Growing Up

DoubleKK

A/N: Hopefully time between updates will be shortening sometime in the future.

After six hours of being trapped with Zack in his piece of shit boat, I had finally made it.

We pulled into a harbour of sorts. Dozens of boats, all significantly nicer than Zack's, were docked in one area. Fishing boats, speed boats, and one enormous yacht I couldn't help staring at. It was one of the one's rich people are always depicted as having on TV; big, white, and intimidating. It was the yacht we docked next to, causing our broken down thing to look more pathetic than it already was.

As Zack hopped out of the boat and starting securing it, I took the time to look around. There were so many people. Many were just sitting on their boats, drinking beer or tanning, and I could see a street up from the harbour that was just bustling with bodies. It was mind boggling for someone like me, who had grown up in a town with less than thirty inhabitants. I mean, I had been to the mainland before. But the fact that it was so...populated, always overwhelmed me.

"Whew," I said, shielding my eyes from the blinding sun. I hoped there were sunglasses somewhere in my mess of a bag. "Sure is hot out."

"Yep," grunted Zack, tying off the final rope and motioning for me to get off. "You should have realized that before." he said, eyeing my jeans and hoodie.

He was right. It was California, and summer time. But hey, it wasn't exactly warm in Mineral Town at five o'clock in the morning. Shrugging off my hoodie, I grabbed my bag and manoeuvred through the mess to get off the boat. When I attempted to climb over the edge, what happened wasn't very surprising.

I mean, it was a very May-like thing to do.

I fell flat on my face.

I couldn't even get my hands out to break my fall, since they were full, so it was literally on my face. Splat, right upon the wooden deck. It didn't really hurt that much, but I could feel my cheeks flushing.

"Are you okay?" asked Zack, coming over to help me up. I gave him a mumbled reply. Two minutes in Santa Rhea and I had already managed to embarrass myself. I mean, people were looking. The rich snobs on the yacht weren't even trying to hide their laughter. I resisted the temptation to finger them.

After dusting myself off, I said, "Thanks for driving me Zack." I tried to sound as polite as possible. I just wanted to get the hell outta there.

"No prob." He answered. I frowned as he started to pull a few things out of the boat, including a large duffle bag. "Aren't you going back to Mineral Town?" I asked.

Zack looked surprised. "Nope. Didn't I tell you?" He put his things over his over-large shoulders and faced me. "I'm going to be here in California for a while, so you're most likely gonna have to find your own way back."

I blinked. "Oh." What, did I expect him to come pick me up whenever I called? "Okay."

"See you around, kid." Zack said with a half smile, and walked off the dock and to the street above. He disappeared into the crowd.

This is it. I'm on my own now. Pretending like I knew what I was doing, I grabbed my bag and walked up the way Zack had a couple of seconds ago, emerging onto a busy street. I couldn't have been standing there for more than two seconds when it hit me.

What the hell are you doing?

I swear, it was like a mini panic attack all over again; I thought I was going to start hyperventilating right there in the middle of the street. I mean, there I was – in a city I had no idea how to navigate, looking for someone when I didn't even know where to start, and no plan for getting home.

It was possibly the worst idea I had ever had.

And that's saying something.

Hey, you've probably been thinking that the whole time you've been reading this. Wow, this May chick is an idiot. Yes. Yes I am.

Where am I even supposed to go? What if I can't find him before the day is over? Where am I going to stay? How will I get home? What if I can't find him at all? What if it gets dark out and I'm wandering the streets alone and someone robs me and then I find Stu but he's having sex in an alley with some random hooker or chopped up in a dumpster?

Through the umpteenth panic attack of the last few days, I hadn't even realized I was walking down the street blindly. I had taken in just enough to realize that it was in front of a beach, lined with touristy places and surf shops. Which, of course, meant there were a lot of people. And since I was paying no attention to my surroundings, it wasn't long until these two factors collided. Literally.

Smack. I practically bounced off the person I had walked in to, falling hard on the pavement. I managed to spare my head, but my tailbone got the worst of it. I could practically feel an enormous bruise starting to form. "Oh my god, are you all right? I am so sorry!"

I looked up, squinting against the harsh sunlight to see the speaker. Once again, find sunglasses. Before my eyes had fully adjusted, I felt a pair of hands grab my wrists and pull me to my feet easily.

Now that I was standing directly in front of them, I realized the person the person who had knocked me down was a guy. A very cute guy. He had just-rolled-out-of-bed-but-probably-took-a-while-to-achieve blonde hairstyle and deeply tanned skin. His eyes were stunning; a bright green that rivalled Karen's. "Are you alright?" he asked again.

"Y-yes." I stuttered stupidly, a little put off by his attractiveness. I noticed he was still holding my wrists, so I quickly dropped them to my sides. He let go. "I'm fine."

He ran a hand through his surfer-esque blonde hair. "I should have been watching where I was going."

"No, it's my fault." Why I was starting a pointless argument with this guy, I don't know. "I don't even know where I'm going. I'm sorta lost."

...Why the hell did you just say that?

Seriously, I don't even know what came over me. Lost was not even the word for it. I should have just apologized and walked away, instead of acting like some helpless little girl. I was just contemplating on how to do that when the guy frowned and said, "Oh? Well, maybe I could help you find where you're going and take you there."

I blinked. He looked so sincere, so eager to help me that I felt like crying. Stupid, I know. But it was a great feeling – a mixture between relief and gratitude, I would say – knowing that out of all these strangers, one person wanted to help me. Well, technically he really couldn't do anything. But it's the thought that counts. "Well, actually, it's kind of a person I'm looking for. So it'd be hard to, uh, show me the way. But I appreciate it." I smiled to let him know I meant it.

I was expecting an 'Oh, alright' and that would be it. But no."What's your name?" He asked abruptly.

I was taken aback. Well, that was an odd placement for an introduction. "Uh, May."

"May," he repeated, grinning. "That's a pretty name. I'm Ethan."

Stupidly, one compliment on something as subject as my name had me flustered. Jeez. It was liked I'd been starved from male attention. "Thank you." I managed to say without sounding like a complete fool. It took me a second to realize he had his hand out for me to shake; I stared blankly for a few seconds before taking it.

"So," said Ethan casually. "Did you get separated from the person you're looking for, or what?"

"Actually, I...yeah. Yeah I did." Let's just go with that. "I just kind of lost him in the crowd. Now I have no clue where he went."

"He?"

"Yeah."

"What, is it your brother or something?"

"Uh, no."

"Boyfriend?" he said sceptically.

If I was going to flatter myself, I would say this was like one of those situations where a guy is hoping a girl doesn't have a boyfriend, so he treats it like he doesn't think she does...if that makes sense. It does on TV. "Uh..."

I don't know why I hesitated. I should have just said 'Yep.' And Ethan would give up on the small interest he had in me, if there was any in the first place. But even if it may not seem like it, I was still rather pissed at Stu. And this cute guy was kinda-sorta flirting with me, so really? I think my reasons are justified.

Okay, not really. But whatever.

But before I could even answer, Ethan interrupted with "What does he look like? Maybe I've seen him." I got a flash of his pearly whites again. Man, this guy smiled a lot. Almost as much as Kai.

I figured there was no harm in telling him, even though there was zero chance in it being any help. "My age, tall, dark-haired, gray eyes, sorta dimply smile?"

Ethan paused, a look of contemplation on his face. I took a moment to admire his tan skin and nice build. I noticed when I looked at his face that his nose was crooked, like it had been broken recently. After a second, he said, "I don't remember seeing anyone of that description." He smiled apologetically.

I wasn't surprised. You probably could have passed him eight times and not have taken any notice. I smiled at him anyway. "That's alright. I'm sure I'll find him eventually."

Again, I was just preparing on how I could leave politely, when he said "Hey, why don't you give me your phone number, and I'll call you if I see him or whatever?"

Wha...?

Dude, it doesn't just happen on TV. In real life, guys ask you for your phone number. And it happened to me!

...Okay, take a moment to laugh at my naivety.

Done? Alright.

Anyways, after getting over the shock that I might actually be getting hit on, I recovered. "Actually, I'm on vacation, and I don't have a cell phone."

"Parents won't get you one?" Ethan asked sympathetically.

"Yeah, it sucks." Honestly, it was so easy to just go along with the conclusions this guy came up with on his own. "Sorry."

"Do you want mine? In case you ever, you know, need help anything while you're here. Or wanna hang out something."

Holy shit. This is weird. I couldn't help it; I started blushing. I was so not used to adorable strangers showing interest in me. With Stu, it was just like best friends BAM cold strangers BAM whatever the hell you'd call us now. None of this back and forth flirting stuff. So, again, being completely retarded and disregarding the reason I was even in this stupid city, I responded, "Sure."

Ethan grinned and started to fish a pen and something to write with out of his backpack. Half of my brain was pleased, while the other half screamed at me for being such an idiot. I managed to tune out the angry side, though, because when I took the crumpled piece of paper with Ethan H. and a bunch of numbers scribbled on it, I gave him my best smile. He returned it with an even brighter one.

"Well, I guess I better get going." Ethan said, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. "Meeting some friends."

"Thanks for your, uh, help." I said.

He laughed. "What, you mean knocking you down and being completely useless? You're welcome, then." Then he did something that was totally bold, both scaring the crap out of me and kinda not at the same time; he reach out and grazed his fingertips down my arm as he began to walk away. "See you around, May."

"Bye." I watched his retreating form for a moment, and then looked down at the paper in my hand. Reality sank in then. I was probably never going to see Ethan again. And despite the thrill I had received from that conversation, I didn't really matter to me. I had bigger problems. I probably should've just chucked the number in the first trash can I saw, but instead I slipped it into my back pocket.

On the road again.

This time, I paid attention to my surroundings. Still had no idea where I was going, though. The street was utterly crowed, due to the fact that it was right next to the beach. Guy walked by carrying surf boards, accompanied by girls in small swimsuits and big sunglasses. Families with screaming children were trying to force them into their car seats, and the occasional person being pulled by a dog on rollerblades zoomed by.

It was terrifying.

I continued down the street anyways, figuring it had the most people, therefore having a chance of one of them being Stu. Pathetic reasoning, I know, but I had to pretend I had some sort of plan so I didn't break down in the middle of the sidewalk. It wasn't long before a couple of crucial problems occurred to me.

a) I was dying of heat in my clothes

b) I was in desperate need of sunglasses

c) I had to pee.

I tackled b) first, only because almost immediately I came across a shop with a display of sunglasses in the front window. I had fun trying on the different pairs, before selecting a pair similar to what I'd seen girls wearing all day; entirely too big for my face and giving me the appearance of a bug. The guy behind the counter looked like he had been recently smoking something, a far off look on his face as I paid.

The sunlight no longer caused me to squint like a half blind person when I walked out. I felt almost comfortable. For some reason, it seemed the glasses had given some sort of confidence or something. Maybe it was because I sorta fit in now. Except for the fact that I was in a dark pair of jeans that seemed to absorb heat, I looked like any other girl, instead of the hick I was.

Alright, problem c). Where can I find a bathroom.

Public washrooms where foreign to me. Where are they? Who can use them? Even with my knowledge of the outside world via excessive television, I still wasn't sure. They seemed to appear out of nowhere on TV. Consequently, the next half hour consisted of quite a bit of wandering and increased discomfort. I managed to embarrass myself once more by almost walking into a door of a shop just being opened. And it had to be by a couple of blonde, shorts-so-short-they're-practically-underwear clad sluts, who giggled nastily as I apologized. I wanted to punch them.

Eventually, I was in a more town-ish looking area away from the beach. I started to relax a little, seeing a bunch of houses and a wide opened field with a playground. But by now I was doing a pee dance. I was just by the playground, ready to give up and find bushes at any moment when I saw it. Something familiar, unintimidating.

A library.

Of course, it was nothing like Mineral Town's library. The building was about four times the size, for one, and it had actual people in it. But big, wall sized windows showed stacks of books, and couches for reading on. Best of all? Even from a distance, I could make out a sign depicting a little stick man and woman. Success.

The bathrooms were right at the front entry hall of the building. It felt great to be able to walk normally again. My relief was short lived. As I dug around for a change of clothes, I realized something.

Shit.

I, being the idiotic person that I am, had only packed one pair of shorts. And I'm on freaking coastal California. And it gets worse. In my frantic packing job, the pair I had grabbed were a pair of insanely short cut-offs. Ones I had declared ruined after snipping off too much of the legs of an old pair of jeans. Groaning, I slipped them on, my distaste increasing when they only came about two inches off my crotch.

But I had no choice. I stuffed my hoodie in my bag, fished out my flip flops, and left the stall. I stopped to wash my hands and look in the mirror. A girl with short-shorts, enormous sunglasses, and a grumpy face greeted me. Well, don't I just look like a regular city slut, now don't I?

I excited the bathroom, trying hard not too tug at the bottoms of my shorts. I felt really... exposed.

Well, since I'm in a library, center of information, I must as well try to learn something about navigating this city.

It was hard to resist going to browse through all the books they had. There had to be at five times more here than in Mineral Town. There was an entire wall of teen books, filled with those romantic comedy novels I adore. But I didn't have a library card, and couldn't spend all day reading. What I needed was a librarian. I, being mentally challenged, immediately started to search for someone who resembled Mary.

It took about thirty seconds for me to realize the flaw in this plan.

I figured my best bet would to be asking some random person, in the small chance that they were a librarian or knew where I could find one. I went for the oh-so-cliché choice, a middle aged woman in glasses reading at a table.

"Excuse me," I asked in my most polite tone. "Do you know where I could find a librarian?"

The woman looked up at me, blinking as she registered my question. "Um," she said unsurely. "You could try the information desk." She pointed. There was a big, round desk in the center of the library. And how did I miss that...?

"Alright, uh, thanks."

The librarian was pretty much the opposite of Mary. Tall, blonde, free of stereotypical reading glasses. She gave me a wide smile when I approached the desk she was parked behind. "Hello!" she said cheerfully. A little too cheerfully for my liking. "How may I help you?"

"Well," I said, a little put off by her overly happy attitude. "I'm kinda having issues getting around, and I was hoping there was some sort of tourist map I could get, or maybe just directions?" Directions to where, May? Idiot.

The woman smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry, we don't have any tourist maps, and I'm afraid I don't know the area well to enough to give you direction anywhere. I haven't lived here for very long." Noticing my look of frustration, she added, "But perhaps I could help you find a book with a map in it, or you could use a computer?"

I froze.

A...computer?


"Could you be quiet, please?" the person next to me hissed irritably.

"Sorry." I said, trying to contain my laughter. They continued to glare at me, like they had been for the past while. "I won't bother you again." I said in an overly sweet tone. The turned back to their computer, and I adjusted my headphones and concentrated on the screen in front of me.

The internet is, by the far, the most amazing thing ever invented.

You can find anything on there. It's crazy. Any information in existence, music, games, and best of all; videos. Did you know you can find pretty much any TV show on this site called YouTube? They may be split into parts, but who cares? It's awesome. By the time the grumpy person next to me had told e to shut up, I had watched about three episodes of Friends. (Who doesn't laugh out loud at Joey's hilarious faces?)

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Wasn't she supposed to find a map and continue the search for Stu? Yes, I was. But honestly? I had never been on a computer in my whole life, and suddenly, here was a chance to try it. The peppy librarian had gotten me all set up, given me a pair of headphones in case I wanted to listen to audio, and parked me in front of a sleek black PC. How could I not go nuts with Google?

I just happened to realize at that moment how stupid I was being when I squinted at the tiny clock in the corner of the screen. It read 4:32. I actually leaned back in surprise. I had been there for almost four hours. A wave of panic hit me. I had made no progress in my search and had nowhere to go if I failed today. The thought of staying a hotel alone scared the crap out of me. I had to find him. Today.

Yes, I know how unlikely it was. But I had to try.

I pulled the headphones from my ears and did what I was supposed to do originally; find a map. I was able to locate one quickly through the wondrous power of Google. With a little help from the blonde librarian, whom I was beginning to grow fond of, I printed it out. Grabbing my bag and bidding her and the computer goodbye, I exited the library.

Once outside, I relaxed slightly. The sun was still blaring, with no signs of it beginning to grow dark out. I slipped my sunglasses back on. I still had time. Alright, I thought to myself. No distractions this time.

But alas, there was no need. I couldn't have taken more than six steps out the door when I saw it; the most amazing, beautiful, most relieving sights to ever meet my eyes.

Stu, standing across the street in the park.

It was probably the most unlikely, unbelievable, and unrealistic sight, also.

Let me tell you, at first, I was in major shock. I stopped mid step and stared. This is too convenient, I though suspiciously. That can't be him. But it was. There was no mistaking it. That was Stu Parker, standing about twenty feet away from me, in Bermuda shorts and sunglasses looking absolutely adorable. He was looking around, but he didn't seem to have noticed me.

So I did the most logical thing possible.

Well, maybe not logical. But certainly May-like. Which meant stupid and not well thought out.

I sprinted across the street and threw my arms around him.

Would've been really awkward if it was some random stranger. But it wasn't. It was definitely Stu. Right before I launched myself at him, a small, "May? What are you-" escaped. The rest was cut off by my bone crushing hug. I clung to him like my life depended on it. A few seconds later, I smashed my mouth into his. It wasn't even a good kiss, mostly clashing teeth, but I didn't care. It felt like I hadn't seen him in years, when in reality it was one day.

"Well," said Stu when I had removed my mouth from his and buried my face in his t-shirt. "That was not the greeting I was expecting when I next saw you."

This statement snapped me back to reality. Remembering how furious I was with him, I immediately detached myself, drew back my arm, and punched him in the stomach. "Idiot!" I yelled, loud enough that a nearby woman walking her dog looked over, alarmed. "You are such an idiot!"

Stu recoiled, but I moved with him, delivering a kick to his shin. "Ow! May, stop it!" he held out an arm to try and defend himself. I ignored it. I was pissed. All the anger that had seemed to fade away since I got here had now returned in the form of violence.

"You're...an...idiot!" I yelled, punctuating each word with a blow. His protests were lost as I screamed explicits, disturbing many people in the park. Finally, I reached up, grabbed a fistful of hair and pulled Stu's face level to mine. His gray eyes were distressed. "You, Stu Parker, have to be the stupidest person on the planet!" Then I released him and turned my back.

People stared at us while I fumed, until Stu broke the silence. "May," he said softly, sounding pained. As he should be. "I'm really sorry, but I don't really understand why you're so angry..."

For some reason, this only made me madder. I spun around, raising my hand to deliver a good hard slap to his handsome face... but I was stopped. Stu grabbed that wrist and the other, pinning them both to my sides. I struggled to free myself, but to no avail. "That's enough," Stu said, trying to sound firm, but kinda failing. "Stop abusing me and tell me what the problem is! Please." He added when he saw the look on my face.

I was tempted to kick him where it hurt, but I figured that would be going too far. I instead took a deep breath and tried to contain myself. "Did you not think to maybe check that I had left Mineral Town before hopping the god damn shipment boat?" I growled. "Did you?"

Stu looked confused. His grip on me loosened, so I shook him off. "What...what are you talking about?"

"I never left Mineral Town, you stupid jerk!" I yelled, and he retreated in fear that I would start beating on him again. "I was going to, but then I changed my mind, and when I came to talk to you, you were gone!"

"No," Stu said, clearly still puzzled and in very much in denial. "I checked. I checked your house, I talked to your grandpa. Zack's boat was gone!"

"Yeah, but I wasn't on it!" I said, frustrated. "You were too stupid to realize he was with a damn tourist and I was at our Goddess Pond! God damnit, Stu!"

For the first time, some anger showed on Stu's face. "Hey," he snapped. "Don't try to blame this on me. It's your fault for trying to leave in the first place!"

"My fault?" I screeched, pointing a finger at my own chest. More frightened pedestrians. "I would never wanted to leave if it weren't for you!"

"What, one fight and you take off?"

"It's not that simple! You were being awful!"

"You were being a child!"

"You told me to get out!"

"I meant get out of my face, not get out of my life!" He yelled in my face; we had gotten quite close now without even realizing. As always, I won the stare down. Stu turned, letting out an angry sigh and held a hand to his forehead. "I came after you, didn't I?" he said, his tone significantly softer. "The last thing I wanted was for you to leave."

His words had an effect on me, as per usual. I could feel myself calming down and softening towards him quickly. "I didn't want to leave, either." I said quietly.

"Then why were you going to?" he asked, spinning around to face me again. "Why were you going to leave me, May?"

A lump rose to my throat. "Because," I managed to choke out. "I was angry. And scared."

"Scared of what?"

"Scared of...of..." Tears were threatening to drip down my face. Ugh. How humiliating. "I don't know."

"Yes, you do."

"It's because you hadn't been talking to me for like four days and I thought you were freaking suicidal and suddenly you were talking to me but it was about all this serious stuff and combined with the fact that Grandpa had been talking about marriage which I was so freaked out by and then you were mad at me and I was just scared, okay!" My last words of babbling were lost on a sob.

All at once, he was there, arms around me. I sobbed freely into his t-shirt. "I'm here May, it's alright." He murmured into my hair.

Major déjà vu.

I clung to him until I felt my tears drying up. And yes, this was still in the middle of a sidewalk in Santa Rhea, in case you were wondering. When I pulled back, a dark patch the size of a lake remained on his shirt. "I'm sorry." I said.

"Me too."

I put my hands on either side of his face and pressed my lips against his. It was way better than our teeth-clashing kiss a few minutes ago. Kissing him still gave me cheesy butterflies in my stomach, and I didn't even feel awkward because of the fact we were in public. It was just me and Stu at the moment. When I pulled back, I rested my forehead against his. He smiled at me. Say it, say it, say it...After a few seconds hesitation, I whispered, "I love you."

It felt like a relief, was also a burden. I felt like saying it a thousand times over, but also screaming "No, I take it back!" right after. The latter even more so when he said,

"...What was that?"

You little shit.

His tone was innocent, annoyingly so. "You heard me." I growled.

"No I didn't."

"Yes, you did!" He was mocking me, and I hated him for it.

"Hey," said Stu, pulling back and holding his hands up defensively. "Not my fault you talked so quietly."

"Shut up!" I felt my face flush with anger and embarrassment. Stu knew I felt uncomfortable saying it. And he, acting like a child who annoyed everyone he came across, wanted to make me as awkward as possible. "You're...you're stupid!"

"Real mature, May."

"I LOVE YOU!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, right in his face. He recoiled, but then a satisfied smirk played across his lips. "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW, ASSHOLE?"

"Yes, I heard that."

"Good." I snapped.

He put his arms around me. My annoyance faded but didn't completely disappear. "You really piss me off sometimes, you know that?"

"Right back at cha, Mayflower." Stu said, kissing my forehead. "But I still love you too."

A/N: This chapter has been pretty much done for about a month now, but my laptop crashed and I had to get a new one. The next chapter is like...two thirds done. My goal is to finish it before the end of July.

Maybe August.

...I'm awful at goal setting.