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*

Max swerves on the road, El's hands tightening on her golden raincoat.

"Whoa!" she shouts, narrowing avoiding a collision course with another kid biking from the opposite direction.

Their front wheel hits a deep, water-brimming pothole, sending its occupant flying off.

"Hey, hey! Are you okay!?" Max throws herself off her bike, joining El kneeling down in Max's borrowed, flame-red raincoat. It's a boy, hissing out in pain, Will's striped shirt soaked.

El hesitates, tilting her head.

"Will?" she murmurs.

"Fuck," Max groans, seeing the fresh blood mingling with the rain dripping down Will's arm.

She tells El to lift Will up slowly, taking his uninjured arm slowly, leading him towards a fork in the road. Down another three blocks, they enter Max's house.

With nobody around, Max orders them to sit down on the couch. El's raincoat and Will's sneakers tracking in wet puddles all over the place. Max grabs a towel, examining the large, broken shard of glass pokes out of Will's upper left arm. Maybe a beer bottle?

"This is gonna hurt, Will, sorry," Max says grimacing, yanking out the glass. She quickly covers up the wound with El's palm and the towel. "It doesn't look like it needs stitches. That's the good news. El, keep applying pressure on the wound, alright?"

She waits for El to nod before getting up, searching for the first-aid kit.

"Thanks," Will mutters, shivering, lowering his head. His lips twitch, but he doesn't look up when El's face softens, and she touches comfortingly, kindly to his fingers. Max returns with the kit, getting out antiseptic and bandages, checking the bleeding.

"What the hell were you doing out there?"

"Needed to clear my head…" he mutters again, hissing out again when Max cleans the small, bloody puncture-wound.

El's hand tightens on Will's fingers.

"I thought you would have been with Mike and Lucas."

"No. They'd rather be with you two," Will grumbles, avoiding Max's prying look.

"Honestly…?" she responds, jutting her lower lip thoughtfully. Max binds Will's arm with gauze and stretchy, white bandage carefully. "We would rather hang out with you instead of those assholes. Right, El?"

Will glances to El who nods cheerfully, her mouth quirking up.

"Right."

*

For the next hour or so, they get out blank sheets of paper, using cheap, staling markers to draw. El uses pinks and yellows and oranges, scribbling out flowers. Max decides to create the sky and sea, using most of the greens and blues from the markers.

"Whoa…" she laughs, gawking at Will's dragon he's colored in with purples. "That's pretty cool."

El crawls over, admiring it too. "Cool."

"I wish I could draw like that."

Will sends them a disbelieving but bashful look. "All you gotta do is practice. That's what I did." The thunderstorm overhead booms, seeming to rattle the very air. "It's getting late," Will points out, getting up from lying down on his belly.

Max stops him, holding Will's shoulder. "You can't go out in that."

"Is your parents okay with me staying…?"

"They're on vacation. And, yeah, Billy won't be home until probably tomorrow night."

For the first time all summer, Max thinks — they see Will genuinely smile.

*

Will's dragon has purple and black scales, with some streaks of silver. Max eyes it while El and Will talk to each other on the carpet, noticing El's flowers in a magnificent crown on its head, and the colors of Max's sky and sea in the background.

*