Author's Note: Welcome to my newest story. This was my attempt for Camp Nanowrimo, so if you notice about six or seven words that repeat a thousand times during the story, I apologize. This story is unedited and raw, so please bear with me. I hope I can actually do well with original stories, even though I was doing quite well with my fan fictions. My original writing isn't much different from my fan fiction writing, and I hope you at least don't die reading this. Much to my amazement, this chapter one is registering as eight pages. Let me know what you think ;)

Chapter 1 – Buses, Homework, and Todd Bern

Tiffany Hasely, an almost-average teenager, stretched as she stood up from the table. Almost everyone else had left and now it was just her and two of her female friends. She grabbed her book bag and smiled brightly at the two who had remained seated.

"See you later! I have to get home or my mom will kill me!" The two waved as Tiffany spun on her heel and walked out. Once she got outside, she took a deep breath in. The night was so peaceful compared to the bright florescent lighting and rock music playing in the background from the restaurant she had just stepped out of. The glow of streetlights gave the place a comforting and safe aura.

Tiffany took slow, steady strides as she began walking down the road. She had a good hour to get home before her mom would actually flip out, but she had grown tired of the gossip Emily and Kelly were going on about. A soft yawn escaped from her lips as she paused, staring up at the star-dotted sky. For some reason, it made her feel like she was a part of something much bigger than a girl walking down the familiar Brent Road. She felt like perhaps she was walking in a specially-defined place on this huge world where the skies cleared to reveal the rest of the galaxy – but only at this magical time.

She began walking again and crossed the road after checking for any late-night traffic. On the flip side, the night was when other creatures, human and not so much, came out. The bright sun was no longer there to hide them or to shelter them from ridicule. Some creepy stranger could come try to steal the homework in her book bag. A big bear or coyote could run from the little amount of trees there was on her road to come maul her or something. She giggled.

She figured that there were always two ways of seeing things. Either the side that erred on optimism, or the side that erred on pessimism. It seemed to her, as she pushed open the squeaky gate to her house, that pessimism was a more popular route. Pessimism usually was considered "logic". But was it logic to expect every single event in life to fail miserably? Considering the fact that many people were happy and had good things happen to them several times a day, or maybe just week, it would stand to reason that statistically speaking, pessimism wasn't entirely logical.

Tiffany sighed and plopped down on her bed, bouncing back up a little. Her light brown eyes studied the design on her skirt for a moment, then scanned her room. Everything was normal. Her collection of horse statues and her favorite books resided where they always did on the bookshelf. Her random writing stack was still as generally messy as always and her calendar needed to be changed as usual. The fact that nothing had seemed to change brought her comfort.

She stared at her book bag for a few minutes. She knew that what was hidden by the stylish light blue bag was the enemy of all high schoolers – homework. After a moment, Tiffany opened it up and pulled out her history book. Her unfinished homework was wedged in between the pages. Her long, slim fingers pried it open and glared at the loads of text that was revealed.

Definitions weren't too bad at first. You see a bolded word, you write the definition. Until, of course, there were thirty of those bolded words. And all of those words seemed to like having obnoxiously long definitions. Tiffany could only note with slight enthusiasm that she was at seventeen. Only thirteen more to go. She picked up her mechanical pencil, clicked it a few times and began searching for the next bolded word.

She closed her eyes for maybe a few seconds. They hurt from reading all this annoying print. She opened them again, only able to thanks to her unending will. The bed seemed much more comfortable if she'd only push the book and loose leaf notebook paper forward and stretch out on her stomach. She did so and found that she was absolutely correct. Tiffany yawned, then looked at the word again. Her hand lazily took up the pencil and as she wrote the dash after the word to begin the definition, she found her eyes rather itchy.

Her fist rubbed her eyes. Another yawn came from her mouth. Just for a moment, she rested her head on her arms. Just for a moment, she closed her eyes again. Just for a moment...

"Tiffany! What are you doing?! You're going to be late if you're not outside in the next fifteen minutes!" Tiffany's body jolted upright, her short blond-highlighted brown hair in a total mess. She looked in the mirror near her bed and began frantically combing it down with her fingers. After it looked relatively satisfactory, she found clean clothes and changed into them.

Only ten minutes.

Tiffany then closed her book with the assignment in it, shoved it in her bag, and began grabbing random things that she decided were necessary for going to school. Her shoes were on her feet and she was halfway to the door when her mother called to her once again.

"Tiffany, you know you need to eat breakfast if you're going to get good grades. Here, eat this bowl of cereal. You have eight minutes." After a momentary protest and a childish whine, Tiffany shuffled over to the table and began shoveling fruity pebbles into her mouth. Her eyes watched the clock with paranoia.

Two minutes.

She swallowed her last good bite and put her bowl in the sink. "Love you, Mom!" she called out, now running to the door. She reached out, turned the knob, and ran through, letting the door shut itself.

Almost there.

"Tiffany! Come back here, right now!" Tiffany cringed and hoped that no one else in the neighborhood could hear her mother's words. She raced back inside.

"What is it?" Her tone was more than a bit exasperated.

"Did you not brush your teeth? Hurry!" She gave her a momentary glare before running to the bathroom and brushing her teeth. "Can't you hurry it up, Tiffany? I think I hear the bus!" Tiffany practically choked as she was spitting out the water she had used to rinse out her mouth. Once again, she was racing to the door and out it. By the time she reached the end of the driveway, she was out of breath.

The bus came as promised and the doors opened. Tiffany silently asked the bus driver to come later, or to perhaps change up the schedule and let her be one of the last picked up instead of the first. She climbed on board and immediately pulled out her history book, writing definitions as if it were her last wishes before she died.

A few lurching bus stops later, a girl with mid-back length, light brown, wavy hair plopped down next to Tiffany and peered over her shoulder at what she was writing.

"I could never do my homework on the bus." She commented. Tiffany only nodded her head. Number twenty seven. Seeing that there was no response, she took it as a cue to continue talking. The girl looked around her as if re-taking in everything that she always sees in the morning. "There's too many distractions. Like, people to talk to. Things to stare at out the window. Plus, I could never write with how bad this bus bounces."

Tiffany paused and looked up at the girl next to her with a strained smile. "That's great, but this is why I try to get my homework done at home. Or at least before you get on." Tiffany looked back down and began writing number twenty eight.

"Wow, thanks. 'Gee, Samantha, it's great to see you this morning. Did you sleep well?'" The teen said, roughly imitating Tiffany's voice in the manner in which she would rather have been greeted. Tiffany snorted.

"That sounds creepy. Did you sleep well? I was watching you all night and you tossed and turned more than usual." Tiffany gave her a mischievous grin. Samantha's blue-green eyes narrowed.

"You know what I mean! And you actually do that work? I haven't taken home homework in like... three weeks." Tiffany shook her head disapprovingly as she began number twenty eight's definition. The bus lurched to a stop and the squeak of the door being forced open was somehow louder than normal. Tiffany glared at the paper. Why did everything have to keep distracting her?

"Oh wow, you're still working on that? I finished mine in class." Tiffany noticed long, black hair hanging down over her shoulder.

"Most people would believe that you and Samantha switch places academically by the looks of you, Cassandra." Tiffany commented, desperately writing number twenty nine. The hair disappeared from her shoulder as the teen behind her sat in her seat. She still had her chin placed on the top of Tiffany and Samantha's seat, though.

"How rude. Are you saying I look stupid? You look like one of those people who would have all your homework, plus extra credit and some random project no one asked you to do turned in well before it was due. But instead you're writing definitions on the bus twenty minutes before we get to school."

"Oh wow, you're right! You do look kind of like you have a nerd potential, Tiffany." Tiffany frowned.

"Why don't you two chat about something else so I can finish? Mr. Harmon is going to kill me if I don't turn this in because I was listening to my iPod in class yesterday." Cassandra nodded knowingly, then turned to Samantha.

"So yesterday when I was walking to meet up with you guys, this totally random guy from who knows where asked me out."

Tiffany tuned the rest of the conversation out as she finally reached thirty. The bus once again painfully halted. Half of the bus stood up and began filing out the door. Tiffany hurriedly stuffed her book and just completed assignment in her bag and followed Samantha closely.

Once they got into the cafeteria to sit and wait for the morning bell, Tiffany split from Samantha and Cassandra and made her way to the breakfast line. Breakfast pizza was strangely good, but much too often it was in low supply. Tiffany grinned as she grabbed the last piece, got a chocolate milk, and paid at the end of the line.

She found Samantha and Cassandra sitting where they always were. The table held the usual people like Emily, Kelly, Greg, Bryant, and Todd. To her surprise, Emily wasn't holding the seat across from Todd and Tiffany happily took it. She was now able to take him in with his naturally red hair and blue eyes. He smiled at her.

"You look cute today, Tiff." She smiled brightly.

"Thanks!" To avoid anything strange coming from her mouth, she shoved the breakfast pizza in her mouth.

All homework done.

Last piece of amazing breakfast pizza.

Sitting across from Todd Bern.

Today was already awesome.

Tiffany dragged her feet as she went to put her books up after fourth hour. It may be lunch time and it may be the best time to be in line right about now, but she was tired. Apparently today wasn't meant to be absolutely perfect, because she got homework from every hour. Sometimes she wondered if these things were planned and they piled it on just for their own amusement. The combination worked the first time on her locker, which came as a mild surprise. She moved aside her other books and placed her returning ones in the empty space that became available.

The halls had already been pretty much deserted by the time Tiffany walked towards the cafeteria. Everyone had made a mad dash to be one of the first in line for food so they could eat without having to rush. Luckily for Tiffany, almost everyone loved pizza and didn't seem to care for the noodles and chicken, which she actually looked forward to. It only took her two minutes to get through the line and find her normal seat at the table where her group of friends always sat. The table only lacked Cassandra, who had a different lunch hour.

Tiffany gave Bryant a small smile and turned her attention to Emily who was beside her. "So did you like the video I sent you on YouTube?" Emily smiled.

"Yeah! It was really funny. I still can't believe someone would actually do that." Kelly raised her eyebrows and leaned across the table as she was sitting across from Emily.

"You people and those videos. I don't have time for that." Kelly threw her nose up a little, a bit too self-righteous for the average person to handle. Tiffany laughed.

"But you're always on Facebook!" Kelly gave her a blank stare.

"Well yeah, that's on my phone. Everyone has a Facebook so we can all talk. Duh." Tiffany laughed again, and Emily giggled a bit, too. Kelly gave them a look that suggested they were the hopeless ones. "Anyway, do you already have a date for the formal coming up next month?" The grin on her face suggested that she did, or at least that she had someone in mind. Emily stayed quiet. Tiffany pondered her answer. She had a bad feeling it'd be moments before Kelly pulled something unpleasant.

"I heard three guys asked Cassandra to go just in this week." Samantha mentioned, leaning in and joining the conversation. The guys seemed only mildly interested as they kept talking about some video game. Greg was simply sitting and watching the events with no specific interest. Kelly's face lit up.

"Speaking of, I wonder how many guys she's done. Like, seriously, she has people lining up for her all the time." Emily snickered a bit at this. Tiffany made a disgusted face.

"You know she's not like that, Kelly. She just attracts guys, it doesn't mean she does anything else with them." Tiffany suddenly felt like going back to class and avoiding this whole conversation. Kelly rolled her eyes.

"Whatever. Who wouldn't? They're practically begging for it." Emily smiled and nodded.

"She'd be stupid not to." Samantha stayed quiet, looking down at her food.

"Okay, can we drop the subject now?" Tiffany asked, not liking how everyone was talking about her friend as if she were some sort of slut. Kelly shrugged.

"What? It's not like we were saying anything bad." Tiffany knew she was going to regret it, but she decided to forcibly change the subject.

"You were asking about formal?" She said, cringing when Kelly's face lit up.

"Oh yeah! So I think that Luis Persey is going to ask me!" Samantha almost jumped on the table, her loose curls bouncing.

"You're kidding! The Luis Persey? No way!" Kelly sat back, grinning with self-satisfaction. Her blond hair was pulled into a loose side ponytail. Her eyeliner defined her blue eyes as they flashed with pride.

"Of course, who else would he go to the formal with? He broke up with his last girl like a week ago. He said hi to me at my locker earlier today." Tiffany was digging into her food, ignoring this idiotic conversation. Everyone knew that Luis was a good-for-nothing player, but he still attracted girls because of his good looks and arrogance.

She couldn't help but wonder, though, who she would go with. Or if she'd go with anyone at all. Cassandra would have no problem finding a date, and Samantha was much cuter than she was so she'd be taken sooner or later. Tiffany had her bets on Greg asking Samantha out, since recently he'd been making more efforts to talk to her.

Greg was a strange guy. Out of the whole group, he was the only African American. There was no doubt that he was really good looking, but he seemed to not care for those sorts of things. He wasn't the life of the party, he just observed people and would say an intelligent word or two every once in awhile. However, he wasn't really a nervous person. He just wasn't outspoken. He never seemed unsure of himself and had a lot of confidence. He just seemed to only talk about things that seemed to actually matter. Tiffany wasn't sure she could pinpoint exactly when he had joined the group and how he stayed in it, but she wasn't concerned. It was nice to have a decent person at the table when the other girls went on these types of talks.

Then again, there were very few in the group that looked the way they were. Greg looked like he should be hanging out with the basketball team, or at least be the one who made the conversations worthwhile. Tiffany seemed to be more of a studious type, or maybe just on the more responsible and down to earth side. However, she was usually bubbly and even though she did her best to be responsible, she often had the moments of homework on the bus.

Cassandra with her long, straight black hair and hazel eyes seemed like the type to just go hang out all day with the most popular people in the school. She had guys waiting to go out with her and she had a sweet personality. However, she'd probably freak if she ever missed an assignment or failed a test. The teen probably wouldn't be able to handle the stress of having to do last minute work. Despite the attitude Emily and Kelly took toward her, Cassandra was a very faithful girl who went to the same church as Tiffany. A part of Tiffany knew that was a bit of the other girls' mild spite toward her. Nothing they could accuse her of was really true.

Samantha seemed like a sweet, quiet girl with soft, delicate features. She had blue-green eyes, light brown, loosely curly hair and a fair complexion. She often took a playful expression, though. Looks-wise, she'd leave the impression that she was sheltered and good at doing her work. Although she wasn't unintelligent, she often didn't want to do work that she didn't feel was worth her time. She often could jump in on conversations that Tiffany would rather avoid. She was a great listener, though, and Tiffany found herself going to her whenever she was upset.

Emily and Kelly seemed to fit their outer appearance images pretty well. Emily had an oval shaped face, loose curls, light brown hair, thin brown eyebrows and green eyes. She gave off a sense of being really sweet and gentle, which, in Tiffany's opinion, was fairly true. There were times, though, when Emily could give off the feeling of being rather evil. Sometimes Tiffany wondered if she were secretly an evil genius. Emily and Kelly got along the most, probably because they'd been friends longer. Both of them were quite concerned with fashion.

Kelly, however, was your typical valley girl. Her blond hair was usually changed up every other day, but she often defaulted to a loose, low side ponytail. She wore make-up that made her seem flawless every day without fail and had blue eyes to go with her blond hair. Her attitude wasn't exactly desirable half the time, but Tiffany didn't think of her as that bad of a person. She often sought people's attention, which Tiffany figured was the source of her constant putting-down of other girls.

Tiffany was at a loss on Bryant. He was tall, probably around 6'2 and had a really light complexion. He had kind of short, curly brown hair. Tiffany personally enjoyed it when he smiled because of the way the corners of his lips turned upward in a cute and happy manner. Other than that, Tiffany wasn't sure how to take him. He wasn't really quiet, but he wasn't really loud. He seemed to have average intelligence. He didn't come across as a nerd or as a jock. He seemed to keep his conversations with the other guys the most, but would join in on simple topics, like what was in the lunch that day or what was on the math test. Once again, Tiffany wasn't really sure how he became a part of the group, but he wasn't an eyesore or anything.

Then there was Todd. Tiffany couldn't help but smile every time she saw Todd, or even thought about him. To her, he was just as he seemed. He had short, straight, red hair and gorgeous green-blue eyes. Of course, he had a light complexion and an easy smile. He made a point to compliment the girls almost every day, and often every time he saw them. He seemed really sweet and easy-going. He was also the life of the guy's conversation and would often bridge the gap between the girl's and guy's talk within the group. Whenever someone didn't have enough money to eat lunch or go hang out after school, he often pitched in and helped them out. Tiffany saw him as the perfect gentleman.

Tiffany found herself staring at him, trying to memorize every feature diagonally across from her. Emily loudly cleared her throat, bringing her out of her trance.

"Earth to Tiffany! So are you going with anyone?" Tiffany looked around at the three girl's expectant faces. She looked down.

"I... don't know yet." Emily nudged her with her elbow.

"Okay, well anyone you want to ask you out?" Tiffany looked up again. Emily was encouraging her, a soft smile on her face. "Come on, you can tell me." She got closer, lowering her voice in case Tiffany didn't want Miss Gossip Kelly over there to blab it to everyone. Tiffany felt a blush come to her cheeks and she looked away, then back at Emily, gathering her courage.

"Well... if it could be anyone... I think it'd be nice... if I could go with Todd." Emily paused for a moment then nodded.

"Well, good luck!" Tiffany smiled, relieved that she wasn't made fun of. The bell rang, signaling the entire cafeteria to leave and go to class. As Tiffany was getting up, Todd reached across and grabbed her tray. He smiled brightly at her.

"I'll take this for you." Tiffany smiled back, beaming. Emily, while trying to get up, stumbled and her water sloshed over and covered the side of Tiffany's jeans in water.

"Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry!" Emily said, grabbing napkins and trying to help Tiffany. Tiffany shook her head and took the napkins from her.

"Don't worry about it, it's just water. It'll dry soon." Emily smiled, her face showing relief. Kelly laughed loudly.

"Now it looks like you peed your pants!" Everyone gave her a blank stare. The water had only gotten on the side of her leg and didn't look anything remotely like she had such an accident. Kelly shrugged and walked off. Todd came up behind Tiffany and wrapped his hoodie around her waist.

"There. Now no one will see your accident until it dries." He walked off, turning and giving her a playful wink before disappearing into the crowd. Tiffany smiled to herself and gently stroked the fabric of the hoodie. Maybe it wasn't that bad of a day, after all.

**I would say, "Don't worry! It gets better!" But I can't ensure that. Please keep in mind that this was just thrown together. Hope it's interesting anyway. If you have any thoughts on improving it or any type of input at all, please review! Thanks :)**