ASN 5.4 The Drive: Part II

by Matt P.

“Change in the car,” Lacey said cheerily, as she grabbed her backpack from the front seat. “God knows I’ve done it enough times.” She looked down at her watch. “And we’re not spoiled for other options, if we want to make practice.”

Antigone slid in to Monica’s minivan, and slid down to the floor of the car between the two seats in the middle so that she could start changing. All three girls had put their changes of clothes—cheerleading for Monica and Lacey, dance team for Antigone—in their backpacks for changing at school, and none of them were inexperienced at the awkward shimmying of a quick change.

“You know,” Monica remarked conversationally, as she popped the trunk so that she and Lacey could slide in the back of the van to change in some privacy as well, “We used to deal with way less weird shit before we let you in to our friend group. Also, we had more friends.”

Antigone leaned back to give her a look as she pulled the day’s outfit out. “You’re just jealous that I get to wear pants today,” she responded primly. But then she sighed after a moment, and paused. “Did we really cost you friends?”

“Pants are an illusion…” Lacey murmured as she undid her backpack. “They are for the weak. No, there was…let’s call it a down-tick after Siobhan almost ended up throwing down at Homecoming, but they came back because Gary is a douche-canoe.” She kicked her shoes off, one of them ricocheting off the rear window.

“Lacey if you break my window…” Monica grumbled. At her girlfriend’s incredulous look she sighed. “Then it’s a shitty car. Which it is, so be careful. No, we didn’t really lose friends,” she answered finally. “Not for long, although the exact center of the group seems to have shifted slightly since everyone’s decided you saved our lives.” When Antigone blushed and looked away, Monica shook her head. “No, for real. Not like everyone believes, because…you know, sheeple is such a stupid word, but it works…but you did. Without you whatever the Faeries wanted would have happened.”

Antigone looked up at the ceiling of the van. Someone, presumably one of Monica’s siblings, had drawn weird eyeballs on the back of the middle seat headrests which looked like the Eye of Sauron; but the ceiling was clear and she could focus on it. “They wanted to merge their world with ours because their King was banished from their world—but if they slammed it in to ours, he could come in.” Lacey blinked, and Monica’s face screwed up as she tried to work through the permutations of that. Antigone couldn’t hep but give a little grin. “I was ass-deep in it, I got the full story.”

Lacey snorted, and started wiggling in to her cheer uniform, in the almost universal shape. “Which probably would murder the heck out of all of us?” She tugged the black and gold uniform down over her body and started smoothing it. The school’s colors were actually an unfortunate brown and yellow, but for the last fifteen years they had steadfastly ignored that and gone with black and gold.

“Yeah,” Antigone answered absently. Her outfit for the day was a black crop-top with a black and striped black leggings, and she began to work the top on over her sports bra. “Yeah, it would have killed a lot of us.”

Monica nodded. She was already finishing up with her uniform, and reaching for the black sneakers that went with it. “So you did save us, Antigone,” Monica said firmly, as she pulled on her socks and started pulling on the sneakers. “It may have gone down differently, but you don’t have to beat yourself up that all of these people like you because of a lie. Without your freaky brain crap, there would be a lot of dead people.”

Antigone blinked, and then laughed and shook her head. “I’m not thrilled on ‘freaky brain crap’…” she trailed off, but she smiled at them. My friends, she thought wryly as she looked at them. And they were, quite surprisingly, her friends—and Siobhan’s. They had stayed with her through annoying, and difficult, and terrifying times—and they kept coming back. “Thank you,” she said sincerely. She finished pulling on her leggings, and then pulled herself up in to the middle chair without bothering with her shoes.

“For pointing out you totally did save our asses?” Monica shrugged, as she reached out to open the trunk again.

“Hey!” Lacey sputtered, “I wasn’t done,” she said, quickly making sure that she was covered.

“You’re wearing Spanx,” Monica responded, as she went around to the driver’s seat. Lacey pouted, but grabbed her shoes and shocks and clambered through the middle of the car and over the center console nimbly to claim the driver’s side seat. Antigone giggled at their antics, and buckled herself in.

“No, for everything. I…” Antigone looked out the tinted window as Monica turned on the car and began to pull away from the hospital. “You guys took a chance on us because Siobhan isn’t afraid to punch someone, but…” She sighed. “See, I’m crap at this too, it isn’t just her. We’ve moved so much, and so frequently, that we didn’t have a lot of really close friends.”

Lacey pulled her legs up on to the front seat and turned, smiling. “Annie…I know. I mean, it’s kind of the cliche, right? Military families.” She reached back and took Antigone’s hand, squeezing it and smiling seriously. “You and Bonnie are good people—just don’t tell her, it will go to her head. And we’ll be here.”

Monica snorted. She didn’t turn, because she was driving, but Antigone could hear the smile in her voice. “Just think…a year ago we were having normal parties and normal lives. No one showed up at them with a sister who drank about one fifth of one beer, and then ended up dragging her sister back unconscious from the woods. And then fighting people with her magic armor clad dog in the school basement.”

Lacey grinned wickedly. “And doing creepy twin shit, don’t forget that. And opening scary doors we’d prefer weren’t opened, and almost destroying the hospital.”

Antigone laughed, and reached down to grab an empty soda bottle and chuck it at Lacey. “All those good feelings are gone, jerks.” But she was smiling, and so were they.

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