Author's Note: I'm considering switching to a new POV in the next part. Not really sure whether I will or not, though. Here we're building on our plot which, as you have probably guessed, is sort of a coming of age story. "The reformation of a slacker" so I like to say.

There are several things in this story that are causing me grief at the moment. One, this story is written in 1st person POV, which is the most annoying style of writing, IMO (nevermind that most of my fictionpress works are 1st person POV). There is also the changing in tense. I seem to be switching from past to present to future tense sparodically. It's quite irritating to write, so I imagine it's probably even worse to read. Ugh. I'm at a loss of what to do.

* I would like to clarify that I have nothing against the French.

"The French -- 1 April" At the End of April * By: Seph Lorraine

"I'm a Frenchman, I'm a little Frenchman, I'm a Frenchman, Olay Olay Olay! Hey! I'm a Frenchman, I'm a chubby Frenchman, I'm a--"

"Okay, you can stop now."

I frowned, "Fine. Treat me like dirt. I'm never singing for -you- again!"

"There really is a God?"

"I'm a Frenchman, I'm a creepy Frenchman, I'm a--"

"It is six in the morning. Would you just shove it about the French?!"

"But the French are a wonderfully interesting group of people! They make smelly cheeses, they don't shave their armpits, they have nude beaches, and they've never won a war. Isn't that fascinating..."

Hoshi groaned feeling a most severe headache coming on, "I don't care. I'm not French."

"...I mean, it kind of makes you wonder how the hell they've managed to survive all these years. Did evolution just never strike the ancient peoples of Gaul or am I being mislead by my biased conservatist beliefs?" I blinked, I had never even thought of that before.

"Seph, are you even ready for school yet?"

That was it.

I pounded my fist upon the kitchen table quite suddenly, making my companion jump several inches out of her chair, "No! I refuse to be misguided by the sayings of our stupidly over-conservatist media! I refuse to take any part in believing that that other peoples may be so considered foolish or stupid by myself, whom I now realise is just as stupid as the French! Ha!"

Two twin almond eyes blinked at me numbly from across the table, "Seph?"

"If I were to give an example, I'd turn to yeast! The root of all breadmaking!"

"You're not making much sense."

"...Huh?"

"I said, you're not making much sense."

"Oh."

"And you stole that part about yeast from a manga."

"Furi Kuri, volume one."

"And you completely renounced considering people of other countries stupid two seconds before you called the French stupid." She paused, "Again."

"Aha! I -called- them stupid, but did I consider it?"

"..."

"Stop staring at me like that."

"I'm sorry, it's just... Your stupidity baffles me."

I frowned, "Excuse me?"

"You know, it'll be just your luck to be killed by one of those chubby Frenchmen you so -adore-."

She had a point.

I went to get changed.

My room is smaller than a fish tank. In fact, no decent fish could live, given the small size of my room as an actual tank of sorts. Maybe I should get a fish. A nice pretty one with stripes.

The large poster of AFI on the wall beside my window is an unusal site as I only put it up yesterday. I had never seen the lead singer until I bought the poster last Thursday. Needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed, as I had judged the vocalist to be a decent looking fellow (or at least I thought so by his voice). I was disappointed by some guy with a freakishly pale face and odd purple-serpant lips. Blech.

I was very disappointed.

Still sounds good, though.



As I prepared myself for the day, a realtively easy task taking an unusually long time, I had Bon Jovi's 'Slippery When Wet' album playing quite nicely on my stereo. Hair bands of the 80's never get old. As I sang along to 'Living On A Prayer', under my breath of course (cursed be they who actually hear my singing), I noticed my six-string Peavy electric glistening an attractive red in the corner on my room, in front of the futon. Next to it, my acoustic lay, appearantly lifeless.

Why is it I always get the desire to play when there is no time to do so? It's only fair that when I really want to play around with Howard (that's my electric guitar, mind you), it's when I'm already running late for school.

School, school, school. O, why dost thou make me so ill?

Like every other angsty teenager, I abhorr my present situation. I'm stuck at a school I hate, with people I hate, not enough money for my own car, not old enough to check myself out when I want, failing every subject but English and History (and just barely scraping by on the latter).

Is it possible to have a 27 in Art?

Blah. Drawing is -not- my thing.

One of the worst parts of my life, I have realised though, is knowing that everybody else around me thinks, generally, the same thing. It sucks to feel like another one of the crowd. This is why I buy colourful socks.

There was a pounding against my door and Hoshi's voice sounded loudly, "Hurry up, or you're going to have to get a ride with Ein!"

She always knows how to motivate me. God bless that woman!

I jammed my feet into my boots quickly and grabbed my bag. Tripping several times, I ran through the hallway and out the front door to the car before they could leave me. I opened the back door on the driver's side and scrambled quickly into the car, slamming the door and dropping my bag in Lora's lap. The other girl offered me a polite glare.

In the driver's seat Hoshi sighed and began to back out of the short drive, "You're going to make us late, Seph."

"Whatever, whatever." I already knew this lecture, from beginning to end. 'You need to consider that the rest of us would like to be on time every once in a while. You're being late could have some rather negative results in the future if you don't watch how you spend your time. I could get sacked, Seph. If I get fired, we're all going to have to make some serious adjustments. Don't roll your eyes at me! It's not respectful to any of us when you're consistantly making us all late for...' Blah.

"Seph, you need to consider--" she starts.

"--that the rest of us would like to be on time every once in a while. You're being late could have some rather negative results... Blah, blah... get sacked... Blah, blah... Not respectful... Yea, I get the point." I lean back in my seat, sighing heavily. It's a morning, I'm easily frustrated in the morning.

I'm easily frustrated all the time.

"You wake up in plenty of time, why does it take you so long to get ready? What are you doing, counting hairs?" She pulled out onto the road, getting into the right-hand lane.

"Something like that..." I'm not in a mood to speak anymore.

From the passenger seat Willow snorts. She's dressed as depressing as usual; black garmets are her choice of fashion. I guess she thinks she's making a statement of some kind. I don't know. People are too complicated.

"Where's Laina?" Lora spoke over the dull silence of a car full of sleepy people.

Hoshi glanced back at her through the mirror, and turned on her signal, "Sick. She's always sick, lately. If she continues the ways she's going right now, I'm going to have to insist she see a doctor."

"What's she got?" Lora tossed my bag back onto my lap; I caught it with a dull 'oof'.

"The plague." Willow rolled her eyes.

Our lovely driver offered the morbid girl a light punch in the arm, "No, I'm guessing it's some sort of cold. She seems to have the symptoms."

I turned my head lightly to stare out of the window to my right. The dull life of a normal urban sidewalk stared back at me as we glided by. A woman in tall leather boots pulling a white dog by a leash catches my attention as she trips over her obnoxiously tall heels and hits a bench. I try to feel sympathetic for her.

Tch. She probably deserved it.

I found myself closing my eyes; days like this never turn out good. I just want it to be over with so I can go home, go back to sleep, and forget this day ever happened.

"Seph?"

I snapped back to reality, turning to look at Hoshi who is calling me, sounding a bit frustrated, "Huh?"

"I said," She sighed before repeating herself, "Did you finish your Physics report?"

A very dark cloud settled over my head.

"Physics report?" I blinked in slight worry and confusion.

"Yes, did you do it?" She inquired again, eying me in a way that said she was about to yell at me. I can always tell these things.

That very dark cloud has now begun to rain. Heavily.

"Um... That would be a 'no'." My voice seemed softer when I spoke it.

I screamed at myself mentally. I had planned to work on that Sunday, but it completely slipped my mind. I forgot all about it! Here comes a nice 0 (worth two test grades, mind you) to average into my nice 55.

My class ranking is practically 30th out of 27.

"WHAT!?" The car jolted as our not-so-lovely-anymore driver slammed on the breaks, sending a number of articles in the messy car flying into the floorboard of the front two seats.

This is caused by "inertia", you see. Which was invented by Gregor Mendel... I think. It's a law of gravity or something.

All I really know about physics is pickles make peculiar lightbulbs. [1]

"What do you mean 'no'!?" She shoved the gear into park (nevermind the traffic behind us) and turned in the seat to look at me.

Lora was also staring at me as if I had just admitted that I have no idea what "inertia" really is.

Willow is trying to resist her raucous laughter.

"How could you not have done that report!? You -promised- me you would up your grade! This is breaking that promise!" She's yelling at me, her face slightly pink with anger.

"Technically, not. I promised I would -try- to bring it up. In this case, I did -mean- to work on it Sunday. I just forgot, though." I responded in my lowest voice.

"Seph! Don't even give me that! I don't want to hear it--" I sighed aloud, here we go again.

Though as I waited for her to continue, she was silent. I looked up from where my gaze had fell to the back of the seat in which she sat. She was staring at me strangely. Her face held some strange combination of anger and disappointment, and other things I couldn't decipher.

"You don't even care." She spoke quietly, "You don't give a shit about any of this do you?"

I frowned. I had never heard Hoshi swear before. She always seemed like such the perfect idealistic Christian woman. No meat on Fridays. Mass every Sunday. "Hail Mary full of grace..." You know what I am talking about. Not that I have anything against it. My faith is just very weak.

"You could care less." She stares at me for a moment as I watch her silently.

It was then that I realized that maybe she was right.

She turned around quickly, taking the car out of park and driving on as if nothing had ever happened.

The car was silent for all, save for Lora who was now trying her best to give me a sympathetic look. As if I needed her to tell me things are going to "be alright" and whatnot. Bollocks, is what I say.

Hoshi stopped the car at the corner of Akney and 5th, where she usually lets us out to walk the remaining distance to school.

"Have a good day! Work hard!" Her voice was a bit more strained than usual.

I reached out to open the door but stopped at the sound of her voice.

"Seph, you stay."

Lora and Willow left, Lora glancing back to wave a small good-bye to me, as Hoshi put the car in drive again. I was surprised that she did not begin to speak to me until we entered the street on which the Domain was located.

"I'm so disappointed in you, Seph." She began, keeping her eyes on the road, "You have so much more potential than this. It's a waste that you make no attempt to achieve what you're capable of. You lay around on that mat that you call a bed, locked up for entire days in that room of yours! You're always picking fights, and you never seem to deem any of us worthy enough of actually listening to! Everything I say goes in one ear and out the other!

"You don't seem to care about anything. Lora tries to get you out of the house--"

"I went with her. We went to Starbucks and had a fab time--"

"That's only once, Seph. One of the first times I've seen you leave the house for anything but school, work, or the CD store in ages! You don't do anything with all the time you have, so why then can't you find time to do your Physics?"

"I've already said! I had every intention of completing that report, but it completely slipped my mind!"

"How could you forget about something that important if you really cared about it?"

I was silent for a moment, "Some husbands forget their anniversaries, all the time."

She shook her head, releasing another long sigh as she entered the short drive and put the car in park. She was giving up, "Just go, Seph. I don't care what you do. Work on your report, play your guitar, sleep, for all I care. Just go."

I nodded silently. I had nothing to say. I felt horrible, suddenly, like I could sleep all day and miss work. I pushed the door open and stepped out, pulling my bag with me, and closed it quickly, turning to walk up to the door as she pulled out of the drive way and went flying down the street. Late for work, no doubt.

I stopped at the door and turned around to glance behind me. In the drive way, cleanly shining and beautiful was Arnold. I groaned before tugging the door open. The day was getting worse every moment.

I shut the door behind me, dragging myself through the foyer and the den to the hallway, just in time for the Beast to step out of the kitchen. Curious at who's home, he regarded me with slight surprise before blinking at me inquisitively, wanting to know reasons for my presence.

I offered no answer, posing the same question on him.

He shrugged, "Laina's got a real illness of sorts. So've I, it seems."

"And Taio?" Both Ein and Taio always rode together to school, and Taio hadn't been in the car, earlier.

"Left with a friend."

I nodded, turning to head back to my room.

"Sick?"

I regarded him cooly, over my shoulder, "No."

"Then why're you here?"

"It's not of your concern."

"I didn't say I was concerned."

"I would have been worried if you had."

"You would worry about me?"

"Realistically, no. Hypothetically, why not?"

"You're logic's a bit off."

"Does that bother you?"

"Everything you do bothers me."

"You're willing to admit?"

He quirked an eyebrow, "Was it not obvious?"

I stared at him for a moment, "I dunno. I suppose I thought you were just grumpy."

"Like you, you mean."

"I'm not grumpy. I simply find you to be irritating and a waste of good oxygen."

"I'll breathe all the air I like, thank you." With that he slipped back into the kitchen with a most aggrivating smirk.

I locked myself in my room that day, throwing my bag down and removing my shoes, ready to go to sleep. Though there was nothing that could have made me sleep that day, and there was nothing else to do. Even Howard didn't look so appealing to me anymore. I lay on my bed doing nothing for five hours, before getting up to go to work.

I may be prejudice against the French without reason, but sometimes I think they're a lot happier than I am. I know you know what I mean. -Something- has got to come of drinking all that wine.



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[1] Surely you guys know of that lab where you do the things to the pickle, and it fries the inside of the pickle, making it light up at one end? Heh heh. Neat-o. ^^;;