Chapter 1

"Why the hell do guys have to be so friggin' annoying? Why can't they be normal like we, the female population, so conveniently are? Why do guys have the ability to dig down to the very core of your being and just agitate you 'till you want to bash their brains out of their thick skulls? And most of all, why, oh why do they have to be so damned sexy when they do it?"

"Kat, come down! Breakfast's ready!" called Alex, Katherine Jones' ten year old brother.

The sixteen year old brunette snapped her journal shut and stashed it in the drawer where she kept all of her feminine products (knowing it'd take the end of the world to bring any of her brothers to brave a peek into that place.) As she closed her drawer, she thought to herself, 'Seriously, it's not like pads can bite…though it is quite convenient when you want to keep something hidden.' She let a sly smile slither across her lips.

While pondering what made her brothers feel sanitary products were so taboo, she checked her reflection in the mirror. It seemed that every strand of hair was in place, curling in loose ringlets towards the ends. Correction: every hair was in place…except for that one strand that would never cooperate. Once making several futile attempts at flattening it down, Kat's green eyes flitted over her reflection before she left her room and bounded down the stairs. After swinging around the banister with her left hand, she jogged down a small hallway and skidded to a halt in the kitchen where Alex, along with her other two brothers, Chris, twelve, and Matt, seventeen, sat stuffing their faces with eggs and bacon as if they were starved barbarians.

"You guys are such pigs!" she exclaimed.

Matt looked up, lazily shaking his shaggy brown hair off his face. He stared deliberately at his sister with bored eyes, opened his mouth…and burped, loudly.

Kat rolled her eyes. "Oh, c'mon! That was weak!" she joked.

"Like you could do any better!" protested Matt with a mouthful of food.

"As a matter of fact, I can!" Kat was indignant! Who was he to say she couldn't burp as well as him? Oh, yeah…her brother.

"Prove it," Matt challenged upon seeing the determined look on her face. He leaned back, folded his arms across his broad chest, and gave his sister a lopsided grin.

"Fine!" Katherine retorted before closing her eyes and taking several moments to seemingly compose herself. Soon after, she began gulping down vast amounts of air, in hopes of gathering enough to produce a loud and long burp that would defeat Matt's. A moment later, her eyes opened and a wry smile adorned her visage… A lengthy burp that rivaled her brother's tumbled form her lips as she twisted her mouth at odd angles for effect.

"Ooh! I think she beat you, Matt!" teased Alex with a chipper grin. Matt gave Alex a rather hard smack on the head with the heel of his hand. "Ouch!" squealed Alex in slight pain. Chris, being the brother he was, snorted at Alex (who, with a frown, was rubbing his aching head). This snort, in turn, earned Chris a slap on the head from Alex.

Kat shook her head, thoughts of The Three Stooges coming to mind, and seated herself at the kitchen table. After saying a quick grace, she served herself toast, bacon and scrambled eggs from a half-empty glass plate that was in the center of the table. She then proceeded to make herself a neat breakfast sandwich. After wolfing down as much as she could in five minutes, she poured herself a glass of orange juice and gulped it down in a matter of seconds. Her rushed actions did not go unnoticed.

"Why're you in such a hurry?" asked Chris, still shoveling egg into his mouth.

"Did you forget already? It's my first day on the job at Dino's," answered Katherine. Dino's was a local ice cream parlor, whose parking lot was adopted as a hang out by several teens from Kat's high school.

Matt sighed in a mocking manner upon the mention of Dino's. "Awww, do you get to wear a t-rex hat?" he asked of the trademark dinosaur hats the employees of Dino's were obliged to wear.

"Shut up! And no, I'm stuck with the stegosaurus," said Kat with a childish pout. "And you know what's even worse? Stupid Josh Whedon is going to be there! He's my... 'coworker.'"

Matt's mocking tone modified into one of concern and worry, "You mean that jerk who was giving you grief all last year?"

"Yup, that's the one," she said with a frown.

Matt's older brother gear kicked in with fervor. "Well, if he does anything to bother you, just let me know. I'll take care of it."

Kat rolled her eyes. "Matt, I don't need you baby-sitting me. Mom does that enough these days." Matt chose to ignore that comment and assured her once more that he'd take care of it.

Kat shook her head and with a vague 'whatever' and walked down the hall to the door that linked the two car garage to her house. She entered the garage and subconsciously surveyed the dusty room. There were shelves upon shelves filled with paraphernalia from every stage of her family members' lives: old hula hoops, classic baseball mitts, deflated soccer balls… Without even putting thought into her habitual actions, Kat hopped into the black '98 Jeep Cherokee her father had bought her before he fell ill and put the keys in the ignition to star her baby up. She had just pressed the button on her personal garage door opener, prepared to reverse, when her mother, Molly Jones came running out of the house in a worn, white satin robe, her hair in disarray. A silver digital camera was clutched tightly in her hand as she raced to the car window. With smooth knuckles, she knocked sharply on the glass, causing her daughter to jump, startled. Molly pointed downwards furiously with her free hand, motioning for Kat to let down the window. The woman's hazel eyes lit up in delight as her daughter obliged.

"What, Mom?" Kat asked briskly, but not rudely. She simply did not want to be delayed too much by the pictures that would inevitably be taken.

"I just wanted to take a few pictures of you before your first day on the job, honey!"

Kat nearly groaned aloud. "But Mom, it's not even my first job. You did this when I started at the grocery store," she whined before adding under her breath, "not to mention when I did those lemonade stands."

Her mother heard not a word, but continued on, "But sweetie, you look so adorable."

"Mom, I'm not even in uniform yet," Kat pointed out bluntly.


"Nevermind,' said Kat, upon realizing it would be better to just humor her mother, "Go ahead and take the pictures."

Molly's eyes lit up once more, "Say cheese!"

Kat remained silent…her mother took the picture anyways. However, before any more pictures could be taken, Kat had hurriedly backed out of the driveway. She barely saw her mother wave half-heartedly out the garage door as she sped down her street.

As she drove, Kat put in her 'Best of Van Morrison' CD and smiled to herself as the first track came on. She hummed along slowly to the mellow melodies flowing from the speakers. Though she wasn't normally one to be ashamed of herself, she always felt her taste in music was a bit odd at times. For that reason, she only listened to her "special collection" when she needed a break from woes of the world (or when she knew the day was going to be a rather rough one). On this day, she was well aware that she'd need to get as much comfort music as she could muster. She'd have to be working alongside Josh Whedon …jerk deluxe.

She and Josh had had a great dislike towards one another ever since they were in elementary school. These bitter feelings were the spawn of some petty disagreement the two underwent (and pretty much forgot about) in the second grade. Even though their hatred seemed and essentially was elementary, they, for some inexplicable reason, were constantly at one another's throats. The two were known throughout their school as "the eternal disputers" or "the foes" or just "the ones who never shut up," though a few of the wiser students believed they were secretly lusting after one another. To the untrained eye, however, it would appear they both wished the other's head chopped off and served on a silver platter. Well…a paper plate, more like.

And on this day, Katherine Jones would have it tough. Her on the job training would be starting…and her "more experienced" trainer would be none other than the asshole himself. As she pulled into the parking lot of Dino's, she said a silent prayer to God that she would cope, and after entering Dino's and talking with her boss (who left promptly after their conversation), she found her prayers had been answered. Due to a baseball competition, Josh wouldn't be coming in until 3:30. That would give her a whole four hours to prepare herself for his arrival, and even once he came, she'd only be around him for an hour and a half longer before her shift ended. Praise be to God!

The only downsides were that she would have to do double the amount of work for those four hours to make up for his absence…and her new trainer would be some freaky guy named Norm…who on earth names their child Norm? Poor kid.

He wasn't the most attractive being on the face of the earth, either. Maybe it had something to do with his gangly appearance and sallow, pimple-spotted skin, or perhaps it was his oily hair and sunken brown eyes. There was just something about him that wasn't right. He seemed nice enough, though, so Kat disregarded his outer appearance and decided to give him a chance. What harm would it do? Thus, she went over to where he was staring off into space near the cash register. His back was against the edge of the counter the cash register was resting on, and his dark brown hair was shielding his eyes as he stared at his shoes intently, thumbs twiddling all the while.

Kat cleared her throat to get Norm's attention, and once he looked up she asked politely, "So, what do you need me to do?"

"Oh. Um…right," he replied, voice slightly cracking. He cleared his throat, "Well, I guess you could change into uniform first," Norm fidgeted nervously before continuing. "Here, follow me. They'll be in back."

"Sure," Kat agreed with a small smile. Norm led the way to a moderately sized backroom whose walls were covered in white painted cinder blocks. On the back wall was a large, metal door that Kat guessed led to a freezer of some sort, while the two adjacent walls were bordered by long, metal counters that each held two sinks as well as various items such as extra scoops, or ingredients needed to make Dino's "freshly made ice cream." Underneath the counter situated on the left wall of the backroom was a small dishwasher and beside the dishwasher was a large refrigerator. The counter on the right wall stopped short to make way for a door, which Kat thought led outside.

It seemed Kat had thought wrong as Norm led her through this very door into a tiny walk in closet whose wooden shelves were occupied by several brown cardboard boxes. Norm grabbed one of these boxes off a shelf with surprising ease, and opened it to reveal several white shirts, thinly striped with a teal blue. He tossed her one before asking, "I assume you got your hat after Mr. Greensboro gave you the job, correct?"

Kat, having zoned out for a minute, took a while to process the question Norm had directed at her. She finally came up with as best an answer she could. "Yes."

Norm looked amused. "Great. Well, I guess I should tell you what you're doing today," he stated shyly as he scratched behind his ears, "y'know, before we open at twelve."

Kat was more prepared this time, "Yeah, that'd be good."

A shadow of a smile flickered on Norm's face. "Alright, then. Normally you'd be stuck with trash and floor duty these first few weeks. But being as Josh isn't here, I think we'll need you on the register. I'd have you scooping ice cream if I could, but with the rush that's sure to come in after the Saturday morning little league games finish up, we need you doing something that you've had experience with," Norm paused for a moment before asking, "You have used a register before, haven't you?"

"Yeah, at my other job."

"Great. Well, ours is pretty basic and I think you'll be able to figure it out. If not, you can just ask me about it," Norm paused, as if running a checklist through his head, before apparently deciding there was nothing else to run through, "Well, I'll leave you to change into your uniform. Just come to the front when you're done."

"Ok. Thanks."

"No problem."

With that, Norm left the closet and shut the door behind him, leaving Kat in the semi-dark, her only source of light being a dust-caked light bulb that hung from the ceiling above. As she thought about her first day on the job, Kat felt a tingling sensation that told her somebody was watching her, but she just excused it as her being nervous.

'Stop freaking yourself out,' she mentally scolded herself. 'Today shouldn't be that bad.'

She was about to change out of her white T-shirt into the one Norm had given her and was pulling the hem up over her stomach when an arm shot out of nowhere and pulled her into the shadows of the closet. Kat shrieked, but was soon muffled by a smooth hand…

Author's Note

And here starts my first true piece of fiction…I'm sure there are several mistakes and that there is definitely room for improvement, BUT I really hope that you guys will find yourselves interested in what's going on so far. Sorry if this chapter is boring and a little slow, but I promise (or at least I hope you'll think) that the story will get much more interesting as it goes on. So, tell me what you think (and please don't be TOO harsh…) Hmmm… What else? Well, I guess that's all there is to say for now. Please review (and do be nice)!