Chapter 22: Cold Muffins

"If you hold back your feelings because you are afraid of getting hurt, you end up hurting anyway."

~ Author unknown

Chapter dedicated to my friend: DarknessesDownfall. Happy Birthday!

The group of friends headed back home after helping to clear out some of Melina's stuff. Eugene, Harold, and Lauren weren't pleased to see their children coming home so late and so Teresa and Max were grounded from leaving home to go anywhere else, but school for a week. Kenji hadn't even noticed Toshiro was gone, either that or he simply didn't care, because Toshiro wasn't punished. Anita was in trouble, but her parents were just relieved to see that their daughter was still alive.

As for the orphans, Troy and Robert were adopted by a nice family outside of Town and little Veat went to live with Pete from across the street. The only person that wasn't adopted was Curtis. He stayed at the orphanage until one Monday morning in June.

It had been about two months since the camping trip and the morning seemed to start off as any other. Max opened his eyes and woke up on the couch. He stretched out his body and said good morning to his Taylor Swift photo.

Max then headed toward the kitchen. A tan, black haired boy sat at the kitchen table eating a bowl of Lucky Charms. The monkey also sat beside the boy reading from the news paper. (Yes, the monkey can read.)

"Curtis, what are you doing here?" Max asked. "I thought you were still at the orphanage."

"Your parents adopted me." Curtis said casually. He reached into his cereal bowl and drew out a heart-shaped marshmallow and dropped it into Max's hand. "Here is your payment for allowing me to live with you."

Max ate the marshmallow and smiled slightly. "So does this mean we're ...?"

"We're brothers!" Curtis finished and the two boys high fived each other excitedly.

"I've always wanted a brother, but instead I got a stupid monkey." Max said.

The monkey slammed his newspaper down on the table and ran out of the room angrily. At that moment Harold and Lauren walked into the kitchen. The couple had bed-head and were still dressed in their housecoats as they greeted Max and Curtis.

"Morning boys." Harold said. "I invited Eugene over for breakfast. We're going to celebrate Curtis' adoption together."

"But wait, aren't you and Eugene like supposed to be enemies or something?" Max asked.

"We are." Harold said. He rubbed his hands together excitedly. "This is my chance to show Eugene just how well my wife and I can cook!"

Lauren raised her arms determinedly. "We'll show him for sure!"

There was a knock at the door and Eugene, Teresa, and James walked in. During the past two months James had grown quite a bit. He now stood about a good two inches over Eugene. James had started going to Max's school and hung out with Max's group of friends, but he often kept to himself.

As Eugene took off his shoes Harold and the others noticed that he was carrying a plate in his hand that was concealed underneath tinfoil. Eugene went into the kitchen, set the dish down, and revealed a plate full of crepes.

"These crepes are just like my grandfather used to make." Eugene explained while returning Harold's scowl with a sadistic smile. "Taste the crepe Harold, and know how sweet and peachy revenge tastes."

Harold wanted to resist, but the crepes smelled so good. He took a bite of one and sure enough it was delicious. Eugene had wrapped the pancake-like outside around peach jelly and then had sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top. Eugene's crepes were amazing! How was Harold going to beat that?

The mustached Mage opened up his fridge and searched for something he could make. He pulled out some left-over ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.

"Ok, Eugene, prepare to face my breakfast tacos!" Harold cheered, this caused Lauren to scream.

"No; not the tacos!" Lauren yelled. "I-I'm afraid of them, remember?"

"Oh ..." Harold muttered. "Then how about I make nacho chips with taco stuff on it?"

"It's too close!" Lauren cried while hiding underneath the table. "Just put it all away."

James turned to Max and Curtis.

"Parents are so weird." James said. "But you will get used to them."

Curtis nodded. "I certainly hope so."

James reached out and gave Curtis his hand to shake. "By the way, my name is James Lueders-Booth."

"I'm Curtis um ..."

"Your last name is Boulregard." Max said.

"I'm Curtis Boulregard!" The boy said proudly. "That has a nice ring to it!"

"Well Curtis, do you want to play some video games while the parents prepare breakfast?" James asked.

"Sure!" Curtis said excitedly.

From another side of the room Max turned his head to whisper to Teresa in private.

"What's with James? He's actually being nice for a change." Max whispered.

Teresa nodded. "This side of James is rare. He usually just tends ta keep quiet around those who he don't trust, but I've seen it before. If I had to guess I'd say he wants ta open up ta Curtis, 'cause the two a' them both went through Krebs Projekt together."

"Or it's because they both have black hair!" Max pointed out.

"Sure ... that too." Teresa agreed, somewhat hesitantly.

About an hour had passed. Toshiro stepped off his bus and went searching for Anita. Anita usually rested on a bench outside, either studying or reading from whatever book she had last checked out from the school library. But today was extremely hot. Toshiro had to imagine that Anita had gone inside by now. Perhaps he could find her in the library or cafeteria.

He checked the cafeteria first, because that was closest. Anita didn't usually hang out in the cafeteria unless she had woken up late and skipped breakfast (which was rare) so Toshiro wasn't really disappointed when he couldn't find her.

He was just about to leave the room himself, when the sweet aroma of freshly baked muffins caught his nose. He hadn't been in the cafeteria in so long. He almost forgot how good that smell was.

Toshiro put his hand into his jeans pocket and pulled out four dollars in coins. He couldn't remember how much the muffins costed, but he was sure this would be more than enough.

"Toshiro, I haven't seen ya' for a while!" The lunch lady, Mneme Segal greeted eccentrically, almost as if she were talking to an old friend.

"M-morning Mrs Segal." Toshiro said back. Mneme had insisted numerous times that Toshiro call her by her first name, but Toshiro never did. He didn't want to seem disrespectful.

"So what would ya' like today?" She asked.

"Just a muffin please." Toshiro said, handing the woman his change.

"Morning Mneme!" Someone greeted from behind Toshiro. It made the boy cringe. He could recognize that high pitched, girly voice anywhere. It was Kristen. "Come on Toshiro, I want to get my muffin! I can't wait for you all day!"

Toshiro sighed, took his muffin, and moved out of Kristen's way. It was just like the girl, she was never satisfied unless she got her way and she had to get her way now.

Toshiro, being as dismissive as he was would let it slide this time, heck he'd let it slide the next time too, and the time after that, but he really wished that just once he could truly speak his mind to Kristen, to his father, to Anita, to anyone! It didn't matter who. Toshiro went back through his thoughts. He wanted to speak his mind to Anita? It was sort of true; however with her the confrontation would be different than with Kristen or Kenji. With Anita he would be upfront and tell her how he really feels about her, rather than just keeping all his emotions bottled up inside like he usually does.

'That's it!' Toshiro thought. 'If I'm going to speak up I need to do it now or I'll never change!'

"Kristen!" Toshiro started, his voice coming out firm, but soft.

"What do you want?" Kristen asked, turning back to face Toshiro, while now holding her muffin.

Kristen's cold, emerald green eyes stared into Toshiro's blue, like Kristen was holding a deadly weapon. One wrong word from Toshiro and Kristen could fire off a plethora of bitter emotions. These thoughts made Toshiro's heart race. He wanted to tell Kristen what he thought, but what would happen if he made Kristen want to fight back? Could he take it? So instead Toshiro decided it was best just to let things go.

"Um ... It's nothing." Toshiro muttered.

"Whatever." Kristen replied as she turned her attention back to Mneme to make her purchase.

'Brilliant, you really told her!' Toshiro thought sarcastically. Why did he have to be so weak?

As soon as Kristen was out of sight Mneme gave Toshiro a smile and wink.

"I can tell what you're thinking." Mneme said. "To be honest I'm sort of the same way as ya'. People used to call me a goody goody, because I never could stand to say a mean thing even if my life depended on it."

This intrigued Toshiro, but not for the reason most would think. He had tried his best to keep his anger bottled up inside. Was he really that easy to read?

"Don't tell anyone, but I got her back for ya' though." Mneme said, giving Toshiro a contagious smile.

She got Kristen back; without a fight?

"How?" Toshiro asked out loud.

"Well ya' can't tell anyone, but I gave her a muffin from yesterday's batch. It's cold, not fresh and warm like yours is."

This made Toshiro laugh. So Mneme did care after all. She had a good tactic for releasing anger, while still staying sort of mysterious as well, but Toshiro couldn't just hand out cold muffins to people he was upset with either. He'd have to give his strategy some more thought.

Food wasn't allowed outside of the cafeteria so Toshiro grabbed an empty seat at the back of the room. The muffin was delicious, but really hot, maybe a little too hot. He took his time though and soon ate away the muffin by ripping off a bunch of small pieces from the top.

The bell rang just as Toshiro had thrown away the bottom of his muffin. So much for the brilliant plan to see Anita before class. Oh well it didn't bother Toshiro too much. The muffin was worth it. He enjoyed talking with Mneme too.

Toshiro was just about to leave the cafeteria when he remembered that he had left his backpack at the back of the room on his table. Frantically, he ran back, but accidently ran right into someone, causing both him and the other person to fall over.

"Sorry about that." Toshiro said standing up. He hadn't seen who he had knocked over, but as soon as he was on his feet Toshiro offered the person his hand.

It was a small girl with long brown hair. Toshiro recognized the face almost instantly, after all he had been close to this girl for years before ... before the fight.

"Toshiro, is that you?" The girl asked with a bit of a dazed smile. "You've grown!"

Toshiro forced a smile on his lips, even though his head was spinning with a mix of emotions that were anything besides happy. He would have rather run into Kristen.

Was this supposed to be some sort of grand reunion after haven been stabbed in the back? Why couldn't Toshiro just speak his mind? Things would be so much easier. Wouldn't they? And why would he now have to talk to the queen of the split personality? She could treat you like you're her best friend and you could believe it too, but she was also your worst enemy. There are so many sides to this girl, but overall she just goes by one name.

"It's good to see you Regina." Toshiro said, somewhat half heartedly. What had he gotten himself into?

-phantom130 5 (January 2013)