Chapter 1 : Goodbye Freedom, Hello Religion

Whoever said that Religion would make a perfect subject to take in school, must have her head cut off.

Principal Lankey, started the school year by announcing that all seniors are required to take the Religion class this year. She prosed on and on about us being young adults, that we should be responsible enough to take on the world, that Religion is the key to responsibility, that it would mold us to be better, to be different.

Bull... Shit.

She just wanted us to suffer.

Why wrap it up in a pretty little picture when we all know she was just paying us back after her tires were slashed last year. It was a parting gift from the seniors then.

Come... on... We only have one free period a week. One hour to bum around campus, go to the library, play soccer, basketball, do whatever...

It's always been that way in Midas High. Why change now? And why start with the seniors? If you ask me, they should have started with the freshmen.

For crying out loud, we'll be in college next year. Don't you think it's a tad too late for change?

Right. Listen to me blabber. I tried to take this up with Principal Lankey but all I got was a resigned, immovable, tolerating look that told me she was not budging.

That was two months ago and yes, I'm still grumbling about it.

I dragged my feet, along with the rest of the class, dreading yet another period of boredom and humiliation. I mean, who in their right mind discusses things like Charity, Prudence, Kindness and God forbid-Chastity to a class of eighteen-year-old horny freaks?

I want to fucking cut her head off.

I slammed my knapsack on the desk and settled on my assigned chair. It was one of those perks that Mr. Wells, our Religion teacher came up with. I was sitting on a chair that was flanked by sweaty, smelly boys on either side and the same with the people who were sitting in my front and back.

Help... I can't breathe... Someone forgot to take a bath today.

For once in my life, I was thankful when a different scent circulated around the room. It was perfume sprayed by the queen bimbo herself, Krista Humpries. I still had to use the thin notebook to fan myself so I could breathe though.

I heard some shuffling and I heard a yelp coming from the head cheerleader, then the sound of a 'whack' came.

"Stop it." Natalie Henderson, my next door neighbor, hissed at Jhonny Edwards, hitting him with a notebook on the shoulder.

Now, I've known this two since we were in our nappies but we never really got along. Early years of harrassment made sure of that.

Don't give me that look. I wasn't the one doing the harrassing.

I gave them a look on contempt and said snidely, "Now, that's just patthetic." I let Jhonny know what I knew all along.

It was the oldest cliché in the book, him in love with his bestfriend, bestfriend doing the blind act. Yadayadayada... It makes me want to puke. Adding to the equation, Natalie has a boyfriend who, I might add is a jerk.

All I need is popcorn and I'm all set. The scene is straight out of freakin' a movie. Except, I'm one of the antagonists and no, I'm not blond and have no plans of dying my hair to become one.

Being long time friends, Natalie felt compelled to jump on Jhonny's defense, "Did you just call him pathetic?"

I leaned back on the chair and answered, "Yeah and you're a moron."

She turned so red that I thought she would have an apoplexy. "Must you always be so bitchy?" She finally blurted out. I applaud her discipline, knowing it's not easy. Especially with someone like me.

But I still hate her.

"Of course. The horror of people knowing otherwise." I gave her a mocking cringe before adding, "But you're still a moron though."

"Hey!" Jhonny warned.

I rolled my eyes at them and was prevented from replying when Mr. Wells came in. He was no pastor or priest but when he starts the lecture, he might as well have been.

"Good morning. It's good to see everyone settled on their seats. Perfect way to get to know each other, don't you think?" Mr. Wells greeted the class with an encouranging smile.

It was all I could do not to snort. I slumped on my chair and braced myself for another hour full of bull.

"Now, we've tackled virtues that we agreed must be made part of our everyday lives. Today, I'll have you contemplate on things that make us who we are, things that define us, things that play an integral part of our being, In short, things that we should be thankful for."

I let out a resigned breath and tried to gather my scattered thoughts, preparing myself for an inevitable onslaught.

"We'll start now so we everyone gets a chance to share." Mr. Wells rubbed his hands, ignoring the groans that erupted in the room.

"Let's start with, Mr. Webber." He looked pointedly at Lyle Weber the resident science genius or should I say, nerd.

"The solar system." He said straight to Mr. Wells eye.

Mr. Wells was taken aback at that. Snickers were heard from the people sitting at the back. I knew he wanted to ask why but silently applauded when he turned to the Cecilia, who was sitting beside Lyle, instead.

"Thank you Mr. Webber. What about you, Ms. Torres?"

"Uh... My credit card?"

I knew what he was after but it was amusing to see these people play dumb. I shook my head at her and gave her a grudging smile.

She, in turn winked.

"That's... nice. I'm looking for something with a higher value. Mr. Jones, what about you."

Gregory Jones, gave him a smirk, and said , "That's easy. My car."

Typical of the idiot to rub his wealth on to anyone who would listen.

Mr. Wells looked like he wanted to give up but still tried. "I'm looking for something immaterial. Something that can't be bought. There's your hint. Oh, we have a volunteer. Yes, Ms. Humpries?"

"Here we go." I muttered.

"Ms. Hart, what did I say about those remarks?" He softly rebuked.

I raised both hands and mumbled a 'sorry', that I will never mean when it comes to her.

Krista Humpries, gave me a superior look that came out funny. She fancied herself the most beautiful in Midas High. It was true to some extent. If you dig girls who wear a 34-C cup bra and still looked like those two melons were going to spill out anytime soon then I guess she is. She had the blond theme going on. It was dyed of course. Nobody in the planet had hair that color.

As blonds go, she lives up to their reputation, is probably the dumbest of them all. That's why I call her the Queen B. B for Bimbo. You'll know why in a few minutes.

Mr. Wells, gave her a nod of encouragement.

I turned on my seat to get a good view, knowing this would be the highlight of my day.

"My classmates have been talking about stuff whose value will be like useless in the next few years." She turned and gave us that superior look again before continuing, "What Mr. Wells is looking for is something that can't be bought. Something we all have. Something we all appreciate. Well, at least some of us." She said, giving me a sneer.

"Please enlighten us then, Krista." I said, curiosity got the better out of me so I let the insult pass.

"It will be my pleasure, Dana." She spat my name out like it was a huge feat for her to even say it.

I raised my eyebrows in question, waiting for her to answer. The rest of the class had her attention and she gloried in it.

"Ms. Humpries, what is this immaterial 'thing' that we should be thankful for?" Mr. Wells asked again.

She gave him a sweet smile. "That's easy. I see it everyday when I wake up and before I sleep."

"Yes?" Mr Wells encouraged her to continue. He should have learned his lesson the first time he met her.

"Just say it already." I said impatiently.

She looked at me like I was stupid then composed herself and faced the rest of the class before she dropped the bomb. "My face."

I chuckled and faced front while the others tried to stifle their laughter.

I told you she was stupid.

And so the rest of the hour went. Maybe religion isn't so bad after all.

After school, I headed over to Bugz, a local cafe where kids from school hang out. I sometimes spend sometime there but usually with the few friends I have. There were a few pool tables set up on the left side side and circular coffee tables on the right. I scanned the tables, looking for one guy guaranteed to make my afternoon suck.

I found Nate Henning, resident football captain, trying the incognito act at the end of the room. It was, of course, impossible considering his size. He had covered his head with his hood and had a newspaper covering his face.

He had chosen the table by the window. Good, I thought 'cause I hate being juggled around while people tried to get to their destinations.

I made my way towards the table, shaking my head. There was only one thing that would make him stoop so low.

Women.

I slapped my bag down the table which made him look up with a look of relief.

"Need your help." He said closing the paper and leaning both hands on the table.

"Hello to you too." I said sarcastically before I flopped down the cushioned chair opposite him.

He ignored that and said again, "I really need your help."

I leaned over and took a french fry from his plate and chewed before I said, "Who is it this time?"

He stole a look at the people in the cafe and leaned over so no one would hear. "Krista Humphries."

"Queen B?!"

"Shhh... Will you keep it down?" He said exasperatedly, looking around for anyone who might have noticed my outburst.

"You know, there is a reason why she is called that." I said, trying to reason with him. I've known Nate for four years and never thought him an idiot.

Well, until now.

"I know, alright." He looked around again and implored, "I really need you this time. She won't leave me alone. It was just one night, I swear."

I couldn't help myself so I hit his head with the palm of my hand, causing his hood to almost fall off.

"Ow! What did you do that for?" He protested, rubbing his head and putting his disguise to rights.

"FYI, your brain is in your head not in your pants. Idiot."

"Bitch." He grumbled.

"Love you too pumpkin." I countered.

"You!" I heard a screech from the other end of the room and knew it was show time. I saw heads turn to where that voice came from and took advantage.

"This is gonna cost you triple." I whispered to him.

"What?! That wasn't our agreement." He protested.

The sound of heels started clinking on the floor was a telltale sign that he has no other option.

I shrugged and said, "It's only fair. You know this will cost me a lifetime of harrassment."

"Fine." He grumbled.

I took a french fry from his plate and this time offered it to him, "Here you go, pumpkin."

He looked at me incredulously but when he saw that Krista was only six yards away, he opened his mouth and ate.

"Good pumpkin." I said, pulling his hoodie back and played with his hair. It was all I could do not to pull them out.

"Stop touching him!" Krista yelled as she stopped in our table.

"Oh!" I let a show of surprise fall on my face. "Krista?" I asked, letting my hand fall from his hair and settled on top his hand on the table.

I wanted to break his fingers and feed it to her.

"Stop touching my boyfriend." She hissed, looking pointedly at our hands.

I turned my stare back to Nate and asked in a soft, sweet voice that made me want to puke all over myself, "You haven't told her yet?"

Nate caught on and answered sheepishly, "Sorry babe, there wasn't time."

"What are you talking about?" Krista asked furiously.

"We're back together." I said, making my voice as gratingly sweet as possible.

"That's not possible." She artfully shook her head in denial.

"Why not?" I asked, daring her to say otherwise.

"Because..."

When she didn't finish the sentence, I was forced to ask, "Because what?"

Flushed with anger, she yelled, "Just because!"

I dropped all pretense of sweetness and said in a resigned tone, "Is this going to turn into a Flintstones commercial?"

She prepared to take a lunge at me so I said in dangerously soft voice. "If you touch me with those nails, I'm going to make sure that all of them are bleeding when I'm done."

Something akin to fear crossed her face but she wiped it out and glared at me then stalked off.

She knows I don't make empty threats.

"Hey Krista!" I called out, making sure that this would be the end of this.

She turned artfully, making her blond curls bounce back, "What?!"

"Stay away from him." I nodded towards Nate.

She narrowed her eyes at me and continued on.

I watched her walk out of the cafe and then gave Nate a hard kick under the table.

"Ow!" He yelped leaning under the table to massage his shin. "Must you be so violent?" He asked in exasperation.

"Must you be so stupid?" I countered, taking his plate from across the table and ate.

"Yes, Hart. You can have my food." He said sarcastically before flagging a waitress.

When the waitress left, I gave him a look of disgust and threw a fresh fry to his face. "Krista Humpries?" I asked incredulously.

He pulled the french fry out of his shirt where it had fallen and gave me a sheepish look.

Like I would fall for that, "I want to beat the crap out of you." I grumbled.

"I was drunk, alright. She was there and... You know what happens." He shrugged again, leaning back on the cushion.

"You mean, you were disgustingly drunk and she slept with you anyway. Or is it the other way around?"

"You'll never let this go, will you?"

"Nope." I said and ate.

He sighed and shook his head.

Our relationship may not be romantic but there are times where in I would like to bash his head repeatedly until he gets some miniscule part of maturity. I never minded that he slept around and uses me as a front to break up with them. But Krista Humphries? That dangerously borders to insanity.

I spied my neighbor walking over, completely ruining my day. "Loser, alert." I said to Nate nodding to his right.

He shook his head when he saw who it was, knowing this could get ugly if he didn't end it quickly.

Jhonny Edwards apparently saw what happened and wanted to give Nate a piece of his mind. For some reason, he had appointed himself a 'soul of kindness' and every girl's 'knight in shining whatever'.

If I hadn't known him all my life, I would have fallen for it. Luckily for me, I knew better.

I tried really hard to forget the early years of resentment caused by them but repeatedly failed, so I realized why bother? If he continually presents himself to me, then I can't help but verbally abuse him, now can I?.

Unfortunately for him, being Nate's best friend puts him directly in my line of fire.

He barely spared me a glance and started on Nate, "Krista Humpries?" He asked incredulously before sliding down beside Nate, obviously avoiding contact with me.

I said it before, I'll say it again. Loser.

I raised my brows in question at his tone tone though. He sounded almost disgusted at Nate. Now, we can't have that 'cause that would put us in the same page. Imagine us getting along, laughing and being friends... Disgusting.

"It was a moment of weakness." Nate reasoned out.

"Correction." I interrupted, making them both turn to me, "It was a moment of stupidity."

Loser apparently shared my sentiment because he slapped Nate's head with his palm.

"What is it with people hitting me today?" He grumbled rubbing his head.

"We'll, I'm trying to see if I can juggle it enough so you would learn to use it. I don't know what his excuse is." I said, waving my hand to the loser beside him.

Jhonny gave me an irritated look and asked, "Why are you friends with her again?"

"Because I wouldn't sleep with him. Stupid." I countered.

The boy is stupid I tell you, I can't recall how many times we've had this conversation but does the loser ever learn his lesson? No. I guess he likes being insulted

I saw him about to form a snarl but got a hold of himself and smiled grimly when he spotted the waitress back with Nate's order. If you ask me, I would say that he looked constipated. But that's just me. You should know by now that I'm biased when it comes to him.

"True." Nate nodded, taking a huge bite out of his burger and added with a perverted smile, "But it's never too late start now."

I snorted at that. This folks, is familiar territory to me. "No thanks, Nate. I'm too young get HIV."

He chuckled at that while loser just shook his head and muttered something about soap on my mouth. I smirked at that. He wouldn't dare, I'd let NatJo have a go at him if he did.

I spotted Karina Meyner, eyeing loser here and let my disgust show. "Slut. Alert." I nodded to Nate.

Both of them turned and stared at the flash of excessive flesh on display. To me, it looked like she was wearing a size smaller red sleeveless shirt and very short denim skirt that probably work more as a headband.

"Hi." She said more to Jhonny and ignored both Nate and me.

"Karina." Loser nodded to her. "Having fun with your friends?" He nodded to the people by the pool table where a couple of students in our class were.

"Yeah. We need one more player though. I was wondering if you're interested." She asked, biting her lip.

I know she transferred her a year ago but from what I gathered, she's the female version of Nate.

"We're kinda busy..." Loser started to say.

Like hell he was staying in my table, "No, we're not. You can take him." I nodded encouragingly.

Loser shot me a dagger look but I innocently smiled back and ensured his boot out of my table, "We won't mind, won't we Nate?"

"Nope. By all means, take him." Shoving Jhonny off the chair.

"Great." She clamped an iron shackle on his arm and dragged him to her friends. I saw them groan and hand Karina a baseball cap full of ten dollar bills.

Loser looked so confused that I had to laugh at his stupidity.

Nate guffawed when he took a good look at his friend.

"That girl is smart." I chuckled and gave an 'all hail Karini' gesture, waving both hands up and down.

She returned the favor by bowing gracefully.

"I agree." Nate said with a smile, shaking his head at Jhonny who had just caught on what happened and gave them a sheepish smile. They then proceeded to play pool, forgetting the bet.

"Too bad smart girls don't dig you."

"Hey!" He protested.

"Shut up. You know it's true. Now, pay up. I have to go." I said, I stood up and finished my soda.

Nate's face crunched up as drew his wallet from his back pocket. He handed me six hundred dollar bills that I shoved down in my my right picket.

"Thank you pumpkin." I said, blowing him a kiss.

"Yeah, yeah." He grumbled, waving me away.

I chuckled at the look on his face and went out of the cafe. I made my way over to my baby and and carefully dropped my things on the passenger side. My father had given me this baby on my sixteenth birthday. He said that the red mustang reminded him of me and he knew I would love it.

I smiled when I remembered my mom's reaction. She yelled at dad for a month.

I'm old enough to know that it was all for show though. They were too used to it to stop now. It's like a ritual. They're never comfortable with each other if they're not at each other's throats constantly.

My parents have this strange relationship to the point that they would call each other during the holidays and are civil for about two minutes then they yelling. It was probably for the better that they got divorced when I was eleven.

I backed out of the parking lot and started my way home. Like most dads, he agreed to give mom full custody.

I hurriedly I parked my baby in the garage and gathered my things from the other seat. I quickly made my way over to the door and was smothered by black fur when I opened it.

I named him NatJo for the obvious reasons. Natalie and Jhonny have made growing up hard on this street. NatJo had started barking whenever he gets either of them on his sights. I smiled the first time they saw him, I was twelve and boy, was it fun to see them scamper to the opposite direction when they saw him.

My mom had a fit when she saw the puppy dad brought me. She knew he would be trouble and that he would be huge when he grew up. He burned holes on socks, shoes, slippers and the rugs much to my moms dismay. He knew better than to touch my things though, so he behaves when he's in my room.

I chuckled at his enthusiasm. "Hello sweetie." I ruffled his chin and planted a kiss on his nose.

"Let me go get dressed and we'll go for a run." I ran up to my room and took my school clothes off in exchange for a pair of loose walking shorts that ends just about the knee and a white razor back shirt. I tied my hair back to a ponytail and put the earphones of my ipod on.

I jogged down the stairs and opened the door to let NatJo out. I didn't need a leash as he never strays from my side and he never attacks anyone. Well, as long as he doesn't see the two neighbors I despise the most then I guess he's ok.

With Disturbed's Down With the Sickness, blaring on my ear, I started to jog, making NatJo break into a full run.

I smiled as I saw him fly down the street, making people step out of the way. That's my boy, I thought before I started after him.


Author's Note:

This was a long time coming, I know. Sorry, to keep you guys waiting. I wanted to wait until I got my 'groove' back. :-)

I started this one last week. I didn't want to focus on the characters that I was very familiar with. I wanted to start the sequel with something fresh, something not entirely foreign to me but can still be cosidered relatively new. Dana Hart is not a new character. If you read through the first few chapters of J&C, You'll find her there. :-)

Before I get a barage of emails and complaints I want to make it clear that Religion here, is a subject in school. I don't mean to demean the anyone's faith. So if you're offended, I apologize.

Updates will be gradual as I'm also working on CM. And that one has me pulling my hair out. Some chapters are begging to be edited so I'll be working on that too.

Oh, and please leave a review. I love it when you guys do that.