A/N: Well, I promised myself I wouldn't post this story until I'd finished all of it, and now that it's finished, I'm not liking the first chapter very much. -.- I was actually planning for this to be a short story, and even with all seven chapters, it's not particularly long- but it's much longer than I'd planned for it to be. Hopefully someone will review...?


I

"Nice outfit, Reeves."

Great, here it comes. It's not even nine o'clock in the morning and they've already found me. Taking a different corridor hasn't done a thing.

There are only three of them, but that's more than enough to overpower me. They've got these stupid smirks on their faces, unbelievably proud of themselves for tracking me down in less than fifteen minutes. There's one with hair dyed a blinding platinum blond, one with a Mohawk and spikes around his wrists, and one that actually looks fairly normal, besides the biker gloves and basic grunge outfit.

"Aren't tights for girls?" Mohawk boy asks, surveying me with a disgusting smile.

"Nah, he just likes crossdressing," the blond answers, nudging him before letting out a strangled sound that resembles a laugh.

They can't get over the fact that I wear tights sometimes; it amuses them to no end. Today they're red with black stripes, matching my shirt, with a black jacket over it. And below that, black shorts with two loose red belts, and black shoes sporting yellow laces. It's my style, but unfortunately, it doesn't pass the standards of the school punks, and they don't let me get away with it without punishment.

"So what's the deal? What's up with the getup?" blond boy asks, giving me a jab with his first three fingers. "Are you going for a ghetto-gothic-emo-retro-queen-of-the-fairies-crossdresser kind of look? Can't make up your mind?"

I jerk away at the contact. "Leave me alone," I growl.

"Sure, whatever you say." Blond boy mouths something to the other two, and then suddenly they're shoving me backwards, and I nearly fall over my own feet and theirs into a tiny broom closet.

I recite a string of colorful phrases and spring up to escape, but the door's already closing, leaving me in the darkness. My foot crashes into something that seems to be a bucket and it falls over, spilling a cold liquid over the floor and my shoes. I bang on the door, but my only reply is, "See you later, Reeves," and then they're gone.

Wonderful.

The broom closet's a freaking prison cell, and as I struggle to get the door open I can hear the bell ringing for students to go to their first period classes. It's no use; the door's locked, and there aren't any classrooms down this corridor, so there won't be any students by to hear me and let me out. I'm stuck.

I give the door another kick with a wet shoe before leaning my head wearily against it.


Forty-five minutes of waiting finally rewards me with the sound of approaching footsteps. I jump up immediately and pound on the door so there's no way they couldn't hear me. "Hey, is anyone out there? Let me out!" I yell.

The footsteps stop for so long that I'm afraid they left, but then eventually I hear them walking in the direction of the broom closet door before stopping again. "Hello?" I say, wishing the other person would answer. Anything, even just a hint as to whether it's a student or a teacher. I'd actually prefer a teacher, because a teacher would just grumble at me and send me off to my class. A student would be curious; or else they'd just be the same ones that landed me there in the first place, which of course wouldn't help my situation.

The person doesn't reply. There's silence again. I sigh in aggravation and jiggle the knob. "Look, if you're not going to let me out, could you at least-" The door falls open, to my surprise, and I stumble forward before I can stop myself, ending up practically standing on the toes of what appears to be a male student.

"What in the-" I struggle away from the close contact (knowing that it can't be good if it is indeed a student) and stagger a little, my eyes blinking at the abrupt brightness. And at my rescuer.

I find myself staring at his lips.

"What were you doing in the broom closet?" asks a female's voice, and I look at the boy in confusion for a moment before realizing that there's a girl standing next to him.

One of her eyebrows is raised, her expression curious and uncertain, if not vaguely worried for my sanity. I open my mouth to explain, but the only sound that comes out is, "Uh…" My eyes are on the boy again.

"Are you okay?" he says, making me jump. "What were you doing in the broom closet?"

"Oh, that." Don't I feel smart. "I… I don't know," I answered lamely.

It turns out that it was a can of blue paint that I spilled, and now it's all over the bottoms and sides of my shoes. Blue footprints mark my path from the closet. But I'm too distracted at the moment to even think of a proper swear word.

"You don't know?" The girl looks even more fearful for my sanity. "Well, first period is almost over. We were just out on an errand when we heard you banging on the door, and… we couldn't help wondering why someone would bother skipping homeroom." Her eyes flicker from my black, yellow, and blue shoes to the door behind me. "In a broom closet."

"I wasn't skipping," I protest, finally gaining control of myself. "I was… Someone locked me in there and I…"

He has very nice lips.

"Do you have a name?" the girl says politely. I wince at her patronizing tone, then glare.

"I've got to get to class," I mumble, and start to walk past them, my shoes squelching ever-so-slightly. I feel something close on my upper arm and I stop short.

"Wait a minute." The boy's condescending expression is replaced by an apologetic one. "Hey, don't get mad, we believe you. We just want to know your name."

He's… touching my arm.

"Uh…" Damn my stupid mouth. "It's Tison."

"Tison?" The boy releases my arm, confident that I won't try to make a run for it again. Rats. "I'm Senith. That's my sister, Talia." He nods toward the girl.

Come to think of it, they look an awful lot alike. They both have the same sandy-fluffy-feathery hair, and the same green eyes. Only I like the boys' better. "Twins?" I ask.

"Uh-huh." The girl intervenes to answer the question, stepping closer to the two of us. I drag my attention over to her and away from her brother. It's hard to do. "Where's your class?" she inquires. She plays with the cuffs of her silvery sweater with the tips of her fingers. "We'll take you."

Senith waves her off before I can answer. "It's too late now. He'll just get in trouble if he goes to class. The bell's about to ring anyway."

"Then what class do you have next?" Talia compromises.

"Um… art," I manage. Must not stare at Senith. Must not stare at Senith.

He's looking at me, too. Or rather, at the red-and-black striped tights and the golden-laced black shoes (now spattered with blue paint.) Good or bad? Okay, so they're a little strange. But that doesn't mean he hates them, right?

"Great. We'll walk you there." Talia grabs my arm and starts steering me around the corner.

"We can't," Senith interrupts. "The errand, remember? We've got to report back to the classroom."

"You do it," Talia says. "Tell the Witch that I stopped for a drink of water or something. Class will be over by that time, anyway."

"Whatever you say." Senith gives her a mock-salute and walks away.

There's a pause as I watch him.

"Think he's hot?"

My gaze snaps from Senith to Talia. "Huh?"

"You're gay, right?" she prods, as if she's asking for the time of day. I glance backward momentarily, but Senith's already around the corner and long gone.

"Well…"

"It's okay, I don't care." Talia pushes me forward by a hand on my elbow, maneuvering me toward the stairwell. "He's bi, you know."

"Really?" I try to loosen her grip to be able to look at her. "Your brother?"

"Yeah, who else?" Talia answers with a smile. "You do think he's hot, right?"

Of course I think he's hot! "What gives you that idea?"

Talia shoots me an are-you-serious look. "Are you kidding? You were totally ready to jump his bones. It was so obvious."

"It was?" Crap. "I was not!"

"Whatever. We're at the stairs. You're going to have to use your own feet, unless you want me to drag you the rest of the way."

"I would if you'd just-" I wrestle my arm out of her iron hold. "About your brother. I was wondering if you could-"

"I need to talk to you about that, Tison. You did say your name was Tison, right?" Talia matches my pace up the stairs. "I'm afraid I've got some bad news about my brother."

I freeze mid-step. "Bad news?"

"Chill, Tison, he doesn't have any terminal illnesses or anything. But there's…"

The bell rings and cuts her off.

"What?" I say, having to raise my voice above the noise of students exiting classes and flowing out into the corridors. "There's what?"

Talia shakes her head and grabs onto my elbow again with the same iron grip, and hauls me the rest of the way up the stairs. Her sand-colored hair hits me in the face as we turn the corner, dodging students on our way to the art room. "Slow down," I snap, having to give my arm a sharp jerk to free myself once more. "Hold on a minute. I have to stop by my locker, first of all, and second, I want to know what-"

I stop when I spot Senith. He's walking past me down the hall, not even realizing I'm there, followed by a couple of boys a girl close to his side, blond hair swinging. She's dressed in a designer jacket and a pair of extremely tight low-riding pants. I can hear her laughing at something he says.

"Who's… that?" I make myself ask.

"Who? The girl?"

I nod, my eyes never leaving them. Or him.

Talia pushes a stray piece of light, feathery hair behind her ear and bites her lip. "That's the bad news, Tison." She sighs. "She's his girlfriend."


Art class sucks today.

I can't pay attention, and I just stare at the teacher silently when she asks me a question. Everyone thinks I'm a freak, anyway.

After that, I'm late to third period because I took so long walking down the corridors. It's history class, and while the others are thinking of Roosevelt's Second New Deal, I'm thinking of a certain sandy-haired boy and his horrible, lying, slutty girlfriend.

I hate her and I've never even met her before. Because she's ruined my chances with Senith. I didn't even get to have a decent conversation with him before I find out he's taken. Why are the girls always the ones who get what they want?

Gay boys are always the unlucky ones.

I spend the rest of third period brooding.


I decide to skip lunch (again) and just sit down at my spot without a tray. I've got nearly a whole table to myself, really, since everyone else immediately moved their places as far away from me as possible as soon as the rumors reached them. They're a mix of flirty, preppy girls and the punky grunge boys like the ones that confronted me earlier.

I've got my head in my arms and I'm busy feeling sorry for myself when I hear the chair across from my scrape across the floor as someone sits down and sets their tray on the table. I'm in shock before I even get a chance to move. No one ever sits with me. Ever.

I look up quickly and my eyebrows raise. "Talia?"

"Hi, Tison," the long-haired girl says cheerfully, pulling her chair back in. "You look completely out of it. Why didn't you buy lunch?"

"Not hungry," I mumble.

"Not because of my brother, I hope."

I shrug.

"Aw, Tison." She actually appears sorry for me. "I'm sorry about that. But you can't let it get you down. Eat something and you'll feel better."

"Eat what?" I look at the food on her tray and grimace. It's a greasy hamburger and soggy fries. There's some limp lettuce off to the side with a few chunks of pale tomato mixed in.

"Okay, so the school food sucks. But there's pizza. Or junk food from the machines."

"I'm really not hungry." I shake my head, and by chance, out of the corner of my eye, I catch another glimpse of Senith sitting at a table halfway across the cafeteria. His lips are curled into an amused smile as he listens to his friends joke around. Again I see the blond girl with the tight pants cuddling next to him, her arms wrapped tightly around his waist as if to make a statement that he belongs to her and no one else.

"Tison?" Talia's voice makes me turns back around quickly. She's looking at me with an expression of vague worry on her face. "Tison… you shouldn't sit alone, you know."

I smile wryly. "It's not exactly by choice. Why would anyone want to sit with me? I'm a freak." My thoughts wander involuntarily to the boy with the green eyes and fluffy-sandy hair.

"What?" She raises an eyebrow quizzically. "Why are you a freak?"

"It's obvious. I like boys. And my clothes are insane."

"Of course they're insane," says Talia, smiling. "That's what makes them cool. You're so not a freak, Tison."

"Sure." I wish I could talk to Senith again, except more than just a few words this time. I wrack my brain trying to remember the exact conversation in the hall earlier. Just after he got me out of the broom closet. I wince, looking down at my blue-spattered shoes.

"She's coming over to our house after school." Talia's voice breaks into my thoughts again. "Senith invited her."

"Who?"

"Brianna. His girlfriend. And someone else, too, I think. I don't really know what Senith sees in her- she's the fussy cheerleader type. I can kick her ass this weekend if you'd like."

"Would you?" I ask hopefully.

"No. Senith would kill me." Talia looks amused. "But maybe I can find a way for you to come over. He'll probably be calling some friends over anyway."

"Really?" I plead. "You'd do that?"

"Sure, if you'd like. You're cool." Another smile flickers across her face that reminds me of Senith's. "Then you can kick Brianna's ass for yourself all you want. And you can chat my brother up." She giggles, prodding at her lettuce with a fork.

Sounds good to me.