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The animator apprentices liked to get together as often as Shiri liked to throw parties, and Travis found she just wasn’t built for that much socializing.
She was planning a quiet night in, reading and working with her grandfather on her designs when Will sat down at the table. “So… Andy’s been asking about you.”
Travis smiled. “Really?”
“He wants to know if you’re going to come back.”
“I know. I know. It’s just...nice to not have everyone in the animation department hate me for a change.”
“It’s great you’re making friends with your own kind, Travis. Just don’t forget the guy who gave you a chance.”
Travis snorted. “You only gave me a chance because I offered to clean up your mess.”
“My mess?” Will stabbed at a cherry tomato. “You ran into me!” When the fork slid down the side of the tomato, he picked it up and threw it at her.
She threw it back, followed by one of her own and grinned.
Will popped both into his mouth and grinned back. “Look. The guys liked meeting you, and they’d love it if you came by again.”
“I’d like that, too. They seemed nice.”
“So, how about coming with me tonight? Or are you hanging out with the dork squad again?”
“No. I don’t have any plans tonight.” Nothing that I can’t do another night, at any rate.
“Great. We’ll meet here around sunset?”
Will swallowed the last of his lunch and ran off. Travis poked at hers, trying to convince herself that hanging out with Will and his skater friends was a good way to relax after dealing with the other apprentices.
“I thought girls knew how to dress,” Will remarked as Travis met him at the base of the steps that led into Sai Anto Production.
Travis looked at her outfit. She thought her plain jeans and striped T-shirt were the right shade of casual for an evening hanging out with alternative athletes in an abandoned warehouse. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Not nearly enough bling. You’re never going to fit in looking like that.” Will winked.
Travis swatted at him.
The walk to the Underground seemed shorter this time, probably because the route felt familiar. When they got inside, the space was alive with the white noise of wheels rolling and the clacking of those wheels hitting the wooden structures. A clang rang up the hallway, and Travis jumped. “What was that?”
“Oh, we’re constantly updating the space with new equipment, new challenges. Don’t want to get complacent. That’s how people get hurt.”
“Ah,” Travis followed him into the Underground, the gutted out warehouse some of New Glory’s skaters, rollerbladers, and bicyclists has worked together to turn into an industrial skatepark. There were maybe half a dozen people speeding their way through a course, jumping and flipping from element to element. Another handful were sitting in boxes at the far end of the room cheering and pointing. When they Will and Travis, they waved.
Travis waved back. She’d forgotten how welcoming this group was.
As they reached the boxes, Travis dropped her bag. Her phone went off, and she pulled it out. It was a text from Melinda with plans for the evening. She grimaced, and quickly texted her back: Sorry. Busy tonight. Maybe another night?
Melinda’s response came back quickly: Whatever.
Travis looked at the screen in shock. It was like her mother after the party she walked out on. Maybe this is just how people in New Glory are.
Will took the phone out of her hand and read the screen. He threw the phone back at her. “You can go if you want.”
She fumbled to catch the phone. What? “What?”
“They’re your people, right? You don’t have to stick around here if the gang has plans.”
Travis stared at her phone. “I’m here because I want to hang out with you guys. I told her I’m not coming.”
“Whatever.” Will stormed over to the far side of the boxes and flopped down.
Travis slowly sat down on the edge of the nearest box and dropped her phone into her bag. This isn’t how making friends goes in the books. I really do need to find some new reading material.
One of the skaters offered to show her some moves, so she followed her off to a spot near one of the new elements, a high ramp with a pipe structure extending from the top. Rollerbladers jumped off the ramp while holding on to a pipe, and swung themselves around onto the next element...all over Travis’ head. She tried to ignore them, and Will’s glare across the warehouse, as the girl showed her a few moves. After she fell of the board for what felt like the twentieth time, she apologized to the girl. “I’m sorry. I just can’t focus tonight.”
Blinking back tears, she rushed over to the boxes to claim her bag and then left. She was almost out of the industrial area when she heard her phone chime. It was Will: Have fun at your party.