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somewhere along the way.

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Allison spends the better part of the morning drifting in and out of sleep as the sun slowly begins to rise over the horizon. When the brightness becomes too much for her to ignore, she finally allows herself to wake up completely. She slowly opens her eyes to world around her and is taken back by just how beautiful the peninsula is in morning light. To her, everything looks peaceful, calm, and pure. She thinks about how refreshing it would be to leave everything behind in Beacon Hills and start over with nothing on the peninsula.

A grumble snaps Allison out of her reverie and she snaps her eyes to the source of the sound-Lydia is currently trying (and failing) to pull the sleeping bag up and over her eyes to block out the morning light. Instead she burrows deeper into the sleeping bag and against Allison in an attempt to avoid the light. Allison smiles to herself at Lydia’s attempt as she leans over to grab her water bottle and check her watch for the time. She sits up, taking big sips of her water to rid the dryness that clings to her throat from smoking last night; she pats Lydia’s side.

“Rise and shine, Lydia!”

Lydia grumbles in response and makes no moves towards getting up.

“Come on Lydia! Time to get up! It’s almost 8am.”

Lydia doesn’t respond to Allison but instead, she curls deeper into herself.

“Plus, I think I have your hair in my mouth. Get up now!”

That coerces a response from Lydia; she mumbles through the sleeping back to Allison. Her voice raspy from sleep and last night’s smoke.

“Sounds like a personal problem.”

Allison scoffs as if she is offended but she knows Lydia is kidding-she can practically hear the slight smile in Lydia’s voice. She playfully shoves Lydia away from her.

“Rude! It’s definitely not my problem that your hair is so ridiculously long and luscious that it sheds everywhere and got into my mouth! Come on. You know we have a long couple of day ahead of us.”

Lydia smiles to herself as Allison rises from their makeshift bed, stretching out her muscles that are sore from sleeping on the sand, then she starts rummaging in their bags for breakfast. Lydia slowly uprights herself to a seated position on the sleeping bags. She stretches her arms high over her head as she closes her eyes and yawns big. When she opens them, Allison is seated beside her with a water bottle and half a granola bar. Lydia takes the water first and drinks half of the bottle in one go. Once she finally lowers the bottle from her lips, she grins at Allison.

“You always know exactly what I want.”

“Well you learn the signs over the years. You’ve always been pretty vocal about what you want…”

Allison remarks to Lydia with no heat in her words, just a playful teasing grin on her lips. She winks at Lydia, causing both of them to chuckle. After Lydia’s laughter dies down, she happily munches on her half of the granola bar while Allison folds up the top sleeping bag and stows it away. Lydia does her part and rolls up the bottom sleeping bag when she finishes her snack then she packs her bag up to leave. She turns to Allison, shouldering her backpack with her shoes in hand. Allison smiles easily at her,

“You good?”

It’s unspoken between the two of them that that question is an indicator; an opening to an all ears, no judgement, conversation about their feelings. Lydia knows that Allison doesn’t simply mean is she good for: food, water, sleep, to leave the peninsula, or to travel. She also means is she okay about last night, about the conversation, about the cuddling. It’s a covert way to ask a dozen questions, some of which may be sore subjects, in one simple go. They never explained its use or its meaning to one another but they began asking it when the nightmares started months ago. They just knew what it meant; what it entailed; what was really being asked.

“Absolutely. Let’s go.”

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The first time it happens after that night on the peninsula, it is a complete coincidence. Allison and Lydia stop at the first highway motel they see along their route in Montana. They are both exhausted after driving for ten hours even though it’s only 9pm and the sun is just starting to set. The motel they arrive at is almost full and only has rooms with a single queen or king bed available. Lydia doesn’t think twice before booking a single queen bedroom for the two of them, like that was the plan the entire time. Allison doesn’t bat an eye at the sight of a single bed when she opens the door to their room either.

The second time they stop at a highway motel is two days later in Wisconsin because 'good hygiene is important, Allison'. Lydia requests a room with a single queen bed without even checking room availability first. Allison raises her eyebrow at Lydia when the clerk leaves to grab their room’s key. Lydia shrugs nonchalantly,

“What? It saves us about twenty dollars a night this way. Unless you have a problem with the fact that I sprawl in my sleep which sometimes leads to cuddling...”

Allison scoffs lightly at that and rolls her eyes.

“I bet few would guess that when you sleep you are the epitome of a teddy bear. But that’s not what I have a problem with... It’s the gross drooling that I can’t stand.”

Lydia turns to face Allison fully in disbelief; genuine upset is written all over her face. Allison crosses her arms over her chest and levels Lydia with a serious face.

“What?! I do not drool excessively in my sleep! My salivary glands function just as well as the next person!”

Lydia punctures the air in front of Allison with her pointed index finger on her last statement which is the exact time the clerk reappears with their keys which causes Allison to smile smugly. He clears his throat awkwardly before sliding the keys over the counter to Lydia; he appears a little disgusted about the notion of sleep drool which explains his stammer when he asks them if they need anything else. Lydia turns sharply towards him, her face is flushed in embarrassment as she grabs the key off the counter. Allison can’t hear Lydia’s response over her own laughter at Lydia’s fluster and pink tipped ears.

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Lydia calculates just how much they have to drive and sleep each day to be able to make it to Michigan by Thursday in a functioning state. They have forty hours of driving to do over four days which means they drive ten hours each day, sleep for eight hours a night, and they have six hours left “for activities”.

So far their “activities” comprise of a dozen or so of the cheesiest tourist attractions one can imagine. They don’t just see the beautiful and diverse landscapes of mountains, rivers, plains, and farmlands that the Midwest has to offer. They see eleven different statues: Our Lady of the Rockies, Salem Sue. Turkey Tom, World’s Largest Buffalo Statue, World’s Largest Sand Hill Crane Statue, Paul Bunyan Statue, Pink Elephant statue, three statue scenes at the Enchanted Highway, and the Chicago Bean (even though Lydia protests its validity since it is considered a public art sculpture- ‘what is the difference Lydia? aren’t statues public and art?’).

They both agree that if the buffalo, turkey and cow statue were real animals, American’s hunger issue would be solved for the next thirty five years. Even though Lydia argues that they would need more than just three gigantic sources of protein to solve the whole issue. The sight of Our Lady of the Rockies takes both of their breathes away when the sun sets just behind its head, making the mountains look golden under the light. Lydia thinks that Paul Bunyan resembles Derek while Allison refuses to see any similarities in their looks except for the dark beard. Allison loves Pink Elephant because of its ostentatious color and odd eye glasses while Lydia thinks it is tacky. But as they leave Chicago to continue onwards to Michigan and the Great Lakes they both agree that the Midwest has a slight Napolean complex if the number of statues they visited equipped with the ranking of “world’s largest” is anything to measure it by.

This leg of the trip is not all easy traveling and high spirits for them either. These four days of being cramped in a car put a slight strain on their moods as a certain restlessness settles into their bones. It puts them both on edge, making them a little temperamental. It causes annoyances to become petty arguments which escalate to full blown arguments and frustrated tears. They mostly fight over little things like whose turn it is to pay for gas or food, where they should stay for the night, and if the car is the right temperature. The fights usually blow over usually within a couple of hours once they take a deep breathe and talk through the issue, offering solutions or compromises like making a list of who paid last and opening the sunroof instead of constantly opening and closing the windows. None of it ever completely dispels the restlessness but it does make it a little easier to handle, sets things into perspective, makes them feel as young and foolish as their years suggest.

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Once Gym Class Heroes’ song, Ass Back Home, stops playing Lydia realizes she had been tapping her highlighter against her textbook to the beat without a conscious effort. Now that she thinks about it, even though they are only a couple of songs into Allison’s “road trip beats” (her words-not Lydia’s) they all have been catchy or familiar. Lydia recognized some of them from hit radio stations and others were popular in past years. She teased Allison when first putting her almost eight hour playlist on, but so far Lydia hasn’t hated it. She might actually like its mix of popular songs from over the years. Plus it was keeping Allison awake, focused, and happy. She had sung, hummed or drummed the beat of every song that had played so far.

Lydia pushes a silly thought out of her head, justifying that Allison made this playlist so obviously she would know the words to all of the songs. The current tune playing is unfamiliar to Lydia but she has a feeling she’ll know the chorus. Just like each previous song on this playlist, Allison bobs her head and drums her thumbs against the steering wheel to the music. When Allison starts singing softly along, the words “bare necessities” filters to Lydia’s ears and she finally registers the song playing. Her mouth drops open in surprise as she rests her textbook closed on her lap. She turns to gape at her best friend, her previous thought slips out of her mouth:

“Oh my god. You are a real life Disney princess!”

Allison stops singing as she glances over at Lydia; her eyebrows are drawn together in slight confusion at Lydia’s outburst.

“What? How?”

“Your love for a catchy beat! Your natural desires to sing along to everything! Disney princesses and the Wildcats are the only two people with an unusual urge to sing at all times. And last time I checked red, white, and black were not our school colors. God, I bet you even have your own theme song you sing mentally while out on hunts.”

“You’re right. My head is too much in the game to be a Wildcat. But that doesn’t automatically make me a princess!
You don’t have theme song? I call bullshit. You play Maneater every time you get ready for a date!”

“Not every time… and that’s just my ultimate pump up song for the preparation to break hearts and take names. Completely different. Wait! It even explains your skin! Only a Disney princess would have skin as flawless as yours.”

Allison laughs loudly, drowning out Bare Necessities, which is still playing in the background. This topic is one they have had countless times throughout their friendship. She smirks at Lydia.

“Fine. I concede to that. Which princess am I?”

“Hmmm… I know Stiles sometimes calls you Princess Katniss but she is not a princess and I know you favor your Chinese daggers over your bow any day. So I think you have the skin of Snow White but the moral compass of Pocahontas coupled with the fierce determination and weaponry of Mulan.”

“Well I’m flattered. Snow white is ehhh but Mulan and Pocahontas are totally bad ass. I’ll take it. Ummm… I think you have the intelligence and drive of Jane from Tarzan and Jasmine’s take no bullshit attitude, with a combination of Meredith and Ariel’s hair for color and shape but Rapunzel’s for length.”

“That’s an exaggeration. My hair is not that long. I’m also surprised you didn’t say Kuzko’s …”

“Have you seen your hair lately? When was the last time you cut it? It is so long it fully covers your chest!
Also I would have said Kuzko but I didn’t want to inflate your ego more than it already is. I didn’t want it to go to your head.”

“It can’t go to my head if it’s true Allison.”

Lydia remarks raising her eyebrows at Allison and giving her the trademark “you know I am right” face. Allison and Lydia start cracking up together. Allison is the first to recover; she remarks with a joking voice.

“Sure… Okay Yzma.”

“Does that make you Kronk?”

“Obviously. We’d still be best friends, just villain best friends.”

“Well I’m glad I can count on you.”

“You can. You always can.”

Allison adds with a fondness in her voice and a genuine smile on her lips, completely serious with her remark. She glances over to Lydia, who turned to face forwards towards the road during their banter. Her eyes look wide like she is gazing far in the distance. She slowly as she returns her focus the dashboard of the car. She turns her head to Allison and smiles sweetly back.

“I know.”

Allison and Lydia both settle into their seats after that. As if that admittance on the strength of their friendship dissolved some tension they hadn’t acknowledged lingering in the car from the other night. Silence falls on them as they listen to Allison’s next song playing. Allison wastes no time as she begins to hum along to the catchy beat while opening up the car’s windows. Lydia finds herself grinning when Allison starts to belt out the chorus of The Best Song Ever and Lydia just can’t help herself, she sings loudly with her. She puts her hand out her window as Allison raises the volume. They both dance in their seats and sing along on the top of their lungs. Lydia feels not a single care for how ridiculous she looks because she is with her best friend and that is just what best friends do. They bring out the weird in each other. When the song ends, Lydia and Allison exchange matching gleeful smiles. Lydia relaxes into her seat, feeling more at ease than she can ever remember and she knows it’s all because of Allison.

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