01. The Beginning of the End (To Our Friendship)

4 Years Ago

Sunny rushed towards her homeroom, cursing her school and its stupid policy on uniforms. Her dark red pleated skirt fell to just above her knees, and her cream colored v-neck sweater went down until it hit her thighs, her school crest embroidered on the left breast. A crisp button up underneath that and a red tie was secured around her neck.

Sometimes she wished she could just wear her pajamas to school and be done with it. Dressing up had never been her forte.

Her long, wavy, dark brown hair fell down to her waist, and her dark brown eyes were framed with thinly rimmed glasses. Her black Mary-Jane's clicked and clocked as she forced herself to speed up.

Senioritis had hit Sunny hard. It was only two weeks until graduation, she just felt as if she couldn't be bothered with anything anymore.

"There you are," A familiar, masculine, voice said from the water fountain to her right, causing Sunny to snap her gaze over to the source.

The teenage boy standing before her was a few inches taller than her, with wavy blond hair and bright blue eyes that always seemed to be in an amused half-moon. His skin was a healthy tan, a contrast against Sunny's milk white tone.

"Davis!" She halted abruptly. "Why aren't you in class?"

"Relax Sun," Davis smiled easily. "Teacher's not there yet. Rumor has it she went into labor last night, and they're still trying to draw straws to see who'd replace her for the period until a sub can get here."

They walked towards their homeroom together at a more leisure pace.

"Davis!" Another voice called out from the end of the hallway, and before either teenager knew it, a short, ginger haired, girl with freckles had attached herself to Sunny's friend.

Her blond companion tried not to let his annoyance show, "Daisy." He greeted, detaching the younger girl from his form.

Daisy was, for lack of better terms, cute. She was barely over five feet tall, with short ginger hair that stopped just at her shoulders, freckles staining the bridge of her nose, and large hazel eyes. She was too cute at times, and could come off as annoying, but the junior only meant well. It wasn't her fault that she was irrevocably in love with Davis.

"Aren't you in class at the moment?" He couldn't help but ask her, stepping closer to Sunny while doing so. He never trusted being too close to Daisy, the girl was handsy.

She just smiled and shrugged, "I'm on my way to pick up a VHS from the library. Today is movie day in the first two periods of class. I should get going, but I was just so happy to see you!" The last part came out as a cheerful chirp and she gave him one last hug before she was once again on her way.

"I can't wait until I graduate. No more Daisy." David shivered visibly as they continued on their way towards class.

Sunny snickered, moving some hair behind her ear. "She's not that bad. She's cute."

She completely missed the look of longing that Davis sent her way.

School was boring, not that Sunny hated learning or anything, but she just wanted to spend her day's lounging about and relaxing while reading her latest romance novel. The breeze of summer was already hitting her head on during lunch, blanketing her with warmth.

"Why were you late today?" Pearl, her best friend, asked. She had dark brown hair which was kept at ear length, just below her lobe. Her blue eyes were kind, and her body a bit round due to working at her parents' bakery after school and on weekends. "You've been coming in late often recently."

"Relax Pearl, I over slept." Sunny replied while smiling sheepishly. "I've been doing that a lot lately."

"Maybe you should stop reading your housewife porn and sleep like a normal person would." A velvety voice stated brashly, and Sunny could hear the girl come up behind her before plopping down beside her.

"Hello Violet," Pearl smiled sweetly.

Violet was beautiful. She stood at nearly six feet with perfect cheek bones, eyes which were a bright green, pin straight black hair that she kept in a meticulously neat bob, and legs so long that they caused the school uniform to look almost inappropriate.

Before Sunny got a chance to respond to her friend -- frienemy-- Violet cut her off.

"Where's Ray?"

The mention of Ray caused Sunny's insides to flutter uncontrollably. He was undeniably handsome. Sharp brown eyes, black hair which fell just so and looked perfect at all times, beautiful bone structure, and voice that caused her heart to melt every time he spoke.

"Lunch detention." Pearl answered, taking a sip of her cold tea. "Davis got him into trouble again."

"You'd think that the teachers would learn never to sit the cousins next to each other." Violet rolled her pretty eyes. She crossed her arms over her chest and the three of them watched the ROTC kids practice formation across the courtyard.

It was on the way back to class that Sunny literally ran into Ray. He managed to catch her before she landed on her face. Giving her a kind smile as he righted her.

"You alright?" He asked, making sure she was truly alright before shoving his hands into his back pockets. His backpack resting securely on his shoulders as she readjusted the strap to her messenger back.

"I—" Her wide brown eyes took in the sight of him. They rarely got to interact with one another, and she felt like an idiot standing there with her mouth half open. Quickly, she nodded. "Yes! Thank you! I'm sorry for bumping into you like that."

Ray let out a light chuckle, "It's no problem, I wasn't really watching where I was going. You're best friends with Pearl , aren't you?" He asked with a curious look upon his face.

She could only nod again, a bit confused.

He shuffled on his feet awkwardly, chuckling to himself as he looked down at their feet before looking back up at Sunny. He r heart melted at the sight in his eyes, "She's really cool."

Before either of them could say anything else, the warning bell rang, and they both managed to spit out quick goodbyes before rushing off towards their respective classes.

Sunny was left a little disoriented as she entered her science class.

2 Weeks Later

Graduation came by quickly. Sunny grinned at Davis, who had been seated right next to her; on his other side was Ray. She wanted to look at him, for him to look at her, but he was busy glancing up ahead at them. She tried to see exactly what he was looking at, but only saw Pearl.

They were graduating at the school's auditorium. It was a private school, and had a class of barely a hundred. They faced their parents and were on their best behavior as they waited for the ceremony to be done.

Shrugging, she stood with the rest of her graduating class and threw her red cap up. Laughingly, she waved up the stadium where her parents were seated. Her father was a large, burly, man with a thick mustache. Her mother was a reed thing woman with the same wavy hair as her. Beside her mother was Cher, grinning ear to ear and giving her a thumbs up, her hair up in a messy bun and she was wearing a bright pink sundress.

Beside Cher was Lily, her short auburn red hair only accenting her long neck. She wore darker colors, her hand resting in her husbands, a man she had married just the year prior. His dark brown hair was combed neatly, and his frameless glasses seemed to reflect the lighting in the auditorium. They both looked a little bored, but Sunny didn't care, she was too excited to care.

"I can't believe we did it!" Pearl's voice cried out as she practically tackled Sunny in a hug. The two girls giggled, jumping up and down together before noticing Violet standing there nonchalantly, hands on her hips.

They looked at their tall friend before grabbing her as well. Davis then joined, followed by Ray. And the five of them huddled together, laughter echoing between them.

"What are you guys doing this weekend?" Ray asked as they pulled apart, no doubt their families would be waiting for them outside in the courtyard. He was already undoing his black gown, revealing a plain black button up underneath, the top buttons undone. The shirt was tucked into dark khaki pants and black dress shoes.

Violet followed his example, only unzipping it and showing off her plum colored sundress. Which matched the black shoes that all the girls were forced to wear. "Are you asking us all out?" She smirked teasingly.

Ray gave her a dirty look.

Luckily, his cousin step in, ever present easy smile in place on his face. "Want to go to the beach with us? We're going to visit his grandma in San Diego. His mom's driving, and my mom will be there, so it's not like there's not an adult, I mean, I know we're all practically adults ourselves, but we all know how parents can be."

Violet thought for a moment, "It's a four hour drive away to see a relative that's not my own." She put her index finger on her chin, "On the other hand, it's the beach. I haven't been there in years. Alright, I'm in."

Sunny and Pearl exchanged looks.

"I'll have to ask my mom." Sunny said, her face heating up in a blush at the admittance of it.

Pearl nodded in agreement.

Ray shrugged, "That's alright, just let me know as soon as you can. My grandma lives in a huge house, there'll be room for everyone."

His dark eyes lingered on Pearl for a moment before switching to Sunny, and she could feel her face heat up into an even deeper red under his gaze. "I don't have a phone, so let Davis know."

The cousins said their goodbye's and went off to find their family.

"Let's go," Pearl said to Sunny, Violet walked a little behind them as they headed towards their own individual families.

It was hours later, when everyone was getting settled into their respective beds, that Sunny lie in Cher's old bed as her older sister sat at her desk, leaning over to paint her toenails a bright blue.

"I have a problem," Sunny whined to her older sister, trying not to shift too much. Cher was using the mattress to hold her foot up onto.

The blonde's hair was up in a side swept ponytail, tank top strap sliding off of her delicate shoulder. "Hm?" She asked while blowing on her toes a little.

The younger of the two stared at a poster of some random boy band which was still on the back of Cher's door, despite it being nearly ten years since it was placed up there.

"I was invited to go to San Diego this weekend." She twirled a piece of hair between her fingers nervously.

Her sister shrugged, "Okay?"

Sunny gave her an annoyed look, "There are going to be boys there."

Cher's head snapped up from what she had been doing, a sly smile spreading across her face, "Oooh."

Sunny felt her face color. "It's not like that."

"You want a cover story, eh?" Her sister giggled, putting her nail polish away and leaning forward. "My school's in Cali and I'm leaving this weekend. We can just say that you're going to visit with me, and that you'll be hopping a ride back with a friend. Who's going to this little getaway?"

"Pearl, Violet, Davis, and Ray," She answered honestly. Propping herself up onto her elbows.

Cher leaned back in her chair, looking at her sister down the bridge of her nose, "You'll be fine. They'll let you go. No problem-o."

Sunny grinned brightly back at Cher, "You're my favorite."

To this her sister chuckled, "I know."

The five hour drive went by quickly, thank goodness. Sunny stretched her back as they all got out of the van. David and Ray were already opening the trunk while their mothers went towards the large house. It was two stories, with a large porch, a light blue color with white trimmings and a bright red door. It rested on a hill, like most places in California, stairs winding down towards the street.

"Wow." Sunny said while looking up at the place.

"I know. It's amazing. Eight bedrooms and four bathrooms," Davis grinned.

An older woman who sported stylish peppered hair, had a great tan, and expressive dark eyes welcomed everyone into the house. She was wearing a simple purple sundress and she grinned widely at everyone.

"When I told Ray he could invite his friends, I expected to have a sausage fest. Not a house full of hens!" She laughed; Ray's face turned a deep shade of red.

Davis snickered and looked at the woman, "What about me? I'm a guy too!"

She reached over and pinched his cheek affectionately, "Of course you are sweetheart. Why don't the rest of you come on inside? I've already made some lunch for everyone, and I'm sure that car ride was exhausting."

"Thanks mom," Ray's own mother smiled at her. Her own black hair was long and fell into a thick braid which ended just between her shoulder blades. She had the same tanned skin at the woman, and expressive dark eyes. Behind her was her sister-in-law, Davis' mother. With short curly blond hair and kind blue eyes.

"I'm starving," Violet patted her stomach and followed, leaving Pearl and Sunny behind the rest.

"So what exactly did you tell your parents to allow them to let you come?" Pearl asked her best friend as they walked up the steps.

Sunny laughed airily, pausing to put her hair up into a high ponytail and winking at her best friend, "I told them I was visiting Cher. We left together, and she dropped me off at Davis' house this morning."

Pearl laughed as well, "That was smart. I just asked if I could spend the weekend at Violet's house."

"Gosh, we're turning into delinquents! Lying to our parents like this," Sunny sighed as she lifted her bag back up and kept walking upwards. "I feel guilty." She admitted.

"You're no saint Sun, besides; every teenager lies to their parents once or twice. It's not like you're living a double life or anything. Or that you keep secrets often."

To this Sunny could only nod in agreement. "Yeah. You're right."

"So let's make the most out of this weekend! To be honest, Ray's grandma isn't exactly what I expected at all." Pearl continued to chatter as they followed the others deeper into the house. Sunny could only hope that her guilt didn't eat her up, as it was opt to do.

The next morning had the three older women leaving the teenagers be for the day. They stated over breakfast how they wanted to go to a nearby shopping plaza and go out for coffee and sandwiches' while doing women things.

Ray sighed as he got behind the wheel of his grandfathers' 1966 red Ford Mustang. The humidity of California was killing him; he wiped the sweat as it trickled down his temple, running a hand through his shaggy black hair. He placed his sunglasses on his face as he watched Davis bring a cooler out to place into the trunk, Violet behind him with a beach bag, and Sunny with a large umbrella.

Pearl shuffled into the passengers' side, her red tank top was low cut and revealed an awful lot of cleavage, causing Ray to blush fiercely and glance away from her. Pearl wasn't the thinnest girl, but she knew just how to display her curves. Her short brown hair was pulled back by a red headband, causing her face to look longer than it usually was. The tank top was tight around her chest, yet conformable everywhere else, and her shorts rode up to her mid-thigh, revealing entirely too much leg then Ray could handle. He was suddenly very much aware of just how underdressed the two of them were.

She, however, was too busy placing sunglasses on to notice his glances.

"Hurry up!" He yelled out to Davis. From the side view mirror he could see his cousin giving him the finger.

Violet was next into the car, sporting a bright orange bikini halter top, short-shorts, and her short hair in two nub-like pigtails.

Davis shut the trunk carefully, wearing his green swim trunks that had a hibiscus design on the sides, and a plain white t-shirt. He allowed Sunny to enter the car first.

Her long hair was up in a thick, yet sloppy, bun on the top of her head. Glasses firmly in their usual place, she wore a baggy t-shirt and plaid Bermuda shorts.

"Let's get this show on the road!" The blond teenager said while jabbing his cousin in the shoulder.

"Screw you." Ray glared at Davis over his sunglasses before setting the car into the right gear.

Davis only laughed.

The beach wasn't as crowded as they feared it would be. And they had managed to get a good area to set up and relax on.

"Put lotion on my back?" Davis asked Ray playfully while handing the other the bottle. He wiggled against Ray as the other began to do so, causing his cousin to push him away. The blond could do nothing but laugh.

Pearl took off her shorts and tank top, revealing a black with cherry print one piece bathing suit that ruffled on the sides and had ruffled skirts just below her hips. "Mine too!" She smiled at Ray, the boy shook while doing so.

Violet took off her shorts as well, the bottom of her bikini entirely too small to do much more than over what it needed to do. There was a yellow star at the crotch area of the bikini bottoms. "Sunny," She gave her friend her tanning oil, "Oil me up."

Sunny could only roll her eyes as she did what she was told, watching at the corner of her eyes as Ray rubbed lotion onto Pearl's back while Davis did the same for Ray.

"Aren't you going to take that frumpy thing off?" Violet reached for the rim of Sunny's shirt. The other girl merely slapped her hand away. "It's just us."

"It's not 'just us' it's Ray and Davis too." Sunny said lowly so that only Violet could hear her.

The taller girl shook her head, raising her eyebrow and taking off her sunglasses just so Sunny could see her roll her eyes. "Pearl's wearing her swim suit, and you're way thinner than her."

Sunny's brown eyes widened, "You shouldn't say things like that!"

"Pfft, whatever," Violet began to oil her legs, "We all know it. Yet look at her, she's rockin' her bathing suit. She looks great. I mean, I've seen guys making eyes at her. Personally I think it's because she's got an awesome hourglass figure going on. But that's beside the point. Because you know what I mean."

Shaking her head, Sunny sighed.

Violet shrugged while taking the beach ball she had packed and heading towards the water, "Do what you want." She then looked towards the others, "Who wants to throw this around in that nice looking water over there?"

Ray and Pearl made their way after her, Pearl glancing at Sunny as they passed by her, "You coming with Sun?"

"In a minute." She smiled brightly, and sighed once their backs were turned towards her again.

Davis plopped down onto the beach blanket next to her.

Her gaze turned to him and then quickly looked ahead again. She had no idea that Davis had such a nice body. His body was nicer than Ray's! It made her feel worse then she already did about herself.

"Any reason why you're the most dressed person on the beach?" Davis asked, a grin quirking his face. He kept his gaze on their trio of friends, watching as they threw their beach ball to one another, happy smiles on their faces.

"I like being covered."

"Sunny," Davis turned his attention towards her, and for a moment Sunny couldn't speak. His blue eyes rivaled the skies, the sun shined off of his hair, creating a halo around his crown, and she noticed for the first time how square his jaw was, and how high his cheek bones were. Davis was breathtakingly handsome. "You shouldn't compare yourself to the other girls."

"I—I'm not." She stuttered, swallowing and wishing her hair was down so that she could cover her face.

His eyes were still on her, which made her feel awkward, "So you're just letting this whole teenage angst, stereotypical low self-esteem, self hating thing happen today?"

Her eyes snapped over to him, "No."

"Then you'd get down to your suit and jump into the water with the rest of us."

"If you want to be out there so badly, then why are you here?" She asked him.

Davis closed his eyes and turned his face so that it was absorbing the sun, "Because I don't want you to be lonely."

His admittance caused her to heat up once more. She idly wondered if her face was just going to remain red, and agreed that if it did she'd just blame it on sunburn. "I don't mind."

"Also," Davis cut in before she could go on, "To let you know that I think you're beautiful, no matter your opinion on yourself. I think you're lovely." He stood up and dusted the sand off of his calves, "So just think about that, hm? I'll see you out on the water."

She watched him go, his golden tan skin making him easy to spot when it came to her paler friends.

"Sunny?" A surprised voice asked from her left, causing her to look up. There stood a shocked looking Daisy, wearing a striped green bikini, and showing off a body that Sunny would have never guessed she had. "What're you doing in California?"

The carrot top girl easily sat down next to the brunette, "You look so hot! I mean…with all your layers on and all. I'm surprised you're wearing so much still."

"I'm here with the gang; they're down there playing with the beach ball. And…well…wait. What're you doing here?" She asked the younger woman.

Daisy smiled kindly, "I'm visiting my dad. His step wife's that blonde bimbo over there. My dad's too busy working to spend much time with me. But I figured I could work on my tan. I'm so happy that I ran into someone I knew though!"

Sunny looked over at the woman who was tanning her back, her bleached blond hair was up in a ponytail. She seemed a bit tanorexic, not that Sunny was going to say anything.

"Oh, then I'm inviting you to hang out with us while we're here." She smiled at Daisy. Despite how Davis felt, she liked the girl.

"Thank you." Daisy beamed.

Sunny gave the carrot top a bottle of SPF 70. "I'll need you to lotion my back for me. If you don't mind."

"Not at all!"

Taking a deep breath she took off her shirt and shorts. Underneath was a dark red tankini with white polka dots. She kept her hair up in its bun, and dragged Daisy down to the water with her. The others were surprised to see their younger classman there, but after explaining her circumstance, agreed that she could play with them.

Later on they managed to ask Daisy's step mom to take a silly photo of them. So that they all could remember their first day of real life freedom.