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Rock the Boat

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     Hal's sandaled feet kept balance on the edge of the ship as he leaned against the white railing. The wind blasted in his ears, exhilarating, bracing, powerful—

     "Hal."

     The air tasted like salt, like summer, like sun. And why wouldn't it? They were on a yacht. A real one! An actual expensive, impressive, yacht. Hal was actually made for this; he was built and designed for this, the very architecture of this yacht was in his blood, probably.

     "Oi, Hal."

     Hal was dressed to impress, his underarms peeking out just barely through his palm-tree-patterned three-quarter-length sleeve button-down. Massive sunglasses perched on his nose, blocking the salty air. The water was perfect, light catching the water like—like—light catching water okay? No need to get metaphorical.

     "Is he okay?"

     "Nope."

     Nothing could ruin this. They were on a yacht. They were on a yacht. Nothing could—

     "Hal it's freezing."

     Roy's voice cut through the frigid air, and reality crashed in.

     Hal's teeth chattered as he shouted, "I-It's summer Roy!"

     "It's January," Roy replied.

     Hal hung his head, his sunglasses tipping down his nose. It had started to run. He sniffed, once.

     "Summer is a state of mind."

     "It isn't, actually. Put this coat on."

     Hal groaned as Roy placed a ski jacket over his shoulders. He pulled it tightly around himself like a forlorn widow cast to the merciless oceanic cliff-side.

     "I thought LA weather was supposed to be mild all the time, I’ve gotta say, this is a shock," Roy's brother spoke up. He didn't seem shocked at all. He seemed a sort of general forlorn-sexy, in fact. His back was against the railing, and he was decked out in pure white suit jacket, leather pants, and neon scarf. His red hair stuck out against the dull grey of the ocean. Damn model.

     (Earlier, when they had first boarded and the cold hadn’t settled in, Roy and Jake had split off to check out the sides of the boat, and Alex lingered at the helm. The sun shone on all three of them and Hal had felt the strange, uncontrollable impulse to leap off the ship and become one with the ocean. There was just no way he was ever going to get Sar—A GIRL’S attention when his friends looked like that.

     Best friends with two models and an actor. What had Hal been thinking? If only Anise hadn’t had exams! They could have been regular humans together.)

     "Nah." Roy said. "There’s seasons, they're just subtle. Usually you don't feel them unless—"

     "—unless you're floating around in the ocean like we are," Jake finished.

     "Sailing," Hal corrected. He sniffed again. “Where’d Alex head off to?”

     “He’s pestering Captain about letting him steer for a while,” Jake answered.

     “Is it working?”

     “Absolutely not.”

     Captain was a buff no-nonsense Chinese guy with enough tattoos to make a graffiti artist sweat. Hal liked him a lot, but Alex...well. From the moment they’d met and Captain made some comment about Alex having a ‘good fighter’s walk’ the look on Alex’s face made it apparent Ambrosia and Jake would just have to step aside: he had a new favorite person.

     At least one of us is having fun, Hal thought. This had been a complete disaster from the set-up and Hal really only had himself to blame. He should have known that accepting a yacht from a family friend in the middle of “off-season” would have been a terrible idea. He should have done the research, but.

     But he had been so excited to have a reason to get everyone back in LA. He had contacted Roy before even talking to Captain, hell he had contacted Roy before he contacted the yacht owner. Pathetic. Hal had other friends— great friends even! Why was he still doing this?

     “—I’ll try to tear him away for you, Hal.”

     Jake was talking. Hal made himself focus, pushing his negative thoughts down.

     “Nah it’s fine! He’s having a good time out here in the Arctic! That’s good. Wouldn’t want to tear him away from that. Oh, I think I have some whiskey we can split. That should warm us up.”

     Something passed across Jake’s face there, but Hal couldn’t read it. Evidently Roy could, because he spoke up.

     “Go get him Jake, I’ve got something to show Hal here anyway.”

     “Huh?” Hal asked, but Jake was already heading below deck. Hal raised an eyebrow at Roy. Who was reaching for his…face?

     “What’re you— hey!”

     Roy spun Hal’s sunglasses in his hand. Hal blinked a few times to adjust to the light and was greeted with Roy’s unimpressed stare.

     He puffed out his chest. “What did you do that for!?”

     “You know we came out here for you, not the yacht, right?”

     Hal’s face heated instantly, and Roy cackled as he grabbed for his sunglasses, holding them out of his range.

     “Nope, Hal, you’re gonna listen. Hiding behind sunglasses is Alex’s thing. We’ve been looking for an excuse to get to LA for months now. You could have said there was a cool dumpster and we would have gotten on a plane. So cut the party-planning out, and just hang out with us. It’s not about the yacht. We don’t care.”

     Hal sniffed. It may have not been totally from the cold. Roy laughed, elbowing him until he cracked a smile.

     “It’s good to see you Hal.”

     “…You too, Roy.”

     A slap on the back, and Hal’s sunglasses were replaced on his nose. Alex’s head popped up from below deck.

     “Hey Hal, Roy! Captain says he has a whiskey stash below deck!”

     Jake’s voice echoed somewhere beside him. “I’m trying to quit!”

     “Drink water then!”

     “Hal will drink your share, Jake!” Roy offered, giving Hal a playful shove forward.

     “Hey!” Hal replied, stumbling, smiling.

     He was pretty damn lucky, after all.