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James waited for everyone to exit the bus, not saying anything until the entire group had gathered. He’d put the word out he was springing for a trip to the Ocean Heights Amusement Park for his seventeenth birthday, making sure people knew it was free for them to get in at the least. (He didn’t expect gifts, indeed had said to the few people who’d asked that there were to be none.) Since it was only a short drive from their school to the place, he had made sure a bus was provided in case some people needed it. He’d headed over in his own car earlier, making sure things were in order, and was now just waiting. He wasn’t sharing or talking about this until he was ready.

Once everyone was gathered, he spoke up. “Ok, I’ve got your all-inclusive cards here. They included passes to the various paid rides so you’re good there too. As a happy birthday bonus, I’ve included a little gift. Each card doubles as a prepaid card you can use in there for various things. Toys, clothes, whatever. Even after you use it, it’ll still get you food and access to the rides. The numbers won’t be bad today, so waiting in lines should be pretty short as well. Basically, just have fun. Everything’s covered.â€Â

He quickly handed out the card for people, complete with clips and neckloops. “Alright, get in there.â€Â

He really did want everyone to have a good time. He had a few ulterior motives of course, but this was the main focus after all. He'd originally not planned to celebrate this at all but that didn't quite work out. He was part of this group now. With responsibilities to them. Least he do was make sure they had some fun. For as long as he could.

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Mike stumbled off the bus and stretched, it hadn't been a long ride but the seats were not exactly comfortable for student of his size and with a free day at the amusment park in the offing the bus had been too packed for him to take an entire seat to himself.

He walked up to James and took his pass with a smile, "Thanks and happy birthday."

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"Dude! Happy birthday! This is going to rock!" Eddie called as he left the bus. There had been birthday parties galore lately. But that didn't bother Eddie in the least. He loved parties. Fun, excitement, music, life was made to enjoy these things. You turn it down and bad things were bound to happen.

"I wouldn't miss this if you tried to pry me away! Now lets get out there!" He started playing some more tunes, as was his wont whenever something fit the situation. Dancing a little jig while he waited for the others to disembark.

"We're gonna rock this town, rock it inside out

We're gonna rock this town, make 'm scream and shout

Let's rock, rock, rock man rock, rock

We're gonna rock till we pop, We're gonna roll till we drop

We're gonna rock this town, rock it inside out"

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Erin unfolded herself from her bus seat and disembarked, blinking into the bright summer sun as she got her bearings. She stretched, then pulled the park map she'd printed off out of her pocket. The place looked a lot different when it was operational. A lot more inviting, certainly. Map in hand, she made her way over to James. "Happy birthday," she told him, "and thanks for the trip. What's the best thing to go on here?"

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When the bus was mostly empty, Alex looked up from her paperback that had absorbed her for the ride. She hurridly put it away and went to join everyone else outside the bus. Blinking in the sunlight she tried to orient herself as her friends talked. She smiled at James when there was a lull and said, "Happy birthday!"

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James did the standard 'thank you' to everyone as they wished him a happy birthday as they took the pass and headed for the park.

He grinned at Chris. "I think I'm covered for stuff. Thanks for the offer though. I figure it'd be a little different, me handing stuff out, giving people a good time. Just have fun."

He nodded at Erin. "Depends what you'd like to do. There's some rollercoaster, fast rides, slow rides, tons of stuff. If you'd rather do the shopping thing, there's a couple generic type clothing and gift store in here. You've got the day. This place doesn't close till several hours after dark. Do whatever you want to to have fun." He grinned. "That's the point after all." He started walking into the park with those that hadn't bolted for the entrance already.

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Eddie kept pace with James. He had never been to the park before, so he didn't know what the best rides were. "You seem to know where all the best stuff is, so I guess I'll just bum around with you if that's cool."

As he walked through the park he found that he was getting more and more excited by the moment! This was going to be a great night. there were plenty of games to play and everything...There were also way too many girls around for the park's own good "This place is great, man! Do you come here all the time or what?"

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Alex caught up with Erin as all of the kids started breaking into smaller groups and pairs. She already had a map out of her pocket and was perusing it quickly. By the time she'd reached her taller roommate, Alex had the map memorized so she held it out to Erin, "What are we going on first? Or did you wanna hit the shops? I should probably pick up a hat. I swear I thought I brought one but if I did, I guess I left it on the bus."

She frowned and glanced back over her shoulder towards the parking lot. Alex normally was much better organized but she hadn't wanted to lug a backpack back and forth accross the park. The hat was probably just the first of many things she'd forgotten to stuff in her pockets.

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Mike came up behind the girls with a surprisingly light step, well light for Mike at the least. He rolled his eyes at Alexs forgetfullness and plopped his own hat over his fair skinned friends head.

"This one never remembers her hat." He said with a good natured smile and a low laugh.

"So what decapitating death trap are is first on the list?" He inquired with a smirk, as a tall child Mike had a certain distaste for the low overhead on most rollercoasters.

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Erin waved her map, showing that for once she was as prepared as her brilliant roommate. "Let's go to the shop first," she replied, "there's one right at the front here, and you'll burn your face without it. His hat will fall off on the first ride. If we get anything else, we can rent a locker for it." She herself was more eager to check out the clothes she could acquire with the park card than in any of the rides, but agreeing with Alex let her avoid saying that. "You in too?" she asked Mike.

"We'll catch the rest of you later," she told James and the others before heading in the direction of the big gift shop at the front of the park. "It's been a really long time since I've been to one of these places," she admitted as they wove through the crowd to the store. Erin kept both her eyes open for any trouble, but the distraction of a fun day was enough to have her relaxing a bit more than usual around lots of people. "At least, not one that was working. What about you?"

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James nodded at Eddie. "I've been here a bunch. I just buy a season pass and be done with it. I usually come a couple times a month. I just 'port out of a boring lesson once in a while. Couple hops over and I'm here." He shrugged. "Middle of a weekday has a lot less in the way of lines too. Makes it more fun."

He looked around to make sure none of the others were floundering alone. He didn't want anyone to be bummed out when they were supposed to be having fun. He nodded and grinned as the girls headed off with Mike in tow. At least that little hook seemed to be working as he intended. He turned back to Eddie. "So what do you like? Rollcoasters? Drops? Games? Take your pick, it's all here."

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Alex tilted her head up to laugh at Mike, one hand holding the hat from falling off as Erin had pointed out, "Don't be silly. Even if you were seven feet tall, there's lots of clearance. I looked it up. Not to mention that with the quality of steel and wood most of these are made out of, I'm relatively certain that your face would survive the impact better than the coaster would."

It was a bit of a back-handed reassurance as those things went but Alex didn't seem to notice as she turned her attention back to Erin "Not in a few years. I think we went when we were ten last time. And you're right on the hat. I'd hate to lose it accidentally. Plus, cotton candy!"

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Mike shrugged and followed along, shopping wasn't his favorite activity but it was certainly better than the coaster even if it wasn't dangerous to him.

"Sure maybe they'll have something in my size even." He said with small chuckle, it was a nice day and Mike found himself in a better than usual mood. He followed the girls off towards the shops somewhat oblivious to his suroundings but managing not to step on anyones heels.

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Erin grimaced. "Cotton candy? In this weather, you'll wear more of it than you eat. If I get anything, it's going to be ice cream." She didn't respond to Mike's predictions of doom and decapitation, though she wasn't entirely ignoring him either. Things were still a little weird between them, with a lot left unsaid, but this wasn't the time to be saying any of it. Leading the way into the store, she made a beeline towards the back corner where the clearance racks were always located. Most of the clearance items were for Fourth of July events or even earlier, with a small smattering of Christmas 2008 merchandise still hanging disconsolately at the back of the racks. Even if they weren't timely or stylish, at least they were substantially cheaper than the rest of the branded merchandise on display. She tried on a pair of sunglasses with red, white and blue frames and temples, blinking over at Alex. "What do you think? Good disguise?"

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Alex looked at Erin, her expressive face obviously torn between telling the truth and being polite. Finally she pronounced, "I don't think even I'd wear those. Do they have any solid colors?"

She glanced over, digging through the bins to try and find something that didn't look like the American flag had been sick all over them. Alex was briefly diverted by red ones that had sparkly blue-and white stars coming off the temples of the glasses. It was clear on her face that she was at least considering them. Forcing herself to focus, Alex put the glasses aside and sent privately to Erin, the thoughts popping into her thoughts, You should use my card too. I'm just gonna get snacks and go on rides. Well, and buy a hat. All the prepaid money on my card's gonna just go to waste and they don't refund it.

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Alex could hear Erin consider the offer in her head, be tempted by it, and then reject it as too embarrassing, even before Erin managed to get her thoughts organized into a coherent reply. I'm sure you'll find plenty of stuff to spend it on. Buy some souvenirs, or one of Freedom Cityopoly games they're selling. I'm just expanding my wardrobe a little.

Aloud, she said, "I think the stars really add a lot, but I just want something to block the sun. And hey, they've got shorts, too." That was very nice, since she hadn't brought any of those to school with her. And maybe they were bright green and had the Ocean Heights logo stamped across each pocket, but they seemed sturdy enough. "I'm going to try these on, be right back."

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"Okay!" Alex said cheerfully as Erin vanished. She selected a few hats, poking Mike when the hat she wanted was out of her reach. She was playing with the idea of seeing if they could transfer the funds from her card's too Erin's as she shopped idly. Poking Mike again, she pointed out the water bottles, "We should buy a couple of those. It's hot out today. D'you have space in your pockets?"

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Mike was not so oblivious as to be unaware of the continued stiffness in Erin and hsi interactions there just hadn't been tiem to discuss, whatever it was they needed to discuss. One thing he knew, Eddies just ignore it theory wasn't gonna cut it.

He followed the girls into the gift shop and as they perused the glasses thumbed through the T-shirts in the vain hope of a XXXL. Glancing up at Erins pick he agreed with Alex, "I think solids may suit you a little better."

As Erin made her way off to the changing room Mike rolled his eyes at Alexs choice of sunglasses, "I think a little less Elton John might be in order."

As she inquired as to his pocket space he patted one leg and responded "Yea I think I can manage." One benefit to the oversized jeans he prefered were oversized pockets as well.

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Erin spent a few minutes in the changing room, trying on the shorts and looking at herself in the mirror. The bright green color was more something that Alex would like, and did absolutely nothing flattering for her pale skin, but they were sturdy and relatively inexpensive. And she could wear them if she was ever lost at sea and hoping for a plane to find her. They were certainly a lot cooler than her patched blue jeans, and with a white t-shirt proclaiming that she survived Physics Day at Ocean Heights Amusement Park, she looked almost like she was just on vacation. That worked. She changed back into her normal clothes and folded the new things over her arm, then went back to the clearance rack and added another pair of shorts that were the same except electric blue, and two more t-shirts the same size. After a little thought, she shrugged and added the sunglasses to her pile as well. They blocked the sun, and they were cheap. "You guys finding anything good?" she asked Alex as she rejoined them nearer the front of the store.

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"Mike said my sunglasses were too ugly, but I found a hat!" It was rainbow striped with the amusement park logo on the front. Alex had already purchased the baseball cap and a few bottles of water. She'd finished threading her pony-tail through the back of the hat and was all but bouncing in her sneakers, "Oh, oh. Should we go on the roller coaster's first? Or maybe the tilt-a-whirl? Let's go on whatever's fastest!"

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"Uhmmm Barring shrinking down to Chris' size, no." Mike replied truthfully he coudl probably fit in several of the shirts but they would cling rather than drape thus were right out for his 'Asthetic' such as it was.

"Nice hat." Mike said with a broad smile, he honestly found something freeing about Alexs complete lack of care about standard fashion wisdom.

"Ladies choice." He said with a quick half smile, really none of the rides seemed that thrilling to him but he knew how much Alex loved them and assumed Erin must as well.

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"Let's do a roller coaster first, if you want something fast," Erin suggested, taking her pile of things to the register. "Then the tilt-a-whirl before we eat anything, definitely. One time..." She cut herself off, regrouped, and went on. "It can get really nasty if you don't have a strong enough stomach. Only thing worse than cotton candy on a hot day is cotton candy twice." She waited while her items were rung up, then handed over her card. After giving the receipt a careful study, she shoved it and the card back into the pocket of her jeans, thanked the cashier, and picked up her bag. "I just need a locker for this, I think there are some right outside."

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Alex followed along, taking advantage of the time it took Erin to store things away to slather herself in sunscreen. She tossed the bottle in the locker afterwards, making sure it was both capped and clean. Once they were ready, she turned around to survey the park thoughtfully before suggesting, "Tilt-a-whirl?"

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"Doesn't matter to me." Eddie replied frankly. The two stood around and discussed their options and the map for a few minutes as the others raided the shops. Eddie really didn't have any interest in the merchandise they were selling. He doubted they would have any shirts with band logos on them.

"...Alright, so I think our best bet is to hit the roller coasters first." Eddie finally decided as he saw the others coming out of one of the stores.

"Should we go with them or strike out on our own?"

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