The air was close and thick and hit him like a wall as he stepped out of his door. Humid days like this reminded him of May in North Carolina, spent wading into the icy cold mountain run-off in Buies Creek. He could remember the chill on his legs, his upper body dripping with sweat still, the relief and the excitement as the rapids tugged against him, pushing him into another solid, hot body.
"Hey, Rhett!" Link hopped into the passenger seat of the FJ Cruiser, his momentum sending his shoulder to bump into Rhett's before he settled down into his seat and buckled up.
"Do you think the surf's up today? I can't wait to get out there!" Link grinned up at Rhett, whose gaze was focused on the road, but he seemed to sense Link looking at him, so he turned, his cheeks perking up at the smile on Link's face.
"I think so, buddy! The reports are good. Even though there's no detectable breeze here, there's a strong system heading in from the Pacific," Rhett rambled on about meteorology, just repeating what he heard from a weather website, but making it seem like he was an expert on the subject.
Link both loved and hated how Rhett could do that. Sometimes it made him feel like he appeared ignorant and clumsy with words in comparison, but he also knew that Rhett appreciated that he could count on Link to always be genuine and call him out if he went over his head into a subject he knew two things about. Sometimes he could come across as a know-it-all, but he was just very passionate about sharing interesting facts that he had learned and coming up with new ideas based on them, even if they went nowhere.
So, this time, Link listened patiently, lulled into a calm state by the sound of the cruiser's air conditioner and Rhett's voice talking over quiet music on the radio. It was an hour's drive to the beach from their homes in Burbank, and he had only gotten 5 hours of sleep, which to Link felt like about half of what he needed. He started to nod off, only to be awoken by Rhett's hand jiggling his shoulder.
"Wake up and close your mouth, sleepy head, we're here!" Rhett said, as he jumped out of the vehicle and started un-roping their boards from the top. Link rubbed his eyes, removing his glasses, and joined Rhett, still yawning. The air felt fresher here by the beach, a steady breeze tickling the hair on his arms and legs and the smell of salt and seaweed prominent in his nostrils. His board was shoved into his hands and Rhett pulled his own down, running ahead of Link across the soft sand to the water. Link kicked off his sandals, threw them onto his seat, locked the vehicle and hooked the keychain onto the loop on his swimming trunks.
The sun shone strongly in a clear blue sky, just a few golden clouds threatening the far horizon above the ocean. The water sparkled and the sand slowly warmed Link’s feet. Just as the warmth started to become unbearable he reached the tide line, still damp as the waves receded, leaving foam in their wake. Rhett was already paddling out on his surfboard, and Link decided to wait until the next wave, and watch as Rhett tried to catch the first one. His golden hair was haloed by the bright sky, droplets of water sparkling over his long bare limbs that he managed to hold gracefully over his board, despite his high center of gravity. The waves weren’t high, but his lanky form flew over the small one that was cresting, and he made it to about 10 feet to the left of Link before toppling from his board with a huge splash.
“Need a hand there?” Link grasped Rhett’s arm and helped pull him to his feet. Rhett was laughing while wiping salt water from his face. It trickled from his beard and on to Link’s shoulder as Rhett put an arm around him, stabilizing himself, but also gently squeezing Link into his side at the same time.
“Your turn, brother,” Rhett said softly into Link's ear and began pushing Link out into the waves lapping at their bodies. Soon they were paddling side-by-side into the ocean breeze, the humidity behind them, but not forgotten.