A very old personal fav of mine.

Whatever Comes Next

It wasn't the fact that she had woken up 30 minutes late (even with her alarm clock blaring loudly in her ear). And it wasn't the fact that the sky was gray and dreary and that at this moment it just happened to be raining bucketfuls. It wasn't the fact that as she tried running desperately for the bus she slipped and fell scattering her books and scrapping her knee. And it wasn't the fact that she missed the bus and therefore had to walk all the way to school in nothing more than her school uniform and a thin hoodie to protect her from the elements. Before all this Vera knew today was going to be a bad day, she knew because the first day of school was always a bad day.

A horrid scowl was set on the young 12 year olds face as she walked through the gloomy and desolate city. From a distance she heard the faint sounds of a police siren. She passed two guys standing on a corner no doubt waiting for a deal, they watched her warily as she passed. She rounded a corner jogging lightly to a traffic light, and repeatedly began to hit against the 'Cross Walk' button. Once the walk sign glowed she quickly made her way across unaware of the loud hip hop music making its way quickly toward her until the last second. Eyes wide she flung herself back on the sidewalk as the car flew down the street then turned a corner with a screech of the tires.

For the second time that morning she angrily pushed herself up from off the ground before calling out,

"Assholes!"

Then stomped off angrily the rest of the way to school in an even worse mood than before.

She burst through the front doors of the middle school and stormed towards the security guard and the pair of metal detectors he stood by. Usually there were more guards but the morning was late and everyone had already gone through the usual security so help wasn't really needed at the front doors for now. She didn't have a back pack for him to go through but she had to outturn the pockets to her hoodie before grudgingly going through the metal detector. The extra security hadn't always been here but last year a boy thought it would be cool to bring a gun to school and got caught while showing it off. After that the school decided to buff up security.

Everyone was already in homeroom which left the hallways empty after finding out which homeroom she belonged to she quickly made her way in her class. The classroom was full of talk until Vera entered; a quick hush fell over the room as everyone turned to see who had come in late. The class's talk was exchanged for snickering and loud whispering at her dripping wet look.

"Hey Vera," called a girl who Vera knew but wish she didn't "It's raining outside did you know!?"

The snickering increased into laughter. Vera's hand tightened into a hard fist as she turned her cold glare over towards the girl. Taking a meaningful step towards her Vera said "This bitch is gonna make me have detention on the first day of school."

The class broke into a chorus of dramatic 'Ohhhs' at Vera's statement. The girl's smirk faltered but only slightly she knew she was safe as long as the teacher was there. And right on cue,

"Vera don't you think it's a little too early in the year for this? Sit down. Now!" Droned Mr. Wesley's voice

He was still seated comfortably in his desk but his warning look spoke volumes. Rolling her eyes Vera found an empty desk and shooting the girl one last glare sat down. Realizing there wasn't going to be a fight anytime soon the class slowly went back to their earlier chatter. Giving a loud sigh Mr. Wesley pushed himself from his desk and began making his way over to Vera's desk, "Vera I know this may be an impossible task for you but why don't you, at least, try to stay out of fights this year? You know try and make the school a little more peaceful for everyone else."

He said handing her a class schedule and her locker information. "She started it." Vera muttered. But Mr. Wesley either didn't hear or didn't care for he was already headed back to his desk. Her scowl back in place Vera leaned onto her desk resting her face in her hand as she waited impatiently for the bell to ring for them to go to their first class. Just when she began to let her mind wander she felt a soft thump on the back of her head from a rouge paper ball. Ready to verbally assault the culprit she quickly turned in her seat with a nasty look. But her mean glare quickly deadpanned when she realized who had done it. A wide smirk graced his face accompanied with mischievous eyes. The tanned boy with long dark hair pulled back into cornrows, gave Vera a wide grin.

"What's up Vera, why was you late!?"

"The bus left me." She muttered

"Why you miss the bus on the first day?"

"I didn't do it on purpose!" She snapped.

He grinned again

If there was anything that drew Vera to Terrence It was the fact that he always had that impossibly wide grin plastered on his face or the fact that he was just always smiling. She remembered in first grade he had asked to borrow her crayons before grinning. Never before had she seen anyone so...genuinely happy before, usually the projects consisted of sad, mad, or so drugged up you just didn't know what to feel. Intrigued she had allowed him to borrow her crayons only to get them back used up to the numb. Strangely after that they had become fast friends, oh sure they didn't have much in common in fact a lot of things he did pissed her of greatly. Though he was still human when he was upset he was upset, when he was mad he was mad, and when he was happy he was just annoyingly, painstakingly happy. He was a good friend in fact he was her best friend, and she didn't have many of those. Actually because of her record for violence he was one of her only friends. But that was alright half of those fights he had loaned a helping hand in, and Vera had never had a friend that would fight for her even though she had been in the wrong. Many of times covered in cuts and bruises they had sat together waiting to be called in by the principle laughing at the stupidity of the fight. For some reason he could always make her laugh. But Vera believed it was his smile that drew her to him she wanted to know what made him smile, why he was always happy and she wanted to know why couldn't she be like that? Why was he happy and she miserable? The more she thought of this the angrier she became.

"Listen dumbass, I know you never get any of these but I'm having something us normal people like to call a 'bad day'." Vera sneered angrily Terrence smirked clearly amused. This fueled Vera's anger even more "So do me a favor and just don't talk to me for the rest of the day! Do this for me and I won't have to kick your face in!"

He gave an easy shrug "Fine, screw you then."

Slamming her fist down on the desk Vera screamed "SCREW YOU!!"

The classroom instantly dropped back to silence everyone turning towards Vera in surprise,

She blushed, while Terrence laughed out loud at her outburst.

"Vera stay in after the bell!" cried Mr. Wesley

Terrence's laughter was followed by snickering by the other students.

'Yup,' Vera thought as she slunk down in her desk seat waiting for her face to cool down 'Today is a bad day.'

******

To Vera's satisfaction (and secretly her disappointment) Terrence did as he was told and left her alone for the remainder of the day. By second period the rain had stopped, and the school was more rowdy than ever! But Vera managed to avoid trouble and the day progressed more smoothly than it had this morning. As Vera walked the hallways from class to class she took silent notice of a group of girls applying way too much makeup for her liking. Having developed early they were no doubt the future sluts of America. As Vera passed she heard some mean gossip about some poor individual who apparently had the nerve to be flat chested in middle school.

Vera opened her locker putting away one of her new textbooks; a loud bang to her left caused her to turn with a start. A large boy had just shoved another boy against the line of lockers. In quick retaliation the boy threw a punch which no doubt would cause a bloody lip later. The two boys were quickly covered up by a crowed of overexcited kids screaming "Fight! Fight!"

Out of nowhere the teachers came running trying to disperse the crowd. Some kids stayed back not wanting to get involved with the fight or the crowd in general. Laughter caught Vera's attention a little further off stood Terrence and a group of his friends all of them laughing at one of the boys who was taking the worst part of the beating. Rolling her eyes Vera squashed the strange flutter in her gut and headed off to her next class after making a show of loudly slamming her locker shut.

******

At lunch she sat in content by herself silently eating and playing her PSP ignoring the loud chatter around her. She instantly looked up however when suddenly a loud blast from Lil' Wayne's new CD filled the cafeteria. Excited all the kids ran to the table of the music providers dancing and having fun making fools of themselves. Vera's frown deepened, and of course at the head of the idiot parade was Terrence and some of his friends as they jumped on one of the tables and danced like the dumbasses Vera believed them to be. She scowled angrily pissed at the entire school for their stupidity but for some reason more pissed at Terrence and that stupid happy go lucky grin spread across his face. She glared angrily at him wishing for all the world that looks could kill. As though able to feel her glare, Terrence's eyes easily found hers and he smirked at her. Caught off guard at how quickly his eyes found hers she was shocked before embarrassed, then she was mad again. His smirk grew back into his trademark grin, unashamed she easily flipped him the bird. Undeterred Terrence leaned close to his friend and said something she couldn't quite make out his friend in turn grinned, looked in her direction, then he and Terrence both broke out into a fit of laughs.

With a twitch of her brow Vera stood instantly and left the cafeteria in an irritated huff, just as some teachers rushed in to once again disperse the kids and turn the music off.

******

Finally to Vera's immense pleasure the last bell rang and in no time flat all the kids evacuated the building. In front of the school the excitement was loud but joyous they had survived the first day! The sky was still slightly dreary but it seemed that rain wouldn't be a problem for the remainder of the day. The city bus pulled up at the schools street corner, the bus that would take Vera home. With a grudging sigh she began to make her way towards the bus, until a sudden grip and tug on her wrist ceased her motives. Turning to the culprit she was met with a wide but arrogant smirk,

"What the hell do you think you're doing Terrence?" Her voice was calm but deadly.

"Come ere'. I wanna show you somethin'."

Vera gave a sharp tug but Terrence held fast to her wrist, "Let go stupid, I don't have time for this bullshit!"

"Come on. It won't take but a second!" He said pulling her one direction.

"What part of 'let go' don't you understand!?" She cried pulling in the other direction.

"What part of 'come ere' don't you understand!?" He gave a hard tug slowly making his way in his intended direction against the smaller girls will.

Even with her feet firmly planted she found herself headed in her opposite direction, in irritation she wondered when exactly had he gotten so strong?

"Terrence let. Go. NOW!" she yelled

Terrence instantly released her wrist, sending Vera stumbling backwards and falling hard on the ground. For the third time that day Vera found herself unwillingly on the ground, with an ugly scowl she pushed herself up off the ground and made her way slowly, threateningly towards the now smirking boy.

"You said let go." He said simply

"I promised Mr. Wesley I wouldn't get into any fights this year." She said roughly grabbing the front of his shirt "But I think I'm gonna enjoy this."

Smile now gone Terrence furrowed his brow saying, "Geeze Vera, you've been acting like bitch all day. I just wanted to cheer you up."

Giving him a non to gentle shove Vera said, "I don't need any cheering up! It's the first day of school I have a right to be a bitch today."

"Well you're always a bitch but I mean today you've been bitchier than usual." He said trying to get a rile out of her.

But Vera ignored him as she picked her books up from the ground for the third time that day. She then began to make her way towards the bus but Terrence quickly ran ahead and in front of her effectively blocking her path.

"Terrence you have 3 seconds to-"

"Pleasssse Vera!" Yelled Terrence giving her an overly dramatic puppy dog face. Vera raised a brow, at the over dramatized pouty quivering lip, and the large watering eyes which made him look more like a love sick cow.

"God you're stupid." She sighed

"It'll be fuuuuunnnn!" He continued with his puppy dog face.

Heaving another loud sigh Vera closed her eyes trying to ignore the dull ache in the back of her head that was slowly growing stronger.

"VEEEEEEERRRRRRRAAAAAAA!!!!"

"All right already! Just SHUT UP!!!!"

His trademark grin quickly back in place he once again grabbed her wrist and began running the opposite direction, dragging a clearly pissed of Vera with him.

"But only for a second!" Vera called as she allowed him to drag her wherever.

The only answer she got from him was another grin.

********

Four blocks later Vera found herself inside a dirty alleyway releasing the frustrated girl's wrist Terrence walked on ahead.

"This is what you wanted to show me!? A dirty assed roach infested alleyway!? Gee thanks Terrence, I've never seen one of these before!" She mocked

Terrence shot her a dirty look over his shoulder before jumping up and making a mad reach for a low hanging ladder of a fire escape. The two tall buildings they stood between, Vera noticed, were apartment complex's. The buildings were old worn and dirty with chipped bricks and (for the most part) covered in graffiti. With a deep frown Vera turned to glare daggers at her so called friend. With one last leap Terrence grabbed the last bar to the old rusted fire escape and pulled it down with the horrid sound of scrapping rusted metal.

Vera raised a brow, last year some boy had dared Terrence to pull down a fire escape ladder but that dare ended rather sadly because try as he might Terrence just couldn't reach. Terrence was one year older than she and even for her age she was still considerably short but still. When had Terrence gotten taller? And how had she not noticed?

"Won't we get in trouble if someone sees us?" Vera couldn't help but ask.

Terrence already on the first balcony looked down at Vera for a moment before giving her a wide smirk and continuing up the scape.

Vera felt a vein pulse in her temple, she knew what that look meant. Not really caring at the moment she tossed her binder and books on the ground before grabbing hold of the metal ladder. Slowly she made her way up; she knew a challenge when she saw one.

*******

"You're so sssslllllllooooowwww!" Terrence whined already on top of the building

"Shut up." Vera said simply making her way up the last ladder.

Terrence grinned happily as Vera finally hauled herself on the apartment's roof, "Took you long enough, slowpoke."

Hands on hips Vera turned to him ready, a smartass comment on the tip of her tongue but was completely taken aback by the view she was presented with.

Dark rainclouds still randomly dotted the sky, as the late afternoon sun glowed a dull orange-red just beginning its descent for the day. The city landscape, which Vera had always thought looked grimy and dirty, looked almost inviting from this height. It didn't look like the dangerous urban jungle, filled with gangs, and street violence, drugs, shootings, psychos, anger, sadness, and failure that Vera was used to. Saluted against the setting sun the city almost looked... pleasant.

She moved close to the buildings edge in awe at the mid afternoon scene.

"This is..." She bit her tongue never ending the sentence for fear of sounding like something she wasn't.

She heard a light thud behind her, turning she saw that Terrence had thrown his backpack on the ground before taking a seat next to it. Linking his hands behind his head he laid back with a huge content smile on his face.

"Feels nice up here, huh?"

Tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear Vera made her way towards him, taking a seat she sat cross legged by his side, still looking out to the view.

"You've been here before?"

He made a slight noise of approval but said nothing more. For a while the two friends said nothing but sat in silence, Vera stared out at the city's view, while Terrence stared up at the sky above. Both content within their own thoughts, until suddenly it occurred to Vera that in all the years she's known Terrence, they've never had a moment like this. A moment where they both just sat together in silence. It was kind of nice, different, but nice.

"How's the baby factory?" Asked Terrence suddenly his voice breaking through the silence.

The corners of Vera's mouth quirked in slight disapproval, he was talking about her sister who had just had her third kid and had just found out she was once again expecting.

"She's... fine. She's just starting to show."

"Who's the lucky man this time?"

"Why the fuck do you care?"

"Do you know?"

Vera glared at him.

Terrence smirked "I saw her working at McDonalds the other day, which was a shock."

"Terrence..." it was her warning tone the one that said he was close to that line.

"I told her I thought the only job she was good at was lying on her back-"

"Terrence, SHUT UP!" then in a quiet and almost hurt tone that surprised them both she said "Just. Shut up..."

Silence once again consumed them only this time it wasn't as comforting as before. Finally Vera said,

"She wasn't supposed to end up like that you know. She always promised to get a job, to finish school, to... My sister had dreams." Vera concluded quietly, dreams that she had once believed in to.

With a shrug Vera said "I guess it's stupid really. When you think about it, I mean we only get two choices here. You die or you grow up and watch yourself become a failure in life."

Vera's eyes clouded over slightly as she continued to look at the city landscape. Terrence watched her carefully. "It really is nice from this point of view. But this is it." She turned linking their gazes, "This is where it ends." She said with such finality a lesser man would have believed it.

Terrence returned her gaze full force and simply replied "That ain't true."

Vera scowled angrily giving him a mean glare, idiots weren't supposed to contradict the smart people! It had been bad enough when she had realized her sister had sunk so low there would never be a chance of fulfilling all her dreams and promises made. But for him to tell her this wasn't the end with such simplicity she wanted to believe, she really did but there was no escaping reality, not here.

She wants to tell him that he is wrong, that someday the reality of this place will be too much for even his itty bitty make believe brain to ignore, and he will realize how much of a stupid ass he truly was.

But she doesn't.

She doesn't because she really does want to believe there is something more. Something other than this...

So because she cannot bring herself to tell him he's wrong, she simply glares at him, while he continues to lay there meeting her glare with an even gaze. The wind blows and a tension that had never once graced their friendship before covers them like an ominous blanket. With a huff she turns away from him "Dumbass" she mutters.

Another brief pause then in order to bring back some of the leverage she thinks she has lost she asks smartly "What will you do?"

Terrence's face takes on a thoughtful look as he ponders the question. It was asked bluntly but they both understood it's meaning when all was said and done and the time came for them to make choices in their lives what would his be?

Then with the same simplicity as before he replies "I'm Leavin'."

Vera stared dumbfounded "And?"

Terrence gave her his arrogant smirk "And, that's it I'm leavin'."

She raises a brow, "Well, where will you go and what will you do?"

Terrence's smirk widened as he once again brought his gaze skyward, "Where ever I want and whatever I want."

There it was again that confidence that made her want to believe. It was a nice dream to escape this place but that's all it was, a dream. Right? But despite that thought Vera couldn't help asking, "And then what?" She had asked the question so quietly like it were a sin for her to believe in such things but if she asked quietly enough God wouldn't be able to hear her and she'd be safe.

"The worlds a big place. I wanna see it all." He said easily

Nodding slowly Vera turned her gaze back towards the now setting sun. Terrence moved his leg so that his knee bumped hers. Vera gave him a slightly annoyed look.

"What about you?" He asks

She doesn't know how to answer yet so she simply shrugs. Terrence watches her for a moment longer and then smirks again.

"I'll take you with me." He says again in his easygoing simpleminded way.

Vera's eyes widen and she feels her heart skip for reasons she can't quite understand "Wh-what!?"

He doesn't seem to care about her shocked look or her outburst just calmly repeats again. "I'll take you with me."

Vera looks down at her hands now clutching tightly at her blue school skirt; she bits her lip as she allows her mind to run away with possibilities and dreams that she had, at a young age, long since thrown away.

Not able to stop herself she asks again "And then what?"

Terrence sits up turning to look at his friend, a slight smirk still quirked at the corner of his lip.

"What comes after that?" She almost demands, "What comes next!?"

The sky still dotted with rainclouds, was between mid afternoon and dusk when the first star made itself known. Terrence's eyes that always seemed to gleam with mischief seemed to glimmer with something different, something she could not identify. He never gave an answer, never uttered a word, he only grinned. His huge impossible stupid grin that she both hated and loved, but this time she can't help it.

She grins to.

~The End~