"Go on a road trip across the US, they said," Combeferre deadpans, staring out the windshield of the decidedly motionless rental car between hands that clench the steering wheel. He turns, eyebrow raised, to where Courfeyrac sits in the passenger seat. "It will be fun, they said."
Courfeyrac laughs a little nervously, scratching the back of his neck. "Well...they say getting there is half the fun, right?"
Combeferre eyes him for another long moment before facing forward and reaching for the ignition again.
"Have you tried giving it gas when you turn the key?" Jehan suggests, poking his head between the seats from the back.
Combeferre grunts and does so. The engine's only response is a dull hum, nothing close to starting. (He had tried before, but at this point, he'll give anything a shot.)
An actual tumbleweed blows across the road, and Combeferre glares at it. How was this their luck, to end up in a broken-down car in the middle of the desert instead of cruising along toward their next destination?
Jehan flops loudly back into his seat. "Well, at least if we're going to be stuck, we're somewhere pretty."
He's not wrong. Off to the left of where their car is parked is a scenic overlook, the landscape dropping away dramatically to reveal a canyon of painted rock. They'd stopped to take pictures and only discovered the problem when they tried to leave again.
Courfeyrac stretches nonchalantly and unbuckles his seatbelt. "So shall we take a look under the hood?"
A minute later the three of them are clumped together staring down into the vehicles's innards. "Do you actually know anything about cars?" Combeferre asks.
"Don't you?" Courfeyrac asks, sounding honestly surprised.
Combeferre pinches the bridge of his nose in frustration. "I don't actually know everything, no."
"Hey." Jehan loops an arm through each of theirs. "Come on, let's just call a tow truck. Since it's a rental and we didn't actually do anything to it, they should reimburse us. It's nothing to get upset over."
Combeferre sighs softly, trying to let all of his negative emotions out with the air. "I'm sorry. To both of you. I just wanted this to be really fun for us, and now it seems like it's getting ruined."
"It's not," Courfeyrac insists, and his honest grin is infectious. "This is just even more of an adventure. The only thing you have to worry about now is not having cell service."
Luckily, that turns out to not be a problem. Combeferre pulls out his phone and finds a number for a towing service as the other two step away to give him space to make the call.
A few moments later, he hangs up with a sigh and looks up to find them. His heart lands in his throat when he sees Jehan perched on the very edge of the overlook, legs dangling over the side, notebook and pen in hand. Courfeyrac lounges against the safety rail nearby.
"Jehan, love, come back up here, won't you?" Combeferre asks as he approaches slowly, terrified of startling him.
Jehan looks up with a lazy grin, not the least bit afraid, his pen pausing. He's already filled most of a page. "I couldn't resist," he gushes. "I was inspired. We don't have anything like this back home."
"Okay, fun's over," Courfeyrac says, teasingly but with some authority too. "Stop giving the old man a heart attack and come back over here."
Jehan laughs softly, closes the notebook, and lets Courfeyrac help him up. Once he's on the right side of the barrier, he throws an arm around Combeferre and kisses his cheek. "See, I'm fine."
Combeferre nods in relief.
"So what did you find out?" Courfeyrac asks.
Combeferre sighs. How quickly he'd forgotten. "I managed to explain where we were, and they're going to send a truck."
"That's good news right?" Jehan says. "But I sense a but."
"But," Combeferre confirms, "it's going to take them two hours to get here."
"Ouch." Courfeyrac winces.
"So?" Jehan says brightly. "We can entertain ourselves until them. It's nearly lunchtime, and we've got plenty of snacks - how about a picnic?"
"That sounds good," Combeferre agrees, "as long as we're a safe distance from the edge."
Courfeyrac rolls his eyes fondly. "Yes, dad."
They drag the cooler full of drinks and snacks from the car and find a group of boulders to sit on. Chips and fruit and soda don't make a particularly filling meal, but they have fun watching the landscape and talking about what a great story this particular incident will make for their friends when they get home.
The sun is high in the cloudless sky, and it doesn't take long at all for them to start to sweat.
"I'm hot," Courfeyrac whines..
"Yes, you are," Jean agrees, earning him a light-hearted glare.
"I see your compliment, but that doesn't change the annoying temperature." The dark-haired boy flops dramatically on the ground. "What I wouldn't give for a tree right now, because I am not getting back in that car even for shade."
Jehan looks at him, looks at the bottle of water in his hand he's just pulled from the cooler - and upends it over Courfeyrac's head.
"HEY!" Courfeyrac shoots upright, sputtering and dripping, and the other two roar with laugher.
"You're a bit cooler now, right?" Combeferre manages between guffaws. "But you'll need to change before the two truck gets here."
"You two are the worst," Courfeyrac declares, pushing soaking wet bangs out of his eyes.
"But you love us," Jehan chuckles.
"Of course I do."