A Penny For Your Thoughts

"Well, here we are." Jason waves grandly at his house as I step out of the car. To say it gently, his house was old. Not in the run-down-and-falling-apart way, but in this-house-belongs-to-an-old-couple-with-teenage-grandkids way. He led me in and I wasn't at all surprised when he introduced me to his grandmother, somewhat wrinkled with graying hair in a bun. She had the same eyes as Jason did.

"Oh, hello sweetie, I'm glad to see that Jasey was able to find a friend on his first day," she said. Yep, normal grandmother, the kind that probably has cookies sitting in a jar on the counter. Oatmeal raisin cookies, too, I kid you not. They were pretty good actually, but then, I'll eat anything that's not overly sweet.

"I'll show you my room," Jason (or 'Jasey' rather) said, motioning for me to follow him down the short hallway to his bedroom. The first thing I noticed was the boxes. There weren't any boxes in the den or kitchen that I had seen, but there were four or five boxes full of things, like posters, books, CDs, etc. Teenager stuff. I guess he must've moved in with his grandparents then. Besides the boxes, there was a desk (nothin' on it), a bed (unmade), and a bookcase (empty except for a piece of paper).

"So, what do ya think?" He turns to me with his arms outstretched and a grin on his face.

"You should paint the walls." Lame, right? Then again, the walls were bright pink so it was a good enough response.

"No kiddin'. I was thinking blue." First thought that came to mind: being pinned against a blue wall. So much for #3 keeping my mind out of the gutter. I guess it'll just have to stay there for today. "Anyway, math homework, didn't understand a single thing besides this equals that somehow."

"Don't worry, math is my forte. I can explain it if you want." Yeah, I'm good at math. It's my favorite subject. Numbers are so much less complex than people. That's saying a lot considering what they teach us. I spent about an hour teaching Jason how to find the derivative of simple equations.

"God, it's about time this clicks," he exclaims after finally managing to do a problem on his own. I'd give him a congratulatory kiss, but that'd be awkward, rude, sudden, and not my way of doing things. I've always preferred subtlety over forwardness. I look at my watch and see that Ed gets out in ten minutes.

"Think you can manage the rest on your own? I've gotta go pick up my brother." He looks up from the next problem he had started and gave me an odd look.

"You realize that you left your car at the school, right? I'm gonna have to take you back." I curse myself for not realizing that.

"Think you could take me back?" I stand up to put everything back in my backpack.

"Sure, as long as you remember to show me where classes are tomorrow." Right, gotta show him around still.

"Fine, fine. I'll see ya after first period then." He nods as we walk out of his room. I say bye to his grandmother, he drives me back to the school, and then I wave him off. Just in time too, the bell rings just as he goes out of sight. No less than five seconds later a kid that looks like me (minus the ponytail and with short blond hair) is coming into sight. I jog over to my car before he gets there, but he's caught up in a conversation with one of his friends. By the time he finishes, I've already been sitting in the driver's seat for five minutes.

"Took ya long enough," I said as he climbed into the passenger seat. He flicks me off, which is rather par for the course by now. I drive off and practically slam on the break as Ed's friend from earlier attempts to jump on the car. I really should just keep my metal bat in the back seat or something, just to deal with Ed's friends. Maybe a few of my friends, too.

----

After arriving home (Ed's friend having jumped off after realizing I was gonna drive with him on the hood) my dad starts to ask who I was with.

"So, whose house did you go to?" Already starting before our garage closed. Typical.

"Jason's." Cue twenty minute interrogation.

"Who's Jason?"

"New student."

"From?"

"Florida. Lives with his grandparents next to the high school, and he's in four of my classes. Yes, he's Christian." My dad gives me an odd look and I roll my eyes. "You did this same interview when I first mentioned every last one of my friends. It's old and routine." And invasive, but I avoid saying that. He's invasive with everything in my life, from asking me (and telling me to fix) every detail of my life to pretty much roaming through my things when I'm at school. He denies it, but it's obvious when the games I leave out are piled wrong. Yes, I notice these things and I blame #2.

"Don't roll your eyes at me." I resist the urge to do it again, just to spite him. We would be on better (not much, though) terms if my sister was still here, if only because he doesn't notice me then. Of course, my dad only really gets along with Ed anyway. Thank God I'm more like my mom.

I head down the hall to my room (right next to my dad's office sadly) and throw my backpack on my bed. It's good to be in my room. Most of the time anyways. I've barely taken off my shoes when my brother shows up in the door frame.

"Can I get on your computer?" He's about two minutes late in asking that question. Normally he asks before we reach home.

"No." I know he'll stick out his bottom lip and call for back up.

"Dad, Chris won't let me on his computer." God, so predictable.

"Chris, let Ed on your computer." Again, predictable. He always takes Ed's side of an argument and always went against my sister when she was here. I really dislike being stuck in the middle of everything.

"I haven't been home for more than a minute and you expect me to let him spend all day on my computer? I'll never get it back." Even I'm predictable when I say this. We end up going through this same thing every day.

"Just let him on this once." Just like the last 'once', and the 'once' before that and so on for the last year and a half. It really should be 'my computer, my rules'. Or better yet 'my room, my rules'. I don't even get a chance to argue back (like always) as my brother steps around me and turns my computer on.

"I'll be off by dinner," he says. Yeah, right.

"Just like you said since summer started. I really need to uninstall WoW from my computer." The biggest reason I hate my computer: it's the only one that can run World of Warcraft, which my brother is obsessed about. That and Naruto. I despise both of those, but there's nothing I can really do about it.

"You do that and I'll--"

"Delete my PSO character? Please, you haven't the courage." For those of you who don't know, PSO stands for Phantasy Star Online, a game I've been playing on and off for the last three years. It's not my fault that my character absolutely destroys all the monsters in the blink of an eye…okay, so maybe it is.

I don't feel like dealing with them for now, so I go to Ed's room (which is right next to the kitchen). His room is bigger, technically, but my room is better and he knows it. All he has is a drum set and the Wii while I've got a computer and a way to drown out the living room's TV. You see, his room doesn't exactly have a wall on one side. He had gained what was the dining room a few years back because he and I were at each others throats (more-so than we are now) when we shared a room. I stayed in what is now my room because our parents didn't want to move the drum set and I refused to let him have my computer. Internet doesn't reach his room and I didn't like the idea of having to ask to get on my computer that I got as a birthday present. Little bastard.

Again, I rant, but it's necessary. This wouldn't be a good story if there wasn't some problem in my life. Mine just happens to be more mundane than what you see on TV or read in books (which are really lacking in people's lives). Back to the present (or flashback, whatever), going into Ed's room. He still hasn't played the Playstation 2 since I did yesterday and the Dance Dance Revolution game was still set. Good, I really dislike having to set up my venting session. That's right, I play DDR whenever I need to vent. Only with family, though. Troubles with friends go straight to my notebooks. Pencil and paper are so much more private than typing, but that could just be an affect of an overbearing dad.

I empty out my pockets onto my brother's desk (playing DDR with keys in your pocket is not fun) when I find a piece of folded paper. I don't remember putting that in my pocket. They say curiosity killed the cat, but I'm more of a fish person. I unfold the paper and a penny falls out. I pick it up before reading the slip of paper.

'A penny for your thoughts?'

Wow, just wow. I can't believe that someone snuck that into my pocket. And without me knowing, too. When (and how) did that happen? I can't help but resist the temptation to answer this, but how? It dawns on me instantly. I take a blank page from a stack of papers on my brother's desk and start writing down my thoughts. I can't believe what I'm doing, but I think that this just might be a fun way to start something new. My life's boring enough as it is.

----

An hour later, I'm sweaty, out of breath, and my legs are sore from jumping around so much. I feel so much better than I did when I got home. I heard the garage door opening and knew that my mom was home. Thank god, I really dislike being stuck alone with my dad and Ed. At least my mom knows not to play favorites.

"Hey mom," I say as she walks in the door. She greets me on her way down to her bedroom. She'll be out in thirty minutes or so to rant to my dad about work before recruiting me in helping cook dinner. I'll say sure, I'll help cook and then it'll take ten minutes to tear my brother from the monitor to go get his food. That's how it happened today and pretty much everyday for the last few weeks. My mom had gotten a new job recently, to help pay the bills that had started to pile up after my dad started his own business.

"So, how was school?" my mom asks, her, my dad, and I sitting on the couch watching TV together. I'd eat in my room, but it's more enjoyable to eat with my parents than my brother.

"Good, there's a new guy in my classes," I respond, only half focusing on whatever we were watching.

"What's his name?" At least this interrogation should be only two questions long.

"Jason."

"How'd you meet?"

"He was in my English class and the only empty seat was next to me." My mom nods and goes back to watching the show. I think it was King of Queens or something. After dinner I had to (literally) kick my brother out of my room so I could have some peace and quiet. Ugh, why can't he understand that I would prefer to have my room to myself after school before he gets on my computer?

Finally alone in my own room, I take out the piece of paper with my thoughts and place it in my book. I also go and grab a box I have hidden under the bed. I know that the stuff in here is safe from prying eyes because it's locked by a key that I placed in my backpack. It really is a sign of no privacy when the best place to hide something is with school supplies. I spend about two hours just writing, adding to previous stories, plotting out ideas and characters, creating new ones. I'm starting to need a second box to keep all these papers in because I've got so many character bios and stories.

There's a knock on my door and I pull my 'cover-up' page over what I was writing. I didn't want the person knocking to know I was writing something personal. My dad opens the door before I tell him to come in, but I'm used to that by now.

"Time for bed." I look at the clock and yep, it's ten already. Damn curfew. I put everything back in the box and lock it. I would've put the key in its hiding place, but my dad was still standing by the door, so I just put it in my pocket for now. I get ready for bed and when he finally goes back down the hall, put the key in my backpack. I climb into bed and attempt to fall asleep.

Yeah, my mind was in a grumpy mood tonight. I tossed and turned, but just couldn't fall asleep. I think it's a bunch of things that cause my insomnia: worry that my dad will somehow open that box, so many out of the ordinary things going on, a crummy mattress. I finally manage to sleep at one in the morning, three hours after I was hoping to fall asleep at.

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A/N: Time for chapter 2 of this story for all the people who read the first. Hope you enjoyed!

Sychaeus: Glad you liked it and glad you knew where the references came from! I loved The Last Rune series. The biggest reason I kept reading it was because of Travis and Beltan.

scrtshdfgry: Thanks for the support. Hope you liked this chapter too!

cloudxtears: Glad to hear it!

I might have to up the rating after the next chapter or two, depending on how things are going. Nothing too graphic (yet), but definitely not for young teenagers.