"The most helpful, yes. I'll make a note of it," the girl murmured, only to clamp her lips closed when she caught herself babbling out of nervous habit. Emma was grateful when he turned away from her at last, and she took a breath to level herself --in theory, anyway, except that it slipped away from her again when he took her hand.
Twining her fingers into his, there was a hitch in her chest as she followed him to the water's edge, her skin crawling with anticipation. It was everything-- the last day of school, being mostly naked with Frankie, being mostly naked with Frankie in broad daylight where literally anyone could suddenly walk up and see. Her skin prickled in goosebumps, and Em thought she would be grateful once they had the cover of water to conceal them.
Frankie's careful steps lead her toward the edge, almost too careful when there was a slope of the lake shoreline that spilled onto the dock. "Just a little bit.. baby steps," he muttered to himself, with an almost stupidly concentrated look on his face. God, don't fall and take her down with you, man. You'll never live it down… His hand in hers was a reminder to watch his footing and what should've been maybe four normal steps... took the awkward teen double that and an extra shuffle onto the dock. "Got it!" He raised his fist in the air with a lopsided grin over his shoulder to Em. Really that little bit of a treacherous slope without accident was something to be proud of for him...
He let go of her hand, looking over his shoulder at Em, that impish grin spread over his face as he waggled his eyebrows at her. "Last one in...." he trailed off, sure she knew the rest....
Though maybe the last one in would've been the safe route as Frankie took off like a bat out of Hell with thumping steps across the dock. Shame there was a rope at the edge of that dock. Bigger shame he didn't see it in time as he reached the end... tried to jump, and instead got snagged on an elevated loop that hooked his foot just in time for his upward jump to force him forward. The slap of him practically flopping to the water wasn't a pleasant sound. Belly flop anyone?
...there had to be a higher power at work here.
"Oh no you didn't!" She exclaimed as she took off after him at a slightly less suicidal pace. Em was proud of him for navigating that rocky little hill without incident, her own steps carefully placed behind him with not a little bit of leaning on trees and other rocks to help her down. Rushing after him towards the dock, Emma saw the rope, but... Frankie. She should have known it wouldn't, couldn't last, and she'd only gotten half the sentence out, "Frankie! Watch out for the---" when she saw it happen, time slowing down to a snail's crawl as she watched him leap, saw the way the rope would catch him, flinched when he pancaked flat into the water beneath. "--rope," she finished lamely as she slowed down, making her way down the dock to its edge.
She felt bad for the way she laughed, but she really couldn't help it. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds, but the instant replay was on endless loop in her mind and it played over and over, drawing breathless giggles from her every time. From the look on his face to the way he'd gone plank rigid moments before the impact, she kept picturing him as a cartoon character, a Wile E Coyote who's just discovered how his latest scheme is about to go dreadfully wrong. She could practically see the tiny Acme umbrella in one hand, and she laughed so hard it made her sides hurt.
Tears in her eyes, she stepped carefully over the rope and then off the dock, slipping into the water beside him, grateful not for the first time that her hair was in micro braids.
Oh, but he did. That lanky teen was bolting, then the yelp that came out of his mouth the moment he saw the water coming for him in a way he hadn't expected was cut off. He'd slapped the water in a way that made his chest and stomach sting, and he was thankful the dock wasn't an elevated one. He'd sank beneath the water before long limbs scrambled and pushed himself up to the surface.
His head broke the surface with a gasp for air, and luckily, the illusion cloaking his true form hid the fact that his face was a tomato from the epic fail. Though... he did question if the heat from his face would evaporate the entire lake, naturally exaggerating in his head. "Holy ****, that was... I meant to do that," he lifted his chin from the water, but it was pretty obvious he hadn't. Treading the water, he peered over to the girl who'd managed to slip in by the time he'd surfaced, and... was obviously much smarter than he. But then... he noticed the way her eyes were teared up, and he knew. "You totally ****in' laughed, didn'tcha?!" He cackled, his arm pushed out to send a wave of water at her. "Ngh, right in the heart, the.... the betrayal.." He rasped, choked, and hammed it up as he clutched his chest and let himself dip under the water like she'd killed him. Though he bobbed right back up with a sputtering of water out of his mouth. Air was a thing he needed..
His blush wouldn't evaporate the whole lake, probably, but Emmaline couldn't be sure that wasn't some steam rising off its surface...
"Are you alright?" She asked as she treaded water beside him, trying to keep herself afloat. He called her out, but she wasn't embarrassed. "Hell yes I laughed!" The girl exclaimed, wiping uselessly at the corner of her eye given that her hands her wet. Yeah, that hadn't exactly gone the way she saw it in her head, either. "Have you seen you? Y'just lucky I didn't have my phone out." The threat sounded cross, but it wasn't really.
And though she might have wanted video for herself? She definitely wouldn't have put it on the internet or anything.
Letting go of the dock, she ducked the wave he splashed in her direction and half-lunged at him, winding both arms around his neck. "Somehow I think you'll survive all that betrayal," she whispered, kissing his cheek.
That wasn't steam, okay? .... That was... some science thing he didn't understand. It was his worst subject, really.
"It's fine," he grunted, treading water regardless of the ache. "I wondered what it'd feel like if my ribs were in my spine," he cackled. "Not great, I'd say... but..." He didn't finish that thought, only puffed his cheeks out at her about laughing, just for his eyes to widen almost comically with a dramatized look of horror. "Y'wouldn't..." He breathed. "Goblin face at y'so... hard..." He enunciated that word with his eyes squeezed shut.
Oh, he'd get her back if she did. Totally.
The splash missed, but her lunge didn't as his eyes widened and those legs kicked away under the water to keep them both upright. He only bobbed once a little bit before the combination of arms and legs treading brought him up to catch that kiss and assurance. His smile grew lopsided and goofy as ever, a flicker before he forced it back with an obviously feigned serious expression. "I'unno.. still feel kinna wounded.." He murmured, flicking his eyes toward her with the start of a pout. Just a tiny one..
Snickering at his comeback, Em rolled her eyes with a toss of her head. She was a little bit concerned that her braids would be irreparably damaged in the lake water, but it was really too late to do anything about it now. "Well I'm glad you cleared that up for the both of us," she said with that inflection in her voice that couldn't exactly be classified as an accent, but was still one hundred percent native born Atlanta. "You can goblin face at me all you want, boo," she went on, confidently. "I mean. I feel like some kinda monster-phile, but whatever. Your real face is ...not completely unfortunate-looking, either."
Emma grinned then, her smile affectionate. They weren't the most romantic words ever, but from her? It was practically a love sonnet. She nuzzled close to him, wrapping her legs around his skinny waist so that the job of keeping them afloat fell entirely on his shoulders. Her mouth was all but pressed against his ear. "Still wounded, huh? Should I get you a bandaid?"
Frankie was a boy who didn't think about damage to micro braids... though, it didn't matter to him what Em's hair looked like. "Wouldn't recommend it.." He snickered with a solemn shake of his head. But it was her sentiment that had him eyeing her like she'd lost her dayum mind. "Ya sure ya didn't smack y'head on the way in?... Some sorta concussion jumble ya brain?" He snorted, rolling his eyes with an amused smile. "Good to know it's not unfortunate looking," he gave her a coy smirk.
They weren't the most romantic, but the warm smile he'd returned to her said he'd understood what she'd said. Regardless of his smart ass remarks that didn't seem to have an Off switch. He let out a grunt when she wrapped herself around his lanky awkwardness, and it was probably a good thing they were in the water and deemed weightless by it. Though he did bob a little bit before he worked harder to keep their heads above water, legs kicking and arms rhythmically wading. It didn't help that she distracted him with her lips on his ear that sent a quake of shivers down his spine. He couldn't even blame it on the cool water.
His head tilted back some with the cackle that rang out, and his head turned to look at her. "I'unno... y'do pretty ****in' good at stickin' to me. I think I like that better," he admitted, his head coming forward to press his mouth to hers clumsily in a sneak attack that... wasn't all that sneaky. She'd probably see it coming a mile away. He always had a look about him before he tried to kiss her. It was one part awkward, one part dopey.
Em shook her head almost impatiently at his self-deprecating humor. In a rare moment of complete seriousness, the girl who clung to him like a little snake pressed her forehead against his temple. Maybe it was something to do with what had happened over Valentines; maybe it was just that she knew what it was like to see your own skin in the mirror and wish it was something different. "No, Frankie," she said quietly. "I like you the way you are. "
His attempt at a smooth sneak attack broke the heaviness of the moment, but not its overall sentiment. Emmaline laughed, sure, but she didn't let go of him, and neither did she pull away. After a clumsy first attempt more involved with teeth and accidentally ingested lake water than actually kissing, her mouth eventually found his and pressed there, firmly.
Glacier blue eyes lifted up to her where she was pressed to his temple, the ultra-rare moments of seriousness radiating from her strong enough for even him to catch it. The opposite brow lifted questionably until she spoke, and it smoothed after that sentiment was shared. ... Though with this closeness, and her touching his face with her own, she'd find the rising of temperature. That little clue to a blush well hidden by illusion. "I like the way you are too, Em..." he muttered.
But then kissing was happening, after some... effort to get to that point. There was teeth and lake water, a grunt from Frankie and a small cackle before it was washed away by the feel of her lips to his. It only inflamed that heat in his face all the more, but one arm being used to keep them afloat wrapped around her to keep her close... at least until bobbing became dangerous of sinking and he returned it's arm to its job. "Ngh," he grunted against her mouth.
So making out while treading water in a lake was harder than it looked in the movies. This was a thing they were quickly learning firsthand, as they bobbed in the water together, losing track of themselves until they were almost entirely submerged and then struggling to the surface again. Relenting at last, Emma broke from Frankie, breaking the kiss, releasing him so he could keep himself afloat as she tipped herself onto her back.
There was something exhilarating about it, floating on her back in the sunshine. Her skin prickled in goosebumps to be this blatantly naked in public, this blatantly, unabashedly naked in public with Frankie. For a moment, the problems of the world seemed to melt away, the homework and the disapproving fathers and the racial tensions that impacted her, the species tensions that affected him. Taking a deep breath, she let it out in a sign of contentment, flapping her fingers in the water lightly in an attempt to take his hand.
There were a lot of things that looked easier in the movies... either he was certain that Hollywood had a way of fluffing romance (much like Saila fluffs.. er.. pillows..) or him and Em just couldn't figure out those smooth moves polished for the flicks. Considering making out in the water turned out to be more dangerous than anticipated and they had to break it of before they risked drowning! Okay, that was a little dramatic.. but.. was it really? At least for Frankie? Still, there was a soft pout on his mouth when she broke free of him and he reluctantly released her in turn. Just to appreciate the new view that almost made him bob under the water all over again.
Here, it was easy to forget the outside world. The expectations, the standards. The watchful eyes that they couldn't completely escape, no matter where they were. And Em's relaxed nature only seemed to ease him into the same state, like it was a feeling he could reach out and touch. Her flapping fingers brought that lopsided grin, and he reached out to catch her hand. Since full clinging seemed to make it difficult to stay head-above-water, he gave something else a try. With a gentle - and easy - guiding tug to turn her while she floated on top of the surface of the water, it was almost effortless for him to use the weightlessness the water afforded to move her about. Turning her with the guidance of joined hands, he switched it out with the opposing hand when she was turned with her head pointed to him like an arrow. His hand moved to hook beneath the arm of the other side to guide her back to him, a dip and shift of his shoulder tucked the slope beneath her head. It was easier to keep floating this way, with his legs kicking slowly to stay up. "So what we gonna do with a whole summer?" He grinned, turning his head to peer at her... and enjoying the new view down the slope of her body, the way the sunshine shimmered over the little pools of water caught in the definition and contours.
At first Emmaline didn't entirely understand what he was on about. Her forehead wrinkled, brows furrowing, as Frankie used the connection of their fingers to move her around in the water. She started to issue some kind of frying-pan based threat--something about what she'd do to him if he pushed her under without warning-- when she finally figured out what he was doing. Once she was situated, half floating in the water as she had been, half laying on the 'monster's’ shoulder (monster goober, more like...), Em settled there reasonably comfortably, trying not to put too much thought into the view he was currently enjoying.
"I don't know. I wanna get back into skating, maybe." She tipped her head back, trying to look up at him. "Hang out with you."
No frying pan! "Chiiiill, chill," he cackled when she seemed more than concerned of his intent. His eyes flicked over to her from the appreciated view the new position afforded, his hands resting on her sides so she didn't float off from his shoulder with the gentle ripples of the lake. "Man, I've been itching to get my board out again... we should hit up one of the parks here soon." His lopsided smile broke loose to the mention of hanging out with him. "So... same ol' summers? Cause trouble, skate, hang out? M'down for that," he nodded firm and wiggled his fingers at her sides. "Summers have been s*** without ya..." He sighed, "I mean... people generally suck at skating I realize... and they just don't know how to laugh and be worried at the same time when I bust my ass like you do.." He cackled out. "Ya always know how to get the right bit of both in there..." He grinned.
The way she snickered put ripples in the water around them. "Good answer, man." She bent the nearer arm back to splay the back of her hand against his belly, her fingers stretched wide as though to cover its surface. Rubbing the backs of her knuckles lightly over his lowest rib, her laughter faded into a smile that was both nostalgic and bitter sweet. "But I mean, you're not wrong. Life's been ...different, without you." It was clear from her tone that different was the opposite of good.
Taking a deep breath, she let it out again, turning her face into the sun as she closed her eyes. Silent for a long moment, she didn't open them when she finally spoke again. "This is nice, Frankie. I'm glad you brought me here."
"I thought ya'd dig it," he cackled out, just to squirm slightly under the water for the grace of her fingers on his belly. It didn't quite tickle under the water, but it could be passed as such. Really, it was the touch, as simple as it was that stirred that "hungry" feeling beneath her caressing knuckles. His hands smoothed over her sides, fingers curling over the gentle curves without putting much weight to keep her from sinking, his arms becoming something of an aiding support float for her back and shoulders. "Different... that's one way to put it.." He murmured, and from his own tone, he felt the same way.
While she faced the sun, his chin lowered to rest on her shoulder, feeling the sun heated skin barely cooled by the occasionally lapping lake water against his hotter skin. His eyes closed as he listened to her breathing, the gentle ripples on the water, the breeze through the bows of branches and leaves. And if he focused, both their heart beats. He sighed, content and relaxed for once in their isolated secret solace. His lids opened to icy slits, shifting sideways to peer at the side of her face. "I'm glad ya liked it, Em." Sweetly, and off-key for the troublemaker, he leaned his head closer to peck a kiss to her cheek before resting his chin to her shoulder, eyes closing that final milestone.