He would be dead by the end of the day, he knew, but at least he'd done something worth living for.

Sitting on the bleachers and looking out at the Neanderthals the school had branded football-players, he couldn't help but smile at the memory of what he'd done. Thinking back, he'd do it again. He'd do it again and again until people finally did stop him.

But they will stop me… He thought with a sad smile. They'll find me and murder me…

The tall oak tree beside the bleachers provided much needed shade. It was fairly warm for March, and he wasn't quite sure exactly what had brought about this sudden change in weather, as the snow was still just melting and there weren't even any real storms. Well, there were storms, but they weren't nearly enough to give the school a day off. It wasn't as if he didn't expect warm weather to come, just he didn't expect it so soon.

The bright green grass of the football field was still muddy from melting snow, yet the players still felt the need to practice. Or, at least, the coach did. He was a terrifying old man. Balding in his middle-age. A very prominent jaw and a nose that looked like it had been broken more times than anyone could count. Beady eyes that left most people wondering if the man was really a pig in disguise. His voice was hoarse, and when he yelled, it was something like sandpaper against a blackboard. Most were fairly terrified of the old man, who truly did look like a picture out of the wanted adds.

He watched the boys playing in the mud and slush, and decided it was pathetic. Stupid. More than just a little bit. Who would want to run around on a mud-soaked field, tackling other people and practically worshiping a ball like it was a primitive god? He certainly wouldn't. But that was only his opinion. HIS opinion didn't matter.

A small breeze whistled by, temporarily relieving anyone in its path with a sweep of cool air. He sighed, taking in the fresh air with little enthusiasm. It was a nice day, but there were other things on his mind.

Like writing my will… The thought made him chuckle. What did he have of any value? A few video games, some old movies, his computer? His books would collect dust in a yard sale or flea market. His clothes would be dumped into a shredder, or given away to some charity. Not that anyone really needs more baggy jeans or faded t-shirts. And his uniforms? His mom would probably frame them in remembrance.

He winced. A lucky sophomore somehow got his hands on the ball and four juniors felt it was their general responsibility to bring it back to its masters. The juniors and seniors were generally the only ones to touch the ball. If a sophomore somehow found it in their hands, it was a short-lived miracle. Juniors and seniors felt they owned the ball. And they did. There would never be a sophmore star player. Now matter how good Donny Torrello was on the field.

He knew Donny. He took biology with the guy. He and Ethan Churchill were the only sophomores on the football team. He was pretty good on the field, he knew it, Donny knew it, the coach knew it. But the fact of the matter still stood: No sophomore would EVER make a touch-down, no sophomore would EVER be a star player.

He shook his head, thinking of the irony of it all. The sporting event was more brutal than most murders, but there would still be packed stadiums for football games and the idiotic grade-organized monarchy would never end. Seniors and Juniors would reign supreme over the peasants that were sophomores and the insects that were freshmen.

He let his legs dangle from the bleachers and watched the half-witted battle for the misshapen ball continue, letting his mind again wander to his impending doom. It wasn't as if they'd be stupid enough not to guess who wrote it. The football team would be incredibly pissed. They'd probably mutilate him beyond recognition.

As soon as they figure out who wrote it, they'll fuckin' kill me. He smiled at his own thought. He'd never get away with it.

"Yo, kid, what're you still doin' here?" A voice behind him called. He turned to see a tall guy coming toward him from across the field. Upon closer examination, he realized it was a senior named Keith Nole. He looked away. He knew what Keith was there for.

Keith wasn't there to play football. It was widely known that he was a top member in the schools oldest, and now only, organized gang.

The Red.

When people who went to St. Peters All-Boys Prep School thought of fear, they immediately thought of The Red. It was the one thing that kept order from crumbling, that kept students in line, but also the one essence of power the school had to fear. You didn't need to fear the teachers. They feared The Red. You didn't need to fear the principle. He feared The Red. There was nothing to fear but The Red itself.

The Red was run by juniors and seniors. There were never any sophomores or freshmen. It had existed for as long as anyone knew. Probably since the first day of the first year the school opened. All anyone knew was that The Red's power existed far beyond the school. It was as if once you were in, it was recognized. It was as if, once you were in, everyone knew. They loved you or feared you. They'd be destroyed if they angered you.

He turned to see Keith standing right behind him. He had a sarcastic smile on his face. He meant him no harm. That's what Keith wanted him to think.

"What's your problem, kid? You ain't plannin' on stayin' here all night, are you? Get off your ass and go home." Keith started moving up the bleachers as he spoke. He sat down half-way up, and gave him a look that said 'move or else'. He knew why Keith wanted him to leave.

He was waiting for Lucas to show up.

Lucas was the leader. The silent one with a twisted mind. He had the last say on everything. He was the one with the schemes. Cool, collected, a calculated genius. It was clear he was the real mind behind everything. He was thin, but muscular, and everyone knew those eyes. They pierced you like a knife through your chest. He sized you up the minute he saw you. Trying to figure out if you were the type. The worthy type. Worthy to belong to The Red.

He had never even been noticed.

He was only a sophomore.

Who liked to write.

He stood, taking a final look at Keith, and jumped down the bleachers. He felt Keith's eyes on his back the entire time. He dug in his pocket for bus tokens and headed toward home, where he knew he would remain just as unnoticed.

But he knew that if he was noticed, his name wouldn't be Tyler Oak.

It would be The Claw.


Keith watched the kid go with satisfaction. He never tired of using the power. The power he got from The Red. There was nothing anyone could compare it to. It left everyone else in the dust. Except for Lucas, of course.

There were certain advantages to being the leader of The Red's right hand man. For one thing, it left serious power in his hands. For another, it got him closer to running the school than anyone else except the leader. He wasn't a fool. He knew exactly how the principle felt about their little 'club'. The old man was scared shitless. He wouldn't do anything to mess with them. Thirdly...

Thirdly, it brought him a helluva lot closer to Lucas.

He wouldn't lie. He'd liked Lucas from day one. The guy was hot. Breath-taking, really. Ice-cold eyes that could cut your soul in half, yet were still dark as black ink to hide their own secrets. Naturally unruly blue-black hair falling just past his earlobes in a wavy cascade. Dark skin, the color of a walnut shell, that looked as delectable as brown sugar.

Who wouldn't drool?

And that attitude... The way he, no matter what, stayed cooler than ice. The way he just gave off that sense of control, power, and danger. He just seemed too smooth to be caught. And he was.

In a sense, Keith knew there was no chance in hell for him and Lucas. But he dreamed.

Hearing footsteps, he turned around. There stood Lucas, right behind the bleachers, smile playing across his face.

Lucas almost never smiles.

"What made you so happy?" he asked jauntily, knowing the comment would at least earn him a chuckle. He was right.

"Somebody finally said something about those damn jocks." Lucas said with a smirk. Holding out a bright green flyer, he moved toward Keith, taking long strides. He held out the paper and Keith snatched it away, beginning to read.

"'Football Monarchy: Neanderthals and Their Pig-Skin God'? Oh man, somebody's gettin' their ass kicked tomorrow." He chuckled. "'It is my honest opinion that only those who have little or no brains would actually enjoy running around in the mud, chasing a disfigured ball, and tackling every other person you see. Perhaps the coach is too busy fucking the goal post to see that his best players are either warming the bench or getting bulldozed.' Man, who wrote this shit?!" He was laughing out loud by now, and Lucas was chuckling to himself.

"Calls himself 'The Claw'. I give him props for honesty. So..." Lucas took the paper away, looking at it with interest. "What did you want to talk to me about before tonight's meeting?" he didn't take his eyes away from the paper.

"Oh, I just wanted to go over a few things. Like what we're gonna do with the school assembly next week. We have to play with it somehow. It would be stupid not to."

"No Keith. We're gonna leave this one alone." He said cooly, stretching out like a cat on a lower bleacher. A slight breeze played with his hair, leaving Keith entranced.

"Uh... alright. Fine." He said.

"Keith, who do you think this is?" He said, still looking at the paper.

"I dunno. Somebody. Why?"

Lucas sat up, putting the paper down for only a moment. He looked up at the sky, the suns rays melting over him like butter.

"I'm intrigued." He said with a slight smirk. "I'll talk to you later, Keith. I have to get home." With that, the young adonis stood and left. Keith swore his hips were swaying slightly only to tempt him, and cursed himself mentally for staring.

The boy was just too hot to handle.