After removing the last twenty-nine chapters in March 2008 due to multiple plagiarism issues in which certain unscrupulous readers copied and uploaded my story onto other sites, I'm reaffirming my faith in the Fictionpress community and reposting the story. After all, 'tis the season for holiday spirit, isn't it? There must be more good readers out there than bad.
Readers, please note: This is mostly the original, extremely ROUGH first draft of the story written when I was very young and I'm aware of many problems, including descriptions. I've changed some of the major problems that leapt out at me, but for the rest, please be forgiving and I hope the story will offer at least some entertainment to you over this break. I am still working on the revised, expanded version in private, as described in my blog, but as promised, this rough version is back up on Fictionpress for your perusal. Thank you.
Tristan Harland squinted against the sun, hand running through his hair as he released a tired sigh. Marvin chattered away beside him and he tried to tune him out, quickening his steps. Marvin, a short spindly fellow with greasy hair, was too rich for his own good. For some reason, he was overly eager to follow Tristan around, making it his hobby to flatter his idol obsequiously. Half the time, Tristan just wanted to knock him senseless.
"The way you told Grenford off the other day was just too awesome! Did you see his face?" Marvin chortled, reminding Tristan of bleating goats. "Priceless!"
With another sigh, Tristan turned the corner, but he immediately staggered back as someone crashed into him. A red headed boy looked up at him, bewildered, and Tristan was momentarily struck by the startling green eyes. Panic twisted the other boy's features as he murmured in a voice so low, he was almost mouthing the words. "I'm sorry. So sorry."
Marvin shoved the boy in the chest with one hand and the latter made an odd, squeaking sound as his hands flew up to cover his upper body, fingers settling on the collarbone. Marvin snapped, "Watch where you're going, you dork. Tristan, you alright?"
Tristan rolled his eyes and turned back to the boy - only to find thin air. Twisting around, he stared in astonishment at the back of the fleeing boy. Boy, can he run fast. "You know who that kid was?"
Marvin frowned and shook his head. "Must be new."
Tristan nodded absentmindedly as he stared at the sprinting kid. The boy had his head ducked low and he was sprinting so fast, his arms fairly waved in the air. What a weird guy. "Wonder what Grenford thinks of him."
Sam wanted to whimper in defeat and hide. Just two hours and she'd already crashed into two cute guys. Was this going to be her destiny? A horde of guys passed her by, laughing and shoving each other, and she ducked her head low as she consulted her map, trying to blend into the wall. Where the heck was the room for her history class?
She looked up to see a brown haired boy smiling at her. He was dressed in the school uniform, a basic charcoal grey set with the top two buttons of his white collar shirt unfastened. She nodded shyly and asked, "Do you happen to know where Mr. Friedman's room is?"
He grinned and jabbed a thumb to her right. She smiled gratefully and started to run off in the direction he directed, stumbling a bit as she remembered to call over her shoulder, "Thank you!"
Jack stepped into Friedman's class and plopped down into a seat next to Vincent. Mischief lit up his face. "Met him."
Vincent raised an eyebrow and said coolly, "And?"
"He's currently running off campus."
Vincent sat back in his seat and chuckled. "Wonder how long it'll take him to turn around."
"I'm thinking not until after the class is over. He seems pretty naive."
Another boy with long dark hair and hazel eye sitting across the aisle leaned forward in his seat and frowned. "You two running him off so fast?"
Jack rolled his eyes, "You just want to see if he's cute first, pervert."
A broad grin slipped across Will's face. "Well, it doesn't hurt to check out if he's my type." Will's sexual preference was known across campus, openly bisexual and openly lascivious. With a disturbingly unique sense of humor, he was a close friend to Vincent and Jack - after they made it clear that they had no interest in returning any lewd suggestions of his.
They stopped talking when Tristan and his group walked in. Vincent tipped his head to one side, scowling at the blonde boy while the latter pointedly ignored him as he walked to the other side of the room. Marvin followed closely behind, glaring fiercely.
Mr. Friedman walked in shortly after and closed the door. A tall, stern man with bifocals thicker than his folders, he was easily everybody's most hated teacher. He cleared his throat loudly and barked, "Class, sit down and be quiet so I can get started -"
The door suddenly banged open and Sam came stumbling in, gasping for air. Mr. Friedman's face darkened with a scowl. Drawing up to his full height, he snapped, "I take it you're Sam Westlane, the new student?"
Sam couldn't say anything. She wheezed and nodded furiously.
"Seeing as you're new, I guess it would be my duty to inform you that the other Crestan teachers and I do not appreciate any tardiness," Mr. Friedman warned. "And when you are late, we expect a proper excuse and an apology." Folding his arms, he waited pointedly.
Sam gasped out, "I – I'm sorry . . . I – was late – cause – a – someone – I – I'm just sorry – I didn't know –"
"Perhaps you'll like to talk without stuttering, Mr. Westlane? I don't believe in students spluttering gibberish when they talk to me."
Sam turned pink. "I –" She stopped when her eyes fell on her roommate. He was sitting near the back, staring at her coolly with his arms folded in front of him, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Her gaze moved to the boy sitting next to him and her eyes widened in recognition. The brown haired boy made a show of winking at her, grinning insolently.
"Mr. Westlane, may you please redirect your attention to me? Mr. Jack Worthing is a friendly fellow but you may make your acquaintances after class."
Her face reddened even more. Someone whispered, "Queer." The class erupted into snickers. Her eyes fell upon the short, sleazy kid who had pushed her this morning and he sneered. Sitting next to him was the blonde haired boy she had crashed into. His icy blue eyes stared lazily into hers and he rested his chin in the palm of his hand.
She stiffened and though her first instinct was to lower her head and bury herself into a hole in the ground, she tried to keep her head lifted. Jerks. She mumbled, "I'm sorry, Mr. Friedman. I got lost on the campus. It won't happen again."
He nodded abruptly, but his eyes were still filled with displeasure and disdain. He said, "You may take a seat now."
Sam looked around the room and decided to take a seat in the empty middle row that seemed to divide the class into two parts: her roommate's and the side of the boy she crashed into. She sat down in the front seat, feeling everyone's gazes burning into her back. Face still rosy with humiliation, she plucked a notebook out of her bag and tried to ignore her classmates.
"The Renaissance means the rebirth of culture. However, this doesn't mean the Middle Age was . . ." Mr. Friedman droned on. Vincent tuned him out and turned his gaze on his roommate again. A lazy smile quirked on his lips. He was a bit surprised that the kid hadn't immediately pointed fingers and tattled on Jack. Not that it would do anything except earn him more derision from the rest of the class and most likely, from Mr. Friedman as well, but most newcomers generally tried to seek help from the authorities first thing. Vincent wondered if it was because the new kid had spunk or if he was actually so cowardly, he was too scared to tattle.
Will whispered, "Your roommate is cute. I like him."
Jack rolled his eyes again, "You're impossible."
"What? That flush on his face is too adorable."
"Shut up," Vincent declared. For some reason, hearing Will say Sam was cute didn't quite settle right with him. It wasn't like it was anything new though - Will tend to be attracted to anything on two legs. But … still.
"You okay?" Jack asked him.
Vincent frowned and nodded. "Why?"
"It's just that you suddenly scowled."
"I was just thinking."
"Just stuff," Vincent snapped, exasperated. "Care to stop bugging me?"
"Jeez . . ." Jack coughed. "PMS."
There was a moment of silence and then a different voice spoke up.
"Man, I think I'm in love. Look! Your roommate's playing with his hair. Aw, cutie. Yes, you may introduce me to him after class."
"I'm going to introduce you to my fist soon."
"Nah, it's not my type."
"Then how about my foot?"
Tristan twirled his pen between his fingers. A frown flickered across his face. Something about Sam Westlane was bothering him. Something didn't feel exactly … right. He stared hard at the red haired boy, trying to discern what exactly was drawing his attention to him. Fingers tapping thoughtfully against his chin, he leaned back in his chair. His eyes roamed across the room and he caught sight of Vincent. Oddly, the boy was staring at the new kid too. Is Sam on his side or against? He shrugged. Whatever. If Grenford is planning to recruit him . . . I'll do it first. If not, well, Sam will just be a huge sore eye then . . .
The bell rang and Sam immediately shot up from her seat. She grabbed all her books and nearly sprinted out the door. Tristan walked calmly after her and just as she was about to hurl herself around a corner, he closed in on her and grabbed her backpack from behind. She nearly toppled backward before she found out she was anchored to her spot. She turned around wearily and raised an eyebrow at the boy. "Yes?"
"I'm Tristan," He smiled easily.
She gnawed at her bottom lip and clutched her books tighter. "I'm Sam."
There was a moment of silence. Sam nodded slightly and turned to leave. Tristan caught hold of her bag again and she was reeled back again to his side. She stared quizzically up at him, "Yes?"
"Hi again," he remarked.
She blinked. "Hi."
"You're one of us now."
Apprehension fell over her face as she shifted uneasily, "What? Of – of course I'm one of you. What did you think I was? Of course I'm a normal teenage boy studying here like, uh, a normal teenage boy . . . I – I also like sports, girls, cars . . . yeah. You know. A normal guy liking normal guy stuff."
Amused, Tristan smiled indulgently, "Yeah. I can see that. What I meant was –"
"Back off, Harland." A growl rifted the air, interrupting them.
Sam was suddenly plucked up into the air like a potato sack. Twisting her head, she looked up at her roommate's features, pulled taut by a fierce scowl. He didn't address her, merely casting his eyes down at her in a cursory overview before focusing his attention on Tristan. Releasing his hold on her collar, Vincent set her down next to him and took a step forward in front of her. Her face burned in embarrassment; she must have looked like a mangy stray being carted off by the scruff of its neck. "Um –"
Tristan's blue eyes turned cold. "I believe it's Westlane's choice, Grenford."
Vincent folded his arms, his broad shoulders like a wall in front of Sam. "You're too late. He's my roommate. Naturally, he belongs with us."
Sam's eyes darted back and forth between the two. She had the uncanny feeling of watching two dogs fighting over their territory.
The kid who shoved her this morning popped up all of a sudden besides Tristan and sneered, "Oh, jerk off, Grenford."
The boy who sent her off on the morning run stepped up next to her roommate with a mocking smile. "Oh yeah, I'm sure you're familiar with jerking off, Marvin."
An arm slung around her shoulders and she turned her face bewilderedly up to stare into another boy with longish dark hair and twinkling hazel eyes. He winked at her and whispered, "Why don't we go to someplace quiet and let them battle it out?"
All she could do was nod dumbly and let the boy lead her away.
Will grinned to himself as he led the new kid to a shaded area underneath the trees just outside of the cafeteria doors, bypassing the benches. Several picnic tables lined the area and there was a small fountain featuring a cherub sprouting water in the center of it all.
"Um . . . shouldn't we be in class?" Sam mumbled, fumbling with the hem of her sleeves. They were too long on her and she constantly had to roll them up over her wrists.
"It's break time now," Will reminded her, dropping down in the grass to sit with his legs crossed.
"Oh . . . right," Sam shifted uneasily and sat down stiffly in the grass.
Will slid closer and smiled brightly, "Well, how do you like our school so far?"
Sam shrugged. "It's okay."
"Um . . . they're okay."
"Uh . . . you're okay, too."
Will laughed. "Do you have any other opinion besides it's okay?"
Sam frowned and shrugged, leaning forward to hug her legs. "I really don't understand what that fight was about."
"Fight? Oh, that wasn't a fight. You'll know when it's a fight. That was just normal bantering." Will unfolded his legs and sat back, watching the dappled light through the leaves.
"Oh." Sam prayed she'd never have to witness a true fight.
"So which side do you prefer?"
"Vincent or Tristan?" Will prompted.
There was a moment of silence. "Who's Vincent?"
Will stared at her in astonishment. "You don't know the name of your own roommate?"
"Well . . . we weren't really properly introduced," she said defensively.
He smiled. "I'm on Vince's side because that Marvin kid really bugs me. Jack is on our side, too."
"Jack?" she said blankly.
"The one who pointed you to the wrong direction."
"Oh." Her eyes flashed liquid green for a second and she quieted down. "So I suppose Marvin is the short, skinny kid?"
He nodded, resting his arms on top of his drawn up knees.
"Then I'm not on either side."
"Huh?" Will stared at her in surprise.
"Both Jack and Marvin haven't been exactly welcoming to me and I don't think I want to hang out with anyone who looks down on me." She glanced away, plucking at the grass. "Therefore, I'll go solo." Her voice quieted to a low murmur. "It's not like I haven't been alone before."
Will gave her one last doubtful look before laughing. "Okay . . . if that's what you want. Still, you can always come to me. I'll be more than happy to show you around." He winked devilishly at her and she blinked. She suddenly noticed that he had somehow moved very, very close to her.
"That's . . . nice, but who are you?" she blurted out.
He blinked and paused thoughtfully. "That's right. We haven't had a proper introduction either." He suddenly grinned lopsidedly and leaned close to her, draping an arm around her. "Hey, I'm William Carter. I'm eighteen years old and I'm a single white male. I like long walks on the beach, sunsets, and cotton candy, but most importantly, I like you. You're cute." His smile was brilliant.
Her stomach turned and she tried to calm down. Panic overwhelmed her as her heartbeat raced. Trying to nonchalantly wipe her sweaty palms on her pants, she plastered on a smile. "Uh, you do know I'm Sam Westlane and I'm a GUY? Right? Right? A GUY?"
He chuckled. "I heard you the first time. I'm also a GUY . . . though how normal, I wouldn't know." He smiled flirtatiously. "I'd suggest spending some more time with me to figure that out though."
Sam nearly bit through her lip. She was near hyperventilation. What's wrong with this guy? Is he hitting on me? But – but I thought my disguise was perfect. He couldn't possibly know I'm a girl. Or could he? Is he playing around with me? Does he know and – and – oh god, I'm going to be sick.
"Hey? Hey? You okay?" Will stared at the pallid girl in concern. "The prospect of spending more time with me isn't that scary, is it?"
"What – what do you want?" Sam whispered. Will frowned. The boy sounded petrified and ready to bolt for the neighboring woods.
He sighed. "I'm sorry. I was just teasing you." He smiled ruefully. "If you must know, I'm bisexual. Armed with my awesome pick up lines, my dream is to win the hearts of everybody - asides from Marvin, Vince, Tristan, Jack – ahem, but yeah, apart from them, I'm pretty damn irresistible, right?"
Relief immediately covered Sam's face and she laughed nervously. "Oh! You're bisexual! That's great!"
William immediately reverted to his suggestive grin. "Oh? How so?"
She coughed and covered her mouth, simultaneously edging away nervously. "I mean, that's cool. About how you're so open and – and – yeah – isn't class going to start now?" She made a show of looking at her wrist, except she had no watch on. Still, she nodded. "Wow! We have to run!"
She shot up to her feet and dashed off. Will laughed and scrambled up to his feet, giving chase.
Tristan glowered darkly and Vincent returned the look. The two boys were still in each other's face, features taut and tensed. Tristan bit off, "You know what? Why don't we ask Sam for his opinion? He'll make the right one."
Vincent nodded curtly and they both turned around. Everyone blinked at the empty space.
Jack groaned, "Oh man, Will must have dragged him off."
Marvin sniffed, "Great, another queer."
© Copyright 2003 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). Reposted 12/25/2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.