Yuri had almost finished his breakfast one morning when Yulia grabbed a plate and plopped down across from him.
"Newsflash from the homefront!" she said. "Berjes retired."
"Well, that's long overdue," Yuri observed.
"And Mother and Daddy asked him to move in with them," Yulia added.
"Really?" asked Yuri, surprised.
"Yup," replied Yulia. "I think it was after Berjes had prepared six servings of Pop-Tarts 3 times in a row for breakfast that the 'rents realized (1) that he was really too unreliable as a butler, and (2) that he couldn't be trusted to look after himself, either."
"Wow," said Yuri. "So, I guess Calista will definitely be coming home with us next week."
"That should be entertaining," Yulia laughed.
Berjes hadn't seen his granddaughter in years, and was delighted that she'd come along with Yuri and Yulia to Thanksgiving dinner, although he was somewhat dismayed by her attire.
"My poor dear!" cried Berjes. "Do you not have sufficient funds?--Your stockings are in tatters!"
"Oh, Granddad--it took me a long time to get them like this, and now they're just perfect!"
The two families sat down to dinner.
"So what you major in, Calista?" asked Yelena.
"Philosophy," replied Calista. "I really want to get into the Paranormal field--you know, psychic occurrences, UFOs, that sort of thing--but there are no relevant courses at University, so I'm biding my time with Philosophy."
Yuri glanced at Berjes to check his reaction to his granddaughter's statement. The elderly man seemed unruffled.
"UFOs, really?" inquired Yelena. "You mean 'little green man' stuff?"
"Actually," Calista answered enthusiastically, "mature aliens are about the same size we are. Though I only know that from my reading, so far, but it's my hope to be abducted one day!" she added in all seriousness.
"Is there any money in this field?" asked Yelena.
Yuri, trying to steer the conversation back into some sort of normalcy, interrupted,"Well, if not, Calista could certainly make money as a professional musician. She's quite good."
"Oh, I don't give a fig for money!" responded Calista. "I imagine I'll spend my entire life wandering from one place to the next, pursuing occult phenomena, doing odd jobs, never having a real home. I'm really looking forward to it!!"
"Would anyone like pie?" asked Berjes, brightly.
Yuri and Calista were jamming one afternoon at the Campus Lounge when he noticed Alvin Futa and Chloe Gonzaga come in.
Yuri put his guitar down and walked over to Alvin. "So, are you an emissary from Princess Brittany?"
"Sort of," said Alvin, looking uncomfortable. "I came to tell you we're not going on vacation with you next week."
Yuri rolled his eyes and said, "I need a drink. Let me buy you one, too."
Once seated at the bar, Yuri asked Alvin, "Don't you think Brit's overreacting just a bit?"
"This isn't about the stripper," Alvin began.
"'Streaker', Alvin; not 'stripper'," corrected Yuri.
"'Streaker', 'stripper', whatever," said Alvin. "All I know is that Brit's thought for a long time that you two might end up as a couple. And--correct me if I'm wrong--but wasn't that one of the reasons why you invited her on vacation? To see if something might develop?"
"I don't know, Alvin. I've always liked Brit, and thought she was cute, and I wouldn't be opposed to something happening between us, but she's just got to get over being so intense."
"You realize you're talking about a straight-A math major who's going into a hard science career, right? I think 'intense' is in her DNA."
"You're a math major, and you're pretty normal," observed Yuri.
"I'm different--I just like school," explained Alvin. "I'm not driven like Brittany is. Her life has to be perfect--for now, perfect grades; later, a perfect marriage and perfect children."
Yuri got up from the barstool and headed back to the stage. "Well, I'm not going to give her any of that. I don't plan on getting married, for one thing. I just want to play the field."
Alvin looked at Yuri uncomprehendingly. "Brit's a great girl, and she deserves a guy who'll put her on a pedestal."
"You may be right, Alvin; I'm just not that guy. And I bet she'll never find him, either--her expectations are too high."
Back at Landgrabb House, Alvin went looking for Brittany. Told she was taking a shower, he banged on the ladies' room door. "I need to talk to you, Brittany--right now!"
"I'm not dressed!" she protested, opening the door a crack. "What's so important?"
"Just this," Alvin said, took her by the hand and pulled her out of the bathroom.
"So, who are we going to give the other two tickets to?" Yulia asked her brother.
"George said he'd like to go--how about him?" asked Yuri. "And Tosha?"
"They'd be great company. And you know I like to do things on vacation, and George is always up for anything," said Yulia.
"Yeah, the gay guys are always the most fun," said Yuri.
"George is NOT gay. You just think that because he's a dancer."
"All know is he gets a ton of female attention, and he's got no girlfriend."
It was true that George had many female admirers. He worked out every day in the hallway of his dorm,
and girls always found an excuse to pass through,
or hang out nearby.
"All I know is I'm not sharing a tent with him," declared Yuri. "You can have George; I'll take Tosha."
Yulia's final exam was scheduled earlier than Yuri's and, when she was done, she dropped by her brother's room. He kicked her out, saying he was still cramming.
Since she was already packed for vacation, Yulia bided her time by playing on the swings at Chestnut Park.
When Yuri was done with his exam, she called George and Tosha,
and the four friends took the shuttle to the airport.
Yulia and Yuri had used the frequent flyer miles they'd accumulated from their Twikkii Island trip to get economy-class airline tickets for themselves and their friends. The four were staying at a campground where accommodations were free.
"Oooh," cried Yulia. "Axe throwing!"
Yulia actually hit a bulls-eye on her third throw. The others didn't perform as well, but all of them worked up an appetite.
After lunch, they decided to try fishing, and Yulia's luck continued--she caught a huge trout.
Tosha was surprised to catch a small fish. "Ewwww!" she cried.
"Man up, Tosh," George told her sternly.
"If I ever have to depend on you as a policeman, you'll have to be tougher than this." (Tosha planned on a career in law enforcement.)
After the friends enjoyed their fish dinner (though a fellow camper had to help them prepare it), Yulia was tired and went into her tent. "It must be this clean mountain air--I'm wiped out."
Yuri announced, "I'm gonna hit the sack, too. You coming, Tosha?" He turned and headed for his tent without waiting for her response.
Tosha looked at George, but said nothing. George regarded his friend closely. "Tosh, if you want me to sleep in Yuri's tent so that you can sleep in Yulia's, it's okay with me," he offered.
Tosha thought for a moment. "No, Brit's out of the way, so this is my big chance."
George was horrified by this. "That sounds a bit desperate!"
"Oh, I didn't mean that," Tosha said, blushing. "I just meant that I have an opportunity to spend some time with Yuri, so that we can figure out if we're suited for each other. That's all."
So, George went into Yulia's tent, and Tosha into Yuri's.
Yulia was already asleep, but George lay awake for some time, thinking.
Yulia arose early the next morning and, with her usual zeal, began digging for treasure, which yielded the usual result.
After getting some help repairing her destruction from some friendly locals, she resumed digging away from the water main, and found a map.
She called across the pond to Tosha. "Hey, Tosh--I found a map to a secret lot! You wanna go with me?" Yulia asked, excitedly.
"Maybe in a little while," Tosha replied, easing herself into a hammock. "I need a nap. Your brother's snoring is like an airplane engine."
Yuri made lunch for his sister and George while they waited for Tosha.
In about an hour, the four headed to Hidden Burrow.
Though Yulia had been very excited to go there, it turned out she had no idea what to do with Bigfoot once she met him.
The four headed for the Blau Hills Resort,
where Yuri entertained Tosha by playing piano,
while Yulia and George relaxed in the sauna.
"I think I pulled a shoulder muscle when I was axe-throwing yesterday," Yulia complained.
"You should get a massage," suggested George. "I pull muscles all the time, and that's what I do. I think I saw a flyer in the changing room for a discount; remind me when we're leaving and I'll get it for you."
George seemed a bit depressed and, when Yulia inquired, he let on that he was unhappy not to have been cast in any of the college's dance productions during the fall semester.
"What are you talking about--I saw you in two ballets this fall!" said Yulia, confused.
"Those were freshman workshops, really," George told her. "None of the critics come to those. I don't know what else to do--I try out for everything, I train constantly, I go to the hobby lot in my spare time and enter dance contests ...."
"George," Yulia said kindly, "this was your first semester, and you're a freshman, and this dance department is very competitive. I'm sure you're doing everything right; it's just a matter of time. Don't let yourself get down. You should think the way Calista does--if you live your life right, good things will come your way."
George smiled. He looked up. "Hey, how about we hit the hot tub? That would be good for your shoulder."
They were surprised to find Tosha in the hot tub. "I thought you were upstairs listening to Yuri," said George, puzzled.
"I did for a while, but it was like I wasn't there," said Tosha, ruefully.
"My brother does tend to get lost in his music," Yulia offered.
After a while, the three exited the hot tub. George found the discount massage flyer and gave it to Yulia, and she headed out to the spa while George and Tosha went back upstairs to retrieve Yuri and go back to the campground.
The Smooth Rock Spa was only a short distance away from the resort, so Yulia walked there.
She found the masseuse, and inquired about not only getting a massage, but also about learning how to do the massage herself. Maybe I could help George out with his frequent injuries, she thought.
The massage was wonderful, and Yulia's shoulder felt much better.
The next morning, while waiting for the airport shuttle, Yulia noticed a group of people dancing, and went over to investigate.
It was a local dance called the "slapdance", and she excitedly called George over so they both could learn it.
Back at college, Yuri wanted to go play at the Campus Lounge, and convinced his sister to go with him. There, she ran into George. "Hi, guy! What're you up to?" she asked.
"Looking for you, actually." He seemed uncomfortable. "Um, this may be way out of line, but--do you like me?"
"Of course, George," Yulia responded, before she realized what he was asking. "Oh," she added. "Not ... that way, but I assumed you knew that."
"Phew!" George said. "I thought not, but I wanted to check. Because I've realized I'm in love with Tosha."
And he went right back to his dorm and told her so.
Yulia and Yuri ate dinner together in their dorm. "Well," she said, "at least you're gradually freeing up women for all the other guys."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week, when: several students move off-campus, we find out what's been going on with Randy London, and Yuri does something about his girl problems.