The race event turned out to be more fun than Aiden could have anticipated. In the first twenty minutes, he’d cheered on others, practiced a few moves and even won his first couple of races. He never even had to use his powers; it felt good to be back into his usual parkour routine.
The sun glimmered through the area, brightening up what was otherwise not a pleasant sight. Still, once you looked past all the floating newspaper, the grimy cars and the mountains of tires, it felt like a parkour paradise. Nothing was impossible.
Scarlett and Alistair had shown up, but Chad was nowhere to be seen near them. Aiden got a knot in his stomach. He didn’t want to think that he was the reason that he might have not shown his face. More so, he still hadn’t told anyone what had happened.
After finishing his race against another competitor, Aiden let the cool water from his bottle shower all over his face. He then trotted over to Alison, helping her up with her crutches.
“You seem to be having fun,” she said.
He nodded. “Yeah, it feels great to be out here again.”
“Danny and Alex have gone round the track trying to get some good shots and talking with the players. Any idea where Chad could be?”
Aiden’s heart sank. “I have no idea. I’m surprised he hasn’t shown yet.”
A finger tapped him on the shoulder as he heard an unpleasant giggle. Turning round, his smile faded as Scarlett and Alistair waltzed in front of him.
“Surprised you showed up.” she said.
“I had a change of heart.” Aiden replied. “Chad not with you?”
Alistair laughed. “I don’t know. We haven’t seen him since yesterday. Just means more money for us, don’t it?”
He gave Scarlett a fist bump as she grinned.
Aiden nodded towards Alistair. “Well, good luck.”
“Thanks.” Scarlett laughed. “But I don’t think we’re gonna need it.”
They walked away chuckling to themselves as Aiden turned back to Alison. She glowered at them as they ran off.
“Even without their star competitor, they still manage to be total assholes.”
Aiden took a seat next to her, putting his arm around her shoulder. She rested her head on him. “Can’t expect everybody to change, right?”
As the sound of a door slamming startled the two of them, Aiden turned to see Chad running up from Scarlett’s parked car. He didn’t go looking for them, he just ran into a corner, keeping his eyes off everyone else. Aiden’s heart sank as he walked off. The bruises he had looked pretty bad, as if he’d been engaged in a gang fight.
He tapped Alison on the shoulder.
He nodded towards Chad. As she turned round, her face went rigid.
Aiden sighed. “Long story. I…I should say something.”
She gripped his shoulder as he took a step. “Make things right, okay?”
His lip quivered as he nodded to her request. “I’ll see you after the race.”
As he walked over to Chad, his stomach dropped with each step. Chad glared, as he got closer, before crossing his arms as they came face to face.
Aiden stopped. “Hey.”
“You…you ready for our race?”
He looked away, stretching out his arms. “Sure.”
“Chad, I need to apologize.”
“No, you don’t. I’m the bad guy here, remember?”
Aiden shook his head. “I’m sorry…about what I did yesterday. I was completely out of line and not in the right mind…
“Aiden, stop.” Chad said. “If you’re going to apologize, don’t make a bunch of excuses. I’m not really interested in why things ended up the way they did. It won’t change a damn thing.”
Aiden looked down, a shamefaced expression leeched onto his face. “How come you’re not with Scarlett and Alistair?”
Chad didn’t look up. “I’m on my own now.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way, you know?”
He looked up with a glimmer in his eyes. “What are you saying?”
“Well…I don’t know. If ever, anytime, after this whole contest drama ends, you’d wanna go for a race sometime, I’d be game.”
Chad smirked, crossing his arms as if he’d made a life-changing discovery. “You serious?”
Nodding, Aiden held out his hand. “Yeah, I’m a little bit rusty…I could use some help, I guess.”
Chad grinned, pointing towards him. “Flattery won’t get you anywhere, man.”
Aiden sat down on the ground, crossing his legs and looking up at Chad as he went about his warm-up. “Don’t you miss having me around?”
“You know, you didn’t have to leave. And we didn’t have to be enemies.”
“I don’t want us to be enemies anymore. Between you and me, I’m running out of quips to hit you with.”
Chad beamed at him. “Aiden. I didn’t want for all this to happen. The accident at the warehouse, the fights, I didn’t think it would lead to all this.”
“Hey, you were my friend when I needed one. Maybe it’s time I returned the favor.”
Chad took a breather, sitting down next to him. “I don’t know if you know this about me, but I didn’t have a lot of friends my own age. That’s why I do what I do. I mean, look out there. Anyone else sees a pile of junk, I see a playground of potential.”
Aiden nodded. “I know what you mean.”
“Exactly. Some people don’t see it like I do, and that’s fine. I wouldn’t want to waste my time with someone who I could never agree with. So can we agree to one thing?”
He breathed in heavily, before rubbing the sweat off his brow. “Let’s never try and one up another again. After today, no more fighting. When you get to my age, you’ll find that growing up means you can’t always expect people to see things the way you do. Just because me and you don’t see eye to eye sometimes, doesn’t mean we should bite each other’s heads off.”
Aiden smirked, as his cheeks blushed red. “Couldn’t bite your head off, it’s too big.”
Chad patted him on the back. “See you out there, man. Go be with your friends.”
Before Aiden walked off, he offered his hand out. Chad stared at it confused like he’d just been handed green eggs and ham. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” Aiden said.
Chad smiled. “Save the handshake for after the race, pal.”
A loud cheer came from behind the both of them.
“Looks like your little friend won his race.” Chad said. “I can only tell because Alistair doesn’t look too happy. Go on, go congratulate him. I’ll see you on the track.”
Aiden nodded, walking off towards the cheers.
“Aiden. Don’t think that just because we had this chat that I’m gonna go easy on you out there.”
Aiden shook his head, smiling like he’d won the lottery. “I wouldn’t expect you to.”
Rushing over to everyone else, Aiden beamed as he saw Jimmy hoisted up on Damien’s shoulders. Danny and Alex clapped along whilst Alison seemed to be practicing her cheering skills.
Letting Jimmy down, Damien ruffled his hair as Aiden ran up to the bench.
“Good job out there, little bro.”
Jimmy tried fixing his hair as everyone surrounded him. “Thanks, big bro.”
“You might have to race me after this sometime, little man.” Aiden joked, taking a seat next to Alison.
“I wouldn’t want to embarrass you.” Jimmy teased.
Danny burst out laughing, waving his camera in both their faces. “We got a challenge here.”
“Mind saying a few words for my article after this, dude?” Alex asked.
Jimmy nodded, but his eyes widened as Alistair approached the group.
Alistair was covered in dirt and grime, with cuts and bruises all over his body. His clothes were torn, as if they’d been ironed with razorblades.
“Beginners luck, kid.” he said. “I’ll be looking for a rematch sometime.”
Everyone remained silent, except Jimmy, who stood up and went face to face with Alistair.
“You got it.” he said. “Anytime, anywhere.”
Alistair chuckled, patting Jimmy on the shoulder. “Keep practicing, little guy. You got lucky, but I’ll smoke you next time.”
As Alistair ran off, everyone looked at each other in awe.
“Danny, tell me you got that on tape.” Alison said.
“So you guys saw it too?” he replied.
“Alistair Stevens…congratulating him?” Damien laughed. “Who knew?”
Aiden shrugged. “Maybe it’s the Easter holiday spirit.”
“I’m pretty sure you just made that up.” Alex chuckled.
“Oh trust me.” Alison continued. “He did. Once, he tried to convince me that the Easter bunny gave out real eggs. Even cracked one of them to try make an omelette.”
Aiden sniggered. “I didn’t see you complaining about the chocolate omelettes.”
Michael rushed over to them. “Aiden. You and Chad are up next, you ready?”
Before Aiden could respond, he felt a brisk punch from his shoulder. It didn’t take long to deduce where it came from.
“He was born ready.” Alison announced.
Michael smiled. “Don’t you be running around here with that cast on. Aiden, give me like a few minutes and we’ll get you guys started up. Oh, and Jimmy, good job out there, dude.”
As Michael went off to his position, Aiden looked back at everyone.
“How do I look?” he asked.
They all smiled, but Danny was the only one to respond immediately. “Like you’re ready to kick some ass.”