XII. The Party

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The following evening had arrived. The sun was just setting as Lena, Aria, Luke, and the Fray siblings made their way along the beach past the New Haven campus.

"Where exactly is this party?" Dai asked, skeptically.
"Further down on this beach," Kai answered, "According to Jace."
"And who is Jace?" Raina asked.
"You remember," Kai said plainly, "The guy we met on the ferry over here."
"Oh yeah," Dai nodded, "He was nice."
Lena listened carefully to the siblings talk, remembering the boy she fought with a couple days ago.
She remembered Hunter calling him that name.

"Does he have brown hair?" she asked, "Blue eyes?"
The three siblings paused, surprised at the question.
"Yeah," Kai answered, "Why? You seen him?"
"...I think so," Lena replied, and she began to think about that fight, and the subsequent office visit.
She didn't have long to think about it, though, for the sound of music and people chattering could be heard growing louder.

"I think we're here," Luke said.
Up ahead, a moderately large group of young Gifted surrounded a large bonfire, well away from the sight of the New Haven buildings. Music could be heard playing from a boombox, which sat between two coolers. However, the sound of conversation competed with the music.

"I don't know about this," Dai said worriedly.
"Me neither," Lena uttered.
"Oh, come on! This'll be a great way to meet more people!" Luke grinned.
"Yeah!" Aria agreed, "Besides, I haven't been to a party in agesssss!"

The six eventually came upon the crowd, and began to assimilate.
"Oh my god, Lena!" Aria exclaimed, "We should dance!"
"Uhh, I don't know..." Lena started, before she felt Aria's hand grab her wrist and drag her over to where a large group was dancing.
Raina looked around, unimpressed, "I'm gonna go see what drinks they got."
As she left, the three boys remained.
"You guys wanna dance?" Luke asked.
"You two go on ahead," Kai said, "I'm gonna see if I can find that Judith girl, or Jace."
Dai was about to object, before Luke grabbed his wrist and ran off with him as well.

Kai chuckled as he watched his brother get dragged away, when he then bumped into someone.
"Oh- hi!" came a jovial greeting.
Kai had bumped into a dark skinned, petite girl in a crop top and holding a canned soda.
"Oh, sorry," he said.
"You're one of those Fray kids, right?" she asked.
"Yeah," Kai smiled, rubbing the back of his neck.
"The name's Janna! Melany's mentioned you guys to me and told me to make you feel welcome!" Janna grinned.
Kai was a little surprised, "Oh, well, thanks!"
"You guys are a real inspiration to us fire Gifted," Janna continued.
Kai couldn't help but be flattered, but while he was chatting away, Hunter and Jace were among the people around the bonfire itself, talking.

"She's here, see?" Hunter was saying, pointing out Lena, who was awkwardly holding Aria's hands and dancing with her, "You can clear your conscience now."
"But, what if she won't accept it?" Jace asked.
"So? She's one girl, dude," Hunter said.
"Jaceeeeee!" Janice came squealing over, "They're gonna play a slow dance in the next two songs!"
Jace forced a smile, "Yay."
"Yay! I knew you'd be excited for it! Be ready on the dance floor," she grinned, and giddily hurried off to rejoin some of the other Gifted.
Hunter watched her go, chuckling.
"Besides," he said, "Thanks to me, you got her."
"Yeah," Jace sighed, "...Thanks to you..."
He looked back over at Lena, who was starting to giggle with Aria.

"Yeah, see, you're liking it!" Aria cheered.
"You're being ridiculous," Lena shook her head, trying not to laugh.
Lena then felt herself bump into someone, and she turned to find-.
"Max?" she asked.
The short, fluffy-haired boy turned around, surprised.
"Oh, hi Lena! he shouted over the music, "It's really loud!"
Lena laughed, "I didn't think I'd see you here."
"I heard about it, I'm here with my brother!" Max smiled.
"Hey, Lena! Who's this?" Aria asked.
"Aria, this is Max," Lena introduced, "He's my classmate."
"Nice to meet you!" Aria smiled.
"You too!" Max grinned.

As the three talked, a little further away, Dai and Luke danced together, though the former was more subtle.
"Come onn!" Luke whined, "Let loose! Go crazy!"
"I'd rather not," Dai replied.
Luke then grabbed his hands and started thrusting them back and forth, "You're too reserved!"
Dai laughed, letting Luke swing his arms around.

"Um, excuse me?" came a quiet voice.
The two boys turned to see a short girl with glasses, and her hair tied in a bun.
"Kai?" she asked.
"No, I'm Dai," Dai answered, "Kai's my twin."
"Oh! I'm so sorry!" the girl exclaimed, "I'm Judith, from your P.E. class.
"Oh, yeah, Kai mentioned you," Dai said, turning to her.
"Yeah, I was hoping to see him here, but you can see how well that has gone," Judith sighed.
"Let's go look for him, then," Dai smiled, and he turned to Luke, "Be right back."
"Hey, no worries here," Luke smiled.

Dai and Judith then headed off in the direction of the bonfire, while Luke looked around and saw Aria and Lena dancing with an unfamiliar boy. He started to head over to them as Jace was doing the same.

Jace weaved through the crowd, seeing Melany hurry through the crowd as he did.
"Mel?" he called.
Melany stopped upon hearing him, and turned to face him.
"Yeah, Jace?"
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"I just... need to get something from my dorm, I'll be back soon," she explained.
"But... isn't this your party?" Jace asked.
"Yeah... but technically, it's also Hunter's, and he's still here," Melany said, "This thing is... really important, Jace. I promise, I'll be back soon, 'kay?"
"Okay," Jace replied unsurely, and watched Melany hurry through the crowd, and start heading in the direction of New Haven.

Meanwhile, Raina stood over where the sea waves crashed onto the shore. She held a drink in her hand, and took a sip. She saw her brothers speaking with two girls, but didn't bother to join them.

"Not a social person?" came a voice.
Raina turned to see none other than Hunter standing next to her.
"Nah," Raina replied, knowing full well who this was, "Just not one for big, shitty parties like this."
Hunter chuckled, "A pretty girl such as yourself, afraid of a crowd and loud music?"
Raina shot him a pensive look.
"'Pretty'?" she asked, "You serious right now?"
"What?" Hunter asked, "I'm just speaking the truth."
Raina rolled her eyes.
"So, tell me," Hunter said, "What's with you Frays, anyway? You seem to be a big deal, huh?"
"We just fought in, and won, a few games of Gifted Battling," Raina replied, "That's the 'big deal'. Doesn't seem that hard to grasp for me."
"Oooo," Hunter sneered, "You got any bite to that bark, or are you all talk?"
Raina turned to him fully, shoving her drink in his hands.
"My brother swept you on your ass yesterday with ease," she smiled, "I can do worse. Watch the attitude."
She walked off, rejoining the crowd, and Hunter watched her go, annoyed.

Raina hurriedly weaved through the crowd, and joined up with Luke, Lena, Aria, and Max.
"Hey, Raina," Aria said, "What's up?"
"Just getting away from a creep," she said.
Before anyone could reply, the music changed to a slower, more somber sound.

"Are you kidding me?" Lena asked.
"Slow dance..." Raina groaned.
Aria looked over at Luke, and swept her hair behind her ear.
"Uh, wanna dance, Luke?" she asked, "Since... it's a slow song, after all."
Luke blushed, "Sure."
The two then held one another appropriately and began to sway side to side, leaving the other three, speechless.

"I'm getting another drink," Raina huffed, and she went over to the coolers.
Max and Lena then looked at one another.
"Mind dancing?" Max asked shyly.
"Uh, you're not really-" Lena started.
"If you're worried I'm asking you 'cause I like you, don't," Max smiled, "I like boys."
Lena was taken slightly aback, "Uh, I was gonna ask if you were really asking me to dance to this dumb song."
Max blushed, embarrassed, "Oh... sorry..."
Lena sighed, smiling, "It's okay."

Just then, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
"Excuse me," came a somewhat familiar voice.
Lena turned around, and was face to face with Jace.

"May I dance with you?"

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