A Normal Teenager

By: Lillian

Chapter Nine

Gazing into the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean reminded her of the last time she was at this beach. Little had changed since then, although more people were at the beach in their various swim wear, frolicking along the shore or relaxing on the sand. Serena's wistful gaze unconsciously flickered further along the beach, just beyond the jagged rocks where Darien had revealed the secluded spot. That had been weeks ago, but the event still warmed her heart as if it were yesterday. Just thinking back to that day on the beach made her want to giggle madly to herself, but then her friends would think her insane.

She felt a nudge on her arm. Serena turned half way and was greeted with a smiling Mina. In her hands was a brand new volleyball. "You up for a game?" the blonde asked. She bounced the ball a few feet into the air and caught it back with ease.

"Nah, maybe later," Serena replied. "Thanks though."

Mina shrugged. "Alright, I'll hold you to it," she said.

Serena waved goodbye as the orange clad girl jogged towards the temporary volleyball court. She sat down on her beach towel and brought her cheap white sunglasses over her eyes. She let out a content sigh as she lied down and saw the cloudless sky above her. "So pretty," she marveled as her eyes squinted against the warm sun.

Oh how she loved the summer. The last week of May brought excitement to most students at Orcyrde Academy. The spring dance was the oncoming weekend, and the school play was the week after. Time flew by so fast. She remembered how much she hated the idea of going to school. Now she loved every minute of it. Well, that was a lie. She hated going to classes and perhaps even doing homework. The social life was what she enjoyed. Friendships were different as a celebrity. Now that she thought about it, her relationships to fellow celebs seemed so superficial now. It was also about being seen with the right people and the right restaurants and clubs. The same came with wearing the latest designer clothes and shoes. Serena could even tell that Raye enjoyed the less stressful life as a student. Although she still had the crazy fans to worry about, the paparazzi had yet to know she attended Orcyrde Academy.

Her grades were improving, what with the constant help and nagging of both Amy and Darien. All of her professors welcomed the change. The transitioning weeks of a new school were bumpy, but her grades finally reflected the image so was to portray: that of an intelligent young woman. She didn't get straight A's, but she no longer got D's and F's.

It was a relief that no one besides Mina knew of her true identity. The suspicion had ebbed away, being replaced with even more juicy news: she and Darien were officially together. Rumor had it that they were going to rule the school… in the upcoming dance, that is. Darien had yet to even ask her to the dance. Perhaps she should bring it up soon? Although she did receive a gorgeous gift on her bed one afternoon; consisting of a beautiful empire waist gown with golden circlets decorating the top. Next to the simple card was Darien's signature red rose. She had added the lone rose into the vase already full of the other roses Darien had given her. Who knew Darien was such a romantic?

The students speculated it started while working on the play together. They weren't too far off. Many of the students and faculty planned to attend the play, mostly just to see the odd couple interact on stage. She couldn't wait. She was confident that the play would be a success.

Wednesday, a school day and far from the awaited weekend, was when Mina reached a breaking point. "I need a break from all of this," she had said, waving her hand frantically around the room. "Let's get the girls and go to the beach."

And that was exactly what they did.

Raye and Mina were on better terms now, much to Serena's relief. The two of them were even planning the yearly fashion show together. The school principal had specifically asked Raye to model, and the raven haired beauty readily agreed. Raye in turn asked Mina to help with the runway project. Since then, the two could even be considered friends.

Amy sat lounging under her ocean blue umbrella, her feet partially buried in the sand and her large straw hat providing extra shade. Or maybe she was just trying to make a fashion statement? Her glasses rested at the bridge of her nose as she poured over a mystery novel.

Raye, Mina, and Lita already started a fiery game of volleyball. Mina prided herself on being a volleyball champion and volunteered to be on her own. She had a disadvantage though, because Lita was also pretty good. It helped that the green clad girl towered over the blonde. Sand sprayed all over as Mina took a dive in order to save the ball. It rolled mercilessly from her clasped hands onto the rough sand. Mina let out a cry and pouted at her opponents. Raye and Lita laughed in response. Serena shook her head from the scene and stared back at the ocean.

Melvin, whom they considered part of the gang, was wading into the clear water with Molly. The former New Yorker splashed her friend, wetting his lenses as she did so. The two kept on laughing at their antics.

Serena rested on her beach towel, feeling the warm sun kiss her skin. She put on her headphones, listening to the demo Mina had recently given her.

"You're going to burn," Amy chided a few feet away. "At least use more sun block."

"Lighten up, Ames," Serena said as she flopped onto her stomach. "I don't burn easily." Her phone rang.

"I bet its Darien," Amy said, smiling.

Serena rolled her eyes as she pulled down her headphones and reached for her phone. Darien's number flashed through the screen.

"It's like he can't live without you," Amy teased. "How often does he call? Every ten minutes?"

Molly plopped down by Serena. She saw the phone and grinned. "You have him wrapped around your finger."

"It's not like that!" she protested. She flipped open the phone. "Hey Darien," she greeted him. The girls laughed in the background.

She talked to him for a few minutes, making sure to whisper close to the mouth piece. The others huddled close by, hoping to catch anything of interest from the muffled conversation. Serena just shook her head at their antics and then hung up.

"So what did lover boy want?" Molly asked.

"He wanted to know where I was, and why I didn't invite him. You know… stupid relationship stuff."

"Really mature, Serena," Amy said. She set her book aside. "Why didn't you invite Darien? Usually he's glued to your hip."

Serena shrugged. "This is Mina's trip, not mine. Besides, she just wanted the girls to come. We all need a break with trying to impress guys and being self conscious all the time."

Amy glanced at the trio playing volleyball. "I'm not too sure about that. With what they're wearing, they've already gotten the attention of quite a few guys."

Melvin made his presence known. "Hey! I'm a guy and I was invited."

Molly waved her hand in dismissal. "Don't be silly, you're one of the girls."

Melvin's face faulted. "I don't know whether to feel special or insulted…."

Molly squeezed Melvin's shoulders with her tight embrace. "Aw, I didn't mean it like that, Melvin! You know we love you!"

Serena and Amy both gave each other a knowing look.

"Thanks, Molly!" Melvin replied and hugged the redhead back.

Serena couldn't help but notice Melvin's face pressed against Molly's chest. She blushed and quickly looked away. The sky was safer to stare at. It seemed Amy had the same idea. The girl buried her face back in her book.

Her stomach grumbled, making her wish she'd eaten before they left. She barely ate a solid lunch. An apple and half a salad was more of a snack than anything else. She had a sudden craving for strawberry pancakes with whipped cream…. Maybe they could all stop by that diner later?

A loud squeal made her jump from her spot. She immediately sat up and looked for the disturbance, as did half the crowd on the beach. She could see the life guard perched on the towering chair shaking his end in annoyance. She followed the general gaze of everyone else and saw an exuberant blur of orange running around in circles, arms flailing about in a crazy fashion.

Serena held back a grown and smacked her forehead against the white colored sand. "You have got to be kidding me."

Raye was now chasing after the blonde haired girl, arm raised, ready to smack her silly. Lita stood in the middle of the two girls running around her, clearly more amused than upset about the scene. Serena noticed the pink cell phone in Mina's hand.

"It's done!" Mina yelled; her soprano voice filled with excitement. "My album's done! My baby's going be released into the world for everyone to hear and enjoy!"

"That girl has way too much energy," Molly said in amazement.

"I wonder how she does it. She rarely has any sweets since she's on a diet," Serena added in wonder.

Amy laughed. "You're just as bad as she is most of the time."

Serena pouted. "Hey! That's not true! I'm a very calm, collected person."

The hyper blonde with the pink phone still in hand ran over to the gathered group, launching herself on Serena's and Molly's shoulders. "I did it you guys!" she said, laughing. "The studio wants me to come in today and make final adjustments, but after that, I'm done."

"Congratulations, Mina," Serena said.

"Congrats, hun," Molly added.

"You deserved it," Amy nodded.

Lita and Raye joined the group and settled themselves on the remaining beach towels. Raye searched through her large tote and pulled out sunscreen. Lita leaned against her arms behind her back, staring at the glittering ocean.

"Can I have your autograph?" asked Melvin.

Mina clapped her hands in delight. "Sure! You got a pen?"

Melvin scratched the tip of his nose. "Eh heh… nope!"

Serena quickly changed the subject. "When are you going to the studio?"

Mina's frown immediately turned back to a smile. "They actually want me to go today…" she trailed off. Her blue eyes seemed to brighten even more. "Hey! I have a great idea! Would you guys like to come with me? It'll be totally cool!"

"You mean go to Los Angeles with you? I'm so in!" Molly said excitedly.

"It's only Wednesday. We have school tomorrow," Amy said worriedly.

Serena caught Raye's glance. She bit her lower lip. Being back home, even just for a few hours, sounded like heaven. Yet there was a higher chance of being recognized there. Paparazzi were infamous for capturing snapshots of actors and actresses under disguises.

"I'm with Amy on this one. I don't think we should all go. Sorry Mina," she finally decided.

Raye nodded her head. "Yeah, and I rather avoid the cameras if you know what I mean. We'd be in the tabloids, wondering who these mysterious girls I was hanging out with."

Stars filled both Molly's and Lita's eyes. "Let's go to L.A.!" the two of them said at the same time.

Melvin folded his arms and frowned. "Why is everyone questioning my masculinity here? I'm a guy, not a girl. Please don't classify me as one."

Serena was stuck. Maybe if she wore a large hat and sunglasses, she could get away from all the press. "Raye, you gotta go incognito," she joked.

"Ha! So do you then! I don't want to be the only one dressed like a dork with a baseball hat or something," she said smoothly. She winked.

Serena rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Sure, why not? We'll all dress up and pretend we're celebs for a day. Although…," she elbowed Mina, "this girl is gonna be a star soon. You won't forget about us little people once you became famous, right?"

Mina hugged Serena. "I never forget my friends. Friends forever and ever!" she exclaimed.

Once the group gathered their things and washed the sand off their feet, they all squeezed into the two cars. Raye's convertible only had room for one other person, and she made sure Serena sat with her. The rest piled into Melvin's silver Lexus.

Mina pulled down her window from the back seat. "So you know where we're heading, right?" she called out to Serena.

Raye answered for her. "I live in L.A., remember? Of course I know where that recording studio is."

Mina nodded. "Alright. We'll see you there! It's a race." Mina rolled up her window, but the two of them in the other car could still hear Melvin's whining.

"But Mina! I don't want to have a car race! I might get in trouble!"

Raye geared up her engine, tapping the gas pedal as her convertible let out a satisfying purr.

"Oh god, please stay within the speed limit," Serena pleaded as she saw the competitive gleam in the other girl's violet eyes.

"Oh but Sere, you know how I love a good race," she smirked. Raye slowly reversed out of her parking spot, then stepped on the gas. "See ya, suckers!" she screamed out immaturely as the engine's loud noise made Serena wince in dread. She made sure her seatbelt was on snuggly, then put her hands over her eyes. "I'm gonna die… I'm gonna die…." She chanted.

Raye's laughter was her only response.

-- -- --

It took longer than the usual hour to get into the city. Raye stayed within the speed limit, yet she still went faster than Melvin's car. Serena loved the feel of wind blowing through her hair. Her face felt tingly from the impact of air, but it still felt refreshing. She half wished she'd tied her hair up though. Once the car was safely parked at the studio, she managed to check her hair in the car's mirror.

"You got a comb?" Serena asked, staring hopelessly at her tangled strands of brown hair.

Raye rolled her eyes. "Of course. Unlike some people, I actually do care for my appearances."

"Ha ha," she said lamely. Raye tossed her the comb and she easily caught it with one hand.

"They're still not here," Raye sighed, keeping her eyes towards the entrance of the parking garage.

"You were driving really fast," she replied. She ran the comb through her hair and winced once she reached a tangle. "I hate me hair." She wrinkled her nose as she stared at her reflection. "I wish I did cut it up to my shoulders. It probably would have been more manageable."

"It's your trademark. Luna would never let you do it."

"Yeah, I know, but still." She patted her hair down and handed the comb back to Raye. She noticed the dark haired girl already had her baseball cap on, along with her D&G sunglasses that covered half her face.

"Your straw hat is in the back," Raye said suddenly. "I'll go get it for you." Raye opened her car door and leaned down. She fiddled with the gadgets until she lifted the right lever that opened the trunk.

Serena opened her door and got out, stretching her arm as she did so. "I'll get it, no worries," she said. She yawned into her fist. "Going to the beach made me sleepy." She looked down at her baggy white t-shirt and short jean shorts. "We're going to stand out, dressed like this," she said after awhile."

"We're incognito, remember? Let's not worry about how we look right now," Raye said as she flipped her hair to the back.

"Easy for you to say. You got that cute sun dress on." She pouted as she looked down at her own attire.

Raye placed a hand on her hip and gave her an impatient glare. "It's not my fault all you have is those tacky outfits. Once this is all over, we're going to do some serious shopping."

Serena grabbed her hat and roughly placed it on her head. She slammed the trunk shut and went back to her seat.

They waited impatiently in the parking garage for the other car to show up. The bickered just like old times, and although it may not have looked like it to any bystanders, they were enjoying each other's company.

Just as they were getting into a heated topic about Raye's boyfriend, the Lexus pulled up into the garage and parked conveniently next to them. The doors opened and the girls piled out of the car in a rush. Amy, with her straw hat still atop her head, nudged her glasses into a more comfortable position on her nose. "Sorry for the wait," she said while the other girls stretched. "Melvin's not used to city driving it seems."

Raye smirked. "Guess that means I win," she said obnoxiously to the only boy in the group.

Serena nudged her friend. "We weren't racing, Raye," she said. She opened the car door and joined the rest of her friends. "After this, why don't we find a restaurant? We still haven't eaten lunch, and there's always dinner to think about."

Lita laughed. "I'm surprised you're so skinny, especially with the amount of junk you stuff into your mouth."

Serena tugged at her lower eye lid and stuck out her tongue. "I'm just special like that."

Raye bobbed Serena in the head. "Now who's the one being immature?"

"You're so mean!" Serena cried out as she folded her arms in indignation.

-- -- -- -- --

The girls were greeted with a warm welcome once they entered the building. Mina excitedly pointed out the key members of her production team and ran to a tall, imposing man with long white hair. He had an aristocratic way about him. He stood up straight, shoulders back, and his nose up to the air in an arrogant manner. His smile however appeared real and he held out his arms to receive the blonde girl's hug.

"Arty!" she yelled as she fell into the man's strong frame. He patted her back as one would do to a doting daughter and pulled away after a moment's time. "It's finally done!" she said excitedly. "I can't believe the cd's gonna come out so soon."

"This summer," he added, a smirk tugging on his lips. "You're single will surely reach the top ten," he said.

Mina turned around and met the curious gazes of her friends. She walked over to them as she pulled Artemis' wrist. "Guys," she said. "This is my manager and best agent in the world, Artemis. He's been my manager since I was like what? Twelve?"

He nodded. "Time flies by, huh?" His cool gaze swept over them. "You have a unique set of friends, Mina. "I didn't know you were friends with The Raye Hino."

Raye gave an all knowing smirk as she stepped up from the group and shook the man's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Artemis."

"Pleasure's all mine," he replied in a smooth voice. He let his hand fall back to his side as he looked at the rest of the girls. "Aren't you going to introduce me to the rest of your friends, Mina?"

Mina blushed and laughed in turn. "My bad. These are my friends from school. This is Molly, Melvin, Amy, Lita, Serena, and you obviously recognized Raye."

"Serena…," Artemis said, rolling her name at the tip of her tongue.

Serena unconsciously shivered as the white haired man eyed her up and down. His playful smile was starting to freak her out. After a few seconds, he glanced away from her direction and nodded his head in greeting to all of them. "It's nice to meet all of you."

The manager ushered the group into a rather small room where sound technicians fiddled with complicated looking equipment. Artemis walked over to the pair and leaned forward, talking in low tones that the group barely could hear.

After awhile, Artemis stood up straight and headed back to the girls. Music suddenly filled the sound proofed room, and a voice they were familiar with began to sing. The girls all stood in silent awe as they listened to Mina singing to a sad tune, telling a story of hardship and overcoming the pain.

Serena was overcome with emotion as the song neared the end. Her eyes were wet with unshed tears as she brushed the edge of her eyes. The room remained silent, even after the music was over. "That was… so beautiful Mina," Serena finally said in a soft whisper. The others seemed to get out of their spell and began to praise the blonde as well.

"You have a nice voice," Raye grudgingly praised her.

Mina giggled. "Coming from you, that means a lot. Thanks Raye. Thank you, guys! I'm so glad you were able to hear it. It's called 'Tears of the Moon' and we're planning on that being my first single." She looked over to Artemis for confirmation, and he nodded his head.

"Yes, we're planning on releasing that mid July or August if things go as planned."

Mina looked at the group in a shy manner. "Would you guys want to hear the rest?"

She was met with a chorus of "Yes!" Mina clapped her hands in delight and looked back at the sound guys. They fiddled with the panel full of knobs and soon enough, another song began to play.

It was more upbeat this time, with the electronic sound making it appear more techno. Serena grinned as she grabbed Raye's arm and the two began to twirl around the room. The rest of the gang began to dance as well. Laughter filled the room as the pulse of the music took over them. Even Melvin, who probably never went clubbing in his whole entire life, was carried away by the beat. His scrawny arms attempted to dance 'the robot', making Molly laugh in delight.

They spent the rest of the afternoon in the sound studio, listening to the twelve tracks of Mina's songs. Midway through the music sampling, one of the interns stopped by the room to deliver a plate of small sandwiches. The group quickly devoured the food and staved off their hunger.

Music done and over with, they all decided to explore the city and eat dinner. Raye seemed hesitant on the idea of walking aimlessly around, and Serena backed her up on that. Why walk when they had the cars with them?

"It'll be fun though!" Molly tried to convince them.

"Raye, you're worried someone will recognize you then just put on that baseball hat and sunglasses. We'll even do the same and pretend to be tourists," Lita added.

"But you are tourists," Amy said.

"Well, you're a tourist too," Molly replied.

"Actually," the quiet, blue haired girl interrupted, "my mother lives in L.A. I'm pretty sure her apartment complex is nearby. She's a world renowned doctor. As a matter of fact, she has quite a few movie stars as patients."

Serena gasped. "You must mean Dr. Anderson!"

Amy raised an eyebrow at her. "Seeing as my last name is Anderson, you are correct. There's no need for the mock surprise, Serena," she said in an even tone.

Serena shook her head. She really was surprised though. She knew Amy's last name was Anderson, but Anderson was a pretty common last name. How was she to know that her doctor's daughter attended her school? Then there was also the suspicious smile Artemis gave her. It was obvious the white haired man knew who she really was and found her transformation laughable. She caught her reflection on the glass that showed the microphone in the connecting room. Her hair was still the hideous brown, but she could see her blonde roots showing. She had to have that fixed soon.

Maybe Luna chose Orcyrde Academy for a reason? At first, Serena had thought her manager chose the school randomly amongst the local private schools in California. Now her suspicions were raised. There were two connections from her old way of life. She was made Mina's roommate, despite her wanting a roommate at first. It then turns out Mina had a manager of her own, who turns out to be Artemis. Everyone in Hollywood knew Luna and Artemis was a couple. They were considered the power couple, as well as bitter rivals amongst the agencies.

Then there was a new connection she had just discovered. Amy Anderson, daughter to the brilliant Dr. Anderson who was her doctor since before she could walk. It was possible Dr. Anderson and Luna got together for lunch and discussed various schools. Of course her doctor would recommend Orcyrde if her own daughter attended the place.

She sighed. Her head was starting to hurt from this new discovery. Turning to Raye, she too seemed surprised.

"Your mother is my doctor," Raye said in amazement.

Amy nodded. "She's one of the best. A lot of the famous stars want only the best. It's my dream to someday become a doctor and follow in my mother's footsteps."

"You're the smartest girl in school! You'll be a great doctor," Mina said cheerfully.

"Thanks," she said meekly.

-- -- -- --

The teens strolled around the city that was filled with well dressed people dressed in various designer outfits and holding the latest phone models in their manicured hands. To Serena who grew up in this type of environment, she could feel the embarrassment coming from the others. She herself felt like trash next to the teenager who walked by them, holding a bright green Balenciaga bag and a pair of snazzy Chanel shades.

The fact was though, the group all came from rich families themselves. Serena of course, was the supposed poor one on an academic scholarship. Yet the group was in beach gear of all things, and wearing baggy t-shirts or shorts. Raye stood out like a sore thumb, even with the baseball cap on. Her long, violet tinted hair was a dead giveaway to those wanting to see a celebrity in Hollywood.

So while the girls and Melvin felt self-conscious on their ragged appearance because of all the stares, said stares were actually for the incognito super model walking the cement streets under the fading sunlight.

Serena pulled away from the group and walked behind everyone, making sure her large hat covered most of her features as she stared down at the group. She should have known Raye would attract attention, even under disguise.

A snap of a camera, followed by a bright light, confirmed her suspicion. The paparazzi were like hawks when it came to star spotting. She inwardly cursed and went in between Lita and Mina, hoping the two striking girls would be more interesting to look at than her. She willed herself to be invisible and wished she had Amy's calm demeanor.

"Shit," Raye mumbled as she took control and began walking faster towards the nearest restaurant to hide in. The rest kept up her pace.

"Raye!" a few of the paparazzi called a few feet away. "There's word that you've broken up with Chad, heir to supposedly millions—,"

"Is it true your best friend, Serenity, has quit acting?"

"There's rumors Serenity has ran away from home? Do you know where she is?"

Serena could feel her cheeks turn pink as the paparazzi barraged Raye with a bunch of questions concerning her. As if she'd quit acting. Acting was her life. And running away? Not likely. Why would she want to run away if she lived such a privileged life style?

"This is so awesome," Mina whispered to Lita as the all continued their brisk pace towards the unknown restaurant none but Raye seemed to know of.

"I know! We're so gonna be in the magazines tomorrow! How cool!" Lita replied back.

"More like the tabloids only," Raye whispered back, trying not to move her lips that much. "They just want to know of Serenity Blair, mostly."

"Oh man, that's right! You're best friends with Serenity Blair! Do you think we could possibly meet her? It doesn't have to be today of course. Only if she isn't busy, obviously," Molly added.

"Is it true? Is Serenity giving up acting? Nooo! She can't do that! Say it isn't so!" Lita nearly sobbed.

Mina stayed quiet, surprising the rest of the group but comforting Serena. Mina gave Serena a small smile before clearing her throat and gaining the attention of the rest of the group. "Sheesh, you guys are worse than they are. We're Raye's friends. Stop acting like the paparazzi and let's just have fun today, alright?"

Molly and Lita both looked shameful.

"Mina's right. Sorry about that, Raye," Lita said.

Molly nodded. "Yeah. We have tendencies to get star-crazy."

"More like star-obsessed," Raye grumbled, but accepted the apologies none-the-less.

Author's Note: Sorry for not updating soon enough. I blame it on all the partying and present opening and testing taking. :D Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! That sure made my day. –gives all of you strawberry cake from Chinatown- yummies! Anyways, sorry if this chapter isn't that great, but I do hope you enjoyed all the same. Darien will show up next chapter, no worries. Can't forget about Darien of course. I really didn't want to end it there, but I'm leaving in a few hours for Hawaii –squee- and I doubt I'll actually write while I'm there. Feedback greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading so far.