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."