Aqua found herself staring at the boy coming up the stairs of the school. She never saw him around before, and there was something about him that seemed familiar. She felt the necklace that hung around her neck, a dolphin given to her by her mother before she died and chewed on the gold link. Was he hot? He looked hot, from where she sat in her Bio class. They were learning about aquatic creatures, but it was something she already studied with her dad, who was a marine biologist.
"Ms. Lawrence! Get out of your head and into the classroom, please. This is important."
The class giggled, but Aqua just smiled at them and focused on the lecture, but the image of the new guy weighed heavily on her mind.
When Biology was over, she went to her locker, which was blocked by her best friend Kara.
"Your face suggests that you saw him as well?" She raised an eyebrow as she looked at her nails.
"I did. What did you make of him? Nice? Mean? Jock? Geek?"
Kara sighed. "He's a swimmer, judging by his lean, muscular frame. He's most definitely going to join the swim team, which then means you'll be seeing me much more often at the pool," Kara smiled, but it faded quickly as she stared over Aqua's shoulder. "Oh my god-he's coming this way!"
Aqua made a move to look, but Kara grabbed her and forced her to look at her locker.
"Hey, ladies. This locker taken?" The boy smiled, revealing pearl white teeth and dimples in his cheeks. He was very good looking, with styled dark hair and blue-green eyes that reminded Aqua strangely of the ocean. And Kara was right about the body. It was the lean frame of a swimmer's, but it was muscled up as well.
"No, it isn't. You can have it," Aqua smiled broadly as he placed his books in his locker. "So where are you from? You're not from around here, that's for sure."
The boy smirked. "What makes you say that?"
Aqua shrugged. "Intuition. So you going to answer? Or do I have to go all Spanish Inquisition on you?"
He smiled again as he closed his locker, and Aqua noticed a pair of trunks in his hands, much to her delight. "I'll make you work for it. Do you swim?"
"Are you kidding me? Aqua was practically born in the water. She owns the pool," Kara smirked and draped an arm around Aqua's neck. "She's state champ since she flopped onto the deck 17 years ago."
The boy looked at Aqua strangely, his eyes finding the necklace that dangled from her neck. "I believe you. Are you trying out for the team after school? I'd love to see you swim...if that didn't creep you out or anything," he chuckled.
"I'm team captain, so I don't have to try out. You, on the other hand, have to impress me with whatever you think will get you on the team," Aqua beamed as the boy smiled and flung his trunks over his shoulder. "So do you think you have what it takes?"
"I know I have what it takes," he laughed and offered her his hand. "I'm Sebastian. Sebastian Reef."
Aqua's face was a huge question mark at the hot boy's last name, but her mind was racing much too fast to even poke a joke at it. "Sebastian. I think I'll be the judge of that." She took his hand, and almost yelped as a current of some kind passed through his hand and into hers. Sebastian gaped at his hand for a moment before looking back up at her. Her hand was numb and tingly, but did his feel the same?
"Um, hello? Lovebirds! We're going to be late for class if you keep staring at each like dead fish on the deck," Kara pat Sebastian on the shoulder. "See you at the pool, Bastian. Hope you get on the team! I'll root for you!"
Aqua was still rubbing her hand, even in English class. It tingled less, but she could still feel something. What the hell shocked her? Did he have one of those joke shockers or something?
A piece of paper collided with her head. Turning, she saw Kara's hand covering her mouth and was pointing to the clock.
Aqua understood. "Ms. Harris? May I be excused? I have to-"
"Yes, yes. Swim team. Go on then," Ms. Harris didn't seem too pleased, but everyone knew that she was always the one that was screaming the loudest at the competitions.
Aqua nearly ran to the change rooms, where there were already several of the regulars from the past 4 years changing. They smiled enthuastically when Aqua rushed in and laughed, just as excited as she was to see both the new guy and to see the others guys that were trying out.
Aqua slipped into her blue bathing suit, the one that her father said matched her eyes, and stepped out of the change room with her clipboard. She was pleased with the overall turnout, but now it was make it or break it. Make it or drown, like their coach always said.
"Okay! May I have your attention! First, I want all the girls to take their places on the diving boards and ready yourselves for the 50m swim. Breaststroke."
The guys laughed. "I'll do a breastroke for them!" One of them hooted, and they all broke out into laughter.
Aqua ignored them and set her stopwatch to 0:00. "You ladies ready?" The swimmers nodded. "On your mark...get set..." She blew into her whistle, and the girls dove from their boards and into the water. The boys hollered and hooted for their favorite, but Aqua tuned them out. All she could hear was the beautiful rush of the water as it moved in the pool and imagined the cool touch of it on her skin.
The buzzer went off, and the scoreboard revealed what lane came in first place, and second, and so on. The girl who came in first squealed with joy, smirking proudly up at the awaiting boys on the boards.
"Hey, Aqua, you think I can beat your record?" One of the boys, Daniel, said. He was a tall and gangly 9th grader, and this was his first time trying out.
"You never know, Danny. Just have to keep an open mind, hmm?" Aqua smiled up at him as he revealed a huge white smile. "Okay! On your mark...get set..."
Everyone turned to see the new boy, Sebastian, rushing over to the dive boards and step up on it. Aqua nearly choked on air as he passed her, his gorgeous body making the girls reel on the bleachers. As he climbed onto the board, Aqua noticed a jet black tattoo on his right shoulder blade, shaped like coral reef.
"Sorry I'm late. I was thirsty..." Sebastian fixed his goggles on over his head.
"And what, you stopped to drink the Pacific Ocean?" Jeremy, an all around jock, snorted through his noseplugs. "Come on, Flipper. Let's see what you're made of.
Sebastian smiled as he stepped up on the dive board and put his goggles on. He glanced over at Aqua and nodded.
"Okay! This is for real this time. On your mark...get set..." She blew into the whistle.
The boys hit the water, and Aqua watched them move.
Especially Sebastian. He was flying through the water, and when the clock hit 0:07 seconds, the buzzer went off. The others went off after 10 more or so seconds.
"What the-" Jeremy glared at the clock, then at Sebastian. "You son of a bitch, you jumped before she even blew, didn't you?!"
Aqua stepped between the two boys before a fight broke out. "He didn't. You all jumped at the exact same time, if not a little off." She looked over at Sebastian, who had gotten out of the water and was drying his hair off in a towel. "You. You were absolutely brilliant! Where did you learn to swim like that?"
Sebastian shrugged. "It's in my blood. My whole family were swimmers, so I guess it passed on to me. Why, is 7 seconds good? Because I can go faster-"
"Whoa, hold it. Faster? Geez, Sebastian, my record alone is 12 seconds and you beat that like it was nothing. What are you, half fish or something?" Aqua giggled at her joke, but Sebastian didn't crack a smile. "Okay, that was a terrible joke. So are you in or out?"
Sebastian sighed as he eyed the pool. "Give me a day to think about it."
Aqua shrugged. "Whatever you wanna do. We don't usually post the results until two weeks time anyway, so you have plenty of time to think about it. I honestly don't see why not, though, your score was-" Aqua felt the tingling sensation return to her body, but this time, it was situated right where her necklace rest against her breastbone. It seemed to quiver on its own whenever Sebastian looked at it.
"Uh...I have to go. My parents will worry if I don't get home on time," he smiled, a droplet of water falling from his dark hair. "See you tomorrow?"
"Sure..." Aqua was still staring down at her necklace, which was tugging her in the direction that he was going. "Hey! Um...did you want to hang sometime? At my place? My dad's always out on the boat, so I have the house to myself."
Sebastian's eyes lit up. "I'd love that. What about later on? I just have to run home and drop off my books, and I'll be right over."
Aqua felt her heart miss a few beats. "Cool! Um..." She grabbed her clipboard and scribbled down her cell number and her address. "Here's my address. If you get lost or whatever just give me a text and I'll give you directions."
Sebastian smiled as he took the paper, but he was careful not to touch her skin this time, Aqua noticed. "Cool. Thanks for being so nice to me, Aqua. You really are a nice person."
Aqua blushed. "Thank you, Sebastian. You're nice too."
Sebastian smiled and draped his towel around his neck, heading to the men's change room.
"Eeee! Damn, Aqua, you got him wrapped around your finger!" Kara poked her on the shoulder and smiled. "He is on the team, right? I'll kill you if he isn't."
Aqua laughed. "He said he'd think about it, but what's there to think about? We could use a guy like that on the team. Fast, enthusiastic-"
"Late? A show-off? No thanks, Aqua. I'll pass on that guy. I don't like him," Jeremy flicked his hair at Kara, who screamed and backed away.
"I don't care if you don't like him. He's exactly what we need on the team," Aqua grabbed her own towel and began to head to the change room.
"I overheard one of the guys saying that he was at the water fountain..." Jeremy began, pausing at the wrong spots as usual.
"Aaaand?" Aqua urged.
"Aaaaaand, he was at the fountain for 10 minutes. Just gulping the water down like it's going out of style," Jeremy grabbed his own towel and stood next to Aqua. He towered over her, but being 5'6 did that when you were standing next to a guy that was 6'3.
"He did say that he was thirsty, Jer. Nothing unusual."
"Yeah, but he was, like, Godzilla thirsty, Aqua. My buddy said he'd never seen anything like it before," he half smiled and went into the men's change room.
"Godzilla thirsty...God, what have you been watching at night, Jeremy?" Aqua smirked to herself, but she couldn't deny the fact that something was up with the new kid.
And all the while, her necklace tingled against her skin.
"Dad! I'm home!" Aqua called out.
"Brilliant! Baby, I need you to come try something out for me!" A voice called out from the back of the house. Her home doubled as a lab that connected to an aquarium, which housed fish galore, a couple of sharks, a manta ray named Sunshine and a dolphin named Iris. Aqua absolutely loved it here. She could sit in front of the glass tanks for hours and not be bored.
"What's up?" She froze at the sight of ridiculous headgear her father had on his head. "Dad...what are you doing?"
"I almost had it! Iris's mind was just one thought away..." Perry cringed and threw a scrap of paper away. "Baby, I'm sorry I didn't make it to tryouts. I know how much you like me seeing you boss other people around."
"Dad!" Aqua giggled. "And how's Ms. Iris today? How's my baby girl?" She cooed at the dolphin, who opened its mouth in a dolphin smile and clicked away.
"She's much better today. What did you give her last night to calm her down?"
"Nothing," Aqua shrugged. "I sung her the old lullaby mom used to sing to me before I went to bed. She calmed down right away. Why?"
Perry ran a weary hand over his bearded face. "She was clicking it this morning when you went to school. Squealing and clicking the exact same notes. Want to listen?" He handed her a pair of headphones, and Aqua put them on. Her face lit up as Iris's beautiful voice filled her ears, singing every note perfectly. "You see? It's strange. I've never heard her sing or act like this before."
"She knew the words! Every word-she rememebered!" She giggled and rubbed the dolphin's nose. It squeaked in delight and spun around in circles.
"Honey...you talk like you actually know what she's saying..." Perry put away his equipment and eyed his daughter carefully.
"I...heard every word..." The doorbell ran, saving her from an awkward silence she knew was going to last forever. "I'll get it!"
"Be careful running by the pool! Henry hasn't been fed yet!" Perry sang out. Henry was the resident Great White and community bully.
Aqua raced to the front door and opened it. Sebastian stood in the doorway, a smile on his face. "Hey! You made it!"
"I did! Not only am I a fast swimmer, but I also drive like a maniac," he chuckled, stepping into the porch. "Nice place. I heard your dad is a marine biologist?"
"Yep. He's around back if you want to meet him," Aqua couldn't help but smile. Sebastian was a really nice, down-to-earth guy. Not to mention he was really, really hot...
"Dad! This is my new friend, Sebastian. Sebastian, this is my dad, Perry."
Sebastian stuck out a hand, and her father shook it. There was no reaction of a shock whatsoever on either of their faces, much to her surprise.
"Sebastian. What's your last name, son?" Perry hoisted scuba equipment onto a boat.
"Reef, sir. Sebastian Reef."
Perry paused for a moment. "Reef...that's certainly...different. Where are you from?"
Sebastian shrugged. "Here and there. My family moved around a lot, so I've been everywhere," he glanced down into the pool and smiled at Iris. "And who's this beautiful beast?" He laughed as Iris clicked and nodded her head. "Iris, huh? That's a gorgeous name for a gorgeous girl..."
Perry caught the boy talking to the mammal and sat down on the deck to watch, letting his legs dangle over the dolphin pool.
"How about we play a game, Iris? You fetch me your ball, and if you can balance it on your nose for 5 seconds, I'll give you a treat?" Sebastian winked at Aqua, who was staring at him in awe.
Iris squealed with excitement and raced over to her toys. She poked at the ball that was floating on the surface and balanced it on her nose for exactly 5 seconds. After she released the ball, she squeaked and spun around for her treat.
"Good girl! Here you go, as promised!" Sebastian threw her a piece of sardine and she squeaked happily before swimming around the pool.
Perry was in awe of the boy. "Sebastian...she understood every word you just told her. How?"
Sebastian shrugged. "Dolphins are very intelligent creatures, sir. They're smarter than humans and have the ability to understand our speech. Whether they listen or not is completely up to them," he laughed as Iris splashed him with her tail. Aqua giggled and splashed the mammal back out of fun. Her hand brushed against Sebastian's again, but this time the shock was so powerful that Iris squealed with fright and swam to the other side of the pool. The fish in the surrounding tanks began to freak out, and poor old Sunshine, who never made a peep for months since he'd been there, moaned pitifully and whipped up sand with his tail.
"What...what just happened?" Aqua whispered, watching as her father rushed around and tried to calm down the fish.
"You..." Sebastian began, and once again she saw him eying the necklace. He swallowed and shook his head. "Can't be. That's impossible..."
He muttered for several seconds before Aqua grabbed his arm, and the shock passed through them again. She could hear her father groan in protest as the fish acted up again.
"Why does this keep happening?" She hissed.
Sebastian shook his head. "No. I can't. You're not her. I know you're not," he squirmed out of her grip and headed for the front of the house. Aqua could hear the front door open and close, and she closed her eyes to prevent the tears from falling.
"Honey? Aqua, what's wrong? Did he say something to you? Did he-"
"I'm fine, dad. He just panicked when the fish flipped out, thought it was something he did. That's all."
Perry frowned and rubbed her shoulder to comfort her. "If you say so, hon. Remember, I'm here to talk. And speaking of talk, what are your plans for your big 18th birthday tomorrow? Know what you're doing yet?"
Aqua shrugged. "Might just chill here with you. Kara's going out of the city for a week and everyone else I don't really want to have anything to do with."
Perry nodded. "It's up to you. I don't mind chilling with you. I can be one of the cool kids, right? I'm down with that."
Aqua giggled. "Oh my god, dad, don't ever say that again! That sounded so weird coming from you!"
Perry laughed and kissed her forehead. "My Aqua. All grown up and ready to take on the world..."
Aqua said nothing to this, only because the tingling in her necklace started up again and Iris began to sing the lullaby.