Author's note: What is this? This is Runaways, a spin-off from my superhero story, The Champions. You don't need to read that first to understand what's going on in this story. The quick version: Superhumans exist, Raven controls animals, she spent a few months at a school run by a few heroes (the Champions themselves), she made out with another student named Scott, the school closed, she was sent home. Boom, you're all caught up. All the characters in this story are 16 at the start, except for Jacob at 17, Raven's cat is a male kitten (less than a year old), and that's about it. If you really want a little more detail, chapter 126 of The Champions talks about these kids a little more. If you have any questions, please ask, and I'll answer, as long as it doesn't give away any plot points I'll be handling later on. Any feedback, of any kind, is greatly appreciated, so please review. Questions, concerns, complaints, suggestions, or just random thoughts - it's all valuable.
January 10, 2013
Raven was the first one to reach the train station. While she waited inside, she took out her sketchbook. Bela, her black kitten, tried and failed to catch a mouse. She brushed her dark red hair out of her hazel eyes. She realized she probably wouldn't be able to keep dying it much longer. She hadn't thought of that before she started her current path two days ago.
Actually, she was starting to think of a lot of things she may have to go without. Her black eyeshadow and lipstick were going to be a low priority on the road, and she doubted black dresses made for great travel wear. She looked at her heavy boots; at least they would still work. Her spiked choker and inverted pentagram pendant would still be fine, as well.
The door opened, and she glanced over to see Jacob. He was tall and lean, with short red hair and green eyes. He was a natural redhead, with the freckles to prove it. He wore blue jeans and a black jacket, and carried a large duffel bag. "Hey," he greeted her. "We the first ones here?"
"Yep," she replied. "Couldn't wait to get out of your house, huh?"
"My dad gets up early. I needed to make sure I got away before he got up. Especially if I wanted to avoid another fight about my uncle." Jacob's uncle had molested him when he was younger, and his parents had never believed him. His uncle was going to be coming to stay at their house for a while, and Jacob had no intention of being anywhere near him.
A few minutes later, two more entered; Taylor and Lisa. Taylor was on the short side of average, and fairly scrawny. He had a slightly large nose and small ears, a scraggly beard, and dark brown hair down to his shoulders. He was wearing jeans and a leather jacket. Lisa was a pretty girl with blue hair in a ponytail. Unlike Raven, her hair colour was natural, though most assumed it was dyed. She wore a dark blue skirt and a red jacket. They both carried large bags.
"Hey, guys," Taylor waved.
"Hey hey," Jacob said. He put his arms around Lisa. She lived with Taylor, ever since Jacob met her living in the park. Taylor's mother worked long hours, leaving him alone most of the time, while Lisa seemed to have no parents at all. Or, at least, none she was willing to talk about. But while she lived with Taylor, she was dating Jacob, and he gave her a kiss.
"Hey, where's my kiss?" Taylor asked.
"You can kiss my ass, will that work?" Jacob replied.
"Nah, it's probably really hairy. It'd tickle my face."
"And now I have a mental image to haunt me for the day," Raven said. "Thank you for that."
"There's also the possibility of dingleberries," Lisa added.
"I think even Bela might be disgusted now. And he licks his own butt."
"What? I remembered reading about them, and I thought they would be a real concern."
"Hey, look over there!" Taylor pointed at nothing in particular. "A shiny new change of topic!"
The next one to arrive was Ashleigh. She had wavy dirty-blonde hair with a braid on top, and wore expensive jeans, high-heeled boots, and a designer jacket. She had a pretty face, but her right eye was covered by an eye patch. She was blind in that eye, and Raven was responsible for it. She had a Louis Vuitton bag.
"Glad you could make it," Raven said. "You just won me a bet. Pay up, Ginger," she told Jacob.
"You were making bets on whether I'd show up?" Ashleigh asked. "I'm a little insulted."
"I didn't make a bet," Taylor told her.
"I figured. That's why I'm disappointed. You could've gotten some extra money." She kissed him.
"Any problem with the folks, Patch?" Raven asked.
"Nope. They were still in bed. I left my mom a note telling her to leave my dad." Her father was verbally abusive towards her, and physically abusive towards her mother.
The last one to arrive was Eric. He was a tall and skinny, but very cute, Asian boy, with short dark hair, bright blue eyes, and a great set of teeth. He was wearing grey cargo pants and a grey coat. "Hey, everyone," he said.
"Hey, Princess," Raven said. "I was wondering if you were gonna chicken out."
"Someone has to keep the rest of you from doing anything too stupid." Like the others, he had problems at home, though he was the most reluctant to run away. He was gay, and his parents disapproved. He knew they still loved him, and he was sorry that he would hurt them by leaving. But all his friends were going, and he needed to go with them.
"So you're the ringleader of this little operation," Taylor said to Raven. "So what's the plan? Where are we going?"
"For now, south," Raven replied. "I don't think we want to spend winter homeless in Illinois. So we'll go somewhere warmer. Once we're in more comfortable weather, we'll figure things out from there. Luckily, I've got a pretty big allowance from when I lived with the Champions, so we'll figure something out."
"So where's this train going?" Eric asked.
"Well, I was thinking if we were going to spend the summer somewhere warm, we may as well go all the way. So I bought us tickets to Miami."
"Christ," Eric shook his head, "how can someone who dresses all in black want to go somewhere so hot?"
"Maybe she'll switch to shorts and a bikini top," Ashleigh giggled.
"And maybe you'll switch to eating me," Raven shot back.
"I'd be OK with that," Taylor said. Ashleigh playfully punched his arm.
"Can we go to Disney World?" Lisa asked in an excited tone. "It's in Orlando, not Miami, but they're not too far apart, are they? Will we have enough money for Disney World? I can try to find a job if I need to, so we can get enough money to go."
"We'll see," Jacob told her gently.
"OK. But I hope we can go."
"We do need to figure out what we're going to do when we get to Miami," Eric said. "The five hundred a month Raven gets from the Champions will only get us so far. I'm not sure we'd all want to live in one apartment."
"And that's just the start of our problems," Taylor said. "A half-dozen 16-year-olds, over two thousand miles from home, not knowing anyone around us? We'll probably be lucky if we don't get dragged to a police station and sent home."
"Jeez, if you think that's what's going to happen, why even agree to this?" Ashleigh asked.
"Being stupid is how I met you, Eric, and everyone else here. I'm interested to see where this ridiculously idiotic idea leads me."
"Like you've ever come up with a better idea," Raven grumbled.
"I wasn't trying to insult you. You need to do something crazy once in a while. Otherwise, you just end up being one of those boring people littering the planet."
"That's so deep," Raven said sarcastically. "By the way, you all remembered to leave your phones at home, right? We don't need the cops using GPS to track us."
"Yes, but I'm very disappointed" Lisa answered. "My phone had Bejeweled. I was starting to get good at it. When we find somewhere to live, can we get a Wii?"
"We'll see when we get there," Jacob told her.
"You keep saying that. I'd like to have something to look forward to."
"What did you look forward to before you met us?" Taylor asked.
"Having friends. And maybe a home."
"Makes me feel bad for looking forward to a cool video game," Taylor said.
"Yeah, well, you're a loser," Raven told him. "So you should feel bad in general."
"Are you going to let her talk to me that way?" he asked Ashleigh.
"Um . . . yes?" she replied.
"Fair enough. Just checking."
"Our train's going to be here soon," Raven said. "Let me get your tickets out."
"I'm so excited," Lisa said. "I've never been on a train before. They look fun. But I hope there's no murder or fighting or stuff on this one"
"Yeah, none of us has a Sherlock hat," Taylor imagined Ashleigh dressed as Sherlock Holmes.
"Ooh, we should get one of those hats. Then whenever one of us needs to do, like, logic-type stuff, we can put it on."
"We'd need a pipe, too. It wouldn't be the same without a pipe. Of course, there'd be the problem of where we'd keep the hat and pipe when we're out and about."
"Hmm. I guess one of us could just always carry a bag that has those things in it. Along with other stuff that might be useful."
"All right. We might want to get two of them, though, for whenever the group splits up."
"Dammit, Taylor," Jacob grumbled. "Will you stop encouraging her."
"You don't want me to get a Sherlock hat and pipe?" Lisa asked him, her eyes wide and sad.
"It's not that," Jacob replied nervously. "It's just, um . . ." He looked at her face. "Aw, dammit. All right, fine, we'll get you the hat and pipe." He added under his breath, "The puppy-dog look always gets me."
"Yay!" Lisa clapped her hands.
"So are we trying to be inconspicuous?" Eric asked Raven. "Because I get the feeling that's not going to last very long."
"Yeah, I don't think 'low profile' is in their vocabularies," Raven agreed. "Well, whatever. We'll figure shit out later. Right now, I just want to get on the train and catch some sleep. It's way too damned early in the morning to be making plans."
"You should've gone to bed earlier last night. I got a full eight hours of sleep last night, so I feel nice and rested right now."
"Shut up before I summon a bear to maul you."
"And not the kind of bear you'd like to maul you," Taylor added.
"What? Ew. No," Eric said. "I'm not into bears. And why the Hell are you so chipper right now, anyway? You hate mornings."
"True, I'm always grumpy when I get up in the morning. But I got around that problem by not going to bed last night. So I'm at that sweet spot where I'm so tired that it's made me giddy."
"You didn't sleep?" Ashleigh asked him. "Like, at all? Jeez, you'd better get some sleep on the train."
"But, see, if I sleep too much on the train, I'll have trouble sleeping tonight. I'll be fine."
"As soon as we sit down, you're getting some sleep. Even if I have to knock you out myself."
"Can I use your boobs as a pillow?"
Ashleigh rolled her eyes. "Fine, you can use my boobs as a pillow."
It wasn't long before they boarded the train. They found some empty seats and stowed their baggage. Ashleigh sat beside Taylor, with Lisa and Jacob sitting across from them. "So that leaves us single people together," Eric remarked to Raven. He let her have the window seat.
"You'd better not try to cop a feel," she said. She opened her bag and took Bela out of it, then put it back on the floor between her feet. "Don't go wandering," she told the cat. "Stay close to me." He meowed. "And stay quiet. We don't want anyone to know you're here."
"Why didn't you get a cage for him?" Eric asked.
"How do you think you'd like to spend goddess-knows-how-long in a cage? He'll be fine. Even if he's discovered, what're they going to do? Throw him off a moving train?"
"No, but they'd probably kick us off at the next station."
"Well, OK, there is that. But I'll keep him hidden. I can always offer to put him on his leash."
"You sure you don't want the window seat?" Taylor asked Ashleigh.
"You'll be able to sleep better with the window seat," she replied. "Besides, I've ridden on a train before. It's pretty dull."
"I've been on trains, too. I kinda enjoyed it."
"When have you been on a train?"
"I have family in Scotland. We usually took the train to Chicago to get to the airport. And then we'd occasionally take the train to get around Scotland. How about you? When were your train rides?"
"We went to New York on our vacation last year. We rode a train to get there."
"I've never been to New York. I'd like to go."
"I'd rather lay on the beach, soaking up the sun."
"I'm not much of a beach person," Taylor grimaced.
"You will be by the time I'm through with you. We're going to get you nice and golden."
"Tanning causes skin cancer, you know."
"Everything causes cancer. We may as well enjoy ourselves."
"I'd rather enjoy myself in air conditioning."
"Hey, do you want me to go the beach all alone? Getting hit on by all sorts of guys?"
"As long as I'm nice and cool? I'd be OK with that."
"Jerk," she slapped his arm playfully. "And I thought I told you to get some sleep."
"I'll wait until we're moving."
"Are we going to eat something on the train?" Lisa asked Jacob. She sat across from Taylor. "Is train food any good? I've heard jokes about plane food, but never train food."
"I have no idea," Jacob replied. "They'll probably have some food available, but I wouldn't bet on its quality. That's why I brought some food with me."
Lisa took out a digital camera. She took a picture of the train, then another out the window of the station. She also took pictures of all her friends. "I'm going to take lots of pictures."
"Isn't that my mom's camera?" Taylor asked.
Lisa looked at it as it dawned on her. "Oh. Oh no! I stole her camera! I'm a thief! I don't want to go to jail! They're mean to people in there!"
"Relax," Jacob told her. "You won't go to jail. I think his mom's probably more concerned about her son going missing than about her camera."
"She never really used it, anyway," Taylor added.
"But I still stole it. That was wrong of me. I'm a thief, and I won't even be able to apologize to her since we don't plan on going back."
"If you feel that bad about it, we can mail her some money for it or something," Jacob said. "Just relax. Everything'll be fine."
"You're sure?" He nodded. She relaxed. "OK. Thanks. Maybe I can try to return it with my magic."
"Can you do that?"
"I won't know if I don't try it, right? Just because I've never tried teleporting doesn't mean I can't do it."
"If you can, then this train ride's kind of a waste of time."
"Nuh-uh! The train ride's going to be fun! We can use magic any time, but when else will we get to ride a train?"
"Uh, OK. I guess you have a point there. That reminds me, though, you should probably avoid using your magic on the train."
"Well, of course. I'm not stupid."
"I wasn't saying you are," Jacob rubbed the back of his neck. "It's just that you can sometimes be a little, um . . . impulsive."
"Ooh! I think the train's about to start moving!"
"Weren't you the first person to agree to Raven's suggestion?" Ashleigh asked Jacob.
"I think so," Jacob nodded. "What's your point?"
"And you called her impulsive."
He grinned. "And I called you a bi-"
"It's moving!" Lisa shouted happily.
"So I guess no turning back now, huh?" Eric said to Raven.
"Having second thoughts?" she asked.
"More like twenty-second thoughts. But you guys are my friends. I'm not going to abandon you. No matter how much I really should. You?"
"Nope. No doubt in my mind about this. Feels like I'm saying goodbye to all the garbage in my past, and getting a fresh start on life."
As the train pulled away from the station, the others felt much the same. They watched the city they'd grown up in pass by and fade out of view, and imagined they left their emotional baggage behind.
It was a brand new day for all of them, and they all planned to make the most of it.