A/N: This is a double update, the previous chapter is actually from a while ago, but FF was glitching so I only posted it on Ao3 and forgot I hadn't here. But anyway, if you haven't, go back and read Part 34 first :). This one is also barely edited, so sorry for any mistakes.
Over the next couple weeks time was primarily spent shopping and figuring out what needed to be done on the boy's new house. The Molina's neighbors across the street were happy to clear the sale quickly, they were moving to be closer to their family (mostly because of grandkids), and Bobby had offered slightly more than the asking price right away.
"All right!" Bobby clapped his hands and grinned, "It's the day the furniture is being delivered and I need all four of you to help direct where it goes, cool?"
There was a chorus of 'Yeahs!' and he nodded, pleased. It had been a fun time hanging out with the guys and living out an almost movie-like shopping spree montage, even if there weren't any time skips and easy scene changes. Ray had tagged along whenever he wasn't busy with photoshoots, and on the past two weekends the girls and Carlos had joined.
The house was big and spacious, bigger than the Molina's. It had 5 bedrooms, three upstairs and two on the main floor. There was a small office/den, decent living room area, and a nice open kitchen, all also on the main floor. Willie, Alex and Luke had all chosen the upstairs bedrooms, Luke winning paper/rock/scissors for the master with the connected bathroom. Reggie had decided he would rather be on the main floor, he was usually awake the earliest anyway, and he was excited to start cooking breakfast on the days when they didn't go over and eat Ray's pancakes or breakfast burritos, or whatever.
They figured 'family' breakfasts made the most sense to do on the weekends. Aside from Luke stumbling out of bed to at least say goodbye and good luck to Julie on her way to school, the boys were not exactly early morning people if they didn't need to be. Well, Willie kinda was, he had bought painting supplies when they were out shopping and set up the corner of his room for art. As a ghost he hadn't had the chance to do much with his second favorite hobby, and he was ready to make up for some lost time.
"Oh, Alex, we have to go in here!" Willie tugged him into the store advertising a sale on painting and drawing supplies.
Alex was surprised, "You paint?"
Willie actually blushed a little bit, "Yeah, it's one thing I really missed as a ghost. I could skate because I had my board, but I couldn't really go buy brushes and canvas as a ghost."
"Wow, that's too bad. I didn't really have hobbies other than drumming, and since time didn't pass for us the same, I never really missed it, it only felt like an hour," Alex ran a hand through his hair, "I bet you're pretty good."
He earned a quick kiss on the cheek for that, "Thanks. I'm excited to see what you think once I have the chance to work on something."
They were interrupted when Alex's cell phone buzzed with a text from Bobby, letting them know to meet in the food court for lunch in 20 minutes.
"Will you help me grab some stuff Alex? We can maybe have them deliver it to the house, at least if I pick out some larger canvases."
"Of course, teach me about quality paintbrushes," Alex smiled happily.
The boys had all had a lot of fun picking out colors and themes for their bedrooms.
Willie had chosen a range of brighter blues and navy shades for his room, he loved patterns and crazy color combinations, but he wanted to rotate his paintings and art on his walls as he made it, so he kept the bedspread and the big stuff more subdued. Alex had picked more pastel blues and grays for most of his stuff, he was not so secretly hoping to decorate with some of Willie's art as well. He was glad to have his own space, sometimes he needed a little quiet time alone.
Luke had gone with different shades of green, he liked the feel of it, a tiny feeling of the outdoors in his room (he had already begged Willie for a forest painting at some point). Luke had gotten help from Carlos and ordered several vintage band posters online to decorate his walls, also. He had specifically asked Julie's opinion on how many and where they should go, though, he wanted her to feel at home in his room, of course.
Reggie wasn't sure right away what he wanted, but Ray had luckily been on their shopping trip for this stuff, and he had helped him pick out a nice dark gray bedding set, with a slight pattern of red swirls. Reggie also picked out a large red bean bag chair, one big enough to lay around in, and a new stand for his bass.
Luke also got a new guitar stand, and Bobby presented Alex with an electronic drum set that had the option of headphones, so he could practice whenever he felt like it without really disturbing anyone else.
"Wow, this place looks amazing!" Flynn and Carrie were getting the full tour now that everything was set up.
Carrie bounced a little, "I love the couch in the living room, ours also has the 'cozy corner' as I call it, and you got two! It's the best to curl up in for movie nights."
Julie chuckled, looking up to Luke at her side and squeezing his hand, "You hear that? I'm going to make you watch so many movies now."
He gazed down at her, his face alight with happiness, "I can't wait."
"Anyway!" Flynn rolled her eyes at the two of them. She wasn't really annoyed, but they could get sappy really fast and she was hungry, she wanted to see the rest of the house and get back to Julie's. Ray had made lasagna with Reggie, and Bobby had pestered them while they put it together, the three of them had skipped the tour, Reggie to help finish the garlic bread. Flynn had caught a whiff of all of the food when she and Carrie had met Julie before they walked across the street, and she was very excited to eat. "Can we see the rest?"
"Right this way, milady," giving an expansive gesture with one arm, Willie directed them to the stairs, "Allow us to show you our humble lodgings."
Alex shook his head fondly at the theatricality, and followed Willie up the stairs behind Flynn and Carrie. Luke and Julie hung back, she had already seen everything since she had been helping move things around and decorate the whole time.
Julie met Luke's eyes with curiosity, "What's up?"
He tugged her hand and pulled her into him for a hug, pressing a kiss to her head, "I love you."
She grinned into his chest, him saying those words never got old, "I love you, too."
His arms tightened around her for a long moment and then he stepped back, tipping his head to the stairs, "Let's go see what they think."
When they caught up with the others, they had finished peeking into Luke's room, and were in Alex's, floating ideas for what paintings Willie could create for his walls.
"Maybe a nice seascape?" Carrie had her arms crossed and a considering look on her face, "Do you paint that kind of thing, even?" She laughed, "Maybe we should start with that? What do you usually paint, Willie? What do you like to paint?"
Willie laughed with her, "Yeah, good call, wouldn't want to promise something I can't do. But, actually, yes, I do like landscapes and paint them quite a bit. Seascapes too." He caught sight of Luke and Julie in the doorway, "Luke has already commissioned a forest painting for his wall. I'm humbled by his confidence in my skills when he's never seen anything I've done."
Luke had to roll his eyes at that, "Willie, you took Alex to a museum for your first date, even if neither of you were calling it that. You were lecturing him about the different brush textures and paint properties when you met us for lunch after going to that art supply store. And when I asked you said you liked painting nature scenes. If whatever you paint isn't fantastic, I'll wear sleeves for a month."
Everyone stared at him, Luke could barely stand to wear sleeves for a full day, much less a month.
Willie coughed and cleared his throat, that was incredibly kind and it was a little overwhelming to be the focus of such support.
Julie noticed his look of gratified discomfort and smiled at him, "Just accept it. Luke will always be more confident in you than you will know what to do with, it's just how he is."
"And I'm right to be," Luke crossed his arms and gave everyone a look of defiance. "You're all awesome and you never give yourselves enough credit, so someone has to."
Carrie suddenly had a weird sense of deja vu, a memory of her dad telling her a bedtime story when she was little, about one of his best friends, a guy who always believed in him and their band, a guy who the thought of made her dad smile with deep sadness in his eyes.
"Carrie!" Flynn caught her arm as she wavered on her feet.
"It's you," her eyes were wide as she focused on Luke. Pieces of half-forgotten stories, an old empty demo CD case with a photo insert she had found as a child that her dad had quickly taken away, the awkward conversation moments between all of these people and her dad recently, and the implausible 'hologram' explanation, the previously disconnected thoughts coalescing into a suddenly clear understanding of the last couple months.
They all looked at her, uncertain and worried, and all she can do is laugh. She's not mad, if they had told her, she would have thought they were nuts. Somehow, though, figuring it out herself just makes her feel relieved, they won't have to censor their conversations and she won't feel like she's being left out of anything anymore.
"I'm fine, I'm fine. So, ghosts, huh?"
A/N2: I didn't know how this was going to go, but I wanted to update something since I finally had an idea to start moving this story forward again. Carrie really snuck up on me, didn't plan that, but luckily tomorrow is Friday so I might have time to come up with another chapter this weekend, wish me luck.