Chapter 18

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Trip's body is overheated. He's sweating now, his neck is damp and his back is wet. A leg is tossed across his own and an arm is draped tightly around his stomach. He slowly opens his eyes and realizes Reed has crossed over to his side of the bed and currently latches onto him like a piranha plant.

He shifts his body slowly, so as to not wake the older boy, but Reed brings his body closer to Trip's and further snuggles into him.

Trip sighs.

"I'm not Beck," he thinks again.

"Reed," Trip says quietly, remembering he told him that he'd leave in the early morning.

Reed doesn't answer.

He tries again.

"Luca," he says, smiling once the name escapes his lips.

Reed jumps awake, removing his arm from Trip and allows him to shift onto his side. The two face each other now and Reed stares back with sleepy eyes.

"I'm leaving," Trip tells him. "Sorry I had to wake you. You wouldn't let me go."

Reed grins and Trip feels his heart skip a beat. Even Reed's hair has grown longer and it's tossed around in every direction. Trip resists the urge to run his fingers through it.

"Sorry," Reed says. "You must've been uncomfortable."

"Yeah," Trip lies and pushes himself up in bed with great effort. It seems as if he doesn't particularly want to leave yet but, he does so anyway.

Reed groggily stumbles to the front door of his home to walk Trip out and leans against the frame as he watches Trip climb onto his bike. A few birds sing around them and the early morning sun beams down on Trip.

He flips the kickstand out from beneath him and looks over at Reed who combs his hair with his fingers and yawns.

"See you," Trip says simply.

"Yeah," Reed says. "See you."

Trip rides off without a look back and Reed retires to his bed once more.

Trip pedals through the small town and breathes in the fresh air around him. It's peaceful and he finds himself immersed in the beautiful day.

That is, until a body comes crashing into his bike and he collapses onto the ground with a thud. His shoulder rams into the ground as his body slides across the dirt road. The bike collides into the brick wall of a restaurant.

"Shit," Trip hisses, the pain shooting up his entire body.

"Oh, fuck," he hears a voice say and he peers over at the small boy a few feet away.

Moose looks over with wide eyes and scrambles to his feet, shoving a metal object into his bag that had skirted across the ground.

"Are you good?" Moose says as he approaches Trip with caution. He's nervous that Trip is going to be angered.

"I'm fine," Trip says as he slowly brings himself off of the ground. He dusts off his pants and peers down at his shoulder, noticing that it has begun to bleed.

"I'm sorry," Moose says, and glances around frantically. "Do you see him anywhere?"

"Who?" Trip asks.

"A man," Moose replies, still looking around. "About this tall," he waves his hand a few inches above his head. "With a black beard and a gray hat."

"No," Trip tells him. "Why?"

Moose breathes out a sigh of relief and points to his bag.

"There's a gun in here," Moose says. "That belongs to that man. He brought it into a convenience store that he was planning on robbing."

Trip just looks at him. "I thought Boss said there were no more missions."

"This is the last one for a while," Moose says. "And it was a dangerous one, too."

"I see," Trip says as he looks up at the sky.

"But, uh," Moose says. "What're you going to do about that shoulder?"

Trip peers down at the shorter boy and shrugs.

"Clean it off," he replies.

"Sorry," Moose apologizes again. "I was in a hurry to get away."

"Yeah," Trip says. "I understand that."

Moose loosens the bag that he grasps tightly in his hands and pulls out a piece of paper. He scribbles on it for a few seconds before holding it out to Trip.

Trip scrunches his nose and takes the paper, reading a phone number that's written on it.

"Call me once your shoulder is cleaned," Moose says. "I have to return this bag to Boss. I'll treat you to lunch after."

Trip laughs. "Again?"

Moose grins. "Yeah. I feel bad about your shoulder."

"Okay," Trip says. Just like Reed, he's always up for a free lunch.

The two soon part ways and head to their next destinations.

———

An hour passes by the time Trip treats his shoulder and Moose returns the gun to Boss. The two meet up at the same restaurant that they had gone to last time and are greeted by a familiar girl with purple streaks in her hair once more.

She frowns at the pair.

"You two again," she sighs as she leads them to a table.

Moose still has trouble keeping eye contact with Gaze and when she leaves, Trip smiles at him.

"You still have feelings for her."

Moose's head jolts up and his ears turn pink.

"What?" he says. "No, I don't."

Trip laughs. "Now I know why you always choose this restaurant."

Moose covers his face with his hands. "Shut up."

Trip laughs more at the boy in love.

"It'd be weird if I showed up alone," Moose mumbles. "She'd think I came because of her."

"Isn't that why we're here?" Trip asks as he flips through the menu.

"Jesus, Trip," Moose sighs. "Don't tell anyone."

"I won't," Trip says.

Moose looks over at him.

"Put in a good word for me, eh?"

———
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