Sing It Back Louder
Chapter Four: My Empire Of Dirt
04032008 – 0917P

AN: Okay, I just want to say a few things before I officially bring this story back to life: First, originally, this story was supposed to be told exclusively from Sam's POV, because he's obviously the main character. But as time went on in the planning of this story (because I haven't been just sitting on my ass, I have been planning), I came to the realization that Lana is going to be just as important. So she is getting some time too, if no one has any objections. Second, I'm so, so sorry to all of you who have reviewed and given me support. I can't believe I just ditched this story like that. I hope you're still with me and I hope you'll forgive me. I've hit a rough patch. I'll try to do better. -.-; And third, I'd like to dedicate this story to X-core, who got me working on it again. Love you!

Well, let's get this show on the road!

Music: "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails… or Johnny Cash, depending on whatever version gets you off. XD

XxX

I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focused on the pain
the only thing that's real.

A needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything.

And you could have it all
my empire of dirt
I could make you fall
I could make you hurt

XxX

"Ahoy!" Charley greeted me when I got to school one day. I raised my eyebrows.

"Ahoy?"

"Well, yeah. It's Mariner Monday!" she explained as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Says who?"

"Me."

"Ah. Ahoy then."

"That's the spirit, Mr. Grumpy-Gills."

"Are you going to do that all day?"

"Probably." She smiled cheekily at me. I smiled back, despite myself.

"Wow, Charley, you've managed to defrost the Ice King then, have you?" a voice came from behind me and I turned around, fixing a glare on the boy standing there. He was almost as tall as me, dressed in a tight white tee shirt and blue jeans. His light brown hair fell in messy waves to just below his chin, a few obscuring his clear blue eyes.

"Oh, shove off, Riley," Charley sneered. I snorted, holding back a laugh and the boy smiled faintly. He took a step closer to me, a brave undertaking since, like I said, I overshadowed him a bit, and could probably kick his ass if I tried.

"Look. I know your reputation. If you hurt my sister in any way, you will be very sorry."

Well, aside from that being possibly the lamest threat I've ever heard, I was a bit confused. What reputation had I managed to obtain when no one knew anything about me? But before I could ask (not that I had any interest in speaking to that inbreeder anyway), Riley had walked away, swallowed up by the crowed milling towards the entrance to the school.

"What was that about?" I asked Charley in an undertone.

"Hmm?" she asked absent-mindedly.

"Your psychotic brother just threatened me based on a reputation I know nothing about!"

"Oh. And here I thought you two would get along swimmingly."

"Why would you think that?" I demanded. She shrugged.

"Cause I thought you two had lobster potential."

"… What the hell is that?" I asked, taken aback. She stared at me with wide eyes.

"What's what?" she asked, clearly confused. I opened my mouth to explain but she cut me off. "Oh, I have something for you!" she sang, digging around in her Audrey Hepburn shoulder bag for a moment before extracting a photograph. She handed it to me, beaming.

It was a picture of Lana and a bunch of other kids, their faces tinged red, lips blue, as they huddled in the cold, wrapping their zippers closer around them as a snowman, easily nine feet tall, towered behind them. Lana's chilled face was pulled into a smile, and she flashed the peace sign at the camera, her other arm around the waist of a tall girl with choppy blond hair.

"We're running the picture as part of the student interest section of the Dispatch," Charley said. She was the editor of the school paper, The Eagle Dispatch. "But I thought your sister might like a copy."

"Yeah…" I said, staring at the picture. Lana seemed so happy…

"But you know, you should watch out for that girl, Tracey. She's a snake if I've ever seen one. And Lana seems to be her pet of the month." Charley pointed at the blonde girl, her eyes narrowing dangerously.

"Her pet?"

"Well, yeah. Tracey befriends anyone that she considers to be a lost cause. That way, when she makes them into a perfect carbon of her, she can have the joy of tearing them back down." Charley's eyes were lit with a fire I hadn't before seen on the usually care-free girl.

"How do you know all this?" I asked, switching my gaze back to the blonde girl in the picture.

"Because," Charley spat with so much venom that she could've been the snake that she was accusing Tracey of being, "I was a lost cause when I first came to Woodrow."

XxX

(Lana)

I watched as Tracey brought the tip of her paintbrush gently to the cinderblock wall of the Academy of Careers and Technology, the school adjacent to Woodrow, just across the student parking lot. She carefully dabbed off-white paint against the edge of the blue, neatening the line she had previously created. She was worrying one lip between her teeth, and every few moments she would release it to blow away a strand of hair that had escaped her messy ponytail to dangle in her face.

Our Marketing and Advertising class was given the assignment of painting company logos on the wall of the classroom, but I hadn't been assigned anything yet, so I spent a lot of time watching Tracey's progress.

"Okay," Tracey said with a huff, jumping down from the chair she was standing on. "I'm done for the day. Let's skip the rest of the day," she said, loud enough for me to hear, but quiet enough that Mr. Byrge wouldn't hear her.

"What?" I asked, appalled. I had never skipped school. Ever. I couldn't afford to. If anything happened and the transplant was suddenly rejected, I'd miss enough school as it was without piling on make-up work from just skipping because I felt like it. "We can't!"

Tracey sighed in a somewhat irritated manner, rolling her eyes for a moment before pasting a smile on her face and turning to face Mr. Byrge.

"Mr. Byrge, I think I've made all the progress I can today, and I need to take a ton equipment from my car to the A/V room. Is it okay if I leave early?" she lied smoothly. I think my eyes were about to pop out of my head. How could she just do that?

"I guess," Mr. Byrge said as he gazed at her half-completed logo. "That'll have to dry before you can do anymore."

"I know, right?" Tracey grinned as though it were some sort of joke, what she was saying. I just stayed glued to my seat, gobsmacked. "Hey, since Lana doesn't have any work to do yet, could she come help me? I don't exaggerate when I say it's a ton of stuff."

"Yeah, I guess. Just try to make it back for the end of class if you can," he answered, lowing his bald head over his desk to write our passes. I just couldn't get my mind around it. Were we really doing this? How could we not get caught?

"We will! Thanks, Mr. Byrge," Tracey exclaimed, plucking the passes from his outstretched hand. She turned and waltzed out of the room, simple as that. I followed her, trying not to look too shocked by this. I caught up to her, and she leaned down to whisper in my ear, "Just walk out like you own the place."

Easier said than done, I though, trying to obey her as she flashed our passes at the parking lot monitor, who nodded and waved shortly as we climbed into her car.

"Where are we going?" I asked, buckling my seatbelt.

"To paradise," she answered, flashing her brilliantly white teeth at me. I could see the silver glimmer of her tongue ring flicker behind those teeth, reminding me of a hissing snake. What had I gotten myself into?

But Tracey was a good person. I mean, she was the first one to befriend me here. She showed me around the school, made sure I survived and didn't get too lost or hazed by the seniors during freshmen week. Even though I wasn't a freshman, I was new to the school, and that was just as worth a hazing to the seniors.

So I relaxed against the leather seat as Tracey turned out of the parking lot. She wouldn't let anything bad happen. It would be fine.

XxX

(Sam)

"Saaaaaaam," Charley whined. "Please? I told them that I would get an interview with you!"

"Why in the seven hells would you want an interview with me?" I demanded, starting to get irritated with her constant pestering.

"Because, you're new to Woody. The Dispatch always interviews the new students."

"Yeah, well, I refuse. Do not want."

"But Saaaaaaaaam—"

"No, Charley. You can write something about me if you want, but I am not sitting through an interview for something like that. I have better things to do."

"Like what?"

"Like get my teeth pulled. Or learn mandarin Chinese."

XxX

AN: I'm fully aware that the last part of this chapter seems completely pointless. BUT IT'S NOT! I PROMISE!

Okay?

Okay.

So, I'd love to know what you think. I'd do replies but it's been so long, it seems almost pointless. 0.o

But I will reply to all new reviews? Sound good? I thought so. XD

- Luci (the great and returned).