Past Interlude #8
Astoria, Oregon - 2003



This time, Adam planned his escape better. He told Dad that he was sleeping over at a friend's house for the long weekend. He IM'd Lee to pick him up from the bus station, assuring her and her dad that he had permission to visit. He even got Dad to quickly give vocal assent through the phone. True, his dad thought he was talking to Adam's classmate, Greg Lee, not Adam's online buddy, Lee Forester.

Adam lay back on the fishing boat, sucking flavoured sugar from a candy stick. He was not missing school at all.

"Hey, lazybones." Lee pushed him with a booted foot. "Shove over."

He slid half a foot to the left so that Lee could lie down on the deck with him. With their cheeks nearly touching, they stared up at the gulls weaving through the slack sails and occasionally arguing with the ravens on the shore. Lee smelled like the sun and melons and sea brine.

"Lee," Adam said slowly.

She turned her head towards him and smiled.

Rising on an elbow, he drew closer to her and pressed his lips against hers. Her breath stopped; she didn't move at all. Adam pressed his lips tighter against hers, lips still closed. He held that for two full breaths then flopped on his back again.

"What was that?" asked Lee.

"Uh, just checking," said Adam.

"For what?"

He shrugged. "I like you. I just wanted to know if I, y'know, liked you liked you or just plain liked you like a friend or just... uh..."

Lee fingered her collar. "Adam, I like you as a friend, you know that. It's not that you're not awesome or anything and you're cute as hell but I'm just not into you like that. Sorry."

Shaking his head, Adam said, "Don't be. I'm not into you like that either. At least, now I know I'm not. I wasn't sure at first though. Especially since... uh... there's that... uh...thing..." He flushed from his ears to his navel and it wasn't from the sun. "Y'know... the website thing?"

"Oh." Lee studied the spot between her feet for a while. "So you're sure now?"

"Pretty sure. I think. Mostly."

"Okay. I guess my dad'll be relieved about that. No need to threaten you with a shotgun." Smiling tentatively, she elbowed his side.

Relieved, Adam returned her smile. "You're so ungirly, it got me real confused."

She laughed. "There's no way to be girly on a fishing boat, Summers."

"I've got to tell you about Alex's latest girlfriend. She could be girly in the middle of a Mexican wrestling match."

"Alex is the sporty one, right?"

Adam grinned. "Yup. Adam's Sporty Spice, Remy's Ginger Spice, and Scott's Scary Spice."

"So that makes you Baby Spice. With the pigtails and the babydoll dresses"

Casually, Adam hit Lee with a glove cured by years of handling halibut. After a brief tussle which resulted in the both of them smelling as fragrant as a pile of fish, which was to say not fragrant at all, Adam and Lee decided that a dunk in the ocean was needed. They stripped to their bathing suits-- what passed for underwear around here-- and leapt into the cold Pacific waves.

"Doesn't the water ever warm up here?" Adam asked after nearly an hour of swimming.

"If you can't handle it, go back to California." Lee drawled the last word into a passable Valley accent.

"It's boring as hell there when school's out so--"

Lee sent him a withering look. "How dumb do you think I am, Summers? I can google as good as you; I know that your school runs on a normal timetable, not a year-round one. Which means you're missing classes. Which probably means that your family doesn't really know you're gone. Hey, don't swim away while I'm talking to you!"

"I'm not," lied Adam. "I just need to get back on the boat." He hoisted himself up, flopping on the deck like a freshly caught tuna.

Lee followed, a little more gracefully. "Should I let you sulk or can I ask questions right away?"

"Do you think your dad will hire me?" Adam asked.


"Do you think your dad--"

Lee cut the question away with her hand. "I heard you the first time. I just couldn't believe it. You do know that most people try to move away from Astoria. Dying economy and all that."

"You're not," said Adam.

"No, but I'm a throwback. I actually like fishing. I like this sleepy old place where people sit on lawn chairs and watch each other, gossiping. I like that my extended family bug each other on a daily basis."

"So do I," Adam said. He pulled his shirt on then rested against the mast. "You know what I'd be doing right now at home?"

"Drawing on the computer and chatting with me?" joked Lee.

"Yeah," said Adam, not joking at all. "I could open a mechanic shop here. You don't really want to drive an hour away to fix up cars; the local place is a joke. I can just set up shop here and fix them and boat engines both. There's nothing in a car engine that I don't know; a boat can't be that different."

Lee gathered her shirt-hem nervously around two fingers in her right hand. "Adam..."

"And on Sundays, I can keep helping your mom cook. No offence, but you suck at chopping and your brothers think everything is a fish that they have to behead."

"Adam, wait a minute..."

Desperately, he smiled and leaped from the poop, walking clumsily past the bridge. "I bet I can even wrangle a way to get your mom to leave Tupperwares of food in my apartment like she does for your eldest brother. The Summers charm never--"

"Adam, will you just listen?" Lee smacked her hand against the railing

"No!" Adam shouted back. "What are you going to say, huh? That my family would miss me? News flash: they've probably just noticed I'm gone."

"Adam, that's not true."

"Then why aren't they here yet? They're a smart bunch of bastards; it can't be that hard to track down one stupid fifteen year-old." He sank to the floor. After a few minutes, Lee sat beside him, resting her head on his shoulder.

"I bet you that as soon as we get home, they'll be waiting in the living room," said Lee softly, "ready to yell their heads off about you running away. Maybe Sporty Spice'll smack you around a bit."

"He enjoys that."

"If I had to live with you twenty-four-seven, I'd enjoy it too." She threaded her hands through his. "They're looking for you. I know it."

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