"Good morning, Cooper." Michael's voice chirped.
I squinted my eyes against the light shining into my room through the window shades. I sat up groaning, and opened my eyes carefully. I focused on Calum's, Michael's, and Ashton's faces. They were all smiling brightly, Ashton's sunglasses still on his face.
"Happy birthday!" they all cheered together.
"How did you even get in here?" I wondered, clearing my throat after hearing my own voice.
"Your mom let us in." Calum smiled brightly.
"C'mon, Cooper," Michael said, pulling the covers off of me. He seemed oddly happy today. "We've got shit to do today. You're eighteen!"
"You're lucky I had pants on." I grumbled swinging my legs off my bed.
"Yeah, yeah, just get going." he smirked before disappearing out of the room.
"Meet us downstairs in ten minutes." Calum advised before leading Ashton out of my room, closing the door behind him.
After diner last night, I told Ashton I was getting a headache and just wanted to go to sleep, effectively avoiding the relationship talk. As much as I liked Ashton, the idea of talking relationships with him made me kind of nervous and slightly uneasy. He was a pretty private, mysterious guy. I just felt like I didn't really know enough to have a good relationship with him. I just didn't know how to say that.
I yawned before standing and walking over to my closet. I picked out a black Arctic Monkeys t-shirt and flung it on my bed before going to grab a pair of shorts from my dresser. I grabbed some dark washed, rolled up shorts before putting my outfit on. I thought it looked too plain so I grabbed my oversized red and black plaid shirt to tie around my waist.
"Wow, I'm looking really damn hip today," I mumbled to myself as I stared myself over in the mirror. I shrugged. "Eh, I'm eighteen. Fuck it." I was starting a new stage in my life. Might as well start a new stage in my style while I'm at it.
I walked over to the corner of my room and picked out my black leather ankle boots with studs on the sides. I slipped them on before trudging to the bathroom. I brushed through my hair before brushing my teeth. I flipped my head over, messing it up with my fingers before flipping my hair back over. I combed it up messily with my fingers before making a quick bun. I clicked my tongue before exiting the bathroom.
I bounded down the stairs, starting to get excited about my birthday. I was wondering what the boys had planned for today. With them it could honestly be anything. I followed my nose into the kitchen, the smell of breakfast leading the way.
"Happy birthday!" my mom, dad, and the three boys cheered. My brother stood as far away from Michael as possible, scowling with his arms crossed.
I let out a laugh, not really knowing how to react. My mom had whipped up some pancakes and had plates out for everyone. I assumed mine was the one drenched in chocolate syrup with a lit candle on top.
"Thank you." I smiled, crossing the kitchen to hug my parents.
"You're welcome, sweetie," my mom replied, kissing my cheek. "We love you."
"Can't believe my little girl's eighteen." my dad mused to himself.
"Please don't do one of those dad speeches like in the TV shows and stuff." I requested.
He scoffed at me. "You think I'd cry because of a birthday? C'mon, Bridge."
We all sat down to eat breakfast - Ashton again just told my parents Michael was eating a lot of pancakes. After finishing breakfast, I helped my mom pile the plates into the sink before she insisted I go enjoy my birthday and let Jeremy help with dishes. To that, I didn't protest. I followed Michael out of the door, Calum and Ashton following behind me.
"So what's on the agenda today?" I asked.
"Well we have to bring you by Hemmings' first," Michael reported as he brought us to a stop at the sidewalk. "He wanted to be there to say good morning but he, you know, can't."
We crossed the street and walked into Luke's house like we had so many times before. I learned to never knock - Luke never cared if people walked right in. He was sitting on the counter in the kitchen, obviously waiting for us. He smiled brightly as I entered, slipping off the counter to hug me.
"Happy birthday, Bridgette!" he chirped. "You're actually older than me now."
"You're as old as Michael and I now." Calum realized.
"But still younger than Ashton." Michael smirked.
My eyes flashed to Ashton whose cheeks were flushed a light shade of pink. I looked back up at Luke. He seemed to be having an internal conversation with Michael and Calum. I looked between the three boys until Calum finally spoke up.
"So we had a hard time deciding what to do since Luke wants to be included but he can't leave the house," he began. "So I figured something out."
"Which would be...?" I pressed, wanting him to continue.
"C'mon," he smiled, grabbing my hand and towing me into the living room. "It's part of your present but this also benefits Luke."
"Will you just tell me?" I whined.
"Cooper, shut up and sit down." Michael said, lightly pushing me onto the couch next to Calum.
Luke sat down on the floor behind the coffee table. Calum sat on the couch directly across from him. Michael took his spot on the loveseat, laying down on it as he crossed his arms over his chest to watch whatever was about to happen. Ashton grabbed something from one of the shelves and laid it on the coffee table before sitting himself down in the recliner. I looked down at the thing on the coffee table. It looked like Calum's notebook.
"I figured out a spell," Calum began to elaborate - finally. "It's only temporary but it'll work for a few hours. It's just long enough to do a few things we had planned for your birthday. I don't know what will happen if we don't get back in time before it wears off, but I think that he'll just pass out and return back here like he normally would trying to get outside."
"Calum, are you getting at what I think you're getting at?" I began to smile bigger and bigger.
Luke looked at me with the happiest expression I'd ever seen him wear. "Calum can get me out of the house."
I whacked on Calum's arm with excitement. "Oh my God, Calum!"
"Okay, Bridgette, ow!" he sighed, bringing my hands away from his body. He turned back to the coffee table, flipping his notebook open to search for the page he had the spell on. "Alright, so we'll need a few things to happen: I need Ashton to get some candles lit - there should be some in the kitchen, Luke needs to grab the rope he used to hang himself, someone needs to blow air into Luke's mouth once this is done, and we need to move into Luke's room since that's where he died."
Everyone sprang to their feet. Luke bounded up the steps to find the rope he used, which also happened to be the one he used while scaring the shit out of me and any other unfortunate soul who wandered into the house. Ashton strode into the kitchen to grab the candles to light, and Michael made his way up the stairs after Luke. I walked up the stairs with Calum.
"Why does someone need to blow air into him?" I quizzed.
"Do you really want to ask me about spells again?" he chuckled.
That got me quiet.
Everyone gathered in Luke's small room. We sat in a circle on the floor, Calum and Luke sitting across from each other again. Calum had his notebook open on the floor, three candles lit in front of the notebook. The rope lay between the candles and Luke who rocked back and forth excitedly.
"So the air has to be from a living being, so that would mean either Ashton or Bridgette has to do it," Calum stated before he began. "But before that happens, we'll need to move Luke outside."
"If it's okay," Luke began slowly. "I think it'd be less awkward if Bridgette did it."
I nodded. "Alright."
"Let's get started." Calum smiled evilly.
He began by saying words I didn't understand but were obviously very important. Somewhere in the middle of it, he had Michael place the noose around Luke's neck. Luke seemed completely unfazed by that, however. He still stared at Calum like an excited puppy. Right as Calum was done speaking, Luke fell backwards, completely unconscious.
"What did you do?" I asked, staring terrified at Luke's unmoving body.
"He's fine, trust me," Calum said, standing and closing his notebook. Michael blew the candles out before standing up himself. Ashton offered me a hand. "Help me get him outside."
Ashton and Michael picked Luke up, Ashton wrapping his arms around Luke's waist and Michael standing between Luke's legs to hold a leg under each arm. Calum led us out of his room, down the stairs, and into the backyard. I followed behind Ashton, wondering what caused Luke to pass out. What exactly was that spell? It was probably better not to ask.
The two boys laid Luke down on the grass, his blue eyes staring up into nothing. I couldn't go near him while he was staring at me. As if he could read my mind, Ashton got down on a knee and placed two fingers over Luke's eyes, bringing them down to close them. He stood and I gave him a nod to say thanks. I got down on my knees next to him and looked at him.
"You don't have to actually put your mouth on his," Calum instructed. "Just open his mouth and blow."
"This all sounds so fucking weird." Michael mumbled.
I put my hand on Luke's jaw to open his mouth slightly. I put my mouth about an inch from his and blew gently into his mouth. A few moment later, his eyes fluttered open. I straightened up, and he followed after a few seconds. He looked around, dazed.
"Luke, you alright?" Michael asked.
Luke focused on Michael before smiling. "It worked."
"Do you feel okay?" I wondered, lightly touching his arm.
He nodded. "Better than okay. I'm outside!"
"Then let's go enjoy it while you can," Michael said, pulling his friend to his feet. "C'mon, Cooper. Time to party."
Because it was my birthday, I was allowed to have shotgun in Ashton's car. He drove with one hand on the wheel and the other resting on the center console. I kept both hands in my lap with the windows rolled down. Ashton slid in an Arctic Monkeys CD, obviously noticing my shirt. I nodded my head to Knee Socks as we drove down the highway. I could practically feel the happiness radiating off of Luke as he sat between Calum and Michael in the backseat.
"Any idea what we're doing yet, Cooper?" Michael asked, leaning forward to talk to me.
I shook my head, a smile creeping on my face. "Not a clue. Can I get a hint?"
"It's a nice day out." was all he said before sitting back in his seat again.
Ashton took the bandanna off his head to tie around my eyes. He then proceeded to grab my arms from behind to guide me towards wherever they planned on taking me. I could definitely smell the beach, but why would they bring me to a beach?
"You should also know that we planned all of this yesterday," Calum told me as we walked and I tripped ungracefully over everything. "It was pretty easy since Michael's a ghost, but it was still hard figuring out what to do for your birthday."
"You're kind of a boring person." Luke shrugged.
"Hey!" I protested.
Luke laughed at me. "All you ever do is hang out with us! We weren't just going to sit around my house. We do that every day."
I sighed and rolled my eyes, although no one could see that. I would've been fine spending my eighteenth birthday just hanging out at Luke's. I was always over there because I enjoyed hanging out with them. They were the only friends I made since no one else wanted to talk to me after seeing I befriended the "weird kids".
After about ten minutes of blind walking, Ashton finally brought me to a stop. I reached out, finding my fingers touching the smoothness of what felt like a railing. I let my hands rest there while I waited for the blindfold to be untied.
"Ready, Cooper?" Michael asked. I could even hear the smile in his voice.
"I've been ready for a while now." I replied.
"Don't be sassy or we'll just take you home." he threatened, not actually meaning it.
"Alright, sorry." I giggled.
Ashton slid the blindfold off my face. I blinked against the sun, waiting for my eyes to adjust. Once they did, I could see HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY COOPER written in the sand with a bunch of beach towels laid together on the sand next to it. There were balloons tied to beach chairs, and three coolers sitting beside the towels.
"Oh my God, thank you guys!" I squealed, turning to hug them. My arms found Michael first as I practically choked him to death - no pun intended.
"Easy, Cooper," he laughed, holding my waist to pry me off of him. "You're welcome, alright?"
I hugged Luke next, and then Calum before turning to Ashton. Although I still felt kind of awkward about the whole relationship thing, I hugged him tightly anyway, wrapping my arms around his waist.
"Happy birthday." he said in my ear.
I pulled away and looked back towards the beach. I just wanted to keep staring at it. No one had ever done anything like this for my birthday. Actually, no one had ever really done anything special for my birthday.
"Are you just going to stare at it all day?" Luke questioned.
"C'mon, we actually made lunch and everything." Calum smiled as he began to walk down the ramp that led to the beach.
Everyone kicked off their shoes before they hit the sand. We all walked toward the picnic, Ashton trying to execute a cartwheel as we went. I laughed as he landed on his butt. He wasn't very good at cartwheels.
"Alright, let me show you how to do it." I said, running forward before leaping up and performing a perfect cartwheel.
"No one likes a showoff, Cooper." Michael teased.
"Then no one likes you." I shot back with a smile.
"Good one." he praised.
We reached the picnic and sat down. Calum and Luke began opening coolers and setting food out. There were sandwiches and cake and sodas and cheese puffs and all sorts of different snacks. The boys even pulled presents out of one of the coolers.
I decided the presents would be attended to later. We ate for a good majority of time, playing music from a stereo that Calum had brought, and playing a little game of volleyball with a line in the sand being the net. The boys rolled up their pants and splashed around in the water a little, Luke getting knocked on his butt by Calum which was hilarious. When we finally settled back on the beach as the sun was setting, a fire pit built and lit, the boys insisted I open my presents.
"These were just gifts we couldn't give to you around your parents," Calum explained. "There are more presents for you when you get home."
"You guys didn't have to get me anything." I told them.
"Oh, shut up, Cooper. We wanted to," Michael said, handing me the first present. "And I want you to open mine first."
His was wrapped in what looked like a cut-up paper bag. I tore it open and saw a CD inside a transparent pink case.
"Is this like a modern-day mixtape?" I quizzed with a smile.
"Those couple times I've snuck into your room, I went through your music collection," he explained. "Some of it was good but you didn't have much. I thought I should enlighten you in good music."
"You sneak into my room?" I repeated.
He shrugged. "Sometimes when you're at school I get bored. Or if you're asleep."
"Whoa, you watch me when I sleep? That's kind of creepy."
"Yeah, Michael," Luke agreed. "This isn't Twilight."
"There's creepy shit that goes on Westfield, okay," he sighed. "I just want to check up on her. Plus, I have to admit Cooper's pretty cute when she sleeps. Ashton would know that."
Ashton flushed but said nothing.
"Are you done?" Calum sighed.
"Not yet," Michael hissed. "Coop, flip the CD over."
I did as I was told and saw a tiny stack of paper taped to the back of the case. I carefully got them unstuck and flipped through them. In handwritten letters, they said "Keep Michael Out Of My House - Valid For One Day".
"Seriously?" I laughed.
"You're always getting pissed for me just randomly showing up, so." he shrugged.
"Alright, my turn," Calum cut in. "This is getting too mushy for me. Here, Bridge. Happy birthday."
Calum's gift was in a sparkly blue bag with purple tissue paper. I went through it and dug out a card. I opened it to find a poem in calligraphy.
This will come in handy,
Although it won't taste beautifully.
If one drinks this they will have for twenty-four hours,
"Immunity?" I questioned, still studying the poem.
"There's something else in there, smartypants," Calum chuckled as I dug through the bug to pull out a small bottle of light pink liquid. "It's an immunity potion. I figured it would come in handy for something. Immunity to Luke's mind reading or Ashton's control or even something as simple as being immune to a stomach bug."
I smiled, turning the bottle around in my hands. That was actually a pretty thoughtful gift. "Thanks, Cal."
He shrugged. "No problem."
"Can it be my turn now?" Luke whined.
"You're such a five-year-old." Michael muttered.
Luke handed me his gift excitedly, practically bouncing up and down in his beach chair. "It's kind of like Michael's but I think it's way better."
Luke's was put in a small box. I opened the lid and found another short stack of paper. These ones were harder to read, though. Luke Can't Read My Mind For A Whole Day - Valid 3 Times; Luke Has To Scare The Shit Out Of One Person Of My Choosing - Valid 1 Time; Luke Is My Personal Slave - Valid 2 Times; Luke Has To Tell Me Whatever He's Thinking For A Whole Day Whenever I Ask - Valid 5 Times.
"These are actually incredibly clever." I nodded approvingly, although I didn't know if I'd ever use the scaring one.
"Thank you." he smiled proudly.
Ashton looked around the group before his sunglass-covered eyes landed on me. My turn?
I nodded. "You can go now."
Ashton got up from his chair and knelt down in front of me. He removed his sunglasses in looked my straight in the eye, and I swear he said, "Happy birthday" to me without even speaking. I moved back slightly in my chair, unsure if I was going crazy or not.
"You're not," Luke replied to my thoughts. "Ashton has a second power. He can send his own thoughts."
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