Christmas time in Ocean Shores wasn't too much different from the rest of the year but for the temperature and the lights hanging from houses and other decorations. It had been a few years since they could find the time to go back to where they all grew up together, but for once it seemed the gang might all be back together again.
The van pulled up in front of Raymundo's same house as he kept when they were all kids. Twister, Reggie, and Sam all got out and carried things to the door and rang the bell. Noelani excitedly answered the door and hugged Reggie first before the other two and invited them all in. Raymundo got up from the couch and hugged his daughter and shook the guys' hands.
"Great to see you all, can't wait to hear all your stories. But I have some bad news first, Rocket Boy won't be able to join us again this year."
"Which hospital is he in this time?" Reggie asked rolling her eyes.
"West Hills Hospital. Reno, Nevada. 2 major fractures in his leg, and dislocated his hip. I don't know what to do with that kid. One weekend he brings home a tournament check for thirty grand, twenty five grand the next, then he's in the hospital blowing it all on bills. I'm surprised insurance is still willing to cover him at all. He makes just enough from actually competing to cover the injuries from going too big showing off when he had a win in the bag."
"I swear, with how much time he spends in the hospital it's like he doesn't even call our house home anymore," Noelani added half joking half sad that he step son kept getting hurt.
"Not great to hear but I guess we're all kind of used to it. If he's not hurt, I'm away on business or Reggie and Twister have a news assignment to cover. But still, it's great to see you guys again. If you don't mind, I want to run over and let mom know I'm here and spend some time with her." Sam gave Reggie a quick kiss and headed out the door.
"Me too, I wanna see mom and dad a while since Lars couldn't come back this year. Still weird that I actually miss the guy now that he's not whomping me anymore," Twister said heading for the door with Sam.
Ray hollered after the younger men as they walked out. "Ask your folks if they wanna stop by for dinner tonight, don't want to break up anyone's family time so we might as well all spend it together."
"Will do Raymundo, I'm sure mom doesn't have any other plans." Sam waved behind him as he headed for his mom's house.
"Likewise, but you know mom and dad haven't ever been much for spending time with the rest of you guys. They can be so uptight." Twister crossed the cul-de-sac seeing his mom already outside waiting with open arms.
Reggie closed the door and sat down with her dad and step-mom.
"So how are things? I expect work has all of you guys busy," Ray asked.
"Things are pretty chill in the downtime. Me and Sam have a decent flat thats nice to relax at when he's not working late and I'm not out of town covering some tournament. Its nice to see Otto when we're covering an event he's competing at. Seems those are the ones he doesn't go crazy at since he doesn't want us to watch him beef it. Twister got his own place not too far from us. We talked about going in together on a bigger place but he's still adjusting to me and Sammy being a thing."
"Still adjusting? Its been 3 years." Noelani laughed.
"Yeah but we've all been best friends for like 15. Plus me and him had that thing in high school so things can be weird sometimes. But it's all good, we haven't had any problems. He's seeing this girl he'll probably talk about tonight if they come over."
"We're just glad you two gave it a try. I made 20 bucks when-OW"
"What your father means is a lot of people saw potential. But we know it can be strange for best friends to try to be more involved, especially when they are family of other best friends." Noelani smiled and put her hands back in her lap after elbowing Ray in the ribs.
"Yeah it's kind of weird that this is the first time I've seen you guys since we started dating. And don't worry, he's staying at his mom's place while we're here and we don't even share a room at our place. Don't need dad to go into overbearing 'don't touch my daughter' mode like he did on Twister."
"There's a big difference. You guys were still just kids back then and I know what 15 year old boys think about. Not saying I don't trust Twister, I'm just- OW- well I trusted you. But you and Sam are adults, no point pretending things don't happen."
"We're not having this conversation dad!" Reggie laughed and covered her ears. "Hey, is Tito in town or did he go back to Hawaii for the holidays? I miss him a lot, we don't talk to him much except when we come to visit."
Noelanni and Ray exchanged muffled giggles and suggestive glances.
"Guys...where is Tito?"
The two Rocket elders doubled over in their seats laughing.
"Do I wanna know? I don't think I wanna know. I don't wanna know. I'm gonna go check in on Sam and say hi to his mom."
Ray and Noelani fell out of their seats barely breathing through their laughter.
"No! He's not! But they've he's had a crush on her for like, EVER!"
Ray and Noelani gasped for breath as their laughter subsided, wiping tears from their eyes.
Noelani told her step-daughter, "Like we said about you and Sam, it can be strange when you get involved with the relative of a friend, but we're glad they gave it a chance. Turns out she had the same crush. They were just too nervous to talk to each other."
Ray gave another laugh, "Run on over there. If you hurry, Sammy might still have his face stuck in shock."
Reggie started laughing herself and ran out the door. She called back before she left, "I'll be back in a few, probably bringing everyone else over. This is too good to miss."
Reno was a far way out of the way but she didn't think most of the group would mind the road trip for a few days to surprise Otto so he didn't have to spend the holiday alone. But for now she was glad to be back in Ocean Shores for a few weeks.