ZOMG…I'm actually attempting to write a multi-chapter fic. O.o This is…incredible! This is...amazing! This is…no freaking big deal, so I'm going to shut up now.


(sighs, coughs, gasps, etc.)

Emphasis (duh)

Rated PG-13 for swearing and shiet.

Disclaimer: I own the plot and the characters; everything else was most likely made up by someone other then myself. Therefore, I do not own it…whatever "it" happens to be.

Enjoy. :)


Chapter 1: Ignorance is Bliss

To say that my life was stimulating, interesting, or even complicated would be a complete and utter exaggeration.

Because it wasn't.

It wasn't any of those things.

In fact, I'd say that it was the exact opposite: dry, insipid, uneventful, ordinary, etc. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was only 14 and life, for me, had yet to really begin. I don't know. What I did know was that I envied anyone who wasn't me and yet hated them at the same time because, well, they weren't me. And, as terribly melodramatic as that may have sounded, it was true:

I hated the freaking world.

No, I wasn't "goth" or anything; I was just somewhat of an earthy tomboy that liked to hold unnecessary grudges against people I had never met before. But even though I had plenty of animosity to go around, I was still a good girl at heart.

Or, at least that was what I liked people to think.

Unfortunately, my existence was only a small aspect of the ordinary life that was mine. I also had caring parents, a 12-year-old brother that was already a head taller than me, and a couple of brainless cats. I lived in a quiet, well-behaved neighborhood, attended a public Junior High school, and got decent grades. I was ignored by boys, loathed by popular girls, and adored by teachers. I brought brown-paper-bag lunches to school everyday, earned ten bucks a week for allowance, and read romance novels by the dozen. I was unacquainted with cable TV and the Internet (though, I do believe we had the latter). I didn't know how to swim. I celebrated Christmas with a fake tree that looked real. I owned a refrigerator without a built-in ice machine. I never failed to eat peanut butter without jelly.

The list goes on. For like ever.

But, to be blunt, my life wasn't anything special. Nothing exciting ever happened. Nothing new and fun. Nothing worth bragging about or celebrating. Nothing at all.

Well, not unless I was to count meeting up with Zach back when I was six. Although the guy was somewhat of an obnoxious goofball, he was still my best friend. He still was. Hell, he was probably the only real friend I'd ever had. Not many people were willing to get to know a girl like me because I supposedly came off as being a nasty snob. It wasn't like I put up such a front on purpose; it was just who I was. It showed I was tough. Confident. Mature. At least that was what my Mom often told me. But I was her daughter and she, as my mother, was biased, so I can't really say that I believed her much when she told me that.

But Zach, or "Mr. Anderson" as I liked to call him, didn't seem to notice this seething, black aura that enveloped my body like a thick blanket. Maybe he chose to ignore it. Maybe he was blind to it. Or, maybe, although he could sense it, he had become immune to it after enduring it for so long. Who knows.

Maybe I'm just making this all up.

Regardless, I would often wonder why I bothered to hang with him – why he bothered to hang with me. He was such a dweeb, and yet, at the same time, ten times cooler than I would ever be. I guess it was because we were so different from one another – polar opposites, if you will. And you know what they say about opposites, right? They're drawn towards one another. They attract. But that's only what they say. Whoever "they" happens to be.

See, I was a quiet, studious, and semi-unpopular girl whose maturity level surpassed even that of my father's (it's sad, I know), while he was an outgoing slacker, procrastinator, and goof who got along with just about everyone he met (yeah, he was a playa; I had to get used to that small fact after he discovered the wonderful world of girls back in the fifth grade).

I kept my wavy, brown hair short, just below my jaw line; owned a fairly comfortable wardrobe; loved English; and spent most of my free time reading, writing, and running. He kept himself reasonably well-groomed, hair not too long or short so that he could spike it up on occasion; was sure to wear only the latest fashions; loved math; and spent most of his free time playing videogames with his unruly guy friends, sleeping, and flirting with pretty girls. Well, pretty non-blondes, that is.

Was it odd? Yeah, I suppose, but that didn't make it any less true: Zachary was completely turned off by blondes. Why this was, I'd probably never know. Maybe it was because he had pitch-black hair and didn't like the contrast. Maybe it was because both his sister and mother were blonde. Or maybe he just didn't like the color yellow – who the fuck knows. Hell if I knew what went on in that skuzzy boy-brain of his.

While we had numerous differences, there was one thing we had in common with one another: luvin' to run cross country. Well, that, and our unusual taste in food, but that's a whole 'nother story.

To exemplify the our mutual hobby, we both ran on our Junior High's flourishing cross country team, but refrained from participating in the Track and Field part. We both found it to be somewhat tedious, what with the fact that it required you to run around in circles like hamsters on a wheel. We were free spirits, you see. No stupid circular path could contain us!

We were both pretty damn awesome in our own ways: I was one of the best girls on the team, running 6½ minute miles, while he was one of the best guys, running 5-minute-and-50-second ones. I figured this would help us get onto the high school team next year, and, eventually, a college one. But that was far away. For the time being, I had to worry about making it through the rest of 8th grade.

Come to think of it, I also had to worry about how the hell I was going to make through the rest of this ridiculous movie. Why did I agree to watch this with him, anyway? It was Austin Powers, for crying out loud! Not that I didn't like the horny British dude, or anything. He definitely had his funny moments. But this wasn't just any movie night: it was our traditional Friday Night Movie Night. Only extraordinary movies were supposed to be viewed during this holy time!

Or, at least that was what I strived to ensure. But I was only able to accomplish such a feat when it was my turn to choose the movie. And unfortunately, this week, it had been his turn to choose, so I had no choice to but to stand idly by as he placed a Blockbuster-branded copy of The Spy Who Shagged Me into my beautifully pristine DVD player and pressed "play".

I guess it was better than two weeks ago when he selected Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and made me sit through the whole thing with my hands tied behind my back because I kept trying to cover my ears. Then again, although that movie had been dreadful, he and I did not spend the entire first half of it pointlessly quarreling about whether or not Dr. Evil's beloved "pet" was in fact a hairless cat or a grimy rat; that was something we had "conveniently" reserved for our current Feature Presentation.

"So what if it doesn't have buck-teeth? Not all classified Rodentia have them! …Or so I've been told."

I blinked for the first time in what felt like an hour and sighed, sending him one of those "you're such a moron" looks before rebutting: "Dude…that's not a freaking rat. Get over yourself."

"Why are you arguing with me about this? It totally is!"

"I'm not arguing with you, Zach. I'm merely stating a fact."

He raised a curious brow. "And that would be?"

I narrowed my eyes, but didn't look at him. "What I've been trying to tell you for the past ten minutes."

"Which is?"

I groaned softly. I had a feeling that I wasn't going to win this one, regardless of how terribly wrong he was. "That it's a hairless cat. Dr. Evil doesn't – "

"A hairless cat? Are you shitting me? That thing has a pink, segmented tail!" He paused, and when I didn't respond quickly enough, he added: "Face it, woman. I'm right and you know it."

Oh, for the love of G-d…

I snorted, whipping a piece of buttery popcorn at his incompetent head before muttering: "Just shut up and watch the damn movie."

There was a soft "crunching" sound followed by a brief pause, and then: "Hey Al?"

I grunted.

"Can I have some more of that popcorn?"

Without removing my eyes from the screen, I took a small handful for myself and threw him the bag, muttering a quick: "Eat it all and perish."

"Ha, ha. Oh yeah, baby."

I rolled my eyes out of sheer impulse.

Yeah. That was Zach for ya. My bestest buddy in the entire world…ha. More like worst nightmare all wrapped up neatly in a cute, little package.

No, your eyes did not deceive you. I did just call the guy "cute" and "little"…because he was. I was a mere inch shorter than his pathetic 5-foot-two-inches, and, like I had said before, he was a real cutie. Not "hot" or anything, but he had potential. I could see it in his abnormally blue eyes: one day, the boy was bound to be a real looker. For now, though, he would remain a cute, baby-faced pip-squeak with a scrawny figure, over-inflated ego, and fastest damn legs I'd ever seen.

"Damn. That Heather Graham sure is something. Too bad she's blonde though."

I cast the raven-haired boy an un-amused look, rolling my blue-grey eyes as his lips broke out in a full-blown grin. I contemplated telling him that the woman wasn't a natural, but, after pondering over the matter for a few moments, I decided to keep my mouth shut. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to silence my sudden urge to giggle as easily.

"What?" he asked, returning his gaze to the television. "Are you making fun of me?"

I promptly popped another piece of popcorn into my mouth. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Tch, liar – hey! Would you stop throwing popcorn at my head…please?"

I released a small puff of air through my nose and smirked. He stuck out his tongue and ran a hand through his un-gelled hair. "You suck."

"At least I'm not a douche."

Zach shot me a rather smug look that made me snort. "Oh yeah?" he said in a rather challenging tone. "Well, at least I don't smell like pop-tarts."

I lowered my brows and wrinkled my nose. This was my "What the fuck is wrong with you?!" look that I gave him whenever he said something totally stupid.

It was a look I gave him often.

I snorted again, being sure to maintain my expression. "Are you high or something?"

He gave me a blank look, though I could tell that his mouth was just itching to smile. "No."

And with that, we both burst out laughing.

Ah, the joys of Friday Night Movie Night.

We remained silent for a few minutes, contentedly watching the colorful feature presentation until Heather Graham, or Felicity should I say, decided to randomly shag Mike, who was currently playing the role of – no, not Austin, but Fat Bastard. I took in a deep breath and mentally counted backwards from five. Sure enough…

"DUDE! She did not just do what I think she did!" He threw me an incredulous glance before adding, "That guy is big enough to eat her!"

I know. I knew him too well.

I rolled my eyes. "It's called 'going undercover,' Zach. She's just trying to pump him for information."

"So she's doing him to get it?" He sighed as he handed me back the bag of popcorn so he could lick his buttery fingers. "She must be pretty damn desperate to resort to such disturbing measures."

I groaned. If there was one thing Zach couldn't do, it was control himself. Seriously, I couldn't remember a time when the two of us actually sat through a movie in complete silence. It was like the boy's mouth was constantly moving for fear that his jaw muscles would suddenly freeze up if they weren't regularly exercised every eight to ten seconds.

Typical? Perhaps. My brother was the same way.

I greedily inspected the bag to ensure that there was still a reasonable amount of buttery goodness left for me to devour before replying: "It's just Mike Myers in a greasy fat suit. S'not like that's a real dude or anything."

He sighed and turned his head in my direction, his expression semi-serious. I knew this because I had turned to look at him simultaneously. "I know," he said, staring at me for a few seconds before returning his gaze to the movie. "Geeze, Al. Can't you just for once stop acting so goddamn serious and just go with my goofiness?"

I grunted. "Maybe."

"Good. Let's start now then."

Mock-saluting the side of his head, I replied, quite sarcastically: "Aye, aye, Captain."

"And relax your forehead, will ya? You look like you just ate something nasty."

I shot him a disgusted look. So what if I walked around with my brows lowered…a lot. It was another unconscious habit of mine. I didn't do it deliberately. Besides, that was something my mother scolded me for doing. I didn't need him getting on my case about it too.

"Oh, shove it," I mumbled, but he burst out laughing at the same time I opened my mouth, so he didn't hear me. And, knowing him, he had probably timed that on purpose.

The jerk.

"Oh MAN! It's official. When I grow up, I am SO going to be a nerdy, international spy!"

I rolled my eyes. "In other words, you want to become an even bigger player than you already are."

He flashed me a huge, toothy grin, but said nothing. He didn't need to. That damn smile said it all.

"Alexandra!" A loud voice drifted in from down the hall, making me cringe. "Get your butt in here, now! I need you to help me give Peaches her medicine!"

I shot the raven-haired boy a knowing look. He merely smirked in response. My mom was cool. Really, she was. But when it came to those damn parakeets of hers…well, let's just say that the second she turned her back, those infuriating screaming machines were going straight into Oscar's mouth. He was one of my cats – my favorite to be precise. And while he may have been somewhat mentally-challenged, he still knew a free meal when he saw one.

I sighed, placing the popcorn onto the cushion beside mine and hopped off the couch, muttering a quick: "I'll be right back" as I stretched my arms over my head.

Zach looked up at me. "Do you want me to pause it?"

I shook my head. "Nah. This process, as painful as it may be, shouldn't take too long."

"Okay. Have fun!" he chirped before grabbing another handful of my popcorn and returning his attention to the movie.

I, once again, rolled my eyes, laughing softly as I walked away.

That boy was such a dork.

It wasn't until I had reached my mother's closed bedroom door that I realized she and I had already given the bird its medicine. "What the…" I scrunched up my forehead in annoyance and knocked loudly on the door. "Mom? …Mom!"

"Just a minute!" came her muffled reply. This was followed by a series of loud clapping sounds and a vociferous exclamation: "Okay, guys! Come on! Back into the cage!"

I let out a low groan. Weird as it was, she had those damn things trained. All she had to do to get them back into their huge, prison-like cage was clap and boom! They followed orders. The little buttheads even said a few things, like "Hey!" and "Bye-bye!" One of them even laughed. I personally found the whole thing to be somewhat creepy, but she loved the sons-of-a-bitches, so I tried to keep most of my complaints to myself.

Note my emphasis on the word "most."

"Mom," I continued, cupping my hands against either side of my mouth in an effort to intensify my voice. "Didn't we already give her that smelly orange crap this morning? Before I went begrudgingly to school?" I pulled my head and hands away from the wooden barrier as I heard her unlock it from the other side.

My mom gave me a wan smile as she cracked open the door ever-so-slightly, flinging her side-swept bangs out of her face with a shake of her head as she said, "Actually…" She ushered me impatiently through the 10-inch-passageway so she could close it behind me. "That isn't why I called you in here."

I gave her a weird look. She was very pretty for a woman her age: nearing 45, she had long, beautiful hair that she chose to dye a dirty-blonde color, soft, olive-green eyes, and a relatively fit figure. Heck, with all the hard work she did as a gardener and landscape designer, it was no wonder. Digging, breaking concrete, moving heavy rocks; she was one tough dudette.

I flung myself onto my father's side of the bed, back first, while my mom sat down on her own end. After a few moments of silence, I rolled over onto my stomach and glared her, muttering in somewhat of an annoyed tone: "Mom, Zach and I are watching a movie now. Can't this wait? It should be over around…" My eyes darted over towards the glowing red numbers on my dad's alarm clock. "…ten or so."

When I resettled my gaze on her slouching form, I found that she was giving me one of those motherly looks that blatantly said: "Um…how about no?" so I pouted, reluctantly grunting in submission.

"I'm sorry, Allie. But this is important."

My reply left my mouth before I had the chance to stop it: "Important enough to lie to get me in here?"

One of the birds suddenly let out an ear-piercing scream as if to say: "Shut up and listen to your mother, bitch!" This was followed by a creepy cackle from another and a unanimous chirping fit from the rest.

Stupid evil monsters.

"Are you ready to listen now?" I sighed and nodded at the blue and purple bedspread. "Well then," she continued. "I might as well just cut straight to the point: your father just called me. You know how strenuous the situation is for him at work now, right?"

I snorted. Oh, I knew alright.

My dad was a kick-ass engineer that worked for one of the shittiest telecommunications companies in the world; I didn't know its current title, though. The business was constantly being overrun by bigger and better companies and had to change their name accordingly. Hell, for all I knew, they could be part of Nestle now. But honestly, my father was probably the smartest dude in his entire department, but since he worked for a bunch of morons, his talent was completely wasted. And, considering the economy was in currently in ruins and Colorado Springs was possibly the second-worst place to live in the entire country (it was run by morons too), there wasn't really anywhere else for him to go. And as crappy as it was, my dad had a well-paying job. So if he dropped it to go look for another, he was screwed.

We were screwed.

Sighing, I propped up my left elbow, rested my chin in my palm, and bent my knees so that my feet hovered over my upper-thighs. "Yeah, I know," I said after a short bout of silence, my head bobbing with my words. "What about it?"

My mother sighed as well, placing a hand over her eyes as she said, somewhat hesitantly, "They want him to relocate."

I raised a brow. "Meaning…what, exactly?"

"Meaning we'd have to relocate with him."

I paused in mid-yawn, my mouth failing to close after my jaw had relaxed. Wait a minute. Did she mean relocate as in…move? As in leave? As in travel to a place that was too far to permit us to remain in the same house?

My stomach flip-flopped.

This didn't make any sense. My father's job had never required him to transfer before; what made now any different? Besides...it wasn't possible for a life as unbearably conventional as mine to get complicated. And, as stupid and selfish as that may have sounded, it was true. I mean, it had been irrevocably decreed by the Heavenly Court the moment prior to my birth...and we all knew that you couldn't refute omnipotent declarations. They were basically set in stone: "And it shall be that Alexandra Paige Fullerton, daughter of Grace and Derek Fullerton, is bound to a life of tedious oblivion…starting the instant she is born!"

Well, okay. So maybe I was over-exaggerating just a tad-bit. But I had every right to. This was ridiculous after all.

I flung myself into a sitting position, eyes wide and heart pounding. "To where?" I finally whispered, wishing that I hadn't. My voice was almost inaudible. I was surprised she'd heard me.


And, as quickly as it left, my voice returned.

"Chicago? As in Chicago Illinois? But…but that's like three states away!" My mother opened her mouth to interject, but I was on a rampage; I had to finish: "He's not actually going to agree to do this, is he? I mean, he can't seriously consider uprooting us that far east. It would be like going into exile! We'd be so far away from the rest of our family and friends! He can't do it mom. He won't…he can't…" My mother said nothing; she just stared at me, waiting for me to finish. Closing my eyes, I took in a deep breath. "How soon is this going to happen? I mean, are we talking weeks, months, years—"

"This summer," she whispered. I shook my head. "Alexandra, he doesn't have much choice in the matter. He's an important asset to his company, and they're an important asset to him...to us. He needs to keep this job. Aside from my small gardening business, it's all we have!"

"I don't care!" I hadn't realized it, but with my last exclamation, I'd slid off the front of the bed and jumped to my feet. "Why can't he just find a new one so he can quit this ridiculously stupid one?!"

"It's not that simple-"

"Well it should be!"

She sighed softly, expression deflating as she turned away from me to look at her happily chirping birds. "Please, Al. Don't fight me. I need you to understand…to be strong, and supportive. It's going to be hard…" She returned her gaze to my frowning face. "But you're a strong girl, both inside and out. I'm certain you'll handle things just fine. And, as impossible as that may seem to you now, I know that, deep down, you know it's true."

I lowered my head and let my bangs cover my eyes as they welled up with hot tears. "I do, mom. It's just that…it's just…I don't…it's…" My voice constricted in my throat and I found myself unable to finish the thought. Luckily, I didn't have to.

"I know, sweetie. And I'm sorry." A felt a hand gently touch my shoulder. "I'm so sorry."

Under normal circumstances, this sort of news would have made me tremendously happy. And when I say "happy," I mean happy enough to freaking dance like an air-headed fan girl fawning over Justin Timberlake. Because if there was one thing that I had always wanted to do, it was move far away from the Springs and never return. Unfortunately, in the midst of time spent living here, I'd somehow managed to make a firm connection with this place. With Colorado. The Springs. One that was strong enough to make me wish I could stay. And he was currently sitting on my living room couch.

"Oh, Al," she whispered, wrapping her arms around my tiny waist from behind. "I should have waited until the movie ended and Zachary had left. You were right. I…I was just panicking. I had to tell someone, and you were the only one--"

"No…" I murmured, twisting around in her grasp so that I could embrace her. She suffered from severe depression and anxiety; had since she was sixteen. Medication helped, but it didn't make her worry and paranoia completely disappear. I should have considered this before I snapped at her, but it didn't even occur to me. I was just thinking about myself; how this move was going to affect me.

Maybe my classmates were right. Maybe I really was a snob.

I sighed softly, my tears dry and sobs: "You were right. This is an important matter, not to mention a stressful one. You shouldn't have to hold the burden all on your own. I…I need to be rational about this. If not for you, than definitely for dad."

She buried her face in the crook of my neck and squeezed me tighter. "Oh, thank you, honey. Thank you so much."

Although I had managed to outwardly make a complete 180, on the inside, I was screaming, crying, disoriented. I mean, this whole thing was so incredibly unreasonable, and yet, at the same time, 100 percent necessary. In a way, I was torn between what was right and what I wanted even though I knew what I wanted was no longer available to me because what was right was inevitably going to happen...

Fuck, I just had to go and jinx myself by purposefully fretting over how stupid and uneventful my life was, didn't I?

I patted my mother on the back a few more times before slowly rounding her body and heading towards the door. Her soft voice drifted after me: "Please don't tell your brother. I'd prefer if he didn't know just yet."

I sent her a curt nod over my shoulder and exited the room, stopping in the hall bathroom on my way back to the living room to make sure that I was still presentable. My eyes were a bit red and my hair was a bit disheveled, but other than that, I looked fine.

Sighing, I splashed some water onto my face, rubbing it gently into my eyes; ran a damp hand through my hair; toweled off; and left it at that. If Zach became suspicious, I'd be able to make something up. He customarily accepted my rashly conjured alibis, even if he didn't necessarily believe them. Like a good friend, he respected my privacy and personal space and refrained from prying when he knew it would only make me feel uncomfortable.

He didn't notice me enter. He was too busy studying Felicity's dripping wet body as she stepped out of what appeared to be the ocean. I released a small, bottled-up giggle as Austin followed her shortly, wearing the same thing she was: a bikini.

He looked over at me as I plopped down next to him, smirking as he said: "Yo. What took ya?"

I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and sighed. "The damn bitch bit the shit out of me and got loose…need I say more?" When my gaze connected with his, I saw that his expression didn't mirror mine. Instead, he looked rather solemn and…concerned?

Oh shit. Was I really that readable?

"Is that so…" he said, but it seemed like it was more to himself than to me.

I nodded nonchalantly and returned my gaze to the television, silently praying that my carefree attitude would be convincing enough to sway any doubts he might have had.

After a few more seconds of silence, he, much to my relief, laughed and said: "Ha. Sucks to be you."

I smacked him lightly on the arm, earning a sharp "hey!" in response, and snatched my bag of cold popcorn off the cushion in-between us. "Shut up, you dweeb."

He snorted, eyes still glued to the television even though Heather was no longer wet. "You know I'm right."

I snickered derisively, but frowned inwardly. Yeah. I did know he was right…and I couldn't help but wonder how he would feel once I verbally confirmed that.

For now though, ignorance would be bliss.

At least for one of us.


Thanks for reading, ya'll. You people rock. :D