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Dawn

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3 months 1 week ago - 2 months 4 weeks ago #31698 by Mikisha
Mikisha created the topic: Dawn
'Go ahead, Scott, hit me. I don't care.'

'Is that right?' The bigger boy sneered in Adam's face, then looked round at his circle of cronies. 'You hear that, guys? He's giving me permission.'

The punch still took Adam by surprise, and he barely managed to stay upright as he reeled from the impact. His vision blurred, dark around the edges, and his ears rang. Rough hands grabbed his jacket and slammed him against something. The lockers, he realised, identifying the rattle of padlocks. The face in front of him was a hazy blob, blurting words that sounded like he was underwater.

Scott. The bully was shouting at him. Adam focussed on Scott's eyes, pale blue in a mask of hatred. Why was he so angry? Adam never did anything to him. Everything in Adam's life was falling apart already, he didn't need this on top of everything else.

'This is nothing.' The words slipped out, unbidden, and Adam blinked as the world swam back into focus. Scott looked furious.

'Nothing, huh?'

Adam shrugged. He hadn't meant to say it, and the throbbing in his head certainly didn't feel like nothing, but now he'd said it, it made a weird kind of sense.

'I'm leaving town. This weekend. My dad's moving us to some tiny town in the middle of a desert and I'm gonna have no friends and nothing to do until college starts, which isn't for months. This? This is just you being a dick, because your life has no value unless you're spoiling the day for somebody else. You think we're all afraid of you, but we're not. We just avoid you the same we'd avoid a turd on the sidewalk.'

Scott loomed closer, his face red. 'Are you calling me… a turd?'

'Not even that. I could almost pity you, but fact is, I just don't care. I've got bigger things on my plate right now, and in a few days you'll be out of my life forever.'

Scott's momentary look of confusion turned to a vicious grin. 'That sounds like a challenge, runt. Maybe I should give you something to remember me by.'

Scott raised a fist, but Adam just smiled. The bully hesitated.

'You're the biggest, strongest, toughest kid in school, but when we're all grown up that won't mean a thing. I know the combination to your locker,' hissed Adam. 'I know the password for your email, I know where you lock your bike. This time tomorrow I'll be gone. What do you want me to do with my last day in town?'

The bully furrowed his thick brow and turned this over. Adam decided to push a little further.

'I know your secret.'

It was barely a whisper, but the bully was visibly rattled. He blinked, glanced quickly at his entourage, then back at Adam. He hid his panic quite well, and Adam wondered distantly what secrets the bigger boy was hiding. Probably steroids.

'Yeah, whatever, runt. You're not worth my time.' With one last slam against the wall, Scott backed off, apparently satisfied that he'd somehow 'won' the encounter. Adam heard him chuckling to his cronies as the group wandered away:

'One less runt in town, my work here is done.'


# # #


'So you're really leaving? Tomorrow? Isn't that, like, super-sudden?'

Adam sighed. 'Tell me about it.'

Stump was Adam's friend. Best friend, only friend. His name was Stewart, but it had somehow turned into 'Lumpy Stew' and then 'Stumpy Stew' and now everybody just called him Stump. In all honesty, it suited him.

'So how come you only just found out?'

'Apparently some factory needs a new manager in the world's biggest hurry, and they'll pay big money for somebody who can relocate on short notice.'

'That would normally be somebody without a family, though, right? You can't just leave school now! Exams are in three weeks!'

Adam rolled his eyes. 'Oh yeah, that's a bummer. I guess I'll have to fail some different exams in a different town.'

'I can't believe your folks would do this to you, though. Dragging you away from all your friends!'

'I tried that line. Mom says I'll make new friends, and Dad says leaving town is my best bet for finding a girlfriend, and that matters more than friends.' They'd actually said 'better friends', but Adam didn't repeat that. Stump's self-esteem was low enough already. Without Adam he'd be completely alone, and that didn't bear thinking about.

'We can stay in touch, though, right?' Stump tried a nervous smile. 'There's always the internet.'

'Jesus, I freakin' hope so. Can you imagine? Are there even still places that don't have internet?'

'Probably, especially out in the sticks. How did your dad find a place to live on such short notice?'

'He didn't. We're going to stay with my weird uncle Pat until he can find us a place to move into.'

'Weird uncle Pat?'

'Oh. Yeah. You know when your folks have a friend and they're always around, and they get called uncle whatever? Pat's an old air force buddy of my Dad's.'

'And he's weird?'

'A little, I guess. He picked that name himself, when I was little. He was always around, him and Auntie Kath, and Evie.' His folks were both only-kids, like himself, so he didn't have any real aunts or uncles.

Stump's eyes lit up. 'Evie? You have a weird auntie and cousin, too?'

'Just the cousin. Auntie Kath died a long time ago. Pat moved away after that, took Evie with him. I was eight, she was eleven, I think. She was okay, I guess. We never had much to do with each other.'

'Dude, she's eighteen now. You're gonna be living in a house with a girl! Is she hot? Tell me she's hot. It's not like you're related.'

'I haven't seen her in years, man. We were kids.'

'Hm. Okay.' Stump looked away, into the distance. 'I bet she's hot. There has to be some upside to this.'

'Yeah,' Adam felt bleak. 'It can't be as shit as it feels to be me right now. There's not enough shit in the whole world.'


# # #


All Adam's possessions were boxed up and packed into two trucks, along with everything the family owned. Most of the boxes were headed into storage, and wouldn't be seen again until they found a new home. Adam's parents had allocated him a single box to go into storage, and another to bring to Uncle Pat's house. Once he'd packed away his computer, his collection of comics (and other magazines), most of the rest was just clothes. Being the middle of summer, he tossed most of his warm clothes into the storage container. Hopefully they'd have a home of their own to live in before he needed them again.

Now that he'd had time to consider, the move didn't upset him as much. Sure, he'd probably never see Stump again, but that was more a problem for Stump than for Adam. One short fat nerdy kid wasn't exactly an irreplaceable support network. As his mom had said, he was sure to make new friends, especially once he was out of his own shadow and free to reinvent himself with a whole new social circle. Hopefully Evie would put in a few good words for him, maybe introduce him to some of her friends, or their younger sisters.

Was he going to have his own room? He hadn't seen or heard from Uncle Pat in years, and although he knew his parents had stayed in touch they never talked about him. How big was his house, that he could take in a second family? Was it huge, or were they all going to cram into a single spare bedroom?

Oh god, he prayed, please don't make me share a room with my parents.

The trip promised to be awful, stuck in the car with his Mom while Dad drove one of the trucks. The removal guys would follow them to Pat's house, and Dad would take a detour to the storage place. Once everything was unloaded, either Mom or Pat would go and pick him up from the depot.

It wasn't a bad plan, except that his Mom couldn't navigate her way out of a paper sack, so Adam would have to feed her directions. She had a history of erratic driving and her insurance premiums were still sky-high after she'd caused three crashes in a single year. He'd far rather be in the truck with his Dad, or even with the random removal guys, but there was no way she'd get there without him.


# # #


'Are you sure?' asked his Mom, for the millionth time. Adam groaned.

'Yes, I'm sure. Look, I keep telling you to follow Dad. He's going to take the next off-ramp, and so should we.'

'How do you know that's where he's going?'

'Because that's the route he marked on the map.' Sure enough, the truck's blinkers started flashing. 'See?'

'Okay. I'm just not sure what I'm doing. How do you know which truck your dad is in?'

He stared at her. 'Dad's the one in front. The other guys are following us.'

She gasped. 'They don't know the way?'

'I'm pretty sure they know where they're going, but they're following us in case we have to divert or something.' He took a swig from his water bottle, and let out a sigh.

'Are you all right, hun? You're sweating.'

'Bit of a headache,' he admitted.

'Probably from squinting at that map for hours on end. I keep telling you to get your eyes checked.'

'I don't need glasses mom, my eyes are fine.'

'Well, maybe the sun's too bright. There's some sunglasses in the glove box.'

The sun was beating down pretty hard, and even with the windows down their dusty black SUV was turning into an oven. Adam dug out the shades (a pair of his dad's, thankfully, not his mother's), and slipped them on. It helped a little.

'Is that better?' she asked.

'Yeah.'

'Why don't you rest for a while, and I'll just follow the truck?'

He grimaced. Why couldn't she have said that hundreds of miles back? 'He'll be splitting off in a few miles, for the depot.'

Mom nodded. 'Oh, well, a few minutes rest is better than nothing, right?'

'I don't want to miss the junction, Mom. Just keep your eyes on the road, I'll be fine.'

In fact, he wasn't feeling fine. He'd been having intermittent queasy spells since Scott had hit him the day before, and he felt the onset of another spell now. He sat back in the chair and closed his eyes, just for a few seconds, to wait for it to pass.

'Is this the junction, Hun? Your dad's changing lanes.'

'Huh?' Adam blinked, grabbing the map in confusion. Junction? Already? He must have dozed off! He looked for road signs, but streaks of light made everything unreadable. He looked at the map, and that was streaky as well. Were the shades dirty or something? He snatched them off and turned to his Mom.

'I think I zoned out.'

'Okay, just tell me-' She turned his way and screamed. 'ADAM?!' Suddenly gripped by panic, she let go of the wheel and pressed herself against the door.

'Mom? What the… what are you doing!?' He lunged to grab the wheel, and his Mom screamed even louder, trying to shove him away. The engine screamed as she trampled the accelerator, throwing them both back against their seats.

The sun was blocked for a blissful instant as they drove up behind the truck, and then everything went black.


# # #


'Adam? Can you hear me?'

He opened his eyes, blearily, and looked into the face of a beautiful girl. She smiled at him, and he stared blankly, trying to force his scrambled mind into order.

'Pretty.' She wore white, and her hair was a tumbling mass of wavy blonde. 'Are you an angel?' he asked.

She laughed. 'No sweetie, I'm your cousin. Your weird cousin. Do you remember me?'

He frowned, dragging up a memory. 'Evie?'

'Ha, that's right. Do you know where you are?'

'In a hospital.' His bed was beneath a window, and the sunlight streamed in through the blinds, turning Evie's blonde hair into a glowing halo. Had he really thought she was an angel? What an idiot. His mind was all over the place, and it was hard to concentrate.

He knew then that there something he should be remembering. The crash, the paramedics, the doctors. His mom had crashed the car into dad's truck, driven them both off the freeway. They were hurt... No. Not hurt. They were dead. Both of them.

He let out a little sound, partly pain, mostly despair and loss. Evie laid her hand on his, but he barely felt it. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to wish it all away. Maybe he'd dreamed some of it. Maybe they weren't really dead, and any minute now they'd walk in to check up on him.

Evie leaned close, and spoke into his ear. 'You're going to be okay, Adam. You're not alone.'


# # #


Adam slept, and dreamed. He dreamed of the crash, of his Mom's terrified screams, the confusion of images. Metal crunched, tyres screeched, glass smashed. None of it made any sense.

He also dreamed of a young woman, smiling warmly as she took his hand. Those dreams were better, and he started to think about her when he was awake, as well.


# # #


After a few days, strange men in suits came and confirmed once again that he'd been in a crash, and both his parents had died. They had dash-cam footage from both trucks, and given his mother's insurance history they weren't going to spend too much time investigating. They asked him a few routine questions, but he had no good answers to give them.

Officially, his mother had lost control of the vehicle and collided with his dad's truck. The car had spun away sideways and begun to roll, while the truck had veered off the freeway, slid down the embankment and slammed into the side of an overpass.

Emergency services had extracted them from the vehicles, but his parents were both already dead.

In the absence of any other family, he would be living with his godfather. Weird uncle Pat.


# # #


Uncle Pat took care of everything, even though he was obviously devastated. Adam didn't recognise him at first, but of course he hadn't seen the man in seven years and clearly a lot had changed. The Pat he remembered was clean-shaven with a buzz-cut, but he now sported a bushy beard and his long hair was tied into a ponytail. His hair was mostly iron-grey, and he wore a scuffed leather jacket, but he still had the same wry smile, the same upright military bearing that Adam remembered.

'Another couple of days, sport, while the bruising fades, and then you can come home.'

Home, of course, being Pat's house, which Adam had never seen. How could that be home?

Pat had arranged for crews to recover all of the stuff from the crashed vehicles, and sorted out what was what. He had a room for Adam, and all his stuff was apparently already in there waiting for him. He desperately wanted to contact Stump, to let somebody know what had happened, but he didn't think he would be able to find the words. How would he even begin to describe his life now, when he didn't know himself?

'Uncle Pat? Are you my dad, now?'

'Nuh-uh, sport. I'm your guardian, and your godfather, but I'm still just weird uncle Pat. You can just call me Pat, though, if you prefer. Everybody else does, and I figure you're old enough.'

That seemed weird. Surely he didn't mean everybody. 'Does Evie call you Pat?'

'Evie? Haw! Man, I haven't heard that in a while. No, she calls me Dad, and I call her Eve. She hasn't been Evie since her mom died.'

'Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't realise.'

'Naw, I'm sure it's fine. You can ask her yourself if you like, but I bet she won't mind. After all, one way or another you're family now.' Pat nodded to himself, as though saying it out loud had settled something. 'You just rest up and get your head in order, I'll come get you soon.'

'Will Evie, I mean Eve...' Uncle Pat shook his head, and Adam started again. 'Will Evie visit again?'

'I expect so, sport. I expect so.'


# # #


Pat's house was a sprawling single-story complex on the outskirts of a small airfield. A former air-force mechanic, he made a living working on small planes, as well as the occasional car or motorbike.

'Anything that's broken, I'll have a look at it,' he explained. 'Sometimes it can be fixed, sometimes not. I get less of those interesting jobs, these days. Mostly folks just go buy a replacement.' He had sighed, heavily. 'Too much stuff these days is computerised. Ain't no fixing that stuff, not with the skills I got. I'm old-school.'

'I'm pretty good with computers,' volunteered Adam. 'I built my own.'

'Maybe you can help Eve with hers, then. Damn thing's going slower and slower, makes no sense to me. It's not like there's any moving parts, right? Nothing needs oiling, nothing springs a leak. What's the deal?'

There was no quick way to explain the potential issues, so Adam had merely promised to take a look once he got his own computer connected up and running.

His new room was huge, and he was pleased with the size until he realised that this was almost certainly going to have been his parents' room. Still, it was a decent-sized room, big enough that Pat had brought more of his stuff out of storage while he was recovering in hospital.

This room had a big window, as well as a patio door that opened into the back yard. There was a large but scrubby lawn, a paved area, and even a pool out there, then a low wooden fence, and then the wide open space of the airfield. There was always some kind of activity out there, but the small planes weren't too noisy, and his windows were virtually soundproof.

He had a small sheaf of posters on his bed, but hadn't decided where to put them, or if he was even going to bother. His new life was going to be different, so maybe it was time to reinvent himself as somebody new. There was a mirror on the back of the door, and he turned to look at his reflection.

He still looked a mess. The bruises still hadn't quite faded, but he'd come out of the accident relatively unscathed. The doctors had been concerned about head trauma, but he had no broken bones, no deep cuts (but plenty of scratches and shallow cuts from shattered windows), and would heal with no scars.

No physical scars, he amended the thought. He still had a hazy memory of his mom recoiling from him in horror, but he couldn't make sense of it. Why would she do that? Had he dreamed it? Was it a fabricated memory his mind had crafted to plug a gap in his recollection? Maybe she'd had similar episodes in the past, it would certainly explain her driving history, the times she'd arrive home in the cab of a recovery truck, unable to explain how the car had come to end up in a ditch, or up a tree.

He would probably never know. He was nothing much to look at, but even now he wasn't something you'd shy away from. He'd lost some weight during his sojourn, and it looked like he needed a haircut. The bright sun in this part of the country had already started bleaching his hair, too, and it looked a couple of shades lighter than he remembered. Or maybe that was just the light streaming in through his windows. Summer here was seriously bright.

He needed some shades. The pair from the car were never recovered, and he didn't think he'd want to wear that pair again anyway. Too many memories.

He considered asking Uncle Pat for a pair, but he and Evie had already given him a lot, and he didn't want to push. He had a roof over his head, food, a family of sorts, or at least some friendly people to talk to, but he didn't really have anything to do, and he didn't have much in the way of cash.

He was sole beneficiary of his parents' will, of course, but that would take time to process, and most of it would be put into trust, or handed over to Pat to dole out as he saw fit.

Adam had really struck lucky there, though; Weird Uncle Pat was actually a great guy, just as much fun as he remembered but also cool in ways he'd never understood when he was just a kid. Evie, too, was as warm and wonderful a girl as he could ever hope to meet. They hadn't had much to do with each other when they were younger, that three-year gap in their ages had seemed insurmountable at the time. She had thought he was a stupid little kid, and he was still in his 'girls have cooties' years. He'd been an idiot at that age. He suspected all kids were.

Now the three year gap meant she was a fully-fledged young woman, while he was barely on the first steps toward becoming a man. Sure, he was cute enough, in a boyish way, but boyish looks wouldn't get him a girlfriend like Evie.

Evie herself could never be his girlfriend, of course. He knew that. She was out of his league, for starters, and now she was practically his sister, but he still couldn't stop thinking of her, and some of those thoughts were downright inappropriate.

I'm a teenage boy, he reminded himself, and she's drop-dead gorgeous. It's only natural to daydream a little. So far there hadn't been any 'unfortunate' accidents, no glimpses of anything forbidden, but he lived in hope. She always had a smile for him, and while it wasn't exactly a sisterly smile, it wasn't a girlfriend smile either.

He started to work out, using the makeshift weights in Uncle Pat's gym. He helped out around the house, doing chores or assisting with meals. He figured out the problem with Evie's computer, and got the house's internet working smoothly again. He started helping Pat at the airfield, and looking for a part-time job.

Life was okay.


# # #


Weeks had passed, without note or record. He'd deliberately ignored the date, forcing himself to treat every day as a separate episode, with no connection to the past, but there was something he'd been putting off, and it was time to man up and deal with it.

It was time to contact Stump. He hadn't done it yet, because he'd have to let his old friend know what had happened, and he wasn't sure he was ready to go through it in any detail. He had a plan to minimise the problem, but hadn't done anything about it yet.

He couldn't just ignore the emails forever, though. He woke his computer and pulled up the latest message. The last few were all the same: Why don't you answer? Hope everything is okay. Don't worry about me, everything is fine.

Adam hit 'reply', and started typing.

'Hi Stump,' he began.

'Sorry so late, things are messed up. There was an accident on the road, and my folks are dead. I'm living with Uncle Pat now. We have internet (slow but working). Not much else to report.'

That was as much detail as he could handle. Hopefully Stump would read his words and realise he didn't want to elaborate.

He clicked 'send'.


# # #


The response came back a few hours later.

'Yo, good to hear from you man! I've been worried.' That was classic Stump, never one to hide his feelings.

'Sorry to hear about your folks. That must suck.' Understatement was another common trait of Stump's emails. Adam sighed and read the rest.

'Scott has gone all weird. He's keeping to himself, even ignoring his posse. They're still annoying everybody, but without Scott backing them up they mostly just skulk around and make fun of people. Nobody's been beaten up for days.'

Had Adam's words had an effect on the bully? It seemed unlikely, but the big boy's behaviour sounded extremely weird. Maybe he was worried that Adam knew some secret. If so, it wouldn't take him long to realise nothing was going to happen. Once he realised his secret was safe, things would go back to normal.

'Tell me about your new place. What's your cousin like? I bet she's hot. Is she hot? Send pics!'

He rolled his eyes. Yeah, right. He didn't have any photos to send, for starters, and she was hardly likely to pose for any. There weren't even any family photos on the walls of the house, but there must be some photos somewhere, from vacations or graduation or whatever. Maybe he'd ask, if the subject came up.


# # #


'You've been hitting the weights,' Uncle Pat gave an approving nod as Adam entered the workshop carrying a box of engine parts. 'Seems to be doing you some good.'

Adam set the box down and shrugged. 'I guess. I seem to be getting stronger, but I can't see any muscles yet.' He flexed his arm, but the results weren't impressive.

Pat frowned in thought. 'I'd say you were trimming down, if anything, losing weight. Your workout must be too aerobic - you're burning fat instead of building muscle mass. If you want to bulk up you need to do the right exercises.'

Adam shrugged. He didn't honestly know one exercise from another, and had just been copying stuff he'd seen on TV. Maybe he could find some instructions online.

'What you really need is some bulk-up powder. I've got some in the shed.'

'Powder?' That didn't sound good.

'Like nesquik. It makes a drink, and then you go work out. Lifting heavy stuff actually tears your muscles, and then they heal back stronger. This stuff helps with that part.'

'Oh. Torn muscles sounds pretty bad.'

'Not torn in half, silly, it's natural wear and tear. You ever hear guys at the gym saying they're gonna feel it tomorrow? That's what they'll feel. You do the workout, and then next day your arms are sore, while they heal up. It's normal, you get used to it.'

'I guess. How do you know you haven't done too much?'

'You're only lifting bricks and paintcans, Sport. If it's too much, you won't be able to do it. It's not like your arms are gonna yank out've the sockets.'


# # #


Later that day, Adam changed into his vest and shorts and regarded himself in the mirror. Uncle Pat was right, he was thinner, but not in a scrawny way. He struggled for the right word, and settled on 'slim'. His legs had some muscle tone, which was an improvement. As a kid his body had always been an ill-defined blob with arms and legs, to the despair of his teachers in gym class. He never got bullied over it, because compared to Stump he was a sleek teenage demigod.

Now he had nobody to hide behind, and realised he wasn't happy with how he looked. At first he'd thought he could put on some muscles and impress Evie, but looking at himself now, he realised he had been wasting his potential for years.

He'd lost some weight from his cheeks, or something, because his face looked subtly different. He supposed that could just be because he was wearing his hair differently now - it had grown a bit and he'd taken to tying it back in a baby ponytail. Uncle Pat wore a ponytail, so it seemed an acceptable solution, but combined with the weight loss and the bleaching effect of the sun, he looked almost like a different kid. If this kept up, nobody from back home would even recognise him.

He noticed something else. His vests were getting shorter. Must be something in the laundry, or the water, or the different powder Pat used, or something, except, he hadn't worn this vest since he got here, and it was barely long enough for his requirements. Adam always chose his clothes long and baggy, to cover any accidental boners. Most of his vests now were only just long enough, which was why he'd dug this last one out of his suitcase. He pondered over this for several long seconds before realising the implication of shrinking clothes.

Holy crap. He was getting taller! Finally, a growth spurt! No wonder he wasn't putting on any muscle, his body was busy using all his energy and protein to grow new bones or whatever. He didn't really know how that stuff worked, but what mattered was that he was finally becoming a man, and as a man, he might have a chance with a girl like Evie.


# # #


He practically ran through the house and headed for the gym. Whatever he'd been doing was working, so he needed to keep it up. In fact, he needed to do more of it, and pay more attention to lifting stuff with his arms.

He set about his routine with new vigour, determined to break a proper sweat and hone his soon-to-be-adult body into something impressive. He was barely warmed up, however, when a polite cough from the door caught his attention. It was Evie, carrying a large flask.

'Dad said you'd be in here. He asked me to give you something.'

Adam looked up and almost choked. Evie's hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, and she was wearing dark blue leggings and a neon-pink crop-top. The leggings had a matching pink stripe down the sides, stopping at mid-calf. Her socks and trainers were bright white. She looked like she's stepped out of a fitness magazine.

'Uh... huh?'

She ignored his stammer and skipped over to offer him the flask. 'He mixed you up a batch of his protein shake, so you can grow up big and strong.' She smiled, and gave the weights a look-over. 'Is that what you're lifting?'

'Uh, yeah. I didn't want to mess with anything, so I'm just using them as I found them.'

'I see that. Those are what dad lifts.'

'Oh?'

'You can lift those okay?'

'Well, it was tough to start with, but they're getting easier. I can lift them now.' He picked up one of the dumbells and hefted it to chest height. Evie looked impressed.

'Whoa. You're stronger than you look.'

'Concrete blocks and stuff, there's no numbers on 'em. I have no idea how heavy any of this stuff is.'

'Me either, but you've seen dad lugging heavy boxes about, he's a pretty strong guy. Those are the weights he lifts when he wants to push himself.'

Adam had no answer to that. 'Uh, so, are you here to work out? I mean, you look, uh, nice.'

Evie gave him a curious look. 'Uh huh? Really? Thanks, but no, I'm going out for a run. Tell you what, though, give me notice next time and I'll spot you, if you like.'

'Spot me? Oh. Oh! Yeah, sure, that'd be great. Thanks.'

'Da nada.' She ducked back out through the door and was gone, leaving Adam alone with his furiously distracted imagination.
Last Edit: 2 months 4 weeks ago by Mikisha. Reason: Confusion regarding the Eve/Evie mix up
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3 months 4 days ago #32087 by Mikisha
Mikisha replied the topic: 2
'Y'know, Sport, I can't help noticing you've taken a shine to my daughter.'

Adam froze, and tried not to blush. He was helping Uncle Pat prepare dinner, and they were in the middle of chopping vegetables. He gave his best nonchalant shrug. 'I like her, yeah. She's great fun, and she's really pretty.' He silently congratulated himself. That sounded okay, nothing but compliments, and nothing creepy.

'That she is, Sport, that she is. Y'might say I've noticed you noticing, if you catch my drift.'

Adam gulped. Pat was casually gesturing with a sizeable knife as he spoke. 'Uh, really? Is that bad?'

The big man rumbled a chuckle. 'Well, it's understandable, if I'm honest. She got her looks and her brains from her mother, and I know from experience what a combination that is. Truth is, me, Cath and your folks always figured you two would get together. You know that's why they called you Adam, right?'

'Dad said it was because I was their firstborn, but then they never had any more kids.'

Uncle Pat shook his head. 'Adam and Eve, sport, do I have to spell it out? O'course, that was a long time ago, and now you two are practically brother and sister, so I'm not sure how I feel about you developing a crush.'

Adam swallowed again. He didn't know what to say. Pat wasn't outright forbidding him to date Evie, but it wasn't exactly a blessing, either. He decided to settle the issue gently.

'Evie's a few years older than me, Uncle Pat. At best, she sees me as a little brother. We should try not to make the situation any weirder than it already is.'

Pat nodded, relief visible on his face. 'That's a mature attitude, Sport. You're a smart kid. Always did like ya.'

'Thanks. You were always my favourite uncle.'

Pat gave him a flat look, then a wry grin. He didn't need to say 'you mean only uncle', they both knew what he meant.

'Well, you were always one of my favourite nephews. In the top three, at least.'

Adam fought back a smile. 'We're really family now, aren't we?'

'Eve and me, for a long time it's been just the two of us. I really missed you and your parents, but circumstances... well, it was bad. We had to keep clear for a while, and then it never seemed the right time to come back. Y'know how it is.'

Adam pursed his lips. 'Not really, Uncle Pat. My parents didn't tell me much. I know Auntie Cath died, and then you guys had to move away. It seemed pretty sudden.'

'It was sudden. We... aw, hell, you wanna know the whole story? I figure you're old enough, and you're part of the family now. You should know.'

'I'd like to know, sure, if you're okay talking about it.'

'I will be. We'll talk about it later, when Eve gets home.'


# # #


Adam found Pat and Evie in the dining room that evening, sitting close and holding hands. They both looked very solemn, and Adam immediately had second thoughts. Was he intruding? Was it fair to make them relive what were obviously painful memories?

'Hey Sport, pull up a chair. I've got a story for you. It's pretty short.'

He did so, in silence. Evie flashed him a reassuring smile, but said nothing while he got settled.

'I'll keep this brief: Catherine was a mutant. A hero. She worked undercover for the government, part of a black ops team. They took down some really nasty pieces of work, but somebody sold them out. Her work followed her home, they found out who she was. They tracked down the whole unit, one by one, killed them all, killed their families. Cath had a bug-out plan ready, all standard procedure, but we weren't quick enough. They found her. There was a fight.'

Adam swallowed. 'They killed her?'

'Cath's mutant power was a kind of precognition. She could sense danger, she'd duck or jerk away at the last second. It was an instinct, something she couldn't control. Her codename was Flinch.'

'So her power kept her alive?'

Pat shook his head. 'Not this time. There was a leak, somebody at the MCO. They knew how to work around her abilities, setup a trap that she couldn't spot until it was too late. She used to... she was a sharpshooter, the other thing her power did, it let her pick out weak spots in an enemy. If something wasn't going to work, she'd know in advance, so she could run her hand over a dozen special custom bullets until she found something that would work. She could consider all the places to hit a target, and before she pulled the trigger she knew whether it'd be a good hit.

'When they sprung the trap, her power went crazy. It tried to push her to safety, but there was nowhere safe to go, no way to get out of the way. It was a bomb. She was vaporised, along with six civilians.'

Adam bit his lip. 'And... and then?'

'And then nothing. I took Eve and we bugged out, left home, came out here. We had money, we had papers, new identities. I bought an RV, we moved around a lot. Eventually we settled down here. And now here you are.'


# # #


Eve came to his room later that night. She looked as lovely as ever in a fluffy white robe, ready to turn in for the night, but it was obvious she'd been crying. Adam had left the pair alone as soon as the story was finished - it looked like things had become a bit emotional and sad.

He put his book down. 'Are you okay?'

She gave a wan smile. 'Yeah. I just felt a bit bad, like, you know you didn't have to leave, right?'

'It seemed the thing to do, you guys are still hurting, I get that. I didn't want to be in the way.'

She nodded, 'and you haven't seen her in years anyway.'

'No, so I... Oh.' Of course, Eve and Pat hadn't seen Aunt Cath in a long time either, because that was when she died. Now he felt like an asshole. 'I'm sorry, I didn't realise, it never occurred to me.'

'Well, you've had enough stuff of your own going on, too, so we're here for you. If you want to talk, about anything, we're here. I'm here.'

Adam turned his attention inward, and realised he was still pretty numb regarding his parents. There were some stages of grief, or something, but he didn't know what they were.

'Do you know the stages of grief?' he asked.

'Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance?'

'Yeah. I don't seem to have moved into step one yet. I don't really feel anything. I'm not angry about it, no point bargaining with anybody. Am I at the acceptance stage already?'

'They're not exactly proper medical science. People experience some of them in some order. You could be depressed and you might not know it. It's insidious.'

'I mean, I kinda miss them, but the whole situation is new and strange. If I were at home and they weren't there it'd feel like this big hole, but here it feels like I've started a new life, and they're not part of it.'

'That makes sense, I guess. Do you miss your old life?'

'No way. My old life was garbage. I was bullied every day, I had practically no friends, school sucked, my parents were there, but they were like shadows on the edge, we never talked about anything, it was like they owned a house and I lived in it.' He shrugged. 'I prefer living here, with you guys.'

'Even though it's just me and Dad?'

'Uncle Pat's really great,' he ventured. 'Best case scenario, I can keep helping him out in the workshop, and eventually he offers me a job. I'm good with my hands, I like building stuff. I think we'd work well together.'

'What about me?' she mock-pouted, 'I'm pretty great too, y'know.'

He gave a deliberately casual shrug. 'You're alright. I never had a sister before, so my standards might be a little low.' Her face was a mask of outrage, so stuck his tongue out, to show he was joking.

'Why you little...' she surged into the room and grabbed a pillow from the bed. He was sat on the couch, with only a small cushion handy to defend himself, so he snatched it up to use as a shield. Evie threw the pillow and he blocked it easily. 'See? This is why sisters are rubbish, no tactical awareness. Now I have TWO things to throw, and you have... oh, there's more pillows on the bed. Never mind.'

She threw another, and he pretended to dodge as though his life depended on it. 'Yike!' He flicked the small cushion at her in return, but she caught it with both hands.

'Dodgeball champ in high school.' she weighed the thing in her hands, deciding it was perfect for throwing. Adam discarded his pillow and dropped into a ready stance. 'Take your best shot.'

She did, aiming squarely at his groin. He deflected it neatly with a snapping gedan-barai block, and it landed back on the couch. Evie stared. 'What was that?'

'Low block. Dad made me do a year of karate.'

'You have got to teach me that.'

'And give up my advantage? Hah!' he dug his foot under the discarded pillow, flicked it up, and snatched it out of the air with a theatrical grab. 'My mastery must be earned. Prove yourself worthy!' He pulled back, ready to throw.

Evie hesitated. There was one pillow left on the far side of the bed, would she be able to reach it in time? Adam was pretty sure she would, and as soon as she made her move he was ready. She dove onto the bed, and he flung his pillow hard, predicting her path. She stretched out longer and lower than he'd expected, however, and instead of whomping solidly into her side it clipped her across the butt. She rolled with the impact. but managed to grab onto the pillow she wanted. She lay on her side, and grinned.

'Now I have two pillows, and you have nothing.'

Adam swallowed. 'Uh huh.' His attention wasn't on the pillows, however. Evie's robe had come untied, and the last throw had flung it wide open. Evie's nightshirt was pale yellow, wisp-thin and faded with age, and had ridden up to reveal most of her smooth tummy. In the process it also revealed Evie's frilly white bed-shorts, which were sorta like normal shorts except you could see practically right through them. Her long legs were bare, and awesomely perfect, and she was lay on his bed, stretched out like a cat waiting to be tickled.

Adam desperately wished he could commit the image to memory, somehow. He'd probably never get a view like this ever again.

Evie spotted his wandering gaze and let out a slow sigh. '...boys.'

Adam snapped back into focus. 'Uh, sorry. It's just, uh, not my fault?' he shrugged. 'I can't help it if you're gorgeous.'

She sat up on the bed, and closed her robe. 'Better?'

'Objectively, no.' he smirked. 'But eye contact is easier now, yeah. Sorry. Mind blown. Better now.'

She gave him an appraising look. 'We need to have a serious talk about this, but I think it needs to wait until morning. I can see you're a little distracted.'

Adam frowned, then suddenly blushed scarlet. Damn his hormones, and these no-longer-adequate t-shirts! Evie slipped off the bed and padded to the door. 'I'll see you in the morning, Adam. Sweet dreams.'

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3 months 12 hours ago #32287 by Mikisha
Mikisha replied the topic: Dawn
Adam and Evie were in his room, ready for her first karate lesson. Adam could still do most of what he'd learned through muscle memory, but he wasn't sure how best to teach those moves to somebody else, so he decided to go with a 'do what I do' approach.

'For your punches and blocks, you'll know when you get it right.' he said, demonstrating. 'The sleeves of the gi will make a cool snapping noise.'

'What about the kicks?' she asked, and that was a problem. Adam only had one gi, so as a compromise he was wearing the pants and Evie was wearing the top. It made sense at the time.

'I think we should leave the kicks for another time' he suggested. He was finding it hard enough to concentrate as it was. Checking her stance and footwork was sweet torment; she was wearing the smallest shorts he'd ever seen, and his old karate top was kid-size at best. It covered nothing below the waist.

His kid-size karate pants were short as well, not to mention uncomfortably... snug. His natural reaction to Evie's attire was driving him crazy, but she seemed intent on ignoring it. He felt like he was going to explode any moment.

Evie stopped her practice routine of blocks and turned to regard him. 'I think I'd be good at kicks. My legs are very long and I'm extremely flexible.' Adam gulped at her matter-of-fact explanation. 'We could swap clothes,' she continued, 'to make sure I get the snap right.'

That would leave Adam with just the top and no trousers, which would be a disaster. Moreover, it would leave Evie without a top, which would make the disaster even worse. He struggled for words, unable to explain the issue without digging himself into a deeper hole.

Evie didn't seem to notice his predicament. 'I think I've got the hang of these blocks, finally. Do you want to try attacking me a bit, so I can test them? Make sure I'm doing it right?'

Adam found his voice. 'Are the sleeves snapping?' he asked.

'Sure. Watch.' She took a half-step back, and whirled her arms around in a complex swinging motion he didn't recognise. At the end she brought her guard up with a sharp motion, and he clearly heard the whoosh-snap of the fabric.

And then both sleeves fell off. 'Aww, I snapped too hard.'

He nodded. Somehow, that made sense. 'Snapping the sleeves can sometimes do that,' he agreed. 'The belt is designed to do the same thing, when your hip movements are right.'

'The belt snapped off ages ago.' she said, and sure enough, her newly-sleeveless top was hanging loose on her shoulders, giving him a clear view from neck to navel. 'So can I test out my moves? Are you ready?'

'Of course I'm ready. I'm the master and you're the student. I'm always ready.'

And suddenly she was attacking, her punches slow and predictable and easily blocked. He kept his return attacks equally slow, but found he was able to power through her guard easily, forcing her to give ground until she backed into the bed and fell onto it with a squeak.

He stopped, eyes wide. The top was wide open, showing everything. She looked up at him. 'Are you ready?' she asked.

'I don't know.' he said. 'I want to be.'

'Are you ready?'


# # #


Adam woke up. 'What?' he blurted.

Evie was there, fully-clothed, standing over his bed. 'I said are you ready to have that talk?'

He blinked, glanced left and right to get his bearings. 'I, uh, not really.'

'Are you okay? You muttered something when I knocked, and your eyes were open when I came in, but now I'm not so sure. Were you asleep?'

'Yeah. I was having a dream. It was... weird.'

'Right, well, I'll give you a few minutes to get yourself sorted. Okay?'

'Yeah, okay, sure.' He scratched his head, and watched her leave. It figured that in addition to everything else Evie would be a morning person. Adam dragged himself out of bed and looked for some clothes. There wasn't time for a shower, so he gave himself a once-over with the body spray before pulling on a t-shirt and some jeans.

What was it she wanted to talk about? Something last night, the pillow fight? Oh. He'd gone a little too far when her robe had fallen open. Well, that was tame compared to what had happened in his dream, and now he fought to keep his mind clear. Evie could return any minute, and given the subject matter it wouldn't be good to start the conversation with an obvious boner.

Blaming it on Evie had perhaps been a mistake, as well. He'd only been partly-joking when he'd said it, but on reflection it was a little bit skeevy.

With nothing to do now but wait, he flopped down on the couch and tried to get comfortable. His joints were a bit stiff, especially his hips, presumably from sleeping in a bad position. He'd probably moved around in his sleep and ended up like a pretzel. Either that or it was growing pains. According to Stump it was common for different parts of the body to grow at slightly different speeds, resulting in a temporary state where his bones wouldn't fit together right. It sounded like a terrible way to carry out upgrades.

Evie knocked on the door a short while later, and at his yell she entered carrying two mugs of coffee. 'This should help you wake up.'

'Is it that serious?'

She set the drinks down on his desk and sat on his office chair. 'That all depends. Dad's gone out for the day, so we can get some things out in the open.'

Adam raised a brow, feeling cheeky. 'Sure thing. You get out whatever you like, you'll hear no complaints from me.'

Evie chuckled. 'You talk brave, little cousin, but we both know if I were to take my top off right now you'd shoot blood out of your nostrils and keel over dead.'

He gave a grudging nod. 'I have to concede the point, there. Anime-nosebleeds are a definite possibility.' In fact, her pristine white T-shirt was extremely clingy, as though daring him to notice.

She looked at him for a couple of seconds, saying nothing. Adam turned away from that knowing gaze and drank some of his coffee.

'So, uh, this is nice. What was it you wanted to talk about?'

'You. Us. Living in one house. It's going to be great, and I don't want to spoil it by leading you on or anything. You find me attractive, and that's very flattering, but let's be honest: you're fifteen years old, and you're probably horny as hell, and as you say, you can't help yourself.'

Adam bit his lip. 'Uh...'

'Me and Dad, we know each other's routines, we have our own parts of the house, so I know when it's okay for me to walk around in just my panties if I need water in the middle of the night, or whatever. Yes, I do that sometimes, put your eyes back in. And no, I haven't done that since you moved in, so relax, you didn't miss a free show.'

She shrugged. 'Sooner or later, you'll be up late when I think everybody's asleep, and you might see me, I dunno...'

'In your panties?' he squeaked.

'...coming home late from a party.' She rolled her eyes. 'Way to stay on track, though. Glad to see that mental image has taken root.'

'Well, like you said, I'm fifteen.'

She sighed. 'Take your shirt off.'

'What?'

'Take your shirt off,' she repeated. 'I'm not ashamed of my body, you've got no reason to be shy about yours. If we'd grown up as brother and sister we'd have seen each naked a bunch of times by now and gotten over it, so let's have a look at you.' She sat up straight, beckoning imperiously. 'Shirt. Off.'

Adam's mind raced. He wasn't exactly a hunk, but he'd shed most of his blobby shape while in the hospital, and probably looked better than he had in years. Did he have a body to show off? What if she laughed? More importantly, would she take her own shirt off afterward? It was worth the risk. Hell, it was worth anything.

He jumped up and shrugged out of the t-shirt. Evie remained seated, her eyes hooded and thoughtful, and he felt suddenly nervous. He kept hold of the crumpled shirt, unsure what to do with it.

'Put it down,' she commanded. 'Stand up straight. Chin up. Don't try to hide.'

'I'm not hiding,' he protested, dropping his shirt onto the couch. 'See? This is me. Shirt off.'

'Attaboy.' She stood up and stepped closer. 'You're almost as tall as me, now. When did that happen? You're growing like a weed.'

He shrugged. 'I've been working out and drinking Uncle Pat's muscle-juice stuff, but I'm not sure it's working.'

'It could be, you're starting to fill out a little in the chest.' She stepped closer still, and paused. 'Tense your tummy?'

He did so, and she placed a hand against his skin. 'Rock hard. Not an ounce of puppy fat.'

'I wanted more muscles, though. I haven't even bothered with doing sit-ups.'

Evie looked into his eyes. 'You're wearing underwear, I hope?'

'Yeah?' Geez, what kind of question was that?

'Okay, good. I want you to do something for me, okay?'

Something involving underwear? He had a suspicion. 'What's that?'

'Take your jeans off.'

Adam grimaced. 'You want me to stand here in just my socks and undies?'

'Socks are optional. You can take those off too if you like. I want to see your legs.'

'How about keeping it fair? Why don't you take off your jeans first?'

'You've already seen my legs, just yesterday.'

'Yeah, so it's no big deal, right?'

She tilted her head, evaluating the exchange before coming to a conclusion. 'Okay, fine,' she stepped back, and slowly popped the buttons. She gave him one last glance. 'It's just legs, remember.' And with that, she peeled off her jeans, wriggling them down over her hips and then bending down at the waist to push them past her calves. She stood up and stepped clear, leaving them on the floor.

Adam nodded, satisfied that everything was progressing fairly. If he played the situation like a game, he could maybe keep his cool and avoid making as ass of himself.

Evie gave him a look, her eyes full of challenge. 'I'm keeping my socks on,' she announced.

'That's fine.' He took a breath. 'Is it okay for me to say your legs are very nice?'

'Sure.'

And they were. Just as in his dream, they were long, slim, tanned, toned and sensuously curved. Evie stood with her ankles crossed, one white sock in front of the other, balancing on her toes in a pose he knew was intended to make her calves look sexier.

Realising this might be a one-time treat he got himself a good look, trying not to stare too obviously as he traced the lines with his eyes, until he spotted her panties. He almost coughed. She was just standing there, in her undies, tight white with see-through lacy panels at the sides. If there was a word for the style he didn't know it, but there was almost nothing between his eyes and her most private... privates. He snapped his eyes upward, trying not to blush.

'Well?' she asked.

'What? Oh, uh, your legs are very nice?' he stammered.

'That's not what I meant. It's your turn. Your jeans,' she pointed.

'I thought we were going to have a talk,' he countered. 'I mean, this is all very interesting, but it's hardly conversation.'

'Well, it's up to you. You can take your jeans off, or I can put mine back on and walk out of here.'

The implication was that he'd regret missing out on something, but he didn't know what. Sure, he could guess, he could dream, but he was never that lucky... was he? Again, he decided it was worth it. Hell, so what if she saw him in his briefs? He'd seen hers, and so far he was getting the better out of that arrangement. Maybe if he proved it was okay, and perfectly normal, then she'd be able to relax and hopefully he'd see her that way again.

'Well, since you ask so nicely...' He unfastened his belt and yanked his jeans off. They slid easily down his legs, and he kicked them away. As an afterthought, he also pulled off his socks. It felt weird having socks on when his legs were bare.

He put his hands on his hips and stood up straight. 'There. My legs. Not as nice as yours, obviously, but then I'm a guy.'

'I don't know,' objected Evie, 'They look pretty good to me. Got some muscles, there, like a dancer.'

'A dancer?' Eww, couldn't she have said something more manly, like an athlete or something?

'Don't pout,' she chided, gently. 'Dancers work damn hard so they can have muscles and still look good. You look good, Adam. I don't know if anybody's told you that before, but I bet when you're done growing you're going to be pretty hot.'

He flushed. 'Thanks.'

She raised a brow. 'Has anybody told you that? Did you have a girlfriend, back home?'

'No. My friend and me, we weren't exactly popular.'

'It's the same for girls, you know. There are girls in every school who aren't popular, and they think they'll never meet anybody.'

'I guess. I never really thought of it that way.'

'Of course not, but I am older than you, and wiser. Take a seat, I'll be back in a moment.'

And with that she skipped quickly out the door, giving Adam a glance at her butt before she vanished.

Wow. Those panties hid even less from the back.

Adam slumped back onto the couch, feeling a little strange, to be sure, but not as weird as he might have expected.

Evie dashed back in less than a minute later, and closed the door behind her. She turned, smirking. 'Right, nobody's seen this in years, it's my deep dark secret. Wanna see?' She had something behind her back, so Adam nodded.

'Okay, I guess. I mean, yes, please.'

She walked over to the couch and handed him a photograph, old and faded. A skinny girl with a comical mass of blonde curls.

'Weird cousin Evie. Remember? I had braces, my hair was uncontrollable, I was the tallest in my class by a good three inches, and thin? I was like a scarecrow.'

Adam did remember, sort of. He hadn't really been interested in how girls looked, back then, Evie had just been another vaguely icky girl that he occasionally had to spend time with. They'd had some laughs, as he remembered. She was always fun, even though she had cooties.

'I wasn't popular at school. Nobody liked me.'

Adam looked up from the photo. 'I liked you. I thought you were pretty cool. Y'know, for a girl.'

'You saw me once without a shirt on. Do you remember that?'

'No?'

Evie gave a wry smile. 'No, why would you, you wouldn't have cared. That's my point. We were cooler back then, both of us.'

'Are you going to take your shirt off now?' He might not have remembered the first time, but he was damn sure he'd take notice now.

'Do you want me to?'

He shrugged, trying to act nonchalant. 'It feels like that's where we're going with this. I think you should come here, sit on the couch with me, take your shirt off, and then let's just talk, and get used to each other.'

'I'd like that.'

She came over and slid onto the far side of the couch, angled side-on so they could talk without twisting their necks. 'You're handling this much better than I thought you would. I hoped you'd be mature about it, but I'm pleasantly surprised.'

Adam grinned. 'This morning's going much better than I expected, too.' He held out a hand. 'May I take your shirt, Madame?'

She raised a brow, and matched his terrible maître-d' accent with her own. 'As you wish.' She leaned back and peeled the shirt upward, rolling it up over her boobs to reveal a transparent white bra. A few quick motions and the shirt was up over her head and held out at arm's length for Adam. 'What do you plan to do with it?' she enquired.

'Nothing much,' he admitted. He took the shirt from her and dropped it on the floor. 'I'm not really interested in the shirt as much as the lack-of-shirt.' He gave her a nod. 'You still seem to be wearing more clothes than me.'

'But I've taken off the same things, not counting the socks.' She wriggled her toes. 'Would you like me to take those off, too? Do you have a thing for feet?'

'Uh, no? Is that a thing?'

She laughed. 'Sure it is. Some people like feet.'

'Like? Or like like?'

Evie just chuckled some more, and Adam shuddered.

'That's seriously not my thing, eww, but, full disclosure? Total honesty?'

'Go ahead?'

'I'm totally checking out your boobs. I don't want it to be weird, but that bra is kinda see-through.'

'I know.'

'It's like, it covers everything, but doesn't hide anything. I can see your nipples and everything.'

'Yep.'

Adam hesitated, weighing Evie's one-word responses carefully. She looked… smug. She knew what she was doing to him, even without really doing anything. Was she teasing him, or was he simply allowing himself to be teased? Was it a test? It felt like a test. Well, he could be cool. He could even take control of the situation, if he was careful.

'I have a request.'

Evie smiled. 'This should be good. Let's hear it.'

'Hopefully I'll be seeing more bras in the future… other than yours, I mean. So, rather than me asking you to take your bra off, which would be weird, would it be okay if I had a go at taking it off, instead?'

She chuckled. 'Oh, because that's way less weird.'

'It could happen, in the course of a perfectly normal day. Like, maybe your hands are full and you really need your bra off in a hurry, and you're like "Oh, Adam, will you help me out of this troublesome thing?" and I'll be all like "Sorry, Evie, I have no idea how to do that, because I never practiced."'

Evie laughed, then, warm and genuine. 'Oh god, that'd be so tragic.' She shuffled in place. 'Okay, I'm convinced. Where do you want me?'

'Seriously?' Adam blinked. 'Uh, I dunno.'

'We're talking about a future girlfriend, right?'

'Yeah.'

'Brace yourself, then. Incoming!' She shuffled over and turned, dropping herself into his arms. He had a great view into her cleavage for a moment and she jiggled and got comfortable. 'Okay, pretend I'm some girl with loose morals.'

'Right.'

She leaned forward, exposing her back. 'Find the horizontal strap, with a clasp in the middle. See it?'

'Yeah.'

'It's elasticated, held together with hooks and loops. To unclip it, you need to pull the hooks clear of the loops. You think you can do that?'

'I'll give it a go,' he replied, and so he did. The fabric concealed a row of three hooks, and he managed to get two unhooked on the first try. Another little tug and he had the last one free. The strap pinged apart and fell to Evie's sides.

'Okay, good. Now take the ends and fasten it back up again.'

'Aww?'

'You want to practice? You've gotta do it more than once. Besides, if you can fasten one up, unfastening is easy.'

'Okay, fine.' He grabbed the ends, pulled them over each other and tried to position the hooks correctly. 'There's more than once set of loops. Which do I use?'

'Whichever you can, for now. This is just practice, remember.' He fiddled some more, and managed to get the garment hooked back together.

'That wasn't too bad. Is that all there is to it?'

'Nuh-uh, there's a whole lot of adjusting the straps and pushing stuff about to make sure everything's settled comfortably. Breasts are pretty soft and the skin can be delicate. Keeping them in place stops them getting hurt.'

'Hurt?'

She twisted around to face him. 'Imagine if your balls were the size of oranges, and with every step they got bounced around. Imagine that weight pulling on you with every movement.'

Adam grimaced; that sounded no fun at all. 'Are we talking small oranges or big oranges?'

Evie pushed her shoulders back, inviting him to make his own comparison. 'It depends.'

'So, while I'd very much like you to take that off, you're more comfortable with it on?'

'Oh, hell no. These things are torture devices, some days. Having them held firmly in place is good if you're going out jogging, but the rest of the time it's like a steel band around your chest.'

'So... uh.' Adam was confused, now, unsure how to proceed. 'Are you planning to do any jogging in the immediate future?'

'I don't think so. Ready for your second attempt?' She slid off the couch and stood up. 'Let's see if you can do it without looking.'

Feeling fairly confident, Adam stood and stepped around to Evie's back. She turned to face him.

'Nuh-uh. Close your eyes.'

He did. 'I don't know where you are, now.'

'I'm right in front of you. Figure it out.'

He reached out with both hands. One bumped into her arm, the other accidentally grabbed a handful of boob. He let go, quickly. 'Sorry, accident! I thought you'd be facing the other way.'

'You're going to have to reach around, but no peeking. In fact…' and then she moved away for a moment. 'This'll do. Hold still.'

Adam flinched as she dropped something onto his head, pulling it tight. He opened his eyes in surprise, but saw only white. A t-shirt, he realised, improvised into a blindfold.

'Whose shirt is this?' he asked.

'Yours.'

'Oh. Okay.'

'What's wrong? Your body language has gone all defensive. Don't you trust me?'

'I do, but I also like knowing where you are.' He held out his arms, but found nothing.

And then she was up close, between his arms. 'I'm right here,' she purred. 'So we're pretending you're stuck in a broom closet for a sneaky fumble with somebody.'

'So now I take your bra off?'

'If you can.'

He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her a little closer so he could reach the clasp. He didn't feel her arms, which meant she had them raised, either up in the air or behind her head, offering herself to his ministrations. He couldn't see anything, but the mental image was extremely arousing.

She was pressed up against him now, more skin-to-skin contact that he'd ever had with a girl. He could feel the fabric of her bra mooshed up against his chest as he ran his hands over her smooth back. He quickly found the clasp, pulled it away from the skin to grip the two ends. It was a simple enough motion to detach the hooks, and just like that he had it open.

'Well done,' she whispered. Her face was so close to his he could tilt his head up and kiss her… but that would be weird, and weird was bad.

'I want you to keep the hood on for a while, is that okay?'

'Uh, yeah, I guess.' He let go of the bra, and she twisted around in his arms. She moved a little, and he heard a small sound, which he guessed was the bra landing on the carpet.

His pulse quickened, and he felt a stirring in his groin. Oh dear.

'Maybe we should stop,' he suggested.

'If you want to, that's up to you. I'm just going to stand here for a little while. You're just going to stand there. Nobody needs to do anything, or say anything.'

'Okay. I can do that.'

'Okay then. It's not so bad, see?'

Adam stood in silence, listening to Evie's quiet breathing. He couldn't make out any details through the shirt over his head, but there was enough light that he could see vague shapes.

She was close. Really close. He had to wonder why she was really doing this. Surely this wasn't normal behaviour. He wondered how often Uncle Pat went out. Would there be a repeat performance, or would she get bored of him?

'Evie?'

'Yeah?'

'How come you don't have a boyfriend?'

'Who says I don't?'

'Well, I just figure, if I were your boyfriend, just for example, I would do everything I could to make you happy, so you'd be forever saying things like "my boyfriend is so sweet and wonderful and considerate and amazing", and I haven't heard anything like that, so I figure there's nobody like that in your life.'

She let out a wistful sigh. 'I can't fault your logic, cuz. There's nobody like that. I had a boyfriend until recently, but he wasn't like that, either. He was more like "my boyfriend is so possessive and jealous and obsessive and manipulative" so I broke up with him a few months ago.'

'Ouch.' That had to hurt. 'He doesn't sound like the type who'd handle rejection well.'

'Fortunately, he went away with his parents shortly after that, on some expedition or other. He'll be gone for ages. Hopefully he'll be over it by then.'

'Here's hoping.'

'Adam?'

'Yes?'

'Can you hold me? I mean, is it okay if I lean back against you, and you put your arms around me?'

'Uh, sure.' He couldn't look to check, but it felt like his boner had subsided a little, which was good news. She was sure to notice if something poked her in the butt.

Adam had visions of himself bashing into to back of Evie's head, so wisely waited for her to settle back against his chest. Her skin was warm against his bare chest, and he wrapped his arms gently around her waist.

'This is nice,' he murmured. 'Anytime you need a hug, just ask. We don't even need to strip off first, if you don't want to.'

'Logic says we shouldn't make a habit of this, but you're right, this does feel nice.'

'Mmhm.'

'How's my tummy?'

'Huh?' He ran his hands over the smooth skin. 'Uh, smooth? Toned? What is it you want to know?'

Instead of answering, she took his hands in her own, and lifted them up to her breasts. Each seemed to fit perfectly into his cupped palms, and for a moment or two his brain simply switched off. He was fondling Evie's boobs. They were in his hands, and touching them was every bit as lovely and wonderful as he'd imagined. He still hadn't seen them, but this was better by far.

Feeling brave, he gave them a little more of a squeeze. Just gently. They squished in his hands, malleable like a stress toy. His biology teacher had said they were just bags of fat, but the words did nothing to describe how they felt.

Evie made no sounds of protest, so he explored the curves some more, brushing his thumbs over the bumps of her nipples. They were, somehow, even softer and more delicate, sinking in beneath his touch. Not to be thwarted, he used thumbs and forefingers to locate the teat, tweaking to get hold of it.

That got a sound out of Evie, a sharp intake of breath and her hands shot to his wrists. 'Those are sensitive.'

'Okay.' Adam placed the flat of his palms over them instead. He tried massaging her chest in opposite circles, seeing how it felt to press them together. He was surprised by the range of motion, and could understand the need to prevent bouncing. Weighing them, he found they were heavy, too. Evie wasn't exactly top-heavy, like the models he'd seen in magazines, but his hands were full, and he couldn't imagine having that kind of weight attached to his chest.

He gave them another smoosh, but the effect of cleavage was wasted when he couldn't see anything.

With a deep sigh of regret, he let go, trailing his hands down to her hips. 'Thanks for that, Evie.'

'You're welcome. Feeling a bit less nervous now?'

'A little.'

'Good, because according to this clock you've been at it for five full minutes.'

'Wow. That went fast. Why didn't you stop me?'

'You have warm hands, nice and soft, but strong. I wasn't watching the clock, I was just enjoying the embrace.'

'I bet you were imagining it was Brad Pitt, or some hunk.'

'Maybe, maybe not.' She stepped out of his reach, and he felt the sudden cool air in her absence. She was moving, quiet scuffing sounds on the carpet. She was picking up her clothes!

He got the t-shirt off his head just in time to see Evie shrugging back into hers. She held her jeans in one hand, and scooped up her bra with the other. 'I'm gonna to make breakfast. Bring the mugs to the kitchen when you're done showering, okay?'

'Okay?'

And then she was gone, leaving him a last glimpse of legs and buttocks as she ducked out the door.

He was trembling, and looked down at his hands. He rubbed his thumbs against his fingertips, remembering the touch of soft skin... he ran for the shower.
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2 months 1 week ago #33568 by Mikisha
Mikisha replied the topic: Dawn
Adam really wanted to spend some, ahem, "quality time" in the shower, but if he took too long Evie would certainly guess what he was up to, and he didn't think he could face her knowing smirk.

He had no option but to turn down the temperature and shower as quickly as possible. His hair took longer to dry these days, and rinsing the soap out was a pain. Maybe he should bite the bullet and go find a barbers to sort it out, or maybe Uncle Pat had some clippers. He was ex-military, so Adam figured he was bound to have some stashed away. The revelation that Pat's ponytail was technically a disguise made it doubly likely.

Done with the shower, he killed the water and grabbed for his towel. The guest bathroom was a pretty cool setup, with a big walk-in shower and decent water pressure. He gave his hair a cursory towelling and then set about the rest of his body, with all its new aches and growing pains. He knew he was growing taller because the gap to the shower head seemed shorter every day, but so far he didn't seem to be sprouting in any of the other ways traditionally associated with 'becoming a man'.

In fact, due to an awful optical illusion his manhood appeared to be shrinking. He couldn't decide if he was further away, or maybe it looked small because the rest of him was larger, or maybe just because he so desperately wanted it to be something more impressive.

He looked in the mirror, hands on hips. He could see what Evie meant about dancer's legs, but to his mind they were too thin. His stay at the hospital had messed him up somehow, starving him skinny immediately prior to the onset of puberty. How long would it take his body to sort itself out? Would it ever?

He was going to hit the gym again today, perhaps fix himself a double-dose of Pat's weight-gain stuff.

He tried a few experimental flexes in the mirror, and it was immediately obvious that he'd been working out, but somewhere along the line his physique had switched from 'bulky' to 'slim', and he wasn't sure what to do about it. Even the shape of his face seemed to be changing.

He pursed his lips, musing. Would he suit a beard? With his hair tied back he'd look like a mysterious loner, which could be a cool look. He'd been hoping to reinvent himself, make some changes, but he never imagined the change would be this immediate, or this effective.

He practised some manly frowns. He waggled his eyebrows, tried out some seductive smiles.

'What the heck?' He smiled wider, using a finger to hook his upper lip up at the back. 'When did that grow back?' He'd had a gap back there for years, a molar that shattered when some asshole hid a stone in his sandwich, but now the gap was filled. He'd grown a new tooth without realising it? Had the broken tooth been one of his baby teeth? He couldn't remember, but it was a long time ago so it was possible. He'd gotten used to it not being there, and never even noticed the gap any more... no wonder, since it had apparently filled itself in.

He shrugged. Whatever, whenever, his smile was a little bit better than he remembered. Another little bonus on a day that had already started out pretty well.


# # #


Breakfast was pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs, served with a glass of fresh orange juice and a second mug of coffee. Evie sat opposite, crunching on an apple.

'No pancakes for you?' asked Adam.

'I'm watching my figure,' she replied.

She looked just fine to Adam, but then reasoned it might be because she ate fruit for breakfast instead of bacon. He shrugged and tucked in.

Evie finished her apple, and tossed the core into the disposal. 'Any plans for today?'

'Uncle Pat gave me some stuff to look over, see if I can fix any of it. Or failing that, make use of anything I can salvage.'

Evie nodded. They lived in a fairly small town, and while the modern habit was to throw old things away, some of the older folks preferred to mend what they had rather than spend more money on a new, cheap, imported replacement. Uncle Pat was well-known as a handyman and all-round repair-guy, in addition to his skills as an aero- and auto mechanic. His workshop was piled high with rusty old junk he never got around to chucking out.

'Good luck with that. Some of those things were scrap five years ago.'

'I think he's testing me, a way of seeing what I can do without risking anything expensive.'

'Makes sense.'

'How about you? Any plans?'

'I'm off work this weekend, so I thought I might just lounge around here and chill out.'

Adam mentally inserted the words 'in my panties', but kept his mouth shut.

Evie got up and poured herself another coffee. 'I'm still interested in a karate lesson, though, if you have time? Assuming the offer still stands, that is.'

'Uh...' Karate lesson? Had he already done that? Oh god, the dream! He reminded himself that it was just a dream, although in light of the events of the morning it didn't seem so far fetched. In fact, could he even be sure any of it had taken place? He thought quickly, did he have any evidence that Evie had been in his room that morning?

Yes, he realised. She brought coffee, and he'd brought the two cups back to the kitchen. He mentally breathed a sigh of relief.

'Karate lesson, yeah, sure, we can fit that in. I don't supposed you have a gi, or something similar?'

'The karate suit thing? No. Is it important?'

Adam shook his head hastily. 'Nope, doesn't matter. I mean, it's useful, but we can do without it.'

'We'll try a session without, and maybe invest in some proper gear later, if we feel like it.'

'What is it you want to learn, exactly? Just the blocks, for defence, or you want to attack as well? I don't think we should be sparring yet.'

'Teach me the blocks to start with, and then show me some of your moves. I might want more lessons after that.'

'I have to warn you, my moves are a little rusty. We only did a year of classes, and it never really sunk in and became reflex, y'know?'

'In that case we can learn together, from each other. I'm sure it'll be easier when you've got somebody to try it out on.'

'Yeah.' Adam's mind wandered a little. 'We're still talking about karate, right?'

Evie smirked. 'I was, why, what other moves did you want to show me?'

He sat back, thoughtful. 'I can't tell if you're being lewd or not.'

'Let's assume I was. You said before that if you were my boyfriend you'd make me happy. I'm curious; how would you do that?'

She was either testing him, teasing him, or genuinely flirting, but Adam wasn't flustered this time. He had an answer ready for all three.

'The obvious approach would be to buy you gifts, take you out to nice places, pay you compliments, all the usual stuff, but that'd make me a doormat rather than a boyfriend. I think being a boyfriend is more about mutual support, and making sure your girl always knows that you're there for them, and that they're loved. If I were your boyfriend I would make damn sure that you never forget how wonderful you are. You're really awesome, and smart, and funny, and beautiful. I don't want to make you happy. I want you to be naturally happy, because you deserve it, and you deserve somebody who recognises that.'

Evie stared for several long seconds. '...wow.'

Adam looked away, a little embarrassed. ‘Too much?’

‘No, it’s just… wow. I thought you were going to say something about sex.’

He shrugged. ‘I think we both know I haven’t the first idea how to give you that kind of happy.’

She nodded, distantly. ‘I think your way sounds better.’ She gave him a smile. ‘The honesty is refreshing, though. You’re much more mature than the jerks I went to school with. When you find somebody, they’re going to be very lucky.’

‘If I ever find anybody.’

‘You’re sure to find somebody eventually. You’re growing into quite a catch. Of course, it might help if you left the house once in a while. There’s not too many eligible girls around here.’

Adam waggled his eyebrows. ‘Maybe you should invite some of your friends round, have a pool party or something.’

‘For you to drool over? I don’t think they’d go for that… well, a couple might.’

‘Seriously?’

She swatted his arm playfully. ‘No, not really, but some of my friends have younger siblings. It couldn’t hurt for you to socialise a little, even if it’s just as my little cousin.’

‘Gee, thanks.’


# # #


Adam spent the next couple of hours testing and organising the various wrecked appliances in “his” new workspace. Uncle Pat had cleared a couple of benches in one of the outbuildings and told Adam he was free to do whatever he liked with the space. As he expected, most of the stuff was junk, broken and dead, but Adam was pretty sure Uncle Pat expected him to do more than immediately give up.

Sure, he had a pile of junk, but that didn’t mean it was useless. Some of it could be salvaged, and the salvaged parts could be used to carry out repairs, or even create something completely new. Pat had promised to train him on the tools in his workshop, so eventually he would be able to build crazy machines, or junk sculptures, or whatever.

He set about tearing down the most damaged items, harvesting lengths of wire, motors, useful-looking mechanisms, hinges, handles, anything that looked useful and wasn’t too damaged. He had a soldering iron, a cheap multi-meter, and his own set of electronic tools that he used to assembled computers.

His first success came when he restored a toaster to life. A fuse had blown, easily replaced, and the timer was dead. He pulled it apart and found a simple electronic board with simple timing circuit. He had spare parts to make that! The dial worked a variable resistor, which looked okay, all he needed was the right capacitor and a transistor, and he had quite a little pile of those. A quick rummage and he had the parts he needed. Ten minutes later he had a working timer, and was putting the toaster back together. Success!

Pleased with himself, he went back to the kitchen, mixed himself a batch of Uncle Pat’s bulk-up juice, then headed to the gym.


# # #


Evie poked her head in. ‘Hey there, Hercules, fancy a few lengths in the pool?’

Adam put down the paint cans and looked up. ‘That sounds good, actually. I’ve worked up quite a sweat.’

‘I see, yeah. Do you have some trunks?’

‘Swim shorts, but yeah.’ Baggy shorts were a much safer option when there was the chance of seeing hot girls in swimwear. Maybe one day he’d feel confident enough to wear trunks. Maybe one day he’d find somebody who’d want him to.

‘Close enough! I’ll meet you out there?’

‘Right!’


# # #


Adam wasted no time getting to him room and changing into his swim-shorts. His sweaty gym clothes went into the laundry basket, and he dashed through the house to the back garden. Evie wasn’t there yet, so he tested the water with a toe. It wasn’t as cold as he expected, but neither was it especially warm. He grit his teeth and jumped straight in – he didn’t want to show himself up being all timid about the temperature. Evie would doubtless dive straight in, so how could he do anything less?

Once he was in, he got over the shock quickly, and paddled around for a bit before deciding that he wasn’t up to much swimming. His arms were tired after a session of heavy lifting, and if he was honest he’d only come out for the chance to see Evie in a bikini.

He forged his way to the ladder and heaved himself out of the pool. He would wait for her on one of the loungers.


# # #


‘Time for you to learn about dodgeball. Ready? Go!’

Evie wore a dark blue swimsuit, in the Japanese style he’d only seen in anime shows. She produced a red ball from behind her back and passed it from hand to hand a couple of times with dizzying speed. Adam nervously retreated to a safe distance, and she hurled it in his direction.

He tried to duck aside, but he wasn’t ready and she aimed it low. He couldn’t quite get clear, and the ball bounced off his hip. Was she aiming for his groin?

‘One to me,’ she commented as he stooped to pick up the ball. ‘The higher you aim, the easier it is to duck. Plus, shots to the gut are more effective.’

Adam nodded and wound back his arm to throw it back at her. She started to sway left, and he adjusted his aim to suit. It sailed by, and she merely grinned. Her dodge was a fake-out. ‘Never let your enemy know what you’re doing. Always be lying.’

She bent to pick up the ball, and flicked it at him while she was still crouched. It bounced off his nose, and he felt the sudden flush of a nosebleed. ‘That’s not fair,’ he thought. ‘I’ve been careful not to think any sexy thoughts and I still end up with a nosebleed.’

‘Hit them before they’re ready. Use the element of surprise. Pretend to attack, change your mind, then hit them when they relax.’

The ball had rolled back to Evie’s feet, and she kicked it up into her hands. Adam tensed, ready to dodge, but she didn’t throw. And then she did, hard and fast, right into his tummy. He crumpled to the ground and lay in the grass. ‘Owwww.’

Evie loomed over him, impossibly tall from this angle, the sun streaming through her golden hair in a glowing halo. ‘What did I just say? You need to pay attention.’ She must have been in the water at some point, and the dripping water caught the sunlight as it streamed over her curves, droplets sparkling as it fell from her outstretched hand.

Adam tried to get up, but a weight on his chest held him down. ‘Do we have to do this in swimwear? It’s very distracting.’

‘Why? What are you talking about? I don’t have anything you haven’t got.’

Adam surged to his feet and looked at his reflection in the house windows. He was wearing the same anime-swimsuit as Evie, and worse, he didn’t look too bad in it. With his long blonde hair in a ponytail he looked like her sister.


# # #


He woke up, gasping, and scrabbled at the sides of the sun-lounger. He clamped a hand to his chest, encountering bare skin, and looked down to reassure himself that he was still himself, still in his shorts.

‘Jesus,’ he muttered. Another stupid dream. Was he going to keep dreaming of Evie every time he closed his eyes?

‘Adam? Are you okay?’ Evie emerged from the pool and ran over. She looked concerned, and Adam couldn't help wonder why. Had he been shouting in his sleep?

‘I’m fine,' he said, 'Just a dream. Sorry if I disturbed you.’

‘Another weird dream? You need to cut out the midnight snacks, or something.’

‘Heh, yeah, I guess.’ Adam never snacked late at night, but clearly something was upsetting his sleep. Raging teenage hormones seemed the most likely culprit, especially as his weird dreams all seemed to feature Evie. He was finding it hard to get her out of his head during the day, so it made sense that she’d be in his dreams as well.

Hopefully once he got used to being around her his dreams would return to normal. She’d done him a favour by choosing to wear a one-piece swimsuit instead of a bikini – he didn’t need that kind of distraction right now. He noted absently that her suit was white, with black panels and neon green designs, nothing like the navy blue he'd dreamed about.

‘Sorry I was so late,’ she began, and Adam raised a questioning brow. ‘I had a phone call, my friend Mel, and once she gets going it can be hard to get a word in. When I came out, you’d dozed off, so I left you to it. I guess you tired yourself out.’

‘Yeah, my arms were kinda wrecked, swimming so soon after lifting. How long was I out?’

‘I don’t know, I’ve been out here for maybe half an hour. I think Mel kept me on the phone for another half before that. How long did you swim for?’

‘A couple of minutes, tops.' Adam did the math. 'Geez. I slept for an hour?’

Evie pulled a face. ‘You should be careful, you can’t lie in the sun for hours without sunblock, you’ll burn to a crisp.’

He rubbed his arms, deciding he’d got away with it this time. ‘I’ll keep that in mind.’

‘I’m going back in the water, if you feel like joining me.’

‘I think I’m just gonna go shower,’ he said. ‘Say, did you say you were going to teach me your dodgeball tricks?’

‘Did I? I don’t think so.’ She shrugged. ‘I mean, I could, if you’re interested. Hardly seems relevant, now.’

‘Except for pillow fights.’

‘True. Okay, I’ll give you a couple of classes sometime. Seems a fair trade, in exchange for your karate moves.’


# # #


'This is pretty good work, sport.' Uncle Pat eyed the stacked up components with an approving eye. 'You could open up your own radio shack down here.'

'That's what I was thinking. Why spend money on spares when electronic components are mostly standard.'

'Could you build a computer out of this? Or fix one up?'

'Ah, no. As a rule computer bits are beyond me. I can build a computer out of computer bits, a motherboard, processor and stuff, but not from raw components. Why do you ask?'

'I have a computer at the office, and it's an antique. I was wondering if you could look at it.'

Adam shrugged. 'I can do that, no problem.'

'I keep considering a new one, but I wouldn't know what to get. I remember Evie's laptop was really expensive, and I'm pretty sure she only liked it for the colour.' He grimaced, and Adam laughed.

'You might be right, but they're pretty similar under the hood.'

'Right, so tomorrow I'll give you a lift over to the hangar, first thing. We'll toss your bike in the back of the truck so you can leave anytime you get bored.'

'Sure thing.'

'Attaboy.'


# # #


'Low block left. Mid block right. Low block right. Good.'

Evie had picked up the basic blocks very quickly, and could reproduce them on demand. He couldn't remember the Japanese names, and had looked them up online before deciding that he didn't need them. Even the English translations sounded complex, so instead he'd shown her what he could remember and they'd decided on their own names.

He'd shown her how to use some basic stances to get out of a grab, how to duck under a clumsy punch and get under their guard to retaliate.

Evie had a few suggestions of her own, some of which were shockingly ruthless, and some that made Adam laugh.

'You'll have a second or two to decide whether you're going to fight back or escape.'

Evie shrugged. 'It's easier to escape if your attacker's puking his guts up from a kick in the balls, right?'

'Well, yes. Way easier.'

'And if he's already helpless, why not go for the atomic wedgie before I call the police?'

'Because he might recover faster than you're expecting, and then you're in trouble. It's not always easy to land a solid kick to the nuts. If he's a dirty fighter, he'll be expecting it, or if he's really juiced up on adrenaline he might not feel it as much as you'd like.' He mimed the upward block. 'Best bet is always to get under the guard, and wham,' he mimed a punch, 'in the guts, up under the ribcage. Knock the breath out of them, and then run. Go find help. Call the cops. Knock on somebody's front door. Anything.'

'Okay, I get it. Want to try some slow attacks on me, so I can test my blocking skills?'

'Not if you're going to kick me in the balls, no.'

'I promise.'

'Okay. Drop back into the ready stance, here I come...'


# # #


That evening, Adam sent Stump another 'progress report' email. His old schoolmate had taken a leaf from Adam's book and was going to use the summer break to reinvent himself. Adam had suggested that being alone actually gave him better odds of shaking his old image.

With Adam out of the way, Stump could stop being one of the two dorks and go back to being Stewart. He was desperately working on trying to grow a beard - he'd found some hair-restorer that his dad had tried when his bald patch first appeared. He'd made no progress so far, but was certain he could cultivate at least a convincing fuzz by the time college started.

Adam wrote back detailing his foray into appliance repair. If he fixed up Uncle Pat's computer, that might lead to some other jobs, and pretty soon he'd be charging for his skills. He relayed all this to Stump, sorry, Stewart, as well as most the mundane details of his day. He made no mention of his interactions with Evie, despite repeated requests for information, photos, descriptions and vital statistics. If he viewed it altruistically he was protecting her privacy, but in his heart the fact was more primal - he didn't want to share.


# # #


He lay awake for a long time that night, unable and unwilling to sleep lest he dream more Evie-focussed madness. He knew he was developing an unhealthy obsession, and feared his dreams were going to show him a dark side of himself that he didn't want to face. He liked her, of course, but he didn't want to wear her clothes.

His joints hurt, especially his hips, but he couldn't decide whether it was from the day's exercise or growing pains. If he took after his dad he'd be a shade over six foot when he was done growing. He was nearly caught up to Evie's five-foot-eight, and if he kept on at the current rate expected to overtake her in a month or so.

In the meantime, the next few weeks were promising to be singularly uncomfortable. He wished he could just get it all sorted in one go. Stump was trying to grow a beard, while Adam was rapidly becoming a man in all the ways that didn't count. It was no wonder Evie made him feel to flustered, he was still just a boy after all, and she was a young woman of eighteen. What a difference those few years made!

The future stretched out before him, and he realised that although he had no plan, the cruel blow he'd been dealt had actually worked out okay. If somebody told him right now that he had to spend the rest of his life in this house with Evie and Uncle Pat, that would suit him just fine. All his dreams and ambitions seemed like the foolish notions of a child, a child he hardly remembered.

Memories of the life he was leaving behind. He'd slipped out of everybody's lives, most likely forgotten already by everybody but his solitary schoolfriend, who was himself trying to become somebody new. Soon Adam would be just a memory, somebody he used to hang out with, one half of the 'two dorks'.

That was probably for the best, he decided. Stewart had a brain, and a lot of potential. He could do big things, if things went well. The same went for Adam. He wasn't lazy, he wasn't stupid, he wasn't especially antisocial, and if he wasn't exactly prince charming, he tended to get on with people he met outside of school.

More or less settled, he rolled onto his side and tried to get some sleep.

He'd barely begun to doze when the door creaked. He opened his eyes, but of course he was facing the wrong way. Had he imagined it? He listened intently for the sound to repeat itself. Nothing, for several long seconds, then another sound, a scuff of carpet. A quiet breath, then another click as the door closed.

That was weird. Somebody checking on him? Had he made noises in his sleep? Already? Well, clearly whoever it was had seen nothing amiss, and left. He relaxed.

The bedsprings grumbled as somebody pushed the covers aside and crawled in behind him.

'Adam? Are you awake?'

He stared straight ahead at the window. This couldn't be happening. He was dreaming. He managed a strangled croak.

'Evie? What are you doing?'

'Shh!' she hissed. 'If you want me to go, I'll go, but if you wake dad up we're both toast.'

Shit, she had a point. Uncle Pat would never understand if he burst in and found Evie in his bed. Hell, Adam didn't understand why she was there, how could he try to explain it to an enraged father?

'You shouldn't be here,' he hissed back. 'This is super-wrong.'

'You don't even know what I want, yet.'

'Pretty sure you're not here to borrow my CDs.'

He felt the bed shake with muffled mirth. 'Shh,' she protested. 'Don't make me laugh.'

'What do you want? Why are you in my bed?'

'I was thinking, how can I cure you of your shyness in one go? And I thought, let's cuddle up.'

'So this is, what? Acclimatisation training?' He frowned, but of course she couldn't see it.

'Sure, call it that. Expert mode. Budge over.'

He shifted slightly, and felt a bare arm worm across his ribs. 'Not that way, silly. Budge up here, back against me. It's called spooning.'

'I know what spooning is.'

'Well, I'm the big spoon, because I'm taller.'

He narrowed his eyes at that. Just you wait, he thought.

He felt the warmth of her body close behind him, and her smooth legs slid over to entwine with his own. 'Come back to me, Adam. I won't do anything weird. It's just cuddling.'

'Okay, fine, don't make a fuss.' He rolled his eyes, unable to believe that he was protesting. What was wrong with him? 'But I warn you, if this is a dream I'm going to be very upset.'

Evie chuckled again, and pulled him back. He didn't resist, and slid back to let her press up against his back. Acting on instinct, he reached back to pull her closer. His hand found her hip, and he hesitated. He slid his hand over her skin, stopped, and slid back the other way, down the outside of her thigh.

Something was missing.

'Are you naked?'

Evie whispered directly into his ear. 'I warned you this was expert mode. Sweet dreams.'

# # #


Unsurprisingly, Adam lay awake for quite a while that night, with Evie's arm draped over his side.

After a while he noticed a change in her breathing, which he assumed meant she'd fallen asleep. He lay perfectly still and silent for as long as he could bear it, then gave in and placed his hand back on her thigh. She didn't wake up, and for a while he was happy to leave it at that, enjoying the feel of her skin, the warmth of a beautiful girl in his bed.

A beautiful naked girl, but she was lay behind him, and thanks to the heavy curtains at his window it was pitch black in the room. Logically thinking, touching a girl was better than looking, but the temptation to switch on the lamp, or at least turn around, was driving him crazy all the same.

Squeezing his eyes closed tight, he grit his teeth and let his hand wander higher, slowly, carefully, stroking upward, over the swell of her hip, into the dip of her waist. He could reach higher, but lay as he was on his right side he was forced to use his left hand, and the angle wasn't good. He couldn't go much higher without compromising his finesse, and he risked waking her up with his clumsy fumbling.

And really, there was no need. Evie had already let him touch her breasts, and she'd probably let him do it again if he asked really nicely. He moved his hand back down, resting comfortably on her hip this time.

The insidious thought occurred to him almost immediately, and a couple of seconds later he gave in to the urge, and reached back a little further until he had most of a buttock in his hand. It was, to be fair, just a butt, but that stolen touch gave him an illicit thrill. He gave the slightest, gentlest possible squeeze, just to confirm that her ass was every bit as awesome and perfect as he had imagined. He wasn't disappointed.

Gingerly, he pulled his hand away and folded his arms across his chest. Even without checking he knew he was rock hard, and the odds of him actually falling asleep were practically nil.

What was he supposed to do?

Another few interminable minutes and he made up his mind; he had to take care of this right now.

Moving as gently as he could, he lifted Evie's arm off his ribs and placed it on her own leg. Then he inched out of the bed and practically ran to his en suite bathroom. Once there he left the light off, but locked the door. Desperate to keep quiet, he worked slowly and kept his breathing under control, but aroused as he was it was all over in no time at all.

He cleaned up as quickly and effectively as he could manage in complete silence, and crept back to the bed. Evie was gone. Whatever the test was, he'd failed it.

Mind racing, he slipped into a troubled sleep. Evie featured heavily.

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