Heyo, so sorry for taking so freaking long to have this chapter done. I'm starting college in the fall and freaking out about everything I have to do to be ready. But, finally, I have finished writing this chapter, and am quite pleased with it. As always, reviews are simply amazing. So, questions? Comments? Bring them on. :)

Chapter Three

...

It had been two weeks since I had come to the school. Two long, agonizing weeks of this new scenery, new people, and the new hole left inside of me. The hype about the 'new boy' had worn off, and for that I was great full. Little to no invading questions anymore. I was able to slip by in the halls silently, unnoticed save for those moments Adam or Sarah would spot me, drawing the attention I so despised. Every time it happened, I could see the scathing looks sent to us, or more toward Adam. He'd told me it was nothing, and that I had enough to worry about without throwing the dramas of every high school in America into it. I just nodded, not really paying much attention to his words at that point. All I could tell was that he looked nervous, like he was trying desperately to avoid the subject. And that, I could identify with perfectly.

The days kept me busy. Schoolwork and dodging glances in the halls takes more energy than it should. But it was better than the alternative of being seen and trying to avoid the few questions that were still thrown my way. The nights were frightening. Still, images of blood soaking through snow still haunted my mind. Every night, I fought sleep just so I wouldn't have to go back two weeks ago and see her die over and over again. I don't know how much longer I can take it, knowing I lied to the police, just for the sake of saving trouble for myself. To save myself from being called a liar over and over again because he never does anything half way. That Mark Smith didn't kill himself. He was just another twisted victim in the game. I wasn't willing to become a part of it, but I had without noticing. He'd ensnared me just by the fear that had been in her my entire life. It was that fear that caused her to leave her home in New York and move almost all the way across the country to a small town in Montana. I didn't want to be held by that same fear all my life.

"Hellooo." Adams' voice drifted from somewhere, muffled in my clouded mind. My eyes focused, the blurred spot on the wall I'd been staring at for I don't know how long turning into Adam's face as he wove his hand to get my attention. He smiled after getting my attention, and I couldn't help but feel minute movements of my lips, a pathetic excuse for a smile, but a smile nonetheless."Earth to Kyo, come in. I've managed to take something right out of your hands and you still haven't noticed."

Oh. I looked around at the mostly empty room. Currently, it was only Adam and I in the room, sitting and standing in silence. He was right in front of me and I noticed what ne must have taken out of my hands was the viola. Yeah, makes sense. This was orchestra... right? Yeah... it's been hard to keep track of, not that I've really been trying. It's hard to care about things that once seemed so important when something so big is missing. I must have spaced out again because Adam is poking me now, laughing. That's been happening a lot. My spacing out. Adam's ungodly friendliness. I was lucky to have this one shred of good fortune in the last two weeks. He's really been the only one who hasn't singled me out to anything. He's acted as if nothing in the world is wrong, even though I can tell he knows something is terribly wrong. And I can't thank him enough for this.

"So, there's someone here for you, spacy."

I looked up in a daze. Why would anyone be here for me? He looked at me, the hazel shining in concern I'd become so accustomed to seeing in him. I shook my head, as if it would help to clean out the images that had plagued it for the past two weeks. Slowly, I let him drag me out of my chair and lead me to where this person apparently was waiting; right outside the door. This person, of course, how could I not know who it would be. Shailin, of course. Why would it be anyone else? Why would I expect anything different when there is no one else. The thought of that sent a shiver down my spine. I'm alone now, aren't I? But . . . I shook my head, banishing the thoughts before they could appear. I'd thought way too much over these past two weeks about where I was left. Without my mother or the people I'd grown up around as family hours away. Sure, my grandparents were here, but I knew I couldn't count on them being there for me all the time as I could have with mom. Shaking my head again, I seem to be doing that a lot lately, I wrapped my arms around Lin in a hug. She was obviously not doing well, as to be expected when ones love dies. But it struck me in this moment how much she'd been holding back the last time I'd seen her. How much she was being strong for the both of us. Now, for someone I was used to seeing as a powerful fashionista, so down was almost shocking. I didn't have the words she needed, but she knew that. None were needed. I leaned back, seeing the determination to be strong in her eyes.

"It's this Saturday, Kei. I was going to call . . . but . . . " She attempted to continue, but I shushed her, understanding what was meant. This wasn't something she could call me for. Telling me when the funeral was, was too important and painful to not say in person. I gave a weak smile. It was my turn to be strong for the both of us. She'd already done so much for me by being a silent presence, even though I hadn't seen her in two weeks. We worked like that. Not having to be around to know we would always be there for each other. She was more of a best friend to me than my mother or I could have ever hoped for when she brought her to the house some ten years ago, seeking approval for her girlfriend. Now we stood, in the middle of a high school hall, holding each other after the death of the one who had brought us together in the first place.

"Lin, I'd like to introduce you to some people." Looking over to where Adam and Sarah had been silently standing, I motioned them over. "I met them on my first day here. This is Adam and Sarah. They've helped out a lot."

"Thank you." A weak smile played across her face as she glanced to both of my new friends. "Will you be going to the funeral? I ask because I know Kyo won't."

"Wait a minute," Sarah cocked her head to the side in confusion. "Who died?" As soon as the words left her mouth, Adam put an elbow into her side, gritting his teeth. In agitation, or something else. I didn't really care at that moment. I couldn't even answer the question anyway, so I guess interference was nice.

"You're dense sometimes, Sarah. Couldn't you figure out there was a reason such a pretty face was always tear-stained?" he turned to look both me and Lin in the eyes at the same time, however he managed to pull that off. "I'm sorry about her. She's a bit too blunt sometimes. Of course we'll go. Who it was doesn't really concern us, only that whoever it was, was important to you."

"It's alright. Shayna Owens, Kyo's mom." Shailin said what I couldn't even begin to explain. Nor did I want to. All that mattered was that the words were said, and friends who had never even met her were willing to go to her funeral just to support me. And that meant the world right now. "I'm gonna get going, kay Kyo? I'll be by Saturday at six a.m. to pick the three of you up. I love you."

"Love you too Lin." I kissed her on the cheek and watched her walk away until she turned a corner, out of my view.

"Are you okay?" Adam asked after a long silence. Almost long enough for me to get lost in my thoughts again.

"Yeah." No. There it is again. The voice I can't recognize, but it's my own. Too quiet and weak, not at all like me. But, these days, there seems to be nothing that is like me.

"Whatever you say, Kyo. Come on Sarah." And just like that it was as if the past five minutes had never even happened. Like the whole past two weeks had never happened. Like everything was okay. It was nice to just walk with these people, who knew, but didn't pity, or even say sorry. It was like they knew exactly what I needed. And maybe, I thought, they just might.

.

...

.

The rest of the week passed in a blur, the time was moving way too fast. I tried to not think of what the weekend would hold, but it was all that crossed my mind. All I could see when I closed my eyes was her, so full of life one moment, and the next bleeding out on the pure white snow. Images of this and him kept crawling through my brain like spiders in the ceiling. They haunted even the best of dreams I could hope of having, waking me to toss and turn. Even scream sometimes. I felt bad that I kept Adam up most nights with the terrors I wish were only in my head. Every time I'd wake, screaming and struggling with an invisible opponent, he would look at me with his beautiful, tired eyes, never a question passing through his lips, telling me to 'keep it down over there.' Always with that grin, lighting up his entire face. He was never annoyed, or at least never seemed to be, and for that I was eternally grateful for. He stayed up with me a lot, talking about almost everything. We shared a lot of things; tastes in music, movies, and the wish to not talk about family, at least not now. Not when the wounds were still so fresh. And I could tell he had his own wounds.

By the time Saturday came, I felt as if I'd known Adam and Sarah forever and was happy for them to be waiting in the parking lot with me at six in the morning when they could easily be sleeping peacefully in their beds. And I could guess Adam was in need of a peaceful sleep after waking every night to screaming. But as it was, Sarah was resting most of her weight on him, half asleep. When Lin showed up, father in tow, the three of us silently piled into the back of the van, practically passing out on each other the second we were moving.

There was something warm beneath my head. Pillow? There was something warm, and it was moving . . . and talking? Pillows don't talk. Shut up, pillow. I was having such a nice dream. So rare these days. Mom was there . . . And Lin, and Adam, and Sarah, and even Zeke. God, I haven't seen him in years. Damn, why won't this pillow be still? It's waking me up...

"Go 'way." Mumble against the evil moving pillow.

"I can't, your kinda laying on me." Adam said that . . . didn't he?

Slowly, so slowly, I opened my eyes to be met with the semi-blurry face of Adam. So close, I could almost see clearly . . . looking around in the van, half laying on him. In the empty van, and I can see through the windows where we are. Of course, headstones, covered in snow with the barest tips of stalks that must have once been beautiful flowers laid for the dead nearly completely buried by the white flakes now falling freely from the clouds. Of course, the funeral, mom's funeral. Because she's dead and we'll never see her again. She'll never get to meet Adam and Sarah, or yell at Zeke when she finds out he'd been piercing me all along. She's gone . . . yeah, and I've been whimping around for three weeks. But it seems so final now. Our real final goodbye . . . and I see Lin waiting just some ways away with her father, my grandparents, and Sarah huddled around her. I push myself off of Adam, supporting myself to see my glasses in the seat in front of me.

Stalling . . . taking much longer than I really need to put them on. Looking at Adam, he's smiling that sweet, patient, understanding smile that I try to return. It must look so awful. More like a grimace than a smile.

"You ready?" he asks, taking hold of my right hand, lacing his fingers through mine, and the heat from his touch surges through my body like electricity.

"As I'll ever be."

It was the truth. Still holding hands, we left the warmth of the van to venture the crisp cold of the winters' morning. Our breath immediately turned into vapor, half-melting flakes of the falling snow. Things that always reminded me of why I loved winter so much. Mom always complained of it. "It's too cold,""I hate driving on snow and ice." She always loved swimming too much to welcome the winters' weather. I'd always laugh at her and throw snow in her face if the chance was there.

The ground was too frozen to bury her until the spring, but we stood outside anyway, under a permanent awning around her open casket. There was no priest, as she'd never had a religion, just family and friends, and even some of her students. Saying words of sorrow and reliving the good times. When it was silent, I remembered growing up in our small town, sharing my every childhood experience with my best friend and mother. She was always so happy to listen, to smile, and laugh at me.

"We'd talked about death a lot." My soft-spoken words seemed to resonate in the silence, and I could feel every eye staring at me even though my own eyes fixated on the point of an icy flower petal. Purple . . . her favorite color. "She always said that she wanted her funeral to be a party. She said she wanted a really friggen big one with loud, happy music so that everyone she loved could celebrate the life she'd had lived, not to mourn the life that was lost . . . But, right now, it's hard to think of being happy over her death, to party her life. Maybe it'd be different if I hadn't been there, or if it was a bout of random killing, but it'd still be, just plain hard. I keep remembering the sight of her dying. The sight of her blood pooling into the snow, her skin turning blue and cold, and all I want to remember is her smile and the way she'd scoff at me when I was being over-dramatic. I'll always remember . . . her death . . . but more than that, her life and the way shed want us all to be happy, no matter what." I'm not sure how I managed to speak so much and not cry, not even tear up. I knew her wish was always for everyone to be happy or she'd 'haunt us until we were' as she'd threatened. And as we said our final good byes, closing the lid on Shayna Analyse Owens for good, the air seemed just the slightest bit warmer.

The crowd dissipated as people began leaving, wishing us well and for our hearts to heal. And I felt they would. This funeral was just the first step. There were only two people here besides us now. A couple from my old school, old friends who had known my mom. The girl, Alex, was the most wonderful, goofy girl there could ever be. The guy, Jarred, who, despite his tough guy looks, was so soft and caring. He was crying more than she was as they enveloped me in a hug. There was no need for words right now. They understood exactly what we, and the world, had lost, and as we parted, nothing but small smiles were exchanged.

Back in the van we go. Silently into the same places we were on the way. I listened as Lin and the other adults chatted, just filing in the silence as Lin's van had no radio. I could see her looking in the rear-view mirror from my place next to Adam, leaning on him. She was looking at me, her eyes darting as if she were unsure of what she needed to say. But after ten minutes she finally spoke.

"Kei, I was planning on going to the house, get the rest of your moms stuff. Are you okay with going or do you want to stay at my place?" her place was an hour away, there was no need. I just shook my head, saying I'd go with her. I felt an arm circling my waist lightly and looked over to Adam to see one of his small smiles as he squeezed lightly. He knew exactly what had happened by now. Lin had explained when I was sleeping earlier, after Adam and Sarah had woken up. I was glad to not have heard it. The rest of the drive was spent in silence. Absolute silence, one of those refreshing ones. One of those ones that were a comfort, instead of a nag. There was no need for noise, or talk. We all knew what we were doing in our own little worlds, and it was all that was needed right now. Every now and then, though, Adam would squeeze me, sending me a smile. Even Sarah had a hold of one of my hands in the middle of us.

.

...

.

Everything looked so innocent as we pulled up to the house. The pale blue of the house seemed darker against the pure white of the snow. So fresh, it looked, like nothing bad had ever happened there. I looked at the only home I've ever known, and instead of fond memories of growing up, the only thing it reminded me of was how I watched my mother die . . . let her die. The pat to the door was covered with snow, no evidence of her left out here. It was hard getting in through the thick piles and my grandparents and Lin's father had been left in the van. We reached the door slowly, taking snail-like steps. It was as if it took all the determination to go up to that door and not turn around. And I guess it really did. Eventually, though, Lin lifted the key to the lock and turned the knob, letting the door fall slowly open. It seemed momentous, the simple act of opening a door, bringing us back to the place we'd spent so much time laughing, smiling, screaming, and crying. And it would be our last time seeing it ever again.

"So, Sarah, would you help me with a few things?" Lin., trying so hard to not let anything affect hers, walked in businesslike, careful to avoid touching dusty counter-tops of the kitchen. "Kyo, I know there're some things you couldn't get or forgot when you were here last, why don't you take Adam upstairs while Sarah and I take care of things down here?" I knew the tone. It was the 'I'm saying this as a question but it's really an order' tone, and I didn't have enough energy to fight her. I just nodded, leading Adam up the stairs to what used to be my bedroom.

Nothing was how I left it save the walls. Different shades of dark blue walls and black trimming around the windows, floor, and ceiling. No furniture, just a small-ish box sitting in the far corner. With everything gone, it felt so much bigger, not at all like the cramped room I shared with Adam now. I guess Shailin must have had everything else taken care of. I looked into the box, a conglomeration of the things I used every day. A book, pens, notebooks, deodorant and the like. I sat down, picking up a picture from the top I hadn't had the chance to pack. It was of my family. My wonderful, unconventional family; mom, grandparents, Lin, her dad, and me. We were all smiling in front of a huge Christmas tree. It was so recent, just over a month ago, that this was us. It amazes me how fast life can change.

"She was young. I noticed when someone said te dates." Adam said quietly, sitting next to me, looking at the smiling faces of my family.

"She was. Thirty-three... she was only sixteen when she gave birth to us." I said, running my hand over the picture. "She lived in New York then . . . She moved here after a huge custody battle . . . "

"Oh . . . Kyo, I know you don't really like talking about your family and stuff, I don't either, but . . . 'gave birth to us?'" he sounded scared of his own question, as if he didn't really know what he could be asking, I was almost glad for it though. Because he didn't, not really.

"I have a twin sister. I've never met her. M-mom always said my father was a monster . . . " I looked as far away from him as I could, so unable to even think of that man, that monster. I could feel tears welling in my eyes, from sadness or anger, I'll never really know. Maybe a little of both. "I'm sorry, but I can't talk about him. Not right now, at least."

"Of course. I'm sorry I brought it up. My curiosity can get the better of me sometimes."He shot a weak grin at me as he stood up, helping me to do the same even though I didn't need it. I thanked him, grabbed the box, and went back downstairs with him close behind.

Lin and Sarah were waiting, apparently already done with what they were doing. Lin took the box from me and started outside, where the light was fading fast. It was getting dark really early, as it tends to do in the winter. I turned to take one last look at the kitchen where I'd spent so much time, when something caught my eye, and I froze.

Stiff as a board, petrified by what was through the window. Shrouded by the shadows of the bushes were a set of bright yellow eyes, and in the shadows of the face was a malicious smile, staring me down, burning a hole right through my skull.

And as soon as they were there, they were gone.