You can't decide whether money changes things or not; it does. You can decide, however, whether it changes things for better or worse.


22. Twenty two

"Paint balling?" Johanna raises an eyebrow at Alex. "We're paint balling?"

"Oh god." Alice murmurs.

"I am so ready." Carrie says. 

Alex has hired out the entire paint balling place just for the five of us. At first we're all complaining, saying how it's going to be horrible and it's going to hurt but then Alex and Carrie start convincing us that it'll be fun and as we're changing into our paint balling outfits, we realise what Alex has actually done here and we start to get excited. He booked this entire place, just for us. And all of a sudden, we turn this into a military operation. 

"Okay." Alex says, handing us all paintball guns. "There's five of us. Two against three. We need teams and I want Johanna on mine."

Johanna grins, giving him a high five. "Us two against those three?" she suggests. 

"Hell yeah." he agrees. 

"We're going to destroy you." Alice says, sounding completely serious and we all burst out laughing before going to our starting positions. 

Johanna and Alex end up beating us, of course, but we put up a good fight. We all go to McDonald's on our way home and everybody's talking but I'm just sort of sitting back and observing. Whilst Johanna is arguing with Carrie and Alice about one point of the day, Alex turns to me and smiles. 

"You have paint in your hair." he observes, bringing the strand of hair forward. 

"You have paint everywhere." I joke, tying my hair into a ponytail. 

"You're just a sore loser." he nudges me. 

I laugh, leaning back into the seat. "Maybe."

"Are you tired?" he asks. I nod. "We'll set off home soon."

"It's okay, I'm having fun."

He smiles. "Good."

"Didn't I, Alex?" Johanna demands and it's like we're pulled back into the real world. 

"Didn't you what?" Alex asks.

"Didn't I get Carrie as she was going behind that tree?"

"Yep." he says.

"Yeah, but didn't I get Johanna just before she ducked behind you?" Carrie insists. 

"That is true also." Alex nods.

There's something about two parts of your life coming together that is so nice to watch, like when your parents enjoy a movie you love or when your friends read your favourite book. The same thing is happening right now. There's my three best friends, the constants in my life since I started high school and then there's Alex, this new and exciting friend who at the same time feels natural like we've been friends forever. And now they're in front of me, talking and laughing together and it's kind of mesmerising. 

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