A/N: This is actually an old story that I've been updating, which was originally co-conceived by myself and FP user Arene back in high school in 2006. We've drifted badly apart since then; that along with the fact that I'd done the majority of the original writing means I'm currently captaining this story solo, but she still deserves equal credit for the conception and planning of this story, including most of its characters and plot.

This story is set in January of 2007, and I don't want to try and update it to be modern, because I'm more comfortable speaking to what it was like to be a high school student back when I actually was one. (This notably means no smartphones - the first iphone came out in June of 2007.) Also, there will be semi-frequent musical references, (usually in the form of lyrics) but in the world of this story post-2006 Broadway musicals do not yet exist. I'll try to include a list of referenced musicals at the end of each chapter.

2013/14 Update: I first started rewriting and posting this story in 2010-11 or so. As any older readers will well remember, I halted at chapter 7, and after a significant rewrite of the first six chapters, placed the story on indefinite hiatus. Now, in 2013, I've decided to give it another whirl and another set of re-writes. (I say, and then edit this again in August 2014 to try and claim that no really, *this* time I mean it. Had to remove some really idealistic text here where I indicated I'd have all six chapters reposted by the end of August... last year.)

Formatting Notes:

For some bizarre reason FP hates asterisks as line breaks. ##### (center aligned) reflects scene change. #(left aligned) indicates a perspective change within the same scene. /Song lyrics are written like this/


Chapter 1

Constantine squinted at the building in front of him, sizing it up. Made of brick, lots of over-sized windows, big double door for an entrance. Yep, definitely looked like a high school. Not exactly an identical building, of course, but not so different from his old one.

No, the differences were in the things all around the building. The trees, for one. There were quite a few more of them, and several different kinds than Constantine was used to seeing. Of course, that was somewhat difficult to say for certain when so few of them had leaves.

The biggest difference, of course—the biggest thing that made it clear that he was in a new place?

Snow. Snow actually on the ground, measurable by feet, which was just insane. Well, that and the equally insane cold. Actually, the snow was fantastic, as far as he was concerned. Definitely the first time in his life he'd ever seen so much in one place. The excitement might eventually wear thin, but for now it was more 'pro' than 'con'. The cold itself was much less fun; especially with a coat that was designed for the "cold" of Sonoma County, California, as opposed to northern New England.

New place, new school, new people—Constantine was sure he was supposed to be terrified or something, but he couldn't seem to muster up anything but excitement. Looking backward and focusing on the past had never served him well; he preferred to approach life as a series of interesting adventures just waiting to be experienced.

#####

"Out of the way, fag!" A familiar, mocking voice called out, just before Lawrence felt himself being shoved violently into the lockers lining the hallway. The shove set him off balance, and despite his best attempts, he fell hard on his hastily outstretched forearms. Naturally, the fall was met by malicious laughter from the offending parties. Lawrence glared hard at the floor, willing himself not to show how much the fall had hurt. Tile floors were a bitch to land on.

"Don't bother getting up," the owner of the voice—and likely the one who'd shoved Lawrence in the first place—went on, the sneer audible in his voice. Cory, of course. Who else would it be? "Dirt like you belongs on the floor"

Lawrence felt his eyes sting with angry tears, but he held back, unwilling to give them that satisfaction. Not like this was something unusual, anyway. He got crap from them all the time, Cory and his stupid little buddies. 'I should be used to it by now,' he told himself bitterly.

Cory appeared to have made it his personal mission in life to ensure that Lawrence's life was constantly a living hell, and so far was doing a damn good job of it, too. Even now, it hurt to look at Cory's face, twisted with malicious intent. Lawrence nearly choked on the bitterness that thought gave rise to.

No one ever joined in besides Cory's established lackeys, of course. That didn't make it hurt any less when the hallway was crowded with the traffic of students on their way to classes, and not a single person even paused except to stare. That's how it always was; they all pretended like nothing was—

"Hey asshole, what the hell do you think you're doing?" An unfamiliar voice came from somewhere above Lawrence, (who hadn't bothered looking up yet, much less getting back on his feet). "Leave him alone!"

That was a surprise. More than a surprise. Lawrence was shocked enough to instinctively look up, even. No one except the occasional (rare) teacher had ever bothered to do a thing when he was (quite visibly) bullied, and the voice definitely wasn't familiar. The mysterious intervener didn't look familiar, either, and Lawrence felt quite certain he'd have remembered seeing someone like that around school before.

The boy looked like he was around sixteen or seventeen - probably a junior like Lawrence, or maybe a senior. His hair was nearly black, longish and slightly curled, looking more like it hadn't been cut recently than an intentional style. His outfit... well. He wore a (normal enough) white shirt with some kind of logo that Lawrence couldn't quite make out, beneath some kind of dark green military style jacket with a multitude of strange buttons and patches on it. Below that... his pants looked like they might once have been perfectly normal denim jeans, until a marker, or several markers, and some splashes of paint besides, had been taken to them, making rainbow designs down the length of each leg. To finish it off, he wore vividly purple tennis shoes complete with hot pink laces.

'He's a complete freak,' Lawrence thought finally, with something almost like awe, staring openly. He thought maybe his jaw had dropped open a bit, but he was too distracted to say for sure. At the same time, it was hard to deny that this guy was worth looking at for a few reasons other than his strange ensemble... but Lawrence berated himself for the thought. He absolutely refused to be taken in that easily by anyone.

"Who the hell are you?" Cory snarled unpleasantly at the newcomer.

"Dude, I think he's a new kid or somethin'," one of Cory's cronies supplied articulately. Regular fucking Einsteins, the people Cory tended to surround himself with. Lawrence suspected Cory hand-picked them just so he could feel smarter by comparison.

"New kid, huh?" Cory repeated, voice dripping with disdain, shoving the newcomer backwards, presumably in some pathetic display of masculinity. "What's with your fucking outfit? You a fag too?"

"Sure am," the stranger grinned unexpectedly, barely even stumbling at the hard shove he'd received. Then his grin abruptly took on a more seductive tone (at which Lawrence sucked in a breath.) "You want some?" he said, wagging his eyebrows in a ridiculously over-the-top fake-suggestive come-on.

Cory's face was a picture in disgust, and he backed away immediately. "You're a fucking freak."

"Yeah, yeah, rubber, glue, whatever," the other guy responded in a laughing tone. "Kindergarten play time now, is it?'

"Fuck this, you're not even worth my time." Cory spat, the look on his face bordering on hateful. He turned slightly, looking directly at Lawrence. "You never were."

Following that, Cory spun around and stalked down the hallway, his flock of sycophants on his heels.

…Leaving Lawrence in the now nearly deserted hallway, alone with this incredibly weird stranger who'd just stepped in and made a better show of standing up to Cory and his goons than Lawrence had ever managed in his life. He suddenly realized the bell must have rung. The thought seemed odd, out-of-place. But then, it was easier than thinking about what had just happened.

#

The boy looked to be about the same age as Constantine, probably either a junior or sophomore. A bit on the shorter side, but it was hard to tell with him sitting on the floor like that. Blonde color, parted on the side and layered in a clearly professional cut, not quite long enough to be called emo, complemented by striking blue eyes. His build was so painfully skinny that Constantine had idly wondered whether the boy ate anything. Still, there had been something about him that Constantine couldn't entirely quantify, and 'he was cute' seemed too simple a description for too complex an idea.

At the moment, said boy seemed completely spaced out, and didn't even notice when Constantine tried to offer a hand to help him up. Instead of saying something, Constantine decided it would be more interesting to see how long it took before said offered hand was even noticed.

#

Lawrence continued to sit on the floor, back against the wall, so lost in his own thoughts that it was a comically long while before he realized that the other boy was holding out a hand to him, presumably to help him up.

"My name's Constantine," the guy said with a breezy grin, the moment Lawrence focused on him. There was a flicker of underlying emotion on his face. Concern? Pity? Whichever it was, Lawrence didn't want it. Constantine's eyes seemed to bore into Lawrence's, his gaze strangely intent. Lawrence couldn't come up with anything to do except stare back.

"Are you okay?" Constantine (and what kind of a mouthful name was that, anyway?) asked finally, his expression a trifle more concerned, when Lawrence continued not to move.

"I'm fine," Lawrence snapped, climbing to his feet on his own power.

"O-kaaay," Constantine trailed out, raising an eyebrow. "That sounded completely believable."

"What the hell do you care?" Lawrence returned irritably. "You don't even know me."

"So the Good Samaritan thing's gone out of style, then?"

"Fine, you have my eternal gratitude. Is that why you helped me?" He crossed his arms, glaring at this Constantine's head (not at him, but actually at his head). He couldn't say why this weird person was unsettling him so badly, but the combination of that unsettlement, dealing with shit from Cory, and feeling embarrased and ashamed on top of that did not exactly leave him at the top of his game. Thus, his general irritation at the world was winning out over the voice that reminded him that this person had just helped him and why was he being like this?

#

Constantine's eyebrows rose involuntarily. This kid clearly had hella issues.

"No, I clearly helped you for your sexy body," he returned a beat later, equal parts exasperated and attempting to lighten the mood. Unfortunately, his words seemed to have the opposite effect.

#

At first, Lawrence just stared at Constantine for a long moment, mouth slightly agape. Finally, once his brain processed the sentence enough to form a coherent response, he responded in an embarrassingly strangled voice, "Are you trying to fuck with my head?"

#

Constantine tried to resist. He knew, he absolutely knew it would go over terribly; but it was so difficult to give up such a perfect opportunity, and unfortunately his good sense lost the battle. Turning on his fake-suggestive voice and eyebrow-raise, he responded, "Nope, just you, baby."

Lawrence made a strange noise, halfway between a growl and a loud sound of frustration, before turning on his heels and storming off down the hallway

#####

The teacher gave a disapproving glare as Lawrence walked into class late. She'd always hated him, anyway. And today, he just didn't care. "Do you have a pass, young man?" she demanded in a grating, nasal voice.

Wordlessly, Lawrence shook his head, matching her glare with the worst death glare he was willing to pull on a teacher.

"Well, then," she said haughtily, highly unimpressed. "Come see me after school."

Lawrence sat down at his desk roughly, glaring with intensity at the surface of his desk as the teacher went back to the lecture of the day. He felt inexplicably bitter towards the world, towards Cory, and even towards apparently-new-transfer-student Constantine. Lawrence would just bet that Constantine hadn't gotten in any trouble for being late to class at all. The fact that as a new student, he almost certainly wouldn't, just served to irrationally irritate Lawrence even further.

#####

After an unfortunately long period of looking back and forth between the paper in his hand and the numbers above the doorways he passed by, Constantine eventually found the class he was supposed to be in. Thankfully, being a new student, Constantine arriving late to class didn't cause any problems. The teacher was very understanding, and she even encouraged him to ask her or any other teacher if he needed help finding his next class. Belatedly, he hoped that the kid from the hallway hadn't gotten into too much trouble for being late.

As the class began, Constantine genuinely tried to pay attention, but straight out of the gate the class seemed below his level, which inevitably made it boring. There had to be some kind of higher level he could take—he'd have to remember to speak to the guidance office, or administration, or whoever handled such things. As it was, hard as he tried, he absolutely couldn't focus on what the teacher was droning about.

This is the class that never ends/, Constantine found himself singing in his head, waving his pencil slightly to a rhythm only he could hear. /Some teacher started teaching it, not knowing what to do, but she'll just keep on lecturing/ — He racked his brain for a rhyme— /'til class is finally through./ He grinned to himself, pleased at his impromptu new song.

After writing down sad new song, Constantine looked at a clock on the wall... to find that barely fifteen minutes had passed. He sighed deeply (but quietly), putting the pencil down and leaning backing his chair. /It sucks to be me/ - he added in a mental sing-song, wishing he could get away with singing out loud.

/The problem with schools is they all try to teach the wrong lessons/, he sang internally, as his mental Broadway jukebox switched track. /Dancing through life, swaying and sweeping, and always keeping cool.../

Constantine found his thoughts drifting back to the events of the morning, the boy he'd just met, and his guilty conscience about the way that conversation had ended. He definitely could have (and should have) held back with the innuendo, given the context. Usually he waited until people knew him well enough to realive it was entirely a joke. Well, unless the person was an ass, like Random Bully Kid had clearly been, at which point he actually did try to fuck with their heads.

Constantine wondered if maybe he should find the kid later and apologize. He had the feeling that he'd probably just get himself snapped at again if he tried, but still.

Unfortunately, Constantine didn't even know his name. Finding him again in the fairly sizable school might prove difficult.

Or at least, so he'd thought.


Musicals and Songs Referenced:

Wicked; Song: Dancing Through Life

Avenue Q; Song: It Sucks to Be Me