Chapter Nine

"Face The New Day"


The lull of the usual din that could be heard in the food court faded into the background, once again demonstrating the intricate ability of the human brain to filter out unnecessary information. Settled at a table amidst the center of the chaos, four quirky friends were huddled around three boats of chili cheese fries that were rapidly diminishing, the remains of their Chug-A-Freezes washing down the starchy snack.

Carver sighed with a smile on his face, apparently lost in thought. "Earth calling Carver." Tino attempted to interrupt his friend's reverie. "This is Earth, calling Carver. Are you still with us?"

"Huh?" Descartes responded, shaking his head. "Oh, sorry guys. I was just thinking about that time Lor almost won us $10,000 on Baskets for Bucks. Man, the stuff I would've bought! It would've been sweet!"

Tish nodded. "Yeah, it would've been nice. But you know what? I think it's better this way. We'll appreciate things more if we earn them the hard way in life."

"This from a girl who wanted to use her share to bring Shakespeare back to life." Lor laughed. "Didn't you want him to write a play about you or something?"

"That's personal!" Tish blushed. "Besides, you never told us what you were going to do with the money!" Tish retorted.

"She has a point." Carver took Tish's side.

"That she does." Added Tino.

"You know, I never really thought about it." Lor mused. "I was feeling kinda stressed at the time. I was concentrating so hard on trying to make those shots that I just couldn't think about what I'd do if we had actually won."

"I still can't believe you managed to make two!" Tish smiled. "That was so cool, Lor!"

"I'm just glad you guys weren't mad at me when I missed that last shot."

"Nah." Tino reassured her. "Sure, the money would've been great! But we'd much rather have our friend than $10,000. And all the popularity it would bring. Being visible to people like Bree and Colby. Getting Chum Bukkit to be our own personal band..."

"You can stop anytime now!"

"Ah, I'm just messing with you." Tino smiled.

"My hovercraft!" Carver cried.

"Knock it off!" Tish insisted.

Carver laughed himself. "You know what the Lor? No one is as cool as you when it comes to basketball. If we ever go two on two, I want you on my team!"

"Me and you vs. Tino and Tish?" pondered Lor. "That's like Godzilla vs. Bambi! There's no sport in it!"

"Your confidence in us is overwhelming." Tish laced her voice with sarcasm.

"I think she's right." Tino admitted. "I don't think I could sink even one basket if a million dollars was riding on it. I think we should stick to pool."

"Not that Tish and I don't beat you guys enough at that." Lor quipped.

"Seriously, it's embarrassing!" Carver agreed.

"Okay, okay, change of subject." Tish interrupted before anything ugly erupted. "What about the new Chum Bukkit album? It's only two weeks away!"

"I've had it on reserve for over a month!" Lor felt the excitement. "I can't wait!"

"Once I just stood in front of the upcoming releases board and bowed myself before it." Carver explained.

"Last week I was playing along with my dulcimer while I listened to "Chicken Eat The Eggs!" Tish presented her own form of fandom.

"I've got a countdown going on my wall." Tino responded. "It's like I'll be able to live again after it's out. Carver, you'd better not spend your allowance that week on shoes again, because I'm not buying it for you!"

"Relax." Carver calmed Tino down. "I got it on reserve. It's already paid for. All I have to do is pick it up. I didn't want to have to deal with the rush."

Lor brightened up. "Y'know, that's not a bad idea. It's too bad I'm broke, or I'd totally be with you on that."

"There's still 2 weeks." Tino reminded her. "Maybe I'll reserve it while I'm here."

"Now you're talking, Tino!" approved Carver. He frowned as he took the last fry from one of the boats, pushing the empty one aside and reaching for the one closest to Tish.

Tish grinned and slapped at Carver's hand. "Ladies first, thank you!" She scolded, laying out a napkin and taking enough to satisfy her before letting Carver make off with the rest.

"Dude, she just owned you!" Lor couldn't stop laughing. "Tish, that was hilarious."

Tish shrugged, trying to keep a blush off her face. "I'm hungry!"

"Seriously!" Carver shook his hand before he got back to eating. "The girl is possessive about her fries!"

Tish shrugged again. "Three hands in a boat are too many."

"Especially when two of them belong to Carver!" Tino couldn't let the setup pass.

Even Carver laughed at that one. "Okay, okay, you guys got me. I do enjoy my chili cheese fries."

"And everyone else's too." Lor snickered.

"Let up on him." Tish laughed. "We got him good enough for one day."

"Thank you!" Carver mock bowed his head to Tish. "So, I guess this means we're gonna hit the music store?"

"Definitely!" Tino shouted. "It's like I can already feel this CD in my hands!"

As expected, the music store was full of loud music and patrons with equally loud outfits. Carver and Lor stood before the upcoming releases sign, basking in the holy glow of Chum Bukkit's name. Tino approached the front counter to pre-order the new album, but Tish put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "Let me get this one." She smiled.

"Huh? Tish! That's very generous of you, but really, you don't have to do that. I can cover it."

"I want to get it for you."


"Because you've been doing everything so far! It's called give and take." She smiled. "Besides, you've been getting all the food this weekend. If there's one thing I'm not, it's poor."

"You're sure?" Tino still felt uneasy.


Tino sighed, and then surrendered. "If it means that much to you."

"I think it means more to you!" she laughed. "C'mon, walk with me. There isn't much weekend left, you know."

While Tish ordered two copies of the new album, Lor was strategizing about how she would procure her own copy. "I'm probably going to have to wait until it comes out." Lor sighed as she worked on her plan.

"That means you're going to have to battle the masses down here." Carver smiled.

"I can handle them." Lor sounded confident. "The trouble will be getting here. Why do new CDs always have to come out on Tuesdays? No one will be able to take me during the week!"

"Well, Tino told me last week he's trying to figure out the perfect angle to ask his Mom to take us after dinner that night. It'll be a pretty big favor to call in, though. I'm praying to the Coolness to let us get that ride. If we don't have that album the day it comes out, we could become a lot more uncool than we are now!"

"You really think so? Dude, this is serious!"

"You know it. We've all got to use our powers to make sure we get here that day. Whatever it takes! Call in all your favors if you have to!"

"We'd all better spend next Friday night figuring out how we're gonna do this. I say we all tag-team Tino's mom!

"I don't think we'll convince her that way." Tino grinned as he and Tish walked up behind their friends. "But I'm sure we'll think of something."

"Bribery?" Tish offered.

"Could work. Call me on the radio tonight, Carver. We'll kick around some ideas."

"Cool." Carver accepted.

"So what do we do now?" asked Lor. "Preferably something free."

"We could hit the docks, watch the sunset." Tish suggested.

"Sounds like a plan to me!" confirmed Tino. "Let's hurry before we miss it!"

Legs dangling off the dock, the four of them sat in a row, watching the beautiful red sun as it slowly began disappearing beyond the horizon. Tino let out a long breath as he admired the sight. "Y'know," he began, "we've spent a lot of weekends together doing a lot of crazy things. And I hope it never ends."

"I guess that's up to us." Tish replied.

"Yeah, we really have some good times." Lor gave Tino a thumbs up. "You guys are the best friends I could ever have."

"Same here." Carver added.

"And here." Tish chimed in.

"Wouldn't have it any other way." Tino smiled. "I just want to remember them. Someday, one or more of us may fall out of the loop, who knows what will happen as time goes on and we have more responsibilities. But no matter what, I want to be able to hold onto this moment. Someday when I'm old, I'll be happy to remember you guys, and what great friends you always were."

"Whoa, dude, you're getting all emotional on us!" Lor sounded a little weirded out.

"Definitely." Carver agreed.

"I'm sorry." Tino held up his hands to lighten the mood. "Got caught up in the moment. All I mean guys are great."

"You know it!" Tish laughed, lightly punching Tino in the shoulder.

"It's about time someone noticed." Carver laughed.

"We are, aren't we?" Lor smiled as the sun dipped out of sight. She sighed as darkness began descending. "Well, much as I hate to do it, dinner beckons."

"Another weekend gone." Sighed Carver.

"But not forgotten." Tish reminded him.

"Never forgotten!" Tino shook his head slowly.

"Guess I'll see you guys at school." Lor smiled. "Later days!"

"Later days!" the others called as they also stood up, knowing that the end of the weekend had indeed come.

"I'll catch up with you guys tomorrow!" Carver decided, deciding to make his own exit.

"Yeah, me too." Tish slowly began walking away. Tino lingered, looking out at the darkened bay in winder for a moment before running in Tish's direction. She breathed a sigh of relief. "I wasn't sure if you were coming or not for a minute there."

"Sorry." Tino apologized. "Just stuff on my mind. Plus I didn't want to look suspicious."

"It's okay."

"I can't believe you ordered me that CD."

"You're easily impressed!" Tish giggled.

"You know what I'm going to do the minute I get home?"

"Have dinner?"

Tino laughed, he hadn't expected Tish to be so literal. "No, after that."

"Read Captain Dreadnought comics?"


"What then?"

"Hang your wreath over my bed."

"You really like that silly thing, don't you?"

"It reminds me of you."

"No fair! Don't make me blush!"

"Well it's true!"

"You know what the second thing I'm going to do is?"

"Dare I ask?"

"Call you, if it isn't too late."

"That would be nice."

"I'll miss the sound of your voice. I was just thinking about that earlier this afternoon."

"You can see me again tomorrow, you know."

"It won't be the same."

"I know. . .I'll miss you too, Tino."



Awkward silence seemed to fill the air as though it were tangible. It was broken by a little giggle from Tish, until she let out full-blown laughter.

"What's so funny?" Tino asked.

"You're so shy!"

"Oh yeah?" he replied in mock anger. "You're not so brave yourself!"

"We've got to work on these awkward moments!" she smiled.

"I think we'll figure it out."

"So Tino?"


"I don't have all night! Are you going to kiss me goodbye or what?" She cocked an eyebrow at him.

"To be honest, I've been a little. . .afraid. Like maybe I did it wrong last time, or it was too fast, or whatever. I wasn't sure whether it was, y'know, the right thing to do."

"It is kind of complicated. But it's just. . .if we're really going to do this, I think we have to be willing to overcome those fears."

"So how come I still have this crazy fear that the second I try to kiss you, you'll reject me or something. I know it doesn't make sense but it's all I can think about!"

"I have a feeling it's normal."

"Maybe I'll ask mom about it. If I can spit it out without getting all freaked out."


"So. . ."

"So. . ."

"You're not going to, um, reject me, right?"

Tish grinned at him. "I guess you won't know unless you come over here to find out."

"You're not going to make this easy, are you?"

"If I did, there wouldn't be much point!"

"I'll do my best." Tino began to draw in closer.

"Do you trust me?"


"Good." This spoke, quickly, closing the rest of the distance and putting the boy in a lip lock. Tino felt dazed. It wasn't at all like he had thought it would be, radically different than he would have expected out of Tish. But he felt wonderful, from top to bottom. "Hmmmmm. . ." she let out a very satisfied sound as she slowly broke the kiss to rest her head on his shoulder. "Sometimes a little push helps. Feel a little less awkward now?" Actually, Tino didn't feel much of anything. He was still lost amidst the myriad of wonders Tish had just briefly laid on him.

"Whoa." Was all he managed.

"That's one way of putting it, I guess."

"Do that again!"

"Maybe next time." She grinned, running a finger down the length of his nose.

"I never would've thought you would. . ."

"Be so forward? I kind of surprised myself!"

"You have to go, don't you?"

"Uh-huh. You can see me tomorrow, though. Maybe call me tonight." She whispered.

"That would be nice."

"Funny, that's what I said! But if you want to have time to call me later, I have to go now..."


Tish felt full of life as she let go of the boy. "Hurry home, okay?" She tried to put a little edge of seductiveness in her voice.

Tino laughed. "It sounds so weird when you say it like that!"

"Just hurry home!" Tish laughed herself. Talk to you soon!"

"I promise!" Tino called after her, and then she was gone. He stopped for a moment to catch his breath. "Okay." He began. "Tell me you just saw that! Was that incredible or what? I can't believe that was Tish! It's gotta be something from one of those literary things she's always reading. It was the greatest!

So, um, I guess you're wondering where we'll go from here. I'm not completely sure, but I think we're off to a good start. I was worried about that, I didn't want to lose her as a friend. But I think it was worth it. It's like we're so much more now. I never did get what the big deal about dating someone was until now. But take it from me...when you find someone that's easy to talk to as it is for me to talk to Tish, it's worth taking a chance. I'd, um, better go. I've got...dinner waiting for me. Yeah. Dinner. So, um, later days!"

Here the first arc has officially drawn to a close. There's going to be plenty more going on as I start the second arc. Expect the story to get a little deeper. Some fun stuff I tend to do with Lor, besides the expected advancement of the new Tino/Tish relationship.

Thanks once again to all my readers, this first part was a lot of fun to write, but the next arc is going to be even more exciting. Keep the reviews coming, everyone, and I'll keep the story coming.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out my commentary for the first chapter of Awakenings, big fans of my work should pick up a lot of insights. Further installments of the commentary will feature interesting anecdotes about how I came up with some of the ideas that drifted into the story.

Long live the weekend!

Lord Malachite
5:38 PM, EST
AIM: Asukaphile26