Prompt 114-Beach

Write about the beach: your favorite memory of a trip, what you love, what you hate (e.g., sand gets everywhere). Would you live on the coast if you could or is it better for just a visit?

Yusuke and Kuwabara were waiting for them when they got to the apartment building. “Welcome to your new home!” the dark haired boy announced, passing over a key.

Ali unlocked the door and walked through, beckoning them to follow her in. It was quaint. A small kitchenette greeted her past the main entrance hall with an adjoining living room, the single bedroom was beyond a sliding door with an attached bathroom. It was perfect.

Kurama helped her unpack her clothes and put them in her dresser. The other boys were lounging in the living room when they finished. “Well,” said Kuwabara, “the day is still young. Whattya wanna do now?”

She shrugged. “Is there a beach nearby? It’s too nice to be inside.”

The best friends looked at each other. Even without her mind reading ability she could read their mischievous faces. They would not pass on the opportunity to spend the afternoon with their ladies in swimsuits. She chuckled as Yusuke ran back to his place to call Keiko.

Kuwabara used Ali’s phone to call his sister and see if she had an old swimsuit for Ali to borrow. Kurama thought to invite Botan, who was very receptive of the idea. She promised to bring Yukina along, much to Kuwabara’s delight, and to pack a lunch and snacks for the trip.

They all agreed to meet in the park not far from the complex. There was a train station up the road that would take them to the beach. Shizuru met them at the complex so Ali could try on the swimsuit in her own apartment first. The two-piece with a wrap-around skirt was a perfect fit.

They all walked to the park together to wait for the other girls. It just so happened that Hiei had chosen that particular park to nap in. Ali didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to invite him along on their excursion, so when she sensed him drowsing in one of the trees she called out to him.

Kurama grinned slyly as Hiei glared down at her. “What are you all doing here?” he demanded.

“We’re going to the beach,” Ali announced. “Wanna come?”

His eyes narrowed further. “And why would I want to do that?”

Ali persisted. “Why wouldn’t you want to have fun with your friends?” she asked.

Hiei glared at Kurama as the redhead stifled a chuckle. Ali ignored it. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the trunk of the tree as he answered her. “I think you have me confused with someone who enjoys wasting time with humans.”

Ali was about to retort but Keiko and Yukina arrived with Botan. The shorter blue-haired woman greeted them and seemed surprised to find Hiei lounging up in the tree. “Oh, Hiei, are you coming out with us too?” she asked.

A strange thing happened, at least to Ali’s eyes. Hiei stiffened and turned to look at the woman who spoke. His face softened and the tension left his shoulders. At least until Kuwabara ran to her side and explained that Hiei was just telling them how he had no desire to join them, but it was okay because he, Kuwabara, would keep her safe from the crabs and violent waves.

The dark haired man scowled and dropped from his perch in the tree. “Fine,” he muttered. “Someone ought to take this job seriously.”

“Yes!” Ali exclaimed her excitement. She grabbed his arm and half pulled, half dragged him toward the train station. Hiei sputtered at her audacity, eliciting laughter from the others as they followed after them. “The whole gang is going to the beach!”

A short train ride later they were setting up mini camps in the sand. Botan divvied out sandwiches for lunch as they all settled in and basked in the afternoon sun. Hiei ventured off, in all likelihood overwhelmed with the crowd that had come. Ali felt a momentary pang of guilt for coercing him along before she turned back to the rest of her friends. She relished their company.

After a while, the boys ran to the water, calling to the girls to join them. Ali swam for a bit, chatting with Kurama and Shizuru while Yusuke and Kuwabara showed off for Keiko and Yukina. The water was brisk, but refreshing. When Ali began to prune, she excused herself to go for a walk along the shore.

There was a rocky overhang a short ways up the beach with a lighthouse atop, beckoning her to come explore. She could see a walking path from the beach up to the beacon, but she decided to challenge herself and climb straight up the small cliff face.

The sea breeze whipped her skirt around her legs as she climbed to the overlook. It carried with it the sounds of her friends laughing and splashing on the beach below. She was grateful no one insisted on coming along with her. Knowing they were within shouting distance put them all at ease. Besides, there had been no new threats on her life since their fight with Hitokiri, despite Koenma’s insistence that others would try.

With a small grunt, she pulled herself over the rocky top of the point. She smoothed her skirt as she turned around to admire the view. The vastness of the ocean always soothed her, waves glittering in the sun beckoning her to dance with them. She smiled as she watched Yusuke dunk Kuwabara under an oncoming wave. The girls laughed as he came sputtering up and flailed at Yusuke to return the favor. Shizuru shouted at them to stop drowning each other and come play some beach volleyball.

Ali giggled as she watched them argue over teams. Botan volunteered to umpire so they could do three on three. In the end they decided on guys versus girls and Ali had a sneaking suspicion the girls would win out.

Sighing, she settled on the grass near the lighthouse and closed her eyes. The waves crashing below, the shrieks and taunts of the competitive teens, and the late summer sun warming her face were enough to lull her to a sense of calm.

A sudden gust off the sea blew her skirt into her face and she laughed as she wrestled it back down over her legs. She wondered if it had caught the players as well; Keiko was giggling at Yusuke to get the ball out of the water. Kuwabara shouted at him that he was letting it get away and assured Yukina he would retrieve it.

Ali smiled to herself. They were all genuinely good people. She knew she was lucky to have met them and be able to call them friends. She could hardly believe there were others like her, who would want to be her allies and protect her. After the first attempt on her life that cost her father his, she had believed anyone with power like hers would be an enemy.

She wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her knees. Koenma must have realized that when he had sent Yusuke and Kurama after her. He claimed to know her from before, that he had sent others. Ali wondered if their bones lay scattered at the bottom of the sea with the others who had come attacking. She shivered at that thought. Maybe they had crossed paths with her foes and had never made it to her.

“If you’re cold, you should head back down where it’s warm.” Hiei’s gruff voice startled her out of her thoughts. She nearly jumped out of her skin. She hadn’t even noticed him approach.

Shaking her head, she chuckled at herself. Let your guard down just a little and anyone can sneak up on you. Not that Hiei was just anyone. “I’m fine,” she replied. “They were getting a little too loud for me and this looked like a nice perch to observe from afar.”

He stared down his nose at her. He always looked at her so skeptically. Ali tried not to let it bother her, but she really wanted to know what his problem was. Ever since the fight at the fort he’d strengthened his mental barriers to keep her at bay. If she really wanted to, she could smash through them to find out what he was thinking, but she could respect a man’s privacy.

Another breeze washed over her, blowing her hair off her shoulders and exposing them to the brisk air on the point. Hiei rolled his eyes and removed his cloak. He tossed it to her. “Put it on. We don’t need you catching cold after all this.”

“I’m really okay,” she insisted, the goosebumps on her arms betraying her.

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Just put it on,” he ordered. His tone brooked no argument. It was as cold as the ocean breeze.

She bristled at being bossed around, but this was not the time to start a fight. He had voluntarily approached her. He had stuck around instead of running off to wherever he spent his days. Maybe he was starting to warm up to her. The last thing she wanted to do was push him away, so she draped the dark cloth over her shoulders. “What about you?” she asked hesitantly.

He blew air out his nose and smirked. “A little wind can’t touch me.” It was a statement of fact, not an act of bravado or boast to impress. If anything, it was almost a challenge to the wind to try to chill him. He caught her smiling at him and quickly looked away.

She turned her gaze to the sky and pulled the cloak tighter around her. He always turned away from her. She sighed. She wanted to ask him why, but she knew there was no point in pressing him. He probably wouldn’t say anything anyway. “Thank you,” she said.

He said nothing, unless a grunted “hn” counted as speaking, and sat in the shade of the lighthouse. He rested his sword against his shoulder and watched the others down below. Ali couldn’t be sure, but she thought he focused on Yukina more than the others. She felt her cheeks flush and looked away from him.

A sense of longing formed in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t explain it. She had the strangest feeling of déjà vu seeing him looking like that. She took a deep breath to still her rapidly beating heart. It worked, but not in the way she expected it to.

The smell of his cloak brought back memories of home. It soothed her at first. She closed her eyes and envisioned the little cabin in the mountains she had grown up in. She could almost hear her father behind the house chopping wood for the fire, his bulky muscles driving the axe through every log he placed on the stump.

He would smile at her and invite her to join him. It was a chore to be done; it had never occurred to her as a young girl that her strength was abnormal. Her father smiled whenever she worked alongside him, so Ali would work as hard as she could to draw it out. He tired faster than she did so she would often bring him ice cold lemonade or tea when he began to perspire too much and set herself to finishing the pile before he finished the pitcher.

Sometimes they would go hunting afterwards. He had guns, but he preferred the bow. She took to it quickly and he took pride in her ability to learn. She never missed and they never went hungry. They always left an offering from each kill on the small shrine they had erected in the backyard. Her mother had died when she was born and the offerings were to thank the woman for giving her life.

She wanted so much to please her father. He never blamed her for his wife’s death, but Ali had always felt guilty for being the reason he was alone. Never more so than the night he died protecting her. She could still hear him calling out her name.

“Ali! It’s time to go home!”

She opened her eyes to an orange sky. She had been dozing most of the afternoon. She sat up and blinked to orient herself. She was still on the overlook and her friends were calling to her to help them pack up. She waved to them and hollered that she would be right down.

Instead of climbing down the cliff face as she had scaled it to get up there, she took the walking path back down. Yusuke and Kuwabara had almost finished packing up the coolers while the girls were folding the beach towels and Kurama was packing up the chairs. They all stopped as she approached them.

Were they mad at her for not helping? For sleeping away the afternoon instead of playing games with them? Ali’s cheeks flushed. “I’m sorry, I should have been down sooner.”

The girls exchanged smirks and giggled. Her face must have revealed her confusion because Kurama cleared his throat and pointed to her attire. “We thought Hiei had left due to boredom,” he stated in an even tone.

Ali glanced down at her arms and realized she was still wearing Hiei’s cloak. She hoped they would believe her cheeks were sunburned and not that she was blushing furiously with embarrassment. “He was just watching from a distance like I was,” she explained. “And the wind was colder up there.”

Again Keiko and Yukina giggled. Kurama and Yusuke shook their heads and finished packing up. They weren’t about to argue with her or press further. They might have been surprised that Hiei had offered her his cloak, but they accepted it at face value. The alternative was too bizarre to consider. Kuwabara continued to gape until Shizuru slapped him upside the head and ordered him to start carrying his weight.

As they walked back to the train Ali wondered where Hiei had gone. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep but it surprised her more that he didn’t try to wake her before leaving. She would have given him his cloak back at the least.

She pulled it tightly around her and grinned. It smelled familiar. Safe. Looking around at all her new friends, she felt empowered. She no longer feared her hunters. Let them come. With friends at her back, she could take them all.

Notes: So I cheated with this prompt and edited an old piece instead of writing something new. Chances are pretty good that if a post is longer than 1500 words I probably wrote it a long time ago and was trying to save myself some time for other things. This is (most of) a chapter from my YuYu Hakusho fanfiction.

If my story is in three acts, this scene is like an intermission between the first and second acts. The beach “episode” is a fairly common trope in anime so of course I needed to include it in my fanfiction of an anime. The characters needed some levity after what I put them through leading up to this and before shit hits the fan coming up after this. Plus, I love the beach, and Ali assimilated that love.

I’ll finish this story one day, I swear. For now most of my writing is devoted to these daily prompts. Gotta keep the typing fingers limber! And now it’s your turn! Write a beach scene! Write about your favorite thing about the beach! Write about how far you wish you could get away from the beach and how much you wish people would shut up about how great the beach is! The choice is yours!

Whew, we’re over the hump now folks. Just a little further to the weekend! Mine might be a little closer though. Hurray long weekend! See you tomorrow!

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