It was another one of those miserably hot days that the summer had been producing of late, and all Niklas could really think of was to go swimming in the pond near Davy's property. Somehow, that water always managed to stay cool.
The only risk, he acknowledged, was Jahv and the other aliens. Niklas liked them all very much, especially Jahv, who was one of the coolest kids he knew. But somehow, there always seemed to be trouble whenever he got together with them. Jahv was always up to some new invention or some such, and it never quite worked as expected.
Niklas understood that the aliens were probably a little bored here, even if they wouldn't admit it. Their activities were confined to a very small area, and there just wasn't a lot for them to do. Still, it would be nice if just once, they could all get together and not end up in some sort of crazy adventure.
By the time Niklas had reached Davy's home, he'd tied his shirt off on the handlebars of his bike, and was still very hot and sweaty. He smoothed back his hair a little bit and rang the doorbell. Mrs. Caulfield answered the door. "Um, hi," said Niklas, smiling politely. "Davy home?"
Mrs. Caulfield smiled. She liked whenever one or more of the boys that Davy had encountered some time ago came to visit. She knew her son didn't have a lot of friends just in the neighborhood. Actually, he didn't have any. There didn't seem to be a lot of kids around at all, at least none Davy's age. "Goodness, dear, you're soaked. Come in. Davy said you planned to come over today. Do you want a drink of water?"
"No, thanks," said Niklas. "Davy and I want to go swimming in the pond in the woods. I can cool off there."
"Well, all right, but be careful out there." said Mrs. Caulfield, walking over to the stairs. "Davy? Niklas is here!"
Davy came bounding downstairs seconds later, dressed only in the overalls he customarily wore. Niklas wondered how many pairs of these Davy owned, or if he just wore the one until it smelled so badly that he washed it. Davy took one look at the sweat-drenched Niklas and giggled. "Pond?" he asked.
"Pond." Niklas replied, and both boys were out the door.
The boys headed around the back. "Jahv said he'd like to join us," said Davy. "I hope that's okay."
"As long as he doesn't bring any of his inventions along," said Niklas, grinning but also meaning what he said. Niklas looked forward to spending time with both Davy and Jahv. He just didn't want anything blowing up in the process. "What about the others?"
Davy shrugged. "Keyro prefers the mud. I'm not entirely sure Toben and Arion know how to swim. And Morik is who-knows-where."
The boys found the concealed home of the aliens. It wasn't hard if you knew where it was. Davy commented that the door aligned perfectly with a small flowering bush, the only one of its kind, that was at the edge of the woods. Sure enough, the doorway was right there. "Hey, Jahv!" Davy called as the two boys walked in.
The naked green alien boy looked over. Apparently he'd been doing nothing more potentially hazardous than watching television. At first Niklas thought that it was "Gilligan's Island", until he realized that the entire cast had blue skin, and most of the plant life was purple. Nor were the people on the show speaking English or any other language Niklas had ever heard. "What the -- ?!"
Jahv grinned. "One consequence of media signals like radio and television traveling throughout the cosmos is that sometimes, another planet will get the idea to duplicate certain programming."
"Yeah, but THAT!?" replied Niklas.
"I didn't say there was any accounting for taste." added Jahv.
"But you were still watching it." giggled Davy. "I wonder what they make of Star Trek out there?"
"They wonder how you were able to hire Cardassians for the show." said Jahv. Davy's and Niklas' eyes went wide, and Jahv finally laughed. "Kidding, guys. I am trying to develop a sense of humor."
"Okay, that wasn't bad." said Niklas, sighing in relief.
"Besides, it's Andorians." added Jahv.
"Leave it to you to root for the ones with the antennae," said Davy. "Come on, let's get wet."
The three boys raced into the woods towards the pond, Davy and Niklas working up more of a sweat in the process. Jahv was able to control his perspiration, but he still looked a little winded when they arrived minutes later. The water was clear and looked very inviting.
Jahv was already naked, and Davy and Niklas were so hot, and the pond secluded enough, that neither boy hesitated in removing every stitch of clothing before heading in. What resulted seconds later was a rousing session of good-natured splashing around and a lot of yelling with delight and relief at finally cooling off. When this finally settled down a bit, three boys were standing in almost waist-deep water, totally soaked and giggling like lunatics.
"That felt good!" proclaimed Niklas loudly. "I needed that!"
"It was -- refreshing." said Jahv in a calmer tone.
"'Refreshing'?" exclaimed Davy. "That the best you can do? Niklas, I don't think this alien has gotten soaked enough if that's all he can say about it!"
"I think you're right." grinned Niklas.
"May I remind you two that I have the equivalent strength of three of your kind?" warned Jahv, but he was smiling. "And there's only two of you."
"Strength's only good if you're good at using it." countered Davy. "Come on, Niklas, let's get him!"
Jahv gave it a noble effort, but he wasn't used to fighting at all, let alone in water. The very wet wresting match was pretty much even, and really only served to soak the boys that much more and ultimately tire them out. Finally, they simply opted to quietly float and swim for a time before heading back to the grassy shore to dry off for a while.
The three boys lay in the cool grass, not saying anything, for several long minutes. Then, inexplicably, Jahv sat up and stared at the pond.
"Ready for another go at the pond?" asked Davy.
"No, I am content here for the moment," answered Jahv. "It's just -- I was remembering. That's where I first appeared on your world. And it was the two of you that rescued me. The shock of such a long transport had stunned me, and I could not swim. I would've drowned if it hadn't been for the two of you. I'm not sure I ever thanked you for that."
Davy looked pensive. "I should thank you. You became such a good friend so quickly. I -- had a really good friend here, but he had to move away. I never thought I'd have another friend. Then Keith and Martin turned up, and then you showed up not too long after that." Davy paused. "I hate being lonely."
"I fully expected to be." said Jahv. "I had no idea where I was going. Just that I had to get away. I set the transmat controls to find a habitable world at the farthest reach of its range. I didn't specify that it had to be inhabited, only that I could live on it. Then I met you two."
"I guess I'm the lucky one here," said Niklas. "Jason and Fabian don't live too far from me. You're the most distant, actually, Davy, but it's worth it to come out here, and not just for the pond and the aliens."
Davy smiled. "Thanks. But what did bring you out here that first time, Niklas? I mean, I'm glad you came, but..."
"Martin couldn't stop talking about this really cool kid that he'd met in the woods who had this great treehouse." grinned Niklas.
Davy laughed, but then frowned. "Martin and Keith. Those two came out here not long after we first met. That visit -- didn't go too well for a bit. I almost thought I was going to lose their friendship."
"What happened?" asked Jahv. "I mean, if you want to say."
Davy smiled gently. "We got past it. Keith saved me from being hit by a truck when we were picking berries out by the old railroad tracks."
"I wasn't aware those berries were edible!" remarked Jahv.
"Why do you think my mom's pies are always so fresh?" giggled Davy. "Anyway -- Keith didn't take too well to how I thanked him."
"Why not?" asked Niklas.
Davy's face reddened. "Well, I guess I can tell you. I kissed him. He didn't like it. Martin talked to him, and we were cool after that but -- I dunno, I guess I thought he wouldn't mind. My friend who moved away didn't, so I guess I just thought -- "
"Did you kiss him on the nose, like Niklas did to me after I pinned him in a fight?" asked Jahv.
"What!?" exclaimed Davy, eyes going wide.
"Jahv!" said Niklas, not too sharply.
"When did this happen!?" asked Davy.
"When we were searching the Dorrian shuttle, just before we found Morik," explained Jahv, while Niklas tried to bury his head in his hands. "It started as a pillow fight, went into a wrestling match. Niklas lost, but for whatever reason kissed me on the nose. It was enough to get me to back off, since I had no idea what he was doing."
"That's what you two were doing while I was listening to Keith gripe about that blue coolant goop he'd gotten doused with!?" sputtered Davy. "He even threw some of it at me. Hold it -- you didn't know what a kiss was?"
Jahv shook his head. "I'd never encountered anything like it."
Then Davy looked at Niklas. "And you -- don't mind kissing?"
Niklas grinned. "Not if it's someone I really like."
Davy groaned. "Nobody tells me anything."
"You never asked," said Niklas. "Fabian, Jason and me, and Martin, too, really, have this sort of private club. We've promised to always tell each other the truth, and some other stuff, and we don't worry about hugs and kisses and stuff."
Davy suddenly looked a little miserable, and Niklas couldn't quite figure out why. Then Davy spoke, in a quiet voice. "So -- are there any memberships still open in this club of yours?"
Niklas grinned again. He knew where this was leading, and didn't mind. He'd thought for a long time that Davy was a really cute boy. A little goofy sometimes, but cute. "One or two. If you pass the initiation."
Davy faced Niklas with a grin on his own face. "I think I know what that is, and I'm up for it if you are."
The two boys embraced and shared a long kiss. Then they noticed Jahv's antennae twitching. "You did say one or TWO memberships."
Davy and Niklas parted to face Jahv. "Yeah, but you don't even know what a kiss is." said Davy, teasing the alien.
"Didn't," said Jahv. "I do now."
"He's got a point," said Niklas. "But also, to go this long through life without any, really? He's got a lot to make up for, don't you think?"
"I'm sure we can help him in that," said Davy.
Davy and Niklas launched themselves at Jahv, and the result was a good-natured wrestling match that involved a lot of cuddling, tickling, and no shortage of kisses planted on the young Botaran.
Eventually, the three boys went back to the pond for a time, and then returned to shore, where they fell asleep for a few hours, huddled in one warm heap. It was late afternoon when Jahv awoke first, and sat up and sniffed the air. His movement awakened Davy and Niklas. "Wha's up?" asked Davy sleepily.
"Your mother is putting the finishing touches on what smells like an immense and superb meal of seasoned chicken, potatoes, probably mashed, served with butter, and a vegetable side including peas, corn, and carrots."
"You can smell that from out here!?" exclaimed Davy. "No wonder you guys show up for dinner so often. Your tent's a lot closer."
"Next he'll be telling us what the drink is." remarked Niklas.
"Berry flavored Hawaiian Punch." said Jahv. This got him skeptical looks from the other two boys. Jahv grinned. "No, I couldn't smell it, but it's the only drink your mom keeps around that doesn't have a lot of citrus in it, other than milk."
"Think your mom would mind if I stayed for dinner?" asked Niklas. "We've been having TV dinners and leftovers lately."
"Knowing my mom, she'd insist." said Davy. "Come on, let's go."
"Um, you guys have clothes. I don't." said Jahv. "And I know how she feels about that."
"So, you can use my undershorts." offered Davy, as the threesome headed away from the pond. "It's not much, but it'll be enough for her and Dad."
"Hey, guys, thanks for today." said Jahv. "It was fun. All of it."
"Nobody has to thank nobody," said Davy. "It was fun for all of us. But I'm glad you're my friends."
"Same here," said Niklas. "Hey, I just realized something! We got through the whole day without anything disastrous happening!"
"Oh, that reminds me, I've been working on a new invention that should make dinner a little more efficient," said Jahv. "It's an automatic condiment dispenser. If you'll let me get it from the tent, I can -- "
"No way, pal!" said Davy. "You're marching right into the house and eating dinner like a normal person! Niklas, I don't care how strong he is, don't let him get anywhere near the tent!"
"No worries there!" Both Davy and Niklas grabbed an arm of the young Botaran, who didn't especially resist when escorted directly to the Caulfield home.
Friends. They may be goofy or silly sometimes, or even totally out of this world. But it's good to have them.