All right, guys, here it is: the next chapter in my Ross and Mike series. You know the drill by now. Reviews are appreciated, but there are two rules to follow: first, when reviewing, do NOT give me suggestions that could somewhat alter the plot, because as always, I have this whole story outlined from beginning to end and I know exactly what's going to happen from the beginning up to the final confrontation and after, and nothing you say will convince me to change what I've planned. Also, no flames please. I want criticism, tips and praise, not insults. If I wanted to be insulted, I'd go to my ninth grade History teacher. But anyway, enough of that. Please read and review, and I hope you like the story.

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In the first story, Ross was the new kid at his school and made friends with Mike very quickly. Ross also made enemies with the school's bully, Big Bad Bob, very quickly. However, in a best-of-three match between Ross and Big Bad Bob, Ross defeated B.B.B. and his reign of bullying ended. Big Bad Bob's nickname was changed to Big Sad Sobber after he had to give up his bullying ways. (As in someone who sobs a lot)

In the fifth story, Big Sad Sobber (as he's here on called) tried to get revenge on Ross for taking away his bullying days by trying to frame Ross for spray painting their principal, Mr. Dozzom's, house. Ross goes through and spray paints the house but does it in a way so B.S.S. was blamed for it…until Ross was eventually figured out and suspended.

In the sixth story, while Ross is suspended, Mike sneaks him on a field trip to the amusement park, but it goes wrong when the two end up getting left behind by their classmates. When they're alone, they find that the park is the home of a giant monster named Baron that resembles the Incredible Hulk. Ross and Mike are eventually able to defeat and destroy Baron.

In the seventh one, Ross wins a trip to a science lab codenamed E.VILLE, even though he shouldn't have been eligible. He is able to bring Mike and they're greeted there by a scientist who simply calls himself "Jim". Jim later reveals himself to be the creator of Baron and he was really luring Ross and Mike into a trap so he could kill them for revenge for killing Baron. Ross and Mike later get the upper hand and finish him instead.

In the seventeenth one, Ross and Mike win a trip to camp called Camp Glaregon. Ross soon finds it's the home of a monster lurking in the woods named Glaregon, and it's really living off of the fear of five campers who went to camp and found it in the woods decades before. However, only one of those five still remained alive, and it was none other than Ross and Mike's principal, Mr. Dozzom. Mr. Dozzom sacrifices himself, effectively killing the last person who had fear Glaregon lived off of. As a result, Glaregon is killed and the counselor of the camp, Ed Lance III, helps Ross and Mike put on a funeral for their principal.

In the most recent one (technically the nineteenth separate story of the series) Ross and Mike discover a hole in a cave that's really a portal to a different time period. Ross and Mike find themselves in a small village that's run by a figure that can distort time called the Finis Tempi, and the Finis Tempi turns out to be none other than the head of the temple where the Finis Tempi lurks: a sage named "Maverick". Ross and Mike are able to beat him and the Finis Tempi is sealed in the necklace Maverick has, which Ross soon gets. Ross and Mike are transported back to their regular time with no memory of what happened.

Hopefully you'll keep this in mind, because a lot of this stuff will be important later on.

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It was roughly 9:30 on a Friday night at Middlesprings High School in eastern Massachusetts in the middle of March. Half the student body of the school was attending the school for the annual "Welcome Back, Spring!" dance. Like many other school dances, there were guys and girls dressed up to look as nice as they could with a date who was willing to put up with them for a few hours, and maybe even a little bit longer…

The cafeteria had been completely rearranged; chairs and tables were moved out of the way for what would eventually become the dance floor. The giant stage at the head of the "cafetorium" had music equipment and a DJ set up all on it, ready to let all the other students jam along with the music that he was playing. There was rock music, classical music, and even some little kid music, all playing to the beat of strobe lights that had been set up there earlier in the afternoon.

While everyone was dancing around with their dates or taking swigs of water from a water bottle they brought with them, one person was in the bathroom, and he just finished washing his hands.

He was a sixteen year-old boy in the men's room. He turned the water off and the rapid flow of water from the faucets ceased. He grabbed a rough, brown paper towel from a dispenser and only partially dried his hands off with it. As he dried his hands off, he looked up and stared at himself in the mirror.

He was greeted to a fairly clean, shaven face of a teenager. His green eyes stared right back at him, and his fairly straight teeth were in a small smile. His short and normally gelled hair looked even neater and straighter than it normally did, obviously showing he put extra attention into it for the night. He was wearing a somewhat expensive sweater, which was the nicest thing he could find around his house for the night. He was pretty skinny and seemed to get more anorexic with every passing year, although he still had plenty of visible upper body strength. The sweater he was wearing concealed the silver-linked chain that he wore around his neck.

Heh, heh, he thought to himself as he continued staring at himself as he dried his hands. Lookin' good.

His name was Ross McKane. He had been sixteen for about six months, making him just old enough to get his driver's license before just about anyone else in his grade. It suited him well that he could very well be one of the few sophomores who could drive to school. But tonight, he wasn't thinking about that. He was more focused on having a good time.

Ross was a pretty good model student for a lot of his peers, in most respects. He was hard working and would always work to make sure whatever he was working on got done as quickly, but with as much quality, as possible. He was a fairly good student all around, and like most kids his age, he just desired to hang around with friends on the weekend and play video games, watch movies, or do other typical teenage stuff. But tonight was a bit different; instead of going to the movies, he was with his girlfriend, on their first "date".

As Ross strolled out of the bathroom, he walked over to a girl was leaning against the wall as if she was expecting to meet someone. She turned and saw Ross walking towards her, and she promptly smiled.

Her hair was long, black and wavy. Her teeth were practically spotless, and her brown eyes matched the more tan tone of her skin. As far as the size of the stomach went, she was pretty much as small as Ross. But unlike Ross, she wasn't that great of an athlete and did most of her extracurricular time performing as a cheerleader. (Which was one more after school program than Ross was involved in) She was usually very hyper and enthusiastic, and like a lot of girls, she was obsessed with keeping her figure small and making sure she had one pair of shoes for each day of the month. And like Ross, she took her academics very seriously.

"Ross!" she called. "What took you? I was beginning to think you got lost!"

"That's right, Alicia," Ross answered in his flat tone. "I got lost on the way to the bathroom."

Alicia smiled. "Anyway, you didn't really miss anything. Hey, how come you haven't danced with me yet tonight? And what happened to our first date?"

"Well, I guess I thought you'd rather come to a school dance than go see a movie," Ross said, pretending to scratch the back of his neck while he steered his eyes away from hers.

"No way!" Alicia said. "I'd take a nice romantic movie over one of these dances any day."

Good, 'cause I wouldn't, Ross thought to himself. "Oh yeah, and I haven't danced with you because we've only been here about ten minutes and there haven't been any good songs that have been played."

"Yeah, yeah," Alicia said, still retaining her pleasant smile. "Hey, where's Mike?"

"Mike? Aw, he's at home watching some Friday-night gameshow, I'll bet," Ross casually answered. "I don't think he found a girl desperate enough to come to the dance with him tonight."

Alicia let out a small laugh. "That's mean! You don't talk about your friends that way!"

That was one of Ross's bigger flaws. He often times didn't think about what he was saying before he said it. More than once, his quick responses got him into trouble with an adult. Sometimes, he'd even just give a sarcastic or witty response without even meaning to be insulting and he would accidentally hurt someone else's feelings. His quick responses and even quicker ability to get irritated often got him tangled in arguments that could have been avoided if he just took a moment to pause and think about what he was saying.

Ross and Alicia just stood by the wall, watching the other people and their dates dance around on the floor and watched as they just had a fun time. But Alicia wasn't too interested in dancing until she heard a song she really liked, and Ross liked it that way. He hoped a good song would never come around, because he was a horrible dancer when he had to improvise, and being in front of the kids he went to school with would only make him more nervous.

All of a sudden, the current song stopped, and so did the dancing. But only a second later, the music was expertly blended into the start of another song. This one started off with a few seconds of hearing a set of guitars strummed to a very familiar tune, followed by John Lennon's scratchier-than-normal voice singing, "Well, shake it up baby, now!" followed by a chorus of the same words.

No…Ross thought to himself. Not THIS song! Once I hear it for five seconds, I can't get it out of my head for EIGHT HOURS!!

Alicia gasped with delight. "I love this song! Ross! Let's get dancing!"

Without having a second opinion, Ross was thrown into the middle of the dance floor and was forced to start dancing with Alicia, even though he had no clue what he was doing. He had to resort to just randomly moving his body around, trying not to think about how much he looked like an idiot.

Alicia was doing a great job dancing and she seemed much more laid back and calm than her date did. In fact, she was too busy dancing to really notice that Ross was really uncomfortable with what he was doing.

Sheesh…Ross thought to himself as he continued dancing to the decades-old song when he saw Alicia was looking very confident and looked like she was just plain old having a good time. Why does hearing them say "You know you twist so fine?" make me feel so much worse?...

Unfortunately for Ross, the rest of the night didn't seem to be a lot better. That one song was like an indicator that he was in for a long night of dancing without the slightest idea what he was doing while he was trying to hide the fact he was uncomfortable from Alicia.

It was a long few hours, but the dance finally ended, with Ross feeling like an idiot after stepping on Alicia's foot over and over during the course of the night. But Alicia never complained about it; she was having too much of a good time to really worry about that.

As the school gradually drained and the students left a puddle of cups and paper wrappers all over the ground for the cafeteria crew to spend all of Saturday picking up, Ross and Alicia headed out to the parking lot behind the back of the school. Ross headed out to a 2004 Sedan that seemed out of place in the back, and after reaching out a pair of jingling keys from his pocket, he hopped in the car behind the steering wheel. Alicia followed him and sat right next to him in the passenger's seat. She was still smiling widely from the dance, but Ross was as relieved as ever that it was over.

After putting the keys in ignition and driving out the parking lot, Ross was soon driving down the road very calm and casually, even though this was one of the first times he had ever driven when he had his license. Still, he was fired up from the dance, which allowed him to stay awake and alert, even though it was late at night.

After he drove about ten minutes, he finally pulled up to Alicia's house. Alicia got out of the car and started walking up the pathway to the steps of her house, but Ross quickly got out of the car and walked a little faster to catch up with her.

Alicia was at the front door when he had caught up. Alicia had just rung the doorbell when she noticed Ross was standing right next to her. He was smiling kind of strangely, whether it was from relief that the night was over or if he was nervous about something.

He had noticed something that he had found very peculiar, and it had just struck him that night. He and Alicia had been seeing each other since the very beginning of their freshman year in high school a little over a year and a half before. But despite that, the two of them had never actually kissed each other. Had Alicia noticed that? She sure wasn't acting like it, but he wouldn't be surprised if she picked up on it as well.

"Well, Ross, thank you very much for tonight," Alicia said, still smiling cheerfully.

"Ah, it was nothing," Ross said with a mix of confidence and bashfulness.

Alicia just gave a slight chuckle and looked away from him for a moment. She still smiled, but was now looking at the clean white door leading into the house in front of her. But as quickly as she had turned away, she turned back to Ross and stared right at him.

And he stared back at her. Was this finally the moment? He thought so, and she seemed to think so. It was perfect timing; the night, the mood, the air, the time…it was all perfect.

Ross and Alicia slowly started bringing their faces closer to each other, and Ross suddenly felt his heartbeat spike like never before. They were only mere inches away from kissing each other when the door to Alicia's house opened.

Alicia's dad was standing there and smiling at both of them, completely oblivious as to what had just happened. Hearing the door open caused Ross to jump, and he suddenly snapped up like he was a soldier at attention.

"Why hello, my little princess," Alicia's dad said to her in a sweet voice. "Did you have a nice night?"

"Sure did," Alicia said cheerfully, seeming to have completely forgotten what was just happening before her dad opened the door.

Her dad held the door open for her as she cheerfully walked inside. She stood right behind her father and stood out to face Ross on the porch.

"Ross, thank you very much for getting Alicia to and from school," her dad said, giving Ross a warm and friendly smile.

"Oh, it was nothing, Mr. Heiner," Ross said awkwardly and giving an equally uneasy smile.

"Bye, Ross," Alicia said as her dad closed the door.

"Bye," he tried to say pleasantly as he saw the door close on his face. When Alicia and her dad were completely out of sight, he sighed and turned around. He trotted back to his car in the driveway and hopped in the driver's seat. He pulled out of the parking lot like nothing had ever happened, and he proceeded to drive home in a similar manner.

About eight minutes later, Ross was pulling into his driveway and got ready to hop out of the car when he had it completely parked. Great, he thought to himself, now I'll have to answer "Did you have fun tonight?" about a thousand times…

As he walked into his house to greet his mom and dad after the dance, he failed to notice that there was something different about the street that night. Parked on the other side of the road was a giant black van that normally was for surveillance purposes. The windows were very strongly tinted, even though the night made it hard to see anything going on in inside, anyway.

Two people were in the van and seemed to be studying Ross very carefully as he walked into his house. They watched him very carefully and made sure he was the one they were looking for.

"That's him, isn't it?" asked one of the people. He sounded like an older adult male who was probably in his mid-fifties or some similar age.

"Yes, no doubt about it," said another voice. This voice belonged to a woman, and it sounded smooth, yet bitter at the same time. But due to the darkness of the van and the darkness of the night, neither of them was visible.

"Did you set the trap?" the man asked.

"Yes. If that kid's as smart as he's made himself look, he'll recognize it in an instant. Guarantee it," the woman replied

"You sure?"

"Yes. And I'll bet he'll tell his friends about it as well, and we can get all of them at once."

"You sure they'll actually pursue to find out if it really is what they think it is? How do you know he'll even find it?"

"He will. After all the reports I've had to read about this kid, he'll do it."

There was a deep silence that filled the van. It seemed very out of place on the street, but no one was doing anything about it. Tomorrow, their plan would start. At least, that's what they were counting on.