Author's Notes: I tanked the other story. Since I've been gone for so long, I really forgot the road I was going down with that one. Thus, I've started this one, and I should be able to finish it. Things are back to normal. This new story's basically just going to give me a reason to write without pressure. As in, I'm not going to try and make it perfect, so it probably isn't going to be that good. Hah.

I've based this story off of the song, "As Long As You're Mine" from Wicked. That's where my inspiration came from anyway. I put the lyrics on my profile for reference purposes in case anyone isn't familiar with the song. Oh, and you're going to be reading the word "anyway" so often, you'll want to punch me in the face. But it's on purpose, because the character tends to digress A LOT.

i. Spaghetti

Me llamo Eduardo Cantwell y tengo un gato. Me gusta much el gato. Se llama Archie.

My day always starts off in a different language. Well, if you don't count sometimes talking to my brother in the early morning, though I don't really do that too much because I'm not really a morning person, so I get really tired and don't feel like talking, but I don't think he minds because Jake, my brother, isn't really a morning person either. Maybe it's the kind of thing that runs in the family.

Anyway, what I mean is that my first class of the day is Spanish. See, I'm almost seventeen years old and I'm in high school, so I have to take classes like that. Not that I mind, I kind of like speaking in Spanish, even if Mr. Harrison makes us speak in it all the time and takes points off when we talk in English. If I had said that first sentence in my native language, it would look something like this:

My name is Eddie Cantwell and I have a cat. I like my cat a lot. His name is Archie.

We named Archie after those comics, the one with the guy who likes two very different girls and has a best friend that eats hamburgers in unhealthy amounts. I think it was because my mother used to buy them for Jake and I when we were little and would go grocery shopping with her, but now we're older and Jake does the grocery shopping and he never buys them, but I don't see them on the racks anymore anyway so I don't think he has a choice. He probably wouldn't buy them anyway, he's two years older than I am and much too adult to read comic books.

Anyway, I'm sitting in my Spanish class right now, staring up at the white ceiling. The ceiling is made out of tiles, and sometimes I like to count them, even though it hurts me neck a little to lean back like that, especially in such an uncomfortable desk. Sometimes I think if they want students to do well, they should buy some other type of desk. Who can pay attention in something that's sure to give you back problems when you're thirty or so? At least, I think that's when you get back problems. When I get them, I'm going to sue this school for the money I need to go to a chiropractor. Jake once said that a chiropractor wasn't a real doctor, they were just people who pretended you had problems and sometimes helped you sue people, so I figure that if I get one, they can help me sue th--

"Señor Cantwell," my Spanish teacher's voice says. It breaks through my thoughts and I look up. The entire class has their eyes on me and when they see that I have no idea what's going on, they start to laugh. I grin slightly, my regularly olive-toned skin turning a slight tinge of pink. Mr. Harrison doesn't look amused.

"¿Sí?" I say, rubbing the back of my neck slightly because it's kind of sore and I'm ready to start thinking about chiropractors again, but Mr. Harrison speaks too soon and I don't.

"¿Tienes tu tarea, sí?" Mr. Harrison has a grade book in his hands and I realize that he's checking if we did our homework. I nod, slipping a piece of paper out of my folder and waving it at him. He marks something down in the book and moves on to the person who sits behind me. Mr. Harrison isn't the best teacher in my opinion. He doesn't seem to like children, which I think is pretty bad if you're in a job where you have to teach them. Maybe he wanted to be a singer or something, but he wasn't good enough and his only other talent was speaking Spanish, so he decided to do something with that, which really there are only two things, teaching and translating, but I guess enough people know Spanish now in the United States that they don't need so many translators. Mr. Harrison isn't even Hispanic. I think his first name is Robert, at least that's what comes up on my report card whenever I get it. It's not even something mildly Spanish-sounding, like Roberto. I think he might tell people it is, because he tends to change our names into their Spanish counterparts, unless you're Bradley McCourt and Mr. Harrison doesn't know how to say your name in Spanish, so he just calls you Diego. I don't think Bradley minds very much, because it's only for forty-five minutes every day, so it's not like he's going to get some kind of complex or something.

My attention is suddenly drawn to the fact that people are moving around. While I was lost in my thoughts, Mr. Harrison must have told us we could work on our projects. That happens often, since I tend to get distracted easily, but Jake says it's not my fault, though I'm not sure whose fault it is. I turn to Bradley/Diego, who's my partner for the project even though I don't think he wants to be. He has a lot of friends in the class, but they all paired together and he was the odd one out. Bradley/Diego has a lot of friends outside the class too. He plays football for our school and he's the quarterback, which makes him extra important for some reason, and a lot of girls think he's the best looking thing they've ever seen and I guess I have to agree beca--

"Yoohoo," Bradley/Diego says, waving his hand in my face. I blink at him and he just smiles because he's used to it. We've been working on this project for about a week now. We're supposed to research some famous Hispanic person and do a lot of things circling around them and their life. Bradley/Diego runs one of his tanned hands through his short black hair, speaking again. "That's better. I went on the computer last night and was looking up some stuff about..." Bradley/Diego kept speaking, but I wasn't really paying attention anymore. It's hard to pay attention to something you don't really care about, and my eyes were drawn to his hands. His skin was tan, but unlike me, he wasn't born that way. He just goes outside a lot without a shirt. I wonder for a fleeting second if the parts of him he keeps covered up are really pale, and then I figure that it's not really nice to think about the parts of people they keep hidden, so I zone back in on Bradley/Diego. "...and they named a building after him in New York."

I glance at Mr. Harrison. If Bradley/Diego were anyone else, the teacher would be yelling at him for not speaking in Spanish, but everybody likes Bradley/Diego because he gets out school more funding when he wins football games, so sometimes he doesn't have to do what everyone else does. "Um..." I begin, turning my green eyes back onto Bradley/Diego's blue ones. I have to pause a moment as I think of how to say what I want to in Spanish. "Yo... yo busco para información también y..." I go on to slowly explain to him the things I found out about our guy in botched Spanish. Bradley/Diego and I don't really talk about anything else during class, but I don't hold it against him, because we're not really friends, so I guess he's not obligated to bring up friendly chatter with me.

Bradley/Diego isn't that bad of a guy. Sometimes when his friends say bad things about me, he'll laugh with them, but he's never the one to say them, so I guess it's not that bad. Besides, whenever I occasionally say hi to him when he's all alone after school at his locker, he gives me a nice smile and he wiggles his fingers at me in hello. He has a top locker, because he's really tall. He also has a lot of muscles, but he's not extremely bulky like a linebacker or something. I pale in comparison to him, but not literally in the Winter because the sun isn't out so his tan kind of fades. I'm shorter and my hair is brown, like the bark on an oak tree, and it hangs limply in front of my eyes, which are green but not really green. I have freckles but only on my nose and people say that my lips make me look like a duck, but my teeth make me look like a beaver.

Anyway, despite not speaking in Spanish that often, Bradley/Diego understands everything I tell him. We get up and retrieve some markers and the poster board that we're putting one part of our project on, working for nearly the rest of the class on it. When we have about seven minutes left in first period, everyone starts to get really talkative, but Mr. Harrison doesn't care because he's at his computer looking at his e-mail. People stop working, if they were working at all, and begin to socialize. This happens everyday and normally, I would be alone, but my uncomfortable desk is pulled so close to Bradley/Diego that when two of his friends come up to him, they kind of come up to me too, even if they ignore me completely and Bradley/Diego turns his back to me.

The other two football players in the class, the boys that walked up to Bradley/Diego, are Wayne and Gary. Wayne is black, or African-American I guess, and a little shorter than Bradley/Diego. His hair is shaved down and he always seems to be smiling. It's not annoying though, because he's got really nice teeth. He's always wearing one of the jackets our school sells, with our mascot on it, and a pair of semi-baggy jeans. I would believe he wore the same thing everyday if he didn't look so clean. Part of the reason he's so cool is because he doesn't just play football. He's in Art class, and he's actually really, really good at it, which is weird because usually sports and art aren't synonymous. I'm not so fond of Gary. He's your regular blonde-haired, blue-eyed jerk. He's pretty much Bradley/Diego's best friend, even though they seem really different. He's the one who usually starts joking around about me, but I don't find his jokes very funny, even if other people do. He wears oxford shirts all the time, which look nice, but then he pairs them with cargo shorts, which pretty much ruins it. I don't think Gary has anything going for him except football, which is bad because he isn't even that good. He always comes in second when compared with Bradley/Diego, and I think that makes him angry, which is why he always has to draw attention to himself.

"'Sup Brad?" Gary says, sitting backwards in the desk that's in front of Bradley/Diego. Everybody except Mr. Harrison and me calls him Brad. I like Bradley better, so when I talk to him on those rare occasions, I use his full name. He doesn't seem to mind.

"Sup?" Bradley/Diego responds and I start to wonder when 'What's up?' stopped becoming a question that people answered and started becoming just another vernacular for 'hello'. "You guys finished yet?" he asks, casually leaning back in the desk. Wayne and Gary are partnered together. All three of them laugh as if the idea that the two boys would be done is hilarious. It is.

"The only thing we did was write the essay," Wayne says, sitting on top of the desk on Bradley/Diego's other side. Mr. Harrison looks up from his computer and scans the classroom, his eyes narrowed.

"Mucho inglés," he comments. Everyone quiets for a moment as they think of how to say their next sentence in Spanish. Of course, when Mr. Harrison turns back to his computer, they'll just speak in English again.

"Uh..." Wayne rubs his chin, looking into the air. "Solomente escribimos el... essay-o." The three laugh again. They seem to laugh at everything that comes out of their mouths. I lean my head back and start to count the tiles on the ceiling again, as if maybe the number might have changed since the last time I did so. One... two... three...

I get all the way up to fifteen until my counting is again interrupted. "What the hell are you doing?" Gary asks, a laugh to his voice as he furrows his eyebrows at me. I slowly bring my head down, blushing slightly and sinking in my seat. I don't like to be put on the spot because I'm always afraid that I'll do or say the wrong thing, which is what happens a majority of the time.

"Counting the ceiling tiles," I say truthfully. Laughter spills from Gary's lips, and even Wayne and Bradley/Diego give a chuckle. I don't see what's so funny, so I don't join in on it. I scratch my ear, looking at each of them.

"You got a girlfriend?" the blonde asks while his two friends look on silently. I figure they must have been talking about girls before their attention turned to me.

"No," I answered. I'd never had a girlfriend, though that doesn't upset me as much as I guess it should because I've just never thought about stuff like that. My mother tells me that it's a sin to think naughty thoughts about people, so whenever I feel that strange tingling sensation below my stomach, I draw my mind to a different subject, like before when I almost pictured the part of Bradley/Diego that didn't tan, though I guess I wasn't necessarily being dirty, but maybe I was because Bradley/Diego is very good-looking, even if he's a boy and I am too. Anyway, the point is, I don't even have very many friends, so I don't know why I'd have a girlfriend.

"You a fag or something?" Gary questions, a smile coming to his face that I don't particularly like. The way he says it, it doesn't seem like something I'm supposed to respond to, but I do anyway.

"No," I say, my eyebrows furrowing as I look away from the three of them. Truthfully, I'm not sure if I am or not. Like I said, I don't dwell on things like that. Gary doesn't believe me.

"Oh, that's what they all say, Fag-a-sauras Rex," he says, flicking my pencil off of my desk. He laughs derisively, giving a grinning Bradley/Diego a high five. I register for a second that Wayne's face holds no semblance of a smile before I bend down to pick up my pencil. I make sure to scoot my desk back to its original place and away from the three football players.

I have my revenge when Study Hall comes around. I have it sixth period, with only one more class after it. The teacher's name is Ms. Reinders, which always reminds me of reindeers and Santa and Christmas. She teachers a ninth grade math class, so none of the kids in the Study Hall actually have her as a teacher anymore, including me, but she's probably my favorite teacher of all. Her hair is the color of honey and she holds it back with a headband everyday. She looks young, but it might just be because she's always wearing a summer dress or something like it. I had to stay after school once for tutoring and she brought me milk and cookies from the cafeteria and helped me until I understood, which was a pretty long time because I'm not so good at school.

Anyway, there are only six other kids in the Study Hall. This includes Bradley/Diego, who's just Bradley outside of Spanish class, Gary, Bradley's girlfriend Rose, a girl named Corrie, and two boys named Larry and Matt. Everyone thinks Bradley's girlfriend is really pretty. She plays on the field hockey team and her hair is unnaturally straight and unnaturally blonde. She also has an unnatural tan, going to a tanning bed so that she looks like that all year round. Her face is kind of unnatural as well, because she puts so much makeup on it, it's hard to tell what she actually looks like. She's so skinny, she lacks breasts, which I guess is a bad if you like that sort of thing. Even if she was pretty, she's really stupid and shallow. Sometimes I think the only reason she's dating Bradley is because he's on the football team, but then again, I don't know anything about their relationship, so I can't say that for sure. Corrie is a lot prettier in my opinion. She's on the Soccer team and in Drama club, with dark brown hair and a light skin tone. Her eyes are wide and really, really green like the kind of green you see everywhere in a forest. She's curvy in the way that Latin women are, but she dresses modestly. I sit at her lunch table. Well, she sits on one end with her friends, and I sit at the other alone, but we're still technically at the same table. She's very opinionated and sometimes gets into 'debates' in the middle of class that make teachers exasperated with her, because she tends to talk a lot and quickly so that she sometimes stumbles over her words. She's really smart and she seems like a nice person, which is probably why she's friends with a lot of people that aren't even in the same friend circle as she is, like the rest of the people in Study Hall except Larry. Larry's in her friend circle. He's short, shorter than I am, and he has light brown hair that he comes to the side and he wears glasses and a cross necklace. I think he's really into his religion, which I guess is cool because dedication is something to admire, since it takes a lot of strength to not give up on something. Matt, on the other hand, is friends with Bradley, Gary, and Rose, but he's not a football player. He plays lacrosse with the boys in the Spring. He's got red hair and a lot of freckles, but I don't really know him very well because he's quiet and only speaks up every now and then to say something unimportant.

Anyway, as I was saying, Study Hall is when I get my revenge. The television is turned on and we are all quietly watching Scrubs, which is one of those medical shows, but it's not as serious and dramatic, it's kind of funny most of the time, even if it doesn't get a little sad sometimes. I sit in the back near Ms. Reinders's desk, doing my English homework silently as she finishes a crossword puzzle. Larry is also doing schoolwork I think, but the rest of them are talking about the dance that is coming up, one that the school holds every November.

"So who you going with?" Gary asks Corrie, perched up on top of one of the desks. She chews thoughtfully on a cracker for a second, tucking a strand of her thick hair behind a pierced ear.

"Nobody," she says, wiping some crumbs from her lip. Gary gets excited and Bradley and Matt shoot each other knowing looks. I'm listening, and glancing up every now and then from the worksheet I've almost completed.

"So I guess you wouldn't mind go--" Corrie cuts Gary off, holding her hand up and peering around him to look at the television. Something happened between JD and Elliot that Corrie must have missed, so she was trying to catch up. The rest of us looked up as well, intrigued by the plotline of the television show. I don't have cable at my house, so the only time I get to watch is during Study Hall. If I miss anything or the shows are out of order, Ms. Reinders fills me in on the rest of it, which I'm thankful for, because when you don't really have anything interesting going on in your life, it's nice to watch people who do, even if they aren't real I guess. Anyway, when it's over, Ms. Reinders excuses herself, saying she needs to go copy some worksheets. She trusts us enough to leave us alone for a little while. Corrie looks back to Gary.

"Okay, now what was it that you wanted to discuss with me?" she asks, looking up at him. He flashes her what I guess he believes is an irresistible smile. She smiles back, but it doesn't look like she falls for it.

"Well, you see," he says, "I was thinking that you and I co--"

"You and I? As in 'we'?" Corrie cocks an eyebrow, starting to spin in her seat so that she's facing Larry and not Gary. Yeah, I know. Their names rhyme. "I grow weary of this discussion as of now." Bradley and Matt can't help but laugh, and even I let myself chuckle quietly. Larry isn't laughing though, but I think it's only because he isn't really paying attention. Gary looks peeved and kind of embarrassed.

"What are you laughing at, Can't-do-anything-well?" Gary asks me, sneering slightly. My smile fades and I tune out his words, focusing more on the fact that the expression he's wearing makes him look really ugly. I don't think anyone can sneer and still look good. Corrie rolls her eyes at him, giving me a glance.

"Nice one, Adams," she says sarcastically, calling Gary by his last name. He folds his arms over his chest, looking a lot like a little kid. I don't know if I did that when I was little though, but I guess I probably did because most kids do. My brother never did it though, as far as I can remember, but he's also a lot more mature than most people his age, always has been. I guess it comes from having to be the man in the house, since our dad left when I was born and my mother kind of never got over it. Neither of us remember him, because Jake was only two when it happened.

"It's true though. Fag-a-sauras Rex can't do anything right," Gary insists, reusing the name he'd called me earlier. I'm not doing my schoolwork anymore, but rather looking towards the others and watching this play out as if they weren't talking about me.

"I think it's about time we removed you from public. Exposing people to you can't be healthy for them." Everyone except Larry and Gary laughs again and Corrie shoots me a wink before spinning back around to do whatever. It's the highlight of my day, even if it seems like such a small occurrence. But I guess when nothing special or dramatic really happens in your life, you have to pay more attention to the little things that can inflate that balloon of elation in your chest. However, the same thing happens with the opposite. You tend to overcomplicate things that really aren't that big of a deal and dwell on tiny things that weren't even that bad, just like at the end of my day.

"Goodbye Mrs. Connolly!" I say, being the last one to leave seventh period Economics. I go to my locker, taking my precious time because I like to be rather alone in the hallways, since they tend to get crowded and crowds aren't good because then people are bumping into you and it's loud and it's hard to keep track of what's going on. When I finish, I zip my book bag up and head down the stairs so that I can walk home, since I don't live so far away from the school. It's only about an eight minute walk, which isn't so much and I appreciate the exercise since I don't have gym anymore and I don't play sports because I'm kind of uncoordinated and awkward.

The halls are relatively empty as I walk them and I only see a couple people, but I don't know any of them. The only person I see that I actually recognize is Bradley. My hands holding onto the straps of my book at my shoulders, I pause when I pass him by his locker. He doesn't notice me yet, so I take the time to gaze at him, which I guess makes me look like some sort of stalker, but I'm not, he's just one of those people that's nice to look at. Bradley interests me a lot, though I'm not sure why. I think it's because when I look at him, I see someone different, someone that other people don't see. You know when you kind of sense that there's a lot more to a person than everyone thinks? That's kind of what it was like.

"Oh," Bradley says, slightly surprised when he turns around after shutting his locker. He smiles at me, wiggling his fingers in a wave. "'Sup Eddie?" I tilt my head at him, trying to think of something to say that won't sound stupid. I try to rush, because I don't want to take a long time and seem really weird, because then Bradley would probably just walk away and try to avoid me as much as he can even though he has to work with me on the Spanish project.

"'Sup?" I say, figuring it's a good place to start because that's how everyone else responds. Bradley seems a little amused at this, but I guess I would be too since I'm not really the type of person who says things like that. "I..." I'm starting to freak out now. My hands are sweaty. "I'll see you tomorrow," I finish lamely, in a rather small voice. Knowing how stupid I sounded, I shut my eyes, wishing to smack myself across the forehead as I rush away from Bradley and towards the exit.

"Bye!" he calls, raising a hand to wave after me.

I spend all night trying to think of something cool to say to him the next morning.

"What're you thinking about, Spaghetti?" Jake asks, crawling onto the couch next to me and cuddling. For a mature eighteen year old male, he can act kind of girly sometimes. I don't mind though, I love to cuddle with my brother. I guess I'd love to do it with other people too, but I wouldn't know, because I never have. I don't even care that he's blocking my view of Jeopardy, because he just got done taking a shower and he smells like soap and the lilac shampoo my mother makes him buy. He also called me Spaghetti, which make me not care even more. I love when he uses the nickname, since nicknames are kind of special so it makes me feel like I'm special. He started calling me Spaghetti when I was about six or seven. We were trying to find words that rhymed with our names, and Spaghetti happened to be his favorite for me. I tried calling him Pancake for a while, but I kept slipping up, so I've just settled to using his actual name. It makes me feel bad sometimes, but I don't think he minds.

"Bradley McCourt," I say. I tell my brother everything and he actually listens instead of tuning me out like you'd think an older brother would, so he knows who Bradley is. I explain to him what happened after school and he laughs slightly, ruffling my hair in quite an annoying manner.

"I wouldn't sweat it," he says, gazing at me with eyes that look much like my own. Other than our eyes, we don't have much in common except perhaps the structure of our faces and our skin tone. He's taller and his hair is cut close to his head and it's a darker brown. He doesn't have any freckles, or buck teeth, or duck-shaped lips. I'm kind of jealous that Jake got the good looks, but then I don't mind, because he deserves them since he's such a good guy. "You shouldn't care what Bradley thinks anyway." He calls him by his full name too, since he only knows Bradley through me.

"I know..." I say, sighing slightly and tucking my head into the crook of my brother's neck. "But I do." I care what everybody thinks and I know I'm not supposed to admit that, but I don't like lying, if you couldn't tell by now. I don't really see the purpose in lying, ever. It's gotten me in trouble before, like when this girl in fourth grade asked me if I liked her drawing and I told her it was ugly because she'd used the wrong colors and it was kind of messy and it didn't even look like a cat, because cats' ears don't look like they could slice you open and they don't have whiskers that reach to Mars or two le--

"Pay attention, Spaghetti," my brother says softly, shaking me out of my thoughts. Apparently he's been talking the entire time I've been thinking, but I kind of zoned out on him. I don't know why, but whenever that happens, Jake looks at me with this weird sad expression on his face as if my daydreaming is a flesh-eating disease that I picked up in Africa. I look at him expectantly, waiting for him to repeat what I had missed, but he doesn't get the chance because my mother comes in the room.

My mother has the same brown hair that we do and the same olive skin. Her face matches mine more than it matches Jake's, although her teeth are perfectly straight. She's also a little stout, so we must have gotten our body shapes from our father. "Have a job yet?" she says immediately, plopping down into a chair and turning her eyes to Alex Trebek. Jake sighs and when he speaks, I can feel his throat vibrate.

"No," he answers. Ever since he graduated, my mother has been getting on him to get a job. He wanted to go to college, he even got a really good scholarship to a great college, but my mother insisted he stay here and go to work. She says that he would do everyone a lot more good if he earned some money rather than studying Chemistry miles away. Jake likes Chemistry a lot and he's really good at it. He got crazy good grades in school and he could've really been something. I guess there's always the future, but I know that it makes him sad that he can't go to college right now because he doesn't want to upset my mother. Jake's like that. He doesn't ever want to upset anyone. It kind of reminds me of George Bailey from that one movie they always play around Christmas. Christmas reminds me of Ms. Reinders, which reminds me of Study Hall, which Bradley was in.

"Edward!" my mother's voice shouts. I jump slightly, my eyes refocusing back onto the situation. She must have said something to be a couple of times, because she seems angry.

"Sorry," I say, lifting my head from Jake to look at her. She shakes her head in the I-can't-believe-I-put-up-with-this kind of way.

"I got a call from one of your teachers today," she says and dread fills my belly. I swallow slightly, wondering which teacher it might be. I hope it was a good call, though teachers don't tend to call home when everything is going well. "When were you going to tell me that you're failing Science?" I shut my eyes and Jake gives me a squeeze.

"I... I'm sorry Mom. It's just the way she teaches, it's kind of hard to underst--"

"Don't give me that," she cuts me off. "I'm sure she teaches just fine. Why else would she have been hired? You're probably just daydreaming in class again." She gives another shake of her head. "I honestly do not know what's wrong with you. I want you to bring your grade up by the next time you get a report card. We can't have two slackers in the family, someone has to get into college." I found that very rude, because Jake did get into college, he just didn't go because of her. I can feel my brother tense against me, but he doesn't say anything.

"Okay, Mom," I say, the subject dropped at that. She reaches for the remote, turning the volume up on the television.

"I can't believe both of you turned out like your father," she says, more to herself though the both of us hear her anyway. I sniffle slightly, though I'm not crying. I don't really like to cry, so I try not to do it even when something makes me sad. Jake maneuvers so that he can press his lips against my forehead.

"I'll help you," he promises.

Author's Notes: Well, there it is, the first chapter. Tell me what you like and what you don't for future chapters. It'd be a load of help.

Also, I don't usually do this, but I guess I just want to share... The people I have in mind when I think about Wayne and Gary and what they look like are Chris Brown and Jamie Johnston. Everyone else is kind of the creation of my own brain.