After opening all the presents from my birthday, I had a total of $375, a pair of Ray-Bans knockoffs from Michael and a Batman tank top - since I'm so in love with Batman that even my cake was Batman themed - a framed and signed Fall Out Boy poster from Luke and Calum, some new flannels and a charm bracelet from my mom's sister, a new camera from my dad's brother and his wife along with a note asking for copies of any pictures I take with the camera, a heart-shaped locket from my grandparents on my mom's side with a note saying to put someone I cared about a lot inside since there was no picture in it to begin with, a new laptop from my dad's parents, the keys to my brother's car since he saved up enough money to get a new one, and four concert tickets to see Ed Sheeran in a month. Overall, I was incredibly happy for my gifts. Although I didn't get a follow up gift from Ashton, he texted me saying he'd give me my gift later. Honestly, I didn't care if I got another gift from him. The gift of knowing he can speak without speaking was big enough.
"Did you like your presents?" my mom asked after I had gone through three pieces of Batman cake.
"Best birthday ever." I confirmed, feeling like I was going to explode.
"Now I hear your friends here have a little surprise for you." my dad inquired, gesturing to Ashton, Luke, Calum, and Michael.
"Well, we-" Calum began, but was cut off by Luke falling out of his chair.
"Shit." Michael hissed, leaning over to see what happened.
Everyone looked over at the seat to see Luke had disappeared. The three boys locked eyes with me and each other as my parents and Jeremy freaked out. Apparently the spell had worn off.
"Where did he go?" my mother cried.
Calum and Michael looked to Ashton for helped. He composed himself before asking, "Who?"
"Luke." my dad replied firmly.
"Luke was never even here," Ashton shrugged. He was right. After the beach day, he must've just gone home or something. I looked over my presents as I felt Ashton's lips at my ear. "The spell just wore off. Luke disappeared."
The memory of Luke passing out and suddenly leaving without a trace flooded into my head. As annoying as it was that Ashton couldn't talk most of the time, his power did come in handy with my family. My parents were fine with the whole thing, continuing to talk about how I'd be having a sleepover with my friends. Obviously Ashton must've talked to them earlier because there was no way my parents would ever be okay with me spending a night with four boys.
I brought my presents to my room and changed into pajamas before leaving the house with Michael and Ashton. Calum left after I went upstairs to see if Luke had returned to his house. When we walked in, they were sitting on the couch together, controllers already in their hands as FIFA played on the TV.
"He's okay." Calum announced casually as if it was no big deal.
Luke actually paused the video to talk to us, earning a pout from Calum. Luke was smiling from ear to ear. "Today was amazing. I don't think I'd ever felt so great in my life!"
"Glad you had fun." I laughed. Luke was so much like a puppy sometimes - cute and excited.
As I went to sit on the couch, someone grabbed my hand and pulled my back onto my feet. I looked up and saw Ashton standing above me with his sunglasses on his face. I didn't understand why he still needed those if I knew his second power now.
"Because it's exactly as if he was talking to you," Luke responded, staring right at me with wide, curious eyes. "He can make you do things without even telling you to."
"Boy, do we have some hilarious stories for you, Cooper." Michael chuckled to himself as he stretched across his usual spot on the smaller couch.
Ashton looked over at Michael with a frown. He looked back at me and pointed towards the hallway to go to the stairs. I assumed he wanted to take me upstairs for something.
"Why?" I asked.
"The gifts aren't over." Luke sang.
Curiosity had me hooked and I let Ashton lead me up the stairs to what seemed to be a guest room. He sat me down on the bed before reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a red piece of cloth that had a pattern that looked similar to the pattern on his bandana tied around his head.
"Did you want us to be twins?" I laughed, taking it in my hand. But it felt...different.
"Well, yeah," he spoke, taking his glasses off but not looking me in the eye. He'd look near my face but not completely at it. "But there's something wrapped inside the bandana, Bridgette."
For some reason, hearing him say my name made my heart flutter. I dug through the bandana with clumsy, shaking fingers to find a box. I opened it to find an old looking key inside.
"Did you...buy me a house?" I joked.
Ashton chucked, running a large hand through his messy hair. "Well, I talked to Luke and Michael because I knew how much you've wanted to move out but not move too far. So, long story short, that's Luke's key to this house. He said you can move in if you'd like. There's no mortgage to pay or anything so it can't be that terrible, right? You don't have to, I just thou-"
"Shut up a sec," I told him, holding my hand over his mouth. "So I can accept the offer."
Ashton removed my hand to reveal a smile. "Fantastic! You can move in whenever and-"
"Wait," I told him. He, like Luke, was also much like a puppy. "How am I supposed to explain to my parents I got the house across the street for my birthday?"
He shrugged. "I can come up with something. They were actually talking to the boys and I about buying you the house for sale down the street, aka my house. I told them it was a bad idea and they went with it."
"Why wouldn't you want me living in your house?" I quizzed. "Your family would be safe."
"Immortality isn't fun, Bridgette," he explained in a tired voice. "I've thought about it and they shouldn't have to be stuck in a run-down house for the rest of forever. Destruction is the best thing that'll ever happen to them."
Walking back down the stairs, I tried to put my new house keys on the keychain my new car key was on and made a mental note to check back at my house - or now my parents' house - tomorrow to pack my things. I walked into the living room with Ashton walking behind me, his sunglasses hanging on the front of his shirt. I watched as my new housemates played video games and laughed together. It was strange to think that I'd be moving out and living with a couple of ghosts.
That's when the realization that never hit finally did. I dropped to the floor, eyes wide as my hands shook. I'd be living with dead people. Ashton knelt down behind me as Calum, Luke, and Michael's eyes stared at me in confusion.
"What happened?" Calum asked, sliding off of the couch and onto the floor next to me.
"I-I don't know." Ashton said nervously.
"They're dead," I kept whispering, although I don't think anyone understood what I was saying. "They're dead, they're dead, they're dead..."
So, for my eighteenth birthday, I got $375, a pair of Ray-Bans knockoffs, a Batman tank top, a framed and signed Fall Out Boy poster, some new flannels and a charm bracelet, a new camera, a heart-shaped locket, a new laptop, my brother's car, four concert tickets to see Ed Sheeran in a month, a new house, a bandana, and a mental breakdown.
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