[38] The Graduates

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B A D
B O Y ' S
G A M E

Congratulations Class of 2015

"Archer?" I call out, pushing my way through the crowd of graduates.

I finally graduated, after four years of high school and then some. Walking the stage on your graduation day is like nothing else, the satisfaction you feel is indescribable.

When I woke up for the first day of kindergarten I certainly didn't know that in the future I would be graduating with such great friends, a scholarship, and Archer.

"El!" I hear someone yell out.

They repeat their call and I follow the voice, running into a few familiar faces along the way, even stopping at the sight of one.

The familiar face gives me a small smile and holds his graduation cap in his hand. I return the smile.

"Smelliot, we did it," he says, hoots and hollers filling my ears.

I walk over and give him a hug.

"We did it, Liam," I exclaim.

He holds me in the hug and sways us a bit, I laugh at his interesting hug.

"Thank you," he whispers into my ear.

I don't say anything in return, it would just get lost in the crowd of hollers. Also, I'm confused on as to why he's thanking me right now.

"Thank you for letting me fall in love with you," he clarifies, the words clearer than today's sky.

I move away from his hug so that I can face him, he deserves to be fully acknowledged.

"Thank you for loving me, I hope you find a girl who will love and cherish you," I tell him.

Liams gives a larger smile than he did earlier. He puts his graduation cap back on his head and stares at me with the smile.

"I hope you and Archer make the distance. I really hope that he treats you right and you end up happy with him," he responds.

A group of people walks in-between us, separating us.

I mouth a 'thank you' in-between heads and he gives a nod.

"El!"

I search through the crowd in hope of finding one person. I see a lot of familiar faces but not his until I feel someone grasp onto my wrist. I turn around to see the culprit and give him my best smile.

Archer has his cap on, the tassel now indicating that he's graduated. He has his dimpled smile on once he realizes that he has found me.

"Congraduations," he says to me.

Congraduations? Really?

"You're so lame," I tell him and he gives a chuckle.

He grabs my hand and pulls me through the crowd so that we can greet family and friends.

Archer's side is present, my dad too.

Archer releases my hand and I run over to my dad. I give my dad the biggest hug in the world.

"Thank you, Dad. Thank you for everything. I couldn't have done any of this without you," I tell him, meaning every word that I said.

He holds onto me and I begin to feel a number of teardrops hit my cheek.

My dad is unlike any other, he's the best dad and I could never express how thankful I am to have him in my life.

"Your mother would be so proud, I'm so proud. My baby girl is all grown up. Next, I'm going to be walking you down the aisle," he says, sniffling.

I get a tap on the leg before I can even react, I move away from my father to see Sofia.

She holds her hands up and I pick her up. She wears a smile that reminds me of Archer.

"Cogratlatons," she says loudly.

I laugh and walk us over to Archer, he's teary-eyed.

"Archer?"

He gives me a smile and gestures to the tablet in his hand. His mother's on the screen and she has a smile that's exactly like Archer's. He puts an arm over my shoulder and I give a wave to his mom with my free hand, Sofia begins to get squirmy. He talks to her for a few minutes and I stand with him for the chat, happy that his mother could be here in some way.

Afterwards, I pass Sofia to him and look for my best friend, Arden. I spot her just about ten feet away with Zac's arm around her waist. She immediately detaches herself from Zac the moment she spots me. I run towards her and hug her, she returns the hug without hesitation and we just stand hugging.

"Ahem," Zac says.

I detach myself from Arden and give him a hug too.

"I wanted you to loosen up your hold on my girlfriend and perhaps let her go someday, but a hug's nice too," he says to me.

I immediately move away from the embrace and roll my eyes. Zac's always going to be the same old Zac.

"Zac, come on. I know that you're happy for me and that you're going to miss me."

He gives a questionable nod, one that proves that I'm right.

"I am happy for you, you and Archer. After all, you two are my OTP and I kind of set you guys up," Zac explains, giving a large grin after he finishes what he's saying.

I shake my head, it definitely couldn't have been Zac who set us up.

"You're too old to be saying 'OTP' and to be playing matchmaker," I tease.

"Hey, I'm only twenty!" he exclaims.

I give a chuckle and Arden returns to his side, putting an arm around him.

"So what's going on with you two? I know that Arden is attending college two hours away. What about you, Zac?" I ask, not having heard of their plans yet.

"I'm still going to attend college at the same place. I'll be driving to her place on the weekends so that we can spend time together and she'll be driving to me for holiday breaks," he answers.

They must have talked it through, talking about meeting up is something that Archer and I have barely done. We will have a lot more miles in-between us, it would be us traveling back and forth primarily just for the holidays and perhaps birthdays.

Zac and Arden excuse themselves and I find my way back to Archer and the family.

Archer holds in front of him something wrapped in blue.

"Open it," he says to me.

I take it from his hands and gently rip off the wrapping; it's our photo booth photos but enlarged and framed.

I look up from the present to see a large grin on Archer's face.

"I didn't know we were doing gifts," I say softly, feeling bad that I didn't get him anything.

"I wanted to give you something that you could bring to New York, something that ensures that you won't forget about me."

I hear a car honk in the background and the car honk gives me an idea. Sometimes you just have to improvise...

"I know that my car isn't necessarily your type but I want you to drive it until you get yourself one. So you don't forget about me," I say, knowing that this would be a good idea.

He's evidently shocked by my suggestion and he doesn't say anything for a moment. He just stares at me, licking his lips before he finally opens his mouth.

"Are you sure, Grey? I may just break it again," he finally replies.

"Well, you can just fix it again," I state, knowing that he knew how to fix cars.

He fixed my car before, he could do it again if anything.

"Are you sure? It means so much to you," he asks again, making sure.

"Yes, I'm sure. After all, you mean so much to me."

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