Part 2

By Mathieu Roy and Jeff Skagen

February, 2039

Raven and Vivian's arrival was heralded by a large spray of sand and a loud bang; the older telekinetic hadn't taken any unnecessary precautions to soften her arrival to the deserted beach. She was therefore quite shocked when the flying sand drew protests and curses as it stung the skin of people already occupying the supposedly empty area. Raven tossed down her beach bag and looked around, expecting... not really sure what to expect.

The beach itself was much as she remembered it to be; the long arc of bright, almost pristine white sand reflecting much of the light and heat from the sun overhead, the shallow, blue-green waters of the large bay before them crashing upon the beach in small, roiling white breakers. Even the stromolite formations to the north end were just as she remembered them. The only difference now was that, unlike her last visit, this time the beach was not entirely deserted.

Standing in the sand carrying deck chairs and beach bags, sunglasses on their noses, the pair found themselves smack dab amongst about a dozen beachgoers, male and female, naked in the sun, all caught in mid-gesture; about to throw a beach-ball, heading back from the water, or getting up from their towels with their arms held up to shield themselves from the sand. Raven stared, dumbfounded, at these unexpected guests and they did the same, shock plainly readable on their faces.

"Um, Raven...are you sure this is the right beach?"

Raven nodded, not looking at Vivian. Then she realized she was staring and turned to face her. "Yes, it is. Guess someone found it."

"Seems like," replied Vivian. Her gaze briefly strayed to the naked bodies surrounding them, before she quickly returned Raven's regard. "So, what do we do?"

"I don't know", came Raven's reply.

One of the beachgoers, a tall, muscular blonde man, approached the pair. He was staring, in awe or fright, the pair could not tell. "Hmm, hello, birds", he said, with a heavy Australian accent. He seemed as confused by the situation as they were. "Ah, um, we didn't expect visitors here."

"You come here often?" asked Raven.

"Ah, actually, first time", said the man.

"Yeah, same here," said Vivian nervously, struggling to keep her eyes only on his face. "For me, anyway. We, uh...we weren't expecting anyone to be here either."

"Well I thought the place was deserted", he said. "Made for a dandy clothing-optional beach." He didn't seem embarrassed by the situation, which was more than could be said by a few of his friends. "So I got my gang here for some beach fun. Guess we weren't alone."

"Not quite, no", Raven said. She was utterly unable to decide whether to roll her eyes in annoyance or giggle in amusement.

Nobody said anything more for several seconds, until Vivian finally broke the silence. "So anyway, we're sorry we accidentally crashed your party. Didn't mean to, obviously. We'll just, um...I dunno." She glanced questioningly at Raven. "Maybe we could move to the other end of the beach or something?"

"Yeah, that might be..." Raven began.

"Nonsense", said their accidental host. "You can stay right here and join in, birds. We'd be glad to have you." If he had any nervousness after their unusual mode of entrance, he gave no sign. His friends seemed to hesitate, then a few of them nodded. "We've got volleyballs, beachballs, even snacks. You're welcome to stay."

Vivian glanced at Raven out the corner of her eye, curious to hear what excuse the older esper would come up with to refuse the offer gracefully.

She was surprised when Raven turned to her with a half-smile. "What do you think? It's not quite private but it's a lot less crowded than the main beach."

She wants to stay? But...they're all naked!


Then again, I'm always wishing I were more social and outgoing like Raven, aren't I? Well, that ain't gonna change if I keep avoiding people. And hey, most of the guys here are pretty buff. If Raven's okay with me seeing the sausage-fest, and they don't mind, then why shouldn't I stay and enjoy the view?

"...sure, okay. Why not?"

Raven quirked a surprised eyebrow, but smiled mischievously at her 'little sister'. "Great."

"Splendid, girls! You want to play some volley-ball?" said the man, waving to his group who was slowly starting to resume their activities.

"Nah, I think I'll just sunbathe for a bit. We'll join in some of the fun later." Raven set down her gear as she spoke, then started to spread her towel on the sand. "We'll start quiet, since we just got here, but you guys carry on."

"A little late for us to start quiet, I think," muttered Vivian as she began spreading her own towel out on the beach near Raven's.

Raven smiled to Vivian, then glanced up at their host, who was looking meaningfully at her.

"Aaah, you gonna dress the part?" he asked politely.

Raven rolled her eyes. She reached behind herself to untie her top. It slid off her well-developed breasts and fell to the sand next to her towel. She then bent to slide her bikini bottom down and stepped out of it, kicking it sideways so it joined its mate. She set her hands on her hips and smirked at him, gloriously nude. "Happy?" she asked.

He nodded empathically and simply watched as Raven, ignoring him, laid back onto her towel to sunbathe.

Vivian, meanwhile, had watched Raven's show with a growing anxiety. Nobody said anything about "dressing the part" before I decided to stay! Dang it, now what should I do?

Realizing that, perversely enough, it would be almost more embarrassing to be the only person on the beach who wasn't bare, she reluctantly reached behind her back and tugged at the knot to her bikini top. Her hands were shaking enough that it took three tries before she was able to untie and discard it. She hesitated with her thumbs hooked through the waist of her bikini bottoms before she managed to summon up the courage to quickly remove that as well.

She spent several seconds looking at the ground, fumbling about with her gear and the position of her towel, before shyly glancing up at their host. Her relief that he wasn't staring at her almost immediately turned to a stab of annoyance as she realized that it was because his admiring gaze was still locked on Raven.

Well, it seems I really don't have anything to be embarrassed about. After all, who's going to bother ogling me when every other woman on this beach has far more curves to show off than I do?

She seated herself on her beach towel and, breaking out the bottle of tanning oil, began liberally applying it to her fair skin as the Australian fellow finally turned and headed back to his interrupted volleyball game with hardly a second look in her direction.

Of course, it might have been nice if someone had embarrassed me a little bit...

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