Penguins: A Love Story

Did you know that when penguins mate, they mate for life? They are the only animals to do this. And when a male penguin has chosen a mate, he searches the entire beach just to find the right pebble to give to her. Exactly like a proposal. Penguins are soul mates, loving one another until they die.

"Penguins" follows the romance of Theo and Claire; two people who never thought they could be loved, but then found each other. Theo was the quiet, shy guy who was universally liked, but no one really knew him. Claire was a bright, sunny soul who always had a smile on her face that hid her inner pain. Could they be penguins? Or will these lovebirds be wrenched apart by the very things that bind them together?


5. Chapter 5

"Claire?" Joey asked his sister.
"How is your friend? The one who gave you the snow globe?"

They were sitting in the kitchen, drawing together. Joey liked his pictures to be very precise and neat, so Claire was carefully making straight lines with a ruler. She'd draw the picture and Joey would color it in. 
"He's- wonderful, Joey." Claire said with a happy sigh.
"Just wonderful."
Joey looked down and then said,
"Can I meet him soon?"

Claire looked up, startled. Joey never wanted to meet new people; he was only comfortable around his family and certain other people that he knew very well. So for him to ask to actually meet Theo was major. But Claire was scared to introduce him to her family. Not that she cared what her parents thought. She had tried to mention her boyfriend to her mother and she basically ignored it. Claire's heart still ached over that conversation. It had happened last Saturday.

"Hey, Mom?" she had said, approaching her mother in her bedroom. 
"There's this boy at school- Theo- Well, I think he likes me, Mom. And I kinda-"
Her mother's phone had buzzed and she held up a finger, mouthing,
But Claire knew she wouldn't talk to her later. So she decided to keep Theo to herself; if her mom didn't care, that didn't matter.

It only mattered if Joey took to Theo. If he didn't, things could be difficult. Joey was very shy, and if he didn't like Theo, well, Claire probably couldn't stay with him. Her brother came first. So Claire devised a plan in which her parents would both be out of the house and she could introduce the two boys.

Theo was nervous at first.
"What if he hates me, Claire?" he asked worriedly at lunch one day. 
"I know Joey's important to you-"
"He is, that's true. But you are as well. and I think it's time the two of you actually met."
Theo sighed, staring down at his cafeteria food. Claire looked at him beseechingly.
"Please Theo?" she pleaded.
Theo met her eyes and physically winced. Her eyes were impossible to say no to. He would probably never win an argument with this girl.
"Okay, does Friday night work?"
Claire thought quickly. Her mother was away on business this Friday, and whenever her mother was gone, her dad went out. He said he hung out with his friends, but Claire seriously doubted it. What friends did he have? Most likely he went to a bar and sat alone. 
"Friday's perfect."

So, Friday night dawned way too soon for Theo's liking. He was preparing himself to walk over when Rose called him back.
"Going to see Claire?" she asked,
"Yes, she wants me to met her brother."
"Younger or older?"
Rose sighed with relief.
"That's good. Little brother's aren't usually as protective."
"I'm protective of you!" Theo said defensively. 
"Well, of course you are! You're just a protective teddy bear, aren't you?" Rose cooed, tousling his hair good-naturedly. 
Theo smiled and ducked out of her reach. As he walked down the hall, Rose called after him,
"And would you please kiss her already, Teddy?"

At 7 o'clock, he headed over to Claire's house and rang the doorbell, nervously trying to fix his messy hair. A few moments later, Claire opened the door and grinned, saying,
"You came!"
"Of course I did." Theo said quietly, trying to quell his nerves. 
Claire took his hand and led him into the house.They walked down the hall towards the living room. 
"He's in here." Claire said, opening the door and stepping in. Theo shut his eyes and then followed her. 

A little boy with auburn hair like Claire's was sitting on the couch, holding a Gameboy in one hand. 
"Joey?" Claire said softly.
"This is Theo."
The little boy looked up and inspected Theo, his big eyes inquisitive. 
"Hello.' he said.
"Hi there." Theo said uneasily.
"What game are you playing?"
"Mario Kart." Joey said. 
Claire gave Theo a slight push towards her brother and discreetly whispered into his ear.
"Don't be Yoshi; it's the only character he likes."
Theo nodded slightly and sat down beside the boy. Claire slipped out, smiling to herself.

After about half an hour, she poked her head through the door to check on them. Theo was sitting in silence, the Gameboy in his hands. Joey had fallen asleep, his head against Theo's shoulder. Claire and Theo's eyes met and he grinned, whispering to not wake Joey,
"He let me be Yoshi, if that means anything."
Claire's jaw dropped. Because of his autism, Joey liked routine. He was always Yoshi; it would have totally disrupted his universe if anyone else was.
"It means he likes you! I never, ever get to be Yoshi!"
"Is somebody jealous, Claire?" Theo asked with another grin.
Claire swatted his arm,
"Of course not! I'm happy!"
Theo held a finger to his lips and looked down at the little boy right next to him.
"We should probably shut up, so we don't wake him."

Claire brought a groggy Joey to bed and then walked Theo to the door. She leaned against the door frame and said,
"I'm glad you came. He was really excited to meet you, you know."
Theo smiled and replied, saying,
"He's a good kid. I'm glad he likes me."
"And why is that?" Claire asked,
"So I can spend more time with you, obviously."
She beamed and Theo bit his lip, thinking back to what Rose had told him earlier that evening.
"And would you please kiss her already, Teddy?"

So Theo steeled his resolve, leaned up on the step and pressed his lips against Claire's. She stiffened at first but then relaxed, hands going up to play with his hair. They broke apart and Claire laughed giddily, blushing.
"What is it?" Theo asked, smiling. 
"Is it bad that I've wanted you to do that since I first saw you struggling with your locker?"
Theo blinked,
"You have?"
"Well then," Theo said, grabbing her hand and pulled her down so she was eye to eye with him,
"You don't mind if I do it again?"
"Not in the slightest."

Little did they know that an eight year old boy was watching them from his bedroom window, grinning his head off.
"You go, Claire!" he said,
'I knew he would fall in love with you!"

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