None of the three friends had adjacent seats together, although Dave sat a row behind John and Rose was seated several rows ahead and across the aisle. All three received window seats. Once the plane took flight and gained altitude, Rose rose from her seat and politely asked the occupants of the seats beside John and Dave if they would be willing to trade with her. The older lady sitting next to Dave was reluctant to relinquish her position beside the aisle, but the one sitting next to John was perfectly happy to oblige.
John turned and peered back between the cracks of the seat at Dave and stuck his tongue out at his friend, pulling a hideously comical expression.
"Looks like I'm the one that gets to catch up with our lady friend first!" he crowed.
Dave very calmly, very boredly, flipped John off with one hand and then settled a set of noise-cancellation headphones over his ears. Whether it was to block the loud hissing of the wind around the plane, or to render his friends beautifully melodious voices silent... Well. It certainly couldn't be the latter.
"He's totally jealous," John assured Rose, turning back around in his seat, "Don't worry."
"I wasn't at all concerned. I'm sure he can handle the emotional trauma of listening to music and staring out the window for a few hours," Rose said dryly.
John widened his eyes. "Oh, I don't know! You know Dave, he can get his feelings hurt so easily. He might never recover from this terrible experience."
"Mm-hmm," she responded, placidly playing along, "In any case, we might as well start catching up without him, to fulfill his mental scarring. So how have your life circumstances been treating you? I trust nothing exorbitantly drastic has come up since our last written correspondence yesterday afternoon."
"Oh, you know," John said airily, "Watched a movie with my dad, ate some bubblegum ice cream, went on a high-stakes bank robbery in my brand-new bulletproof Mercedes. Same old shit, happens every day kind of thing."
"Ah, yes, of course. A young man such as yourself needs his daily dosage of danger and recklessness to grow up strong and healthy." To Rose's credit, there was not a drop of audible sarcasm in her response. She sounded genuinely and mildly interested, but there was a steady smirk written all over her face.
"Haha yeah, totally. What about you?"
"Sadly, I have experienced nothing nearly as dramatic in the past nineteen hours. I may have succeeded in summoning a troupe of deadly nightbeasts from beyond this planet to feed on the hearts of my enemies, but alas they may not arrive to do my bidding for a while yet."
"Aw, that's too bad. Oh hey, they're coming with drinks. Awesome, I'm dying for some soda."
Rose appraised his excited expression with subtly raised eyebrows. "Clearly you have not yet met your necessary daily sucrose intake."
"It's hard, keeping up with my sugar needs," he responded, shaking his head dejectedly. Rose snorted as daintily as it was humanely and physically possible.
The next five hours or so passed with supreme levels of mediocrity and uneventfulness that is common on airplane rides. Probably the most eventful thing that any of the trio experienced was a brief excursion to the restroom. Rose and John killed some time by flipping through a magazine found in the seat pocket in front of them, which the two appraised most studiously, discussing the potential merits of purchasing a ten-foot sculpture of the Egyptian god of Death (guaranteed look great in any front garden), or an LED lamp to clip onto the bridge your glasses (handy for reading in the dark or dissuading the opposite sex from making any conversation with you, in the event that you deem it necessary to wear it in broad daylight).
"Nah, Rose, the best BC item in here's got to be the Wine Glass Holder Necklace. It's like a chick magnet, except the end that repels chicks! Magnets, how do they even, amirite?"
"I assume by 'BC' you mean 'Birth Control.' "
John spared her an exasperated side-eye glance. "Duh. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one, Rose. Come on."
By the time they touched down on in Honolulu, Hawaii, night had fully fallen and the three of them were quite tired from a long day of travel.
After disembarking, collecting their luggage, and striding out the gate, John, Dave, and Rose stood about and glanced back and forth, searching the faces of the people waiting at the arrival gates for someone familiar.
"Come on, maybe she's farther down?" John hitched his backpack up on his shoulder and stepped forward, dragging his luggage behind him on its wheels, his eyes glancing from face to face as they walked down the line.
Rose glanced at Dave, who had a smartphone out and was tapping quickly into it with one thumb, his headphones hanging loosely around his neck and the red jacket he'd been wearing wrapped around the handle of his baggage.
"John, hold up," he said suddenly, looking up from the screen of his phone and picking up his pace to catch up to his friend. Rose grabbed her own bag from where it was lying at her feet and followed after him.
"Jade says she just got turned around, but she'll be at the exit right there in a second," he pointed in the direction of the door, and right on cue, Jade appeared on the other side of the glass door and pushed her way in hastily, a fat cellphone gripped tightly in her left hand and her hair slightly disheveled. But then again, this was Jade Harley; wild hair could very well the fashionable status quo.
"Jade!" Dave called, waving, and her face broke into a wide grin, eyes crinkling behind their glasses as she jogged up to them, loose blue skirts flapping around her ankles.
"Dave! Rose! John!" she exclaimed happily, trapping each of them in a quick chokehold, "It's so great to see you again!" She stepped back and beamed, stowing her phone in a skirt pocket.
"Come on, I'll help you with those bags," she said, grabbing Dave's duffel and slinging it over John's rolling bag, then snatching up Rose's luggage in her other hand before any of them had the time to protest, "You must be exhausted! Thousands of miles in just one day! Is this everything?"
"Uh, Jade, you really don't have to take those, we can carry-" John started, reaching for his bag, but Jade laughed and danced out of the way.
"No way! You three are my guests! Come on, we need to get back to the taxi, Bec and Granpa are waiting."
With that, she turned on one heel and dragged all their luggage up to the exit, nudging the door open with one foot and jerking her head for her friends to follow. After exchanging some bemused glances, the three of them trailed after her.
"Is it just because I've had a long hard day of sitting on my ass, or is Jade really energetic?" John asked tiredly.
"It's not just you, bro," said Dave, the corner of his mouth twitching just slightly.
"She is very outgoing to begin with," Rose agreed, "I'm sure that adding in the supplemental thrill of having friends visit her for nearly the entirety of the summer contributed to her spiritedness."
"Oh my god Rose you still sound like you ate a thesaurus for breakfast. Shouldn't that have worn off by now?"
Rose turned her head slightly to meet John's gaze.
"Never," she said flatly, and smiled in a way that was just unnerving enough to make him shut up.
The four friends shared a swift taxi ride to the nearby Pier off Highway 64, where Jade stopped the driver right on the edge of the road, thanking him profusely and carefully paying the fee with some cash she pulled from her pocket. The taxi dropped them off and then drove away down the road, leaving the four of them to stand by the side of the highway in the dark.
"Um, Jade?" John asked uncertainly, glancing around at their surroundings, "Where exactly are we?"
"Oh, don't worry John, we're exactly in the right place. Just wait one second." She brought two fingers up to her mouth and whistled, a high-pitched, shrill sound that left her friends' ears ringing unpleasantly.
Moments later, they heard a rustling behind them, and an enormous white dog appeared, clutching an unlit flashlight between its jaws.
"Becquerel!" Jade laughed, leaning down to take the flashlight from the dog's mouth and give him a friendly pat between the ears, "Missed me, boy?"
Bec simply panted at her in response. Straightening up, Jade punched a button on the side of the flashlight, lighting it and pointing it away from the road, where a rickety chain-link fence stood, guarding the pier and a stranger's property.
"Strictly speaking the pier's closed right now," Jade said in a hushed voice, her face shadowed by the night but her tone clearly conveying excitement, "So this spot's the best point of entry. We're going to go over this fence, and then Bec will lead us to our ship! Everybody ready?"
"Uh," John said, unsure of whether he should feel worried or excited.
Rose didn't offer any comment, but she adjusted her knitted lavender satchel into a more secure position and kneeled down to tighten her laces.
"This seems rather shady and decidedly illegal," Dave said in a monotone. A pause. "But it sounds like you know what you're doing. Lead on, Harley."