Disclaimer: All characters belong to me. This is a fictional account inspired by a joint story that rika195 and I are writing together...

Michael Liu frowned to himself, staring at the entrance to the gymnasium of Riverdale High School. His ears quirked as he heard the sound of the second hand of his watch ticking and he knew it was time to go in... or else he would be late. And Michael was never late.

Not too far behind him, Scott and Samantha Adams were chattering excitedly about the first social event of high school with Evan Saunders, Tyler Martin and Marie Wilson. Two other girls, Julianna Miller and Victoria Chapel, lagged slightly behind, more absorbed with their make-up and clothing rather than dreading the compulsory attendance of a school event.

Samantha quickened her pace to catch up with Michael and she smiled slightly when she saw him. He gave an acknowledging nod in her direction, but said nothing in return.

"It's nice to see you here tonight," Sam – for this was what her friends called her – offered, trying to make at least some sort of conversation with the typically quiet and reserved Asian youth.

Michael, still frowning, fixed his eyes on a distant point in space. "It is mandatory attendance for all freshman students," he replied in a flat voice. He kept walking and ignored Samantha almost completely.

Sam's smile turned into a worried frown. She knew this was Michael's first year at a public school, but she was also concerned because he rarely acted like this when she and her brother had been around him before. But she let Michael keep walking ahead while she stayed behind, waiting for everyone else to catch up.


Pretty soon, the whole gymnasium was crowded with people. Games were happening in one area of the room; food and drink were being served in another. Half of the gymnasium was reserved for dancing, complete with a DJ and a disco-style strobe light. A teacher stood off to the side, pacing back and forth while observing the students closely.

He watched as the students danced, overheard conversations from halfway across the gym and was completely aware of his surroundings, despite the appearance to the contrary. He was walking away from the DJ booth when he heard someone running towards him and calling his name. He turned quickly to find Evan Saunders skid to a quick stop.

"Mr. Saunders, I presume," Mr. Sharpe arched an eyebrow at the blonde-haired youth.

Evan stopped quickly to catch his breath. "Mr. Sharpe," he said, addressing the chemistry teacher formally, "I think Michael's sick or something." He jerked his thumb in the direction of the food area. "Or, at least he's really pale and he's shaking..."

Sharpe frowned and quickly walked over in the general direction where Evan had pointed, easily weaving his way between people. When he finally arrived at where Michael was, he frowned even more. Tyler Martin, Evan's closest friend and an acquaintance of Michael's, was standing nearby.

"What happened?" Sharpe asked, moving closer to Michael, whose olive-yellow skin was very pale and slightly ashen. He helped Michael to a sitting position and carefully placed a hand on Michael's forehead. It was very cold to the touch.

Tyler shrugged. "I found him like that," he answered. "He was shaking and I told him he oughta sit and he wouldn't."

Sharpe nodded and proceeded to shake Michael by the arms. He saw that the youth was still breathing, but he seemed to be on the verge of hyperventilating. Sharpe frowned. "Go tell Mr. Wilson to call 911 and then go find one of the Adams twins," he ordered Tyler.

Tyler nodded and ran off. Sharpe turned back to Michael. He quickly decided that it would be a better idea to pick Michael up and carry him outside to where it was less noisy and crowded. He leaned down and picked up Michael easily and then proceeded to carry him outside. He examined Michael carefully and frowned, his lips drawing themselves together in a thin line.

"Michael Liu, can you hear me?" he asked loudly, shaking Michael's arm. There was no response, so he slapped Michael's cheek. "Michael! Please respond!" But there was no intelligible answer. He frowned and then proceeded to slap Michael again. At that moment, Tyler came running up with Samantha close behind.

"What'd you do to him?" Samantha demanded to know, kneeling down next to Michael. Though he was still breathing, he looked almost more dead than alive.

Sharpe, though completely aware that Sam was right behind him, chose to keep his attention primarily focused on Michael. But this did not stop him from talking to Samantha.

"Call his parents," Sharpe ordered. "One of them will need to come pick him up." Sam nodded, but told Mr. Sharpe that this was not possible. Michael had been staying at the Adams' house for the past few days while the rest of his family was visiting relatives who lived in Arizona. "Call them anyways," he answered. Sam nodded and took the cell phone out of Michael's pocket. She dialed Mr. Liu's cell phone number and waited for a response on the other side of the line.

Sharpe turned back to Michael and sighed. Only a few moments later, Sam came back, frowning and Sharpe nodded. Samantha had not been able to contact the Liu family.

"Has this ever happened to Michael before tonight?" Sharpe kept his focus on Michael, but was asking Samantha questions. Sharpe's dark eyes stared into Michael's – as the youth's were still opened – as if trying to understand what was going through Michael's mind. But he saw nothing.

"Not that I know of, but he did tell me that flashing lights bother him," Samantha replied, keeling down next to Michael. She took his hand in her own.

Sharpe only turned away slightly in response to Sam's actions. He still had a hand on Michael's forehead and stayed in that position until he heard footsteps coming from behind. He slowly stood up and turned around to see two uniformed paramedics running towards them.

One was an older man – at least Sharpe's age – whose name badge read Anderson.

"Name, medical information," the man said. He was speaking to Sharpe, but pointing down at Michael. The other paramedic began examining Michael. She put an oxygen mask over Michael's face and began inquiring to Samantha – and to Tyler, as he was still standing nearby – about what had happened.

Sharpe responded with as much accurate information as possible and included what Samantha and Tyler had told him. Anderson nodded and kept asking more questions and Sharpe kept answering. After about ten minutes he turned back to the other paramedic.

"What do you think, Carrie?" he asked, using her first name.

She nodded. "He'll be alright, Thomas," she replied, carefully removing the oxygen mask from Michael's face.

Sharpe knelt down again next to Michael. His breathing had returned to a more normal pattern and his eyes were now closed. Michael's skin was still cool and slightly paler than normal, but it no longer looked as though he was more dead than alive. In fact, it seemed as though he was simply sleeping.

"He's asleep and it's best if he stays that way for awhile," the female paramedic explained. "But if anything else goes wrong, bring him into the emergency room right away. His parents should also bring him into the clinic for a complete evaluation as soon as they can." With that, they left.

As soon as they were out of sight, Sharpe turned to Tyler. "Go tell Mr. Wilson that Michael will be fine and that he will be recovering in the nurse's office," he said. Tyler nodded and ran to find Mr. Wilson. Sam, however, stayed behind, still holding Michael's hand in her own. Sharpe motioned for Samantha to move and he picked up Michael. He carefully carried him to the nurse's office and handed his keys to Sam. "Unlock it," he said.

Samantha nodded and obeyed and they made their way inside. Sharpe carefully set Michael down on the table and Samantha turned on the lights, though on the dimmest setting. She stood next to Michael and held his hand. Sharpe only raised an eyebrow in return.

"Things will be fine," Sharpe commented, his voice so quiet that even Samantha had to strain her ears to hear. Sharpe walked over and looked carefully at Michael. "Michael," he whispered quietly.

As if he had only been in a light sleep, the Asian boy blinked a couple of times. He glanced around for a moment, closed his eyes and fell back asleep. Sharpe nodded to himself, somehow knowing that everything would be okay. And he could hardly help but smile: Samantha was still holding Michael's hand.