"I never realized how much work goes into moving," Aila said as she packed up the last of her mementos. It was one of many boxes that she had packed that day.
She was moving from sunny L.A. to the other side of the country, New Hampshire. Specifically, Mount Washington, which had an average of 246 overcast days annually. Frankly, she couldn't be more excited. She loathed sunlight, detested heat. Sweating made her miserable, and with her Scottish-Irish complexion, she burned as easily as any redhead around.
She would miss her friends, but she believed in taking punches as they came. She knew that she would make new friends, given time. Besides, her only friend who was truly close didn't even live anywhere near her. He actually lived in New Hampshire, too.
She'd be lying if she said that she hadn't thought about meeting him.
That's right. She'd never seen him before in her life. She and Finn, they'd met online. Over the last nine months they'd slowly gotten to know each other in a way Aila never would have thought possible without a face-to-face connection.
"You're moving?" Finn asked. Aila laughed. It had all happened so fast, she never got a chance to tell him.
"Yeah, I am." She wasn't sure whether or not she should add where she was moving to. He would probably think along the same lines as her- that New Hampshire wasn't a very big state. That meeting wouldn't be all that difficult. Just thinking about it made her heart speed. But she'd have to tell him eventually. "To New Hampshire."
He was quiet so long that she actually checked to make sure that the phone hadn't disconnected. "Finn?"
"I live there," he said.
"No!" Aila cut him off. "You know the rule." They had agreed just before exchanging phone numbers that they would neither use the number to look up the other's exact location nor ask about it. Of course, there was absolutely no way of knowing that the other was really sticking to the agreement, but they trusted each other as far as internet friends could.
After that, Aila changed the subject quickly. She didn't know what she was going to do about being so close to him, but she did know that she needed time to figure it out.
It was Aila's first day of school, and she was positively bouncing with nervous energy. She fiddled with a pencil and looked around at her new classmates. Actually, she was trying to catch someone's eye, so she could start a conversation.
One girl, obviously a snobbish better-than-thou type, sneered at her. Aila looked away, unperturbed. Not everyone here could be like that. She turned around and faced whoever was behind her, deciding that the passive approach wouldn't work.
"Hi. I'm Aila Cariston." The boy stared at her. His eyes were wide and his mouth was hanging open a little.
Aila was about to say something, anything, that would make him stop staring at her, but he finally snapped out of it. "Liam Moran." He looked strangely sad.
Aila laughed uneasily. "I'm new. Just moved here from-"
"L.A., I know," Liam cut her off, then snapped his mouth shut and looked stricken. "I heard from…"
"Right. Well, it was nice meeting you," Aila said, turning to face front. The teacher had called the class to attention with impeccable timing.
After they were dismissed, Liam stood and waited for her to gather her things. "What class do you have next?"
"Physics with Lewis," Aila said a little hesitantly.
"Hey, I've got him, too!" Liam looked happier than he should be. "Look, I'm sorry I acted so strange earlier." Aila smiled a cautious smile.
"It's alright." They started walking toward their class and Aila found herself reevaluating Liam. Maybe he was just shy around new people.
But then something strange happened in the hallway. Some guy shoved his shoulder into Liam's and Liam positively snarled at the guy.
Liam turned and the two glared at each other as they walked away from each other.
"Who is that?" Aila asked nervously. She hadn't realized Liam could be so… feral.
"Him?" Liam asked, snapping out of it, though his eyes didn't lose their tight, angry glint right away. "Oh, he's… don't worry about it." Aila let the subject drop; she didn't want to get involved in school politics just yet.
Talking with Liam got easier as time passed. They sat at the same lab table in their first real class, Physics, which they were later told would be their seats for the year. "And," the teacher added, "here's your first assignment."
It was one of those pointless getting-to-know-each-other exercises. "What's your favorite band?" Aila read aloud and snorted. "What does this have to do with Physics?"
Liam laughed, too. "I don't know. But I can guarantee that nearly every teacher is going to do the exact same thing. Muse."
Aila said 'muse' at the same time as him. She laughed and added, "Well, them and Seether."
"Really?" Liam exaggeratedly looked her up and down. "You don't look like the type." Aila smugly noted that he seemed impressed.
"Haven't you learned by now? Don't judge based on appearances."