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Chapter 3

 

After an hour of hanging out with Darren and his friends Chris could tell that some of the cars up front were moving a little, and he decided that he should probably head up to his own car, moving it along with them.

 

The idea hadn't even occurred to him, but Darren immediately volunteered to follow him up, since he wasn't one of the drivers in his friend group. If Darren hadn't seems so eager and happy at the thought, Chris probably would have brushed it off, but he couldn't say no to that sincere excitement the other man was displaying. He didn't want to get in the way of Darren and his friends, since he was obviously supposed to spend his trip with them, but they didn't seem to mind either, and the thought of company sounded quite inviting.

 

Darren was very talkative by nature, so awkward pauses were basically non-existent, even when there were no other friends around to create background noise or join in on the conversation. His ease in social situations easily made up for Chris' slight awkwardness, and Chris was having such a good time that he didn't even have time to think any self-conscious thoughts. It was a nice change.

 

When they reached Chris' car it was as expected, so hot it was practically suffocating to breathe in the air from there. But even so, Darren just got in without a moment of hesitation, gently removing Chris' pen and paper from the seat, putting it in the glove compartment, per Chris' instructions.

 

The line only moved about ten meters, but it gave Chris hope that the insane traffic might ease up soon. But as he turned on the radio to catch up on the news, his hopes were crushed. The traffic jam was only destined to get worse, and people might be stuck on the road for several days.

 

Darren didn't seem to be phased by the news, and when Chris asked about it he just got a simple shrug and a smile as Darren said, "Well, it's really not that bad. They're sending food and water out here, and I get to spend several days in the sun with my friends, just hanging out. It's not like we were going to be doing a lot more where we were going. Well, maybe a bit more drinking, but we're having a good time, so it doesn't matter." He hesitated, looking nervous for a brief moment, though it was quickly replaced by an easy smile and a wink. "And I hopefully get to spend some more time with you."

 

Chris couldn't help the smile that formed on his face at Darren's words, the wink making his stomach flutter in a way that wasn't entirely unwelcome. It had been one day and he was already developing a crush on this guy. "I guess it does sound quite nice when you put it that way," he agreed.

 

After listening to the rest of the news, they went outside again, sitting down on the practically scolding asphalt, easily picking up a new conversation. It amazed Chris how there was yet to be an awkward break, or that they would run out of something to talk about. It happened so easily at the beginning of new friendships, it was just a part of getting to know someone new, but not in this case.

 

It definitely helped that they had the same sense of humor, and the same interests. Darren was really dorky, which Chris loved, since most of his friends didn't really get the dorky side of him. Lea or Ashley would never want to talk about Harry Potter or Star Wars, but Darren listened eagerly and came with great inputs. And he hadn't known Chris long enough to get tired of his seemingly endless knowledge about the English Royal Family, but instead he found it amusing and cool.

 

It wasn't until Chris' stomach growled loudly that he realized how hungry he was, and Darren stopped midsentence, an amused smile forming on his face. "You know, you can just tell me if you don't want to listen to me. You don't have to growl, I can take a hint," he joked, earning a laugh from Chris, even though his face was still heating up with embarrassment.

 

"Haha, very funny," Chris said sarcastically, doing his best to suppress his smile.  But Darren didn't need to know that. The sun was beginning to set pretty lowly on the horizon, casting long shadows on everything, and Chris realized he had been on the highway all day. He hadn't eaten anything, skipping breakfast in order to get out of the house faster, something he now realized had been a mistake.

 

Darren smiled playfully and nodded. "I know. I'm hilarious. But they sell food up there by the water, too. Let's go get you something before you starve to death," he teased, getting to his feet and holding out a hand to haul up Chris.

 

It was only after they had bought their food, consisting of a few fruits and a sandwich for each of them, that Chris remembered Darren's friends. They had been out here just as long as him, and even though he didn't know if they had had any food, he could imagine they could use something, too. The sun was starting to set and Chris couldn't imagine going to get food in the dark could be very easy, so he voiced his concern to Darren, who clearly hadn't thought that far ahead. Of course it wouldn't be completely dark, since some of the cars would have their lights on, but either way, they didn't know how long the food stand would stay there.  

 

As soon as they finished eating, Darren decided to head back to his friends to pass on Chris' advice. He offered for Chris to come along, but Chris decided that he had stolen Darren away from his friends enough for one day, so he stayed by his car, watching the sun setting instead. As the last sight of the sun disappeared behind the hills, leaving the road and cars with only artificial lights, Chris went back into his car, turning on the small lamp in the ceiling and going back to his writing. He didn't stop until hours later, when he had jotted down an entire chapter.

 

Before he went to sleep, he rolled up the windows so they were only cracked open at the top. He then took off his shoes and got in the back of the car, trying to get as comfortable as possible in the very limited space. It wasn't very pleasant, but he fell asleep fairly quickly, worn out by the day's events. Somewhere in the background, he could faintly hear a guitar playing and someone singing a familiar tune, but it was forgotten in favor of sleep before he even had a chance to identify what it was.

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