Chapter One: It's Who You Know

I'm sitting calmly at a table in the middle of the noisy cafeteria, waiting for my friends to get to school so that I can sell them some Cocaine.

I've only tried the stuff once, and it wasn't pleasant at all. Just a little sip, which burned on the way down and left a funny aftertaste, and I was bouncing off the walls for the next three hours. I even got on Roy's nerves, and he has so much patience that he could probably build an entire house out of toothpicks.

I won't say that those little red cans weren't tempting—but I'm a good supplier, and I don't sample my product. I tap my fingers impatiently against the table, stopping only when I see Roy through step through the doors, his little sister in tow. I break into a smile when he sees me looking. Tall frame, broad shoulders, flat stomach, dark hair, intense eyes…it's hard not to break into a smile when I see Roy.

He waves at me distractedly, nodding and holding up a finger when I point significantly at the blue grocery bag in front of me. He turns back to his sister to tell her something. I hope that something is that she'll have to find a ride home today, that he didn't forget he was coming over after school. As I'm watching, the first bell rings and half of the kids in the cafeteria stand to go to their lockers. I lean to the side to see past a cluster of people, just in time to see Katie nod and go to stand in line for breakfast. I've lost sight of Roy, though, dammit.

"Matt!" a voice yells behind me and I jump, spinning around to glare at the person who just gave me a minor heart attack.

"Jesus Christ, Tara!" I say when I see familiar freckles and laughing brown eyes. She sits down at the table next to me, eyeing the bag, or, more accurately, the red cans visible through the thin plastic.

She drops her voice low and leans in close, "So you got the stuff?"

"You got the cash?" I whisper. She smoothly slides three folded-up ones across the table and I pocket the money. I take a can out of the bag and pass it to her under the table, and she slips it into her coat pocket.

"You guys are pathetic," a laughing voice reaches my ears. I turn around and Roy is standing behind me, laughing at our antics, and I grin up at him.

"You just mad 'cause you ain't got the dough to keep up with yo' habit, fool," Tara says, rolling her head on her shoulders with attitude, but the goofy grin on her face ruins the effect, and all Roy does is laugh at her and take the seat on the other side of me.

"True, true," he admits, eyeing the Cocaine. "But Matt'll give me a discount, won't you Mattie?" he asks, raising his eyebrows hopefully. I quickly look away—he knows he can get anything out of me if he has that look on his face, though I'm sure he doesn't know why.

"I dunno, Roy. I don't think I have any to spare," I say hesitantly, and it is so hard to say no that I don't know how I manage, but he accepts my answer

"Ben has a doctor's appointment today, so he won't be coming," Tara offers.

I shake my head; "No, can't do it. He paid in advance."

"Damn," he mutters, but I know he isn't too disappointed. "The stupid stores should just sell it so we don't have to keep buying it off the Internet."

"They'll only sell it if the manufacturers change the name, and if that happened, it wouldn't be as interesting. It doesn't even taste as good as Monster," Tara points out. She sighs, popping open the energy drink and handing it to Roy. "Here, you can have a sip of mine. Just a sip, though." He smiles in thanks and swallows a mouthful in one audible gulp. The sound causes a million fluttering wings to dance in my stomach, and I look to the clock above the door. Ten minutes 'til first period; I still have time.

His mouth probably tastes like Cocaine now. I wonder if the aftertaste would still be so horrible if I…

"Oh, guess what!" Tara says suddenly, and I snap to attention. "New kid today! He's a junior, too, so you might have a few classes with him."

"I hope he's not in Mr. Daskin's class," I mumble. All of the junior guys are crammed into Mr. Daskin's fifth period gym class. I'm the odd man out, which means I get a locker all to myself, and I want to keep it that way. I'm crossing my fingers that the new guy has already fullifulled the required credits for gym.

"Hang on, let me check," she says, and takes a piece of paper out of her coat pocket.

"You stole his schedule?" Roy asks, impressed, and I have to admit I'm a little jealous too. Damn, it pays to be an office helper.

She scans the paper for a second and then looks up with a grimace, "Sorry, Matt."

"Fuck." The five-minute warning bell rings and I gather my bookbag from the floor and stuff the Cocaine inside. "See you at lunch, guys."

"Bye," they say, and Roy smiles at me, letting me know it's okay that I didn't sell him an energy drink. I smile back, can't help it. I turn to go, but Roy calls out "Wait!" and I turn back to him, grinning, because I knew he just couldn't resist; I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. "If you suddenly found out you were adopted, would you search for your real parents?"

I only need a second to think about it. "Hell yes." He's met my parents, he knows what I'm talking about, and Tara just rolls her eyes at us, so used to our game by now that she no longer bothers to comment when we ask each other strange questions: random things, morbid things, pointless things on occasion.

He grins. "I have a good one for you, but it's a stumper, so you'll have to wait 'til lunch."

If I weren't afraid, like the little goody-two-shoes that I am, of being late and getting a detention, I would stay. It's so tempting, that knowing, teasing glint in his eyes…but I can wait a few hours to find out what he wants to ask me.

"See ya," I call over my shoulder as I set a brisk pace toward the stairs by the front of the building. The crowd in the cafeteria has thinned dramatically, with only a few people dotted here and there. I glance back when I get to the foot of the stairs. I catch the trailing end of Tara's billowing skirt as she disappears around the corner, but Roy is still sitting at the table, staring into space as he thinks.

It's almost painful to look at him when he's like that: his face is so somber, so contemplative. And it's even worse that I know he's thinking about me, about the question he plans to ask next. I know that Roy needs this game more than I do. I play because it's interesting, but mainly because he enjoys it so much, and I want to give him as much as I can since I can't give him the one thing I want to, the one thing he would never accept.

We ask each other meaningless hypothetical questions all the time, yet I can never ask him the question I most want the answer to, because there is no doubt in my mind that the answer would be no.

AN: There will be more, this is multi-chaptered.