Cierra Jayne Diaz never liked moving. It happened so frequently, though, that she became immune to all its negativity. For example, actually lugging the boxes into the new house was a pain in the ass. If they had extra cash they'd hire professional help, but unfortunately for her, her mother claimed it'd be a waste of money to get someone else to do what they could do with their own bare hands.
Apparently, she never took her daughter's feelings into consideration.
"That's right, Cierra Jayne! Push that sucker right in, up the stairs, and into your room." That was her. The woman who brought her into this world and all its misery. "You've done it all those other eight times we've moved . . . You can do it again!" She said that with such a cheerful tone and Cierra Jayne actually considered stopping and flashing the older woman a strange look.
But she didn't. Instead, she grunted, inwardly moaned, and outwardly cursed her predicament throughout the long journey of her front lawn and her new bedroom on the second floor. Okay, so maybe she isn't immune to all its evilness. She could dig this.
"Cierra Jayne! More boxes!" Rose Ann called from downstairs.
Of course, having to do it again would be a problem. The said girl grumbled before stalking downstairs and out the door. She felt the late August sun beating against her skin and she had the sudden urge for a cold glass of iced tea.
"Mother, this is where Christopher comes in handy." She waved an exasperated hand to the boy leaning against the fence with his arms crossed over his chest. "Chris, can you please move your lazy butt and help us?"
"I'm resting," he called back without opening his closed eyes.
Cierra Jayne (preferably CJ) threw her hands in the air and made a dirty face at her twin brother. She was older, of course, but she looked nothing like it when he towered over her 5'5 form at his 6'3. Besides, he would always say, what's the difference in two minutes?
Her reply: Uh, everything?
It was around mid-afternoon when all three of them collapsed on their new living room floor. CJ reached to her forehead to wipe the beads of sweat forming near her hairline. "Misery," she spoke aloud in a flat tone.
Chris laughed, throwing an arm over his eyes. "You're such a weakling, CJ."
"I'm sorry if I don't enjoy pushing enormous boxes up the stairs."
"Stop arguing, please," Rose Ann said in a tired voice but her tone held amusement. "Now how about we pick up our lazy asses and dump ourselves in the kitchen so I could make us a fruit smoothie?"
Chris was up first, followed by Rose Ann, and then CJ. She surveyed their backs with a neutral expression. It's always been the three of them ever since Cierra Jayne could remember. She'd say it with a matter-of-fact tone, that her father had left them when she and her brother were fourteen years old, but she couldn't help but feel an empty space in her chest where he was supposed to be . . . with them.
She was angry and hurt. He tore her mother apart and left Chris unable to trust anyone as easily as he had. Then there was Cierra Jayne. At first nothing really registered, but she found herself mentally pulling away from her friends and everyone else around her. Her mother noticed this and the brilliant idea of moving to start fresh popped into her mind.
They never really did start fresh. They began to recuperate. Slowly. But when Cierra Jayne really looked at it, nothing had changed. Everyone just learned to hide it well and put up an act for the sake of everyone else. Sometimes it made her sick. Sometimes it made her feel grateful.
"Cierra Jayne?" Rose Ann blinked her wide eyes at her daughter. "Are you feeling all right?"
"I'm fine," CJ said. She gratefully accepted the glass cup from her mother and quietly sipped through the straw it held.
"So what're you two going to do tomorrow?" Rose Ann asked after a moment of silence.
They both shared a look of confusion before turning their expression in the direction of their mother. "Well," Chris hesitated, "we were going to help you unpack."
"Right," CJ supplied with a nod. "Chris was going to start with the upstairs and I was going to attack the main floor—"
"No, no." Rose Ann's voice was tinge of impatience. "I don't want you two to unpack right now. I forbid you. So let me ask again," she said slowly ignoring the look of bafflement on both their faces, "what are your plans for tomorrow?"
CJ was silent. Chris shuffled in his seat. "Uh," his voice was wry and unsure, "go to the grocery store?" He was always the one that went grocery shopping for the weekly supplies.
"No . . ."
"Um," CJ piped, wavering slightly, "register for our school?"
"No . . ."
Chris and CJ looked at each other and shrugged. "Go to the library?" CJ tried meekly.
"NO . . ."
Everything grew silent.
Rose Ann blew out a puff of air and sighed. "My goodness, children," she said, shaking her head. "Do you not know how to have fun?"
"Well I do," Chris said blankly, lifting his hand. "But I'm pretty sure that she doesn't."
"How would you like to die?"
"Cierra Jayne!" Rose Ann said sharply. The said girl waved her apology and stuck her tongue out at her brother when their mother wasn't looking. "I want you two to go around town and get yourselves familiarized, okay? And no, CJ, I do not want you to go to the library to study." CJ sunk into her seat and glared when Chris began snickering. "Chris, I don't want you to go find a job, all right?" Chris shut up and stared at his mother in disbelief. Rose Ann sighed. "Believe it or not kids, I want you two to enjoy yourselves. Don't . . . don't push yourselves too hard, okay? I want this move to be our last."
"Amen," Chris chorused. CJ hummed in agreement.
The doorbell rang, but no one moved. CJ suddenly felt two pairs of daggers on her form. "What?" she asked defensively when she caught the glare of her mother and brother.
"Go," Rose Ann ordered. "You're always finding a way to escape meeting new people. Get!"
"Okay, okay," she muttered and got to her feet. She continued muttering incoherently under her breath as she dragged her feet slowly, deliberately, on the hardwood floor. It wasn't like she hated meeting new people . . . It's just the way that they would treat her. Is it her fault that her face was naturally set to look rude and disinterested?
"Hello," she greeted after yanking the door open. She tried to remember the things her mother had told her long ago when introducing herself to a new neighbour. " . . . Um, hi." But she apparently forgot.
"Hey!" The boy didn't look any older than five years old. CJ had to smile. "My mommy said to come and greet our new neighbours!" he said cheerily before dropping his voice slightly. "You're them, right?"
CJ allowed her smile to widen as she bent down to his level. At least it wasn't an adult. She absolutely sucked connecting with older people. In an alternate universe, sure, but with her personality now? Don't even ask her to. "Yeah, we just moved in."
"Oh, yay," he grinned with his twinkling eyes. "I'm Bryan." His voice was cute and cheerful as he stuck his hand out.
She could so talk to little people. "I'm Cierra Jayne," she replied and grasped his tiny hands, giving it a firm shake. "But call me CJ," she added when he scrunched his face up into confusion as he silently mouthed her name.
"Okay CJ!" Suddenly he thrust a small tray he had been holding in his other hand which she didn't notice. "These are for you and your family. Mommy just baked them and they're really good, I promise!" He paused and his eyes darted to his left before he continued. "I, um, oh yeah. She said welcome to the neighbourhood. She . . ." His eyes darted again as he hesitated. "Oh. She's at work right now, but she'll come to . . . to, um, meet you later," he finished with a bright triumphant grin.
"Okay . . ." she couldn't help but say warily when his eyes didn't stop darting. But she told herself to brighten up. "Tell your mommy thank you," she said in a bright tone (well, brighter than her usual one), "I'm sure that we'll love it."
"You will!" He looked eager and he suddenly turned his bright smile to his left. "C'mon, Dame, it's your turn!"
It happened all so fast that Cierra Jayne didn't have time to react. Bryan reached his hand out and pulled a much larger hand from the side of her door. She watched, speechless, as a teenage boy emerged from the side and lifted Bryan off the ground.
CJ found herself staring blankly up at him, considering that she was still crouched down on the floor.
"CJ this is my brother Dame," he introduced cheerfully.
Cierra Jayne digested the information quickly and stood on her feet. She smiled automatically, feeling her guard go up. "Hello . . . I wasn't aware of your presence," she said awkwardly.
He reached for her hand and she lifted hers to shake his. "My brother insisted to meet you first," he said. They grasped each other's hands and Cierra Jayne felt something strange shoot up her arm. She pulled away quickly, but not impolitely. "He saw your moving van from across the street and got all excited."
"Oh." She bit her lip, suddenly not knowing what to do.
"I'm Damien, by the way," he added and put Bryan down to his feet. "Where'd you move from?"
She hesitated slightly before reluctantly began to answer, "I—"
"CJ," Chris's voice barked from the kitchen, "Mom said invite them in!"
Cierra Jayne felt a quick frown making its way to her forehead at the tone her brother was using but decided to let it slide. It wouldn't look good to their new neighbours if she throttled her younger brother, right? Plus, she was saving cute little Bryan from a mental permanent scar.
"Come on in," she said quietly and stepped out of the way. She shut the door behind her and led them to the kitchen. She felt awkward when her family turned their knowing eyes in her direction. They've been eavesdropping, she decided to herself. "This is Bryan and Damien," she said, and then she gave a pointed look at her new neighbours. "That's my mom, Rose Ann, and my younger brother Chris." She paused. "Their mother baked us something, mom," she added lightly.
"Oh, that's so wonderful of her!" Rose Ann suddenly said brightly and began to rapidly converse with Bryan and Damien. It was a special gift of hers that Chris and CJ still feared. "Tell your mother thank you! And thank you for bringing this over." She flashed a huge smile. "Would you two like some fruit smoothie? I could make some more."
Damien's voice was charming. "Thank you, ma'am, but we'd be intruding—"
"Oh, of course not. And please, call me Rose," she said absentmindedly as she began to reach for a new batch of fruits.
"Well, thanks a lot. We're staying, all right Bryan?" Damien asked in that big brother tone that suddenly made Cierra Jayne's features soften. It was cute, and even she had to admit that.
But it wasn't enough to get her to stay. Sometimes she knew why she didn't converse with people. Sometimes she forced herself to believe that she was just antisocial. But the truth reached down deep. It felt like anyone who spoke to her could see the inner battles she faced and the anger at herself that she held.
She was weak and she knew it.
"Excuse me," she said, her voice absent as she got up from her seat. "I have to go somewhere for a while. It was nice meeting you both," she said, her voice with a tinge of something that some people might call friendliness.
She then left, missing the distraught expression on her mother's face.
"Think we'll move again?" Cierra Jayne asked absentmindedly as she surveyed her surroundings thoughtfully. She walked alongside of her brother. They were already on school grounds and she saw teenagers in their uniforms near the large school building.
"I hope not," Chris said. "For mom's sake." She hummed in agreement. It was a silent understanding between the two of them: If their mom was happy, then they were happy.
Rose Ann wished them good luck for the day, as she always did on their first day of school. She'd pack their lunches and give them a kiss on their cheek. Cierra Jayne would always smile and tell her everything would be fine but she always had that lingering doubt in her mind.
"I wonder if this school has a soccer program," Chris thought aloud. "Are you taking up basketball?" He gave her a sideway glance.
She smiled at him for the first time all morning. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I will."
Chris's smile was wide and satisfied.
Cierra Jayne barely knew how, but she found themselves walking into the main office. The foyer at the front of the school building was enormous. She glanced up to her right before entering. Her eyes landed on the three upper floors before the window at the ceiling. She wondered if she was allowed to go on the roof.
"CJ," Chris said patiently. "Some of us want to get to class early." CJ turned and laughed before following him in.
"Hello, you two must be the Diaz twins?" Mrs. Brennan (the attendance secretary CJ noted) asked warmly from behind her desk.
"Yes we are," Chris said and they both accept their timetable, map of the school, and new locks for their locker.
CJ noted with grateful satisfaction when Mrs. Brennan took the time to explain their timetable and their teachers. She highlighted the easiest routes for their classes on their school map and even gave them heads up about the bad spots on the school ground. Cierra Jayne took careful note of this and stashed it at the back of her mind.
"Good luck you two," Mrs. Brennan said with an encouraging smile.
"Thank you," the twins chorused.
CJ made a move to turn in the direction of her first class but she felt someone clasp her elbow. She turned.
"Good luck," Chris said seriously. She looked at him intently for a moment. He knew that she was just going to pull herself away again. Chris never had a problem making friends. It just it took time for people to actually gain his trust. "I'm serious, CJ. Try this time, okay?"
Cierra Jayne studied him for a second before flashing him a reassuring grin. "I'll try," she promised.
Another thing she really disliked about moving, Cierra mused thoughtfully to herself, was starting a new school. She wasn't nervous. She would have been, a long time ago, but found no point in getting herself worked up over something that she'd have to face inevitably. No, she just hated starting over again.
She entered her homeroom (which happened to be English) as casually as possible. She felt the buzz of excitement in the classroom over a new school year—especially since they're seniors now. She knew that before anyone could blink, graduation would be right around the corner.
"New student, eh?" Mr. Zestman, the English teacher, said before she could even say anything. He was an old man with thinning hair, but his face was hard as his eyes. She could tell this was going to be a tough year. "Name yourself."
She instantly lifted her guard. "Cierra Jayne Diaz, sir," she answered evenly.
He continued to scrutinize her. "That sounds like a happy name." His tone was blunt. He was obviously stating that he saw otherwise. She just didn't know why.
"Class!" His loud voice suddenly startled her but she masked her surprise behind an indifferent mask. Almost simultaneously the final bell rang. "You had time to reacquaint yourselves with old friends you haven't seen in forever." His voice dropped with sarcasm as he abruptly stood up and planted himself in front of the classroom. "So now I have your full attention for an hour and a half and you are all going to shut up and listen to what I say, got that?"
There were a few shocked faces and a few knowing ones throughout the room. She allowed her gaze to run over her classmates, mentally seeking who'd be a challenge for her here. She was a natural competitor in practically anything anyone seemed to boast on how great they were. She just loved proving them wrong, that's all.
"We have a new student this year," Mr. Zestman's voice echoed through the silent class. "Introduce yourself."
She stepped forward automatically and almost ironically, that's when her eyes landed on Damian, her next door neighbour. He seemed to be staring at her with intensity that she's never seen before. "I'm Cierra Jayne Diaz," she said, tearing her eyes away from him. "I hate spiders, I love baking, and I want to be a doctor when I grow up." She said that line so many times that her voice held a matter-of-fact tone it didn't have before.
"Thank you, CJ," Mr. Zestman said dismissively, obviously disliking her name. "Take a seat beside Katherine. Katherine raise your hand."
Cierra Jayne's eyes landed on a reluctant looking girl off at the side. CJ could instantly tell that Katherine already disliked her. That was okay. She took a seat beside her anyway and forced a smile.
"Hi, I'm Katherine Ramos," the said girl smiled hesitantly. She had a small heart shaped face with wide Asian-looking eyes and full luscious lips. Cierra Jayne wouldn't be surprised to know if she belonged in the popular crowd. Every school had its cliques, why not this one?
Despite her greeting, CJ could tell that Katherine was forcing herself rather hard so CJ decided to put her out of her misery. "Nice to meet you," she replied. Her tone was clipped and friendly, but uninterested. CJ didn't miss the look of relief that passed through Katherine's face as she turned back to the front. CJ dubbed her to be those naturally friendly girls, even if they had to force themselves when they didn't want to.
It's all about the image, Cierra Jayne mused wryly to herself as she prepared to take notes.
"So how were your classes?" Chris came beside her out of no where at lunch. Cierra Jayne abruptly jumped and smacked him so hard with her textbooks she heard him stumble and crash lightly against the row of lockers. "CJ, what the hell?!"
"I'm sorry!" she gasped and rushed to her brother. "Sorry, sorry, sorry! But damn, Chris. Do not sneak up on people!" she scolded as she picked up her fallen items.
"I called you five times," he said in disbelief. "What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing," CJ answered smoothly. "So where do you want to eat lunch?"
Chris's grin was blinding. "Actually, we're eating in the cafeteria."
"Oh, great. You made new friends?" Her voice was, in fact, satisfied. She smiled at her brother and he just rolled his eyes.
"You think I'm incapable? Gee, I feel so loved," he drawled. CJ just smiled and shook her head as she allowed him to lead her to the crowded cafeteria. "Anyway, they're pretty good people. I told them about my twin and naturally, they'd want to meet you." He winked.
"How fun," she remarked dryly.
"Yo Chris! Pull up here." Her eyes landed on a Spanish looking boy with a wide friendly grin that instantly made her guard go down a fraction. His eyes landed on CJ and he cocked his head to one side before turning back to Chris. "Dude, you never told me you had a girlfriend."
They blanched simultaneously. Cierra Jayne heard Chris coughing and she felt herself twitching repeatedly.
"Uh, Linc? I think you said something wrong," a loud whisper informed him.
"That is so disturbing on so many levels," Chris choked out. CJ saw his eye twitching from the corner of her eye and she knew she probably had the same expression. She found herself inwardly agreeing and nodding outwardly— "Who would want to be with her?"
Cierra Jayne's eyes snapped furiously to his face. Uh, excuse me?
She reached calmly on the table and grabbed a clean knife. Who cared if it was plastic? "Seriously, Chris. How would you like to die?"
"What did I say?" Linc said confusedly.
Cierra Jayne slowly looked up and stared at him seriously. He caught her gaze and she was surprised to see his face turn red and he looked away abruptly. She didn't know what to say after that.
"Lincoln," Chris said in a slow tone. Everyone around the table snickered. "She's my twin."
There was silence. And then, "But she's not a boy!"
She couldn't help but swerve to the owner of the voice and smile sarcastically. "Thank you for that."
Linc gawped before composing himself. "You told me your twin's name was CJ!" he accused.
"It stands for Cierra Jayne," she said. She felt half a dozen pairs of eyes on her.
"Wow," Lincoln said after clearing his throat. He stood up straighter and coughed again before flashing her a nervous smile. "How about we start over? Hey, I'm Lincoln Ramos." He stuck his hand out and flashed her another blinding smile.
Cierra Jayne looked at him strangely before smiling a little and grasped his hand. "I'm Cierra Jayne. Do you happen to have a sister named Katherine?" Her tone was polite. But only because she felt Chris's glare at the side of her head.
His smile turned wry. "Already heard of her, huh?"
She shook her head. "She's in my first class."
"She's actually my cousin," he explained.
She nodded in understanding and silence reigned once again. She shot a casual glance that held a ton of questions to her brother but he just smiled cheekily and motioned for her to take a seat. She had no other option but to oblige. With an inward sigh, she sank on an unoccupied seat.
She was introduced to everyone else around the group. She couldn't remember all of them, since there were so many, but she did manage to remember and match a few names with faces.
"Dude!" Timothy, the one with the spiky hair, suddenly bellowed. CJ almost dropped her water bottle. "I see you, damn you, Damien! Get your ass right here."
A few moments followed and the said boy arrived looking slightly sheepish but his smirk covered its evidence. "I was—" he began.
"Save it," Timothy interrupted. "You owe me five bucks. Send it."
Damien stared blankly before pulling a crumpled bill from his pocket. "Was that it?" He turned to leave but he suddenly caught sight of Chris. "Hey," he greeted with a grin. Chris smirked back in greeting and Cierra Jayne abruptly felt awkward when his eyes, she knew, searched for her head.
He found her less than a second.
"Hi CJ," he greeted with a pleasant smile.
Cierra Jayne carefully screwed her bottle cap back on. "Hello, Damien. It's nice to see you again." She met his eyes politely and forced herself to keep them there. His face looked perfect. Almost too perfect. "How's Bryan?"
His smile widened a little. "He's fantastic. He was actually wondering if you would mind him visiting soon," he added.
This time a genuine smile dimly reached her eyes. "That'd be fun," CJ agreed.
He held her eyes and for the first time since she's met him, Cierra Jayne felt a chill crawl down her spine. It wasn't the ones that made your heart beat faster from excitement. It was something different. She felt a dark emotion wash over her body and she could've sworn she saw a dangerous smirk playing at the corner of his lips.
But it was gone in a split second.
"So I guess I'll tell him," he said, his voice still ringing with pleasantry.
Cierra Jayne was frozen in her seat and all she could do was nod as she watched him walk away.
Author's note: Sorry. It couldn't wait to get out. Brown Eyes is currently at a very short pause. -.-; Ooh, and thank ya'll for the votes for skow. The one shot won an award for runner up. Just found out like, few days ago . . . Must learn to check email more frequently. Updates on this will be exceedingly slow to the point of aggravation . . . Just a warning. Unless I get hit by the must-write-now vibe, kinda thing. Please take note that this story falls under the supernautral section. It may not seem like it right now, but it'll come 'round. Yeahh yo. Haaa, thankyew for reading.