Hello, people!!

Sixth chapter is finished!! Enjoy!!

Chapter 6

After Josh came home to find me, Mary, and the two other foster kids trying to put out a fire in the kitchen, he grudgingly agreed that maybe it was safer for all of us if I was off kitchen duty.

"Told you so," I muttered over a take-out box of pizza. Geez. I needed to stop with the pizza. Hadn't I had one for lunch, too?

Josh just rolled his eyes. "Sorry for not believing you."

I nodded, biting into a slice of veggie pizza. I figured veggie was at least a little healthier than just plain cheese, even though I hated olives. "You should be."

Maria, a little Hispanic 9 year old staying here, giggled and said, "It's weird that you can't cook, Miss Jasmine. I thought you could do anything." Maria was abused as a kid. Her mom made her call everyone 'Miss' or 'Mr,' like she was a maid or something. I guess old habits die hard.

But I loved Maria. She was just adorable. I sighed theatrically. "But, alas, I can't. If only the world were kind, Maria." I felt bad as soon as the words left my mouth. Maria knew just how unkind the world was.

But she just giggled, and I had to join in. Her laugh was infectious, even with all the tragedy in her life.

This is why I wanted to become a psychologist. To meet people like Maria, meet people who were dealt the worst hand possible in life, but prevailed anyway. And to help them prevail, or at least deal with everything.

Marcus, who was 12, just grunted. He hasn't said a single word since I got here. According to Maria, he's never said anything. No one knows what happened to him, and whenever I asked Josh or Mary, they just said to let him tell us.

I've tried talking to him, and he seems to be warming up to me, but still, no sound.

"So Marcus, can you cook?" I asked.

He stiffened for a split second, but then shook his head almost imperceptibly.

I shrugged. "At least I'm not the only one."

The next day, I decided to take the bus. I kinda wanted to make more friends than just Mika and Ashton. I mean, I had nothing against them, but still.

So I woke up somewhat earlier than yesterday and groaned at the thought of school again. Second days were always the worst. Everyone saw a little bit of you the first day and makes an opinion of you, and then expects you to live up to it the second day. And everyone's opinion of you is different.

And my first day was somewhat more exciting than usual. I mean, I make two friends almost before school even started, then scream my head off at a guy I didn't even know the name of at lunch, then yelled at him again in Art, and then get a detention with the aforementioned guy.

Just somewhat more exciting.

I got ready for school, pulling on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt over a blue tank top and taking a long, hot shower, and then ran downstairs with my backpack for breakfast.

"Hi, Jasmine," Mary said, standing at the stove, making panacakes.

"Yo." I walked over to the pantry and pulled out some cereal. "Um, where's the bowls and spoons?" I didn't really know where everything was yet.

She gestured towards a couple of draws next to her. "Bowls in that one and spoons in that one."

"Thanks." I walked over at got them out and poured the cereal into the bowl. "By the way, I'm taking the bus today. You don't have to drive me." I got milk out of the fridge and poured some in.

"Are you sure? Oh, leave the milk out. I'm gonna need it in a while," she said.

I nodded and left the milk out on the counter. "Yeah, I'm sure. I want to meet more people."

"Okay, sure. And tell me, why exactly were you late yesterday?" she asked. "And tell me the truth. You're not the only one that knows when someone's lying. I am a mother, you know." Her son was off in college. He was kinda far away, and only came home once or twice a year.

I blushed. "Um, I kinda got detention."

She sighed. "For what?"

"For yelling at this guy in Art." I sat down at the table and started eating my cereal.

She frowned. "Why would you do that?"

I sighed. "It's kind of a long story."

She turned the stove off and came to sit across from me at the table. "I've got time."

I sighed again, looking at my cereal as I ate. "Well, okay. So this guy's name is Nate, right? And him and this girl I also met named Mika used to be best friends. Like, since forever. And then apparently one day Nate just stopped talking to her. And now he's pretending to hate her."

She frowned. "Why would he do that?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. But that's why I was yelling at him. That just seemed so horrible, you know? I couldn't stand that he could do something that mean to her, especially when he obviously didn't want to. So, I'm sorry, but I had to."

She smiled. "Don't worry. I understand. You're just that kind of person, Jasmine. I get it." She got up. "Just don't make a habit of it."

I smiled back at her. "I won't, I promise." A flash of my real mom coming back from memories. I glanced at the clock. "Oh, it's almost time for the bus to come. I'd better go."

"Have fun, dear," she said, walking back to the stove.

I nodded and grabbed my backpack, walking out of the door to the corner of the street. There it was again, the flash of memory of my mom saying the same thing to me as I left for school. It almost hurt too much to remember.

There were a couple of other kids at the bus stop too. One of them I recognized from my Psych class, but the others I didn't know. It was a really big school, I guess. I was bound to not know some people.

The bus came to the stop as I was talking to the girl from me Psych class, whose name was Marissa.

I did an instinctive scan around the bus as I was getting on. My eyes narrowed as I saw Mr. Leader Man sitting at the back of the bus, listening to his iPod. He looked at me, his face hardening also.

"You know, he's in our class, too," Marissa said to me.

"Huh?" I asked, turning around to face her. She waved me into a seat near the middle of the bus.

"Tyler? Yeah, he takes Psych too," she told me as I sat down.

So his name was Tyler. That's weird. Tyler seemed like such a calm, easy-going name. Well, it's not like his parents knew he would turn out to be a druggie, I guess.

"How come I didn't see him yesterday in class?" I asked.

She giggled. "You really think a guy like him would come to class everyday?"

I smiled. "No, I guess not."

Huh. So he was a skipper, huh? Just what kind of guy was Nate before this guy screwed him up?

I walked into homeroom – the same room as my English class, the way it was supposed to be – and sat down in front of Mika again.

"Hey," I said.

"Hi," she replied, sounding distant and looking down.

"What's wrong?" I asked, frowning.

"Huh?" She looked up. "What? Oh, nothing."

Goodness gracious, this girl needed to get a backbone. If there was something troubling her, why couldn't she just come out and say it?! Maybe I could buy her a backbone…?

Oh, what am I thinking? Stupid, Jas! I thought to myself. Like I could go buy one from Wal-Mart or something. Though Wal-Mart did have mostly everything else you could ever want to buy. I loved that store. Like you could buy leg warmers in one aisle, and then paint in another, and then shampoo right next to that…

Stop rambling, brain! I yelled at myself. Okay, great. Not only do I rant about pineapples, but I also talk to my brain.

Maybe I was the one that needed a psychologist.

"You sure?" I asked Mika.

She nodded, doodling on her notebook. I noticed she was drawing eyes. Green eyes. Green eyes that looked like Nate's. Oh God, this girl was obsessed.

But I guess I couldn't really blame her. I'd probably be really sad if my best friend just up and left me too. Then again, my former ex-best friend for three weeks turned around and stabbed me in the back. Well, more like my parent's backs. I sighed. I didn't want to think about that right now. I know I say that I don't care because it doesn't matter, but I'm not a rock. I did love my parents, and I missed them like crazy.

Tears started stinging my eyes. Oh, damn, now I was crying. I blinked them away quickly.

"So, Mika!" I said, a little too chirpily, turning around to face her. "How was your day yesterday?"

She blinked in surprise. "Um…good, I guess. And I uh…I gave Ashton your number, if you don't mind."

"Yeah, I know. He called me last night," I told her.

Her eyes widened. "He did?" She looked over at him, sitting on the other side of the room, listening to his iPod with his head on the table. "That's weird. The last person I know of him calling was…Lauren."

"Um…who's Lauren?"

"Huh? Oh, sorry, I forgot you were new." She was still looking over at him. "Well, you see, Lauren and him were going out for a while before you got here."

"They were what?!" I screamed, grabbing onto my chair.

The conversations of everyone else drowned out my scream. Mika blinked. "Um…going out?" she said tentatively.

"They were what?!" I whispered ferociously. Okay, Jas…why do you care so much? Like hell I knew. "Give me details, woman!"

She blinked again, surprised at my sudden change of emotion. "Um, well, there's this girl named Lauren Snidely in our bio class, and –"

"Lauren Snidely? What kind of stupid name is that?" I asked. Once again, why did I care what kind of name she had? Why was I feeling all territorial all of a sudden?

Mika shrugged. "I don't know. Anyway, so she asked him out a day after he got here, and he said yes."

She took a breath to go on, but I interrupted her yet again. "She asked him? Okay, I'm all for feminism and all, but since when does a girl ask a guy out?"

Mika smiled. "I know. I thought the same thing. So they lasted for like three days and then he broke up with her."

"Why'd he break up with her?" I asked. Okay, why do I care?!

"According to him, it was because she drank too much. I was surprised at first, but in retrospect, they were kind of doomed from the start."

"Why would Ashton go out with someone like that?" I asked, furious at this Lauren girl.

"Um, why do you care?" Mika asked.

I blushed the distinct color of red delicious apples. "Um, I don't?" Great…it came out as a question. Great job, Jas.

She smiled. "You like him, don't you?"

I blushed again. "No, I don't! I just…care about him?" I finished lamely.

She rolled her eyes. "Right." She drew the word out sarcastically. Then she giggled. "It's okay. I think I had a teensy crush on him at first too. But you get over it soon. Mine was over in three days."

"I do not have a crush on him!" I yelled. Then why are you being so defensive, you idiot?

She just rolled her eyes again. "Whatever you say."

We were quiet for a while as I turned back around in my seat. Then a thought hit me. "Um, Mika?" I asked quietly. "What day is it?"

"I think it's Tuesday," she replied.

"No, I mean the date."

"Oh. It's April 25th," she said.

I froze. April 25th. That's why I'd been remembering my mom so much this morning with Mary. And why I'd been thinking about him.

Because on April 25th seven years ago, my parents were shot down in the middle of a street.

Today was the anniversary.

Yes, this was mostly a filler chapter, but it picks up again in the next one.

(Yes, I stopped apologizing for the horribly slow updates. I figured you guys were tired of hearing my lame excuses. XD Sorry.)