Another new chapter, go me! I think this is the longest chapter I've ever written for this story! In this chapter, you learn a lot of things now! You might want to read it a bit slowly so everything will come to place. Enjoy!

Chapter Nine

As they approached the house, the same huge yellow dog greeted them, trying to lick Aria's face. Joel once again had to hold the dog back before the dog finally submitted to defeat, laying on the porch panting. "Dumb dog." He whispered as he held the door open for Aria. She laughed, shaking her head and stepping inside. "Come on, we have to do the same rounds as before." He rolled his eyes and headed to the kitchen. Once again, Joel's mother was in the kitchen cooking. Warm brownies were sitting on a platter, all cut up nicely and just waiting for someone to eat them.

"Oh, hello Aria, dear. How nice of you to join us. Might I say you have a lovely name. It's fit enough for a princess." His mother said, smiling. Aria's eyes widened slightly. "I've always wanted a girl but I had two boys instead." Her eyes glazed over as her voice trailed off.

Joel made a noise. "If you're a princess, I'm a Jester or whatever they're called." He said, grinning and looking over at Aria. Aria frowned slightly at him. His eyes widened. "I mean, you are good enough to be a princess. There's nothing wrong with you being..." He started up again frantically.

Although Aria was probably safe, she thought that they just should get out of the subject of princesses. She was in uncharted waters here and she didn't want to slightly hint to come up. She quickly put her finger to Joel's lips, making him be quiet instantly. "If I was a princess, I wouldn't be here. Let's change the subject, shall we?" She said quietly. Suddenly, she realized actually what she was doing and quickly dropped her finger, turning to Joel's mother blushing furiously.

"Is dad home?" Joel quickly said, snapping his mother out of her trance. He licked his lips and tasted...salt? He glanced at Aria for just a moment.

"No." Was his mother's short reply. Joel nodded and grabbed a brownie, shoving it in his mouth rather quickly. He started to grab for Aria's hand to lead her up to his room with his mother interrupted him. "You're not going to offer your friend any brownies? I'm sorry, Aria. Joel can be a bit forgetful in the manner area. You may have as many as you like." His mother said, holding up the plate.

Just to obliged Joel's mother and him, she took one biting into it. It was pretty good for on land food. It wasn't like she had trouble with land food it was just it was very different from underwater food. As Joel led her through the house to his room, he mumbled apology after apology as he took the brownie platter with him. He let go of his arm and began to open his door when he froze. He whirled around to her and gave her a weak smile. "Can you just wait here for a moment?" He asked. She nodded. "Thanks, hold these will ya." He said, giving her the platter of brownies. For several minutes, all she could hear was constant scurrying and things being thrown around. Finally, an out of breath Joel opened the door. "Come in." He wheezed, taking the brownie platter from her.

The room was sort of like it was the day she had came here last. Stuff still littered his desk and his bed was unmade. As she looked around, she saw that some of his dresser drawers looked as if they had been slammed shut. Some things were strewn around the floor but not a lot. It kind of looked cleaner. She sat on his bed as he sat on the chair and scooted closer to her. Her heart jumped. "So lets do this thingy." Joel said happily. She giggled and opened her science book, flipping to the section about stomachs.

"All right, so we're going to use clay to make stomachs and digesting food so that takes care of the items we will need. Now, how to make it. Here's what it looks like. Are you good with making crafts and stuff?" Aria asked, looking up. Joel was beside her, glancing at her page number before flipping to the page she was at.

"Um, not likely." He said, also looking up. Both of them froze for a mere second, noticing each other's closeness. He gave her a cheesy grin and she blushed slightly, glad that his room was quite dim. Suddenly the door was thrown open and someone hurried in.

"I wanna brownie, Joel!" Brent's squealing voice said loudly, coming around the bed, staring at the two. Joel looked at his brother in complete shock, as if he didn't understand what had just happened. He saw the brownies and quickly stuffed one in his mouth. He grinned, his teeth covered in chocolate and nuts. "Hi again!" He said, his mouth full.

Aria couldn't help but think that he was so cute so she smiled back at him. Joel didn't think so. His shocked face quickly changed into one of anger. "Get out of my room, twerp! Don't you know how to knock?" He yelled, picking up Brent by his arms. He quickly threw him out roughly. "And don't talk with your mouth full, dummy. No one likes to see your food." He finished, slamming his door. "Man, I wish I had a lock." He grinned at her. "Sorry about him."

"Aww, don't worry about it, it was nothing." Aria said, shrugging. Joel slipped into his chair, looking as if nothing happened. 'Another chance down the drain.' He thought sourly. "Okay, so I guess I could whip up a stomach. But where do we get clay?" She asked, rubbing her temple.

Joel bit his lip for a moment before grinning. "I have Plato. I mean, my brother has some." He told her, getting up. "Would that work?"

"Yeah, that would work perfectly. Then maybe your mom would let us put it in the oven so it would harden." She added, clapping her hands together. He nodded and quickly led her to his brother's room. The room was actually much neater than Joel's was. Everything had its own place and name tag. Brent must be a perfectionist. Brent was laying on his bed, playing with his remote control car. He looked up at them and his eyes were red and his cheeks were tear stained. "Are you okay?" Aria asked him, alarmed. She bent down and smiled. He nodded numbly, glaring at Joel as he began to search his room. "I think you hurt him." She said, beginning to look at his arms, which were still red.

Joel scowled. "Nothing time won't heal I'm sure." He defied, picking up a box full of containers of Plato. He looked at Aria and saw her frown. "He'll be fine, right buddy?" He added, smiling at his younger brother. Brent refused to answer him but kept close to Aria, who was stroking his hair. "Come on, Aria. We don't have much time." He said.

Aria sighed and followed Joel, waving good bye at Brent. She walked into the room as Joel placed the box on his desk. "First of all, we are going to have to clean this desk off. Here, let me help." She said, glancing at the stack of magazines. She pushed them off the desk and moved the keyboard on to the monitor. "Sorry about the mess." She said, looking at Joel who was staring in a amazed stupor about what she just did.

"It's okay, I needed a reason to throw them away." He said, shrugging and pushing the computer chair up to her. She sat down and began to take out Plato. He leaned down, placing his hands on either side of the desk, and watched her as she began to create the stomach. Aria did not notice how close Joel was to her when she felt a light tickle of his breath on her neck. She shivered, goosebumps appearing all over her skin. "You cold?" He asked, stooping down and grabbing his letterman jacket off the floor. He placed it on her shoulders and continuing to watch her.

She mumbled a quiet thanks before continuing. In about fifteen minutes, Aria had a rather large stomach. "Good job, now all we need is food, right?" He asked, looking at her. She turned to him and she blinked. The world went silent around them as time paused yet again for the duo. Joel's bright green eyes seem to glitter happily. "Aria..." He whispered, his eyelids drooping a bit.

"Yes?" She whispered back hesitantly, her body began to shake slightly as this weird sensation ran throughout her body from his closeness. Joel's lips began to hover over hers and were beginning to pucker up slightly. Her heart began to beat faster and louder, the noise pounding in her ears. Could he hear it?

Knock knock. The loud noise startled both of them, making them jump. Aria jumped to her feet, her head bashing into Joel's chin. Because of the bash, Joel bit his tongue hard, making it start to bleed. From the startle and the pain, Joel grabbed on to the nearest thing, which was Aria. His hands grabbed Aria's arms in a death grip. She winced. "Kids, are you in here?" Joe's father's voice asked through the door.

"Twyeah!" Joel mumbled, not daring to move.

"Okay, I just wanted to check on you two. Remember you have to go at five." His father said before leaving. For a moment, neither of the two seemed to breathe, waiting for the loud creak that was down the hall which would let them know that Joel's father was gone. The creak came and so did the exhale of breath.

Joel let go of Aria, rubbing his chin and sticking out his tongue. Aria gasped, seeing the blood. "Oh, Joel, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean too! It was just.." She began quickly, stuttering on her words.

Joel raised his hands. "It's dokay! I guess it's a good ding its Friday, huh?" He said, laughing a bit. She smiled at him and sighed. As long as he was okay, she was good. Unknowing to her, Joel was not okay. In fact, he was furious with his father for interrupting his second chance at kissing Aria. He didn't understand why he wanted her so bad! Maybe it was because he could get any girl he wanted, but she was different. He had to work to get her. He had to actually like and get to know before he got to date her or anything. He didn't even know if she liked him back. Maybe she did, sometimes he thought so but he wasn't for certain. Casey was always acting way too familiar with her. Maybe she liked him and vice versa? More anger began to form. He shook the anger out of him quickly as she began to say something but he missed it. "Huh?" He asked.

"It's four thirty. I should go now." She said, picking her things up from Joel's bed. "If you remember, ask your mother to put the Plato in the oven so it will harden. Maybe tomorrow we'll make the food?" She said, beginning to walk to his door.

"Oh...okay. Wait!" He said, heading over to her. She looked at him. "Let me walk you home. It's the least I could do."

She smiled. "I'd like that." She told him. He grinned and wrapped his arm around her arm. He led her out of his home and began to walk her down the beach towards her sea cottage. Both of them were quiet, enjoying each other's company but not wanting to break the silence. Finally, the sea cottage came into view.

"Well, I guess this is your stop, Aria." Joel said, stopping quite a ways away from the cottage. He held her tightly so she could not go further without him coming along. She turned in front of him. The sea was to his back.

"Yes, it is. Thank you, Joel, for the...Plato?" She said, wanting to mentally slap herself after saying that.

He grinned slightly, his cheeks flushing. His hand went up, rubbing the back of his neck. It was a nervous habit that she had noticed from the years before. She wondered what he was nervous about. "Aria, about what happened in my room..." He trailed off, trying to find the right words to say. Aria gulped as her mind quickly remembered what happened. Her eyes quickly averted to the sea. She blinked and tried to see something that was moving through the sea but Joel moved in her way. "I...well...I..." Joel sighed, grabbing Aria's wrists. He was very close to her. "I just wanted to do this." He said, leaning forward quickly. His lips puckered and were just about an inch away from hers when suddenly he froze, his eyes wide with terror.

Aria opened her eyes, frowning slightly. Her eyes drifted to her shoulder as she saw Joel's muscles tense. A gray hand had gripped his shoulder tightly. The hand was turning from gray to pink flesh. Suddenly the hand pushed down, shoving Joel right into the ground. Fierce blue eyes glared at Aria, which sent terror throughout her body. Dier stood in front of Aria, his body tense, his breathing ragged. He wore only a pair of trousers, which were soaking wet. He obviously must have put them on underwater before the transformation. Behind him, Biew and Sevien stood above Joel, glaring at him. Joel looked absolutely terrified. "D...Derick!" She stuttered, catching herself from saying 'Dier!' instead.

Dier furiously and roughly grabbed her arms, yanking her away from Joel. Her books fell on to the sand. She yelped as his grip began to hurt her. Joel looked at Aria. He wanted to help but the two men standing above him pushed him back on the ground when he had scrambled to get up. As Dier dragged her to the sea cottage, he spotted Joel's letterman jacket. With disgust he ripped it off of her violently, all most tearing it. He opened the door, shoved her in to the cottage, waved to the men, and slammed the door shut.

"Where in the Blue Hell were you?" Dier shouted furiously, rounding on her like a shark with prey. She flinched. She gazed up at him sadly, noticing the way he looked. Was this the real Dier? The past time she had seen him was all wrong. Just a silly little facade to win her heart? She scowled at him.

"I don't have to answer to you. I only have to answer to my father. He will hear about this, Dier, and you will be banished from Atlantis forever more!" She said strongly, her posture and tone dignified as a true queen to be would be.

A smirk played on his lips. "No, my sweet lily pad," He said, reaching out to touch her. She moved back and the smirk turned into a frown. "Your father can't help you anymore. You will be my Queen in Arcies while I will be the King in Atlantis." He snapped.

Her eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean, I will be. I have the choice of choosing my own mate. I rather pick a sea cucumber than you!" She said, poking his chest hard.

"Oh, you will not be allowed to pick your own mate because if you pick anyone other than me, you will doom your citizens to death! Your father knows this and now you know this too. Now, shut up!" He yelled, raising a hand to strike her but he held himself back and went outside. As soon as he disappeared, she ran to the window.

Biew and Sevien were holding Joel back as he tried to get to the cottage. Dier made his way over to Joel. "Listen up, boy. If I ever see you hanging out near my...sister ever again, I'm going to beat you so bad you won't be able to walk and talk ever again. Do you understand me?" Dier spat.

"You won't get away with hurting, Aria! Some brother you are." He yelled back at Dier. Suddenly, he froze. Earlier he had thrown his brother. He made a reminder to go apologize to Brent.

Dier grabbed the front of Joel's shirt. "I said, do you understand?" He snarled, both of the boys close to each other.

Joel shook with rage but didn't do anything. "Yes." He whispered. Biew and Sevien pushed him down and they all started to go towards the cottage. One of them stooped down to pick up Aria's belongings. Joel grabbed his jacket and headed back home. One day, her brother would pay for that. He began to mumble under his breath. As Aria watched Joel go away, she backed up from the window. As the sense of lost hope, lost love, and just plain lost began to wash over her, the reality of being doomed hit her. So this was what was in store for Aria when she got married to that thing named Dier. Tears began to fall and she quickly dried them up. She was a princess and even though things looked bad, she needed to keep her dignity. That and she needed to talk with Grandfather Dolphin.

What shall happen with Aria and Dier? What can Aria and the Grandfather Dolphin do? What can Joel do? Review and find out!