Since I already posted Chapter One, I figure that I might as well post Chapter Two as well! If you haven’t read Chapter One, I suggest you do! I hope you like Chapter Two!
The following morning started like any other. I woke up and traded showers with Laurie, then went to breakfast. Ordinarily I would have chosen a table with people at it – I liked to eat meals with people from all over the ship – but my thoughts were still whirling from the night before. I chose an empty table by a window and sat down. I ate slowly, looking out at the water. It was still raining lightly and the sky was darker than usual, but it was all so different from last night that I started to wonder if maybe I had just been dreaming. It all seemed even more ridiculous and impossible than it had last night.
A mug thumped down next to me and I turned to greet whoever had joined me. I was shocked to see that it was Dani. He looked tired, but otherwise showed no sign that he had fallen into the ocean less than twelve hours ago. “I can’t believe you lied to me,” he said.
I realized that he wasn’t talking to me and looked up and saw that Mariana was settling in across from us.
“I didn’t lie; they had plenty of melon when I came up earlier. If you could get out of bed at a reasonable time you could have had some.” Mariana looked at me and smiled. “Good morning, Jen. I’m Mariana by the way.”
“Hey, Jen,” Dani said. He turned back to Mariana. “There is nothing reasonable about seven in the morning!” He chugged his entire mug of steaming coffee in a few gulps.
“I get up every morning at six for swim practice,” Mariana said.
“So? I get up at five for crew. You don’t see me bragging.”
Mariana stabbed a pineapple slice with her fork and glared at Dani. “You get up at five at home, but complain when I try to wake you at seven?”
“Crew only takes two hours. I’m in bed before eight and I never have class before noon. If you wake me up at seven here then I have to stay up all day.”
Mariana pointedly turned away from him. “So, how are you?”
“I’m fine,” I said. Seemed like their honeymoon wasn’t off to a harmonious start.
Dani mumbled something about coffee and got up with his empty mug.
“You swim on your school team?” I asked. I had been so occupied with Dani I had forgotten that Mariana had been dressed for swimming last night. Maybe she had been planning on diving off of the ship too.
“I did. I was actually doing a little kid coaching thing this spring. Kids are fun.” Well, she was perfectly willing to talk about that. I had a feeling she’d be a lot less forthcoming if I asked about last night.
“Kids are a pain,” Dani said. He sat back down and took a sip of coffee.
“You love little kids, don’t even lie,” Mariana said. I hoped I hadn’t started another argument.
“Ember and Catalina? Yes. Random brats on the street? No.”
“Ember doesn’t count a little kid anymore, you know.”
“Don’t remind me,” Dani groaned.
I ate slowly, hoping to learn more about them. Dani seemed content to drink his coffee quietly and Mariana ate. I looked out the window, the rain was picking up and the sky was darkening. The waves looked a bit ominous.
“Very Poseidon Adventure, isn’t it?” Dani asked.
I turned and saw that he was looking out the window over my shoulder.
“Very what?” Mariana asked.
“Poseidon Adventure,” Dani said, like it was obvious. “With Roddy McDowall?” Mariana shook her head. “How have you never seen…oh forget it.”
The two argued about Dani’s apparent bad taste in old movies until the bell for Latin American History sounded. I left the table before them, but heard them behind me all the way to the classroom. I sat next to Laurie in our usual place and was relieved when Dani and Mariana veered off toward the other side of the room.
“Mind if I join you?” asked a deep, gravelly voice.
Laurie and I turned toward the speaker. It was Football Guy. Up close I could see that his eyes were dark, dark brown and his hair wasn’t just shaggy, but messy.
“Sure,” Laurie said. “I’m Laurie, this is Jen.”
“Cheers,” he said, sitting down. “You can call me TS.” He had a slight accent that I couldn’t place.
Laurie giggled at him and I rolled my eyes and pulled out my notebook. We didn’t talk during class. When it was over Laurie lingered behind to talk to a friend.
“Gotten a reply from Jon?” I asked TS as we walked toward the door.
He looked surprised, but then laughed. I noticed that the very tip of his tongue poked oddly out of the corner of his mouth when he did. Instead of answering me he just turned out of the classroom and headed down a nearby stairway. I considered going after him, but decided I didn’t want to be late for class. Tardiness was a bit harder to get away with when your classes were all on a ship. I turned away from the stairs and started toward the back of the ship. My next class was on the same deck, but all the way aft, while the Latin American History classroom was all the way forward. I had only just started walking when someone fell into step beside me.
“Picked a plant to study in Panama?”
I suppressed a groan. Charlie.
“Not yet,” I grumbled.
“Me neither. I’m just going to see what plants spark my interest once we get there.”
I grunted in agreement and we continued in silence. I sat next to Carrie in class, but to my dismay Charlie gave up his usual desk near the door in favor of one closer to me. And here I’d woken up this morning wondering if it really had been a dream. The fact they were all practically stalking me proved that I really had seen something strange, something they didn’t want other people to see. An hour and a half later I hurried out of the classroom, only to have him walking right next to me again.
“What’s your next class?” he asked.
“Ancient Latin American Cultures,” I snarled.
“Getting lunch first?” We all got a break between the first two and last two classes of the day.
“I’ll join you for lunch then.”
He didn’t seem at all concerned that I was practically running down the halls. I stomped down the stairs to the Deck Five dining room, grabbed a small lunch, and ate in silence. Charlie sat next to me and read a textbook without a word. When I stood back up and started for my next class he was right behind me.
“I know what you’re doing,” I said finally.
“Escorting you to class like a gentleman?”
I glanced at him as we walked and glared. “You’re following me. All of you. Dani and Mariana and that big guy.”
“Whatever. You’re trying to make sure I don’t tell anyone what I saw last night.”
Charlie smiled at me. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I stopped outside my classroom door. “I wasn’t going to tell anybody. I’m still trying to explain what happened to myself. But, now that you’ve all gotten weird and stalkerish on me, I just might start talking.”
Charlie grabbed my arm and tugged me to face him. “Don’t!”
The weird thing happened to his eyes again, but this time his face was hardly two feet from mine. Flashes of orange and red flared in his irises and I was sure that this time it wasn’t a trick of the light. My arm felt uncomfortably hot where his hand was.
Trying to ignore the strange thing his eyes were doing, I forced a sweet smile. “Too bad none of you are in this class with me; it’ll make it awfully hard to spy.”
The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile and his eyes faded back to red-brown. “Don’t bet on it,” he whispered. Then he released my arm, waved, and strode away.
This was getting a bit creepy. I really wasn’t planning on talking; what I had seen sounded crazy even to me. But, I knew that I had really seen something. The fact that they were all making attempts to keep tabs on me made me even more convinced that whatever I had seen was as strange as I thought it was. I opened the door to the class and went over to my seat. I glanced up to see if the Professor was there yet and froze.
Thomas was leaning against the Professor’s podium talking to him.
“Thank you very much,” Thomas said with a smile.
The Professor waved him away and Thomas crossed the room and sat down next to me.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Thomas smiled at me. “I heard you’re watching a video on the Aztecs and asked if I could sit in.”
“What about your class?” He was actually skipping class to keep an eye on me. I was getting more than a little creeped out.
He shrugged. “I’d rather watch this.”
I knew my mouth was hanging open, but I didn’t really care. He pulled out a notebook without another word and adjusted himself so that he could see the TV. I spent more of the class glaring at him than I did watching the video. He looked a lot different in the light than he had last night. His eyes were somewhere between gray and green, but the color was muted, almost dull. His skin was a bit pallid like he didn’t get out much, and I hoped he was planning on using sunscreen when we got to the equator. Now that it was dry I could see that his hair was light brown and, without the rain matting it down, it was a totally different style, not at all emo like I had thought. His bangs fell almost neatly across his forehead, not quite long enough to be in his eyes, and it was slightly longer in back. I hated to admit it, but now that I could see him in better light he was cute. Really cute, actually. If he put on a little more weight and got a light tan he’d be really handsome. But, I reminded myself, he was here basically spying on me which made him about as unattractive as a guy could be.
“Can I get a real answer?” I asked when class ended.
“Of course,” Thomas said, as if he actually intended to give me one.
“Are you going to follow me to my next class?” It wasn’t the question I wanted to ask, but I wanted to make sure he was capable of answers.
“Sure, I don’t mind walking with you to class.”
“Here, I’ve got that.” He scooped my books from my hands before I could protest and started walking.
“What were you doing in my class?”
“Watching a video, I told you that.”
I sighed, then sighed again when he turned down the hall to my next class without stopping to ask me where it was.
“Look, I know you’re following me around to make sure I don’t tell people about last night, but this is weird enough as it is. You can at least tell me how you know my schedule.”
Thomas shrugged. “Mariana’s a work-study student. She helps out at the Student Life desk, so she has some extra computer access.”
I almost stopped short. “And she what? Looked up my class schedule?”
For some reason, confirmation that they had put extra effort into monitoring me was even more unsettling than the paranoia that they might have. Thomas stopped without prompting in front of my Spanish classroom and handed my books back.
“Enjoy class. Adios.” Without another word he turned and headed back the way we had come.
I walked in and sat down, dropping my books heavily on a table. “Well, I’d say this is a pleasant surprise, but it isn’t a surprise and it’s not at all pleasant. What’s your story? Flunk out of your Spanish class?”
Dani chuckled. “I was feeling seasick this morning and missed mine. Your teacher is kindly letting me make it up this period.”
“How generoso of her,” I said dryly. I didn’t even bother asking Dani why he was skipping his other class. “And why do I get the feeling that you don’t get seasick?
Dani looked a bit nervous, then quickly covered it with a grin. Interesting. “We should get started before the teacher yells at us for speaking English. Como estás?”
“Aww, por qué?”
“Por qué do you think?”
When class ended I gathered my books and left the room. Dani followed wordlessly.
“How do you say creepy stalker in Spanish?” I asked.
“Yo no se,” Dani said.
We headed aft toward the staircase to Deck Seven and spotted TS going down it.
“Have you seen that?” he asked, pointing to the wall behind him. The walls on every landing between decks were plated with glass and had a different poem painted on them. I had stopped to read them all, they were pretty neat. One side was written in English and the other looked like the Greek alphabet.
“Yeah,” I said. “Ocean-y poems.”
“Glanced at it,” Dani said.
TS grinned and once again the tip of his tongue stuck out. I couldn’t decide if it was almost cute in a weird, funny way, or just weird. “Better read it again.”
Dani frowned and hurried up the first half of the stairs to the landing. I followed and stood next to him as he read it.
“What?” he suddenly yelled. He looked back and forth from the English side to the Greek side. “Why would you do that?”
TS started laughing and his tongue lolled out a bit more.
“Seriously,” Dani said. “That ruins the entire verse!” He glared at the wall. “What kind of an idiot translated this?”
“I’m so glad I’m here for this,” TS laughed.
Dani turned and said something to him in another language. TS chuckled and replied. Whatever he said made Dani roll his eyes and start up the second flight of stairs.
“Cheers,” TS laughed. “Bye, Jen,” he added to me as he headed back down the other steps.
Curious, I hurried after Dani. “Do you speak Greek?” I asked when I caught up.
I looked at his dark hair and tan skin with a fresh perspective. “Are you from Greece?”
“Oh. You don’t have an accent.”
Dani shrugged. “I moved to the states a long time ago.”
He pushed open the door to the Deck Seven exterior deck and we went outside. It was still raining so I ordered hot chocolate and settled into a chair. Dani went out from under the overhang that covered half of the deck, but stayed near me. He dropped his elbows onto the railing and looked out over the water, ignoring the light rain. After a minute he closed his eyes and raised his head, letting the rain splash onto his face. He looked oddly content.
“Aren’t you cold?” Seeing him getting rained on in just a t-shirt was making me shiver.
Dani shook his head. I sipped my hot chocolate and thought about the night before. I had never really had a wild imagination and was starting to wish that I did. Judging from their behavior today I had clearly witnessed something important and secret, but couldn’t begin to imagine it. Even though he obviously had gone overboard, I still couldn’t figure out how he could possibly have gotten back on the ship.
“Did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt?” Dani asked, looking at me in surprise.
“When you hit the water.”
Dani looked at me critically, as if wondering how much to really tell me. His eyes looked a lot lighter and grayer than their usual cheery blue. I would have thought it was just an optical illusion from the gray sky, but I noticed that flecks of grays and blues seemed to be moving in his eyes, almost like gentle waves.
“Yeah,” he said finally, then shrugged. “Didn’t kill me though, so no worries there.”
“No. Falling off of a ship didn’t kill you.”
Dani rolled his eyes. “Just forget it. Really.”
I didn’t stay on the deck as long as I usually did. Dani followed me back to my room and I stopped outside of it.
“I’m not going to tell anyone from inside my room,” I said. “Laurie isn’t even here. Besides, I’m not planning on telling anyone anyway. But, you know, the more you guys follow me around the more curious you’re going to make me.”
He hummed under his breath. It looked like he was annoyed, but the hum was oddly lyrical. Now there were bits of darker blue in his eyes, swirling with the lighter blue. I didn’t care that it wasn’t physically possible; his irises were actually moving. “See you at dinner then,” he said before heading back down the hall. I stared after him for a moment. I’d never seen anybody with eyes that did that. No, I realized; I had. Charlie’s eyes were weird too.
I slammed my door behind me; at last, I was free. At least until they forcibly joined me for dinner. But my freedom didn’t last. I growled when someone knocked on the door just a few minutes later. I opened it and was disappointed, but not surprised, to see Thomas.
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