All packed up from yesterday afternoon, Colby and Monty were on their way back to Playa del Caramelo with Sage, Ronnie, Rika, and Sir. Cuddlekins in tow. It only seemed fair for the whole blended family to experience the joy and wonder of the Mexican town that Monty considered his home away from home. Resided by his intermediate family consisting of his aunt, grandparents, and twin cousins Leon and Felix. Los Extraños Hermanos as they dubbed themselves, due to being luchadors that explored the supernatural aspects of their hometown. Who would've thought they would make a web series out of it, capturing their adventures for thousands of fans worldwide to see?
But one thing's for sure, once he reunited with his closest friends, Monty knew that the three hermanos would be back in business. Though, he couldn't leave his other pals, Ronnie and Rika, out of the fun. It was time to give the twins a taste of what their friend's childhood was all about. And to do that, the half-Hispanic rambled about his time in Mexico from the moment they left. He was never known for being this chatty and excitable, since that's mainly Ronnie's job, but the thought of returning to his favorite place just filled him with so much joy and exhilaration. Monty just had to tell the twins about everything, from the things he's seen during his trip to everything else that happened throughout. Not bothering to explain what happened during his trip back to Dim Some since he preferred to keep it out of his memory.
"And before you know it, you're in this gigantic sea of little kids wrestling over the candy from the pinatas, right? It's literally a bloodbath, the trick is you gotta scoop up the candy before someone sees you or else you're caught in a headlock or pinned to the ground like a wuss. Heck, there's this one time some fat kid tried to body slam me for taking some rock candy and before his porky butt could land, WHAM! Nailed him with the clothesline! Man, Dia De Los Muertos is so dang sick... you guys have not lived 'til you've been a part of it, trust me." described Monty, sitting across the twins with Sir. Cuddlekins on his lap.
"Alright, alright, we'll take your word for it along with the other thousand things you ran your mouth about, Mont. Sheesh, you've been a motormouth ever since we left Dim Some. We get you're excited but do you have to tell us everything about your stay in Playa del Caramelo? Including the first time you puked at a gas station after having one too many slushies?" teased Rika with a cheeky grin.
"Hey, that's the stuff of legends, alright?"
"So true, Monterey! Also, cut the guy some slack, Ri-Ri, he's obviously pumped about heading back to his favorite place in the universe! And if he's pumped, I'm pumped! Whoo!" Ronnie raised his fists to the ceiling.
"And I'll be pumped when I can finally rest in a more stable setting," Sir. Cuddlekins yawned, a bit annoyed by the SUV's shaky movement against the rocky road. "How much longer until we reach your in-laws' house, Colby?"
"You're in luck, Sir. Snuggles, we're only minutes away from getting there!" cheered Colby, being the driver with Sage sitting next to him in the passenger's seat.
"Wow, we're already there? Dang... and I thought I'd have enough time to talk about the time I got into it with a demonic billy goat." scowled Monty.
"All goats are demonic in retrospect, there's no denying that." the kitten retorted frankly.
"Just like there's no denying that we're gonna be in for one heckuva good time with the fam! Oop! Better hit up Miranda and tell her we're about to drop by." the King of Curry snatched his phone, about to text with one hand while driving with the other.
"What are you doing, you idiot?! You're not supposed to text and drive, would it kill you to pull over and do that?!" Sage squawked.
"Aw, where's the fun in that? Geez, life's one huge adventure, you gotta live a little, Sagey Sage!"
"Ugh, I will never not hate being called that..."
Over at the two-story wooden house, Felix had been lured to the kitchen thanks to the savory pork flavor rising from the stove and who else to be cooking that than his grandmother, Estella.
"Mmm, mmm, mmmmm! Abuela, whatever you're making is smelling too dang good! Mind giving your favorite grandson a lil' taste-test?" the boy with the undercut reached over to touch the spoon, only to be lightly smacked by the elderly woman.
"Ah, ah, ah! Not so fast, mijo, basta! I know you are hungry but this very special feast is for our guests, no?" Estella said with a gentle smile.
"Yeah, I get that but can't a dude get a little sneak peek of the feast to come?"
"Flix, will you get your butt over here?!" Leon stormed into the kitchen, grabbing his brother's arm. "Uncle Colby and everyone's gonna be here any minute and you have nothing better to do than bug abuela?"
"Why not? We already got the house ready and everything, plus abuela loves it when I bug her. Don't ya?" Felix grinned back at his grandmother.
"Si, si, but I would also like it if you don't bug me so much that I can put dinner on the table." the elderly woman chuckled.
"Abuela's right, Felix, leave the lady alone." reprimanded the boy with parted hair.
"Fine, but only 'cause I really wanna eat..." pouted Felix.
"Guys, guys! Everyone hurry outside, they're here! They just arrived!" Miranda announced with her phone in hand.
"Ay, already?! Oh, goodness... vamos, chicos!" Estella crooned, leading the twins outside.
"Aw, snap, this is it! Los Extraños Hermanos is about to be back in full force!" grinned the younger boy twin.
"More like part-time, Flix." smirked Leon.
"Ay, ay, ay, really? Is this necessary? Why's tonto and his gang of goons showing up again? Does he and that bratty kid of his insist on making me lose the rest of the hair?" grumbled Cruz, lagging behind the family.
"Aw, lighten up, abuelo, you're just as stoked to see the fam as we are! Don't even lie about that!" chirped Felix.
"Hmph, just like I can't lie that this visit will be the death of me."
Aside from Cruz, the whole family rushed outside the house to see the black, flame-painted SUV parked out front and soon enough, both of Colby and Monty's two families were reunited with hugs. Even Sage and the twins were warmly greeted with handshakes and warm, loving embraces from Leon and Felix's clan, minus Cruz, who refused a fist-bump from his son-in-law.
"Oy, you still never learned about keeping your musty hands to yourself, tonto? Figures..." the stout elderly man grumbled.
"Aw, Cruz, my man, you never change. Ya never change and that's just cool with me." smirked Colby.
"Oh, pay him no mind, mijo, we are all so happy that you have come to see us again." Estella spoke sweetly, smiling back at her son-in-law.
"Yeah, even though things were arranged at the last minute but that's typical of you, Colby. And it's really great that you brought along your other friends too, so nice to meet you all. Colby's told us stories upon stories about you." giggled Miranda, speaking to Sage and her children.
"Heh, not surprised. Once he starts rambling, he never stops. Unless, you use force to make him." chuckled Sage, elbowing her best friend's side.
"Aw, zip it, girl. You know you can't resist listening to this silky smooth voice..." teased the King of Curry with a deeper voice.
"Look, this reunion's cool and all but, uh... where's my dude tiburón?" Felix searched around the group.
"He's riiiiiiiight here!" Ronnie jumped out towards the boy with the undercut. "And he's starving for a really good time with his bestie, Flix!"
"I know that's right! Put 'em there, my-oh! Oh..."
The boys weren't sure whether to hug or high-five or bump fists but in the end, they pulled each other into a side hug.
"Ah, together again at last! I can already tell this mini-vacation's gonna be totes an awesome one!" chirped the bubbly blue boy.
"And it'll be even more awesome once I-" All of a sudden, Felix put his pal in a headlock similar to what he did in their lucha match.
"Aaaagh, no, not the choke! Not the choke!"
"Oh, shoot, my bad. Is your neck still bothering you?"
"No, no, you're good. Just flexing my acting muscles yet again." giggled Ronnie.
"Ah, good 'cause the last thing I wanna do is put my man tiburón outta commission. Say, speaking of, why don't ya follow me to my room? Got a bunch of shark stuff with your name on it." grinned Felix, followed by the feathery-haired boy to the house.
"Oh, cool, and crazy enough, I got a lot of goodies for you too! Including a portrait of El Patán done with oil pastels, with glistening pecs and all!"
"Ooooh, now that's gonna get hung on my wall for sure! See, tiburón, this is why you're good peoples, man. Always going above and beyond to be a super cool guy."
"Same with you, Flix. Us super cool guys gotta flock together!"
"While they're doing that, why don't the rest of you get settled in before dinner's ready?" suggested Miranda.
"Yes, and I have a muy delicioso meal waiting to be served to you all. You are just going to love it." Estella cupped her hands together with joy.
"Until you wind up on the toilet for hours. Ow!" Cruz snarked, smacked on the back of the head by his wife.
"Cruz, cállate! You have nothing better to do? Then, you can be my assistant chef." the elderly woman dragged her husband inside with Miranda chuckling after them.
"And that should give us plenty of time to show you those fruits I told you about Rika, since I know you'll bug me about 'em if I don't." Leon offered.
"Heh, you got that right. Wanna come with us, Monty?" Rika turned to Monty, standing behind them.
"Yeah, not everyone has the privilege of trying a brain melon."
"Well, shoot, count me i-" the half-Hispanic began to say, scrunching his face when he heard his father shout.
"What now, dad? You want me to take everyone's bags, what?"
And he was about to request that, but Colby put on a more relaxed grin as he shook his head, "Actually... nah, go on and pal around with your pals. I got the bags."
"Wait, you sure?" Monty perked a thick, big brow.
"Yeah, yeah, no worries, buddy! We came back here just for you, so enjoy yourself!"
"Uh, okay... thanks."
"Heh, that's a first. Letting your son be a kid for once instead of forcing him to do manual labor, looks like someone's been listening to my audio-book..." taunted Sage with a sly grin.
"Okay, maybe I have... but you're right, Sage. If I wanna be a really good dad for Monty, I gotta make sure his needs are met before my own. So why not take the bags myself?" Colby said, taking a bag with his friend.
"Well, at least let me help you so you don't throw your back out again."
"Ey, that only happened once, woman. Once."
"The heck was that about? Dad never misses a chance to make me do stuff for him. You know what's up with him, Cudds?" Monty lagged behind Rika and Leon, heading into the wooden house.
"Perhaps, the last couple days have inspired him to become a more caring father. So, instead of questioning his behavior, appreciate it. That's what you always wanted, isn't it? A more 'normal' father?" retorted Sir. Cuddlekins, lying on his owner's shoulder.
"Okay, you're right but... I dunno, just feels weird that he's being so nice all of a sudden. It'll definitely take some getting used to."
Hours later into the evening, everyone gathered at the long dining room table for the plentiful Mexican feast cooked by Estella, with some assistance from Miranda and a reluctant Cruz. Monty was in awe with both hunger and nostalgia from the local delicacies he hadn't sampled since he was younger. Sure, he's been to a few Mexican restaurants in Dim Some, not counting any Tex-Mex ones since they didn't count as "real" Mexican cuisine, but none of them could compete with his grandmother's homemade cooking. Compared to its contenders, the half-Hispanic could actually taste the heart and soul she puts in every bite. Her never-ending passion for creating the most impeccable dishes.
Mouthwatering tamales. Paella bulked out with chunks of pork, fat and all. Tacos exclusively made with corn tortillas, no point in asking for the flour kind. A hearty vegetable soup with rice, flavored with garlic. A light salad consisting of beans, diced sweet corn, with scraps of watermelon inwards. Fried seasoned potato wedges and those were only a few to sample before dessert. Enjoying each other's company over some homemade fruit punch, made from pineapple, papaya, mangoes, and lime, the gang didn't know if they wanted the meal to end so soon. Is this what big family dinners felt like?
"Ah, man... abuela, gotta hand it to ya. This meal? Probably the best one you've cooked up yet, too tasty for words!" Colby complimented, giving the charmed elderly woman a wink and grin.
"Oh, you flatter me, mijo. Gracias, I just had to make this meal very special for you all, but I could not have done this alone. Thanks to mi esposo and mi hija." Estella flashed a smile at Cruz and Miranda.
"Pfft, I wouldn't help ya cook even if I wanted to. It's woman's work for a reason..." grumbled Cruz.
"Oh, relax, dad, you know you're glad you're a part of this. It's only fair we treat our guests to some good food, isn't that right, mom?" Miranda turned to her mother.
"Si, si!" nodded the elderly woman.
"Ay, I will never understand what goes through a woman's mind... other than cleaning and cooking." the elderly man sneered, shaking his head.
"Dad, enough! Don't go ruining dinner now, we haven't even asked everyone if they're enjoying the food. Especially you, Monty, since it's been a while since you've eaten like this, huh?" the brunette woman glanced at Monty, gulping down his fifth soft taco that he nearly choked on.
"Hmm?! Oh, yeah, it's been a minute. But enjoying all this after who knows how long is definitely worth the wait. Thanks a lot of making for this, guys." the half-Hispanic grinned.
"Why don't you thank them by not stuffing your face with all of it, you pig." teased Rika with a cheeky smirk.
"Oh, leave me alone, Rik."
"Guys, don't start now. But thank you all so much for your hospitality. Colby told me you guys are like another family to him and it's definitely not hard to see why." smiled Sage.
"Yeah, mama's right! You guys are so cool and dinner was super-duper yummy! Thank you so much!" chirped Ronnie.
"Heh, if you thought dinner was something, just wait 'til you see what we got planned for ya the next couple days." Felix rubbed his hands together with a sly grin.
"Plans like what?" asked Monty with a suspicious glance.
"To start, tomorrow, Felix and I would like to take you and Ronnie back to the gym where we trained together. Just so you can see how much it's changed since you left," Leon explained. "And Ronnie, you'll get to see what it's like to be with a bunch of aspiring luchadors."
"Oooh, now that sounds fun! Does that mean you'll get to show us more lucha moves and stuff? 'Cause I was hoping I'd get to teach you both that sweet double spinning roundhouse I did in our match!" the bubbly blue boy spoke.
"Pfft, you and that double spinning roundhouse, Ron..." the spiky-haired boy playfully rolled his eyes.
"What, did you forget how hype the crowd got from seeing that? Everyone was on their feet SCREAMING!"
"Can't lie, that move was pretty sick. Tell ya what, tiburón, you show me how to do that and I'll show ya how to choke some fools." smirked the boy with the undercut.
"Awesome! ...though, choking people sounds pretty harsh but yaaay!" Ronnie clapped with joy.
"Whoa, hey now? What about me, you guys aren't gonna have your little expedition without me, are ya?" Rika scowled with a huff.
"Eh, maybe..." shrugged Leon. "But it's mainly a male-only gym, so unless you want to disguise yourself as a boy, don't bother."
"But you're already so hot as a girl, why would you wanna, bonita?" Felix bobbed his brows at the pigtailed girl.
"Ugh, again with the bonita crud... what a creep." shuddered the bluenette.
"All that aside, these next couple days are about to be one for the books! Viva la Playa del Caramelo!" Colby raised his glass of punch, joined by everyone except Cruz.
"The hell do you think are making toasts and crap? Who said you're the man of this house, tonto?" sneered the old man.
After dessert, the gang went outside for some dancing and drinking with the adults. Cruz, forced by Estella, played a traditional song on his guitar for everyone to dance to. Rika declined Felix's offer to dance with him in seconds, dancing with Sir. Cuddlekins in her hands instead. Which left him to do a two-step with his grandmother. Ronnie hopped around and twirled, feeling the acoustic guitar flow through his body. Sage and Miranda chatted over a fruity, alcoholic drink, mainly about their children and their journeys as single mothers. Leon just sat off to the side and watched everyone enjoy themselves, patting a beat on his legs along to his grandfather's guitar. And as for Monty, he sat on the steps with a tall glass of horchata, sipping from it until Colby sat next to him with a glass of his own.
"Whew, boy, what a day... this really takes ya back, doesn't it, Mont? Seeing your familia have fun and celebrate life without a care in the world." the King of Curry said with a relaxed smile.
"Yep, wouldn't have this any other way. Just being here with all this going on... I never realized how peaceful things are when you're in a place you can truly call home." nodded the half-Hispanic.
"Right, right... but what about Dim Some, that's your home too, isn't it?"
"It is, but we both know that this is where I really feel at home."
"Yeah, I hear ya. It's great to see you happy and smiling again, but we can't stay here forever. Gotta head back to Dim Some after a couple days."
"I know, I know..." sighed Monty, taking a huge sip of horchata.
"Hey, man, sorry to break the news to ya but-" started Colby.
"No, I get what you mean... guess I'm just starting to come with terms with not staying here for good. It's like you said after we went back to Dim Some, you can't stay in one spot for the rest of your life."
"True, but that doesn't mean you're not allowed to live here whenever you want. I mean, just think, you could probably move and start a new life here after your graduate or something. Then, you can hang out with your other fam all the time."
"...that doesn't sound like the worst idea..." mused the spiky-haired boy.
"But on one condition, you gotta take your ol' man with ya." the male with the eye-patch laughed.
"Dad, shut up."
"Hey, I've been doing all this stuff for ya and that's how you wanna repay me? Hmph, and I thought you were starting to appreciate me..."
"Oh, screw off, dad, I am. But, eh... maybe I'll think about bringing you along."
"Well, don't think about it for too long. Your pop's not gettin' any younger."
"You don't need to remind me how ancient you are." smirked Monty.
"Nah, but I'll keep you reminding how big that five-head is." teased Colby, ribbing his son's side as he chuckled.
"Whatever... oh, dad?"
"...thanks a lot." smiled the half-Hispanic.
"Aww, you're welcome, son! Anytime you need something, you just give your dad a holler, alright?" said the food-fighting master.
"Okay, so say I wanted to get that tattoo-"
"Nope, not 'til you hit twenty-one, kiddo. Nice try!"
Ay, caramba: Good grief
Basta: Enough, stop it
Horchata: A popular Mexican beverage made with milk and rice, flavored with either cinnamon or vanilla
Mi esposo: My husband
Mi hija: My daughter
Muy delicioso: Very delicious
Vamos: Let's go
Viva la Playa del Caramelo: Hurray for Playa del Caramelo