Psychology, Cartography

Ace is eighteen and still hasn't completely grown into his own body. He's made up for it by growing well into his mind and everybody else's. Just because he sells fruit doesn't make him any less of a psychologist. And just to make sure nobody else can get into his head, he keeps on a pair of aviators.

That's his superhero name, by the way. Aviators.

He volunteers for more shifts than anybody else, and if they won't give him any extra shifts, he'll hang around the place anyway. It's not like he has the best job in the world. He just works the register. It's like being stuck on repeat.

He is so tired of being stuck on repeat.

Shea works with him on almost every shift. She cannot fathom why he is almost always there. "Are you seriously here? Again? Dontcha have an effin' life, you loser?" Shea actually believes that honesty is the best policy. Funny how quiet she gets if anyone asks her about that eye patch, though.

Yeah, maybe there are other places that Ace could be. But being closer to work means getting more shifts, which means getting a little farther and further away from his house. And shoot, anything that gets him away from there is all right in Ace's book.

"Don't you ever go home, bro? It's like you're either here or at school or at my house. All the time." Mitchell thinks he's so hilarious. He has no idea how dead-on that statement is. Ace doesn't think he's actually seen his biological family in two solid days.

Good.

"You caught me, dude. I am totally trying to find a way to secretly move into your house without you realizing it." Mitchell laughs. He has no idea Ace wasn't kidding.

When he was younger, he used to fantasize about taking off in the dead of night. No warnings, no notes, no nothing – a clean break. Except if he did, then who'd end up saving Mitchell from getting shoved into lockers?

Mitchell has no idea what it's really like at home. Ace is too proud to admit that he needs a hero, too. So he settles for finding excuses to not go back. He gets weird looks and awkward questions about it on a regular basis, but that's fine.

Everybody will be asking a different set of questions soon enough.

Before he was twelve and needed to save his best friend's skinny behind at every turn, he collected maps and taped them up in his room like wallpaper. Every night, he would trace the paths from his house to any number of anywhere-elses.

Canada sounds nice, but he doesn't have a passport. He guesses Washington will do. Washington is basically Canada.

"You should be in cartography," Mitchell says when he first sees all the maps. Then he realizes he rhymed and laughs.

Ace shrugs. "Whatcha think of Washington, bro?" He's casual. There's no ulterior motive behind this question, not at all.

"Dunno." Mitchell sniffs. "It's Washington."

"It's basically Canada."

Mitchell chuckles and nods.

"You ever wanna be basically Canadian?"

"Huh?"

Then Ace realizes that his dad's going to be home and smoothly suggests they relocate – so smoothly that it's completely awkward. Mitchell notices, of course. He's only ever been to Ace's house a couple times in the seven years they've known each other, and both times have been brief.

When they relocate to Mitchell's house, Ace figures it's time to be straight with him. He pulls off the aviators. Mitchell is shocked, of course. He always thought the glasses had been worn for dramatic effect. Not to hide… that.

Yeah. It's bad, Ace knows. "That's kinda what the thing with the maps is about."

It takes Mitchell a second to figure it out. Then he's worried and angry and depressed all at one time. Ace has never heard his best friend yell like that. It's kind of impressive, but it makes sense. Mitchell is a redhead.

When he quiets down, Ace tells him his idea. They're eighteen, they're out of school in two days, and they have mobility.

Mitchell's pretty bright. And he's pretty up for adventure. Ace guesses that's why they're best friends.

So two days later when Shea and Ace close down shop, Ace tries to be extra nice to her. He's sorry about that eye patch, by the way. Shea is suspicious, but doesn't question the change in attitude.

"See ya tomorrow, Ace." She leaves him behind.

Ace smiles to himself. "No you won't."

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I have no idea if this formatted correctly because the document preview is being just so weird. SO YEAH. Have some e-brownies. :D