"Damn straight," I chimed in.
"So how about us three," Kev pointed to himself, Chewie, and Sky, "versus you two."
"We’ve got more guns though," I said, noting how Jax and I were each dual-wielding. "We’ve got the advantage."
"Yeah, but we’ve got a secret weapon that you guys don’t."
"And what’s that? A hidden stash of water balloons?" I asked, spinning the water pistols on my fingers.
"It’s a little thing called ‘chemistry’," Kev said, blowing on his knuckles. "We work together like lions in a pride. You and Jax are lone wolves."
Jax waved away Kev's comment. "If that’s what you think, prepare to get schooled. We've got more chemistry than a keg of gunpowder."
I looked at Jax warily. I was a little worried that he was giving away too much about us to the band, but I was also eager to prove that we could work well together.
We agreed on teams and terms, did some trash-talking, and then the two teams separated, with each one heading to opposite sides of the park.
Once we were in position, Jax and I started our hunt, seeking out each band member like an elite SWAT team. I quickly discovered and shot a surprised Sky trying to blend in with a bunch of kids by an octopus shooting water from its tentacles. Then Jax pointed out Chewie standing guard by the pirate ship. I nodded and snuck across the ship, hoping to get the jump on him. Instead I emerged to him gunning straight for me.
I held up my guns, ready for a duel, when suddenly Jax came swinging by on one of the lagoon’s plastic vines like Tarzan, shooting Chewie’s sunglasses off his face. Chewie slumped away defeated.
I spotted Kev across the pool by a row of lounge chairs. Jax went into commando mode, using finger gestures to indicate we should split up. He pointed back and forth between me and his eyes, signaling he was watching me. I snickered at how seriously he was taking this.
We split up and maneuvered around the pool. Kev spotted us and took off running. After a brief chase, we managed to trap him between a water-logged jungle gym and the lockers. He spun around and held out his waterblaster, alternating his aim between the two of us. Jax and I squared our guns on Kev and slowly circled him in a Mexican standoff.
Kev suddenly let out a battle cry and jumped to the side as he squirted me in the stomach. But Jax was on him in an instant, nailing him with both guns.
I was upset that Kev managed to shoot me, but in the end I was glad our team won. Jax and I celebrated with a high-five followed by a butt bump and a chest bump.
"Wow, I stand corrected. You guys do have chemistry," Kev said panting to catch his breath from running around. "You guys know each other’s movements so well. It’s almost like you’re an old married couple."
"Oh, we’re just friends," I said quickly, and then laughed uncomfortably. "And barely ones at that."
Great, that was just perfect. Not suspicious at all.
Kev raised a skeptical eyebrow that I pretended not to see. I hurried to think of a distraction to change the topic.
Inspiration struck and I casually walked over to Jax. With a big grin I said, "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid this is totally necessary."
He cocked his head. "What’s totally necessary?"
I grabbed his arm with both hands. "I've got him, hurry up! Blast him!"
"Hey!" Jax struggled against my grip, but I knew he wasn't using his full strength. "What are you doing? You're on my team, let go of me."
"Nope, you brought this on yourself for being so damn good." I laughed as Sky, Chewie, and Kev surrounded us and then unloaded their guns on Jax. I got hit too, but I didn't mind it; it was like dousing a winning coach with a cooler of Gatorade—sometimes you get some on yourself.
But their streams quickly petered out.
"Ahh I'm tapped," Chewie said disappointedly.
"Me too," Kev replied as he frowned and looked at Chewie.
Like mirror images, Kev and Chewie both looked at each other, smiled, and silently nodded. They each grabbed one of Jax's feet. I continued holding onto his arm as Sky picked up on the cue and latched onto his other arm. With great effort, we hoisted him into the air.
"What the hell are you guys doing?" Jax asked, sporting a big smile on his face.
They say muscle weighs more than fat, and Jax's body was a testament to that, since it seemed like he was made out of solid concrete. We struggled to carry him over to the pool a few feet away. At the edge, we swung his body back and forth, building some momentum.
"One, two, three!" I shouted and the four of us tossed Jax into the pool. He hit the water and sent a splash up higher than my head.
We waited for a few seconds before Jax's head popped out of the water. He ran his hands through wet hair, pulling it out of his face. He lifted himself out of the pool as water cascaded down the grooves of his pecs and abs. Soaking wet, he stood there and stared at us.
"Those teams were even more lopsided," he said before flashing us a big smile. "Still took all four of you to take me down."
"Yeah, but it got the job done," I said, smiling and wiping my hands.
"Way to go, Riles, bringing down the champ," Chewie said as he held up his hand. I high-fived him.
Laughing and catching our breaths, we headed back to our spot to dry off. As we walked, Sky placed her hand on my arm and stepped in close to me. "You know, normally, it'd just be the three of us out here playing around, since Jax never joins our little roadside excursions. But personally, I subscribe to 'the more the merrier' mantra, so I'm glad you're here and you’re getting him out of his Fortress of Solitude."
Her kind words made me feel warm and fuzzy. "Aw, thanks."
Back at the lounge chairs, Chewie snapped a wet towel at Kev, who turned around and snapped Chewie back. Sky put on a pair of white sunglasses that covered half her face while she sprawled out on a lounge chair to soak up some rays.
I started drying out my hair, no doubt turning it into a rat's nest. I was beaming with excitement. "It's awesome that you guys can just stop the bus wherever and hit up a water park. More jobs need to offer water park trips during the workday." But then an unflattering image of Palmer in a speedo flashed across my mind and I shuddered. "Although coming here with my boss would be pretty gross."
They all laughed. Kev started wiping sunscreen across his bare, muscular chest. "Yeah we're always down for some fun. And it helps that unlike most bands, we all get along pretty well. Usually." Kev rolled his eyes over at Jax who narrowed his, but then Kev smiled warmly at me. "You know, it almost feels like you're part of the band too, Riley."