Chapter 7

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A few days roll by slowly and Trip entertains himself by taking rides on his bike around the town or sleeping when he cannot find anything to do. The bike rides are leisurely and he watches the people he pedals by as some of them stare at him with frowns. He's the boy they always see with a scowl but he's not angry. At least, not at the moment. He's just taking in the world around him.

He's gone on a few missions since pretending to be a Jehovah's Witness and all have been successful. He receives a paycheck from Boss and speeds over to a convenience store down the road from his apartment.

It's small, as most places are in the town, and Trip recognizes the faces of those he passes by, though not their names. They're residents of the town he sees often but isn't yet friendly with.

He straps his bike up to the rack before he ducks his head and walks into the store. By the time he reaches the isle with the cup ramen he was looking for, he hears a commotion from the front of the store. He's not particularly interested in what is happening even if his safety is being threatened. He scoops up a few cups of ramen and trudges to the front of the store.

A few cops attempt to grab hold of a boy two years older than Trip with brown, curly hair. The boy jumps over conveyer belts at the registers while many people scream as they haul themselves out of the store.

Trip recognizes the boy who's attempting to escape and cracks a small smile. His brother needs to work on being more discreet. But then again, so does he.

Beck is currently on a mission but of course, only Trip figures that. Outsiders haven't a clue about the organization and assume Beck steals for his own profit. But they don't know he's taken a wallet from a woman's pocket who found it on the street with no intention of returning it to the police at least.

Trip uses the self-checkout and scans his week supply of ramen. He watches Beck exit the store with his partner, Flynn, and follows them out.

"Beck," Trip says as he runs close behind his brother who makes a sharp turn behind a building, hiding from the police.

"Trip," Beck says, panting.

"It's been a while," Trip says, holding his bag of ramen in his hand.

Beck looks at the bag and notices the choice of food.

"You're still living lavishly I see," Beck says with sarcasm.

"I'm fine with it," Trip tells him as Flynn remains quiet. She doesn't want to get in the middle of the brother's quarrel. "Marrying for money isn't my thing."

Beck narrows his eyes in a glare. "I don't want to hear that from you."

Trip scrunches the bag in his hand a little tighter. "It's wrong."

Beck sighs and runs a hand through his hair as he sits on the ground. Trip stares down at him.

"The way you're living is wrong," Beck says. "Look at you. Eating ramen, using an ancient cellphone, living in a beat-down apartment, would you prefer I suffered along too?"

"I'm not suffering," Trip says. "This is all I've ever known. I'm fine."

"Then leave," Beck says. "If you're all set, then go. Don't look down on me because I'm trying to live my best life."

"There are other ways to do that," Trip says. "But whatever. Marry the girl you have no interest in anyway."

"I will," Beck says stubbornly. "Now get out of here. We've got a wallet to return anyway."

Trip doesn't say anything and turns his back on the brother he can't help but pity. Remembering he left his bike at the store, Trip heads back to retrieve it and pedals home slowly. He arrives back in the evening and kicks off his shoes before placing the bag on a small table in his kitchen. He leaves it there and collapses on his bed as he yawns and stretches his arms above his head.

He thinks about his brother's situation and cannot find the mental capacity to place himself in Beck's shoes. Like Reed, he too thinks the marriage is ridiculous. Especially when both sides lack the love and passion typically sought after when tying the knot.

Trip breathes out a long sigh. How should he know though? He's never been in love before.

There's been times when he's admired from afar but other than that, Trip has never been in a relationship with anyone. Not that he wasn't open to one, it just never happened. He rests a little while longer until he feels his stomach rumble.

"Shut up," he says before rolling off of his bed onto his floor. From there, he drags his feet to the kitchen where he prepares water to boil for his cup ramen. He places a pot on the stove and hears a knock at his door. He thinks it's odd as he's never had visitors, but makes his way over to the door.

The traveler at the door hunches over as he leans a hand on the building when Trip opens it. An immediate frown grows on Trip's face as usual upon discovering the boy.

The boy slowly lifts his head and brings his light grey eyes to meet Trip's and puffs out a laugh as he attempts to stand up straight.

"What're you doing here?" Trip asks as he stands in his doorway.

Reed wears a lopsided grin and wobbles as he tries to stay upright.

"Trip," Reed says and walks in to Trip's home as he slings an arm around his shoulder.

Trip leads Reed to the kitchen where he helps him sit in the single chair he has while Trip leans against his refrigerator with his arms crossed. He glances over at the pot of water that hasn't yet boiled.

"Ah," Reed sighs and places his hand over his face before he continues speaking.

"I'm so uncool."

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