“What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?” Alicia asked laughing as she felt herself practically lift off of her bed when TJ practically slammed down on the other side of it sending a wave through the mattress. It wasn’t that the mattress was that cheap either!
They’d been hanging out in her flat figuring out a possible weekend trip to the South Island. Alicia had been in New Zealand long enough now that all of it felt mostly like home. She still had moments of missing her life and her friends back home, still, she had made new friends here and managed to figure out a place for herself.
“Are you going to have an opinion on these?” Alicia asked holding up two options for houses to rent for a few days.
On the best of days, TJ could be a little shit. It was a purposeful sort of playfulness, as evidenced by the way he nearly launched Alicia off her own bed. There was a rueful expression aimed at said bed because apparently he hadn't hit it quite right. It was an art form and one he'd perfected both with and against his brother.
"I always have an opinion," TJ drawled before he moved up the bed to position himself shoulder to shoulder with the woman. Blue eyes narrowed as he considered the two. "Does either have an outdoor shower so we aren't tracking sand in?" He wrinkled his nose at realizing that, no, those sorts of amenities weren't in their budget. TJ was finding more and more frequently that he despised not having his usual wealth at his fingers--or the wallets of his family.
A quiet gasp sounded (which was far more dramatic than necessary). "Is this an actual cottage? This is adorable. I want this one," he decided.
“Of course you do!” Alicia huffed out as she kept looking at the different places.
Laughing she looked at the one he was looking at and shrugged. “I don’t know, I sort of like this this one,” she said pointing to the Birdsong Cove. “It’s about just right, as long as you don’t take up too much time getting ready in the bathroom,” Alicia added with a tease. “Besides, it’s close to The Dangerous Kitchen., I’ve always wanted to try it, who wouldn’t want to try a place called The Dangerous Kitchen anyways?”
TJ's mouth pulled up into a smirk that was pure mischief though she could only see his face in profile. His eyes would have said it all anyway. "The fact that you think I take too much time in the bathroom to get ready means you don't appreciate how much effort I expend, Als," he remarked. "It takes time to make this look just that much better. Near impossible to improve upon, I know."
"Fine. We can go with this one but I reserve the right to endlessly complain about the color of those couches," TJ said after a few moments of consideration. "The place is otherwise cute, why those?" TJ shifted to nudge playfully against Alicia before dropping his head dramatically onto her shoulder. "Fine. Book it. I'll give you cash in hand. I want Dangerous pancakes our first morning, too. What else do you want to do while we're there? I don't surf. I bask on the beach and look pretty. You know that."
“Well, that depends, how much hair gel do you go through a month?” She teased trying to keep a perfectly serious face but having a hard time maintaining it. The corners of her lips were twitching threatening to break into a smile.
“It’s not like we are going to be living there! It’s a holiday TJ!” Alicia sighed as she was shaking slightly with a small giggle she tried to keep down. “Dangerous Pancakes it is,” She nodded as she started to fill out the booking information. “Yes, you get all burnt and stuff,” she laughed. “Well, there is Golden Bay Market, a fair sort of thing, Fantastic Mountain Biking and hiking, kayaking, the Ngarua caves! They’re supposed to be stunning. Could also go get spit at by some alpacas, or is it llama that spit at people?”
"Just because we're tourists doesn't mean we can't have a sense of style of interior design," TJ scoffed. "And leave my hair gel out of this. It gets out of control without it."
TJ pulled out his phone and began searching for the local attractions but, really, the quiet of the beach was the biggest draw. She could tease his tanning capability all she wanted but TJ had been thriving with the ability to relax out of the spotlight. Back home, it was hard to be on his best behavior when the paparazzi loved to follow him. "Fair, caves," TJ echoed in a way that gave his agreement for what sounded fun, "and llamas spit at people. Did you know they're great at defending territory? They'll kick the ass of a coyote that gets near them."
He paused and then squinted at Alicia. "Just how easy are these caves to get to? Biking, hiking, and kayaking are not strong points in the Hammond family."
“You might have hair that actually is just morning fresh!” She teased laughing.
“What about alpacas? Are they just good for their wool?” She asked frowning. “Or can they beat the crap out of coyotes too?” Ask her about horses or dogs and Alicia had fantastic knowledge. Past that it wasn’t her strongest set of information.
“There are guided tours! See, it says “Experience the Ngarua Caves then relax with a coffee/refreshments or bring your own picnic lunch and enjoy the spectacular views of Tasman Bay and the surrounding Karst landscape. Also browse our souvenir shop with crafts by local artists.” That doesn’t sound so bad.” She shrugged. “And I’m still getting you on a kayak.”
"You know, I'm not sure," TJ admitted. "I just know llamas from personal experience. Weird family farm adventures growing up. It was one of the safe places away from the Governor's Mansion and White House that wasn't Camp David and you probably have no idea what I'm talking about anyway," he went on but waved the words off in a vague gesture.
He considered what Alicia was showing him and he nodded, albeit a little reluctantly. "Okay. We can do the guided tour. You can try to get me on a kayak. It's not happening," TJ said with a grin. "House, Ngarua Caves, Dangerous Kitchen, Golden Bay Market, and lots of basking in the sun like the lizards we are. I think we've got a good holiday," TJ said, eyebrows lifting in mischief as he mimicked her accent, "planned. And it won't empty my wallet. I work hard at looking pretty enough to get tips in a non-tipping culture."
“Believe it or not, I know a bit about Muggle American insanity, err, politics, although honestly wizarding politics isn’t much better. We just don’t tend to move people into fancy homes when they get elected.” She shrugged. “They move themselves to fancy homes.”
“The house has kayaks, what’s the harm in trying right by the shore? Just think it’ll make you look active and stuff,” she said before tilting her head to the side. “It’ll be a good break, see a bit more of the country.” She agreed. “Besides, the South Island is stunning!”
"No, you got it right the first time with American Insanity. Muggle or otherwise," TJ said with a snort. But then his eyes narrowed at Alicia and he leveled a Look at her. "Buy me those Danger Pancakes for breakfast and I'll trade you with a kayak by the shore."
Regardless of agreement, TJ shifted to lay obnoxiously against Alicia's side and pulled out his phone to scroll through social media. "It'll be a good break," he agreed. "New Zealand was never one of the trips we took as a family. If it was overseas, it was with heads of state or some sort of optics piece. New Zealand just didn't have the--wow this sounds pretentious, but it just didn't have the political importance to bother with the massive amount of details it would involve to get us here." He wriggled a little in place, like he had to get more comfortable. "It was a good idea, Eesh."
Quickly Alicia held out her hand. “Deal, and no take backs!” She nodded as if that settled it.
“Honestly! New Zealand deserves better,” she nodded, she really understood enough about politics to know she didn’t want any part of it. “I’d only been here once before,” she shrugged. “But it was ages ago, and I mean ages ago before arriving here, it was, well different. There were Quidditch Pitches.” There clearly weren’t any around now. “And the Ministry of Magic here was a lot more laid back than the one back home too.”
TJ shook her hand without looking up from his phone and only smirked. He'd never said how long he'd be in that kayak. Oh, sure, he knew he would probably have fun because it was hard to not have fun when Alicia had set her mind on it but he had a reputation to uphold.
"I am still trying to imagine Quidditch Pitches in places I've been before," he said. He had been all over the UK, after all. "Dougie and I probably would have been all over that. I refuse to believe we'd be Muggles. I'm fucking magical and a delight. Stupid America. Stupid whatever." There might have been schools in North America but Hogwarts was where it was at and everyone knew it. "If you could go back to school and do just one thing all over again, what would it be?"
Laughing she nodded. “Oh, I’m sure you would have found your way into a magical school back home no matter what.” She paused at his question though and tilted her head. “That’s a bit of a loaded question!” She took a moment to try and think. “I guess I probably wouldn’t have been part of some of the pranks we pulled on some of the Slytherins…” she paused. “No, I probably would still do that, but maybe be a little less judgemental of them all.” She sighed. “Alright, Mr. drop a deep question, what about you?”
His phone lowered a little as his gaze went distant, not that she could see it. "It's hard to say. The easy answers sort of made me who I am, good or bad. I probably would have tried to be less of a little shit to the Secret Service. They were just doing their job and had some uppity, gay teenager on their hands."
TJ went strangely quiet while he thought back to his actual school years. Some of the worst times of his life but he'd also not been allowed to make the sort of mistakes he did after graduation. He gave a quiet, almost uncomfortable laugh. "I didn't really aim for making it a deep question." Still, he huffed out a dramatic sigh. "Whatever. Subject change. What are you going to pack for our trip? You know you look smoking in the red, white, and black not-camo bikini. I still can't figure out what to call that print. It's not a floral."
Alicia didn’t push it, she let the subject change quickly only giving a quick worried glance t TJ. She didn’t want him to find himself in another bad position.
“Well, I guess I know one of the things I’m taking,” she laughed. “Thanks for that, never would have picked it myself.” That was true enough, her style had become more low key over the past few years. “I don’t know, probably comfortable things, what about you? Don’t tell me the rubber ducky pants.” She added teasing back to something she’d gotten him on a dare a little while back.
"Of course the rubber ducky pants," TJ scoffed. "How dare you think I won't burn your eyes around the house with those amazing monstrosities." He grinned and tucked his phone away as he sat up. "I should go. I have laundry to do so I can look presentable at work tomorrow." TJ leaned in and made an obnoxiously loud kiss against her cheek. "Book whatever. You know I'm good for it. No hiking unless you're already planning on going without me."
TJ and the outdoors wasn't exactly the best of mixes, after all. Kayaking was going to be his limit.
“Lazy!” She called as he got up to leave, Alicia shook her head but started to book all the things she needed to for the trip anyway.