A/N: So, I am alive. It's true. I have to admit that this chapter is only 1,700 (exactly :P) words long. (Before the AN is added) I am really happy to be working on this again, believe it or not. I just had really bad writers block. And really bad procrastinatingness. And all of that. I am going to die. I haven't gone to bed at a decent hour this week once and tomorrow I'm going to the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games so I am going to be sooo tired Friday. But, I would like to know if you can guess the story between Chase and Quinn. I know you know something's there, but I just want to make sure what happened isn't too obvious. I may or may not change their backstory/this chapter based depending on what percent of you guess it. And for those of you who remember the threat made to Chase earlier that he refers to, what did you originally think of that threat? Did you think it would matter? :P Just this author's note is 183 words. Gosh.
I quietly sat in a corner I secured that morning before school started, rereading the same line of my book over and over again. My brain was still foggy from waking up just minutes ago to step off the bus free of my dear friend Quinn.
"What're you reading?"
I nearly jumped ten feet in the air at the sound of her voice. If you haven't noticed, I'm really jumpy. The small frame next to me waited patiently with wide innocent eyes, not even a smirk on her face, as if I had not nearly just had a heart attack.
"Gawd, Ember! You scared the bejebus outta' me!" I breathed, willing my heart to chill out now that there was no immediate threat.
"Oh, really? I'm sorry." She smirked, losing the innocent façade. "What are you reading?" She reiterated. Now, she was even chuckling to herself. I glared at her mocking smile.
Then I realized I didn't know the answer to her question. I said as much.
"So you've been sitting here for the past—" she checked her watch "ten minutes staring a hole through that book and you don't know what it is?"
I flipped to the title page and was just about to read it when she grabbed it from my hand.
"It's not even English!" exclaimed the squirrel pretending to be a teenage girl. "Do you know Italian or are you just that out of it today? Do you need to go to the nurse?" she joked.
"No, I'm fine. Just tired. No wonder it didn't make any sense. I was trying to read it in English," I mused.
"Do you know Italian, then?"
"Oui. Wait, that's French. I don't speak French."
"You're not a morning person, are you?"
"Not at all."
She laughed and I did too. Handing me the book, she sat down to my left. She looked at me for a second before cuddling up to my side.
"You're not used to people with space issues, are you?" I asked, jokingly.
"You're just lucky that you haven't snuggled up to a germaphobe or something yet. I have a feeling things would go badly for you."
"I know my limits."
"Sure." We talked for the rest of the time we had until the bell for first period rang.
I stepped out of the shower after baseball practice to an empty locker room. Checking my watch I realized why: there were only five minutes to the bell; the team was surely eating breakfast in the cafeteria. I didn't really care. I had a granola bar in my backpack that I would eat in history. I took my time getting dressed.
My mind wandered to Nathan, and, you know, stuff. His smile flooded my head. He had these pretty light brown eyes that turned golden when he was laughing. His hair was long and shaggy. It's black with natural brown highlights. I felt my lips curve upward on the ends as I thought of his toned arms around my shoulders. Time to change the subject.
Then my mind turns to Destrey with her strawberry blonde curls and, despite the plea to myself to change the subject, I think of the song Decoy, by Paramore.
Don't look so blue, you should've seen right through.I'm using you, my little decoy.
My little decoy. She's just a decoy. I'm just using her. My face fell as I slipped my shoes on from my place on the bench. I felt like crap for doing that to her. I did love her, just not the way everyone else expects me to.
The class was taking notes about something to do with Chemistry. I was taking notes on what Ember's name looked like next to mine. She had an interesting effect on people, especially me. I have never been stupid enough to put a girl's name on my hand before, but now, in permanent black marker enclosed in a heart, is her name. I had to find a way to get this off before the end of the day.
"Ember? As in Ember Greene?" said my teacher, Ms. Dugens, from over my shoulder. My eyes went wide and I blushed, as the whole class had heard her and was currently either failing miserably at stifling their giggles, or not trying at all.
"What? No! I mean– What? I just– When did you get there?" I struggled to reply.
"Nathan, let's focus on the Chemistry I'm writing on the board, not the chemistry between you and Ember Greene."
"It's not Ember Greene, it's—"
"Sure, it isn't, Nathan. Now just take your notes," she said with a smirk too practiced for a teacher.
I could not get out of that classroom fast enough. My feet were hardly touching the hall floors on my way to my new second period. (The had me in German 4 for some reason. I have never spoken German except for the occasional 'gesundheit'.) I walked into the choir room where my Music Theory class was with a bright red complexion. I ran into a girl whose hair was somewhere around the shade of my face.
"I am so sorry," I said, picking up the black folder I managed to knock out of her hands.
"It's okay. I'm Ms. Heights. I'm hoping you're Nathan. Your counselor sent me an email regarding your—or possibly his—schedule change." Her eyes sparkled when she talked and then her eyebrows squiggled to emphasize her statement.
"Yes ma'am. Nathan Rizzo."
"Good! You may take a seat now or wait until everyone shows up and choose from the empty spots on the risers. Personally, I'd go for the second option. Some of these people get touchy over their seats." She laughed a little fairy laugh, and added a "Kidding," when I looked at her puzzled.
Agreeing with her logic, I stood by a table in the corner of the room while everyone else filed in. This class had everyone from idiots expecting this to be blow-off class to wannabe rock-stars to major band/orchestra nerds who might as well have never heard any pop music outside of school. Then I saw a jock, and a rather familiar one at that. At first I was tempted to run at him screaming "QUINN!" and hug him, but I've only known him a day and most humans my age would find that weird. (I have a premonition that Ember wouldn't.) So in order to avoid completely ruining any chance I had at making friends at this school on my second day here, I stayed in my corner, waiting for the last of the class to file in.
Soon enough the final bell rang and my classmates were doing one of two things: staring at me and whispering, or not staring at me and talking in a slightly suspicious and quieter than normal tone. Ms. Heights walked forward from the board with an authoritative stance, which I did not expect from her small stature.
"Sh sh sh," she said, if you can call that speaking.
The class replied in unison. "Sh sh sh." Then they were silent. Huh, I thought. Impressive.
"Guys, we have a student that is new to this school. He was here yesterday, but today is his first day in this class. Nathan?" I waved at the class and Quinn looked at me funny. "Who wants to share a workbook until we can get him one of his own?" Of course, Quinn's was the first hand to go in the air.
"I will. I met him yesterday 'cause he rides my bus. He's cool." He flashed a grin my way and I stuck my tongue out at him, returning the favor.
"Well, Nathan, you might as well sit next to him," Mrs. Heights advised. Quinn patted the seat to his right while I shouldered my backpack again and walked to the risers he was seated on top of. I sat with my backpack between us, but Quinn moved it to the floor and scooted closer to me, opening his book with one half on his lap, and the other on mine, so we could share. I thanked him and looked down at the page to recognized the circle of fifths and a few other basic details. As if Quinn and Ms. Heights were somehow telepathically linked by what page he was on, the latter began to lecture on the subject. I settled into the groove of the class quickly and found myself enjoying the lesson. Today was going to be a good day.
Chase Dunham: Abt ystrdy… u wuldnt tell any1 4 real, right?
You: Of course not. And would it really kill you to type like you've at least completed elementary school?
Chase Dunham: Ys, it wuld kill me. … Do u still think abt wut happened bck then? I mean, I kno we tlkd abt 4getting wut happened. But i just strt thnking sumtimes when ther isnt anythng else to thnk abt…
You: Chase, I thought we were past this. I thought we had put this behind us. This is a bad time for me to be dealing with the past. Especially THAT event in the past.
Chase Dunham: …U like him, dnt u?
You: Wtf? What are you talking about? Like who?
Chase Dunham: Dnt play dum. The new guy. Nat or whtev.
You: No. I'm not an effing fag.
Chase Dunham: Q. Its me ur tlking to. Ur best friend. U dnt have 2 lie. Espeshally aftr wut we went thru.
You: I told you. I don't like Nathan. Not like that.
Chase Dunham: I c the way u look at him. We used 2 look at each other like tht. And we bth kno wut happened there.
I stared at the phone, willing myself not to get upset. Chase knew me better than anyone, so for him to say something like that, it meant something. We had experienced so much together. He knew the way I looked at someone I really liked.
You: I don't like boys.
I turned off my phone, and went back to Algebra 2.
Chase: What the hell?
Me: Watch your tongue.
Nathan: … What happened with them two?
Quinn: Nothing to worry about, Nate.
Ember: Who's this?
Me: These are your leading co-characters, Quinn and Chase. You've already met Nathan.
Ember: Co-characters? What are you talking about? [to Nathan] Does she think we're in a movie?
Nathan: yes, Ember. She's crazy.
Me: HEY! I may be crazy, but I know this is not a movie. It's a novel. :D
Chase: She's crazy, Ember.
Quinn: I don't know… It does smell a lot like ink around this town…
Me: What was the purpose of this? Y'all are sassy. I shouldn't talk to you.
Nathan: Oh, how I miss the word y'all when I travel to Italy.
…. This is going nowhere. I'll end here…
Until Chapter Five!