#10 - "Familia Testimonii" (Originally Written In: 2017)|
[ Song du Jour | Close ]
"Entoborg, is the ship ready for travel?"
"Yes, sir," he replied, saluting. "We're ready to go!"
"Excellent! Let's get this party started!"
Xityrant's ship's engines fired up, and the ship left the orbit of the planet Mirinoi.
Kaori ran into the room. "Gabriela!"
She spun around in her chair. "What's up?"
"How would you like to come and visit my whole family this weekend?"
She looked at her, inquisitive of her motive. "Why...?"
"Because I thought you'd like to see all of us in one place?"
-"Did I hear the words, 'family reunion'?"- Kaori turned around and saw Phoenix standing in her doorway. "Your family's all meeting up?"
"It's my grandfather's 80th birthday, and we're all getting together to celebrate. I haven't really been in touch with them since I signed up here, so it could be neat to catch up with everyone."
"Does this tree of yours have any nuts on it?" He smirked.
"Phoenix!" Gabriela exclaimed.
"Gabi, don't." She sighed. "Yes, there are some crazies in my family. That's partly why I'm not sure about going alone."
"So, we'll all come along as backup," he suggested. "We *are* a team, after all."
"Ooh!" Gabriela perked up. "Maybe I can get a hold of Otome, and see if he wants to come!"
"Don't you think he's busy with his intergalactic exploits? I doubt 'go to my crazy girlfriend's family meeting' is on his list of priorities." She frowned. "Don't, with the puppy dog pout." She started to pout. Kaori sighed. "Fine, you can bring him." Phoenix laughed. She abruptly turned around. "See if Riley and Chase want to come along, too."
Phoenix saluted. "Ma'am! Yes, ma'am!" He marched down the hall. "Left! Left! Left, right, left..."
As his voice faded away down the hall, Gabriela squealed in delight. "Otome said that he'd love to come, but needs to know when to be here."
"According to the invitation," Kaori said, reading the card, "the party begins at 5:00. So, have him be here at 4. I don't want to be late. That's frowned upon in my family."
"Ma'am! Yes, ma'am!" She saluted.
Kaori glared. "Don't you start, too..."
-"What's this I hear about a family reunion?"- Riley peered his head in. "Phoenix said something about a crazy aunt that once lived for six months on Twizzlers?"
"Phoenix! I'm going to kill you!"
-"Gotta catch me first!"- He laughed, and could be heard running down the hall.
"I know what it's like to have crazy people in your family. Thank goodness for my grandmother. She was about the only sane one in the bunch!"
"I'm just nervous. That's all."
Riley approached her and put his arm around her. "What's there to be nervous about?"
"The last time we all got together, my brother wound up in a 'special hospital' with 'special pills,'" Kaori explained, adding air quotes to stress the important details.
Riley backed up. "Well, what did he do?"
"Yeah, what did he do?" Gabriela asked.
"It involved several dozen llamas, taco cheese, and the Largest Ball Of Twine over on Larchmont Street."
"There's no ball of twine over on Larchmont Street," Gabriela commented.
Riley looked puzzled, trying to piece together the elements of the story. "Llamas... Cheese... Twine..." He walked back toward the guys' room. When he walked in, he asked Phoenix about it. "Hey, what can someone do with a herd of llamas, some taco cheese, and a huge ball of twine?"
"Sounds like a heck of a party!" Phoenix laughed.
"Eh, maybe." He looked around. "Where's Chase?"
"He ran off, saying something about some book or something. I really wasn't paying attention." Phoenix quickly changed the subject back to Riley's question. "Does it have to be taco cheese, specifically? I remember learning that llamas are more partial to pepper jack cheese."
Riley looked at him, dumbfounded. "Really? Pepper jack cheese, huh?"
"Oh, yeah! Everyone knows that you only use taco cheese if you want to attract alpacas... Duh..."
"Of course. Anyway, Kaori's get-together is tomorrow at 5, so she wants to leave from here at 4. If you see Chase before I do, would you let him know?" Phoenix nodded. "Thanks." He glanced at his watch. "Oh, I've got to get to the Research Lab. Brandon wants my help with his new project."
"Could he use another volunteer? I don't really have much going on right now, and--"
"Say, weren't you supposed to be at football practice?"
Phoenix looked at his watch. "Oh, shoot! I'm late again! Coach said that if I was late once more, I'd have to clean out underneath the bleachers!" He grabbed his jacket, and ran out the door. "Bye!"
Riley waved. "Underneath the bleachers..." He sighed. "Good times! Hope he packed his latex gloves for the cleanup..."
Chase walked into the photography studio and looked around. "Not a bad setup." He walked over to the camera and examined it. "Hm..."
-"Do not touch my equipment!"- A female voice boomed. Chase quickly turned and saw the photographer running toward him. "Hands off!"
"That's the first time I've heard that from a girl," he said, snickering.
"It's not funny!" She looked the camera over. "This is a *very* expensive piece of photography equipment!"
"All I did was look at it. No need to get your knickers in a twist."
She sighed. "I'm sorry. It's just... With all of this pressure of getting this book out there, I need the best cover shot that I can get."
"What were you thinking for the cover?"
"The book is called 'Selfie,' so it should resemble a self-portrait," she explained, "and, what kind of selfies do most handsome guys such as yourself take?"
"Shirtless, in the mirror!" She reached into her purse, and pulled out a generic-looking smartphone. "Use this to simulate taking the picture, while I take the actual one. We'll put you against the green-screen so I can insert the bedroom background later."
"What else happens in the book?"
"The protagonist moves into a new building, and gets involved in a cryptic mystery. The cover will illustrate taking the self-portrait in his bedroom, and will be obscured with a cryptic filter. It will be difficult to figure out that you're the cover model."
"And, how much does this pay?"
"Five hundred dollars." She turned to walk over to the camera. "If you'd rather not, I could always find someone else --" She picked up the camera and turned back around, only to see that Chase had already removed his shirt and had the phone in his hand. "Well... That answers that question."
"Let's do this!" After about twenty minutes of posing and shooting, she sat down on a stool and started to scroll through the pictures. Chase picked up his shirt. "How'd it turn out?"
She walked over to Chase and put her hand on his shoulder, moving down his arm. "With you as my cover model, it'll definitely boost sales!"
"I'm flattered - and, believe me, if this were any other time, we'd probably be doing other things right about now - but, I should tell you that I have a girlfriend."
"So?" She ran her hand up Chase's midsection, back toward his shoulder. "She's not here, and what she doesn't know won't hurt anyone... Right?"
-"Excuse me?"- They both turned toward the door and saw Kaylee walk in. "You'd better get your hands off my man, you tramp!"
Chase's eyes widened. "Kaylee!" He quickly put his shirt on and buttoned it up. "It's not what it looks like!"
"Oh, really?" Kaylee stormed over to them. "It looks like this floozy had her hands all over you!"
He shrugged. "Okay, so it's what it looks like, but there's a good reason! It's for the cover for her new book. I'm going to be famous!"
She leaned in toward him. "Does it pay?"
Kaylee walked over to the photographer. "You'd better obscure that photo enough that nobody will be able to figure out that it's Chase, then you'd best delete all of those photos from your camera, your computer, and wherever else you planned on storing them, because NOBODY gets to look at my man but ME... And, maybe Riley and Phoenix, because they live together and it's inevitable... But, besides them, nobody gets to ogle Chase except ME. Understood?"
She gulped. "Yes, ma'am."
"Good. Let's go." Kaylee walked out of the studio.
"I tried to warn you," Chase commented, "but, don't let this interfere with which picture you choose. Try and pick one with good lighting. I wouldn't want all of this to go to waste."
"Coming, dear!" He shouted. He looked back at the photographer. "Can I get paid now?" She sighed and handed him a check. "Thanks!" He smiled and ran out of the studio.
She walked over to the camera and picked it up, looking through all of the pictures. "Oh, Liz, it's going to be a *good* night..."
Later, the gang met up in a common room in TQGHQ. Chase walked in and saw Riley lying on a couch with a heating pad, Phoenix furiously scrubbing his hands in the sink, and the girls sitting at a table, drinking what looked like iced tea and talking about what to wear to the party. He approached Riley. "What happened to you?"
"Brandon's working on a new experimental power set..." Riley groaned as he sat up slightly. "Let's just say that it didn't work *quite* how he expected."
"New powers? Sounds interesting, mate. What color?"
Chase shrugged. "Makes sense, considering the rest of our colors." He patted Riley on the shoulder, causing him to groan in pain. "Rest up!"
He walked over to Phoenix. "What's with the furious hand scrubbing?"
"I was late to practice, so Coach made me clean underneath the bleachers. Do you know what goes on underneath the bleachers?"
"Do I ever..." Chase grinned. "Good times!"
"I've never seen so many..." Phoenix shuddered at the thought. "I mean, kudos to them for being safe, but... How can there be so many?"
"My record's three."
"Is not!" Riley shouted from the couch.
"Okay, fine... Six. I didn't want to brag, but that was a heck of a night..."
Phoenix shuddered again, and went back to washing his hands. "The stench won't come off!"
Chase made his way to the beverage machine and dialed up a bottle of L&P. When it came out, he removed the cap and took a swig. "Ah, that's the stuff!" He sat down at the table with the girls. "What's going on here?"
"My grandfather's 80th birthday party is tomorrow, and I'm trying to pick out an outfit," Kaori explained. "I haven't seen the family very much since I joined TQG, so I want to make a good impression."
"Better get something that's fireproof," Gabriela commented, "just in case your brother decides to get another one of his crazy ideas."
"Your brother's a bit of a nut, I presume?" Chase asked.
"You don't know the half of it," Kaori replied.
"I'm still trying to figure out the correlation between llamas and taco cheese," Riley chimed in.
"Llamas...?" Chase looked at Kaori. "Do I even want to know?"
"Okay, good, because llamas are partial to pepper jack, anyway," Chase said.
Phoenix stopped washing his hands and wiped them off. "I knew it!"
Riley looked up and over at them. "You've got to be kidding me."
"Hey, Arnold!" Reese shouted from the bottom of the stairs.
-"What do you want?"- Arnold answered from his room, yelling at an equally high volume.
"Mom says that you have to come down and help set up for the party!"
"Must you both yell from opposite ends of the house?" Maddie said, walking out of the kitchen to the base of the stairs. "Go and help your father."
"Kay-kay," Reese said, running out of the room.
Maddie walked up the stairs to Arnold's door, which was closed. She knocked. "Arnold, you need to come down and help."
-"In a minute! I'm just about to lead my fleet to victory against the aliens of Zagnor!"-
"Oh, for the love of..." She opened the door and walked over to her son, snatching the controller out of his hand. "You've got two options: Either I pause this and you go and help while leaving your fleet intact, or I turn this off and your fleet vanishes into the furthest reaches of the Pretendo galaxy."
"Mom, no! I'll help set up! Just don't reset the game. I've been working on this since last Tuesday!"
"Good." She set the controller down on the bed. "Oh, and take that ridiculous helmet off before you come downstairs."
"But..." He noticed the look that his mother was giving him and decided to comply. "Okay." He took the helmet off and put his glasses back on, before getting up and walking out of his bedroom. Maddie rolled her eyes and followed him down the stairs and into the kitchen, where her husband and their daughter were blowing up balloons.
"How many more balloons do we have to blow up?" Rafael asked. "My lungs feel like they're about to collapse."
"How many have you already blown up?"
He did a quick count. "Twelve."
"And, how old is my father going to be?"
"80?" She nodded. "So... We're not close to being done?" She nodded again. "You kids keep blowing. I need a break before I wind up in the ER."
"Now, Arnold can use some of that hot air he's full of and put it to good use!" Reese snickered.
"I'll bet I can blow up more balloons than you," he challenged.
"Let's make it interesting: Loser does the winner's chores for a week." She extended her hand. "Deal?"
Arnold shook her hand. "You're gonna regret that bet. It's my week to deodorize the garbage cans!"
"No! Not that!"
"Better get blowing, squirt!"
Rafael stepped back as both kids started to furiously blow up balloons, with Reese having a slight advantage. "Do you think this is going to end well?"
"No," Maddie replied.
"Should we go into the living room, before we get dragged into this?"
"Sounds good. Let's go." The two parents walked into the neighboring living room and sat down on the couch. "Who all's coming to this shindig, anyway?"
"Well, it's the four of us, your parents... Oh, and Kaori's bringing her friends from that TQG program."
"People outside of the family are coming?" Maddie asked with a panicked tone to her voice.
"Yeah," Rafael replied, "so? They're just people, dear."
"But, they're outsiders. They may not know about our... Eccentricities."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Surely, you haven't forgotten Arnold's little incident with the llamas and the twine..."
"Oh, right, but the special medicine's taken care of that."
"I know, but still... I want to leave them with a good impression."
He took her hand in his. "You worry too much. Relax! Everything will be fine!"
-"Forty! I win!"- Reese shouted from the kitchen.
-"You cheated! I don't know how, but you did!"-
-"Have fun cleaning the disposal!"-
Rafael looked at Maddie. "I promise, tomorrow is going to go off without a hitch."
"Are you going to send Arnold to your mother's?"
"Possibly." She snickered. "That's a laugh! See? You ARE relaxing!"
The next morning, Kaori was awakened by the sound of Gabriela's phone ringing. Noticing that her friend was unfazed by the noise, she picked up the phone and looked at who was calling. She quickly answered it. "Hello?" She asked, sounding like she was half-asleep.
"Otome, she's still sleeping. It's Kaori." She yawned. "What's up?"
-"I should be landing in about an hour. I know you wanted me there early. Is this early enough for you?"-
She looked at her watch. "It's 6:00 in the morning. I'd say, yeah, you're plenty early!"
-"Great! See you in a bit!"-
"Can you stop somewhere and bring me breakfast? I've got SUCH a craving for a chocolate cream-filled donut!"
He snickered. "I'm pretty sure your technology could whip one up."-
"Yeah, but it's not the same."
-"I'll bring a dozen donuts with me. Besides the one you wanted, what do the others like?"-
"Just surprise us. I'm sure they'll eat anything. Bye!" She ended the call and set Gabriela's phone down. She looked around. "Guess I might as well get dressed."
The doorbell rang. Arnold ran down the stairs and made it to the door. He looked through the peephole and saw who it was. He opened the door. "Grandma! Grandpa!"
"Hiya, sport!" Johnny rubbed Arnold's head, messing up his already-messy hair even more.
"Well? Don't just stand there. Go into the house!" Imbala commanded.
"Oh, right." Johnny and Imbala entered the living room and looked around. "Say, this place looks pretty nice!"
"A little too nice... Arnold, would you be a dear and get me something to drink?"
"What would you like?"
"Vodka tonic with a lime," she replied, "and keep 'em coming!"
"I don't think we have that," Arnold said, sounding confused. "We have water..."
"That'll be fine, dear," Imbala spoke. The two of them sat on the plastic-covered couch, which made a farting sound as they sat down. "Johnny!"
"What? It was the plastic!"
Arnold came back into the room, carrying two glasses of ice water with slices of lemon on the rim. He set them down on the floor before placing coasters on the coffee table, then he set the drinks onto the coasters. "Mom says that we have to keep the house looking as clean as possible."
"Why? You expecting the Mayor to show up?" Johnny asked, sipping his water.
"No, but Kaori and her friends from that TQG program are coming, and Mom wants to make a good first impression on them."
"Oh, really?" Imbala asked. "You know, I think we can make a great impression on them. What time are they supposed to be here?"
"The party starts at five, and Kaori likes to be early, so probably 4:30."
"Thanks, dear. Now, why don't you run along and play some of your video games?"
"Yeah, I'm sure that a Master Commander such as yourself needs to lead his fleet to victory over those aliens!"
"Mom told me that I couldn't today. Do you know what it's like to go through withdrawal, and it's only been one night!"
"Ah, detox... That takes me back," Johnny commented. "Remember visiting me at Betty Ford?"
"You *were* a trainwreck back then, and that's what made me fall in love with you," Imbala said.
"I'm... Gonna go back to bed. This is getting weird," Arnold spoke. He ran upstairs.
"Enjoy your nap!" Once she heard his door close, she leaned in toward Johnny. "So, we're going to throw a wrench in Maddie's plans."
"What are you thinking?"
Kaori heard a knock on the door to the girls' quarters. She pressed the intercom. "Who is it?"
-"It's your cable company, wondering if you're happy with your service,"- Otome responded, dryly. -"Who do you think it is?"-
"Did you bring the goods?"
-"Baked goods? Yes, I got your precious donuts."- She opened the door and grabbed the box of donuts from him, running over to her bed and setting the box down. She tore the lid open and grabbed a chocolate cream-filled one. She sank her teeth into it. "Um... You're welcome?"
"Oh, my gosh, this is SO good! Thank you!"
Gabriela walked into the room, wearing her robe and towel-drying her hair. "Kaori, I could hear you all the way down the hall, and--" She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Otome standing there. "Hi, gorgeous! -- Wait. You're here! Now!" She draped the towel over her head. "You can't see me like this!"
"Like what?" He walked over to her and took the towel off of her head. "Naturally beautiful?" He tilted her head up to face his and kissed her. "You look fine."
"Aw, shucks..." She started to blush. "You're just saying that."
"That's not true at all. However, I know that you would prefer to get dressed, so I shall go and see what the gentlemen are up to. Kaori made me stop for donuts. Shall I let the gentlemen know that they're here?"
"NO!" Kaori interjected. "Let them get their own!" She picked up the box. "My precious..."
Otome's eyes widened. "Okay... And, on that note, I'll take my leave. See you in a bit." He turned and walked out of the room.
"I hate to see him go, but I *love* to watch him leave," Gabriela commented.
"I think he wanted some of my donuts."
Gabriela turned to look at her. "I've never seen you get so possessive of anything, let alone pastries."
"You don't understand. Donuts are my one weakness. Now, go and get dressed, and leave me to my baked gold over here."
"Could I have one?"
"...I suppose." She picked up a jelly-filled one and handed it to her. "I don't like the jelly ones, anyway."
"Ooh, thanks! I love this kind!" She took a bite of the donut and walked toward her closet. "Are we going for fireproof, or standard party fare?" She waited a bit. "Kaori?" She turned around and saw Kaori sitting on the bed, chowing down on what was left of the donuts. She sighed. "Fine, I'll just wing it."
The teens pulled into Kaori's parents' driveway. Riley turned off the engine. Kaori looked back from the passenger seat. "Do you all know what to do?"
"Don't be stupid," everyone replied.
"Very good! Now, let's go, and be careful not to dirty up your shoes!" Everyone, dressed in their best formal attire, got out of the van and walked to the front door. "Remember... MANNERS." She rang the doorbell.
The door opened, revealing Reese. "Big sis!" She hugged her sister, then turned around. "Hey, everyone! Kaori's here with her friends!"
"Okay, dear," Maddie said, walking into the living room from the kitchen, dressed in formal attire as well, "we don't yell in the house, remember? Now, run along and find your brother."
"Yes, Mom," she replied, walking up the stairs.
"Do come in, dear, and remember: Shoes on the mat. I must tend to the food," Maddie spoke, walking back into the kitchen.
"You heard her: Shoes off when you come in." The teens complied, removing their shoes as they entered the house. One by one, they sat on the furniture in the living room: Chase and Kaylee squeezed into the oversized easy chair, Gabriela and Otome sat on one side of the couch, with Phoenix on the other, and Riley sat on the smaller reclining chair. "Would you like some water to drink?" Everyone answered with varying forms of 'yes,' and Kaori went into the kitchen.
"This is a beautiful home," Otome commented. "It reminds me of what mine used to look like, before the invasion."
"Do you all buy this whole 'formal' routine?" Phoenix asked. "I mean, I can understand wanting to hold onto traditional family values, but this is almost like how WE have parties, and that's speaking as a rich kid!"
"I think it's sweet that they want to put on a good first impression," Kaylee commented, "unlike a certain someone..." She glared at Chase.
Chase looked around, then noticed that they were all looking at him. "What? Me? I made a good first impression!"
"Um, if I recall, you took her to the skate park and made her watch you skateboard for five hours," Riley spoke.
"Yeah, and can you think of a better first impression to make on someone than to show off your skating prowess?"
"I do not understand," Otome replied. "Why not try to impress your potential lover by doing things that you can both enjoy?"
"That's what I said!" Kaylee exclaimed. "Luckily, Chase came around, and now, we're here: Together forever! Isn't that right, snookums?" She leaned down and kissed him.
"That's right... Together forever!" Chase grinned.
"You see? That's the kind of romance that we all should get to experience," Gabriela commented.
"You want me to be selfish in the beginning, and only think of you when you want to break up?" Otome asked. Riley laughed.
"NO!" Gabriela shouted.
Arnold ran into the room. "I heard screaming! Who's dying?"
"Nobody's dying, little man," Phoenix replied, taking note of what Arnold was wearing. "Where'd you get that helmet?"
He quickly took it off and threw it into the closet. "You didn't see that! Mom'll flip her lid if she knows that I was playing video games during the party!"
"What game?" Phoenix asked.
"It's only the best game of the year: 'Alien Star Command 3.'"
"No way! That's the one that introduced the co-op mode! You up for a quick game?"
"I dunno," Arnold replied, "can that football arm of yours handle a controller?"
He stood up. "Bring it on, small fry." The two of them ran upstairs.
Kaori walked back into the room, carrying several glasses of water in her arms. "Um... A little help, please?"
"Here," Riley said, getting up out of the chair and taking half of the glasses out of her arms. "Otome, could you get the coasters?"
"Sure thing," he replied, setting up coasters on the table in front of everyone. Riley and Kaori laid out the glasses.
"Where's Phoenix?" She asked.
"He went upstairs with your little brother to battle evil aliens and defend the galaxy," Gabriela replied.
"As long as it keeps him out of trouble," Kaori commented.
"Your brother?" Chase asked.
"No," Kaori replied, sitting down, "Phoenix." She laughed.
Maddie walked into the room, holding a tray of small, shaped desserts. "Gelatin desserts!" She set the tray down on the coffee table. "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes." The teens all thanked her and each grabbed one of the gelatin desserts. They tasted them, and were surprised at how good they tasted. "Thank you! It's an old family recipe, passed down for generations." She grinned and walked back into the kitchen to put the finishing touches on the dinner.
As soon as she left, Imbala and Johnny walked in through the front door, wearing matching motorcycle-leather outfits. "We're here now! The party can begin!" Imbala shouted.
Everyone's jaws dropped. Riley shook his head, and was the first to speak. "Kaori? Are these your grandparents?"
Phoenix and Arnold came down the stairs. "Hey-hey! Lookin' good, Grandparents!" Phoenix shouted. He walked over to them and gave them each a high-five. "I didn't think any relative of Kaori's could ride, much less her grandparents!"
"We may be old, but we've still got it," Johnny commented.
"So, where's the grub?"
"Did somebody new arri--" Maddie stopped in her tracks. "MOTHER?! FATHER?!"
"Yes?" Imbala answered.
"What are you wearing?!"
"You don't like our motorcycle leathers?" Johnny asked.
"We're supposed to be making a good impression on Kaori and her friends! You can't show up in... In... THAT!"
"I, for one, am really impressed," Phoenix commented.
"Thank you, dear," Imbala said. "It's nice to see that SOMEONE appreciates our bold fashion choices!"
"I just..." Maddie grunted and stormed into the kitchen, not saying a word to anyone else.
Rafael walked in a few seconds later. "I just saw Maddie storming into the kitchen, and-- Whoa, holy cow. Mom? Dad? What's with the, uh, costumes?"
"We're bikers!" Johnny replied.
"Hoverounds, maybe, but I know that you're NOT bikers."
"Aw, man!" Phoenix exclaimed.
"We only did this to see how mad we could make Maddie," Imbala explained. "She's been so uptight about this party. I thought we'd loosen her up a bit."
"It's having the opposite effect. I think you'd better change and apologize."
"Wait a minute," Otome interjected, standing up.
"What are you doing?" Gabriela asked, trying to grab his arm and pull him back down.
"Excuse me, dear." He pulled his arm away, and started to walk around the room. "Now, it is my understanding that this party did not have a dress code, correct?"
"Not really," Rafael responded.
"And, even though we all dressed nicely, it's okay that Kaori's grandparents arrived in motorcycle leathers, is it not?"
-"I suppose,"- Maddie said, walking back into the room. She sighed. "I'm sorry, Mom. It's just... I've been really stressing about this party, and wanting to make everything look good for Kaori and her friends..."
Imbala walked over to her and gave her a hug. "It's okay, dear. We shouldn't have tried to prank you like we did."
"Your mother's right," Johnny added, walking over toward the two of them and joining in the now-group hug. "We're old. We don't really think things through."
Maddie laughed. "Are we ready to eat?"
They broke up the hug. "I'm starving," Johnny said. "Bring on the food!"
"C'mon, everyone. The table's set!" Maddie walked into the kitchen, followed by Rafael, Imbala, and Johnny. Kaori and the others hung back for a bit.
Phoenix walked over to Kaori. "So, your grandparents AREN'T bikers?"
She laughed. "Not a chance."
"And, your parents don't keep the house completely immaculate at all times?" Riley asked.
"No. In fact, this is the cleanest I remember seeing it. I don't even know where that tray with the gelatins came from."
"And, your brother's not a nutter?" Chase asked. Kaori grinned and walked into the kitchen, followed by everyone else. "Well? Is he, or isn't he?"
"I'll never te-ll..." Arnold replied, with a hint of sing-song in his speech. He laughed as he walked into the kitchen.
Chase shook his head. "Hope he took his meds..."