It was nearing midnight when Maggie Winnock was awoken from her almost-sleep by the chiming of her cell phone, indicating that she'd gotten a text. Groaning, she rolled over and glanced at the screen. It was Jasper- probably trying to ask her out again. Ugh. He didn't quite "get" friendship. She sat up, fully awake, and read the message.
meet us at the museum 2morro b4 it opens!
license plate riddle is plate on car
btw, henry thinks this is called a 'tweety txt' lol
She laughed, despite her irritation at having been woken, and set the alarm on her phone so she'd wake up in time. Then, running over various excuses to go out tomorrow morning in her head, Maggie fell asleep.
The Smart skidded over the asphalt, making clumsy turns and sudden jabs forward. Any passerby could tell that the driver was uncertain, and although he'd once rescued a girl from a jaguar and then swung across a piranha-infested river to bring her back to her village, he was.
Henry Griffin sat in the driver's seat of his cousin's Smart Car, sweaty palms clutching the wildly jerking steering wheel. "Careful," his uncle warned.
"You know, maybe this is just the wrong car for me," he suggested. "I mean, it's got a lot of blind spots."
"It doesn't have any blind spots," said his Uncle Bryan. "A Smart Car isn't any different than any other car."
"Well, for one thing, it's smarter."
"Focus," he said sternly. Reluctantly, Henry returned his gaze to the road and edged forward. He drove with unease in silence for a few moments, and then slammed on the brake. "Henry, why…"
"A dog! Didn't you see it?" gasped Henry. "This dog just ran across the road, I almost hit it!"
"Henry, there was no dog."
"There was! It must've run into those woods…"
"Stop playing games and drive," his uncle instructed. The car jerked forward.
When his cell phone rang, Henry instinctively reached for where it sat in the cup holder.
"Don't even think about answering that."
"But what if it's important?" asked Henry.
"Nothing's more important than safety. Look, it's just Jasper, probably calling to tell you about all the fun you're missing at the bar mitzvah." Christopher O'Learystein, Henry thought, making a mental note to start thinking on his feet better, and to call Jasper back as soon as he got an opportunity. He wondered what they'd found.
When they did come to a stop, Henry immediately called Jasper. His voice, ragged and urgent, responded immediately.
"Henry! Help, we don't have a lot of air left. It was Milo, he's the wizard. They locked us in the trunk…"
"Jasper, where are you? Jasper?" He frantically looked at the phone- call ended. Fingers tapping against the steering wheel, he glanced at the door to the donut shop. His uncle was still inside, and Jasper and Maggie were in serious trouble. He looked down at his phone again, as if Jasper would call back. He didn't. What had he said? They were running out of air? Sparing one last glance at the door, he backed out of the parking lot and sped away.
"He's on his way," said Jasper, sliding his dead phone into his pocket, which was jammed against the side of the trunk. "I hope."
"So now our lives are depending on Henry's driving?" Maggie clarified, raising an eyebrow.
"Pretty much." He leaned back against the metal, sticky with their panicked breathing, and pushed against the back of the car with his legs. It was as stretched out as he could get, but it did nothing to help his painful cramps. Maybe, if he pushed harder…
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to break us out."
"Well, quit it," said Maggie. "You'll just use up more of the oxygen. You aren't the Incredible Hulk."
"If I was, I wouldn't have let the Locker Stalkers shove us in this freaking car," he grumbled. Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe" was beginning to run through his head, and he tried to beat it out of his brain. "Mags, I'm sorry. This was my fault."
"Yeah, it was."
"I am so sorry. This isn't fair, I make a stupid mistake and now you're gonna die," he continued. She was quiet. "Maggie?"
"I don't want to die, Jasper," she whispered.
"It's not exactly on my top ten list of things I wanna do, either," he sighed. They sat in silence for a moment, and at one point, he looked down almost surprised to see that their hands were clasped together.
"Jasper, listen," said Maggie. Her voice sounded soft, and very quiet. He worried that she was getting weaker. "I shouldn't have rejected you."
"When you asked me to go out with you. I- I wasn't fair. I mean, you're sweet, smart… good-looking, I guess. It's just… you're really important to me. As a friend. I didn't want to lose that."
"So I guess what I'm saying is… I'm sorry I said no."
"Yeah, I'm sorry you said no, too," he said. "So, I suppose… since we're probably going to die in here, this is a tell-all, confessional conversation?"
"Alright," he exhaled. "Alright. Even though you wouldn't go out with me, and we were friends through all those crazy adventures Henry gets into-" she laughed- "I still had a crush on you."
They stared into the darkness, both partially wishing that the minuscule cracks of light would widen and free them, but also partially enjoying finally being truthful and exposed. "Kiss me, Jasper."
"Wha- seriously?" he gasped, taking in too much of the limited air supply.
"Just do it before we're out of air," she snapped, sounding more normal. Cautiously, Jasper bent his legs backward, behind him, and moved closer to Maggie. The air was heavy now, moving thickly through to their hungry lungs. She closed her eyes and bent her neck upward, cramming it against the roof of the trunk. Resolved, Jasper leaned down until the tip of his nose was brushing her cheek. Their lips met.
The trunk door popped open.
"Jasper!" yelled Henry, jumping out of the Smart Car. "Maggie!"
The minute they'd felt the impact of the small red car, they'd broken apart awkwardly, and now Jasper and Maggie propelled themselves out of the back of the old vehicle, gulping the fresh air. "How'd you get here so fast?" said Jasper.
"I took the elevator," he replied, grinning.
"We know where the big capital letter 'C' is," said Maggie, "and we have to get there before the Locker Stalkers."
"Yeah, okay," said Henry. "Was it really hot in there? You look flushed, Maggie."
"Oh. Um, yeah, I guess."
Later, while they were walking through the wrecking lot on the lookout for a big "C," Jasper fell back with Maggie while Henry explored ahead of them. "So…" he said, "about that kiss."
"Yeah," she said, looking over her shoulder at a discarded billboard, "sorry about that. In-the-moment kind of thing."
"Now's a moment," he shrugged.
"Maybe the next time we almost die." He frowned and continued searching.
As they were walking, he began to notice a low murmur that soon began a guttural grumble. "Hey, Henry…" he began.
"Yeah, I hear it," he answered. "What do you think it is?"
"Guys!" yelled Maggie from behind them. They spun around to see a muddy salvage truck driving straight towards them.
"In here!" Henry called, opening the bent door to a rusty car. He ushered them inside and slammed the door. A bit of the glass from the window fell out.
Quivering, without speaking, they watched as the truck came closer… and scooped them up.
The trio watched in horror as the truck deposited them in the Car Crusher. An unbidden shriek ripped from Maggie's lips as the machine began pressing down on the roof of the car.
"Please tell me you've been in this exact situation before and you have some astounding escape plan," said Jasper. Henry stopped fidgeting and a distant look crept into his eyes. Suddenly, he snapped out of it and kicked the door out, pulling them outside in a flash of loud grinding and scraping metal.
"Last time I tried that, I broke a foot," said Henry, looking down at his uninjured legs. He darted forward immediately, seeking out some clue to the dangerous treasure hunt.
"Hey, Mags," said Jasper, grinning cockily and positively swaying with overacted swagger. "We almost died back there. You-"
She nearly toppled the both of them over as she leapt towards him and mashed her lips against his. He just stood there, frozen with shock. "Yes," said Maggie, breaking away. "I don't care if it's late. Yes."
"Hey!" called Henry. "I think I found the treasure!"
"I think I did, too," murmured Jasper, wrapping his arm around Maggie's shoulder.
"That was so cheesy," she laughed, rolling her eyes.
"I know," he sighed, smiling. Looking at that smile, she, ridiculously, thought she felt her heart flutter.
A/N: 3OH!3's "My First Kiss" actually works very well for this... especially the line about "In the back of the car."