up and returned to the couches where Hajime, Jupiter, Xavier and Jackson were sitting. They’re about to play a game of ABC Slap when Oliver’s parents came in along with a few police officers.

“He wants to see you guys,” His mother said softly.

Immediately, there’s a mad scramble for the doors, only Tsuyoshi stopping to actually get the room number before the bunch were stampeding down the hall. They calmed down enough after Hajime yelled at them and composed themselves before bursting into Oliver’s room and swarming the bed.

“You bitch, we were worried about you,” Jupiter said tearfully, reaching over to gently hug Oliver and whacking his elbow on the bed rail in the process.

“Yeah, yeah,” Oliver replied, shoving Jupiter’s shoulder weakly. His left arm was bandaged from the shoulder to the elbow and his other arm was in a sling. He had gauze taped to his forehead and bruises all over the parts of his body that weren’t covered.

Lincoln guessed neither of them were going to address the huge, fat elephant in the room.

“You tired?” Tsuyoshi asked gently, running his fingers through Oliver’s hair. Lincoln could see why he was the mom friend of the group.

“Yeah, I feel like I could sleep for days,” Oliver admitted, letting out a yawn. “Where’s Eliza?”

Elephant fucking poached.

Jupiter stared for a moment before letting out a huge sigh and storming out of the room. Everyone stood frozen in shock for a moment, either looking at Oliver or Jupiter. Then it was like one of them telepathically communicated with the rest; Xavier, Hajime and Tsuyoshi moving to have a long, serious talk with Oliver while Jackson and Yong-sun stuttered something about getting coffee and nachos from the cafeteria.

Lincoln went after Jupiter.

He found him sitting in some random hallway that seemed almost abandoned, like something out of a horror movie. Half the lights in the hall weren’t working, and maybe Jupiter chose this hall intentionally because when he looked up, Lincoln could see tear tracks on his face.

“Hey,” Lincoln said awkwardly, folding down into a sitting position next to Jupiter. The tile was cold and uncomfortable, and he half-expecting a killer clown to burst through the doors at the end.

“Hey,” Jupiter sniffed, scrubbing furiously at his eyes with the back of his hand. “This hospital is so creepy.”

Lincoln laughed a little, feeling sympathy rise up inside of him. He could tell that Jupiter was trying to cover up the fact that he was crying with jokes and commentary. He had always done the same during senior year of high school and the first two years of university.

Lincoln’s phone buzzed, and he took it out to occupy himself while Jupiter regained composure and what little dignity he could gather.

miss JACKSON r u nasty now

take care of my best friend, juno

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