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Chapter 1: June 20th, 1997

Friday, 3:43 P.M.

Seagrove City, a bustling town full of life, beach and boardwalk to boot. In essence, some saw this beachside city as a tourist trap, but to its occupants, it was a beautiful, wonderful place to call home. The seagulls sang as they flew over the calm ocean waves, the illustrious queen of the stars smiling down upon those below its magnificent glow, her light shimmering upon the sapphire blue waters and the golden beach sands. The palm trees waved to the locals as a cool, ocean breeze blew through their emerald green leaves. A ways from the beach, within the heart of this city, a child’s cheerful laughter could be heard, resonating throughout the serene city setting... And within this beach city is where our story begins.

Running through the grassy back yard of a large wood house, a smiling nine-year-old girl with short blonde hair, wearing an aquamarine tank-top and a pair of white shorts with white sneakers, sky blue laces on them to match her baby blue eyes shimmering with joy and sparking with exhilaration, ran around laughing with a tall twenty-year-old male, a slight tan on his body, brown hair, forest and lime green dye streaked down the side, his eyes a dark purple, chasing after her. The man wore a pair of black jeans and a black shirt with the design of a disk a multitude of notes circling it. The man chased the smaller, laughing girl around the large backyard, the sound of cars and trucks passing by, as well as with the busy chatter of businessmen and women on their way to work or the not-so-subtle group of gossiping teens giggling at a cute boy they saw.

The little girl turned around and saw her pursuer coming straight at her and waited for him to get close before running out of the way. When this happened, the man’s eyes widened as he ran into the wall that was behind her and fell on his back.

He groaned, standing up and rubbing his head, “Ow... Jeez Vi, that hurt!” He shouted in a pained tone, his voice a bit goofy. This was DJ, the little girl’s elder brother, coming to visit from his Fine Arts College further north of the city, but not too far for his coming home to be a hassle to himself or his family. Since Summer Vacation had just began for him, he decided to spend it with his little sister and their mother. He gave a playfully sharp glare at the girl as he sat in his place on the ground, groaning from the pain of running into a wall.

The girl ran back to him giggling and kneeled down next to her former pursuer, hugging him sweetly and looking up at him with her sapphire blue eyes, “I’m sorry big bro. You’re not hurt or anything, are you?” she said with slight worry as he stood up, staring down at her older brother. This little girl, full of life and joy, was Victoria.

He sighed and smiled, “Nah, I’ll be fine. But still,” he wrapped one arm around her and hugged her tight while also ruffling her hair, “That was pretty impressive how you just dodged me like it was nothing. I mean, I knew you were fast, but that was ridiculous!” he said laughing proudly and heartily.

Vi blushed a little as she turned away from him, “It wasn’t all that great… I just moved.” she said with a soft tone.

DJ looked surprised by this, “Are you kidding? That was really cool for a six year old! Heck, some of my friends don’t even have reflexes like that!” He gushed, making his sister blush brighter. He chuckled at his little sister and held her tight in his arms her, making her look up as he gave her a quick kiss on her forehead, chuckling lightly at her blush.

The little girl blushed darker as she touched her forehead, “What was that for?” she shouted at him in embarrassment, covering her forehead.

The man smirked and chuckled, “Because I can? Why? Is it embarrassing or something?” He asked with a cheeky grin.

Vi looked down at the ground, as if in deep thought as the amethyst-eyed man stopped smiling and got closer, “Hey, come on. If it bothers you that much I wo--” he was interrupted as his little sister tackle hugged him in one sudden motion, making him fall back.

She hugged him tight and giggled happily, pressing her head against his chest, “I love you DJ.” she said sweetly as she looked up at him.

DJ chuckled and wrapped his arms around her smiling softly, “I love you too Vi-Vi.” he said smiling down at her.

“Hey, DJ?” she said softly to her brother.

He looked down at her attentively, “Yeah, wassup Vi?” He said with a smile.

She smiled and cuddled him, “You’re the best big brother in the world.” she said softly.

He blinked and smiled big, holding her close as he chuckled, “Yeah? Well, that’s only because I have the best little sister in the world.” He chuckled and poked her cheek.

The smile the girl grew could light up an arena as she hugged him tighter, the two of them laughing in joy. After a while, they heard the sound of a womanly voice calling out for them, “Victoria, Daniel, I’m home!”

The two gasped and smiled, running into the house and smiling big as a woman around the height of 5’4” with long, blondish-brown hair, as well as bright teal eyes was placing her black suitcase down on a nearby chair. It was their mother, Jane. She looked at the two with a bright smile and waved, “Hello you two.” She said as she looked down the hall and smiled sweetly at her children. She was currently wearing her work clothes: a grey business suit with a black tie and white undershirt, and black stilettos to complete the business savvy look she was going for.

They ran to her, hugging her tightly as Victoria looked up at her, “Mom, you’re home!” she cheered as she laughed loudly, expecting the loving hug from her children.

“Well of course, where else would I be? My shift ended just an hour or so ago, so I decided to get my hair done. Whattya think?” she said posing for her children.

Victoria smiled and giggled, “You look super pretty mom!” she said loudly.

“Why thank you Victoria, how sweet of you to say.” she said as she ruffled the little girl’s already messed up hair. What do you think Danny? Doesn’t your mother look absolutely stunning?”

He chuckled and shrugged nonchalantly, “Whatever you say mom, whatever you say.” Their mother made a pouty face as her son laughed hard, “Mom, I was only kidding. You look great. And My name is DJ, you know I don’t like being called Danny.” He said crossing his arms.

The woman nodded, “Good, that’s what I like to hear. And I think Daniel is a great name! Anyway, who wants pizza?” she said as she pointed at the door as a knock came from it. The two gasped as always, impressed with how she would always know exactly when the pizza would arrive. The siblings cheered and raced to the table as their mother softly laughed and opened the door, taking the pizza and tipping the pizza boy, walking away and closing the door behind her. She soon came to the living room and placed the pizzas down with sodas and wings to go with them. They then went ahead and began eating like pigs and laughing like hyenas about their day while watching cartoons on television.

“So how was work today?” DJ asked taking a bite of his pizza, the cheese stretching as he moved back to separate the piece in his mouth from the rest of the slice.

“Stressful, as usual… We got a new guy today and I had to explain everything to him. But no matter how much I explain or how many people try to help, he just doesn’t get it.” She admitted with a tired sigh. Just about every day since Summer Vacation began, Jane had been working overtime, her boss always calling her in instead of any of the other multiple employees she worked with on a daily basis. Though being the accounting manager of a multi-million dollar company, it happens.

“Sounds really annoying.” He sighed and took another bite of his pizza as well as a quick swig of his soda glass, “Oh! Mom, you should’a seen Vi today! She was so fast it was crazy! We were outside playing tag, right? And when I thought I got her, she leaped out of the way like some kinda ninja! It was wicked awesome!” he said as he once again ruffled her hair and made her blush as she nibbled her pizza.

Their mother smiled, “That’s very impressive Victoria!” She said as she ate, her tie and suit jacket gone as she sat back in relaxation in her white button-up.

Victoria blushed and looked up at their mother, “Mom, I wanna be called Vi, not Victoria… That sounds way too girly!” she said as she pouted. She’d always thought this of her name but her mother, regardless, would always call her by the name she’d given to her.

Their mother looked at her with a sad face, “But Victoria is such a cute name! Why would you want to change it to something like Vi? What about, Vicky? At least that sounds like a name, right Daniel?”

“DJ, mom. And I like Vi. It’s short, sweet and it’s pretty cool! Just like her.” He said looking down to Victoria and smiling.

She sighed, “Fine, Vi it is I suppose. But I’m still always going to know you as my little Victoria, deal?”

Victoria giggled and nodded, hugging their mother, “Deal!”

After a few more hours of laughing, playing a few games and eating, Jane yawned lightly and looked down at her children. DJ was fast asleep with Victoria fast asleep against his chest, a little smile on her face. This sight made their mother’s heart melt as she picked up Vi and walked her upstairs to her room. The room had white wallpaper with multiple musical notes all over the walls, a bed with blue sheets and a fluffy white pillow in the center, a dresser, a closet, a bathroom to the left side of the room. She walked to the bed and softly placed her down in bed as she tucked her in and kissed her cheek, “Good night my little angel…” she said as she turned around and left the room, closing the door and sighing.

She walked downstairs and heard the phone ring, walking to the kitchen and answering, “Hello?” she said as a voice on the other end spoke, “You need me to come back now?” she said in surprise. She looked at her watch and sighed, “Yes sir, it’s no problem at all.” She said in an exasperated tone as she listened, “Yes sir, I’ll get there as soon as I can.” She sighed as she hung up the phone and walked to the chair she’d placed her things in, grabbing her jacket, tie, and suitcase, walking towards the door. “Mom?” said a tired voice from behind her.

She gasped and turned around, seeing Daniel standing at the other end of the hall, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, “Daniel, you scared me! I thought you were still—“

“Where are you going so late at night? It’s almost one in the morning…” he said interrupting her as he walked over.

“The boss called and wants me to cover for one of my co-workers who are in the hospital. I shouldn’t take long, just a few extra things, maybe an hour or two tops.” She said as she smiled.

He blinked, “Okay… Are you sure it won’t take you long?”

She sighed and kissed his forehead, “I promise.”

He nodded and hugged her, “Alright.” He said as he started for the stairs, “See you in the morning.” He said as he went up to his room.

She nodded and made a thumbs up, walking out of the house and to her 1990 Lexus LS400, getting in and starting the car, pulling out of the driveway and driving off into the night.

The next morning, DJ woke up and yawned gently as he rubbed the crust from his eyes, waking up in his old room, not a single thing out of place. His books were still on the shelf he and their mother had made, though it was a mess to fix when they messed up the first time. And second. His old guitar was sitting in the corner of the room, every string seemed brand new, the guitar shimmering as if it had been newly shined as of late. He smiled and stood up out of bed, walking to his bathroom, seeming surprised as he found that his bathroom was stocked with new bottles of toiletries; tooth brush, paste, and everything he needed to take a shower. ‘Huh, guess mom was expecting me.’ He thought with a chuckle as he walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind him.

About an hour later, he came out, his hair blow-dried and combed, he being wrapped up in a black towel. He walked to his suitcase and pulled out a few clothes as he got dressed. Walking out of his room, he was wearing a brown t-shirt with a white tiger on the left curving downwards right as on the right side was a black dragon curving upwards left and a pair of black jeans, a studded pair of jeans around his waist, walking barefoot down the stairs, the sweet smell of his mother’s breakfast leading him to the kitchen as he walked in, his mother standing in the kitchen wearing a pair of blue jeans and a black tank top, covered by an apron with the words ‘Cooking Mama’ on the front.

He smiled and crept up behind herm about to try and scare her before he got a slice of bacon stuffed into his mouth, to his surprise. He blinked and ate the bacon, “Mmm… How’d you know it was me?” he asked interested on how should could tell he was there.

“I’m your mother, of course I’d know when my little boy is trying to scare me.” She said knowingly with a chuckle, “And besides, you’ve been trying that since you were thirteen.” She explained as she placed a few pancakes, bacon and glistening golden eggs down on three plates, “Now mister boogeyman, you wanna go wake up your sister?” she said as she kissed his cheek.

He sighed, “Yes ma’am.” He chuckled and walked back up the stairs to his sister’s room, opening the door ever so slightly, just so his mouth and nose could slip through, “Psst, Vi.” He whispered through the crack in the door, expecting and receiving no response back, “Psst! Vi, you awake lil’ sis?” he whispered again, getting no answer once again, bringing a smile to his face as he snuck in and snuck over to her, sprawled out across the bed. He smirked and sneaked over further into the dimmed room, blue curtains ever so slightly letting the sunlight into the musically themed room around them. He snuck up to her and opened the blinds, the sunshine falling down upon her and making her groan in annoyance as she covered her face with her blanket.

He chuckled and kneeled down, “C’mon Vi, wake up.” He said poking her shoulder and making her turn over. He sighed, “You know what’ll happen if you don’t get up Vicky.” He said looking down at her with a devious smile.

She seemed to tense up from his threatening words and turned her head, “you wouldn’t dare…” she said calling his bluff as she hesitantly turned back to her position, back to him as she tried to get back to sleep.

He sighed, “Alright, you asked for it.” He said before raising his hands up and bringing them down for the most torturous act he could bring upon her… Tickling. He flailed his fingers across her side and then to her belly, making her break out into uncontrollable laughter, trying to push her attacker off while also trying to fight back against the giggles she was being forced to elicit.

Victoria tried her best to speak as she laughed out, “O-Okay! Okay, I’ll get up! Just p-please stop the ticking!” She forced out, trying to stop him.

“It’s too late! You’ve invoked the wrath of the Tickle Monster!” He roared fearsomely as he kept tickling her, making her hiccup and laugh harder. He finally stopped tickling her when she began to laugh so hard she cried. He hugged her and laughed with her, both of them sighing. He then looked down at her and chuckled, “You awake now little sis?”

She nodded and pressed her cheek to his chest, “Yep, I’m wide awake…” she giggled as he let her go so she could get up and ran to the bathroom. He smiled and got up, walking out of the room and back downstairs with his hands in his pockets.

“Hey mom, Vi’s on her way down.” He said with a smile as he leapt down the remaining stairs and landed easily.

“Good work, as a reward, you get too…” She smiled, “Pause for dramatic affect…” She whispered before moving out of the way to show three packs of meat, “Choose! Bacon, ham or sausage?” She asked with a bubbly tone of voice.

He crossed his arms and pressed a hand to his chin and stroked his imaginary beard, “Hmm… That’s a tough one, but I’ve gotta say… Bacon of course!” he said with a smile.

She chuckled and nodded, “Good choice.” She said putting away the other two choices before getting ready to make the bacon.

Before she could get to it, DJ moved in front of it, “I got this, why not go relax or something?” He said with a smirk of confidence.

She smiled and sighed, “Alright, thanks sweetie.” She said as she walked out to the living room, leaving him to finish up everything. She walked to the couch and sat down sighing as she took off the apron and turned on the television, laid down on her side, her leg bent with one hand holding her head up and the other holding the controller as she flipped through channels. Before long she heard Victoria’s footsteps running down the stairs and then accelerating up the hall and leaping onto her mother, making them both laugh as she sat up and held her tight in her arms, “There’s my little musical munchkin! Glad you decided to wake up.” She said poking her nose.

Victoria giggled and nodded, “Well, bro didn’t really give me much of a choice. He tickled me awake again.” She said puffing her cheeks up with a blush and a goofy, playfully angry look on her face as she crossed her arms.

Jane giggled and poked her daughter’s puffy cheeks, “That’s just how your brother is. He tried to scare me before he went up to go wake you up.” She said as she petted her head gently, making her giggle sweetly. She gave Victoria the remote and let her flip through channels, until they got to a cartoon channel, both of them watching eagerly as Victoria moved so she was able to sit on her mother’s lap.

Soon, DJ walked out of the kitchen with plates of pancakes, bacon and eggs in hand, “Breakfast is ser--” the both of them shushed him as they continued watching. DJ blinked and sighed, “Glad to see things don’t change around here.” He said as he walked over to the table and placed them down, sitting down and waiting for the show to end. When it finally did, the two got up and walked over to the table, sitting down with him and began eating. Vicky, with knife in hand, smeared a pale, yellow glob onto the pancakes, following it up with a dark, brown slime, steam rising up from the cup it escaped from, cascading down onto the fluffy, white circles of dough on her plate.

She smiled from her handiwork and began haphazardly cutting them apart, taking large bites with every stab of her fork into the sticky, doughy mess she created. She made a content smile and gave a happy moan from the taste, “Mmm… These are the best pancakes ever!” she said as she kept eating.

DJ and their mother smiled and softly laughed at her childish delight before music blared from down the hall, Jane sighing as she stood up from her place next to DJ, “I’ll be right back.” She said walking away and down the hall, the sounds of her fingers tracing over the flat, glass surface of the phone, “Hello?” She said with annoyance evident in her voice. “What’s wrong now? I’m having breakfast with my children, it’s my day off and I really don’t… I can’t today, it’s… I’ve already said…”

She groaned and then gave a defeated sigh, “Look, if it will make you feel better, I’ll come by later tonight, okay? Alright… Yes… Got it, thanks… Alright Arnold, see you later I guess.” She said hanging up the phone, her footsteps echoing from down the wooden hallway and into the dining room, taking her seat once again.

“Did something happen at work?” DJ asked looking to her, noticing the defeated and partially annoyed look she had on her face.

“Yeah, Mike messed something up and now I have to help him figure out how to undo it. A couple files are missing and they can’t find them anywhere. I don’t know why they’d give the new guy something that important or why they need me to help.” She groaned and took an exasperated bite of her breakfast, her joyful demeanor now taken over by a mix of annoyance and sadness on her face.

DJ sighed, “Well that bites. We can still hang out today though, right?” he said hopefully, Vicky looking up at them worried that they wouldn’t be able to spend time with her today either.

She smiled and nodded, giving him a tight hug, “Of course we can! I’ve been working way too much lately. I need to spend some time with my two bundles of joy!” She said before having Vicky run around the table and hug her tight, a sweet, loving smile on her face as she dug her face into her stomach, looking up at them both. The two smiled full-heartedly and hugged the smaller of them back, making her giggle with joy at the contact.

After finishing breakfast, the three sat on the couch watching cartoons before Vicky spoke up, “Mom, mom!” She shouted as she seemed to be suddenly excited by something, bouncing in place as she pointed at the TV.

“What is it honey?” She asked as she looked ahead at the television, showing that there was a music competition going on that day. “Oh, you want to go see the bands?”

“It’s not only bands mom. There’ll be some rappers, boy bands, even some dubstep artists. I think it’d be awesome to go check it out.” DJ retorted as he rustled Vicky’s hair, “Good eye lil’ sis.” He said with a chuckle as she giggled and tried to fix her hair back to normal.

“Why not? Let’s have a beach day!” she said cheerfully as she stood to her feet, “Go ahead and get ready you two.” She said with a kind tone as she saw Vicky raced up the steps, DJ right behind her, a smile on his face as he chuckled at his smaller sibling’s excitement. Jane gave a soft, motherly giggle as she followed up behind them.

About fifteen or twenty minutes later, Vicky was downstairs with DJ, running around him with joyful vigor in her light blue one piece, a bass clef on the chest. DJ, Wearing a pair of brown swimming trunks with palm trees all over them, laughed heartily, quickly snatching her up into his arms and laughing as he kept spinning with her, making her break out into a bubbly laughter.

“Having fun you two?” Their mother’s melodic voice called from down the hall, wearing a blue and white striped bikini, a white, short sleeved, open button-up worn over it, a pair of sandals on her feet and a sun hat resting upon her head.

DJ chuckled as he put Vicky down, letting her run over and hug her leg, “You’re really pretty today Mom!” she said sweetly as she looked up to her with an adorable smile upon her face.

“Eh, I’ve seen better.” DJ said as he walked over and pocketed his hands, his guitar case now strapped to his back, an onyx black guitar pick tied around his neck.

Their mother made a pouty frown, “Hey! I’m just as hot as one of those college girls!” she protested as she made a pose, making both of them lightly laugh.

“I was joking mom! You look fine, okay?” He said as he walked past her, “Come on, let’s get going.” He said as he picked Victoria up onto his shoulder, walking outside as she cheered. Jane sighed and smiled, walking after them after locking the door and walking to her car, opening it up as DJ got into the passenger’s seat, Vicky getting in the backseat and pulling on the belt, having a little trouble with the fabric like safety belt and finally got it to pull down and pulled it over her chest, bouncing excitedly in place. DJ turned around and put his guitar in the backseat with her, making sure that it was out of harm’s way.

Their mother smiled and turned back to face DJ, “Ready?” She said with a big smile as she started the car.

“Totally.” He said with a curt nod as he leaned back in is seat.

She then turned back to face Victoria who was still bouncing happily in place, “How about you munchkin? You ready for a beach day with the coolest mother ever?” she said as the little girl nodded happily and giggled in anticipation, “Alright then, let’s go.” She said as she backed out of the driveway and flew down the road.

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