There wasn't much room though at the Higgs' household, but Alice and Hadron had agreed to let Justin stay with them for the summer. Justin had no choice but to call the couch his bed.
Justin: What a messed up dream. I don't think I can handle much more.
Still groggy from the lack of a good night's rest, Justin perused the web in search of an apartment.
Atlas: [laughing hysterically] I promise, I won't get you pregnant.
Justin: No man, it's a sign. We were old and hairy, and still working at the same shitty job that we do now. I'm looking for a place with a month-to-month lease that we can rent for the summer.
If they were going to be moving out, they would definitely need some furnishings. They weren't exactly rich though, so they decided to hit up a few yard sales. The Hartman's were having an especially large one, with complimentary donuts to boot.
Candice: Oh My God, I haven't seen you guys since graduation! How are you?
Atlas: Justin and I are going to be getting a place of our own real soon, so we're pretty much looking for everything and anything.
Candice: Well, a lot of this stuff was my grandma's. Take a look around though.
Candice: All the electronics work, and there's an extension cord if you want to try anything out.
Lance: I just got done talking with my dad, he said to just take whatever you want.
Justin: No way! Are you serious?
Lance: He just wants to get rid of it. (chuckles) Whatever doesn't sell, he's just going to donate anyway.
The walk back was exhausting in the heat, so the first thing Justin did was head straight for the fridge for something cold and refreshing.
Justin: Hey Atlas, I'm grabbing a Guinness! Want one?
Only, it wasn't Atlas who had heard. Justin quickly ditched the beer in the trashcan, and tried to keep his cool.
Hadron: Ahh, since I have the night off, I think I'll just crack open a Guinness. It sure seems like I've been going through an awful lot of them lately. Must be the heat, huh?
Justin: Mmm, hmm.
Hadron: You've been taking my beer, haven't you? Fess up, I can smell it on your breath!
Justin: M-m-maybe one or two.
Atlas: Dad, stop.
Seamus: Can you guys keep it down in there? I'm trying to talk to Kathy.
An apartment in their price range had opened up on the outskirts of town. Without hesitation, the boys jumped on it, and arranged to go check it out.
Atlas: [jokingly] Seems a a little bright for your tatses.
Justin: Nice big cupboards.
Atlas: Marble counter tops too. I like it!
They quickly filled out a credit application. If approved, they could move in immediately.
Eager to fill the vacancy, the landlady called right as the boys were about to leave for work. Since there's no better time than the present, why not get it all out in the open and inform everyone now.
Hadron: What the hell do think you're doing? No, I won't allow it!
Atlas: Look, we're moving out, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
Justin: Atlas, don't you think we could have taken a better approach?
The following morning was their big moving day. From here on out they would be on their own, which could prove to be both good and bad.
Atlas: Seamus, get up. Don't you want to see us off?
Seamus: You're leaving already?
Atlas: Mmm, hmm... (noding)
Most of the morning was spent packing, and messing around on the computer. Sometimes those are the best of times.
Seamus: Your cab is here. So... I guess this is it.
Atlas: Ah ok, I was just updating my Facebook status.
The family gathered outside to see the boys off. Hadron was still in disbelief at his son's persistence.
Alice: I give it a month, tops. He'll be back.
Loneliness overcame Seamus as he watched the cab roll away. Hadron sighed and stretched his back.
Seamus: [to himself] He's gone. I've never been without my brother before.
Hadron: Boy, if I didn't feel old before, I definitely do now.
But, the smallest of the Higgs was absent from the farewell. Little Haddie couldn't bear to see her brother go, and wept an ocean of tears beside her bed. Hadron tried his best to console her.
Haddie: I didn't want Atlas to go.
Hadron: Shhh... I know.
Haddie: I want him to come back!
Hadron: He was going to be leaving soon anyway, he and Seamus both.
The townhouse was unusually quiet that night. Seamus waited impatiently by the phone for Kathy to call, or for anyone to call for that matter, anything to break the deafening silence.
Hadron: Are you ok?
Alice: I'm just worried about Atlas. I think he's going to have a harsh wake-up call.
Hadron: Well, some things he's going to have to learn for himself. Hell, it might even be good for him.
Alice: Please tell me you're not going to work?
Hadron: Gotta pay the bills.
Alice: Why don't you call in, and take the night off? Just this once.
Hadron: Come on, you know I can't do that.
With only the bare essentials packed, Atlas and Justin spent their first night on the floor of their not-yet-furnished apartment.
Justin: Good morning, love. Did you sleep well?
Atlas: Are you kidding me? Waking up next to you is the best feeling in the world!
Once dresed, the boys sat down to negotiate the day's itinerary.
Justin: So, I was thinking, we could swing by my parent's house to pick up my stuff, then maybe stop off at the Hartman's for the rest of it.
Atlas: Sounds like a plan.
Justin: Come on, we can raid my parent's fridge. Let's go... go... go...
But, his homecoming was less than welcome.
Robert: You have a lot of nerve! Ron and Alice have been more than accommodating for you.
Justin: It was a personal decision made between Atlas and I, and it's really nobody else's damn business. So, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to take what's rightfully mine, and be out of here.
Robert: Your mother has already started packing up your stuff. You can take your bed, but the rest of the furniture stays here.
Justin finished up the last of the packing.
Justin: I can't even fucking believe this. My own mother, packing up my stuff, eager to erase every trace of my existence.
Ready to go, the boys rested for a moment to take in the surroundings one last time before heading back to their new home.
Justin: Just think, this is the last time we'll ever sit here in my room like this, as my room. God, so many memories.
While Robert warmed up the car, Justin picked up his old violin. It felt like an old familiar friend.
Atlas: That's beautiful, I didn't know you still played?
Justin: I was thinking of taking it. My grandfather taught me how to play when I was little; he left it to me. I used to play it a lot when I was home alone.
Atlas: I think you should.
Unloaded and semi-unpacked, the boys settle in for the night.
Atlas: So, you wanna try out Grandma Hartman's bed?
Justin: You're so bad, I love it!
It was the best sleep they've had since their wedding night back at Twikkii Island.
Since they never had a wedding reception, the boys decided to throw a housewarming party to welcome their friends and family to their new home. Neither of them were very accustomed to cleaning, so they were literally up at the crack of dawn catching up on neglected tasks.
That afternoon the landlady was throwing a building party, which served as a much needed break before the guests arrived. Though the humor was a bit rough between the landlady and a few long-time tenants, the free pizza was a welcome treat, especially today.
Atlas: I think I'm going to get back to cleaning now.
Justin: Yeah, I'm not really hungry anymore.
Seamus: It's just the TV from our room, but I just lugged it all the way up the stairs for you, so you'd better be happy.
Atlas: No, I appreciate it, thank you. We needed a TV.
Candice: Why didn't you say so? You could have taken the old console TV at our yard sale.
Seamus: Mom couldn't make it, said she had some things to finish up for work.
Atlas: It's alright, I didn't think she'd make it anyway. (sigh) Justin's parents couldn't make it either.
Hadron: I think I'll move the TV over there, to get it out of the way.
Soon, the party was in full swing, and everyone was engaged in conversation and merriment.
Justin: I just baked up some cookies. Nothing fancy, just the refrigerated Tollhouse kind. Want one?
Atlas: hey Seamus, why don't you join us?
Seamus: I never knew you could dance like that!
It was a roof raiser!
Unfortunately, being on the top floor had it's disadvantages, as noise tends to carry downward.
Justin: Go ahead, call the landlady, we're not breaking any rules. Quiet time isn't for another hour.
Ginger: We should be leaving anyway, Gavin has to get up early for fork.
Katrina: Me too. I have to babysit my baby brother, Hunter, tomorrow.
Atlas decided to give Seamus an impromptu tour of the place. Seamus couldn't help but take a jab at his brother.
Seamus: And, this must be the love nest.
Atlas: Please don't start in with that, not now, Seamus.
Seamus: So, this is where it all happens, eh?
Atlas: Pretty much. Here, and everywhere else.
Things were winding down now, no thanks to the neighbor for causing a scene.
Haddie: Dad says we have to go now. When are you coming home?
Atlas: I live here now, this is my home.
Haddie: I really miss you!
Atlas: I miss you too.
Putting their differences aside, the brothers share a tender moment before parting. Never wanting the fun to end, Justin posed an interesting question.
Justin: Why don't you stay the night?
Hadron: Well, it's way past Haddie's bedtime. Call me if you need anything, alright?
Atlas: I promise.
While Atlas walked his dad and sister down to the car, Justin and Seamus took the opportunity to try and bond a little over some cheese remnants.
Seamus: But, he used to be really into girls before you.
Justin: I might be all about the boys, but Atlas is bi, he swings both ways. You two don't talk much, do you?
Atlas: I've rearranged the furniture, so you can fold the bed out. Have any more burning questions you need to ask?
After clearing all that up, everyone decided to indulge in a friendly game of charades.
Seamus: Uhh, I'm afraid to say what that looks like.
Justin: Are you brushing your teeth?
Atlas: 9 out of 10 dentists recommend it.
Justin: I knew it!
Seamus: [to himself] Remind me never to play charades with mimes.
Though he had a better understanding of his brother and the situation at hand, Seamus still couldn't help but feel a little culture shock. First thing in the morning, before anyone else was up, he quietly got dressed and left.