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Gift Shop

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It’s quiet in the gift shop, as a young man stares at a wall of keychains. He taps a finger to his chin in thought and he skims the options. Some are pretty generic, plastic rectangles with sayings on them, reminiscent of his middle school days when having as many as possible was all the rage. Some are slightly less generic, keychains with pictures of the monument, some bendy, plastic 2D renderings, some don’t even have a picture at all, they’re simply the name.

Joy stares at the wall, sighs a little, and then jumps when a hand claps his shoulder. “Seriously, you still haven’t picked one?” Joy snorts, and turns to look at Owen, “I could’ve taken the whole tour again in the amount of time you’ve been standing here.” Owen points out, resting an arm across Joy’s shoulders. “What’s wrong, why can’t you pick one?”
“I just haven’t seen one I like yet, and there’s, like, a hundred of them here, what do you want from me?”

“I want you to pick one so we can go get lunch.” Owen looks over the wall, and steps away from Joy after a moment before presenting him with a small box, with the name of the monument on the side.

“Oh, man, I never would’ve considered it, a little box.” Joy laughs, and Owen waves a hand at him, handing him the keychain. Upon further inspection Joy realizes there’s a hole in one end with a lense, opposite a white square. He looks inside and there’s a picture of the dam, and he hums, turns to the light to get a better view. “Oh. That’s actually kinda neat.”

“Isn’t it?”

“It is.” Joy agrees, nodding a little. He hears Owen sigh, and he can’t help himself for a moment, “I dunno, though, I don’t think this is the one.” He says and looks up from the keychain to see Owen huff loudly, and drop his arms to his side, “I dunno, I think I need to look a little more.” He nods, and bites his lip to hold his smile when Owen waves his hands at him again.

“Shit, fine, I’m gonna go shake all the snowglobes, again.” He gives Joy a narrow eyed look and then walks off.

Joy opens his hand and looks into the keychain again. It really is neat, he’s definitely going to get this one, but it’s too much fun giving Owen a hard time to just take it and move on. He stands by the keychain wall for another six or seven minutes before he finally goes back to the snowglobes and finds Owen. Joy stays back when he sees him, holding one of the snowglobes in his hand and watching it, this soft expression on his face as he watches the little bits of snow fall around the picture of the dam. Joy holds the keychain in his hand and he watches him for way too long. Owen shakes up the globe again.

Joy isn’t sure what exactly is going through his head. Maybe the snow reminds him of things. His expression doesn’t change much, it remains soft and unreadable, like Owen’s forgotten that he’s in public, and he doesn’t realize Joy is there, watching him, no more than ten feet away.

It probably goes on too long, but for a while there, standing in a gift shop, Joy feels like the whole world has gone quiet. He feels a pull in his chest, and white noise in his head and he feels complete and empty all at once.

He snaps out of his staring when a little girl runs into his leg, and it throws him off balance. He grabs a nearby rack of t-shirts to get his bearings again; as the mother apologizes he feels an arm hook under his, pulling him back upright, and he turns a little to see Owen holding his arm, helping him get upright again, and taking the lead of accepting the apology and smiling at the little girl to ease her guilt. Joy doesn’t look away, he can’t yet. He watches as Owen handles the interaction with ease, and he realizes once the family is gone, and Owen is looking at him just how close their faces are. He stumbles over words for a moment, before Owen finally lets go, and takes a small step back, Joy keeps himself up, and he flounders for a moment before Owen pats his shoulder.

“Finally picked one?” he asks, back to normal, it would seem. Joy realizes then that he probably didn’t even catch him staring. “It’s the one I picked out for you, dingus, why did it take you so long if you were just gonna pick this one?” he asks, touching Joy’s hand where the keychain is dangling from a finger.

“Oh, uh, I, um, I actually just said that to mess with you. I like this one, I really do.” Joy smiles, and Owen smirks, gently swatting at his hand.

“Come on, let’s go check out, I’m hungry.”

“Do you wanna get that snowglobe?” Owen pauses, he looks back to the shelves of snowglobes and he shakes his head.

“Nah, I was just keeping myself occupied. I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Owen’s quiet, and Joy feels his shoulders hunching a little bit, like he may have overstepped his bounds here. Owen watches him for a beat, and then turns to look at the snowglobes again. He stares for a long moment before sighing. “It might get broken,” Owen mumbles, and he tucks his hands into his pockets, heading for the counter again.

Joy watches him walk away for a moment before deciding that Owen was way too interested in that snowglobe to just brush it off. He goes to the shelf and grabs it, and he meets Owen at the counter. He sets down the keychain Owen picked out and the snowglobe, and he doesn’t miss the way that Owen is staring at him, but he’s determined to hold firm on this. He doesn’t look away from the cashier as he purchases both items, and they get put into a nice little paper bag. Joy thanks the cashier, and turns around, away from Owen, to head for the front door. He’s got one foot outside when he realizes Owen’s not behind him.

“I thought you were hungry.” He calls out, and he watches Owen’s jaw flap a couple of times before he finally sighs, and follows Joy outside, and to the car.

The ride to the local hole in the wall diner is quiet, Joy adds his new keychain to his collection, and he hums softly along with the music that’s playing, until they arrive. Joy open his door, but Owen grabs his arm and stops him.

“Thank you.”

Joy pauses, retreats back into the car and closes the door, “For what?”

“The snowglobe. I… Appreciate it.” Owen nods, and he doesn’t elaborate, he just climbs out of the car after that. Joy watches the seat where he was for a moment, and he looks down at the small collection of keychains, smiling at the little keychain box. He touches it, and he smiles before he gets out of the car and follows Owen inside so they can eat lunch.