Buggy enters the break room at Ivankov's Costume Emporium before he pulls his cellphone out to check his messages. There were a few text messages from the group chat, Shanks and also a missed call from Shanks.
'What time should I pick you up?' from Mohji
'What are ya'll wearing tonight?' from Cabaji
'Call me back when you can!' from Shanks.
Buggy quickly replies to his texts before returning Shanks' call. He rolls his eyes when it went to his corny voicemail: 'Hey! You've reached Shanks. Yes, that's S-H-A-N-K-S. If you're brave, leave a message at the beep. Beep!
"Hey, it's me." Buggy said, not even bothering to add more to the message. He ends the call and sits back in his chair to take a breather. His feet were killing him, constricted by shoes just a little too small and tight. He took them off to rub the soles briefly before his phone buzzed on the crappy green breakroom table.
"Go for Buggy."
"Hey, babe! How are you?" His voice was undeniably chipper even for the usually enthusiastic Shanks. He could hear some yelling and whooping in the background that made his ears burn. Buggy cringed as he set his phone on speaker mode before resuming his foot massage.
"I'm good. What's up? I have about 5 minutes left before I have to go back to work."
"Ok. I won't hold you up. I just wanted to check in and let you know that we made it to the campsite."
"Shanks, get off the phone, you pussy!" A voice shouted from the background and if Buggy had to guess, it was probably Lucky Roo, the man never short of smartass remarks.
"Who was that?" He asked, mainly to only make conversation. He couldn't care less really, all of Shanks' friends were the same to him.
"Uh, the guys. Just impatient bastards as usual. We're about to start fishing but I wanted to call and-"
"Get your whipped ass off the phone!" Another voice yelled, more annoyed than the first. Buggy chuckled, twirling his hair absentmindedly.
"Give me a minute would ya?!" He yelled back and Buggy couldn't help but laugh.
"As I was saying, we made it to camp and are going to the lake in a few."
"That's great, babe. I'm glad you made it safely."
"Yeah? Do you miss me?" Shanks whispered playfully. Buggy could picture him cupping his hand around the phone, looking around to make sure his friends couldn't hear him. Shanks was so cute sometimes.
"Oh, geez," He rolled his eyes playfully, "sure, I miss you. Now go have fun at your bachelor party before they drag you away."
Shanks laughs, "I love you."
"Love you, too."
"Boo! Boooooooo!" An entire chorus of 'boos' thundered through Buggy's phone but he hung up before he could hear Shanks curse them out.
By a stroke of luck, Buggy was able to pass his remaining hours off to another employee so he could leave early. Fortunately, Ivankov was an understanding boss and didn't protest. He just cared if the shift was taken care of and even wished Buggy well for the evening. Hell, it's not every night you have your bachelor party!
The whole town knew about his upcoming nuptials because that's what small towns do, gossip and talk about anything they can get their hands on. He heard gossip at the grocery store, he heard whispers at the post office and especially mummers at his job. He ignored most of it anyway, too damn busy to give other people much thought.
He texted Mohji the new pickup time before sweeping the floor and wiping the shelves. Before he knew it, it was five and he was off the clock, practicing skipping to Mohji's car.
"Buggy!" Mohji greeted cheerfully, unlocking the door in his blue Toyota Camry. The paint was chipping off the outside but the inside was surprisingly clean and well-taken care of.
"Are you ready for tonight?"
"Yep, I even got the goods." Buggy smiled back, closing the door behind him. He shoved his shopping bag into the backseat before buckling his seatbelt. And then they were off.
While Buggy was having an inside sleepover with his friends, Shanks decided that his bachelor's party would be outside in the wild representing his last night of wild abandon. At least, that's what his friends said since he didn't plan a damn thing for tonight. He wasn't the planning type anyway, always down for the ride, ready for a good time.
In terms of celebrating his "last night of freedom", it's not that he would miss it much or have anything else to compare it to. He hadn't been single in years and even when he was, he wasn't focused on romance or dating in his preteen years. It never really crossed his mind to wild out or sleep around. Sure, he was a little nervous for his upcoming marriage, that's human, but that was nothing compared to his overall excitement.
They all chipped in to rent a boat for the afternoon, merrily cruising through the lake twice, letting the wind flow through their hair like a passing thought. They caught a few fish, but nothing noteworthy. But it didn't matter since the day was hot and beautiful with endless possibilities.
"Shanks, man. I can't believe you're tying the knot! The countdown is almost at 0." Yasopp said as he jumped off the boat. He was carrying the bucket of the small pitiful fish they caught, almost tripping over his own feet after sticking the landing.
"Seriously. Getting married at 18? Couldn't be me." Lucky Roo added, tying the boat to the dock. His sunglasses gleamed mischievously in the sunlight.
"Not everyone can be me, Lucky." Shanks chuckled as he hopped next to Benn to help secure the boat.
"Yeah, not everyone can throw their life away at 18." He replies.
"Don't be an asshole, Roo." Yasopp said lightly, touching his shoulder. "We all know Shanks is a little...different." He chuckled.
"Different? Or do you mean stupid?" He retorted, shoving Yasopp's hand off his shoulder, frowning.
"Naw, that's your department" Shanks grinned. "I at least graduated on time."
"Har, har, asshole." Lucky smiled back.
"Let's head back to camp, it's getting late." Benn stepped in.
Shanks unbothered, winked before heading back to the tent for a beer.
"SURPRISE! HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY, BUGGY!"
Buggy jumped back from genuine surprise as he looked at the smiling faces of his friends, Mohji, Cabaji, Ritchie and few faces he could never remember the name of.
If Buggy wasn't such a prideful man, he would've wept from how beautiful Mohji's room was decorated. Even though he lived with his grandparents, Mohji had a stylish room in the basement that all their friends were envious of. It was large and Mohji made the most of the space.
But tonight, it was somehow even better. There was a string of cream-colored lights adorning the walls, a stack of gifts on the end table and a series of comfy pillows crowded on the rug in front of the tv. It was so cozy, so warm and just so thoughtful. Buggy was beyond touched.
"You idiots didn't have to do this for me. My birthday is not even for another week." He choked, rubbing suspicious water from his eyes. How strange.
Someone grabbed his bags from his hands as he stood stunned.
"Of course we did! A birthday party slash bachelor party is a genius idea!" Cabaji beamed, shooing Buggy over to the already lit birthday cake. A big '18' candle stood in the center of a blue flowery cake with his name written crudely in cursive. It was beyond regular, nothing better than a grocery-store bought cake with smudged frosting. Yet Buggy couldn't find it in him to care.
The fire crackled loudly as Shanks threw another piece of wood into the flames. It was surprisingly chilly for a summer night but he counted on the whiskey Lucky Roo bought to warm him up nicely.
"Who's ready for a drink?" Lucky Roo practically shouted, whipping some plastic cups out from his travel bag.
Everyone hollered their confirmations, settling messily around the campfire. They skewered some hotdogs, pieces of fish and s'mores throughout the night, slowly but surely getting plastered from cheap beer but Lucky had the real stuff; cheap whiskey.
"We should play a game!" Yasopp shouted, words slurring as he spoke.
"Like what?" Shanks replied. He had a nice buzz but it would take more than a few sips to get him even remotely drunk.
"Like, hmmm...Never Have I Ever!"
"You mean the game where you try to get into everyone's business?" Benn replied calmly. Shanks couldn't tell if he was tipsy or not; Benn's demeanor was almost always the same, alcohol or not.
"Well, I guess, yeah."
"Count me in. I don't have much to hide." Lucky Roo boasted, sitting up.
"How do you play?" Shanks asked.
"We all lift up our hand, showing all 5 fingers. When it's your turn, you say something you've never done but if someone here has done it, they must put a finger down and take a sip of their drink. The loser is who puts all their fingers down first."
"Seems simple enough." Shanks muttered, re-filling his cup.
"To make it extra fun, the loser has to drink a weird concoction that the winner's make."
"Bet!" Shanks and Lucky Roo said, grinning at each other.
"I'll make it." Benn said. "What should I make?"
Buggy was stuffed from the generous amount of birthday cake, quesadillas and chips he inhaled, laying back on the white fluffy pillow behind him. His friends crowded next to him and he could easily tell this was going to be one of the best nights of his life. He hadn't felt this relaxed in forever, the pressures of work, wedding planning and family troubles erased from is mind.
"So, what did you guys plan next?" He sighed, patting his stomach. "Knowing you guys, we'll be up all night so let's party!"
"An eruption of yeah's almost defeated him, forcing him to put his hands over his ears.
"Did you want to do the fashion show or photoshoot next?" Cabaji asked the room, sipping his sparkling water.
"Fashion show!" The room erupted, everyone leaping to their feet looking through Mohji's closet for outfits. Buggy watched as his friend's tossed clothes from the closet everywhere, almost covering the room with the mess.
"I bought some wigs from Ivankov's, discounted obviously." He smirked, pulling a variety of wigs from his shopping bag. He purchased a blonde, brunette and red-headed wig that briefly reminded him of Shanks.
"Hmm, I wonder what he's up to."
The sky was pitch black, only illuminated by the twinkling stars above. There were so many that it'd take him days to count them all. Shanks could also see the moon clearly, reminding him of the night he proposed to Buggy and how his eyes shined, making him-
"Stop daydreaming Shanks, it's your turn!" Yasopp sputtered, clearly sloshed. He swayed from side to side, struggling to keep his three fingers up, beating Shanks' two in the game.
"Okay, okay. Ummmm...I never...drank and drove."
"Damn." Lucky Roo whined, leaving only one finger up. He was going to lose at this rate, eyeing the gross milky concoction Benn made.
"My turn." Benn said. He had two fingers up. "I've never had sex in the janitor's closet." He said with a smug grin on his face. Benn was a man of few words but when spoke, everyone paid attention.
"Neither have I. Who the hell is dumb or bold enough to do that?" Yasopp asked. His eyes widened as Shanks lowered his middle fingers down, leaving just one finger left.
"Shanks? Reaaaaalllly? What the fuck? How did I not know about that?!" He yelled.
Shanks blushed, rubbing the back of his neck bashfully. "Hey, it's not uh, my proudest moment."
"So, it is true?" Lucky chimed in. "I thought that was a false rumor! You've got bigger balls then I thought!" He chortled, taking a swig of his beer.
"How did you talk Buggy into that? He seems way too prissy." Said Yasopp.
Shanks blushed further trying to hide his embarrassment behind his beer bottle. "It's a mystery." He settled on, staring at the campfire. They didn't exactly have sex in the closet, just an intense handjob from Buggy, cumming faster than a speeding bullet train and he was still kind of embarrassed by it.
"Speaking of Buggy, Shanks." Lucky Roo asked coyly. "What's he like in bed?"
"Ha, guys for real? He's going to be my husband. Geez." Shanks blushed, his face redder than the ketchup stain on Lucky's shirt. Of course, he's talked about sex with his friends before but had managed to avoid speaking about his specific experiences. He was more of a listener than a talker.
"I'm curious too, actually." Benn said. He was leaning back in his fold-up chair, relaxed as ever. There still was really no telling if he was tipsy or not.
"There's not much to tell. We haven't done it that much, honestly. We've had some...interruptions in that area. You know, school, practice, parents and whatever else getting in the damn way."
"Yeah, yeah so do the rest of us. What about the times you actually did fuck?" Lucky Roo asked.
Shanks cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his head, "Well...it's hot. Like really hot." He grabs the whiskey bottle. If he's going to have this conversation with his friends, he'll need something stronger than a beer.
"Hot? That's it? Give us details. Is he a screamer? I bet he's a screamer." Yasopp said, rubbing his chin.
"That's more my territory," Shanks replies, chuckling to himself. Lucky Roo laughs too, a loud booming sound. "Honestly, he...I can't believe I'm going to say this but yeah, he kinda runs the show. I normally initiate but he often takes control especially with the position. I can barely keep up!"
"So, he's a freak? I could see that." Lucky Roo said.
"That's believable." Benn agreed.
"Yeah, makes sense. No offense, Shanks." Yasopp laughed.
Buggy giggled as his friends pranced around clumsily in his heels. Mohji was doing okay but Ritchie was practically falling over. He was supposed to be the judge of a fashion show but this was too much of a travesty to keep his mouth shut.
"Guys, stop! That is not how a man wears his heels. Move aside." Buggy stood up, practically yanking the black heels off of Ritchie's feet to put onto his own.
"This is how you walk in heels. Watch and learn!" Buggy walks to the end of the room, posing confidently before strutting across the way like he owned the place. His six-inch heels clicked and clacked loudly against the floor, grabbing everyone's attention and respect.
"Buggy put this on!" Someone yelled as he strutted across the room again. A black sash with crispy silver letters that said, "HUSBAND TO BE."
"Nice! Thanks! Now, watch me work!" He laughed cheerfully, posing again.
"I'm starving, do you guys have anyone snacks? I need to wash out that disgusting drink!" Yasopp whined, rubbing his "empty" stomach.
"I have some Twinkies if you want em." Lucky Roo replied, tossing a pack toward him.
The camp area was quiet, the only sound of the crackling fire being heard. Shanks watched it with a glazed stare as he sipped his beer. He could tell he was drunk by now, a soft fuzz filling his head.
"So, Shanks, we got you some gifts. You know, before you tie the knot."
"Here." Lucky Roo said, tossing a small box in his lap.
He turned it over a few times before slowly unwrapping the messy paper.
"Hurry up and open it already!" He whined.
"Alright, alright." He ripped the wrapping off and stared at the small colorful package in his hand.
"They're condoms! Get it?"
"Yeah, I got it." He chuckled. "Why are there fruits on them?"
"Because! Because they are flavored condoms, duh. For when you want to get a little freaky."
"They're fruity flavored, too." Yasopp chimed in. He tossed a bottle to him, clearly marked WARMING LIQUID.
"This was your idea?" Shanks asked, eyeing the bottle carefully.
"Me and Lucky talked about it. You'll need a little excitement after you tie the knot."
"Something to tide you over when you whine about all the ass you gave up to get married in your prime." Lucky guffawed.
"Alright, alright. Thanks." Shanks laughed, putting the gifts in his bag.
"We have one more gift for you. We all chimed in for this one." Benn said, taking a medium sized box out of his bookbag. It was black and covered in velvet. Instead of tossing it, he put it carefully next to Shanks.
Shanks whistled, "This looks expensive, you guys shouldn't have." Shanks grinned, ripping the box open.
Inside was a black watch sleek with gorgeous smooth band.
"Holy shit." He said in awe, putting it firmly on his left wrist. "It fits great, too! How the hell could you afford this?"
"We figured you'd need a slick watch for your special day." Benn started.
"You know, before you walk to your doom." Lucky Roo added.
"And," Benn continued, side-eyeing Lucky, "for school."
"And it's none of your business how we paid for it." Yasopp said, sticking his tongue out. "Just enjoy it and don't fucking breaking it. It wasn't cheap!"
Shanks wiped a smudge off his new watch, grinning loopily, "Can do."
"So, what did you clowns get me for my bachelor's party?" Buggy asked, laying eagle spread on the plush white rug in the middle of the room. "This was great but I expect gifts. Lots of gifts!"
"What makes you think we got you anything? Maybe this party was it." Cabaji teased, pulling out a large box from behind his bed.
Buggy opened the box greedily, almost ripping the box in half. He pulled out a long phallic object, black in color and thick in width. It was strangely curved and Buggy hadn't seen anything like it before.
"What the hell is this?"
"It's a massager, the best on the market." Cabaji stated casually, a gleam in his eye.
Buggy stared at the vibrator in disbelief. He didn't know what to expect but not something like this. Something so sexual ? "I don't understand."
"Do we have to spell it out to you? It's for sexy time. You know, extra stimulation when you want, you know...your prostate massaged." Cabaji wiggled his eyebrows, making sexual gestures with his hands.
Buggy blushed crimson before putting the vibrator away. "I, uh..."
"Trust me, Buggs. It will blow your mind. And if Shanks is up for it, you'll both be thanking me." He winked which only freaked Buggy out more.
"Thanks, Cabaji." He swiftly looked away before grabbing the next present. It was a sexy red bag with white tissue paper sticking up from the top. Everyone 'oohed' and 'awed' as Buggy pulled out a white negligee with a matching thong and garter belt. It was silky and smooth to the touch. At the bottom of the bag was a matching robe that was even sexier to look at.
"Holy fucking shit! This is like, really fucking sexy, Mohji. Where'd you find this?"
"Oh, here and there." He blushed happily. "If you wear it with high heels, it'll knock Shanks' socks off."
"It'll knock more than his socks off." Buggy whistled, touching the lace on the bodice.
"Should I wear it on my wedding night or no?"
More shouts of 'yes' filled the air as Buggy slowly put the lingerie back in the bag. He loved it more than he would care to admit and it turned him on just thinking about wearing it. Shanks would definitely go crazy over it since he practically lost his mind the last time Buggy wore something even remotely sexy; the red homecoming dress came to mind. 'A silky number like this would give him a hard-on for days.' He thought deviously.
"Hey Buggy, stop grinning like a maniac and open these!"
"Yes, keep showering me with gifts!"
About 10 minutes later, Buggy finished opening all his gifts. A few useful ones like gift cards, a few sexy ones like handcuffs and thongs, and his personal favorite: a copy of The Joy of Gay Sex that he'll definitely want to use as soon as possible. He was grateful for having such thoughtful friends because there was no way he'd be bold enough to buy those things on his own.
"To a healthy sex life!" Mohji screamed, tapping his beer bottle on the table.
"Oh my God, stop screaming about my sex life!" Buggy grinned, clanking his beer against Cabaji's.
"It's not just about your sex life, you selfish jerk! I'm cheering on all of our sex lives! College will be poon galore and we should all get as much as we can for as long as we can!" He shouted, high-fiving everyone in succession.
"Alright then, to our sex lives!" Buggy shouted, chugging the rest of his beer.
"Woooo! I feeeeeel great!" Shanks hollered, stumbling on his feet as he swayed to the music. "Turn it up!"
Benn adjusted the stereo to where he could feel the music blaring through the speakers. "Like this?!"
"YES! Benn you always understand me!" Shanks slurred, fist-pumping to the music. His footwork was messy by consistent as he twirled around the campfire.
Benn laughed, "You are so sloshed. It took you long enough, Red-Hair!"
"Red-Hair?" Aww, that's what my sweetie Buggy calls me." Shanks stops his fist pump in mid-air to pout. "I miss him!" His feet were still moving and dancing to the rhythm despite his crestfallen face.
"Didn't you see him today?" Benn asked. He ignored Yasopp's sleeping form as he whined about how loud the music was.
"No! I haven't seen him all week because of work. Fucking work! Dad has been working me like a dog at the shop and Ivankov barely gives Buggy any time off. It's a tragedy!" He stopped dancing to step over Lucky Roo's sleeping body to sit next to Benn on the wooden bench.
Benn patted his arm sympathetically. "You'll see him soon enough and after that, it's what? Every day for the rest of your life?" He laughed, pushing Shanks to sit up straight. He really needed to get him some water and sober up before he started sobbing, screaming or doing something else equally embarrassing.
"Yah, yah, but I want to see him now! I live in the now. Help me live in the now, won't you Benn? Take me to see him."
Benn turned down the music. "Living in the now means enjoying your party, Shanks. Here have some water."
"Okay, okay." He took a few sips, cringing at the taste. "Ugh, it's warm."
"All the ice melted in the cooler, sorry." He shrugged.
"Naw, it's fine." He put the water bottle on the ground, tugging on his t-shirt.
"Do you think I'm doing the right thing? Tying the knot?"
Benn put his beer down to look at Shanks properly. His eyes were a little unfocused but his question felt sincere.
"No-one can tell you if this is the right decision for you, Shanks."
"Yeah, I know. I just wonder what you think is all. You've been pretty quiet so far."
Benn stared at the dwindling campfire, fiddling with his beer. "Well, I can't say that I'm surprised. You've been hopelessly lovesick over Buggy since like middle school.
"Is that what you call it?" He laughed.
"Absolutely." He took a swig of his beer. "And I think you feel this is the right move for you. I mean, is it crazy? Yeah, kinda but not impossible or stupid necessarily. It's going to be challenging but you love a challenge. And...Buggy's a good man. Goofy and conceited for sure but a good man."
"Yeah, he is. He has...this side to him that most people don't get to see, you know?"
"I figured. He's exactly your type...complicated." Benn smiles, patting Shanks on the back.
"Well, I bet you two would be best friends if you gave him a chance."
"You've been saying that for years and I just don't see it." He laughed. "Buggy is a straight-up a diva."
"Hey, that's my husband you're talking about!" Shanks teased, punching Benn in the arm.
"As of now he's still your fiancé and am I wrong? Is he not a diva or...divo?"
"And friendship is a two-way street. I don't remember him EVER making an attempt to be friends with us."
"Okay, okay, you got me." He pouted. "He can be a little...difficult but he means well."
"Yeah, I know....Plus, I've seen the way he looks at you when you're not looking."
"Oh, yeah. You haven't noticed?"
Shanks shakes his head.
"I don't know how to describe it but his eyes say it all, I guess. He loves you, I can tell." Benn smiles. "If he didn't, I definitely would've protested, make no mistake about that." He said sternly, looking Shanks in the eye.
"And that's why you're my best friend and best man!" He laughed, patting Benn on the back.
"I thought I was your best friend." Yasopp murmured from across the campfire.
"And I thought you were asleep."
"I was! Until your yelling woke me up. Go to fucking sleep already." He whined back.
All Shanks and Benn could do was laugh, turning the music off.
Hours later, Buggy rubbed his head, praying for the throbbing ache to go away. 'God, how much did I drink? My head is killing me.'
He sat up, ignoring the warm bodies around him to find the bathroom. He stumbled over his friends, narrowly missing their spread limbs on the bedroom floor. Fortunately, he misses the beer bottles too, feeling queasy just looking at them. Eventually, he does find the bathroom, using it sluggishly and cleaning up thoroughly before heading back to the room.
He turns the bathroom light off and searches for his bag. He finds it in the corner next to Mohji's king-sized bed. He reaches inside, blindly grasping for his phone at the bottom nestled neatly between his toiletries. He lowers the brightness before turning it on and opened it to check his text messages.
To his surprise, there were no notifications including none from Shanks. 'I bet he doesn't have any reception anyway.' He opens the messaging app and starts typing away, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
'Hey, I hope you are having fun on your night of debauchery. ;) But not too much fun! :( Love you and goodnight. Call me.'
He sends the text before lazily tossing the phone in his bag.
Buggy jumps from the sound and turns to see Mohji scratching his head and watching Buggy sleepily. He stands up and groggily sits on the edge of his bed, kicking some bottles along the way.
"Hey. Are you as hungover as I am?" Buggy whispers, sitting next to him on the bed.
"Hopefully not. You should be the drunkest out of all of us. It's your celebration after all."
"Well, my head is killing me if that's any indication. It's bright as hell in here."
Mohji huffs in reply, grabbing a remote to dim the lights before laying back on the bed. Buggy follows, surprised at how soft the linen feels against his skin.
"Your sheets are really soft. What the hell you use on them?"
"I don't know, man. My grandma washes them with some flowery softener or something. Why? Thinking of your married domestic duties already?"
"Ha! No, I was just speaking out loud." He huffs, lightly punching the other man in the arm. He grabs a pillow to place under his head, brushing his arm against his forehead.
"I've been meaning to ask you, Buggs, not that it's any of my bus-"
"Why am I getting married?" He interrupts not even bothering to look Mohji's way.
"Well, yeah. Not that Shanks isn't a great guy, but I thought you had all these plans you know? To move to the city, to travel the world? I... really looked up to you."
Buggy peeks at him, noticing the slight blush on his face. 'He's probably been wanting to say this for a while.'
"What, so you now you don't? You lost respect for me or something?"
"No! No, not at all. I just, I don't know, didn't picture this for you. If that makes sense." Mohji clammers, face as red as a ripe cherry in summer.
Buggy frowns, turning over to be face to face with Mohji. "Just say what you mean, I can't read your mind."
"Well, I, um, I'm sorry, Buggy."
Buggy sighs. "You don't think I should marry, is that it?" Mohji nods. "Join the club."
"I just wonder why you guys can't wait. It's not like there's a rush. Why can't you wait until next year or hell, after we finish college?" He says, gathering his courage to look at his best friend, unsurprised by the frown and sigh that follows.
"You don't think I haven't thought about that? Waiting? I thought about it, I did but I realized I didn't want to wait. And shit...I know how it looks to everyone. I've heard the whispers all over town. Even from you guys, my friends." He says, tapping Mohji's noggin.
"It bothered me at first, but then I just stopped caring. People have been talking behind my back for years, nothing has changed and no-one's opinion is going to stop me. Including yours and..my mother's."
"You never told me what happened with your mom, Buggy." He said softly.
"She..We...She didn't agree with my decision and long story short, kicked me out. I've been staying at my grandparents ever since."
"Have you spoken to her?"
"No, I've called but she hasn't answered. But I sent her an invitation, can't do much more than that."
They sit in silence for a moment before Buggy speaks again: "I still want to do things and so does Shanks. Actually, we did a few months of pre-marital counseling where we could talk about those kinds of things."
"Yeah? Like what?"
"Like how after college, we want to move abroad. It's just a matter of where. And, we'll still have our own hobbies and interests. I can't wait to try out for the gymnastics team, go to a few parties- marriage isn't going to stop me from doing things like that."
"Good. That's good, Buggs."
Buggy smirks. "You're worried about me?"
"So what if I was? I mean, it's a big step - you're not nervous?" He sits up, peering at Buggy. He matches Mohji's stare before closing his eyes again.
"Really? It's just me, you can tell me if you're nervous or scared."
Buggy looks at him again, gaze unwavering. "No, I'm not nervous. I'm fine." He sits up, adjusting his messy ponytail. "Truth be told, I haven't had time to be nervous, I've been running around this town like a maniac; working, planning creating either at my job or for the wedding. After work, I have to drive at least 40 minutes to get home to my grandparents' house who also don't give me much of a break with the various chores I have to do. Not to mention that they have no internet or reception so if I want to talk to anyone, I have to go back to town or wait until I go to work again. Also, I don't get to see Shanks unless it's for our counseling sessions and that is no walk in the park either.
He takes a sip of water, accepting the aspirin Mohji hands him.
"Honestly, Mohj, the only emotion I've felt this past couple of weeks is stress. I'm excited to get married, duh, but I can barely focus on it because I'm worried I won't get everything done in time and will let everyone down."
"Buggy." Mohji said softly.
"And my mom..." He grips the bottle, anger rising up like a volcano. "And how's she ignored all of my phone calls. All 17 of them. She's supposed to be there for me, to send me off...yet she can't even be bothered to pick up the fucking phone." He closes his fist, head shaking in frustration. "Fuck, I don't want to cry about this again."
"It's okay. Come here." Mohji gestures as Buggy rests his head on his shoulder, taking a few deep breaths. He can feel the tears welling up but chastises them for falling. He feels Mohji rub light circles on his back, awkwardly embracing him.
He cries softly this time, pretty tears decorating his face like raindrops on a windowpane. A minute later, he glances up to scan the room for any eavesdroppers. Satisfied to see none, he lays back on the pillow, rubbing his sore eyes.
"Hmm, yeah, a little bit."
"Good. I'm...I'm glad you shared that with me. I didn't know what you were going through. Just know that I'm here for you."
Buggy smiles softly at his best friend, privately appreciating the look of concern on his face.
"I know, I know. I should open up more; something they've drilled in me at counseling."
"Aw, so it is helpful. Thank the Lord." Mohji teases, grabbing a tissue for Buggy.
"Whatever. And by the way, don't go spreading this around. The last thing I need is Ritchie or Cabjai on my ass. This isn't some kind of emotional show and tell."
"My lips are sealed." He replies, fluffing the pillow behind him. "You want to get some sleep?"
"Hell yes. Turn the light off."
"Ay, ay captain."
When Shanks wakes up, his first instinct was to glance at his new watch, reading a bright 3:42 am in white letters. He sees his friends sleeping around the dwindling fire. I should add some firewood."
After that, he throws some nearby beer bottles in the recycling bag Yasopp insisted that they bring before heading to his sleeping bag. He scurries quickly inside before a familiar buzz halts his movements.
It's from Buggy about 20 minutes ago. Is he alright?" He opens the message quickly, scanning the words before chuckling to himself.
'I guess he misses me, too.' Before he could change his mind, he pushes the call button, getting comfortable in his Star Wars sleeping bag. The phone rings about five times and just when he's sure it's going to go to voicemail, Buggy picks up.
"What the fuck, Red-Hair? Are you alright?"
"Hey, Buggs. I'm fine."
"Why are you calling me this late? It has to be like two in the fucking morning."
"Actually, it's past three." He hears a huge sigh on the other end. "I got your message."
"The one to call you. You didn't say what time." He grins.
"You're a real smart-ass you know that?" Buggy gripes and Shanks hears some rustling, maybe of blankets.
"Well, I wouldn't have called if you didn't miss me so much."
"Who said anything about missing you? Maybe I just wanted to be nice, but I see where that gets me, you interfering with my beauty sleep."
"It gets you quite far actually. Besides, we haven't really spoken much lately."
"Yeah, I know. I was just telling Mohji that."
"Oh? Where are you now?"
"In the bathroom, I don't want to wake everyone up. You?"
"In my sleeping bag but everyone is knocked out; they're heavy sleepers."
"That's good." He picks at the towel in front of him. "Did you have fun tonight? Got all of your debauchery out of your system?"
"Never! And yes, it was great but I'm a little hungover. You?"
"Same, including the headache. Bleh."
"Take an aspirin, it'll do wonders, trust me."
"I did. Thanks."
Shanks leans back on his hand, looking at the sky. "The stars are beautiful out here, Buggs. I wish you could see them."
"Tell me about them." He yawns.
"Well, there this one that..."
A few minutes later, Buggy nods off, almost dropping his phone onto the floor.
"Buggy? Are you there?"
"Sorry, sorry, I'm here just tired, babe."
"Get some sleep. We'll talk tomorrow or whenever you're free."
"Shit, okay." He yawns. "Try calling at a reasonable hour next time."
"You like it, don't lie." He laughs.
Buggy rolls his eyes. "Love you, Red-Hair."
"Love you, too."
"Don't let the bed bugs bite." He slaps his foreheard. "Oh, God. I must be tired for me to say something that cheesy."
"I like it when you're cheesy."
He laughs, "Don't rush me off the phone, silly. And it's 6 days and counting babe."
"6 more days? Holy shit, yeah, I can't wait."
"Me either, then we can finally spend some time together."
"To say the least; I can't wait for us to move in together." He smiles. "Hey, Shanks."
"Yeah?" He replies sleepily.
"You still want to do this, right?"
"Yeah, yes, I do. Absolutely. You?"
"Yay!" Shanks cheers quietly. "Can I see you tomorrow?"
"Sure, Shanks. I-I'd like that. Come by my house for dinner tomorrow."
"Great, dinner with the in-laws." He yawns, scooting further into his sleeping bag.
"Night, night, Shanks."
Buggy ends the call, stretching before turning the bathroom light off. He steps over the landmine that are his friends before collapsing on the bed.
"Got a call from your boo?" Mohji teased, pulling a blanket around him.
"Boo? Who the hell still says boo?" He huffs, yanking the blanket closer to him.
"I do." He replies, grabbing a stuffed lion close to him. Buggy would comment on how childish he looks but refrains since he knows how crazy he is about his stuffed animals.
Buggy laughs, closing his eyes in defeat before shifting on his side. "Night, Mohji."
"Night." Mohji smiles at his friend one last time before shutting his eyes, wedding bells dancing behind his eyelids.