So, here I am. Back, after a week of being suspended. I haven't seen that one guy yet, but I get here a bit early thanks to the bus, so I doubt I would even see him til classes started. He probably won't want anything to do with the 'psycho faggot' that beat his face in anyway. Well I hope so anyways. Can't say I'll be complaining too much if he just drops off the face of the planet at any rate.

For only being September, it's really chilly out today. Five in the morning is not a good time to wake up. Of course, any time before ten is a bad time to wake up unless I have copious amounts of energy drinks with me (which I do every morning during the school week, thank god. I barely have any bills to pay so the rest goes toward my caffeine fixes and a lot of guarine and taurine concoctions. And I mean a lot. And if I'm not the one buying them, someone is supplying me with them. I swear they're trying to dope me up so they can have their way with me. And here we queue a shiver.), and when the bus drops you off at 5:45 in the morning when the school building doesn't even open until seven, it's even worse. I mean, holy crap, I think my balls ran away, forget just relocating to the warmer climate of my stomach.

See, this is another reason you're lucky you're a notebook. What's the worst that will happen? It isn't even rainy or snowy right now so you won't get wet if I drop you, and it isn't so cold that you'd get brittle. You may hurt my fingers with your spine though.

Lucky me.

But I guess that's what I get for bringing you to school. Cold fingers that hurt to move and hurt not to move, and a notebook who can't get cold and therefore surely mocks my pain. Rude ass notebook that you are. Still, I figure it's better to scribble what I'd like to do to assholes rather than maiming them and getting myself arrested for real this time. I've missed so much work, this being senior year and all, that it will literally take me as long as I was out just to make up for it. Yay to having eight classes a day. So, I can't begrudge you too much, because at least you're not causing me more stress. If anything, you're helping. So, uh, thanks, Mr. Notebook, you serve me well. (And here's the part where I start to think I may really be going insane.)

Bwaaagh, it's cold. I need to put on my gloves so I don't catch friggen hypothermia or something.

-x-

He stopped writing and pulled his black wool gloves over his shaking fingers, blowing into them gently in hopes of re-stimulating the blood flow that had surely ceased by now.

September should never be this cold. That shit should be illegal. They were in for one hell of a cold winter, that was sure, contradiction aside. Creston shivered as he glanced toward the school doors in hopes that a janitor had been kind enough to open them early, but no such luck, sadly. No one cared about the one kid who got here this early from his transfer bus because he was too poor to buy a car and refused to have 'Daddy' finance it. That just wasn't right. If he couldn't afford it, he didn't need it. That's what bikes were for.

But like hell you would see him getting up at three in the morning to bike the twenty miles to school. Hell no and thanks a bunch.

Pulling his arms closer to his body in hopes of warming his extremities before they fell off, Creston threw a glance at the clock over the school's steepled entrance, noting somewhere in the back of his mind that he still had nearly an hour before the doors would even open. Good fricken god they were in for a cold one this year.

"Yo Ell!" The voice was somewhat muffled by the slight wind that had picked up and the distance to the parking lot from whence it came. It was unmistakable to whom the voice belonged, of course; no one counted themselves close enough to call him Ell but Dice. To everyone else, it was a formal or affectionate Creston.

Sure enough, the young man was walking casually toward Elyas, hands in his black pockets, jacket zipped snuggly to his chin, beanie pulled down low enough to nearly cover his eyes. The piercings littering his face gave him a positively ferocious demeanor, but Creston knew beneath that stony exterior he was a rather respectful sweetheart. Mostly.

Creston raised a hand in greeting, quickly stashing the appendage in his light blue jacket pocket once again. It was easily only 30-something this morning, and boy was he ever feeling it. If he had had the forethought to put on a heavier coat it wouldn't have felt so damnable outside, but, no one would accuse Creston of making sense after he just woke up. (And he was lazy enough to wake up about five minutes before the bus came.)

"So what's up?" Dice plunked himself down next to Creston, leaning against the brick pillar behind him. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket and gave the younger boy a questioning glance before lighting up.

"Well I'm going to die of cancer now," Creston joked, smile twitching at the corners of his lips. "Not too much. Got my ass chewed for getting suspended, the usual." He paused and looked around them a bit self consciously before continuing. "I've been hearing it more lately."

Dice's tri-pierced brows furrowed in concern. "Has it gotten louder?" He pulled another drag from the butt of his cigarette before crushing the end under the toe of his shit-kicker.

"A little. I think something... I dunno, woke it up or something. It's not like anyone has been saying my name or anything." He let his head slip onto Dice's warm shoulder, suddenly feeling very vulnerable and in need of companionship.

"Woke it up? Well fuck." The teen crossed his arms over his chest and slouched further backward, sliding down the pillar behind him. "Have you felt anything?"

This was one of the things Creston really loved about Dice. Jacob "Dice" Mantegna had been his closest—and in some cases, only—friend since the eighth grade. He knew all about the demon, and had never questioned it from the second Creston confided in him. He was a year older than Creston, had facial piercings galore, and a shit family history: his father had left them when Dice was twelve, and his alcoholic mother took her anger and frustrations out on him on a regular basis. And still he found it in his heart to care as much as he did.

"I'm not sure." He sighed, closing his eyes tight against the wash of emotions threatening to overwhelm him. He was terrified; of himself, of the demon, of what was happening. And he was stressed as hell about having to face his counselor again that afternoon, not to mention likely disappointing his father because he didn't come out 'cured' this time either. And it's not like his mother dealt with this any better really. They both tried, he knew, but sometimes trying and being a decent person didn't seem to go hand in hand with them. Really... He gave himself a mental shake and sighed again, this time with more feeling. "Why the fuck does the bus drop me off so early?"

"To piss you off?" Dice offered helpfully, grin showing off perfectly white teeth. The tip of his pierced tongue flicked at dry lips as his smile faltered, then disintegrated completely. Creston followed his positively vicious stare out to the parking lot where a conspicuous Mercedes had pulled up.

"Oh hell," Creston spat derisively. This particular shiny, brand new, imported car belonged to, of course, the school's quarterback. It was the cliché of all clichés: mummy and daddy were rich imports from England, and he was the Golden Child born from Heaven's womb. Satan's ass, more like. He snorted again, standing up and beginning to walk toward the back of the school.

"Hey pretty boys! Aww, up for some before-school cuddles?" the jock hollered across the parking lot. No one else was there, so it wasn't to get a kick. No, this guy was just that much of an asshole.

"Yeah, man, you kidding?" Dice shouted back, malicious smirk in place and eyes positively flaming. "Wanna get a fuck out before we head in? I even got a camera in case your buddies wanna see how much you'd fucking enjoy it!" His expression seethed with hostility as his smirked widened into something dangerous; it was more a feral snarl than a grin. The blonde noticed how Dice's fists were shaking, nearly twitching with the suddenly virulent mood the jock had put him in.

This was getting... Absofuckinglutely horrible, actually, and Creston scrambled over to Dice to try and pull him away from what was looking to turn into a deadly fist fight. He had seen Dice angry before, but for a little comment like that to set him off so violently?

"Hey douche bag, don't you have to be where your mommy can beat you?" Dice froze as the words were swept toward them by the wind. Creston froze as well, but for a split second before he had to launch himself forward to catch the older man around his abdomen.

"What the fuck did you just say?!" Dice nearly screamed, face flushed red and muscles straining as he literally fought Creston to get to the rich prick still sitting safely by his car. Today was already disastrous. Just one slip and Dice seemed likely to rip the guys head off... And Creston wasn't sure if it would be on accident. Too many bad things were happening at once, he felt uneasy, and Dice was almost losing control as the two shouted at each other from a, for now, safe distance. Then suddenly, the air was very still, thick almost, and both of the angered men froze, looking as though they'd been struck over the head. With something heavy.

Creston looked about them wildly, feeling the same wrenching in his muscles as before, in the dream. This time it was much less violent, but the feeling in his stomach that he was on a rollercoaster and at a standstill simultaneously was still present. Eyes wide in fear, he slowly turned to face Dice, not sure what to expect, and feeling like the unfortunate antagonist in a slasher film. Dice's eyes were glossed over, sultry brown diminished to an unseeing mulch. He didn't look the slack-jawed fool the quarterback did, but neither did he seem to see Creston at all. He just... Was.

Creston began fighting the feeling of being puppeteered, unsure of what it could possibly be, but knowing the demon inside him was not causing this. It too was frozen, much like the two virulent teens. Feeling a little less manipulated the harder he concentrated, and hoping he was still opaque ('Please don't let me go all "Danny Phantom" on them' his thoughts begged), he waved his hands in front of his friend's nose, eliciting no response. Although moving was becoming slowly easier, so was feeling like he was losing his mind. There was no more biting wind, either. It was like time had stopped. But, that was impossible. Time may be relative, but it doesn't just stop.

"Elyas..." Creston's eyes snapped to where the voice had come from, instantly sparking terror anew like smoldering ashes strike a flame. The voice was echoe-y and tinny like a bad horror movie. It very obviously sounded unnatural, but in more ways than just that it was coming from nowhere. And just as suddenly as it came, the last echoed ceased. The wind whispered gently across his face like loving fingertips, sending a god awful shiver up his spine. No one else was around the three, and the other two were still as animated as statues. But still, the voice had been there.

"Hey pretty boys! Aww, up for some before-school cuddles?" Creston nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the shout from across the parking lot. He could only stare, wide-eyed, as the scene played before him for a second time.

"Yeah, man, you kidding? Wanna get a fuck out before we head in? I even got a camera in case your buddies wanna see how much you'd fucking enjoy it!" Dice countered again, though this time with less ire, more macabre humor. Neither realized that things were out of place. Or at least if they did, neither made any note of it.

By now cars were pulling up on occasion, dropping people off or pulling into student parking, and the jock could only shoot a mild 'fuck you' off before turning to this week's Slut of the Year and throwing a nearly muscle-bound arm around her non-existent anorexic waist.

This shit was getting out of hand. Creston sighed in resignation, shaking his head resolutely, and began trudging to the back of the school to wait for the first bell to ring. Dice followed him, hands shoved roughly into his pockets, slouching, and looking every part the school delinquent. Really, he was this year's Valedictorian.

Still, that comment about his mother had set Dice off like a rabid dog. Obviously something had happened, and as his self-appointed best friend, it was Creston's duty to be there for him. Therefore, now probably wasn't the best time to mention the whole... Time paradox thing. Hedecided he would mention it after class. If he ever made it that far.

-x-

Class was—thankfully—uneventful. Lunch was slop, with a side of slop, and going-bad milk. Psychosis of that morning aside, part of Creston expected a hand to fly forth from said slop and slap him with its icky gooeyness. The other part of him wanted it to so he would have an excuse not to eat what he had already paid for. After scarfing it down and realizing that everything tasted like creamed corn, including the milk to a disconcerting extent, he went to the library to write some more.

"Today was so fucking weird Edamine,"he scribbled. Letting this little notebook know was a little odd, sure, but something about the whole process was comforting. "I have no idea what happened, but something's definitely off. First Abaza'el wakes up. Then the whole world freezes in some freaky time-involved paradoxical shit, and then something says my name and poof! Everything's normal again. And Dice and that one douche were fighting for the second time. It was like someone hit the rewind button or some shit. But with no warning, no nothing. So I guess it was a chapter skip. But still Edamine! It was freaky as hell! 'Oh Creston,' you say again, 'You're just going batshit.' And I'd believe you if you weren't a notebook. Nothing personal, Eds. But that was the bell and I'm going to be late now, so, I'll write soon if my mother doesn't just wring my neck for this potential write-up."

He hurried down the library steps to his last class, hoping against hope that he wouldn't be late even though said class was literally on the opposite side of the campus. An uncomfortably warm wind ripped past him, and he was almost knocked off balance from the force. It almost felt as though something had actually shoved him, not just that he had been blown on by a generally pissy Mother Nature. 'Hag,' he thought pessimistically. 'Prolly needs to get laid or something. But then she'd be all mellow and shit and we'd die. Sounds exciting.' He snorted at his own poor joke and miraculously managed to slip into class, late but unnoticed. Dice looked up as Creston flopped into the open desk next to him, rolled his eyes, and silently gestured to the writing prompt on the board. Naturally he already had half a page filled with his almost typographic scrawl. It wasn't neat writing, per se, but it was very precise, and readable. Easy for everyone to understand.

Dice had learned to be all encompassing thanks to his mother. She was a bitch, through and through, and she had broken bones on Dice's frame as a child. He always let the doctor know how careless he'd been playing sports or wrestling with a friend. The doctors always believed him—at least on paper. But without his testimony there was nothing they could have done about the situation.

The thing was, Dice was never covering for his mother. He knew that what she did to him was wrong, knew he'd done nothing to deserve it. But he also knew, he had told Creston one of those long summer nights during a years passed sleepover, that he was the only family his mother had left. And he knew that without him, she would be incarcerated, or sent to an institution and treated like scum rather than being helped like she so needed. She was sick, he'd told Creston, and there was nothing he could do for her right now but be there for her until he had earned enough money—so he worked two jobs, went to school, and was taking college classes where he could. All for his mother.

This inspired Creston like nothing else. It really did. Dice was an integral young man, strong, caring, lonely, and loving. The makings of a story hero. In a way, he was Creston's hero.

The young man smiled as he glanced sidelong at his closest friend, choosing to use this as the topic of choice—how friendship can overcome more than you think, and how a friend can eventually come to be a hero.

-x-

On the way to the bus-loading area, Creston stopped by Dice's beat up Nissan. "You all right now?" he queried.

Dice of course knew he was alluding to earlier that morning. "Yeah," he murmured quietly. "Just had a rough night I guess." Creston knew the smell of cover-up well. His mother must have left another bruise. Obviously having seen the worried look on his friend's face, Dice cracked a wide, toothy grin and tossed a sudden can of energy drink through the window. "Chipper up assface," he snarked before saluting Creston with two fingers from his brow. "See ya tomorrow kid, I gotta get to work." He smiled softly before rolling the window up, waving, and heading out.

Creston waved with a sad smile, turning toward the buses. With a last glance over his shoulder as the transfer bus driver honked impatiently at him, he jogged over to the rumbling beast and climbed aboard.

-x-

Hey Edamine. Here I am again. Home after school and thanking the skies and everything else that we have real people food in our cabinets. Dice gave me an awesome tasting energy drink before he left for work so I'm doing good. Good, good. Gooood. (Best line from that movie ever by the way.)

I don't know what I'd do without that pierced asshole, Edamine. He's my best friend. Best friend a kid like me could ask for. He really is. Did I ever tell you that his mother is a bitch? Cause she is. I really can't stand her. Actually, to be honest, she scares the shit out of me. Take today for example: Dice must have been wearing cover up. At least it smelled like whatever brand he uses under his cologne. His mother must've done a number on him. The way he went after that douche like that? I mean damn, I've never seen him so upset before. Not at school. I mean, she really must have hit him pretty bad. I wish there was something I could do about it, but I mean… I really can't, Edamine. He won't let me. He told me once that he didn't want anyone to have to take care of him unless he was nothing but ashes in an urn. I just don't want to see him suffer. But he won't have it. I dunno. I'm not sure what to do.

I still haven't had the gumption to tell him what happened earlier either. He obviously has a lot to deal with right now. Right? Maybe I should just pretend it didn't happen. Not like anything has happened since, at least.

Yeah. I guess that's what I'll do. Unless something else happens, I'll keep my yap shut. But I have to go talk to Dr. Dick soon so I suppose I'll just write tomorrow. I'll be too emotionally exhausted and mentally fed up to do much of anything by the time the creep lets me go home. Night, Edamine. Sleep tight—or whatever you do.

-x-

Sure enough, by the time Creston go home that night after 11 o'clock, he just walked into his room, locked the door, stripped, and turned off the lights before flopping face first onto his bed. They wanted him on an extended release capsule this time for his depression. Last time they tried this, it hadn't worked. In fact, he'd felt like it was doing more damage than good the last time, but that's anti-depressants and doctors for you. Constantly trying to change what they can. Probably squeeze blood out of rocks for pastimes, too.

He felt uneasy. He wanted to attribute it to two hours of walking, another of arguing, and all the time he's spent with his parents in the waiting room. Too much time. Too much stress. But even as he waved the stressed feeling aside, it persisted. So instead, he just ignored it and closed his eyes, falling into a deep and blissful sleep.