Friday, October 24, 2014

Chapter 8: Some Crappy Teen Movie

     One the day after the prom, Alejandro's mother Lopita passed away of old age. Matteo, Alejandro's father, tried to stem the tides of his grief with the distractions of the boardwalk, but his broken heart won out, and nothing could stop him from sobbing mournfully alone on the pier.

     Even in the happiest times, Alejandro is not one for going out in public, and his mother's death sent him seeking an even deeper solitude, avoiding the company of everyone, even those closest him.

     "I just want to help him, or be with him, or...something,." Kai sighs exasperatedly to his father, "But he says he's can't evrn talk to me right now."

     "People grieve differently, son," Julian explains, "I'm sure he knows that you'll be there for him when he's ready. Just be patient."

     Kai nods, "I guess you're right. Alex gets stressed out when people expect too much of him. I don't want to make this any worse for him."

     But doing nothing at all still seems wrong somehow, so Kai does the only thing he can think of, taking the sadness and loneliness he's sure Alex is feeling right now and pouring it out in a painting.


    On Monday, after her soccer game, Dylan meets Luther on one the beach of one of the small islands her family owns. Because the school pulls its athletes out of class early on game days, she hadn't had a chance to talk, or even pass notes in class, with him since the morning.

     "So, I heard there was some kind of fight today? You and Clark and Everado?" Dylan launches right into the question that had been on her mind since the gossip of the morning;s activity came to her in the locker room, "What happened, exactly?"

     "Wow, word really gets around," Luther laughs, "It wasn't a big deal, and definitely not a fight..."

     "Please, I want to know what happened," Dylan urges.

     "Before classes this morning, Everado was asking me about our History class assignment. Ingrid was with him."

     Dylan nods; Everado had stopped pestering her after he asked Ingrid to the prom, and the couple had become inseparable since that night.

     "And then Clark, he just came up out of nowhere and started making these comments about my mom," Luther continues, "Teasing me about not knowing who my father is and stuff."

     Dylan groans, "I'm so sorry, Luther."

     Luther shakes his head, "It's nothing I haven't heard before. But it was really unexpected, you know? My mom hasn't recorded anything in years. She still has her devoted fan base and we still get the occasional paparrazzi camped out in the yard, but no one in our generation gives a crap about who she's sleeping with, but for some reason, Clark was all over it today."

     "I don't blame you for getting mad at him," Dylan says.

     "I was mad, but I was more confused, really," Luther continues, "Clark just kept going, you know? And he started in on how my mother's current boytoy was a gold digger who she had to pay to be with her. And he asked me how it felt to have a step-father that just graduated high school."

     "Ouch," Dylan sighs.

     "Yeah, well, it's kind of true. Micheal is a gold digging dick, and pure evil, if you ask me," Luther says, "And it is creepy as all fuck having him for a step-father. But the thing is, Michael is Ingrid's brother, right? Clark was obviously doing all this to hurt me, he wasn't even paying attention to Everado and Ingrid. But I saw her, and she was not happy at all about where Clark was going with his tirade. So, I tired to nudge Clark back into reality, and told him he shouldn't say anything he was going to regret later."


     "That just set Clark even further off the deep end. He actually smiled at me, like this was what he'd waiting for, and he said to me, 'Make me stop,' like he was actually trying to goad me into punching him."

     "And did you punch him?" Dylan asks.

     Luther chuckles faintly, "I've never hit anyone in my life, never been in a fight. And maybe that's why Clark was trying to pick a fight with me, because I'd be the one guy he'd have a chance at beating, if it came to that. We could run a contest for who gets picked last in gym class most often, me or Clark. So, I don't know, maybe he thought he could prove something by winning a fight with the guy tied with him for 'least tough' in the school," Luther shrugs, still puzzled by the morning's altercation.

    "So, what happened," Dylan urges him.

    "Everado had been quietly steaming through this, letting Clark vent himself all over me. But when it started to upset Ingrid, Everado stepped in. When Clark dared me to 'make him stop', Everado was the one who jumped for it. He laid into Clark then, verbally, but his fist was ready to go."

     "I stepped in before Everado could throw that punch. I told him Clark wasn't worth his time. Everado was really pissed, though, and wouldn't let Clark go until he apologized to Ingrid. Clark wanted a fight, but he apparently wasn't stupid enough to want a fight with Everado, so he backed right down and begged Ingrid to forgive him. And then he ran off. Probably dying of embarrassment. I know I would be. Not that I'd ever, ever do anything that stupid. That story has probably already gone around the whole school; he's never going to live it down."

     "It's my fault," Dylan says quietly.

     "What? How? You weren't even there, Dyl."

     "Clark picked a fight with you because he's jealous," Dylan explains, "He thought because we were friends in grade school that we'd be a couple in high school. He thinks I betrayed him by going out with you. It was still stupid of him to try to fight you, though. Like, I'm not a prize that goes to the winner of the fight."

     "No, it actually makes sense," Luther says, understanding now, "If I hit him, I'd look like a bully, and you'd feel bad for him and dump me for him."

     "Seriously? That's like the plot of some crappy teen movie," Dylan laughs, "Honestly, I wouldn't blame you for hitting him after what he did. But I'm proud of you for not hitting him. And for stopping Everado. That was brave."

     "Nah, not really. Everado has a hot temper, but he cools down really fast, too. If Clark hadn't apologized to Ingrid, though, I don't think I could have done anything to stop him."

     "I still think it was brave," Dylan says, turning to kiss him, "Anyone else would have taken Clark's bait, but you kept your cool and you stood up for him against Everado. No one else would have done that."


     In mourning for his mother, Alejandro didn't go to school that Monday. Kai was barely able to concentrate in classes, all he could think about was Alex, and wishing he could do something.

     Kai got some measure of relief when Alejandro called and asked him to meet him at the cemetery after school, but it wasn't until Alex was in his arms again that Kai could let go of the tension that had been balling up inside him.

     "I've missed you so much, Alex," he moans into the boy's collar, "I wanted so badly to hold you."

     "I'm sorry," Alex whispers, "I just...I just needed to be alone for awhile."


     "I understand," Kai says, gently leading Alex to a nearby bench, "I shouldn't put that on you. You needed some time alone, and I get that."

     "I missed you, too," Alejandro answers, "That's why I called you. I know a cemetery isn't exactly romantic..."

     "That's okay," Kai reassures him, "You don't need to be romantic for me right now. I'm here for you. I will always be here for you."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chapter 7: Already Falling

     The last rays of light of the sun sinking below the sea paints the clouds a brilliant pink, and their color is reflected on the water below, fuschia on teal. Dylan's board breaks the pattern as she skims over the waves, leaving a trail of white in her wake.

     Nighttime is the best time for windsurfing, after the sailors, tourists and fishers have gone back to land, leaving the ocean for those who prefer to take their fun under the moonlight.

     Dylan glides effortlessly over the water, her body shifting in response to the waves as her mind busies itself with other thoughts. Tomorrow night is the prom, and it will be her first real date with Luther. A little thrill rises up her spine when she thinks about him, her face grows warm when she remembers his smile. She actually looks forward to being in class now, anticipating the glances they will exchange, the way he looks when their eyes meet, the feel of his hand in hers as they walk to their classes together.

     Before she goes to bed, Dylan pens a little to note to him, in response to the one he passed to her that afternoon in biology class. She thinks about calling him, but it is far past midnight now, and he's probably asleep, like everyone in her house is, even Biscuit. 
     Her mother has told her that even as a toddler, Dylan was a night owl, and they were never able to get her to sleep before dawn. That hasn't changed, and Dylan still finds it difficult to lay still in bed when the night air calls to her. So instead of calling Luther, she writes down all the inconsequential chatter she would have spoken into her note, knowing that it doesn't matter what they say, it's the thrill of their fingers touching when they pass their folder paper between them, the excitement of seeing the other's words and knowing they share the same desire.

     Kai and Dylan head off to the prom together the next evening, both to meet their dates at the school, both too nervous about the event to speak to each other. For Dylan, it is the anticipation that silences her, wondering what their first dance together will be like, and if they will kiss. For Kai, it's his usual discomfort of being in a crowd, amplified by his concern over Alejandro whose anxieties are more pronounced than his own. Maybe he shouldn't have pushed Alex to do this, he worries.

     The prom for Kai was better than he anticipated and not as bad as he imagined. Alejandro was put off by the crowds, and they spent most of their evenings seated alone together outside of the decorated gym, away from the music and the dancing, just sitting together, holding hands, talking, kissing. It was not much different than if they had not gone to prom and had instead just spent the evening alone together, but Kai counts it as a success just because they did enjoy themselves together in their own way. And, they got a cute prom photo as a souvenir as a bonus.

     Only Dylan was surprised by the fact that she had crowned Prom Queen. The youngest, prettiest girl in high school had been launched into a popularity that she didn't expect or truly want, and she accepted her crown with reluctant grace, wanting only to be alone with Luther. Everyone pressed her for her time and attention, and far too many boys wanted to cut in on her dances with Luther, making the evening not quite as magnificent as her imaginings, but the moments where she did have Luther to herself were perfect, and before it was over, they had made p;ans for a date the next night where they could truly spend their time together.

     They chose the boardwalk for their first date after the prom, as it was the perfect place to be on a Friday evening when you are young and falling in love.
     No couple has ever been able to resist the love tester's challenge, hoping to have their feelings confirmed by an unbiased machine.

     "Oh, we broke it," Dylan laughs as the Love Tester declares its passion sensors are overloaded.

     "I guess we are too much for it to handle."

     The couple grabs a bite at the cantina, and Dylan learns that hamburgers are Luther's favorite food.

     She's not surprised to learn that Luther shares her dislike of being cooped up inside the classroom all day, and that like her, he loves being outdoors. He's not as inclined to be as physically active as she is; he doesn't surf or get into sports, but she is pleased to learn he loves fishing as much as she does, and that he's even more skilled at it than she is.

     Despite not being much of a sportsman, Luther accepts Dylan's challenge to play a round of hoops with her.

     And he doesn't mind at all when she beats him handily, her score more than double his own.

     "You didn't hold back, did you?" she accuses.

     "No, I'm really that bad at sports," he laughs, "But I'm good at video games. And I could write you a song. I've been working on one, actually, but it's not finished yet. And I don't have my guitar here to play it for you..."

     "That's sweet, Luther," Dylan smiles, "You don't have to impress me, anyway. I'm already falling for you."

     "I've already fallen," Luther answers, sweeping her into his arms and dipping her.

     They've kissed a few times already, small, quick kisses stolen between classes. This kiss is different, deep and lasting. Dylan wraps her arms around his neck, holding on, pulling him close, never wanting this to end.

     The next morning, Saturday morning, Dylan gets a call from her friend Clark, now a teen, inviting her to meet him at the Island Jewel Park on the main island. Though she would have preferred spending the day with Luther, they hadn't made plans to meet this early, and Dylan would have felt bad about neglecting her friend, so she accepted his invitation.
     "I had the best time last night with Luther," she gushes happily to her friend when she meets him in the park, "He's the most amazing guy..."

     Clark's expression as he listens to Dylan is less than enthusiastic. "I heard you went to prom with him, but I didn't believe it was true," he sighs.

     "What? Why not?" Dylan asks

    "Because you were supposed to be my girlfriend!" Clark answers, "But instead of waiting for mer like you were supposed to, you just ran off with the first guy to ask you out!"

     "Hang on a sec," Dylan stops his tirade, "I did not just go out with the first guy who asked. Everett Dregg and Everado Ichtaca both tried asking me out before I even talked to Luther. And, anyway, even if I did, what makes you think I was 'supposed' to be your girlfriend?"

     "Because we were best friends, Dyl. You promised that day on the boardwalk that you wouldn't forget me when you started high school. But you completely ditched me for Luther!"

     "I didn't forget you," Dylan protests, "And I didn't ditch you either. I'm here, aren't I?"


     "Yeah, you're here, and all you want to do is talk about Luther. I can't believe you picked him over me! But of course you'd go for the 'bad boy' instead of the guy who knows you better than anyone else," Clark retorts.

     "Clark, it's not like that at all. First, Luther isn't some 'bad boy' stereotype..."

     "I've heard he rings people's doorbells and runs off," Clark accuses.

     Dylan rolls her eyes, "So he pulls pranks sometimes. He's not a criminal or a bully. And anyway, that's not the point. I'm with Luther because I'm attracted to him and he is to me. We have a good time together."

     "We could have good times together!"

     "We had fun together when we were kids. And I'd like to keep being friends with you, Clark, But you have to accept that it's not romantic. I have feelings for Luther that I just don't have for you or any other boy. He's my boyfriend."

     "You never gave me a chance. It's just not fair."

     Dylan sighs, "I wasn't holding a contest, Clark. I went out with Luther because I like him. It would have been the same if you aged up at the same time as me. I'm sorry that you want it to be more than that, Clark. I really am. But, even if Luther weren't in the picture, I just don't have those feelings for you."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chapter 6: I Just Liked Your Smile

     While not a loner like her brother, Dylan only made one close friend in school, Clark Hernandez, and that was due almost entirely to the boy's persistence in Following Dylan everywhere and doing anything she wanted to do. And since he could things her dog, Biscuit, could not, the relationship worked for her.

     But childhood was coming to an end, for Dylan, at least. She spent the afternoon of her birthday playing with Clark on the boardwalk. Come tomorrow, she would be a teen, ready to start high school.

     "You won't be my friend anymore," Clark sighs sadly as she prepares to say goodbye, "You'll be all grown up."

     "Don't be silly, Clark," Dylan laughs, "You'll be a teen in a few days too. And I'll always be your friend. Pinky promise."

     Kai and Alejandro also spent their day on the boardwalk, braving the pre-season spattering of tourists that would blossom into full blown crowds once summer rolled around. 
     Like nearly every couple, native or tourist, who visited the boardwalk, the boys decide to try the love tester machine.

     Unlike nearly every other couple who tries it, they received a very low score from the love tester's passion sensors.

     "What does that stupid machine know about love, anyway?" Kai laughs it off, "We're going to be the cutest couple at prom. That will show that love tester."

     Alejandro frowns, "Do you really want to go to the prom?" he asks, "I mean, it will be like school, only worse. All the students gathered in the gym..." he shudders a little as he imagines the crowds of kids.

     "I know," Kai says, "I'm a little nervous about that too. I hate crowds as much as you. But I think we should at least try. You'll come with me, won't you?"

     Alejandro nods, biting back his fear. "Of course I'll go with you," he promises.

     Dylan becomes a teen that night, and Monday morning finds her less than enthusiastic about her first day of high school.

     "How do you stand it?" she asks her brother.

     "Well, I just try tune everything out, except for the lesson. If I focus on that, I can kind of pretend it's just me and the teacher, and not a whole crowd of kids."

     Dylan sighs to herself; her brother doesn't get it. He has his issues with school, but they are nothing like hers. She has no problem with the other kids, no fear of crowds. She just can't sit still and pay attention for hours, sitting indoors while there's a whole world to explore outside. "I wish we could have class outdoors, at least," she mutters.

     "Oh, wow, no, that would be way worse," Kai answers, wide-eyed with alarm, "At least the classroom has a structure and everyone is their place. If we were outside, it would be chaos."

     Boys far outnumber the the girls in the current generation of high schoolers, and Dylan found herself the center of attention on her first day of classes. Everett Dregg and Everado Ichtaca were both quick to offer her compliments and suggest she think about choosing her date for the upcoming prom. Being fawned on by guys she barely knew was not the highlight of Dylan's day; though she doesn't have her brother's nervousness, she doesn't seek to be the center of attention either, and the flattery the boys were offering her was coming off as false and maybe just a tad desperate as the competition for prom dates was so stiff.  
     Luther Alvarez did not pester her right away, he just smiled at her when her glance met his, and that was enough to get Dylan's attention, and much to the chagrin of her many suitors, she chose to invite him home after school to do homework together. Only a few days older than her, Dylan knew Luther a bit from their grade school days, though they had never been as close as she and Clark. Even during his short time in high school, he'd already developed a bit of a reputation as a rebel, and happily confirms the rumors that he dud, indeed, lock a policemen in a jail cell during a field trip to the police station.

     Maybe inviting someone as cool as Luther over for something as boring as homework was a bad idea, Dylan worries. But Luther pulls out his notebook and sits beside her to sort out their algebra problems together, not at all acting like he's bored with her company. Still, Dylan finds it difficult to focus on the work as she wonders if he even likes her and if she should make the fiest move or wait for him to come around to it.

     Pizza, at least, is something that leaves no room for doubt. Everyone loves pizza. 

     Including her brother, who comes out his lair when he smells the hot pizza downstairs.

     "Don't you have some video games to play?" Dylan not-so-subtly hints to Kai, "You could take your pizza up to your room and play while you eat..."

     "I paused it," Kai answers, oblivious to his sister's distress at his interruption, "I don't want to get my keyboard all greasy."

     "Have you played the new Skate game?" Luther asks Kai, and Dylan groans.

     "Don't get him started..." she warns, but it's too late, as Kai launches into his review of the new game.

     "Alejandro and I play online a lot. You should join us sometime," Kai finishes, and much to his sister's relief, excuses himself to get back to his gaming.

     Finally, she has Luther to herself again, and there's no homework left to be done. Not sure what to do, Dylan asks if he wants to watch TV or play video games.

     Luther blushes a little and says he's fine to do whatever she wants, "But what I'd really like to do is just go outside and watch the stars with you," he suggests.

     "We do have really beautiful skies here," Dylan enthuses, leading Luther out to the deck where they can sit with a view of both the stars and the gently lapping waves. Unlike the other boys in school, he's made no overt moves on her, but he did take his seat very close to hers, close enough to touch. Dylan decides to take that chance and close the gap between them, extending her arm out behind his back.

     "You know every guy in school is after you," Luther says, reaching around with his arm to finish their embrace.

     "I know," Dylan says, "They were kind of obvious about it."

     "So what did I do to get so lucky?"

     "I don't know," Dylan giggles, "I guess I just liked your smile."

     "I know this is kind of sudden, but..."

     "Do you want to take me to the prom?"
     "Yeah. I would wait to ask until we've dated first..."

     "But it's in two days, so we have to do prom first, and then date."

     "It's a little backwards, but I think it will work."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chapter 5: Private Island

     Kai plays kicky bag on the dock while he waits for Alejandro.

The port that Torres family's houseboat is currently docked at is just across the bay from the emoty shack of this lonely island, so it's a quick sail for Alejandro to get here.

     Alejandro joins in the game, and the boys talk about starting high school on Monday.

     Kai gives Alejandro the birthday gift he bought for him, a sweet new guitar, and Alejandro promptly plays some tunes for him.

     "You're really good," Kai compliments him.

     "I used to shred on my xylophone when I was a toddler," Alejandro laughs.

     "I had one of those xylophones, too," Kai answered, "But it doesn't mean I can play guitar. You're a natural."

     "That's what they say," Alejandro shrugs, "I just know I like to play."

     "Maybe we shouldn't hang out here so long," Alejandro says as the boys sit down next to each other on the dock, "I don't know who owns this old shack. We might get in trouble."

     "You didn't know? This whole island belongs to my family," Kai answers, "I wouldn't have asked you here if we didn't have a right to be here."

     "What do you do with this place? I mean, it never seems to be used for anything, at least not that I've seen. And we're docked across the bay most of the time."

     Kai shrugs, "My parents just like collecting little islands, I guess. We own like 5 of them, but besides our house and the island my Dad's lab is on, we don't really do anything with them. This shack has always been empty. But I've been thinking I could set up an art studio for myself here. Away from the family, you know. Not that they bother me, exactly, when I'm painting in my room. But it would be great to not have any distractions at all."

     "Wow, it must be nice to be the richest family in Isla Paradiso," Alejandro teases, "You and your sister are the most spoiled kids I've ever met."

     "We are not!" Kai protests, and then backs down, "Okay, well, Dyl and I do get pretty much anything we want. But we aren't the richest family in Isla Paradiso. What about Alphonse Alto? He lives in that huge mansion..."

     "Alto used to be the richest guy on the island," Alejandro says, "But according to my Mom, you guys have him beat out now. And she should know, she used to be married to him"

     "Really? I had no idea..."

     "Well, it was before I was born, obviously. My Mom has always been ambitious, and she married him because he was the richest guy on the island. And she put up with his cheating, even when he ended up getting one of his girlfriends pregnant. She figured, she had the house, the cars and the money, so she didn't care who had Alphonse. And then she met my Dad. He's just like her, all about the money, and finding the easiest way to get it. He's a thief, you probably shouldn't tell anyone..."

     "I won't say a thing, I promise."

     "So, yeah, Dad's a burglar. He broke into the Alto house one night while my Mom and Alphonse were at a party. They fought, my Mom came home early and caught my Dad. And she says he stole her heart," Alejandro laughs, "My parents are kind of fucked up, both of them. She gave up her wealthy life to be with him. He's half her age, but he's still crazy in love with her. But, still, they both talk about money all the time, and keep score of everyone on the island. Ever since we became friends in grade school, she never lets a day go by where she doesn't remind me about how rich you are or what a great catch you'd be," Alejandro ends his story with a wry laugh.

     "Are you planning on marrying me for my money?" Kai asks, laughing himself.

     "You know me better than that," Alejandro answers, though he knows it doesn't have to said. Their bond has been unbreakable since the first day they met in school, and nothing could ever come between them.

     Kai opens his arms and Alejandro falls back against his chest, leaning his head back so their lips can meet.


     "The sun is starting to set," Kai observes, brushing his jeans off as he stands and stretches his legs, "Part of me wants to be all romantic and sit here watching it with you. But I haven't eaten since breakfast, and it's pizza night at my house...I'm starving and I'm not sure I can resist the call of pizza. Want to come over and have dinner with us?"

     "Your parents will be okay with that?"

     "Of course they will," Kai laughs, "I'm a spoiled kid that gets everything he wants, right?"

     Alejandro laughs, "Yeah, you joke about it, but you are incredibly spoiled. But, seriously, though, they'll be okay with me just showing up for dinner?"

     "Of course," Kai reassures him, "There's always more than enough pizza for guests."

     Julian has made several important scientific breakthroughs, but his greatest achievement might be his perfect pizzas.

     The Brannons welcomed Alejandro warmly; he had nothing to worry about on that account. But even though they aren't a particularly large family, the teen is overwhelmed by their numbers. Like Kai, he's shy of crowds and tends to anxiousness when overstimulated. For Kai, this house is a familiar safe zone, but for Alejandro, it's a panic inducing nightmare and he struggles to eat his pizza, saying nothing while the family chatters away at the table.

      Alejandro is more comfortable after dinner when it's just himself, Kai and his father playing video games. Though he still shy around Julian, he does manage to remark on the extensive collection of games the family owns.

     It's a blissful relief to finally be totally alone with Kai again out in the family's hot tub. Dylan is only a few yards away, playing in her jungle gym, as much in her own world as Kai and Alejandro are lost in theirs.



     I haven't even mentioned it in the story, but Jillyan's Misc. Fun is My Precious and she has a sea themed collection going for that. I feel like I'm copying from Becky, lol, but like her founder, the sea themed knick knacks seemed the most appropriate. So here's the collection so far. I was aiming for things that could plausibly be found while scuba diving. The model boat and mini treasure chest don't really fit that, but, eh. The souvenir pic of Jill and Julian aren't an official part of the collection, but I hung with the rest of the display just because. The Hanging Pescado is part of the collection.
     Jill also keeps an unofficial collection of things she actually has found while scuba diving: one of each kind of sea shell, a couple of messages in a bottle, one of the large gems from a treasure chest. And her pink diamond that the burglar (not Alejandro's dad, though Matteo Torres is in the Criminal career) keeps trying to steal. (My tumblr followers have seen the repeated burglary attempts that Jill has foiled). She's also got a tank full of fish that are exclusive to scuba diving, including 2 Seahorses, the only 2 she's caught, as they are super rare.
     The family also has a nice collection of islands. The one where Kai & Alejandro are on in the beginning of the chapter is the one Jill got by doing the quest chain that included beating up a shark. The one they live on was gotten by befriending an NPC mermaid. Julian's lab island came from just sailing close to it. And then there's one from finding 4 map pieces from treasure chests/bottles, and one from finding a secret exit from an underwater cave. According to Carl's Guide, Jill can get one more by finding a super special message in a bottle. I haven't found that yet. There's also one you can get from the lifeguard career and one from owning a 5 star resort. I'm not even trying for those.

     And here's a sunset pic. I post a lot of scenery pics on my tumblr, and this one is one of my favorites.