As they walk down the walkway, she glanced, studying his profile. The sun decided it had spent its energy for the entire day, wanting its companion take its place but also savouring the moment before it did so. As it slowly settled down the horizon, with the way the warm glow illuminated his silhouette, his tanned features glowing healthily, she thought Zach looked as though he didn't quite belong in the world – he was solid but also something like a dream too.
She looked ahead, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear, reminding herself of how lucky she was to be beside him. She made a vow to herself that before they leave, she would ask him to prom.
She wanted to do it – had to do it before courage deserts her.
"I want to show you something." He spoke suddenly, startling her from her evening musings. Curious, she let him guide her. They reached the beach but instead of heading towards the boardwalk, he wound their way further into the area where it was less populated.
"Zach, there's not many people here…"
He chuckled. "December, I'm not going to do anything to you. You're in safe hands."
"Oh!" Her cheeks pinked at the thought of him thinking she meant something else. And in good hands? She had no doubt. "I know, I didn't mean anything weird by that…" She chuckled nervously before adding, "I just…I'm really curious." December's nerves were erratic. Eagerness, that's what it was. The wanderlust and explorer in her was bubbling with the possibilities of what he had in mind.
He laughed. "Okay, close your eyes now." She did with her hands, but there were still gaps between her fingers. "I can still see them."
December giggled, and her cheeks warmed when she was aware of his presence behind her, even more so when he placed his hands on top of hers. She heard him speak at her ear, his warm breath tickling and she had to brush the urge to touch them. "Just making sure you're not cheating."
With each step they took – rounding a corner of the hill – making them seemed like a speck in the distance, she couldn't contain her smile as she wondered, "Zach, the beach was fun and dinner was wholesome. What could you possibly show me that would top all of th –"
Her breath hitched.
He had pulled his hands back with a whisper of 'look'. He brought them to a completely isolated area of the beach – and one which she had no idea even existed.
Even more astonishing, that the beach hid a beautiful and timeless artefact made by nature herself.
She looked at the big rock jutting from the earth, formed to make an archway. Illuminated by the warm glow from the sun, it had tinges of red, like crimson. She just had to step into it and enter a different world, a world that moments ago was the same but now, seen with new eyes. The ocean before her was dark and vast, endless, and she was hypnotized by the colours in the sky and the way the sun was slowly setting. This place held some magic to her.
It felt so romantic.
Captivated, bemused, and struck with wonder all the same, she looked at him, her lips parting slightly as she tried to form words.
Zach smiled wide, utterly pleased with what he saw. He had remembered a secret hideaway and wanted to surprise her, to share with her what he found during one of those times he volunteered at this beach. He had been flabbergasted and filled with amazement when he found this spot and while he knew December was the kind of girl who was honest in her gestures and expression, the fact that it took her breath away the way it did his made him feel satisfied beyond everything else.
"The world." He said softly, looking at her ever so gently.
The wind picked up around them, the air growing cooler, caressing their skin as though they wanted to welcome their guest in such a hidden place. Her hair was windswept and he brushed a few strands to tuck behind her ear.
The ear and her entire body flushed.
She felt warm but also frozen in her spot. Zach was looking at her in a way that he never had before. Zach was touching her. Zach was showing her a secret spot. Zach was…
He was making her fall for him even more.
Their words played in her mind, and she thought to how perfect it all meshed.
"Zach, the beach was fun and dinner was wholesome. What could you possibly show me that would top all of this…"
She didn't know how to swim, not even sure if she wanted rescuing from this moment right now. It just felt…wonderful.
Drowning in euphoria.
Images flashed in her mind, accompanied by the emotions that intensified when she thought about him; the first time they met and talked, the time when they went to an archery training camp, and everything else that led them to where they are right now.
"Can I ask you something?" She whispered, still transfixed at the beautiful creature beside her. "Why did you show me this?"
Zach bit his lips, smiling as he glanced away, suddenly feeling bashful.
"I thought you might appreciate this."
Her heart bloomed and she was sure her eyes were moony. This time, she did what she had wanted to do earlier. December poked his cheek, right at the dimple.
Standing on her tip toes, she leaned closer and whispered, "I did. Very much. In fact, I really love this."
She wanted him to know that she meant every word, looking at him until he met her gaze – even then, she wanted to hold it just so he understand how much this gesture meant to her.
He surprised her again when he took a hold of her chin and said, his voice a little deep. "That made me really happy."
December bit her lip to prevent herself from squealing in exuberance. She really had to do something about that, and how he always managed to take her by delightful surprises. Did he think he could get away with scoring all the points? She shook her head at his confidence, but loving it all the same.
Smiling devilishly and slowly walking away from him – just a few steps away to the waters – her eyes gleamed in amusement and determination, and an eyebrow challenging him.
He was trying to figure out what she was up to, by her mischievous manner. Amused, he took a step forward to reach for her until he realized in an instant, what she was going to do.
"December –" He started.
But it was a second too late.
She splashed at him, big – making his shirt mostly wet. Looking at the state he was in, stunned and blinking, she couldn't help the bubble of laughter from within her.
"Finally got you!"
He raised his brow at her, but was grinning. "That wasn't fair."
"Wasn't it?" She shrugged her shoulders cutely, feigning innocence. "I thought all's fair in love and war. Just trying to win some points here."
He chuckled and nodded to himself. "Oh, I see." Then, he cupped an ear as though she had said something he thought she did. "Wait. What's that? You want me to chase you?"
She blinked. "What? I didn't – Ahhh!" December shrieked, laughing while running from him as soon as he purposefully strode towards her, a complacent smile on his face. It was the prowl before a hunt, the calm before a storm.
And she probably shouldn't have glanced behind her, because it didn't help her matters when he reached over, took a hold of his shirt and yank it over his head, revealing a deliciously tanned and male physique.
December's eyes widened before she exclaimed, but still with some laughter in between, "Oh my God, Zach!"
He caught up to her just as easily, even though they had run quite a distance from the archway. As he gained on her speed, Zach hugged her from behind – making her startle with another bout of delighted shriek. He couldn't help the laughter bubbling in his throat at that. When he had her in his arms, spinning her around by the shore that they had one foot in the water, and the other on land, he whispered into her ear.
"Now I've got you."
Her cheeks reddened again, but she didn't care now. She didn't want to care, because she was slowly unwinding. December could feel the tight knot in her shoulders and body lessening, could feel her worries washed away by the sea.
It felt so natural.
And my God, she thought dreamily, I want to stay in his arms like this forever.
She thought they were going to catch a break as they walked back to the archway, but Zach had different ideas when he suddenly swoop her into his arms again and walk back towards the waters.
"Zach!" She exclaimed, excited but then she worried about her weight, and tried to wriggle her way out. December couldn't help it – she felt insecure about parts of her body, and this was her boyfriend – her first boyfriend – she didn't want him to look at her awkwardly. "I'm not…I'm not heavy, am I?" She let out an uneasy laugh, her worry and thought of how ridiculous that was overlapping with one another.
Zach gave her an incredulous look before it softened. He shook his head in earnest. "No, you're absolutely fine."
Her lips formed a small 'o' before she bit her lip, confused at a small part in her. Somehow knowing that he didn't think she was heavy made it more embarrassing for her. It was a really odd thing, she didn't want him to think she's heavy, but when he didn't, she felt weird? This embarrassment was ridiculous. December was glad that he thought she was absolutely fine – what a marvellous compliment – but then she thought she knew. It was better to not have brought it up in the first place, because now it made her feel kind of weird about herself.
I wish I could just not think too much and worry about everything.
December studied him discreetly. She was really happy to see him so playful like this, so different than before. A part of her hoped that she was the one who made him feel so comfortable around her. This precious side of him…she wanted to be selfish and be the only person who knew about this side.
But that didn't feel right, even though her heart desperately wanted it so – people are not objects to be belong to.
Still, December wanted them to belong though – always.
She thought he would put her down, if not to soak in the water and muddy sands, thinking she could splash some waters, a small one this time at him. But when he didn't, and continued waddling, her whole body tensed in anticipation.
"Umm…" She started, trying to find some words. "Where, exactly, do you plan on bringing us?"
He didn't notice the way she clammed up. "I heard King Triton is looking for his princess daughter. She's supposed to rule the kingdom below but rumour has it, she's been having some fun on the beach. I'm just giving the ocean their princess back."
Although she was uneasy, her body shook with uncontrollable giggles. It was sweet hearing him say that, and she sought to play along. She glanced out though, still mindful of the distance between the shores and how deep they were. He was only deep in his calves but she really didn't want him to take another step.
December held on to his shoulders, caressed the base of his neck and held his gaze. "Before you go any further, you need to know something. The princess has a secret."
He stopped, and raised both brows, curious to know about it. "And what is that?"
"She can't swim and prefers to stay on the land."
Zach's lips curved upwards slightly before he furrowed his brows. He blinked before they widened.
"First the allergies and now you don't know how to swim? Is there anything else that I need to know, princess?"
She wanted to hide her face away from him – it was too much, this blushing. But oh boy was she glad that he didn't bring them any further. It didn't seem that deep, but she still get uneasy at the idea of being in the waters, even if it's a small distance from the shore.
"I'll let you know if I find out more, but I promise this is all for now." She bit her inner cheek, nodding seriously.
His chest rumbled. "Fair enough. Well, I guess it's a good thing the princess can't swim, 'cause now I get to hang out with her for longer."
She chuckled softly but then stopped when she thought of something.
"Wait…were you really gonna give me to the ocean?"
"What?" He glanced at her to see if she was joking. Her eyes were wide and he shook his head, almost appalled. "Of course not, December. I can't believe – I would never do that. It's also against my code to risk people's lives."
She knew that and definitely believed him as well...just why did he bring them further from the shore?
"Oh, still suspicious, huh?" He said, shaking his head with mild amusement. "Trust me, I was only gonna let you soak in the water for a bit while holding you, you know…getting you wet just like you did to me."
December stilled in his arms, her ears getting hotter while she tried to stop the sensation from consuming her nerves.
Zach was just as bad.
As soon as he said that, Zach gulped. His face were heated and while she was still greatly taken aback by his words, she also marvelled at how pink his face looked.
"No," He choked out the word. "Oh God, December I didn't mean it like that. I swear, it wasn't anything dirty." He looked strained and if it was possible, he wanted to face palm himself for his choice of words.
She tried to keep a straight face, she really did. Of course she knew that, but the moment those words left his lips, it made sense that their mind strayed to the bases in a relationship.
He was always trying to be considerate of her; of her feelings and preferences. He had been very respectable.
They reached the shore, and he released her before trying to look elsewhere to calm himself. Unable to control her affection for him, she reach up to touch his cheek, caressing it, and feeling the soft skin beneath her fingertips.
He blinked in surprise as he looked at her.
"Hey," she started with another fond smile. "I won't think you're weird or anything. Trust me, I'm surrounded by friends who speaks around innuendos as though they're a second language."
A smile touched his lips, and he let out a chuckle. "Jethro?"
She nodded, but there was pride in her voice when she said. "And Brooke." Then, she added, "This whole thing? It's really fun. Thank you, Zach."
December smiled at him as though he had saved her life. Something…within him moved.
"You're always welcome." He managed, but tugging her along towards the archway.
They sat in the archway, like a little shade shielding them from the world before them. It was getting darker now, the sky painted purple and midnight with only a small glow of sun illuminating the amber diamonds in the waters. Zach was quietly admiring the view, his legs crossed as he rested his hands on either sides.
December revelled in the beauty of this world, not being able to take her eyes off of it. But just as she was focusing on how amazing this all was, her thoughts started to stray; from the things that happened that day to thoughts that solely included him. Like the fact that he didn't tell her about his volunteering.
"Hey, Zach?" She started, mirroring his stance but stretching her legs instead. "I was wondering…why didn't you tell me that you were volunteering as a lifeguard? I mean…I know you and Sid volunteer occasionally but I don't know…I had no idea you're a lifeguard. Just thought it's something I should know as your girlfriend." She let out a small chuckle, trying to ignore the awkward sensation she felt. Thinking about it in her head didn't feel confident as actually saying it out loud.
Zach smiled. "You're right, I should have told you. I guess with the things that's going on, it slipped from my mind." Then, he glanced at her, trying to gauge her expression. "Are you mad at me?"
She blinked in surprise, her eyebrows raising a little at that. Mad? How could she?
"I'm not angry." She laughed before schooling her expression to one of slight sheepish. "But to be honest, I was pretty upset at first. You could have drop that anytime we were talking during our texts or even at our first date." She glanced at him from her side, narrowing her eyes playfully.
He rubbed his face, his body shaking in silent laughter. "That's a great point. I think I was having so much fun that night that it didn't cross my mind."
After a moment, Zach asked, "Do you know why this is called Lustre Cove?"
She looked at him in puzzlement, shaking her head.
"Because of that." He pointed at the ocean, where the glittering phenomenon unfolds. "It's a namesake of that. It happens every day during the sunset, and I love watching this whenever I come here. But the best part about this? When it's morning. Just before the sun rises. The fog comes in during pre-dawn and it's so…otherworldly."
With every word he spoke, every sentence he weaved, her heart bloomed in yearning – the way he was describing the things that he's passionate about, that floored him; December couldn't get enough of his fascination.
To say she was surprised to learn that was an understatement. December felt so connected to Zach at that moment that she found herself looking at him in a new light, it almost had her breathless. She thought back to his words at the pizzeria. There was more to him than who he portrayed. She had this understanding of him that he was a realist, but really…he was also a dreamer. How did she not consider that before?
"That's my favourite time of the day too." She said almost in a whisper, a slow smile blooming across her face as she looked at him in such tender.
He had been witnessing this stunning view whenever he was at the beach. How wonderful and fortunate to see a magical thing, something that could evoke a sense of longing and wonder at the same time.
She may never unearth all of the universe's secrets, but at least, she mused, she was very lucky to have found this moment – with him.
"This is really stunning, Zach." She spoke after a while, then added, "You know…I have always been interested to find the hidden gems at campus." When Zach tilted his head in confusion, she added, laughing, "No, I know! Even my friends had no idea, or if they even believe me. But I found some; a gazebo, a fountain…and the biggest of all, the lake."
He nodded, chuckling. "I know about the lake."
December was overjoyed. "Then that's definitely proof there's more. I love them, even though they are an accidental find. There's things there that aren't on the school map." She shrugged in a pleased but also unaffected manner. "I just…they're all beautiful, but I have never seen anything like this before." Then, glancing at him, she said shyly, "I have never had anyone do this for me before."
"I'm honoured to be the first." He grinned charmingly.
They watched the last glimmers of the sunset, like a curtain closing in on a great show, talking unhurriedly. Although they were at a secluded area and night had fallen, there were enough light to accompany them since the moon appeared, and the stars started to twinkle in the dark canvas.
They listened to the sound of the waves crashing to the shore, the sprays of water misting their skin.
"How's things there at the council? I hope you're not stressing yourself too much." December smoothed the creases out of her dress, flaring the skirt around her and rested her hands on her thighs.
The crescent moon cast a shadow to his features, making him look more dashing. Zach paused a moment before answering, "With other clubs having their event, including ours, and there's prom too which is the biggest one yet for our year, it's hectic, but nothing I can't handle. I'm doing just fine, December." He smiled.
December was relieved that he was doing alright; she had never seen anyone work twice as hard as him – it was admirable yet terrifying too. As though he was reaching for a goal that only he could see, and farther away from the rest of his peers. But, that was her Zach, and she was so proud of him.
And…ah, there it is, she thought, feeling the jolt in her nerves, prom.
She hadn't been able to muster the courage to even mention it to him, and now that she knew the gist of what he had to manage, she was glad she didn't interrupt him with that then.
But he was right, prom was the biggest event for their grade – the biggest for her too – and she wouldn't let guilt be in the way to her happiness. December remembered her vow earlier – but this wasn't quite the time yet.
"I'm really glad. But if you need any help, I don't mind lending a hand. You know, it definitely adds some extra credit to my college resume." She giggled a little, but she saw no problems with that. Having joined archery and some others, as well as occasionally attending and contributing to the writers' club, she found herself to still have a lot of time on her hands. Of course, everyone should move on their own pace, yet she felt as though she hadn't done enough to fill her time here.
Zach chuckled, thinking on that idea. "I wouldn't mind recruiting you, if only we didn't have enough hands on deck."
She nodded, a little bit disappointed that it had to be so, but also realizing that with twelve members managing their assigned tasks, it seemed as though there would be no room for her. She would be the odd one out.
"Ah, makes me feel sad that I didn't try to join you guys during freshman. Oh well, maybe in my next life." She said airily.
"And mine too. Again." He chimed lightheartedly.
It warmed her heart that he wanted to still be the president of their school, and it also made her want to root him for all eternity because he was so great at it. She didn't know what would happen in the future and that thought seemed scary for a miniscule moment. But it shouldn't matter because the only thing that does was this moment right now.
If they were born again, though, she wanted to relive all of this again, to date him, to be working side by side, and just be together like this.
Time passed by slowly when they weren't aware of it. But they did, and Zach suggested that they go back to their friends.
December felt disappointed, just like that moment during their date, but she also felt guilty because she couldn't be selfish and let her friends wait on her either. They came here together, was supposed to spend some time outside, but things ended quite differently than expected. She carried her paper bag and set forth.
As they walked back in silence, noting the change of environment from quiet to rowdy at a distance, December thanked the heavens she remembered about something.
"I actually have something for you." She blurted and fished out a small keychain from her bag, holding it out to him.
Zach looked at her, completely not expecting this. He couldn't say a word for a while, but he was moved all the same. It was a small thing, a smiling figure of a guy made cuter, wearing a miniature pair of glasses.
December didn't let the silence mess with her bravery. She rubbed a lock of hair out of habit and then tucked it behind her ear, saying, "It's a character from this ice skating anime that Brooke and I watched together. Yuri on Ice? Yeah, so he kind of reminds me of you because you said you did skating in junior high. And well… even though you don't do that anymore, I feel like if you were, you'd definitely be like him, an international skater who doesn't forget his roots. A genuine, kind, and down to earth kind of guy." Then, realizing she was rambling, she cut them short, chuckling nervously.
Zach still hadn't responded to her, and she glanced at him to see his reaction. For the umpteenth time, she was taken aback by him.
He was staring at her, his lips parting slightly but she didn't know what to make of this one. His eyes softened but they also glistened – although it could be from a light reflection from somewhere above. And his mouth, he was smiling but something about it seemed bittersweet.
"D-do you not like it? I can just –"
"No," he said quickly, turning away for a moment before looking back at her. This time, he plastered his usual gorgeous smile. December was confused.
"Are you sure?"
He nodded. "Yeah, yes, I'm absolutely sure. I was…touched, December. Quite frankly, besides my own parents, no one's ever done this for me before." He held up the tiny keychain, then looked at it as though he had received an invaluable prize.
"So you like it?" She said, a little bit hesitant. December wanted to make sure that he really likes it, since this was the first gift she had ever given a boy.
"Yes. In fact," He said, quoting her words earlier. "I really love this."
Like the moonlight above, a bright smile lit up her face.
"I'm so glad." She beamed. "Thank you."
Zach shook his head and then took hold of her hand, squeezed it and said, "No, December. Thank you. This is really sweet." before adding proudly, "I'll put it on my bag."
"I wanna see that." She smiled triumphantly before moving to start their trek.
She thought he would release his grip on her, but when she looked at him, he had an odd smile, affectionate.
And then she knew.
December had an inkling that this was the time. It didn't seem right – like she was about to rush the question, but it felt so right, and that's all the more important.
And damn it, if this was the moment to ask him to prom, then there was nothing that could stop her.
But of course, because they were too cute, Fate wanted them both to just 'fess up already.
"Zach, will you be my date for the prom?"
"Will go to prom with me, December?"
Their expressions next were almost identical; both were startled by each other, they blinked before their words and what it meant finally sank in on them.
"Yes!" December almost shriek in bliss.
Zach grinned wide, his dimples making an appearance time and time again. "I would love to go to prom with you."
"And I'm excited to be your date for it." Part of her couldn't believe this was happening, but the other half of her was over the moon.
Somewhere in their delight and bemusement, Zach and December had shifted, closing the space between them, alone in their little bubble of elation. The world above them couldn't disturb theirs below – time went still for these pair.
They stared at each other, smiling like a pair of lovesick fools. Zach reach up to touch her cheek, rubbing it with the pad of his thumb softly.
"You're wonderful, do you know that?" He spoke to her in a low murmur.
Her heart began racing, she never expected to feel his hands on her skin like this. Sure, she had dreamed about it countless times, but the fact that it was happening a lot of times today made her feel somewhat surreal.
She relished the feel of his warm and large, generous hand on her cheek, the way he rubbed it ever so gently.
December couldn't speak, she was entranced by him, focusing on his presence and warmth that was slowly engulfing her.
His hands slipped down to the back of her neck, and she felt goosebumps prickling her skin. Oh my God…this…is this what I think it is?
December could feel herself leaning in, her eyes glancing at his delectable lips, and she realized that she wanted to close the gap between their mouths, she wanted to kiss him.
Nothing – not even her worries – would dampen her high elation.
Her first kiss…with him.
He was about to dip, but then he brought his gaze to her; blue but dark and stormy with something he had stirred within her, Zach could see it, and he was certain it mirrored his desire.
December felt her heart thumping erratically, anticipating the moment his lips touched hers.
"May I?" He murmured, his gaze never wavering from hers.
She was panting now, her breath hitched in soft but short breaths, knowing there was no way but forward from here. All of her senses focused on him. Consumed with need, she nodded, determined.
He smiled, relieved and pleased before he dipped in and captured her lips with his.
The moment their lips touched, she felt a jolt and a sensation stirring within her. It was bubbling, as though it was trying to coax her to let loose, to feel unrestrained, draining her obscure thoughts and fears away…
December never stood a chance; she was swept in no time at all and embraced the highs of being content in his arms; the only thing that was keeping her to the ground was his kiss.
It was slow at first, as though he was testing the waters. December had never been kissed before, and so she had no idea what she was doing, either than trying to mimic his ministrations and keeping him tethered to her.
Zach sensed her desire and deepened their kiss, moving expertly, meshing and moulding their lips, yet allowing space to catch up on air.
The kiss was not what he expected at all. He was adept in this matters, had been the instigator, the guide who was always in control, the one who knew just how much to put the pressure, to leave them wanting more…but in that moment, December made him forget himself.
Like a storm, she left him unravelled and scrambling to catch a hold before he was swept away by the tide.
December may be an inexperienced kisser, but she was patient and passionate to learn which made him eager to prolong their sweet torture.
Zach groaned into their kiss and her body shook in pleasure.
December slowly grew confident, her lips slanted over his, heady with this new experience. She felt lightheaded, her mind spinning with their kissing. All her thoughts seemed to be muted and she could only focus on his lips on hers, the way his hands felt on her body.
She had never been drunk, but if this was what it felt like, then she wouldn't mind becoming intoxicated on this.
Just when she thought this was the best thing so far, he bit her lower lip, making her gasp and that's when she knew.
Nothing could compare to this.
Zach's tongue touched hers, making her knees go weak. She held on to him and he tightened his grip, drawing her close - so close that it would be impossible to have any more space between them. He needed to hold them to keep their ground. He was shaken up by the impact of their kiss, but like her, he just couldn't stop drinking from her lips. He explored the inside of her mouth, feeling her, tasting her – letting her be consume with the taste of him.
When she moaned into his mouth, it nearly made him come undone.
She had wondered what it would be like, maybe awkward and clumsy but this, she thought, this was anything but.
A concoction that was out of this world, December wanted more, more, and more of him and he, so generous in giving, welcomed her, wanting just as much.
This path was something she hadn't traversed before. It was foreign yet painfully rapturous. Saccharine.
Oh, so sweet.
This was the pinnacle of it all. Everything she had ever dreamed and never knew she needed.
It was heaven.448Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjUHMd1lopo
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A/N: Translations~448Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡJLyFjDUXKQ
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Vse normal'no - Is everything okay?
Na kakom ty plyazhe? - Which beach are you at?
Ya dumayu, chto P'yer skazal, chto eto... - I think Pierre said it is...
Molchi - Shut up
Rasslab'sya - Relax448Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡGGO7aMCbXkns 126.96.36.199da2
448Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ0QEonBAM2B
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