Casey sat on the beach, Xavier and Dex beside him as Dex kept spewing out ideas for their Science project. Casey wasn’t overly interested, since it was for school and all.
It was hard enough doing things himself, but doing something within a group was usually downright torture.
It also didn’t help that neither Dex nor Xavier were his friends. The only friend that Casey had truly made was Romeo, and not only was the older boy not in the same science class, it didn’t seem like Romeo was enjoying his year much either.
Dex rambling. Xavier brooding. Casey wishing he was in the waves rather than watching them.
“So what happened with you and your girlfriend?” he asked all of a sudden, interrupting Dex and surprising himself. It had been more than obvious that day that Xavier and April Scott, his girlfriend and one of the smartest girls in their year, were on the outs.
“We broke up,” Xavier stated. “Not that it’s any of your business.”
Casey had to agree. None of the happenings at the school really interested him, but they were interesting. They certainly kept him entertained for the endless hours day in and out.
“Sexual Chemistry!” Dex offered. “We can look up what draws two people together.”
“I heard she tried to kill you,” Casey added. Xavier glared at him. “Look, I’m just asking!” he quickly back peddled. “I think what she was trying to do was pretty cool. The whole environmental thing?”
Xavier continued to glare.
“The environment!” Dex continued. “Let’s do something on that!”
“What’s the deal with you and April anyway?!” Xavier turned towards Dex instead.
“Nothing,” Dex sighed. “She’s just helping me out with my video blogs. That’s all!”
Xavier took a moment, and a deep breath. He was having a terrible day, and if his mother hadn’t been the principal, he would’ve tried to wag off and spend the day moping in his bed.
Casey laughed. “You have a video blog? What about?”
Dex looked shy, as he often enough did. For a moment Casey figured that he wasn’t going to be answered.
“Stuff,” Dex answered slowly.
Casey turned around. He couldn’t blame the other guy for not sharing. They didn’t have the best of meetings either. But at least Casey was trying. This was certainly not the group he would’ve put together had he chosen teams.
“My last one was “What Girls Really Like,” Dex offered up.
“Ah, that’s easy!” Casey smiled. “Cars, every time.”
“Being a rock star doesn’t hurt either,” Xavier smirked.
“Nah,” Casey agreed.
“Or having loads of money,” Dex added. “Suppose that kind of ties in with cars though.”
“Yeah,” nodded Casey. “You ever seen a girl around a thumping V8? Something happens, you know, inside.”
“Not April,” Xavier frowned. “She hated my Ford GT.”
Casey’s eyes widen.
“Are you serious?” he gasped. “You have an Incepta? Whoah.”
“Yeah,” Xavier finally smiled. “Well, I own half of one. Built it up from scratch.”
“Look, she might have said she didn’t like it,” Casey offered, matter of factly. “But you can bet she was turned on.”
They laughed, Xavier shaking his head. The thought of April liking his car, or even half of the things that he liked, it just didn’t fit. But that’s what Xavier felt mad them so good together, their complete opposites.
“THAT’S IT!” Dex leaped down at them. “I’m a genius!
“That can be the hypothesis for our experiment! Whether or not girls are turned on by engine sounds It’s brilliant!”
“How are you going to test that?” Xavier asked him skeptically.
“I don’t know! Do I have to think of everything?”
“Yeah, you do,” Casey offered with a laugh, shoving Dex back at the same time as Xavier and causing the crouched teen to land on his romp.
“Go on!” Xavier offered.
“Yeah I will,” he glared at the two other boys. “Cuz you guys are idiots,” he muttered.
“And nothing that’s going to get us picked up by the cops either!” Casey offered as Dex got back up on his feet, dusting the sand off his trousers.
“Or make Mum upset!” added Xavier.
“Or have us listed as sex-offenders.”
“Or have girls blowing us off.”
“Alright!” Dex yelled, grabbing his backpack. “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.”
“No, I like it!” Casey offered standing up too. “If we can do it right, I think it’d be cool to see the results.”
“It will certainly get enough attention,” Xavier nodded. “We should do it!”
“Without looking like freaks,” Dex rolled his eyes.
The three teens started back up the beach towards the street.
“I bet your Dad could help!” Xavier turned towards Dex.
“Maybe,” shrugged Dex.
“Come on, you know he’ll help,” Xavier shoved at his arm.
“Ugh!” Dex through is head back. “Fine! But if he starts getting weird!”
Casey cringed. The last time he had seen Dexter’s dad, Dr. Sid Walker, he had been in the classroom looking for a missing Dex that Casey had taken a small part in partially kidnapping.
He only hoped that the doctor didn’t remember him. Casey pulled out his cell phone, and saw he had more than enough time to go with the guys to the hospital and still make it home before his brothers started pestering over where he was.
“Might as well,” he said aloud.
Nash poked his head into the house, just to be certain the coast was clear.
“Okay,” he walked in, Jagger a step behind.
“How are we more tired than when we actually do go to school? That makes no sense!”
Nash walked over to the fridge and grabbed the last juice bottle for them to share. “More of a workout. And you normally sleep through at least two classes.”
“History’s boring,” Jagger groaned, accepting the bottle as Nash dropped down beside her. “I’ve watched enough movies to know what happened and who won the wars.”
“You slept through music class,” Nash snorted.
“Mrs. Edwards plays Classic music like it’s going out of style, seriously, what does she expect?”
Nash reached over for the remote and turned the screen on, but his mind was elsewhere. They sat silently for a moment, the juice going back and forth and neither wanting to voice what was in their mind.
“He’s never in for long,” Jagger nudged at his leg. “Heath wasn’t even worried.”
“Heath’s never worried,” Nash frowned.
“And you worry too much,” Jagger told her twin. She wrapped her arm around his neck in a hug. “Everything’s going to be fine. And if not, we’ll find a way to make it work.”
“We can’t do anything,” Nash reminded her with a sigh.
“That’s not true.” Jagger glared at the screen. “We’re smart, and no one expects anything from us. We’re secret weapons.”
“That no one asked for,” Nash rolled his eyes.
“No one ever does,” Jagger shrugged. “Just because no one ever tells us anything, doesn’t mean we don’t know things.”
Nash’s eyes widen. “Do you think they picked Brax up for the drug thing?”
Jagger glanced over her shoulder. No one was home, but it still made her stomach clench whenever she thought about what her oldest brothers were up to.
“Nicholas!” she scolded, “you can’t just talk about that stuff!”
Nash was unaffected by the use of his real name. The thought had been plaguing his mind all day. A few years back, Nash and Jagger had seen things around town, and in their home. They were good at finding things, and at hide and seek. They knew that their brothers had rolls of money stashed away, and they soon enough figured out about some of the other small packages that had been hidden beneath the house and within the shed.
The packages never stuck around for long. Bags of plants and pills that the twins knew had to be some kinds of drugs.
“But, it’s true. You know what we saw. If anyone else knew-
“The first rule about Fight Club,” groaned Jagger, referencing a movie that they were both too young to have seen the dozen times that they had.
“I know, I know,” Nash frowned. The juice bottle was now empty in his hands as he rolled it across his lap.
“We could talk to PeeWee,” Jagger offered.
“Get in trouble for ditching school is one thing, maybe even for being in the bar. But talking with PeeWee? He’s total bogan. Doesn’t know his ass from his face.”
“He’s one of Brax’s boys.”
“More of those boys have been in prison than not. I’m just saying, just because Brax and Heath can trust them, doesn’t mean we can. And I don’t trust PeeWee.”
“Brax was just in jail last night,” Nash scoffed. Not everyone in prison was bad.
Jagger shook her head. “I’ll worry about Brax if he’s not home tonight.”
“We oughta give that stupid copper hell,” Nash glared at the telly.
At this, Jagger couldn’t help but grin. She had a strike of trouble in her to rival Heath’s.
“You know I’m in,” Nash shrugged. Neither twin had met their brother’s lawyer either, but they had heard Brax and Heath talking before, and they knew the guy didn’t come cheap.
And it certainly wasn’t like the Braxtons lived in the lap of luxury.
Stupid cops, always sticking their heads in where they weren’t wanted.
“You want to know what?” Dr. Walker frowned at his son.
Dex repeated himself, his pencil poised against his notepad.
“How to tell if a girl is turned on or not.”
Dr. Walker had heard right it seemed, but he wasn’t exactly sure that the three teens in front of him weren’t pulling his leg.
“You know, aroused,” Dex clarified.
“I do know what it means, Dexter,” the doc nodded, still frowning at them. “What I don’t know, is whether you’re having me on or not.”
“It’s for a science project my mom said,” Xavier quickly added. “You can call her if you like.”
“Ah, no, I don’t think we need to bother your mother with that,” Sid shook his head. If Gina Palmer was certain with whatever the boys were up to, who was he to question it? “I’ll take your word for it.
“Okay, well let’s see. I guess one of the first signs of female arousal would be flushing of the cheeks, quickening of the pulse, shallowness of breath.”
“Yep,” Dex nodded along, writing out the list as his father stated things.
Casey glanced over his shoulder, frowning at the general illegible scratch that Dex was using. Somehow, he had figured that the smartest boy their year and as the son of a doctor, Dex would be able to write better than the average teenaged male.
“Good, go on.”
“Well, there are certain other physical manifestations, not dissimilar to those experienced by a male.”
Dex, who was writing his father’s list done verbatim, stopped.
“Wait! Dad, Dad,” Dex held up his hands, his eyes widening in embarrassment as Casey and Xavier didn’t try to hide their own amusement. “What are you doing?”
“I’m describing the physical signs of female arousal,” replied Sid, frowning back at his son.
“We have to be able to prove our results,” Dex told him.
“Oh, right. Well, I can make some suggestions,” Sid Walker said, slightly uncomfortable with the conversation but also pleased he didn’t have to get into that kind of talk at the moment. Dex was a weird enough kid without his having to explain the full spectrem of females and sex in the hospital lobby with his son’s two mates over his shoulder. “Why don’t you come with me and we’ll have a chat.”
The boys started to follow him, the good doctor already mentally thinking about how not only to instruct the teens, but to make sure they didn’t happen upon harassing or embarrassing anyone.
The twins stood outside of the Yabbie Creek police station, watching the comings and goings of people, most importantly one female sergeant.
They knew she was young for her position and they knew she lived in Summer Bay, but that was the most they knew about Sergeant Buckton.
Jagger was staring at the building, Nash was making certain no one was looking at them. The duo stood hidden in a discreet corner of bushes and shrubs. Their bikes were a bit further down the block, hidden underneath some downed tree branches.
They were bored, and their plan was coming close upon their curfew.
“Where is she?” Jagger groaned.
“Probably out, patrolling or something,” Nash shrugged beside her. “Besides, did you even think about what you wanted to do once you do spot Buckton?”
Jagger scoffed. “It’ll come to me. And it’ll be brilliant!”
Nash shook his head. He kept his eyes on the street leading up to them. He didn’t expect to see anything of interest, so he was terribly surprised when he spotted someone they knew.
“Crap,” Nash grunted, shaking his head.
“Is it Brax?”Jagger asked, turning in the direction that her twin was looking. “What are the odds?” Jagger said with a smirk.
“I’m not going to like this,” Nash straightened up. “I guess we’re ditching the Buckton plan?”
“So ditched,” Jagger nodded.
“And the new plan?”
“Payback for the little Wino incident last month,” Jagger shared a look with a Nash.
“You know I’m with ya.”
They both stood silently watching as Cheryl Braxton got back into an old beaten pickup with an old man that they had never seen. Probably her nighttime arrangements for this particular day.
Casey grinned wildly as Xavier got his yellow GT out of his garage and into the street so that they could record its engine noise. Dr. Walker was putting some things together on his end that he would be giving Dex with that night.
“If you want accurate results,” Dr. Walker had told them. “You’re going to need to take results before and after the girls hear the recording.”
“And we’re going to need different samples too,” Casey had added. “As a control model.”
Dr. Walker grinned at him.
“That’s a good idea. And make certain to have the same testing parameters for each girl. Decide what order they’re going to hear the different engines, maybe a hybrid, maybe toss in a motorbike – you decide. Make certain it stays the same.”
“How long should they hear it?” Xavier asked, frowning.
“Right,” Dex nodded. “Is there a certain amount of time before we can actually test out if there is actual arousal or not? Would 5 seconds be too much, too little?”
Dr. Walker nodded, listening. While the subject matter was a bit off the beaten path, he liked seeing the boys thinking. Had they simply wanted to go around asking girls if they were aroused or not, he would have to seat Dex out of it. Assignment or not, Dex made himself an easy enough target without having to have sexual predator tagged onto him. But he was happily surprised to note that they were each thoughtful and contributing, even if Dex was the only one actually writing down any notes.
Casey just about purred as Xavier popped the hood up.
“Oh man!” he leaned down for a closer look.
“What are you doing?” Casey heard April asking Dex behind them.
“Uh, I can’t really tell you. Sorry,” Dex responded. “You’re the opposition.”
“Is this for the stupid science fair project?” April asked.
Casey watched as Xavier’s attention was more focused on his ex girlfriend behind them than the beauty of the car in front of them. He reached out touching the pieces slightly as he named them in his head.
“Are we going to do this or what?” Xavier questioned loudly towards Dex.
“Yep!” Dex replied, suddenly coming up beside Casey.
Casey hopped up and over to the driver’s seat, where he was more than happy to be the one to rev up the engine. He wasn’t likely to be in a car like that much again, and he couldn’t help the stupid grin he knew was on his face.
Xave and Dex stood by the hood, Dex with the recorder and mic. Both had earmuffs on to lessen the loud engine sounds.
“Alrighty!” Dex said as Xavier cheered. “Let’er rip!”
As Casey pushed the gas pedal down, the car still in park, the engine loudly pounded beneath him. He laughed along.
He could see the Surf Club owner, Xavier’s stepfather coming out of the house and talking to April, but he couldn’t hear them. He doubted he’d be able to hear someone talking right beside him. It was awesome.
They recorded the engine for a few seconds, twice, before John Palmer walked over.
“Xavier?! What is going on with all this noise!?”
“Can’t hear you!” Xavier mouthed back, though he knew what Palmer was saying. Dexter rolled his eyes. Casey watched the interaction, shaking his head once John Palmer gave up and turned back towards his home.
Casey wouldn’t dare pretend he didn’t hear Brax, even if he didn’t hear Brax. Granted, he also couldn’t see any trouble in telling his brother about the school project. Brax was all about him going to school, and he probably wouldn’t care what he was doing once he stated that he was doing a school project. Whether Xavier was always dismissive of his stepfather was doubtful, they had afterall been able to build the car together. With his mother as a respected, leading member of the community and John Palmer practically mayor of the place, Casey figured kids like Xavier had to fabricate their own issues. So he was down a girlfriend, Casey doubted that it would be too hard for a kid like Xavier Austin to find someone else.
Then again, maybe teenagers everywhere had the same problems. Even ones with good parents and expensive cars in their garages.
“All right then!” Dex yelled as Casey stopped the engine, sounding needlessly loud. “Ehm, okay. Well, that’s done.”
“Where we going to find a hybrid now?” Xavier cringed.
“I know someone,” Casey offered, getting out of the GT and walking beside them.
“Not your brothers,” Dex spoke before he could stop himself.
Xavier punched the other teen in the arm.
“Ah! Careful, I bruise easy!” Dex rubbed his arm.
“Ah, no, not my brothers,” Casey shook his head. “But a mate of Brax’s; he’s into green energy and stuff. He’s got this hybrid thing. Heath says it’s a joke, but I mean we don’t have to actually drive it anywhere, right?”
“And he’d let you use it?” Xavier frowned.
Casey rolled his eyes. He knew what people thought of his brothers, and by association his brothers’ friends. In fact, while the last three hours with Xavier and Dex had been pretty cool, he was a bit surprised that they seemed to forget that he was deemed trouble by much of the Summer Bay denizens.
“I’ll ask Brax,” he shrugged. Though he knew his brother would say sure and would call up Gary and the guy would be cool with it because Brax would ask. “He’ll be cool with it.”
“Okay then, cool,” Dex nodded. “We could record a regular car engine now. And maybe tomorrow on the hybrid?”
Casey nodded, happy to be able to contribute something. At Mangrove, he was used to being one of the few kids that even cared about doing his work. Cared might have been a bit strong, but he knew he had to do his work or face Brax. At Summer Bay, all of the kids went out of their way to get their work done. Even the seemingly laziest of kids were harder workers than most of Mangrove High. It was both a nice change and slightly scary.
Summer Bay was going to be quite the challenge, but maybe not all of it was as bad as Casey had first feared.
Part Twenty ->