Into The Light
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this fic!
The stone cut across the water of the lake, skipping five times before sinking into the depths of the water below. Jim sat on the dock, legs dangling over the water, while his fingers ran over the smoothness of another flat stone. It wasn't long before he set that one skimming across the water, too. Then he sat back, dejected, his green eyes hidden behind dark, tinted sunglasses.
Heavy steps alerted him before a weight sat down next to him. He didn't need to look at the newcomer. Jim knew who it was. "You got a talk too, huh?" he asked after a strained silence stretched out between the two friends.
"Yeah," Brian answered with a deep sigh. The conversation had been unexpected and, unfortunately for the two young men, disheartening. "As I was walking up here, I was wondering if your parents had the same talk with you." He studied Jim carefully and then gave a small nod. "Looks like they did."
"Without a doubt." His sigh was just as deep and full of youthful disappointment. He ran a hand through his red hair. "It seems our parents must be in complete agreement."
"Exactly." Brian picked up a stone and sent it across the lake, not quite as expertly as Jim's had been. It only made two skips before disappearing from sight. "This could be the one time where I don't agree with my parents, though. I'm not sure if they are right."
Jim continued to stare out of the lake. His shock had settled more into a discontented dismay. "I completely agree with you." His long legs swung off the dock, just barely missing the water below. His deep sense of honor wouldn't allow him to do anything but what their parents collectively wished. "I can't go against them, especially if your parents feel the same way."
"They made it very clear to me that they do." The excitement of graduating from high school and moving on to college had faded quickly. Being denied something that he really wanted to pursue had effectively killed it. It looked like it was going to be a long, torturous summer.
"It's crazy, isn't it?" He leaned back on his elbows and looked into the endlessly blue summer sky, which seemed to mock them with its cheerful brilliance. Not a cloud in sight. He muttered, "All this time has gone by where we have been content with our status, and, when we both finally think that maybe, just maybe, it may be time to move a little further ahead, we get slammed." It plain sucked having his hopes dashed, especially by people he loved and respected.
"All in the name of what's best for us." Brian gave a shake of his head and shaded his eyes. It would have been nice to have his sunglasses to block out the glare of the bright sun but he had forgotten them in his quick exit from the farmhouse. He eyed Jim carefully and asked, "Do you really think it's good for us?"
"Well, we get to focus on college, although I doubt that would have been a problem for either of us. We are both set in our goals." He hadn't bought that line of reasoning and had told his father that, with as much respect as he could muster. Matthew hadn't been surprised. Youth couldn't always understand the bigger picture.
"College will be a lot tougher than high school but I believe we're prepared for it." He had been ready to start his own dream forever and looked forward to beginning down the road that would eventually lead him into becoming a doctor.
Jim's goals were crystal clear, too. Start his schooling, achieve his masters and his doctorate, and then begin the process of opening his school. He had already decided on the perfect location. Ten Acres, right here in Sleepyside, right in his backyard. There was no place like home, after all. It was simply a matter of getting the credentials and the experience before he could fulfill his dream. He frowned a bit. "I couldn't imagine being distracted."
"Well, then there's the fact that they believe the age difference is too much right now and that we're a little more mature than the girls." Brian scrubbed a hand over his face. He hadn't been able to argue with the logic of his parents. "They're only fifteen."
Jim didn't answer, only thought back to an hour ago in his father's study. That had been the only argument Jim had been able to find a smidgeon of agreement with, although he wouldn't admit it to his parents or to Brian. He would be eighteen in the following month. He didn't want to agree with it. But what was a hair less than three years when you were certain you had already found the girl for you?
"So, here we are, unable to pursue the girls, and looking at a long summer ahead of us." It felt like his mouth was set in perpetual lines of discontent. Brian didn't like the feeling.
Jim shifted on the wooden dock and felt a slight flush stain his face. "I can't believe I'm sitting here, talking to you about this, when the girl I want to date is your sister." They had never shared their thoughts before, as if by some unspoken agreement they knew that it would be uncomfortable for the other, although both had clearly recognized the interest they had in each other's sister.
"Misery loves company, I guess." Brian gave a harsh laugh. "I'm doing the same thing." He thought about sweet Honey and how much he wanted her for a girlfriend. Their parents had effectively squashed that desire.
"There is hope, though," Jim put in sarcastically. The hope was only three years away. "My parents said that I'm welcome to ask Trixie out once she graduates from high school. And..." he stopped expectantly, waiting for Brian to continue.
"And I'm more than welcome to do the same with Honey," Brian supplied, a little scornfully. It seemed like they had the exact same conversation. "But not before. They told me that being in college is much different than being in high school. They want us to experience college while the girls get all that they can out of high school."
"The 'wonders of college,'" Jim chimed in with another uncharacteristic sardonic remark. It didn't sit well upon his normally cheerful demeanor but he needed some kind of an outlet for his disbelief and disappointment. "I personally liked that description from my mother."
"Moms said something very similar." A small line settled on his forehead. "I took it to mean that we're free to date anyone in college, but not the girls we actually want to date."
"They must have discussed together," Jim decided with a frown. "Can't you just see them, sitting in the kitchen at Crabapple Farm or having tea in the parlor at Manor House, and discussing what is best for us and Trixie and Honey?"
He could, very easily. It didn't take too much of an imagination to picture it clearly. "It sucks, all right."
It seemed he wasn't the only one saying uncharacteristic things. Jim had to laugh, the word 'sucks' coming from the last person he ever expected to say it. "Well, at least we hadn't mentioned anything to either Trixie or Honey before our meetings this morning."
That wouldn't have been good. Not known for her easy temperament in the face of any disappointment, Trixie's temper would have been unleashed. Honey would have handled herself better, her tact legendary and her personality more serene than volatile. He bit his lip. "We'll have to keep it that way, too."
There wasn't any other choice. Both respected their parents too much to do anything behind their backs. "Well, at least we're in this together." Jim clapped Brian on the back and threw his words back at him. "As you said earlier, misery does love company."
"That's something." They would be heading to NYU together as roommates and fellow freshman in a little over two months. They may as well be a little heartbroken together, too. Brian contemplated the summer ahead, then stood up with a small groan. "I guess I'd better get back to the Farm. I promised Moms I'd help weed the garden earlier today."
Jim looked at the blazing sun above them. It was just approaching the heat of the June day. "You might want to wait until later," he suggest helpfully. He couldn't imagine it would be comfortable working in the heat.
"Nah," Brian shrugged. "It'll give me something else to think about." Thinking was one of his favorite past times. He'd also be able to take out his frustrations on the innocent weeds. The distraction would do him good.
Jim waved goodbye to his friend and sat for a while longer. Finally deciding it was getting too hot to sit on the dock, he stood up and looked towards the Manor House. He reluctantly started forward, his feet finding the path with ease. His pace was slower than normal. He was dreading the first time he had to face his parents again. He didn't want to see the looks of sympathy they would be giving him.
A set of rapid footsteps came tripping down the path, alerting him to their presence a few seconds before a body barreled her way towards him. He had a moment to steady himself before the object of his affections crashed into him with a surprisingly strong force for such a petite girl.
"Oh, woe!" Trixie got out, her startled eyes looking into the impressive chest. She didn't have to lift her face to know who she had nearly run over. The infamous blush started its pink trail across her face and her heart started a slow, painful beat.
He savored the feel of her pressed against his body, the top of her head barely touching his shoulders, and held onto her waist in the pretense of steadying her for perhaps a little too long. Then, when her big blue eyes met his, he reluctantly let her go and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jean shorts, unsure what else to do with them. Although it was difficult, he attempted to fall back into their normal comradery. Luckily for him, she had no idea about his conversation with his parents or what his intentions had been. "What's the hurry, Trixie?" He was pleased by the normal tone to his voice.
She rocked back on her heels and released a small laugh, blissfully unaware of the turmoil swimming in Jim's eyes. "The usual, of course. I spent too long with Honey this morning. We exercised Susie and Lady early this morning. We wanted to go riding before it got too hot and then hung out in her room for bit." She rolled her eyes, making him laugh. "And, surprise, surprise, I'm late for my chores."
"I saw Brian a few minutes ago. He was on his way to help weed the garden." He didn't offer her why the two of them had been together.
"That would be one of my chores, too." She glanced up at the sky. Not a cloud to offer the prayer of shade. "But I don't think I'll have trouble asking Moms to wait on that chore until later in the day. It's dusting and vaccuuming for me, first. There's no use getting out of those. Believe me, I've tried."
He couldn't help it. She looked too adorable. He reached out and gave a tug to the wayward blonde curl that fell over her forehead. At least she wouldn't think anything of it. He always tested its buoyancy. It wouldn't be too hard to remain 'just friends'. But he seriously doubted if the look he was giving her could be termed 'fond' and was very grateful for the dark sunglasses. He'd have to work on that. "Good luck with that, Trix," he said, not sure which one he was actually wishing good luck to.
She gifted him with her easy smile and was trotting on down the path, trying to make up for lost time so her mom wouldn't be too upset with her. Jim watched her until she was out of his line of sight. Then, with a sigh that made him feel a little older than his nearly eighteen years, he turned toward his house and started the walk home.
Notes on the ages of the characters:
Not sure of the exact age of the Bob-Whites...it was a little confusing trying to figure it out so I went with my own thoughts. I hope I didn't mess it up too badly! I have Brian at 18, Jim nearly 18, and Trixie, Di, and Honey are 15. Mart and Dan would be 16. Thanks!