Chapter One: Graduation Day

"I think I'm actually gonna miss this place," I said, looking around my empty dorm room. Jared scoffed and I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know. It's just, after a while I just considered this place my school - and my home."

"No," he said, "I get it."It was so weird to see the room completely empty. They had even moved the box springs to the beds out because they would be spraying for bugs the next day. I'd never seen the room with nothing in it. Even when I'd moved in, my former roommate had already been there. I'd never seen the room so… uninhabited.

There were holes in the wall above where my bed used to be. I'd shoved tacks into the drywall to keep up pictures. That had been six months before, after arriving at Braxton's for the second time. You see, Braxton's was a high school. It's just that all of it's students had once been in a juvenile detention center. Hey, every school had it's issues.

Yes, that did mean I had spent time behind bars, if you were wondering. So had my boyfriend, Jared, who'd also attended Braxton's. He'd lived a couple dorm houses over. But no, we weren't heavy criminals or anything.

When I was 15, my dad took me to London. He was a reporter (and a spy, unknown to me then), and was going to uncover some secret bomb headed for the U.S. You can imagine, the people behind that weren't too happy about their plans being foiled, so they kidnapped me. Long story short, I ran away after killing the two guys who were in charge of watching me. I hauled my butt back to London. Then (this is the long story short, I promise), another member of this terrorist group found my dad and killed him. I was flown back to my mother and brother in Boston.

Because the justice system is so severely messed up (and the fact my judge and some of my jury were involved in the terrorist group. Oh yeah, this thing went high up the political chain), I was sentenced to four years in jail. I made parole in two years by being a good little prisoner and was sent to Braxton's.

No, that's not the end to my tale (you should read the long story to see how this really is the Reader's Digest version). After being threatened, I decided to uncover the "trading" group. Jared and I had gone across the country to D.C. to achieve this. We rescued my kidnapped friend Sasha, stormed the Pentagon, crawled through air vents, got shot, but in the end we won. I was also reunited with my mom and brother Evan whom I'd been told died during my first year at Juvie.

Jared and I actually decided to go back to Braxton's to finish our senior year of high school. I had a late birthday, so I was basically the youngest in my grade and a year younger than Jared seven out of twelve months in the year.

"It's going to be weird not waking up and seeing hot pink," I said. My roommate (or - former roommate) had owned a comforter in a shade of the most obnoxious hot pink in the world. It was an eyesore every morning, and I was going to miss it.

"Come on," Jared said, pulling on my arm. "We're gonna miss the ceremony."

"Wouldn't want to do that, would we?" I looked down at the folded blue robe draped over my left arm and the cap in my right hand. Leave it to me to burst in after diplomas had started to be handed out. Especially since my last name started with an 'A'. I could see it now. They would call my name and patiently wait as no one crossed the stage. I giggled out loud at the image, earning a confused look from Jared. He didn't ask more, though.

We headed down the stairs for the last time, out of my dorm house, and towards the auditorium.

"Your future is ahead of you," the new principal, Margaret Peterman, spoke. "And while I didn't get to spend as much time watching you all progress, I know you all have changed into beautiful people in your time at Braxton's. Congratulations, you all!" We politely clapped for the woman we'd known for less then four months. She had stepped in after our previous principal (Patricia Long, alias Virginia Spence) had been arrested for, drum roll please, being in the anti-U.S. group that had wanted me killed. Yes, like I've said, it was a big group of people after me. Scary, right?

"It is with my greatest pleasure to award you all your diplomas." I watched as "Acosta, Hector" crossed the stage. My knees were shaking and I focused on my breathing. I'd worn flats, so I wouldn't fall in high heels, but I knew I could still trip over my robe. I mean, leave it to me to do that. I shook the image out of my head as "Alvarez, Cheyenne" crossed the stage. I was next.

I looked into the audience, automatically finding my brother with his red Mohawk. He'd just gotten it redone, with the sides shaved to buzz cut perfection. There was a lightning bolt shape on the left side of his head. He used to love to stand out in the crowd, and I saw him waving automatically. I also saw the lady behind him struggling to see over his spikes.

"Anderson, Holland." They clapped and I heard Jared whistle. I took my G.E.D. and stepped offstage. I smiled, looking down at it. I never thought that at 18 I'd be this far. "Anthony, Patrick" was next.

I brushed a strand of my red hair away from my face. Like my brother, I had crimson hair. But also like my brother, it was artificial color. On the escape road, Jared and I had dyed our hair. I'd gotten red with pink chunks, and he'd gone platinum blonde. Jared had dyed his hair back when we'd gotten back to Braxton's. I'd chosen to keep the vibrant looks-like-it-was-made-by-Crayola color.

I got back to my seat, diploma in hand. I'd done it. I clapped for "Monroe, Joanna" and whistled for "Sullivan, Jared." When it got to "Williams, Chanelle" I clapped. We called her Cha-Cha, and she'd been beneficial to me in my first week at Braxton's by holding back a girl who wanted to fight me. Every since I got back to Braxton's we'd become friends.

It was over in no time at all. Evan ran down the steps and hugged me, swinging me around. My mom and Jared's dad were a bit behind him. I'd noticed them hanging out more often lately. Evan had joked they were gonna get together sooner or later (Jared's mom having died of cancer years before), but that had made me want to throw up. He'd apologized profusely, but I could sort-of now see what he'd seen. Crap. How weird would that be?

Jared came up behind me. "I know you want to help me with my last boxes," he said into my ear and wrapped his arms around me. I nodded, and we excused ourselves. I knew he only had less than 10 small boxes left. It was his excuse to get us away from parents. He and his dad must have been going through a tough spot. Sometimes they got along, sometimes they didn't.

"Alright, let's go," I said, taking off my robe and heading toward the dorms.

A/N: For anyone who asked for it, here it is. The sequel. Review and you'll get more of it.