Gavin and Addison sat tensely in the living room; Addison watched the minutes roll by on the 'cat clock' on the wall whilst Gavin doodled in a sketchbook. Life was about to become vastly different for the both of them. Not only where they living in an apartment they put the first down payment on four months ago. They where anticipating an even bigger change. At first they where both apprehensive to the idea that was only casually mentioned in passing, and surprisingly enough Gavin was having the most doubts about it. However they had done the certification, they had outstanding backgrounds, and it was the right thing to do. Now all that was left was a mix of excitement and anxiousness. Once the doorbell rang Addison bolted up and strode towards the door nervously biting his inner lip. Gavin set the sketchbook down on the low standing Japanese coffee table and followed slowly behind. The door swung open to reveal a familiar looking woman with mousy brown hair and a tweed pantsuit on holding one of those rolly suitcases. Behind her was a half emaciated pale little boy with a large bruise on his cheek and short platinum coloured hair who clutched onto a falling apart stuffed rabbit. "Hello Wendy," Addison said amiably opening the door wide for them to come in. Gavin hung back behind Addison his doubts coming back despite him having the most experience with kids.

"Hello Addison, Gavin." She said with a nod before kneeling down in front of the timid looking boy. "Peyton this is Addison and Gavin you're going to be staying with them for a while, now if you have any problems, any at all I want you to call me at this number." She pulled a business card out of her pocket and handed it to the small child. He mutely nodded and his large eyes scanned the apartment. The place was in a hip and upcoming neighbourhood and the apartment was surprisingly spacious; but that was to be expected considering how well off they had become. They went from being uneducated nomads trekking the globe doing volunteer work and teaching English to highly successful individuals. Addison owned a large music store that sold a wide assortment of instruments, records, and did the whole music lesson thing. And Gavin's art career really took off (without his untimely decease being necessary) and his work was purchased for quite large sums of money. "Well I better get going, you'll see me next inspection I suppose," Wendy said offhandedly. "Bye Peyton". Addison showed her to the door while Gavin and Peyton stared at each other awkwardly.

Addison came back his smile huge and asked, "would you like to see your room?" The boy slightly nodded and Addison clutched onto the luggage. Gavin followed behind even slower than Peyton did and Addison excitedly opened the door and went in the bedroom. It was plainly decorated and didn't have much in it. The floor was the same hardwood ebony that covered the entire apartment however the roof was a bright white covered in glow in the dark stars and the walls where a purple colour and there was bright green and yellow vertical stripes. There was a small bed in one corner, as well as a dresser, desk, and small bookshelf. However there was really nothing personal about the room. "Wendy said your favourite colour was purple," Addison said setting the suitcase in the middle of the room.

"I like the walls," Peyton said in the quietest of voices utterly incapable of making eye contact.

"I'm glad, Gavin was the one to paint them. Do you like to paint?" Addison asked as Peyton looked around the room.

It took a while for him to answer but he finally said, "Yeah it's fun… we do it in school sometimes."

"Well then we'll have to show you the painting room, come on lets go explore the rest of the house," Addison said undeniably exuberant over the fact that Peyton was talking. Gavin had no idea what to do as Addison went around showing him all the rooms in the house and explaining them. They finally got to Gavin's studio and opened the door. Peyton looked around at all the canvasses, and art supplies in wonder.

"Can I paint?" he asked in the quietest of voices it was scarcely heard.

"Of course you can," Addison said with a smile. "Gavin will help you with everything you need to get started and I'll go start supper okay?" Peyton nodded and Addison left the room to go start on supper. However to say Addison cooked around the house would be an outright lie, as he couldn't cook if his life depended on it. He mostly just cleaned the vegetables, told Gavin what to make, and pulled out the pans.

"Uhm… what kind of paintings do you want to do? You can use some pastels, which are like little coloured chalk sticks and pencils that you can smear with your fingers… or you can use acrylics which are my personal favourite as they dry fast… or you can use water colours which are the ones you've probably used in school…" Gavin trailed off nervously his left hand clutching the back of his neck. It was surprising how nervous he was considering he has worked with 'at-risk' children since age sixteen as part of various volunteering programs.

"Water colours," he said just as nervously.

"Alright, uhm you're going to have to work on the floor though as my easel won't reach your size. Uh… it doesn't matter if you get paint on the walls or floor just try to be careful… uhm try not to get any on the paintings leaning against the walls. If you want to use a different art supply or when your finished just ask me as there's some paints you'd get sick if you used," he rambled feeling absolutely uneasy over what to do. Peyton nodded and sat cross-legged on the hardwood floor. Gavin grabbed a bunch of water colour papers as well as some of his older water colour brushes and set them down in front of the kid, then poked around his supply shelf for some water colour pencils and paints. "Uhm… is there anything in particular you'd like for supper?"

"I thought Addison was making it," he said.

"No… he can't cook very well he'd burn everything. He's probably just setting the table and turning on the stove."

"Can I have chicken nuggets?" he asked quietly.

"We don't have any chicken nuggets."


"Uhm well… is there anything you don't really like… we eat a lot of vegetables here and I dunno… a lot of kids don't seem to like them… so I'm not really sure what to cook…" Gavin said feeling the epitome of awkward. Here was this guy who was always so self-assured and confident and now he was standing there feeling awkward beyond belief.

"I don't like raisins and hamburgers," he said with a scrunched up nose.

A small smile crossed Gavin's face as he said, "I don't like them either. How about I make uhm… shit… do you like mac and cheese?" he nodded and Gavin felt relief go through him as he then grabbed a cup of water (there was a sink in the studio) and set it in front of him. Gavin left the room without a second glance and sighed a breath of relief as he got in the kitchen.

"Isn't he adorable?" Addison asked as he sat at the table.

"Yeah I guess so," Gavin replied.

"You guess so? I just don't get you right now; you're always so great with kids but now your like… I don't even know you're just so awkward and weird."

"This is just a little hard for me you know? I mean I've been in a similar place as him where you don't have your family anymore and are living with complete and total strangers… hell I was the exact same age as him as well when I moved in with Sherri and Zander. Plus this is different… when I am around other kids it's just to play pirates and finger paint for a few hours maybe a couple of days tops. But this is the real fucking deal and I don't want to fuck things up and I'm just really nervous and awkward and stuff…" Gavin said scratching the back of his neck.

"Don't stress it so much I totally eavesdropped on your conversation with him and your going to do fine. You two already have things in common and the fact that you kind of understand what he's going through just adds to the fact that you'll do great," Addison said reassuringly.

"Thanks I'll try to chill out a bit… anyways I better get started on dinner," he said with confidence and digging in the fridge.

The first dinner was exceedingly awkward as they all sat at the table eating their meal. Addison tried to ward the silence off by asking as many questions as possible and chattering on and on while ____ nervously struggled to keep up. It got to the point that Gavin had to put his foot down and said, "Addison he just got here and isn't even situated the Spanish Inquisition can wait."

"Sorry, I'm just trying to get to know him you don't have to be so snappy about it."

"I'm not trying to be snappy. It's just I can remember my first few days at Sherri and Zander's perfectly and trust me the barrage of questions just makes things feel so much more awkward… just… I know you want to get to know him but it doesn't happen overnight you just have to treat him like you do our friend's kids."

"Sorry… I'm just excited," Addison said with a small blush.

However things didn't stay like that for very long. _____ got situated, Gavin got over his apprehensions, and Addison was just as eager and cheerful as ever. ____ would go with Gavin to the animal shelter and play with the cats and dogs (he even managed to befriend a particularly antisocial Siamese cat that liked to attack most people). He went to all sorts of different museums and would visit the second hand bookstore or library every week or so, he was forced into playing piano but didn't hate it as much as he initially thought he would, and at age nine went from being a foster kid to adopted.

I loved art class, I may not have been the best but it was such a laid back class. I sat around the table with my two best friends. "Ugh I can't wait till class is over," Emma said shoving her fingers through her dark hair.

"Yeah I can't fucking wait to go to the café," Nate said.

"You hate coffee," Emma pointed out.

"Yeah but the barrista is way sexy," he said with a grin.

Mr. Owens came up to our table holding three pieces of paper and passed them back, they where our grades for our last project. I spent ages on mine trying to get the light sources correct and tried to glaze as well… but my colours ended up all muddled and it was too late to restart. I looked at my paper saying I got a 33% on it and grimaced noticing it needed a parent's signature. "I'm so fucked," I said quietly.

"Why?" Emma asked looking at my sheet.

"Yeah nobody takes art class seriously," Nate added.

"You don't get it… my parents are the type of people that go to really pretentious art shows and scoff at people who go to university for more than a liberal arts degree. They could give a fuck if I brought home a 30 in science or something but art is really important to them," I said slamming my head onto the desk.

"Really?" Emma asked curiously.

"Yeah they'd probably be angrier if I failed art then if I was caught smoking crack in the living room," I said overdramatically.

"Just lie to them fuck it's not the end of the world," Nate said.

"Yeah I guess… ugh fuck it I don't even know why I care so much," I said. As soon as the words left my lips the bell rang and we all bolted towards our lockers. I threw all my books away and pocketed the sheet of paper and then went to the front area to meet up with Emma and Nate. I was never a huge fan of school but it's not like I dreaded it either. I was absolutely invisible I only knew Emma and Nate because Emma was partnered up with me for a project in junior high and then met Nate through her. Emma and Nate both had friends outside of our little 'group' but I was way too reserved to want to meet any of them and the couple of parties they did drag me to I just hung out in the background.

"Ready to go?" Emma asked cheerfully as we all stood by the wall.

I drank my tea I got at the café as slow as possible and then walked home dragging my feet instead of taking the bus. I finally shoved my key in the apartment door and apprehensively walked in. I threw my keys in the crystal bowl sitting on some weird black table and pulled off my shoes. I dragged my feet down the hall and into the living room I dug my hands into my nails as I noticed Gavin in the kitchen cooking something or another. "How was school?" he asked stirring the pot.

"Uhm, it was okay…" I said quietly. "I-I need you to sign something."

"What is it?" he asked turning around to face me. I shakily pulled out the paper and handed it to him. He unfolded it and I immediately braced myself for the worse, I couldn't even look at him as his eyes scanned the piece of paper. "Your failing art?" he asked his voice losing all tones of warmth and kindness.

"Uhm no… just this project…"

"I'm really disappointed in you… you're grounded until further notice," he said in a disgustingly calm and restrained voice. I wanted him to yell at me call me yuppie swine, an uncultured philistine; anything would've been better than how cold and indifferent he sounded. He signed the paper with a pen he grabbed off of the fridge and passed me back the paper not even looking me in the eyes.

Dejectedly I went to my room and sulked. Some classical music played quietly as I read one of Mark Twain's minor works. I skipped supper, as I didn't have the courage to face either Gavin or Addison and finally went to sleep at a late hour.

The next morning I was so thankful I had my own private bathroom as it allowed me to avoid everyone. Once I finished getting ready I dug around in the fridge searching for something quick or portable to eat when I heard two sets of footsteps enter the kitchen. I grabbed the jug of soymilk and decided to just grab some cereal considering I'll be stuck hearing some speech anyways. I grabbed a bowl of cereal and sat down at the table keeping my head down. After a few really long moments Gavin said nervously, "uh… I'm sorry about kind of being a dick last night. Your not grounded… it was just disappointing… you used to spend most of your time in my studio just going insane and to see your not much of an artist was a bit of a blow… but you tried your hardest at least so uhm that's good."

"I'm so horrible at it. I tried to do that glazing thing you told me about and the colours just went really ugly and fucked up, then the paint would either smear or crack even when I thought it was dry, and it was just fucking horrible."

"Did you use oil paints?" he asked with a small laugh.

"Yeah… I thought I'd try and use them as it was my final project and I wanted it to be amazing… you know use the same medium as like Michelangelo… but I guess I failed at that," I said with a sigh.

"Don't be so hard on yourself, it doesn't matter that you can't paint well you have other skills and talents," Addison added reassuringly.

"Besides it probably would've turned out pretty well if you didn't use the oils. I doubt you know much about 'fat over lean' hence why it cracked and the colours got all distorted and fucked up as oils take eons to dry," Gavin said with a smile. A pressure felt like it was lifted off of my chest as we continued to eat breakfast all tension immediately gone.

I tuned out the conversation Addison and Gavin where talking about something to do with art shows or galleries and to be honest the last thing I wanted to think about was art. I understood the fundamentals of it, I understood some of the different styles, however I just wasn't very artistic… I only managed to pass art because I ripped off Jackson Pollock a lot and could answer the questions about theory and stuff with these long-winded answers.

It was my last day of school before exams and I was more than glad to be done with it. I stood outside bundled up in my pea coat and wearing a weird black and white triangle scarf and neither did much to keep me warm. My impractical loose and slouchy black boots where starting to fill up with snow as I shivered wishing Emma and Nate would hurry the fuck up. We where supposed to go to the museum as they had some new exhibits and then go out for coffee again. "Cold?" a high-pitched voice asked from beside me. I looked over to see a girl bundled up in a garish and bright coat with light brown hair.

"Uhm… yeah," I muttered wondering why she was even talking to me.

"Yeah it got really cold really fast, I like your scarf."

"Uhm thanks, it's a keffiyeh," I said nervously.


"Ehrm… yeah they're Middle Eastern scarves and head pieces and stuff…" I trailed off nervously.

"Oh… you dress kind of weird," she said looking me up and down.

I shuffled my feet nervously and said, "I guess."

After the words left my lips two guys came up to where we were talking. "Who's this guy?" the tallest one with short red hair asked throwing me a quick glare.

I shuffled my feet around some more and the girl said, "I don't know some kid with a cool scarf."

I felt unbelievably awkward as these complete strangers examined me the red haired guy looked at me with hatred while some other guy with messy dark brown hair looked at me with curiosity. I felt relief swim through my veins as I noticed Emma and Nate step out of the school chatting amiably. I quickly slipped away from their gazes and went up to my friends. "Ready to go to the museum?" I asked shivering from more than just the cold.

"Yeah let's go," Emma said linking arms with both Nate and I. We got a little ways down the sidewalk when she finally asked, "so why where you talking to those people. You don't strike me as the type to hang out with the so-called 'popular' kids."

"I don't know, the girl just started talking to me about my scarf and then the glarey guy and his side-kick came up and glared it was fucking weird," I replied.

"They probably don't realize you're asexual and thought you where trying to convince Miss. Top Cheerleader to elope with you," Nate teased.

"I'm not asexual," I said in my defence.

"Whatever helps you sleep at night," Nate said with a grin. We thankfully didn't have to wait long for a bus and talked about our plans and my lack thereof during the days we'd thankfully miss from school. We finally got to the museum and paid our ticket price.

"Where to first?" Emma asked.

"Lets go see the new paintings first than we can go to all of our favourite pieces," Nate said.

"Okay," I replied walking down the halls towards the paintings.

We got in the area holding the paintings and started to wander around a bit. "I quite like this one," Emma said looking at some odd abstract piece with her head to the side.

"Yeah it's got some pretty nice colours," I said.

"Hey guys look at this one," Nate yelled from a ways down. We wandered to where he was and I immediately shuffled my feet nervously. "Doesn't the guy in the painting look exactly like Peyton if he went through an abstract art machine?" Nat said.

"Yeah he does," Emma said looking back and forth from the picture and me. I immediately knew whose work was on the walls… its Gavin's. That'd explain all the weird abstract pieces, the conversation over breakfast, and now this.

"Uhm I think it is me… it'd make the most sense I've modeled for artists before…" I trailed off nervously.

"You've modeled? But you have like no self-confidence or self-esteem that makes no sense," Emma said.

"Uh… I think my dad painted these pictures… he does a lot of that weird abstract stuff and some of his friends have painted and photographed me and stuff… besides modeling for artists isn't the same as modelling clothes. The weirder you look the better," I replied.

"That is so fucking awesome, how come you never talk about your parents anyways? I mean I've found out more about them in the last two days than I have since I've met you," Emma said as we moved on to the next painting.

"Oh uhm… I don't know. It's just I have two dads and I'm like adopted and shit and ever since I had to switch elementary schools due to being ridiculed so much I just kind of stopped talking about them around others completely you know? Plus I fucking hate people finding out I'm adopted and it's so fucking obvious," I said nervously. I know it seems weird for me to hide something like that but elementary school was fucking brutal and I mean fucking brutal… so it just seemed like the best of ideas not to mention them and I guess now that we're in high school nobody would say much but old habits die hard.

"You where adopted?" Emma asks surprised.

"Uh yeah… when I was eight," I nervously replied.

"Aw that's so sad," she said.

"Not really… I don't really remember my parents that well and they uhm… weren't very nice people," I replied quietly trying not to think of the past. My psychiatrist always told me not to suppress it but… I really don't need to dig up those memories and have a breakdown in a fucking museum.

"So is that why we've never hung out at your house?" Nate asked.

"Yeah I suppose so… I guess we can hang out there now sometimes, plus it's really far from the school," I replied.

"Awesome we're going there after we get finished here. I want to rifle through your bedroom and uncover all your secrets and then blackmail you into being my slave," Emma said with a grin.

I was not looking forward to photography class… it was the same teacher as I had for art and Nate and Emma weren't in my class. I apprehensively entered the classroom clutching my small binder and couple week old failing form. I took a seat at a table in the very back and listened to my iPod as the class slowly filled. I started shuffling my feet nervously when I noticed glarey guys sidekick sit at the table I was at despite there being room at the other ones… I wonder what he wants? Fuck I'm deluded why would he want anything from me of all people, he probably just likes the back. Five minutes after the late bell rang Mr. Owens came in and took attendance, I meekly said 'yeah' when he called out my name and before we could even start on any introductions or projects he came up to me and asked, "do you have the form informing your parents of your complete lack of artistic ability signed?" Owens has always hated me, I don't even know why. How is it my fault I fucking suck at art?

"Uhm yeah, here it is," I said passing him the crumpled piece of paper.

His eyes quickly scanned it and then he glared at me venomously, "is this supposed to be funny?"

"Is what supposed to be funny?" I asked quietly.

"Don't play stupid. Besides it isn't that witty to put a famous artist's signature on your failing art grades," he snapped.

"Uh… my dad is that abstract painter…" I replied meekly.

"Go to the office," he said glaring even worse than before. I grabbed my binder and quickly left the classroom and started to head towards the office. Ugh what a fucking asshole, what the hell is his problem? What the fuck did I ever do to him? I went up to the counter at the office and the secretary guided me to the principal's office.

I stepped into the bleak room and he said, "Take a seat." I sat down on the uncomfortable chair and he said, "Do you know why you're here?"

"Because Mr. Owens is presumptuous," I said as confidently as possible… which really wasn't that confident by conventional standards.

"No… you're here for forging on your grades and trying to create a disruption," the principal said glaring at me.

"I didn't forge! Just read my file Gavin ____ is my father it'll say it right on the transcripts. Is it somehow my fault that my father is kind of well-known?"

The principal just intensified his glare and started typing on his computer his face significantly whitened when my file came up. "Oh… I'm sorry about that… just go back to class and I'll inform Mr. Owens about everything," he said not making eye contact with me.

I rolled my eyes and glared at every inanimate object I encountered as I slowly walked back to the art room. I entered the room only to receive a glare from Mr. Owens as I took a seat back at the table. I self-consciously opened my binder and Mr. Owens slammed a course outline on the table in front of me then started to prattle on about shutter speeds and shit like that. I wasn't really paying attention to be honest I was just staring at my binder and playing with the sleeves on my argyle sweater that I wore overtop of an old button up shirt. I admit I have an odd fashion sense… but I grew up mostly around eccentric artists and damn near all of my clothes where bought from thrift stores. Once Owens was finished we where informed that since there wasn't enough cameras we'd all have to share and be working with partners a lot… yeah well fuck that I know there's a couple of professional cameras at home, I'll just use those or if need be borrow one of Colette's old ones. Owens handed out a worksheet for us and told us to grab a textbook from the back shelf of the room. Everyone stampeded over there whilst I just hung back waiting for the area to clear out before I grabbed an old falling apart textbook and sat back down. I started to skim looking for answers when glarey guys side kick said, "so what's up?"

I looked at him with a slightly raised eyebrow and awkwardly said "uhm… nothing."

"Awesome, do you want to be my partner for when we take the cameras out?" he asked scratching his well defined and kind of stubbly jaw.

"Uhm… no I'm just going to use my own camera," I replied.

"You're a photographer?"

"No… I'm not really artistic at all… but I live with artists so there's SLRs and stuff at home…" I muttered anxiously. Why is this guy talking to me? Especially if what Emma said is true… aren't these supposed 'popular' kids really pretentious and shallow… what the hell would he be doing talking to the weird kid wearing red plaid pants and barely held together converse. Or are those just stereotypes dictated by the media? Fuck my lack of social skills.

"That must really suck to live with artists and to have your father be some famous painter and have no artistic abilities yourself," he said scribbling in some answers.

"Uhm… no they don't really care… it's not like I club baby seals or joined the Republican Party…" I rambled wishing this guy would stop talking to me. Isn't it painfully obvious that I'm completely socially inept? Must he continue trying to talk to me? Isn't it obvious that I am feeling completely and utterly awkward?

He laughed at my statement, his laugh was surprisingly nice sounding and I immediately took the opportunity to shove in my iPod headphones and turn on some music. I started to work on the worksheet and ignored the world around me. I finally finished the worksheet and slipped it in my binder as the bell started to ring.

I stretched my limbs out as I left my bedroom, textbooks strewn across the desk. I entered the small office/guest room that was decorated in really earthy tones and I started to rifle through different drawers. I finally came across three cameras; some old Polaroid (do they even make film for these anymore?), a digital Nikon D3000, and a film camera a Nikon F80… I think I should give Colette a quick visit before I do too much of this photography thing… I don't even know how to run these things. Besides I need to do amazing in photography so I don't appear completely fucking useless when it comes to 'the arts'. Seriously it sucks having really artsy parents, everyone expects you to be some creative genius as well… it's even worse when you're completely mediocre at everything you do. I pick up both the camera cases and string them around my neck as well as grab the tripod standing next to the filing cabinet. "Taking up photography?" Addison asks with a raised eyebrow as I haul the stuff to my room.

"We're doing photography in school but it's ludicrous. We are supposed to share cameras and can only take pictures inside school as we aren't allowed to take them off of property but that inhibits everything way too much as far as I'm concerned. So I've taken it upon myself to liberate these cameras from their lives in a musty old drawer."

"Good luck, you should give Colette a call and see if she can help you out with the fundamentals and maybe teach you how to develop your photos," he said.

"Yeah I was thinking of doing that but I'll probably fail regardless of how much effort I put in, Mr. Owens is a prick."

"That's surprising most of the art teachers I've encountered are usually pretty nice and fit into the stereotypes of either old hippie burnout who has no idea what's going on and fresh out of college and enthusiastic."

"I wish Mr. Owens was like that. He's fresh out of college I think… but he isn't enthusiastic he's an asshole. He probably is taking out all of his pathetic broken dreams on everyone around him and considers himself the Van Gogh of his generation."

"Most likely," Addison said with a laugh. I pulled the stuff into my room and started to mess around with them trying to figure out how they ran. I messed around with the digital one but decided to wait until I could talk to Colette or find a manual before I wasted precious film.

Next photography class glarey guys sidekick sat next to me once again and we watched a movie for most of the class. I probably paid the most attention compared to anyone else in class and took notes, as I needed to soak up this information. I need to know all I could so my pictures would turn out half decent, I want to prove I can be just as artistic as everyone expects me to be. When we got some worksheets to fill out and had to grab those ancient textbooks I opened mine up and started to scribble in answers whenever one would pop out at me… hm I should also borrow a photography book from Colette or maybe ransack the library. "How's life?" sidekick guy asked casually as he flicked through pages in his textbook absentmindedly.

"Uhm okay?" I said awkwardly.

"I like your shirt," he said with a smile. "Think I could take you up on that offer?"

I quickly looked down and realized I was wearing my red 'Kum & Go' t-shirt. I tried not to blush but my cheeks heated up anyways as I muttered a quick, "thanks it's vintage." Fuck what else was I supposed to say? 'Okay! Take me now right on this desk!', 'Fuck off faggot' or what? Ugh I really hope that was a rhetorical question and he wasn't expecting some kind of witty retort. I instantly regretted wearing this shirt today, sure it was hilarious when I bought it and makes me smile when I see it… but it's still a little bit embarrassing despite the fact that 'Kum & Go' is some gas station or something. Fuck who the hell would name their business 'Kum & Go' and then to top it off spell 'come' like that.

He laughed a bit than said, "I'm ___ by the way."

"Uhm Peyton," I replied wishing he would stop talking to me.

"So Peyton are you new around here or something? I haven't really noticed you around."

"No… I've gone here for years I kind of just blend in, despite my sexually suggestive t-shirts," I replied awkwardly.

"Pity I didn't notice you before. I'm actually a little surprised I didn't," he said smiling widely.

"Uhm… okay?" I said feeling awkward as fuck.

"Are you busy tonight?" he asked smiling… in a way he probably assumes makes him look seductive or something but it's just creepy and weird as far as I'm concerned.

"Uh yeah I have my music lessons and then I have to volunteer," I replied lying through my teeth or well partially lying I am forced to play music at least ten hours a week and should play some tonight. Is this some kind of joke? Is he actually coming on to me? Or is this all some kind of sick joke? Hm… it has to be the latter.

"You can't expect me to buy that excuse," he said with a laugh, "volunteering?"
"I've volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter since I was a little kid," I replied fighting the urge to roll my eyes and move tables.

He looked at me sceptically and then asked, "and what instrument do you play during your music lessons?"

"Oh I play the piano and uhm… the glockenspiel," I replied.

"What the fucks a glockenspiel?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"It's kind of like a xylophone…" I trailed off. I don't really play the glockenspiel very much anymore but as a kid it was my favourite instrument.

"You play the xylophone?" he asked with the biggest grin I've seen.

"Uh yeah I guess," I replied awkwardly.

"That is hands down the most awesome thing I've heard in a while, are you any good?"

"I don't know… I guess I play the glockenspiel pretty decently… I'm a pretty mediocre pianist as well."

"How long have you played?"

"Uhm piano since I was eight… glockenspiel since I was ten," I answered awkwardly.

"I think your just being modest about your capabilities if you've been playing that long," he said his stupid smile never faltering.

"No… I just don't have much musical ability… I can read notes and follow scales and shit but I just don't get anything from it… I can't go up to an instrument and create some beautiful melody… I'm just not a musical person," I tried to explain urging for the bell to ring.

"You should let me be the judge of your musical ability and show me your xylophone skills sometime," he said.

Thankfully I didn't have to continue this horribly awkward conversation further as the bell rang and I quickly bolted up, gathered my things, and left the room.

I left the apartment and was surprised to see boxes strewn about the little lobbyish area. The floor we lived on only had two other inhabitants a businessman in his thirties or something who constantly glared but had a really smiley trophy wife and this really old married couple who I think secretly loathe one another. I stepped around the boxes and pressed the button for the elevator. When the doors of the elevator opened I was shocked to say the least standing in there with a bunch of luggage around him was _____. "What're you doing here?" he asked with a smile.

"Uhm… I live here…" I trailed off.

A devious smile that really unsettled me crossed his features and he said, "Well it looks like we're going to be neighbours."

"Uh… I guess so…" I replied as he started to drag his bags out of the elevator.

"So what's the neighbourhood like?" he asked casually.

"Uhm… when I was a kid it was pretty hip… now it's a gentrified hell hole filled with sell-outs and corporate assholes…" I said feeling a little nervous. Why does he of all people have to be moving in right next door? He's fucking creepy and weird… why can't someone normal be living nearby or at least have the status quo remain?

"Well sounds better than the suburbs I suppose," he said with a grin.

Everyone was running around the school taking photographs save for a few lingering people who still had to do some more worksheets. I on the other hand was sitting around reading some poetry by Walt Whitman and tried to tune out the world around me. Thankfully ____ was gone he was just… creepy. Something about that guy seriously unsettled me he was constantly staring and hitting on me and stuff it was just fucked. I looked up from my book to notice Mr. Owens staring at me and I quickly averted my eyes back to my book and started to shuffle my shoes against one another. It was a quarter of the way through class when someone entered and talked to Mr. Owens. I didn't even notice until Owens said, "Class listen up this is ____ and he's a new student here."

I briefly glanced back up from my book and looked at the kid standing there awkwardly. He had messy dark hair, alabaster skin, and a nervous demeanour. Owens and new kid spoke to one another for a moment or two and then they came up to my table. Owens said throwing me a contemptuous look, "Peyton since you so arrogantly believe yourself to be far above the assignment for the day and are clearly not busy I want you to help _____ get caught up on the notes and worksheets."

"Uhm… okay," I said quietly closing up my book. ____ sat down at the table and Mr. Owens turned on his heel and went back to reading some stupid magazine.

"Is he always that much of an asshole?" he asked in a small voice.

"No… he's generally pretty cool he just fucking hates me," I replied opening up my binder.

"Why… if you don't mind me asking?"

"I don't know… there's no amazing story behind it, I never gave his significant other herpes, I never snorted cocaine off of his desk… there's no real reason that I can think of. He started teaching here last year and like the moment he walked into the classroom he immediately picked me as the target for his loathing… I don't really get it myself," I replied.

A small laugh escaped from his lips and he said, "So what have I all missed anyways?"

"Not all that much we're not that far in today's only the first day of actual shooting. Uhm… pretty much just explaining how the cameras work and how to do certain things and stuff… here just read my notes," I said pushing the binder towards him.

"Okay thanks," he said. I nodded and picked back up my book I read while he went through my notes our conversation was minimal the only time we'd talk is when he'd ask what a word said as I have ridiculously tiny writing.

About ten minutes before class ended ____ came in and sat far too close to me completely ignoring the new presence at the table. "Ooh Whitman, what do you think of his work?" he asked.

I was taken a back to be honest this guy has never ever mentioned anything to do with literature in the few times we've spoken but then again we don't know each other that well so I suppose it shouldn't be surprised. "It's… some of it is lacking and overrated. But overall its beautiful… he has magnificent flow and nothing ever sounds forced or pre-contrived and his use of metaphor and simile is stunning as is his general writing style," I finally answered.

"Interesting… what do you think of his lifestyle and legacy?" he asked with a devious smirk.

"I guess he isn't overrated or underrated really… I don't know, what the hell do you mean by those questions?" I asked feeling utterly confused. What the hell is he spouting off about now?
"Well Whitman had some rather controversial works I mean they do kind of reflect on him do they not? Especially how overtly sexual some of his work was and the speculations that he was most likely homosexual," he said that devious smirk never leaving his features.

Ugh I really loathe this guy I'm so glad he's in only one of my classes. My annoyance towards him building up I started a small rant, "how is the fact that he liked to suck cock in anyway relevant to his works? Your sexual orientation doesn't make you a genius, being a creative and intellectual person does. You really should stop seeking legitimacy because creative genius X was gay, just because your dad hates and rejected you it doesn't refute it by saying 'yeah well Shakespeare was queer and he wrote significant works'."

He looked at me for a moment or two and went to say something a couple of times but settled for just glaring at me then giving me the cold shoulder. Once the bell rang ____ passed me back my binder and with a small smile said, "that was a really brilliant rant."

"Oh… uhm thanks… I'm not usually so… outspoken… but he's been annoying me constantly and I guess it all kinda just fuelled that moment."

Another photography class ugh… sure ____ was nice from what I can tell but ___ still creeped me out to no end. I was in the middle of a worksheet when __ gave me that devious smirk and said, "So Peyton, what're you up to this weekend?"

"Uhm… dinner party, music lessons, volunteering, glass blowing and possibly modelling," I replied apathetically barely even acknowledging him.

"Hm, think you could free up some time in your busy schedule for me?" he asked.

"No, I'm busy."


"Yeah I've taken up glass blowing, it's really fascinating."

"What are you going to make pipes or something?" he asked incredulously.

"No I'm not going to make pipes, apparently they're hard to make. I'm trying to make glass sculptures… like glass art."

"Glass art? Your excuses to not hang out with me are getting worse and worse. First you play the xylophone now you make glass art?" He said amusement lacing his words.

"Firstly I play the glockenspiel, secondly glass art is a legitimate art form hell there's a glass sculpture in my living room, and thirdly even if I wasn't busy I still wouldn't want to hang out with you," I snapped.

He scoffed and before he could continue ____ asked, "you play the glockenspiel?"

"Yeah I guess, I play the piano too but I'm really not a very good musician."

"How long have you been taking lessons?"
"Technically I don't go to lessons anymore, I just am forced to practice a lot. I dunno I've been fucking around since I was eight or so but I just… I'm not a musician. I can read notes; I can play my scales perfectly. But I don't feel anything when I'm doing it, I can't just sit down and create… I just… I'm not a musician," I tried to explain.

"That's really neat, I started to play the violin a couple years ago it's fun," ____ said.

"That's awesome, I love the sound of electric violin and cello. I tried to play the cello a couple of years ago but I hate how it leans against you and I'm forced to use the classical one before the electric. Plus I'm a total Nancy-boy when it comes to pressing the strings," I explained.

"Yeah it used to annoy me when I first started playing but then the pain got kind of addicting I suppose," he said.

"So what are you a masochist?" I asked with a smirk.

He blushed bright red and said, "No… I mean not really. It's like you know all this pain is for the greater good… like when you pour antiseptic on a cut and it stings a lot. It hurts but the pain is for the better."

"Yeah I guess so."

"Have you started on your portfolio?"

"Kind of, I've done some shooting but I still have loads to do. What about you?"

"I've got a good chunk of it done. But I'm a little annoyed I don't have very many lenses and I want to take some pictures that you need a film camera for them to turn out even mediocre," he said with a small sigh.

"Uhm… well I have a pretty good film camera, if you want we could go shooting together and you can use it," I said quietly.

"Really?" he asked with a small smile.

"Yeah sure," I replied casually. "I also know of a dark room you can develop in."

"That is awesome, uhm here I'll give you my phone number and if you aren't busy on Saturday we could do it."

"No I'm free on Saturday I have to volunteer for an hour though at like 12:00."

"That's alright I'm never up before noon anyways," he replied.

"So you'll take pictures with him but not with me?" ___ said incredulously

"You creep me out he doesn't," I replied casually.

"I creep you out?" he said with a laugh. "How the hell am I creepy?"

"Uhm… you're like all… overtly sexual. It's one thing to hit on a person it's a whole other thing to come off as a sexual predator."

I got back from the animal shelter and changed my clothes as I got dog hair all over my current ones. I picked up the receiver of the circle phone in the kitchen and stuck my fingers in it and spun it around to the correct numbers. ___ answered and we agreed to meet at a café downtown in half an hour. I gathered my cameras, packed some spare lenses, grabbed a couple rolls of film, and yanked on a jacket and scarf. I pulled on my slouchy boots and some black gloves and ventured out into the cold. I took a bus to the café and went inside and grabbed a tea. After about ten minutes ___ came in and brushed some snow from his hair. "Hey," he said with a smile as he sat down. "How'd the volunteering go?"

"Pretty good I guess. I brought some spare lenses and the cameras… uhm so where should we shoot first?" I asked pushing the film camera towards him.

"I'm not sure, I was thinking maybe taking pictures of the skyscrapers and stuff. Everything is covered in snow and really beautiful," he said while pulling out the camera. "Holy fuck this is a really nice camera."

"Uhm I guess? I don't know… I know nothing of cameras. I like… Polaroids even though they don't make film for them anymore."

"You can get Polaroid film… it's not made by the Polaroid company but yeah it works in Polaroids."

"Neat, I'm so buying some. Want to go now?" I asked chugging back the rest of my tea.

"Yeah let's go we only have a few more hours of daylight." I nodded and pulled on my jacket then slung the one camera over my neck and put back on my gloves. We wandered around downtown and took pictures of skyscrapers, trees in the park, bridges, random people, and just various things. ___ used up all of the film and I added to my memory card. It was surprisingly a lot of fun, the most I've had in a while to be blunt. We ended up having quite a bit in common and just seemed to get along really well.

"Hm, out of film. Want to quit for the day or should we pick up some more?" he asked pocketing the film.

"My house isn't far, we could grab another roll of it," I replied adjusting some features on my camera.

"Let's grab it, I want to take a sunset picture."

"Alright let's go," I said putting the camera away. We got on a bus and soon where at the giant apartment building. I walked in the doorman ignoring my presence and got in the elevator. We finally got to the top floor and I shoved my key in the black door. I entered the apartment and pulled off my boots. "Come on, it's in the office." He followed me through the apartment looking around at the art and shit and I yanked open the office/spare bedroom doors and rifled through the drawer and grabbed a couple rolls of film. Some British indie rock band where playing loudly and I followed the music to the kitchen where Gavin was doing some kind of cooking. "What're you doing?" I asked pocketing the film.

"Baking bread, I'm in a creative slump it seems. I haven't painted anything outside of horrible still lifes in a week," he said kneading something in a bowl. "Whose your friend?"

"Oh, this is ______, ___ this is my dad Gavin," I said.

"Nice to meet you," Gavin said off handedly. "Is he going to be staying for dinner?"

"I dunno, we where just picking up some more film. We're working on the photography project and want to get some pictures of the sunset."

"Go to Rochester Park, it's a bit of a trek I'll admit. Then if you think you can do it without slipping or dying or something climb the bridge. It's pretty easy to do and will probably have the best view in the city. That is if you want a real untouched virginal sunset. If you want a cityscape sunset just go on the deck and you'll have a great view if you use the door in the studio."

"Want to just do the pictures here? I doubt we'll have enough time to get to Rochester and climb a bridge by sunset. We can do those pictures another day I suppose," I said

"Okay sounds good."

"You still haven't answered my question," Gavin said placing a towel over a bowl of dough.

"Oh uhm… want to stay for dinner?" I asked.

"Uh sure… but uhm… I don't want to be any trouble but… I'm a vegetarian and stuff," he said awkwardly.

"Don't worry about it, we're all vegan," he said washing his hands.

"Okay," he replied.

on the stove.

"I'm surprised it took you this long to notice," he said in an amused tone. I'm kind of a freak when it comes to Moroccan food; it's my absolute favourite.

"Mmm me too, did you make lots?"

"Yes I am aware of your gluttony when it comes to tagines and couscous."

"Awesome, it's been way too long since we've had Moroccan," I said with a happy little grin. "Well I'll let you get to it, I wouldn't want to starve," I said with a small smirk.

"I'm sure you wouldn't."

I wandered to the living room and flopped down on a sofa, ____ in tow and said, "So we have about half an hour to kill before sunset and at least an hour before dinner… what do you want to do?"

"I don't know… uhm can I see your glockenspiel skills?" he asked with a smile.

"Fuck… I'm so terrible. But why not?" He followed me into the music room and I grabbed the glockenspiel off of a shelf.

"Holy fuck this is a lot of instruments," he said looking around. There was a grand piano, glockenspiel, various guitars and basses, cellos, violins, and other stringed instruments along that vein as well as a few random little bongo drums and shit like that, that where picked up on various travels.

"Yeah I guess," I replied completely used to the large amount of instruments in the house. "Ready to have your ears destroyed?" I asked with a grin.

"Most definitely," He said sitting down in one of the chairs. I sat down on the piano bench and tapped away at the glockenspiel doing different scales and random things I had stored away in my memory.

"So… that's all I really remember. I haven't played this thing in eons."

"You play the piano too right? Think I could hear you play that?" he asked with a small smile.

"Uh… sure… but only if you show me your violin skills," I said with a grin.

"Okay deal," he said. I stood up and put away the glockenspiel and grabbed a violin off of the wall. I handed him the violin and sat cross-legged on the piano bench and facing him. He rested the violin on his shoulder and struck the bow to it. He played some slow and sad song and I couldn't help but smile. It was something completely unfamiliar to me but quite beautiful.

"Did you write that yourself?" I asked with a smile.

"Uh… yeah I guess… it's not real good or anything though," he said sheepishly.

"No… no it was beautiful. It was so sad and amazing and… fuck I'm not very eloquent," I said rubbing the back of my neck.

"Thanks… a deal is a deal. Play something," he said getting up and putting the violin away. I mutely nodded and spun around; I opened the sheet music sitting there to a random page and quickly scanned the page. Taking a deep breath I pressed my fingers to the keys and played away. When I finally finished I closed the book of sheet music and spun around. "Fuck… that was amazing. You seriously are insane if you don't think you're a good musician… that was phenomenal."

"No… I'm not a good musician. I'm actually kind of jealous of your musical skills. All I can do is read notes and regurgitate some beautiful sonata… you're a true artist… you are capable of creating something so painfully beautiful… that's what being a musician is about. It's not about technical training and having a perfect D minor… it's about being able to sit in front of an instrument and have it in you to pour your feelings out through it."

"I've never really thought of it that way… but I suppose you're right," he said with a small smile.

After our small bout in the music room we took pictures of the sunset and then sat in my room listening to music and talking about nothing in particular whilst we waited for dinner to be finished. "Okay… I have to ask you this. And it may seem like a weird question. But why do you go to the school you do? I mean it's really far away and there's bound to be some closer to your house. It just seems weird is all," he said stretched languidly on the futon (which I don't think I've ever unfolded from it's couch state).

"Fuck, my parents are weird. The only schools in the area are private or hardcore inner city. And well my parents think private school is evil and will turn me into some environment raping freak or something and I don't know how to knife fight so I can't go to an inner city school lest I get curb stomped. So the borderline suburban public school it is," I said with a laugh.

"Interesting, so what do you think of this city? I've only been here a little while."

"It's alright. Good arts scene, great local music scene, the suburbs can go to fucking hell, but yeah I kinda dig it here. Don't get me wrong it isn't my favourite city and this place will probably not end up being the city I deem 'home' but it's a pretty good place," I said casually.

"Local music scene? What local music scene?"

"Get a fake id and I'll show you the sights. This one really neat bar has 'indie rock Tuesdays' which are always a good time. Uhm some cafes and shit have various open mic nights, which can be pretty decent. There's a couple of all ages venues but they're far and few between," I replied.

"Sounds neat, I'll definitely have to get a fake." Right after he answered there was a tapping at my door and a very muffled declaration of 'dinner'. Standing up I brushed some nonexistent dirt off of my clothes and we made our way to the dining room. Addison was sitting at the table reading some random pieces of overly folded and rumpled paper and Gavin was most likely getting the rest of the food ready. I took my usual seat and ___ sat next to me. "Addison?" ___ asked surprise lacing his tone.

Addison's concentration left his papers and he looked at __ with surprise. "Hello ____, it's nice to see you again," he said pleasantly.

"Uhm… hey, it's nice to see you as well," he said awkwardly.

"How do you two know each other?" I asked.

"I'm sometimes his violin teacher," Addison replied. Gavin then came in with a two bowls and set them down amongst the fresh baked bread, aubergine/tomato salad/spread, and various drinks. "So Peyton how was your day?"

"Pretty good, I got some pretty good shots I think. What about yours?"

"Dull as dull gets. I just did paperwork and inventory stuff at the shop. What about your day Gavin? Finally out of the 'creative slump'?"

With a sigh he said, "No… it's still there hence the baking bread and spending so much time in the kitchen. Fuck I haven't even picked up a heroin habit like my predecessors and I'm already creatively deteriorating." I put a bunch of couscous and the veggie-laden tagine on my plate and passed the couscous bowl to _____.

"It's not too late you can always move to Tangiers and pick up a junk addiction. You won't need creativity when you can just have incoherent ramblings," I stated with a grin.

"Sounds tempting, but the last thing this world needs is another person pretending to be William Burroughs."

"How true. Besides I doubt this dry spell will last long they never seem to go beyond two weeks. So ___ how was your day?" Addison asked still as pleasant as ever.

"Oh… uhm, it's been alright I guess," he replied awkwardly.

"Been playing much violin lately?"

"Uhm yeah… I've been really into it as of late."

"Mmm this is a mouthgasm," I said shoving a big bite of the aubergine/tomato-covered bread in my mouth.

"You know we would have Moroccan more often if your table manners didn't go out the window whenever you eat it," Addison said chidingly.

"I can't help it, I'm a growing young boy. It's in my nature to be an uncouth pig," I said swallowing my bread.

"It could be worse he at least uses his own plate instead of the communal dishes," Gavin said.


I was sitting at the table detached from everything. The conversation the room was engrossed in held no interest for me, not to mention I wasn't fond of some of the people here. Yes Mark and Carrie where here and I did enjoy their company but I was never fond of Julian and Sasha. It wasn't until Addison asked me, "so Peyton anything interesting happen to you today?" That I paid some attention to the room instead of being lost in my thoughts.

"Uhm not really. I got the marks back on the short story I wrote for English class… and I spilled coffee on myself. That's really it," I replied dully.

"How did you do on it?"

"I got a ninety, I think marks where docked though simply because my teacher didn't like the main character or ending as I proofread it dozens of times and made sure it was error free."

"What is it about?"

"Uhm, it's about this kid he's like a genius and really disillusioned… and fuck I don't know, why don't you just read it sometime?"

"Why don't you read it for us, I'm curious about your writing I haven't read any of it since you where a kid and as you no longer require a proofreader," Gavin said.

"I-I don't know… I mean its… uhm… I guess I could… it's not my best work or anything though," I trailed off nervously.

"You don't have to if you don't want to however I'm sure it'll be great," Addison added.

"Alright, I'll be back," I said before going to my room. I dug the papers out of my messenger bag and went back to the dining room. I sat back down in my chair and all eyes where on me; I assumed everyone had been told I was going to read a story. Which isn't really as odd as it seems, sure I've never read anything at the dinner parties before… or at least not any original work but poetry readings and pieces of philosophy being prattled off is commonplace. I cleared my throat and started to recite my story, I daren't look at anyone as I did lest I see their reactions. Once I finished I folded up the papers and clutched them, "what'd you think?"

"That was… interesting. I feel I need to read it again to fully get it lest I overlooked a detail or two… however that was absolutely poignant," Gavin said in a shocked tone.

"Did you really write that?" Mark asked.

"Uhm yeah…" I trailed off nervously.

"I found it silly and self-indulgent. The main character was absolutely ludicrous, a ten year old mystic? And that ending I don't even get the significance of it other than to shock and confuse," Julian said with a roll of his eyes.

"I couldn't agree more," Sasha said right afterwards.

"I think you're looking at it far too superficially. The story makes no sense if you actually believe the main character to be a mystic," Carrie said. "Peyton why don't you clear that up for us?"

"Uhm well… you're correct with your assumption. Teddy is in no way a mystic it's all this carefully cultivated front of detachment as a coping mechanism."

"The ending… did he kill himself? I mean there are hints towards it… I can only assume that's what the scream was about," Addison said.

"Yeah… he ends his own life and the scream is his sister's," I added.

"God… that was just… Gavin said it perfectly… fucking poignant. I need to ask something, what is the purpose of the sexual undertones?" Mark asked.

"Well the main character is approaching puberty and is finally aware of his own sexuality and that of those around him. The purpose is mainly to show an uhm… fuck… sorry I'm really ineloquent right now… but to this character emotions are disturbing. His parents are detached and negligent and I guess what I also was trying to say is that sometimes overt sexuality can really fuck things up and fuck a person up I guess…" I trailed off nervously and started playing with the strings hanging off of the end of my shirt.

Addison quickly veered the topic before that part of the conversation could continue further and said, "I like how the story also has a blatant disdain for the commercialism of society."

"That is a good point but the dialogue is too forced and really doesn't get the points across in a cohesive way that still flows properly," Sasha said.

"But it's supposed to be awkward. The kid is clearly an awkward and confused ten year old feigning clairvoyance of course his words will sound forced if anything it added to it," Carrie said.

I was sitting in the hallway leaning against a wall and reading various pamphlets. Nate and Emma where off doing something or another and I was to put it bluntly fucking frustrated. I had three choices, if I wanted things to be easy. And about a dozen choices if I wanted things to be difficult, and one choice (an asinine one at that) if I wanted things to be of a moderate difficulty. I let out a frustrated sigh and heard a voice ask, "Are you alright?"

I looked up to notice ___ standing there. "Yeah, just a little frustrated," I replied.

"Over what?" he asked sitting down next to me.

"Well apparently I have to pick up another language. It's apparently not good enough for my parents that I'm bilingual. And I really have no clue which one to pick, not to mention I hate learning a new language at least in the beginning anyways."

"What other language do you speak?" he asked curiously picking up one of the pamphlets.

"I'm fluent in French," I replied.

"Really? That's so neat, I take German classes but I'm nowhere near fluent or anything… I actually just butcher the language."

"Yeah I'm only fluent because I took lessons when I was a kid and shit is easier to pick up at that age. If you really want to get good at German though find someone who speaks it fluently and just have conversations with them in it a lot."

"That actually works?" he asked with a raised brow.

"If you have a vague grasp of it at least. I go for coffee with my old French tutor twice a month just to keep my skills from getting rusty."

"Hm, maybe I'll try that. Why do you have to pick up another language anyways?"

With a small sigh I replied, "my parents travelled the world throughout their twenties just hopping from country to country. So they just deem learning as many languages as possible really important. They've been on my ass about picking up another one for eons and well I guess now I'm finally succumbing."

"Which are you going to pick?"

"I think I'm going to go with Spanish as I already speak a tiny bit of it. But then again I might take Italian as it's apparently easy as hell to learn if you know French."

"You speak a bit of Spanish?"

"Yeah I spent part of last summer in Central America so I learned some basic phrases and picked some of the language up," I replied.

"You've been to Central America? That's neat, what'd you even do there?"

"I volunteered at an orphanage in Mexico for two weeks, then I went down into Guatemala and stayed with a family friend in San Pedro de La Laguna for a couple of weeks. I also stopped at the Mayan pyramids and checked those out. I didn't really do anything that exciting to be honest. I picked strawberries and hung out with Rastas and hippies. I guess I also picked up a little Tzutujil when I was there… but only a couple of words."

"That's sounds awesome… I've been like nowhere. The few vacations I have been on I've been stuck in boring resorts."

"Yeah… I've been a lot of places… but at the same time not really. I sometimes go with my dad to his art shows so I have been to like London and all these different major cities and shit… but I spent like three days there tops, half of it was spent sleeping off jetlag, and I didn't have the time to do anything. Going to Guatemala is the closest I've had to any real vacation other than the times I've spent in Portland and Paris. I fucking love both of those towns and I get shipped off there every now and again."

"I love how you say you get sent to Paris so casually like it's not a big deal or something," he said with a smile.

"It kind of isn't though… I lived there for a year and I go there at least once a year… hell when I graduate I'm probably going to move back there at least for a little while anyways."

"You lived in Paris?" he said incredulously

"Uhm…. yeah. I was only thirteen though… you have no idea how cool I felt being able to order wine in restaurants. I think the first time I did it was the coolest I've felt in my entire life," I said with a small laugh.

I was in for an exciting day! Please note the sarcasm. I entered the studio and scoped around for Carrie. I looked around at the various easels set up and felt awkward beyond belief. I decided to just sit down on one of the counters and wait for her to finally make her appearance… I guess I was a little early but still. At least I was well rested and such as I'd most likely be standing in the most uncomfortable position imaginable for hours on end. A small sigh escaped my lips and I tapped my fingers impatiently when I finally heard the studio door open. Before I even bothered to look at whoever entered Carrie opened a door and made her presence in the room known. "On time I see," she said shooting me a smile.

"You know me, I'm either early or late there is no middle ground."

"How true," she said with an amused expression. "Oh Thom please go ahead and set up then I can introduce you to our model for the day."

I looked over to this character Carrie addressed and my eyes went wide. Great I have to deal with Mr. Owens all day, this'll just be peachy. "Peyton?" he asked surprised.

"You two know one another?" Carrie asked perplexed.

"Yeah he's my photography and art teacher," I replied.

"Oh that reminds me. Peyton I must have a copy of that story you read at the dinner party it was absolutely marvellous. Also I was wondering if maybe I could take a look at some of your other work?"

"Uh yeah sure, I guess I can print you off a copy. I'll also go through my works and see if I can find anything else you'd dig."

"Excellent, also I hope you didn't take Julian and Sasha's remarks to heart. You know Julian is really quite bitter, he has been trying to get this novel he wrote published for years but keeps coming up short and you know as well as I do Sasha has no opinions of her own," Carrie said with a reassuring smile.

"Yeah I know. Besides I didn't really care about their remarks, you know? I mean I've never even really liked either of them; they're kind of pretentious. And I know calling someone else pretentious is pretty elitist but… I don't know they just… fuck I don't know annoy me or something."

"How articulate," Carrie teased. "But no I understand what you're saying completely and you are right they are quite the arrogant pair."

"So, how many people do we have to wait for?" I asked.

Before she could reply the door opened again and she pleasantly said, "Jill glad you could make it. Go ahead and set up at one of the easels. And we have to wait for one more person to show up and we can start."

"Good, do you have any idea what kind of pose I'll be subject to this fine morning?"

"Not sure yet however I was thinking something to do with sitting."

"I fucking love you Carrie," I said with a grin.

She laughed and said, "It was the least I could do. You always fill in on such short notice and can sit still better than most of the people."

"How flattering," I replied with a wry grin. A few moments later another woman (Karen) entered the studio and everyone had their supplies set out by their easels. Carrie had moved a comfortable chair with arms into the centre of the room on the model stand. As she was setting things up I asked, "Should I remove my shirt as per usual?"

"Yeah sure thanks for wearing the black slacks as well. I still resent you for purposely wearing those garish plaid pants that one time," Carrie said with a grin.

"No you don't. You adore that I am willing to present you a challenge."

She shook her ahead at me and went back to her easel. Hopping off the counter I yanked off my shirt and set it on the counter. I brushed off my tight black dress pants and picked off any lint pieces before mussing my hair up a bit. I yanked the compact out of my pocket and made sure it looked messy but tailored and emptied the rest of the contents of my pockets out onto the counter. I hopped onto the model stand and unceremoniously flopped down into the chair. "So how should I sit?" I asked shifting positions. First letting my legs dangle languidly over the arm, then shifting to a casual leaning back position.

"You have really defined clavicles would you mind sitting in some way that would emphasize them," Karen asked.

"Hm, I'll give it a try." I said shifting positions. I finally decided on sitting with an elbow propped on an arm of the chair and it sitting in the air with my left side being slightly angled that way so my clavicle attractively popped up even more. "How's this position? I think it'll look pretty good if I have a cigarette or something in my hand."

"That's perfect Peyton, do any of you have a cig?" Carrie asked.

"I do," Jill replied grabbing a pack from her pocket and sticking one in-between my fingers.

"Thanks," I said adjusting my grip on it and then sitting perfectly still.

"So what time intervals do you want to do?" Carrie asked fucking around with some art supplies.

"Uhm… I'm sitting so I'm good to sit for extended periods we can do at least a half hour to forty five minutes with a ten minute break."

"Fuck Peyton I love it when you model for me most people last twenty tops," Carrie said with a grin.

"Years of practice," I replied.

"Alright we're starting," Carrie said. I would've nodded or something but knew not to and sat perfectly still.

New school, old town. Nothing to be feel even slightly nervous about. I haven't switched schools that many times, however it's not as if I'm a pioneer when it comes to this stuff. And hey at least I'm not middle of the year new that's just weird and awkward. Mind you the fact that my parents insisted we move back here for my last year of school is kind of asinine as I don't even have any friends left here and would sooner be doing this in Paris. Or even back in Chiang Mai or Kyiv, but I suppose C'est la vie, what can you do? I should probably embrace this, life is an adventure. But I just can't bring myself to get excited, sure the apartment here is absolutely amazing (a little on the big size but amazing), sure I miss some aspects of this city it is after all my home town, but to me this isn't home. I suppose I'm just bitter as I loved trekking around, experiencing a new culture, a new country, a new way of life… I've already been here.

I was holding a map in one hand and scoping the area… I felt like such a tourist despite the fact that I'm just trying to navigate the school. I found my locker pretty quickly and got my books ready to go to French class. I know, I know, I'm fluent, I've lived in Paris, my best friend lives there. But it's an easy as fuck credit, no work and a guaranteed pass? Sign me up. I found the French room with barely any mishaps just as the bell was ringing. I took a seat near the back and set my messenger bag down. The class slowly filled and I received a curious glance from the odd person but was overall ignored. "Bonjour class. I am Monsieur Laken and I will be your French teacher. If you're shy this class isn't for you as it will have a lot of interaction, if you can't handle that then you might as well switch out. Firstly though we will be doing an exam to determine how much everyone knows just hand it in to me when you're finished," the teacher said in a cheery tone. He soon passed out some booklet and I immediately opened it. Geez… I expected a bit more, this is grade twelve French but still it's all basic stuff. Sure you don't need French to get by in Paris (other than bonjour, au revoir, parlez vous Englais?, s'il vous plait, and merci) but still you'd think it'd be a bit more challenging. I know the premise of this class was an easy credit but I guess I just had more faith in the school system to actually educate or something. I scribbled in the answers quickly and mere moments later handed in the sheets. That time I felt eyes on me… lots of them. "Done already?" Monsieur Laken asked surprise lacing his tone.

"Oui," I replied in a quiet tone before retreating back to me seat. Sitting back down I checked my pocket watch for the time and felt like smashing my head into a desk. I felt a pang of nostalgia as I looked at the gold watch… Gigi bought me it at the flea market. I shouldn't be thinking like this… I should embrace this opportunity. Sure it isn't like I'm being immersed somewhere foreign but I do have the opportunity to meet new people. And while I may be on the shy side it shouldn't be too hard as long as I retain an open mind.

"Why are you in this class?" Monsieur Laken asked standing in front of my desk with a confused look on his face.

"Donc, mon Français ne se rouillent," I answered after a couple of moments.

"Oh well here's your test back," he said setting it on my desk. I glanced at the top and noticed I got a 100%, the entire class was dull beyond belief we did the test, received a course book, and a course outline.

My next class was art, which was something I looked forward too. I've never been much of an artist and the closest I've ever gotten is fucking around with photography. However it is always a fun and enjoyable class. I consulted my map and finally found the room a few minutes after the bell rang. I yanked open the closed door and tried to subtly make my way to an empty table. "And you are?" a voice said as soon as I walked in. It was most likely the teacher a rail thin man with high cheekbones and messy chocolate brown hair.

"Peyton, I'm new," I replied.

"Alright take a seat wherever," he said. I nodded and sat down at one of the tables near the front it was the emptiest so I immediately took to it despite having a love for the back of classrooms and hating to sit near the teacher's desk.

"Okay we might as well all get to know one another a bit as we're stuck with one another. Basically we'll start at one table and everyone should say their name and a few things about themselves, talk about your interests, random facts, whatever. We'll start with this table and then work our way right and down," the teacher said sitting down on top of his desk.

"I'm Rick, I like chocolate chip cookies, uh partying and hip hop," a guy with really baggy clothes started.

I half-ass listened to the others and it was my turn pretty quick. "I'm Peyton. I like urban exploration, photography, world travel, adventure, and reading. And one of my favourite places in the world is the Chernobyl dead zone… it's so divinely eerie it's almost as if you stepped into 'The Persistence of Memory' by Salvador Dali," I said unsure of what to go on about.

Some other people said rather dull things and all of it was terribly trite. Once we all did our boring little introductions we where handed a course outline, a quick rundown on classroom rules, and where allowed to just screw around for the rest of the class. As I was pulling out my iPod a girl with crazed curly hair sat down at the table, stared at me and said with a grin, "you know your clothes make you look like a total prat."

I looked down at my clothes, a white collared-button up with dark blue stripes, a dark grey woolly looking v-neck sweater overtop, a dark crimson blazer, black skinny jeans, and dress shoes. I personally think I look fucking great. And now that I'm out of Thailand I can start wearing layers again, which definitely makes me happy. "I was actually going for Dimitri Karamazov but close enough," I replied dully.

"Who?" she asked her features screwing up in confusion.

"He's a character from the book The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky."

"Oh I've never read it. So you're new here, where ya from?" she asked.

"Uhm well I moved away from here when I was twelve so I guess technically here. But I just moved from Chiang Mai Thailand," I replied awkwardly. I am not good with meeting new people, I just feel so awkward.

"Thailand?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah I've kind of been trekking around the past five years."

"Right," she said sarcastically. "And just where have you been trekking?"

"I lived in Paris for three years, Kyiv for one, and Chiang Mai for one. I've also explored various parts of Europe a tiny bit," I replied in a bored tone.

"I don't think I believe you," she stated simply.

I shrugged and said, "then don't."

I shoved the board covering the window out of the way and hopped in. It was dark but I had a flashlight at least and it isn't like this is my first time checking this place out. It's no old asylum or hospital but industrial buildings are pretty interesting as well. I was glad I brought my camera, I was going to leave it… but the streetlights and moon are providing some nice light through the windows... not that there is many windows. I buttoned my old grey jacket up further and turned on the camera, going to have to free hand this so hopefully I don't shiver too much. This old sugar factory was surprisingly in the city but I suppose it is really old and is in what was once the outskirts. I didn't notice any security as I snuck around the place and took a picture of the giant silos, they where silver so the light reflected off of them beautifully. I then took pictures of walls and various wires sticking out. This is one part of the factory I should've explored during the light… there's a real 'dark' feel to the area with the silos. Ah well, it'll make for nice shots. Besides I can't complain about 'creepiness' when I actively seek out mortuaries. I got bored of the silos quickly as there is only so much to see there and decided to head towards the manufacturing area. It is a bit littered and has more debris and vandalism about it but there is also more lighting and it seems like it'd be really neat. I put my camera away and started to head towards that area. As I wandered I heard some rustling and quickly clung to the shadows behind an old truck. I peeked out and swiftly clung closer to the shadows once I saw the reflective vest. Hm, so there is security here… well at least they don't have dogs. Once the coast was clear I made it to my destination and pulled the camera back out. I fucked with a few features and was ecstatic about the moonlight. I started taking shots of random machinery I couldn't put a name too and feeling satisfied put the camera away and decided to just screw around a bit before I head off to another area… maybe go back to the office like parts… even if it is a bit more high risk. I started bounding up some dilapidated and rusty stairs and finally got to the top. You could walk all around on some platform type thing and observe everything below as well as enter various rooms. I started to push a shut door open but it seemed to stick, I took a deep breath and shoved all of my weight in it and it came flying open. I immediately heard a tearing sound as it opened and felt a sharp pain hit my shoulder. I looked over to see some rusted metal thing sticking from the broken doorframe and saw a tear in my jacket and a large gash on my shoulder/arm area. Fuck… I have no one else here and no first aid kit. I glanced about the room and seen absolutely nothing inside… awesome. Fuck this hurts… I gritted my teeth at the pain and headed down the stairs not even focusing on my surroundings (the first rule of urbex is always be aware of your surroundings) and I lost my footing and tumbled down a few of the stairs before clutching a stair. Picking myself up I checked my camera bag and noticed it was relatively unscathed and quietly left the building, adding a sprained ankle to my list of injuries. I climbed the fence my shoulder throbbing and even more blood coming out as well as my ankle damn near giving out. Then I limped down the street trying to get to a bus stop or something my head getting dizzy and a stumble in my steps. I yanked down my dust mask so it hung loosely around my neck and tried to swiftly make it somewhere. I can't go to the hospital… I'm not supposed to be urban exploring… especially at night. I could go to a convenience store or something and use their bathroom to stop the bleeding and clean up a bit… yeah that's it. I can't really use my clothes as they're covered in dirt and god knows what else. So I'll just have to keep on going. The moment I came to that conclusion I had to stop walking and held my hands out for balance. I caught myself just before the black out came and took a few deep breaths. Fuck it must be worse than I anticipated. I stumbled down the streets and they got more and more residential as I went on. A wave of nausea hit me and I propped myself against a wall, hunched over, and puked a bit. My eyes where running, my throat hurt, but I was so close. I composed myself as best I could and started to push on touching the wall so I wouldn't fall over. "Peyton?" a slightly familiar and surprised voice said from near me.

I looked up and to the left a bit and seen Mr. Owens of all people standing there. "Yeah?" I croaked.

"Are you drunk?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No, fucked my shoulder and ankle up," I muttered clutching tighter to the wall and sticking an arm out as I greyed out again. I caught myself and took a few deep breaths ignoring the muffled voice beside me. "Sorry what was that? Greyed out there."

"Fuck you're bleeding all over the place, come on my apartment is close by I can clean you up there," he said placing a hand on the small of my back and guiding me towards the building. We walked in silence and quickly entered an alleyway and soon came up to the back entrance of an apartment building. He guided me into the elevator and pressed the button to the eighth floor once it dinged and we entered his apartment. "Sit down on the couch," he said pretty much guiding and pushing me down on it… not that I really put up much resistance. He came back moments later with a first aid kit and I damn near jumped for joy at the sight of one. "Take off your jacket," he said sitting next to me. I pulled at the buttons and yanked it off careful not to move my one arm. "Uhm… I think you have to remove your shirt as well," he said awkwardly. I merely nodded and pulled off my dust mask, set down my camera, and then started to pull off my shirt, after a couple of minutes I finally got it off and I heard him lightly gasp. "Fuck… this looks really bad. I think you'll need stitches, I know your ankle is fucked but I can wrap it then we could take the bus to the hospital or something," he said applying more pressure.

"I can't go to the hospital," I replied resolutely.

"Why not?"

"My parents can't find out what happened."

"What did happen anyways?" he asked curiously.

"Shoved in a door, nicked myself on some rusty thing sticking out of the busted frame," I lamely replied.

"Why where you shoving in a door?" he asked confusion in his tone.

"I was doing some urban exploring."

"The hell is that?"

"You sneak into abandoned buildings and other places you aren't supposed to be at and explore them and take pictures and stuff. I was checking out the old sugar factory when I fucked up my arm then fell down the stairs. I do a lot of photography in those kinds of buildings."

"Are you fucking serious?" he asked incredulously. "You just… break into places and take pictures. That is so dangerous! Those buildings are abandoned for a reason."

"Yeah but I was being a dumbass. It's usually relatively safe… I was just stupid; I still went in despite forgetting my bag… which has like all of my supplies. Then to top it off I wasn't even fully aware of my surroundings and went alone."

"That's an idiotic idea regardless of what supplies you take," he said with a sigh.

"No it isn't. This is only the second time something's happened. I fell through a floor once in an old asylum that was just fucked. I've gotten a couple of cuts from nails and barbed wire too but overall nothing bad has happened. And I've explored so many amazing places."

"How'd you even get into this bullshit anyways?"

"I lived in Paris for a while and one day some friends and I decided to check out the catacombs. Everyone else wasn't keen on a return trip but it just spawned something inside of me. I got into the urbex scene and started exploring them extensively and then moved on to abandoned buildings," I said thinking of some of those amazing tunnels.

"Aren't the catacombs like a graveyard or something?"

"No… well kind of. It's this whole extensive tunnel network under Paris there's hundreds of kilometres of them. That graveyard thing is just in a section of them… it's the only part open to the public but there are so many different entrances into them through manholes, sewers, the metro all sorts of places," I explained.

"That is insanity. Don't you worry about getting arrested?"

"I have been. I hid from security tonight even… but a lot don't care… and most are easy to evade. Besides some people like to smoke crack, I like to explore buildings. We all get our thrills from different things, besides just look through my memory card and tell me those shots aren't well worth it," I said cracking my neck and pulling off my black beanie.

He lifted the cloth and said, "I suppose. Well I think I'll put butterfly bandages on it and that'll keep it under wraps… however you can't move it at all or it's going to gush."


He started to wipe it with antiseptic and then placed butterfly bandages on it, some weird cream stuff, then put down a bunch of gauze and taped it on. "Let me see your ankle," he said grabbing a tensor bandage. I rolled up my dirty pants, pulled off my sock and lifted my ankle up for him. He quickly wrapped it up then wordlessly got up and grabbed me some pills and a drink. "Here take these," he said handing them to me. I quickly downed them and thanked him.

I entered the apartment and as soon as I got in the living room Addison paused the music he was listening to and asked, "Peyton what did you do?"

"What?" I asked curiously sitting down in a chair.

"We received a call from the school today and now have a meeting tomorrow with your principal so I ask once again, what did you do?" he asked in a serious tone

"I-I'm not sure. I don't think I did anything wrong… I mean I might have unknowingly but I can't recall doing anything that would get me in trouble."

"Hm, well I suppose we'll find out tomorrow."

The next day I was a little on edge especially at the end of class when I was sent to the office. I entered the office just before the lunch bell and noticed Gavin and Addison speaking quietly amongst themselves in the chairs right by it. As soon as I approached however the secretary ushered us all into the office. We took our seats on the uncomfortable chairs and the principal said, "We will beginning in just a moment."

"Alright," Gavin said boredly.

A few moments later Mr. Owens entered the office and took a seat at the end of the principal's desk. "Well now that we're all here we can address the issues at hand," Mr. Rogers said. "Mr. Owens this is Mr. ___ and Mr. ____, Peyton's guardians."

"Parents," I corrected.

"Anyways," Rogers said throwing me a quick glare. "Mr. Owens if you would please start."

He cleared his throat and looked a little nervous to be frank. Which was quite different then his usual demeanour (arrogant, cold, and confident). "I'm Peyton's photography teacher and it has come to my attention that he is involved in a series of criminal activities. It seems that he is routinely breaking and entering into buildings as well as engaging in acts of vandalism."

"Oh not this again," Addison said furrowing his brows in mild frustration.

"Are you talking about his urban exploring?" Gavin asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Uh yes… I suppose that is one thing to call it, here's a portfolio of his work," Owens said passing him a folder.

Gavin quickly flicked through it and said, "So what is the real issue here?"

"Mr. Owens just said he is engaging in various crimes," Mr. Rogers said.

"It's free expression! Art is art, you cannot put constraints on it. There is nothing illegal about these photographs. As long as he isn't into child pornography what does any of this matter? Instead of persecuting someone for their art should we not be celebrating it for pushing boundaries? Is it not better than the usual utter shit you're usually handed in? How many pictures of feet and flowers with dew drops can one person take?" Gavin prattled on… he's passionate about artistic censorship especially after crazed conservatives have deemed some of his works obscene.

"Gavin," Addison said in a warning tone. I hate that tone it's like you know you're about to get your hand slapped with a spatula when you try to pick a piece of icing off a cake… which has never happened. "Mr. Rogers, Mr. Owens. We are both well aware of Peyton's… excursions. He has been arrested and fined before in relation to it. However neither of you own these buildings he is entering nor do you have any proof of vandalism occurring."

"The vandalism is right in the pictures," Rogers said.

"Maybe so but I am what you call a… urban explorer or les catophile. We have unwritten codes of conduct… 'break nothing but silence, take nothing but photographs, and leave only footprints'. Not to mention there are security guards at a lot of the places I visit and they generally have no problems with people who are there just to photograph and explore, they'll even show you around sometimes. I've been arrested before due to this hobby but even the owner's don't care. Once they find out you're just a photographer and not a vandal they overlook it," I explained quietly.

"So I'm going to ask again what is the real issue here? He hasn't broken any school rules and it seems that there has to be some underlying factors or are you both really that petty?" Gavin asked.

I was beyond ecstatic, shaking my leg excitedly in my chair, tapping my fingers on my desk. Gigi is here! She's in America with her family for some fucked up reason or another and they have been in a city a couple hours away and as it is the weekend she is coming to stay with me for it. I bet she's at my apartment right now! We're going to have a grande time; I've been planning it a bit. I was distracted through out all of my classes and was wholly unaffected by the glares directed at me from Monsieur Owens. I eagerly left the school and bussed it to the apartment. When I finally bounded in the front door I noticed Gigi and Gavin sitting on the sofa discussing something or another in a combination of grammatically incorrect French and English. "Peyton!" She said with a grin upon seeing me. We greeted one another with a hug and the standard European cheek-kiss thing (double kiss in rural France, quadruple in Paris, triple in Kyiv). Upon greeting we decided to head to a café and catch up whilst drinking pretentious coffee. We took the bus to a little café and where simply enthralled in conversation. I haven't seen anyone since summertime it has been too long! We entered the café and we received a few odd glances from the barrista (a kid who I believe is in my English class) as we spoke in French and Gigi ordered what has to be the most pretentious coffee ever (she's a total coffee snob, she ordered an extra hot, no-foam, sugar-free, fat-free, caramel latte… I on the other hand just ordered soy chai tea). We took a table and immediately sat down.

"Gigi, you must tell me everything that has been going on lately. I feel so out of the loop, how is everyone?" I asked taking a sip.

"Hm, everyone is alright. Alexandré was kicked out of his house for a while and had a major falling out with his parents… I'm sure you can guess why and I assume you already know about it. Brigitte was kicked out of school and had to transfer. And Étienne misses you dearly and often voices his complaints about you not visiting enough, in fact we all do but he is the worst… hm I cannot think of much you do not already know," she said with a small smile.

"I wish I visited more as well… but I do plan to move back come graduation. Paris is my home… not this place. Want to be my Visa wife?" I asked with a grin.

"Oh I cannot resist one as charming as you, of course I will Monsieur," she said with a small laugh.

"What can I say I am well versed in the ways of romance. We could have a small ceremony at City Hall—you know draw up the paper work. Then we'd proceed to go out to dinner with our closest friends, then take a walk along the Seine on a night with the full moon and the stars twinkling above while I whisper poetry in your ear," I said trying my best to be charming.

"You are absolutely horrible," she said laughing. "If I didn't know you where practically asexual you'd have swept me off my feet. Mind you that may not pose a problem when it comes to our sham wedding, the certificate of celibacy will be issued readily."

I placed a hand over my heart, "you kill me! Oh how you've wounded my heart and ego… I should write bad poetry."

"All of you're poetry is bad," she said with a smirk.

I gave an overdramatic gasp and said, "Ma amour has no appreciation of me and my art… oh ma chérie how will I survive when you constantly crushing my heart beneath your heels. I will never survive with this constant rejection!"

She rolled her eyes and with a grin replied, "have no worries mon amour I was just testing you to see if you are a appropriate suitor. You have passed and may have my hand in deceitful Visa marriage."

"Fuck yeah, want to get out of here? We can wander about and do some people watching or something before we go to dinner."

"We're going to dinner?"

"I'm not up for cooking, Gavin is in one of those create-create phases, and Addison couldn't cook if his life depended on it. Besides dinner is always a good time, sure it's best in groups but this too will be excellent. Do you have a fake id? Or something… we may have to show them to order wine."

"I do not have one but I am very beautiful and will dress provocatively I assume you own one," she said arrogantly.

"Why of course mon amie, I have a restaurant in mind already anyways. Just promise not to mention what we ate when we get home. They'll have my head if they find out I was eating cheese or something."

"Of course," she said as we got up and left the café. We spent the rest of the day people watching and then went back to the apartment to change into nicer clothes before going out to dinner. Dinner is an expensive and long-winded affair but in Paris every now and again we'd don some nice threads and go out for dinner or out to lunch, which is actually some of my most enjoyable memories of that city.

We linked arms as we walked from the bus stop and to the little restaurant I booked us a reservation at. It was a hip little place that had beautiful black and red décor, delicious food, and a really nice vibe. We entered the restaurant and where immediately escorted to our table. I being the gentleman I am and still teasing Gigi about the Visa marriage thing pulled out her chair for her and kissed her knuckles with a what I hope to be a seductive expression on my face. Judging by the smirk she emitted and the laugh she fought I assume I succeeded. "Could I get you some drinks to start?" the waiter asked with a fake smile.

"Oui," I said looking at the wine menu. "Gigi is it safe to assume you want white wine?" I asked in French.

"Oui bien sûr," she replied.

"Which of the white wines would you recommend?"

"I'm sorry sir I don't know much about wine. However the ___ seems to be rather popular," he replied.

"Hm, I suppose we shall take it then."

"May I see some id?"

"Of course," I said pulling out my fake id and showing it him, he passed it back quickly and said he'd be right back. I read the menu and soon the waiter brought us the wine and opened it up. We chatted about nothing in particular and ordered our dishes. Our salads came almost immediately and I decided to start with my teasing once again, that's just how our relationship is. We constantly tease and barrage one another. I put on my most charming smile and asked, "ma épouse, what do you think of the wine?"

"I am not your wife yet, besides the better question is how do we break it to Étienne he'll be devastated," she said with a raise of a perfectly manicured eyebrow.

"Oh ma chérie I do not know! How is it I seem to be the object of everyone's affection? I surely will hurt him and all of my other admirers. But it is necessary as I cannot deny my love for you and your citizenship."

"How can I not love someone as suave as yourself? You must know however that I demand the honey moon be a two month long affair along the Mediterranean."

I shook my head ruefully, "ma amour, how do you expect me to afford something like that? I am but a starving artiste. I cannot promise you all of the riches in the world no matter how much I wish I could, as you deserve all that and more. But that shouldn't matter, as you are the most exquisite treasure of them all."

"Fuck, I know this is fun and games but I seriously can't see how you never get laid. Those kinds of lines usually only work in movies and stuff but you say them with such passion and your body language is just really… forthcoming. Or am I mistaken and you have the American girls falling at your feet? You do after all have a great accent when you speak in French, girls adore accents."

"Noh, I am still as celibate as ever. That is not without a lack of trying on the parts of many. I just… you know how I am about physical contact. It feels awkward unless I know the person well… besides I think I'd like to be in love before I ever did that."

"You are one of the few true romantics left," she said with a small smile. "Despite liking to crawl in storm drains and the sewers."

I laughed and replied, "Do not make fun of my hobbies! I am an artiste the derelict and decay is my muse."

She scrunched up her nose a bit, "say what you will I shall still never understand it. However I did love that party you helped organize in le catacombs."

"Oui, it was a grande affair. I didn't like how some people wandered off in their inebriated states however… it's easy to get lost and some parts are flooded."

Soon the waiter came up and served our main course and my mouth immediately began salivating. I am vegan, I eat vegan foods, I like vegan cuisine, I think meat is gross, I'm not a fan of eggs, and too much dairy makes me ill. However that is not to say I don't like to indulge now and again and while I may not indulge in meat I will be straightforward and admit I have a soft spot for cheese. Yes vegan cheeses can be very delicious but there just isn't the variety and broad spectrum of flavours like there is with regular cheeses and this meal looks absolutely delicious. It's a veggie lasagna with mushrooms and stuff as well as four different cheeses all melted with it. We both prattled off a 'merci monsieur' as we where served our meal and as soon as the waiter left Gigi said in a hushed tone (despite us speaking solely in French) "Peyton mon ami, do not look yet. But there is a man glaring quite fiercely at us, he actually looks a little angry. He is right beside that table of boisterous people towards the left of them, you cannot miss him but do be subtle."

I decided to glance around different parts of the restaurant so it looked like I was just taking in the whole view and then I spotted him. Our eyes locked and I raised an eyebrow before continuing to observe the rest of the premises. I took a bite of my food, a sip of my wine and said, "ma amour, I will tell you a story. You must promise me a few things before I do so however."


"You cannot have any reaction to it… or at least remain stoic looking, you cannot so much as glance at glaring man, and you have to promise to not tell a soul."

"Mon ami you know you can trust me."

"Of course, now glaring man is actually my art, photography, and English teacher. He usually comes off as a cold and confident man yet rather laid-back and easy going. One night I was on an excursion and I got hurt. I sprained my ankle and cut my shoulder up badly and to make matters worse I forgot my supply kit."

"How could you be so irresponsible?" she reprimanded me yet joyously enough remained perfectly calm on the outside however her eyes told a different story.

"Oui, oui I know I was acting like an imbécile. However as I'm trying to stumble my way to civilization as I was out in the middle of nowhere, he is walking home from a gin joint and crosses my path. Noticing the state I'm in he takes me into his apartment and patches me up. We have a rather pleasant discussion despite his inebriation and my light-headedness… then he kisses me and uhm, well comes on to me. It was trés awkward and I immediately turned him down… in not the nicest of ways and hobbled out of there. He didn't take the rejection well I suppose and has since been kind of an asshole to me. Called in my parents to complain about my art, is just kind of a jerk, and well things along that vein. I believe that is why he is glaring it does after all appear to the casual observer that we are on a trés romantic date," I explained calmly.

"What a jerk!" she said her eyes widened comically. "Hm, I have an idea… mon amour. Let us antagonize him as he antagonizes you shall we?" she said suggestively.

"Good idea ma chérie. We must look convincing though and never glance back at him. We mustn't let him know it is all a show."

"Of course," she said a smile marring her features. We ate some more of our meal and I being a gentleman poured her wine. I was suddenly very glad we dressed up before we went out, Gigi looks like she walked out of Vogue magazine with her striking good looks, light brown hair in an elegant loose-looking twist type thing, and a little black dress on (I bet this is what a modern day Coco Chanel would look like) and I too looked rather good. We exchanged 'flirty' glances at one another… or at least I hope they came off that way and even ended up holding hands on the table for a brief moment and brushing them against one another as much as possible. We continued to talk of the normal trivial things but threw ma chérie/mon chér and ma/mon amour around a lot more and while someone may not know French they are kind of universally known as terms of endearment mon chérie especially. We skipped dessert as we wanted him to see us walk out together and I was for once glad about how eager waiters in America are about getting you out. We drank the last gulps of our wine both feeling warm, fuzzy, and too full. Then as we left the table I wrapped an arm around her waist and she cuddled into me… which was rather awkward not only was I holding a close friend in such a manner but she is also quite taller than me with those heels on. We paid the check and as soon as we left the restaurant linked arms like usual and started giggling madly. "I couldn't help it as we where leaving I caught a glance at him real casual like and he looked fucking furious… ready to kill! Oh and his date… attractive man by the way looked so annoyed and looked as if he was ready to leave."

"Excellent! Not only did I anger him but I'll now have a weekend long break from him… and his little boyfriend or whatever will most certainly be annoyed and angered with him."

"Ah we are too devious mon ami, hm let us do something fun."

"I have no idea what we should do… we cannot get into any bars. Hm, how about we pick up a little alcohol and walk around the park and the city just people watching and looking around."

"As long as we go to the apartment so I can change my shoes first."

The next morning we awoke, went for coffee, checked out art galleries, bothered Addison at work, infiltrated the art galleries here and then got ready for the

Come Monday I was still filled with euphoria over the weekend. Sure Gigi was gone now but I was in a deliriously good mood and my parents told me if I did good in school and stayed out of trouble I could go to Paris over Christmas break. I donned my usual garb and made sure to wear my pocket watch. I wandered from hall to hall not caring what so ever of the world around me until it was time for English class. I fought the smirk trying to envelope my face and remained as stoic looking as possible (which wasn't very stoic as nothing could rain on my parade). I sat down at my seat by the window and gazed out of it as the last few people entered the class. "Hey Peyton who was that crazy hot French chick you where with on Friday?" barrista boy said standing by my desk with a curious expression on his face.

"Oh Gigi?" I asked curiously. Hm now how do I answer this? Owens is in the room, many are eavesdropping and he will surely find out my answer to this question. So do I tell the truth, lie, or be subtle? Hm. I'll be subtle… insinuate but never verify. "She's a very close friend of mine," I said suggestively putting a slight emphasis on the word very.

"Fuck, so you really did live in France?"

"Paris," I corrected boredly.

"Shit, I always assumed you where just lying about that," he replied sheepishly.

"What would I gain from lying about that?" I asked with a raised eyebrow… which wasn't very affective as my hair covers them.

"Oh I dunno, that just seems like the type of shit people would lie about you know? I mean you don't have an accent or anything and a lot of people lie about shit like that to appear cooler or something."

"I don't buy into those petty little popularity games," I said arrogantly.

"Yeah I guess not," barrista kid replied before retreating to his own desk as the bell rang.

I entered the classroom as the halls emptied. I'm sure he'd still be here teachers do after all stay after school for at least a half hour or so. I was really nervous though, really fucking nervous. I'm a non-confrontational person and just have a generally shy demeanour. "Can I help you?" he asked surprised as I entered the class.

I shut the door behind me and casually said, "yeah you can. I was curious as to just exactly why you called in my parents concerning my photography projects. You know just as well as I do there was nothing in them that violated school policy."

"I was merely performing my duties. I seen something controversial and I reported it to the principal," he stated curtly.

"What the hell is your problem? I never did anything to you and yet you treat me utterly unfairly. I'll admit… I could've been nicer about uhm… that incident. But it doesn't really give you any right to act the way you do," I said nervously trying not to shuffle my feet.

A few long moments passed and he finally said, "I can assure you I have not treated you any different from the rest of my students and I have no idea what you mean by… incident."

I groaned in frustration and felt like slapping him for being so stubborn. "You're so aggravating," I muttered. "Why can't you just be honest for one fucking minute? The school is empty, the door is closed, and no one can hear us," I said in an exasperated tone.

After what felt like eons he finally emitted a resigned sigh and said in a quiet tone, "what do you expect me to say Peyton? This is a fucked up situation and yes maybe I haven't reacted well but I don't know how to react. All I know is that I am constantly trying to make myself just… hate you. Which I know sounds weird and all but… well you know the circumstances. It just can't be any other way… god when I saw you and your girlfriend at that restaurant I was ready to stab her with a fork. As to the reason why I told your parents? Well… it seemed like that was the only way to get you to stop engaging in such dangerous behaviour… not that it did much good."

I couldn't help but crack a small and amused grin at part of his diatribe. I gave a tiny laugh and said, "She isn't actually my girlfriend. Our flirty behaviour started out as a joke about me marrying her for a Visa. But when we noticed you glaring at us and she learned of the circumstances we decided to antagonize you and act really over the top."

He lightly groaned and asked with a smile, "are you serious? God I was so angry… my date wasn't very pleased either."

I thought of his previous words… the lengthy diatribe he provided and mulled it over a bit before finally speaking. He was trying to force himself to hate me… because he liked me and is my teacher… or I think he likes me I mean he did kiss me… but then again he was intoxicated. However… he also only tattled to my parents so I wouldn't get hurt… which is kind of sweet in a dirty under-handed rat fink way. Maybe I should invite him to a site sometime… there's a good one right now which won't be a secret much longer that would be pretty perfect for a first timer like him. "Yeah sorry about that by the way. We laughed like all night over how angry the both of you looked. Uhm… I have an idea and please don't read into this at all but tonight at 12:30 assuming you don't have any previous engagements I want you to meet me on the corner of Fairmont and Broadway. I'll be lurking in the alleyway, dress casually and in dark colours so as to not stand out," I said as evasively as possible.

"What?" he asked quietly.

"Just do it and don't read anything into it… obviously we won't tell anyone but just… yeah trust me… fuck I shouldn't have said trust me as I haven't given you a reason to… but uhm yeah… I assure you, you won't regret it," I replied awkwardly.

"Peyton… lets not further complicate things."

"It won't. This is just a way for us to… clear the air. Like I said don't read anything into this and don't come up with any preconceived notions… just meet me there," I said resolutely. "Anyways I better get going if I want to catch my bus, so… be there or be square." And with that I turned on my heel and left the room not giving him the chance to reply.

That night I went to my room and was glad to find out Addison went to bed at eleven and Gavin was up painting still… he is practically dead to the rest of the world when painting so it all worked out. I donned some black clothing, grabbed my bag and stuck a beanie on my head… my light blonde hair is just too ostentatious. I slipped on some sneakers and locked my bedroom door before slipping out the front door eternally grateful my bedroom was near the door. I took the bus to the proper streets and then hung out at the entrance of the alleyway… five minutes till go time… if the bastard even shows up that is. I waited impatiently shuffling from foot to foot and checking my phone a lot for the time. About ten minutes late he showed up looking even more nervous than me… he thankfully took my advice on attire seriously and approached me. "Hey," I said with a small smile. "What's your first name by the way, it'd just be weird to call you Monsieur Owens."

"Oh it's ____… Peyton what the hell are we doing?"

"Come on, carpe noctem!" I said going down the alleyway. He followed me silently and we turned off onto a street, walked a bit, and entered another alleyway. We soon approached a short green metal fence and I climbed up it despite it being kind of slippery and with no real good places to hold onto to. I perched myself on a windowsill with one foot and the top bar with another. "Come on and follow suit," I said quietly launching myself onto a ledge.

"What the fuck are you doing?" he asked in a hushed tone.

"Just do it ____, it isn't that hard and this isn't high risk as long as we do this quickly and ninja style. I already assured you you wouldn't regret it so live a little."

"God what am I doing?" he muttered following suit and shakily going on the low height ledge.

"Okay now we're going to walk along this ledge… don't be too worried it's fairly big and once we hit this one part we'll climb up onto the other," I explained. We then walked the ledge and using window frames and storm drains shimmied onto the next ledge and then up onto the roof.

"Please tell me we're just going to enjoy the view and not do what I think we're doing," he said in a slightly worried tone.

"Don't worry. I was here not too long ago, scoped it out before I met up with you, and the location is still relatively unknown," I said walking across the roof and to the entrance point… the door was unlocked, no I didn't pick the lock someone else did. Also the cameras where totally disabled, talk about awesome. I opened up the door and he quickly followed behind.

"Where are we?" he whispered as we strolled down the corridor.

"Bank," I said with a grin.

"We just broke into a bank?" He asked perplexed.

"Yeah it's really awesome too, set up all old school like. Come on it's a fun explore and there isn't any filth or dereliction like the usual ones so it seemed a good choice for your first one."

"God this is crazy, what if we get caught?"

"We won't. This place is unknown save for a few people… this place is really low profile, besides it's still easy to get in and out of high security places," I said opening another door and entering the actual bank. "Come on the vault room is fun," I said with a grin, as he looked around perplexed.

"Uhm… all right," he said following me to the one vault room that had the safety deposit boxes. We wandered about the bank looking at desks, drawers, and other miscellaneous things. There wasn't really anything left furniture wise but the 'architecture' was fairly fun. Once we finished we went back up to the roof and sat down looking at the city. "That was surprisingly fun," he said sitting down next to me.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's rare I go to a place in that good of shape but yeah that's my first bank… it's kind of neat to check out modern places too," I said grabbing the water bottle from my backpack.

"Yeah… it was interesting. I didn't realize they had that many vaults… and yeah it was just… fun," he said awkwardly.

"Want some water?" I asked looking towards him and holding out the water bottle.

"Sure," he replied quietly taking the bottle and taking a sip. He passed me back the bottle and before I could even comprehend what was going on he placed his lips against mine. I was shocked… okay so it wasn't the first time or anything… but physical contact freaks me out. I instantly pulled back and my eyes where as wide as saucers. "I-I'm sorry… I shouldn't have done that… I'm sorry," he said apologetically and looking so forlorn.

"No… I'm sorry. I can see how you could interpret this as a good time to do… that… I—I it's nothing personal or anything… you're actually a really interesting and attractive person… I'm just not very good with physical contact… it kind of freaks me out… I-I've have had some bad experiences and stuff," I explained quietly. God what is wrong with me? Someone kisses me and I freak out. I've been kissed a mass total of four times (twice by ___) and every time I react like this… I just can't help it after those… incidents; I've just been freaked out by physical contact. Yet… I know it shouldn't… I'm over it my psychiatrist even says so. Plus my thoughts can't help but stray to a conversation Gigi and I had. We where talking about how I'm such a hopeless romantic and yearn to fall in love yet she pointed out rather bluntly that I would never have the opportunity to if I didn't take a few chances. But should I? I mean he is attractive and interesting… but I've always reprimanded myself for thinking anything like… that. Fuck it… fuck it! If I can break into a prison, if I can crawl around sewers in Kyiv, if I can run from guard dogs and security officers then I can kiss someone and not freak out. I took a deep breath and cutting off whatever it was he was saying (which I politely ignored as I was in the midst of an 'existential crisis') and messily pressed my lips against his. One of his hands grasped onto the back of my neck and the other wound around my waist. His lips where soft and smooth as they moulded against mine and I felt his tongue swipe against my lips. I felt so out of my element… I've never had anyone actually try to French kiss me before but I awkwardly opened my mouth and hoped I wasn't too horrible of a kisser. It felt so odd to have his tongue plunge into my mouth… not bad or anything… just odd. I tentatively kissed him back and wondered what I was supposed to do with my hands as I felt his one hand move down to my hipbone. He finally broke the kiss and we sat there still leaning into one another and gasped for breath. "Sorry for being such a shit kisser," I half mumbled looking away and hoping he didn't notice how much I was blushing. Fuck why did I kiss him? I am inexperienced as hell, even more inexperienced then the usual person my age… and I just throw myself at someone who is clearly older and knows what they're doing.

A small laugh escaped his lips and he said, "Fuck you're actually apologizing for something like that? Don't worry and get all insecure you aren't a shit kisser."

"Sorry… I'm just a really awkward person," I replied blushing furiously.

"It's alright… so what now? This is a pretty fucked up situation," he said gazing at the city.

"I don't really know… I guess it's up to you, I mean you are after all the only one with something to lose in this whole… thing," I replied quietly. Fuck I really didn't think this through, neither of us did. I just made out with my fucking teacher… sure there isn't that much of an age gap but it's still illegal… I think. Fuck this is so fucked up.

"God this is a crazy situation… I really like you Peyton, you're really different from most of the people I've met and I don't know… you just are far more mature than you're average high school student. This is so conflicting though… I mean if we did pursue this and it ends badly you could sell me out, or someone could find out, or fuck who knows you know? I could lose my job, my teaching license, face jail time. I know the answer should be glaringly obvious… I know we should just go our separate ways and pretend nothing has ever happened… but there's this part of me that really doesn't want that to happen," he said pensively.

"Well… whatever you choose I'm not going to say anything and even if things ended badly I wouldn't I'm not that kind of person."

"Yeah what about your parents?" He muttered darkly.

This caused me to snigger and I replied, "I doubt they'd care so much if they did find out. When my dad was in high school he apparently seduced his physics teacher so he wouldn't fail."

"Well that's reassuring," he said sarcastically but with a small smile on his face.

"Well… I assume this decision is going to take a while so we might as well get out of here," I stated standing up and slinging on my backpack.

"Yeah you're right," he said and then followed me down the building.

Guatemala: san pedro de la laguna