Chapter ONE

I walked across the school campus, moving at a rapid pace, hoping I hadn't missed the public transportation, RTD bus. Smiling, I saw there were several kids at the stop.  Obviously it hadn't arrived yet. Crossing the street, a boy of average height, and a happy appearance greeted me. "Hey."

"Hi, Alex." I greeted. "Headed downtown today?"

He shook his head. "No. Dad's out of town, so no one's there this week."

I nodded understandingly. "Gotcha." usually on Friday Alex went downtown to get a ride home with his dad. I guess today wasn't the case.

"And you?"

I nodded. "Yep." My parents also worked downtown and my mother was visiting my Uncle in New York, so if I wanted to get home, downtown was just about my only option, well, aside from walking. "Whatcha doin' over the weekend?"

"Homework."

"Ohhh. How exciting." I replied sarcastically.

"Yeah..."

"What subject?"

"History. Some huge project...":

"Ouch. Mr. Hamilton?"

"No, Mr. Howe…Have you had him?"

"Yes!"  I exclaimed.  "The man reminds me of Waldo…Every time I walked into his classroom I wanted to point and shout, 'I found him!  I FOUND WALDO!'."

"Yeah," Alex agreed, laughing. "Oh, hi Dan." Alex said to someone I didn't recognize. "I didn't know you took the bus." he added.

"I don't." Dan smiled. "Headed downtown. So I can take a connecting bus to Longview... Gotta visit my aunt."

"Oh well, she's going downtown, too."  Alex informed, gesturing in my direction.

Dan appeared as if he was going to say something else, but the bus arrived, interrupting him. After putting my several coins into the money-collector machine I took a seat, as did Alex and Dan.

Some conversation stirred up between the two about their English teacher, but I don't have English this trimester.  Glancing at my left palm, I could tell that I'd scribbled something there earlier…Probably something important too.  Except now it was slightly illegible. 

"Do you have an older brother?" Dan asked abruptly.

"Me?"  I questioned, looking up from my hand.

"Yes, you."   He eyed me awkwardly.  Probably thought I was insane, after all I was staring intently at my hand…

"Oh, sorry..." I smirked. "That was just random."

"Well..." He paused awkwardly, as if not knowing how to respond. "Do you?"

"Oh," I'd forgotten about the original question. "Yeah, I do, actually.  How'd you know?"

"Just curious. I usually see you in the parking lot with an older guy, that's all. I recognize him from somewhere. Is he a senior?"

"Yep."

"So why aren't you with him?"

"He's "sick"..."  I replied, disgustedly.  Steve, my brother, could get away with anything.  Especially faking sick.

"Oh." Dan said nonchalantly. "So you live downtown?"

"No. But my dad works there, and with my brother gone, he would be my only ride home."

"Oh, Umm...Sorry, what's your name?"

"Katelyn." 

 "Daniel."  He paused.  "But I go by Dan, I guess."

"Alri--"

"Well guys," Alex interrupted.  Poor kid, I kind of forgot he was here. "This would be my stop."

"Seeya, Alex.  Call me if you want help with that project."  I mentioned, with a quick wave.

"Later," Dan said.

"Bye," Alex finished, and my eyes followed him off the bus.

"Where you headed to?" I asked, turning back towards Dan. "I mean, where do you get to a connecting bus?"

"Sheridan station." He handed me a map. "My bus comes at 5:10."

Glancing down at it, I concluded, "It's right by my dad's office building.

"Yeah?"  He asked.

I nodded.  "Do you know how to get there?"

He shrugged.  "I'll manage."

"I'll go with you, if you want."

"Nah, don't worry ab--"

"I know downtown like the back of my hand." I interrupted. "Plus I've got four hours to kill."

"Well... In that case... Sure." He smiled. "But only if you want to."

"Ok."

"But I've gotta catch something to eat, first. You mind?"

"Nope."

"Where you wanna eat?"

I shrugged. "Don't care, really."

"Ummm... What's there?"

"A Noodle's and Company, Taco Bell, expensive stuff... Ooo! And a Jamba Juice... I guess they really don't serve much food, though... There is an Arby's and a --"

"Arby's?"

I nodded.

"That sound ok?"

Once again, I nodded.  "Sure thing."

---

"So..." Dan paused, opening the door, "Go ahead."

"Thanks." I muttered as I walked through.

Taking a sip from his pop, he swallowed and asked, "Where to?"

Glancing at my watch, it read 4:30. "Well... How early you have to be there?"

"Ten minutes, I guess."

"We still have a half hour to kill... What're you in to?"

"Whatcha mean?"

I began walking towards the 16th street mall. "What're you into? Umm...Like... You like music?"

"Yeah, who doesn't?"

"Ok, that's all I needed."  I continued down the street.

Dan walked along my side.  "So..." He paused awkwardly. "Where we going?"

"16th Street Mall."

"Oh... Ok."

"What kind of music you into?"

He hesitated. "Rock, I guess."

"Classic?  Or new stuff…?  Both?"

"Uh…Both, I guess."  He glanced down, smirking.  "When I was younger, I used to worship The Rolling Stones."

I laughed.  "Really?  I was more for ACDC."

"You?"  He questioned, staring down disbelievingly.  I began to realize that I was substantially shorter than he was…Don't get me wrong, I'm proud at my 5'2" and a half inches…But  I had to take twice as many steps as him to keep up.

"Yeah, can you imagine it?  This little girl going around singing 'Highway to Hell'."  I said, thinking about the horribly embarrassing home videos my mom owns as proof.

He chuckled.  "Hell yeah, I could see that…  'You Shook Me All Night Long' would be better."  He commented.

I laughed at the thought as we took a left onto 16th Street.  "What else do you listen to?"

"Let's see…"  He responded, having to think about it.  "Theory of a Deadman, Adema, The Used, System of a Down …"

"Ah, I love System of a Down."

"You do?"  He asked, glancing awkwardly in my direction. 

I nodded.  "What isn't to love?"  I paused, thinking of some of their songs.  "Life is a waterfall, we're one in the river--"

"And one again after the fall."  He finished the lyric.

A smile formed in response.  Excellent song. 

"I'm surprised."  He stated.

"…because?"  I asked, slightly confused.

"Because…"  He looked like he wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words, or something.

"Surprised that a girl like me could like music like that?"

He smiled sheepishly.  "I guess."

I shrugged. "It happens."

"I just expected you to like other stuff…"  He defended.

I laughed.  "I do."

"What do you mean?"  He sounded confused.

"I like most types of music--"

"Even classical?"  He interrupted.

I laughed.  "Yes, even classical," I said.

"And country?"

"That too."

He shuddered.  "And I was beginning to think you had good taste in music."

I rolled my eyes, "Sorry to disappoint."  Dan was about to say something, but I interjected

 "Yep. We have to cross," I mentioned, and we waited for the little "walk" sign to go up, and crossed the street.

"So, you're just…a music junky?"

I laughed, "You put it in such…flattering terms."

"I try," he matched my sarcasm.  "I seriously just didn't expect it."

I lightly laughed. "Now don't go telling me that you see me as the Hillary Duff kind of girl?"

He joined my laughter. "Not exactly... Maybe more of Goo Goo Dolls, and Jewel... And... Stuff like them."

"Eh, they're alright.  But only Jewel's older stuff," I smirked.

"You're very…odd."

"Hey! At least I didn't eat the Arby's sauce straight from the packet!" I countered.

"You still aren't over that, are you?"  Dan asked, looking down at me incredulously.

"And who would be?!"  I asked, looking back at him equally incredulously.

"Any normal person."

"Are you trying to call me weird?" I asked.

"Yes."  He responded quickly and confidently.

"Yeah, alright, guilty as charged."

He chuckled.

And we'd reached our destination.  Virgin Mega Records.  I walked back towards the wall with all of the headphones that let you listen to music, and he followed.  Glancing at my choices, I laughed when I saw The Rolling Stones "Best of" album.  I laughed, turning towards him, "Look, it's perfect," I said, picking up the headphones, I strapped them over Dan's ears.

---

"Ah, man!" Dan stated, out of nowhere.

"What?" I looked back, concerned.

"I wish I had my skateboard... This is the most ideal location."

"You skate?"  I asked.

"Sure, who doesn't?"

"Uh…me?"  I offered shamelessly. 

"You don't? I thought that you must've... You've got the perfect build for it... It's not so hard. You snowboard?"

"Yep."  I responded, nodding.

"How long?"

"About seven years."

"Damn. Why'd you start so young?"

"Actually, I was only 8, which isn't so young... But, my aunt got me into it.  She lives up in one of those mountain towns…  We go visit a lot during winter."

"Ah. Well, it's similar to snowboarding... Except it hurts a hell of a lot more when you fall."

"You don't know me... I have NO balance as it is, put me on wheels and I'd fall…every ten seconds.!" I kid you not.  To this day, I argue that I was born without equilibrium.

"Ah, I'm sure you're just over exaggerating. I'll have to teach you some day."

"You can try.  But you can't blame me if your efforts go by in vain."  I informed.

He cracked a grin.  "Alright."

---

"So, I'll seeya around."

"Yep. You can count on it." He replied. And with that, he was off, towards his bus-terminal or whatever they might be called.

 My heart sank. How could it be that I've gone so long without knowing the most incredible guy in the world?! I laughed at my own thoughts and shook my head as I walked away from the bus station. 

This was originally posted on June 9, 2002 under the title "Untitled due to the lack of a better title" (yeah, real original, I know).  But I deleted the story…  However, I recently had this huge desire to revise and continue…so…here goes.  I don't know.  As for now it's just kind of a side project.  We'll see how it plays out.

(DISCLAIMER) I do not own: Arby's (that'd be weird), any of the bands mentioned (that'd be cool), Where's Waldo (that'd be creepy), any of the restaurants mentioned (that'd be expensive). 

Ultimately, I own very few things.