Disclaimers: This work of fiction belongs to December Morning Owl. Do not distribute without consent from my person.

Chapter 1

            It is just another bright day in this little town. The sun is flaring through the windows with all its might and cooking our History class like a bunch of gingerbread men in an oven. I heard a question asked from one of my acquaintances from a few rows behind me. I was safe to say everyone was an acquaintance, since I had no enemies. I whispered the answer, not that the volume was necessarily. The history teacher did not mind us fighting, gossiping, whistling or any other forms of distraction we could think of to keep our attention away from him, and staying conscious. The only reason for this was because even he found himself extremely boring.

            I always chose to stare out of the window only because it was better than staring at a new hairstyle again. The girl in front of me never failed to amaze me with different ways of fixing her hair into complicated knots. Her name was, Julian I think, although "jewels" would have been a better choice due to the amount of bangles she had on each wrist today. She also had an ability to sense gossips, and get to it before everyone else.

            " Did you hear about Laura and David when…" or " Did you see that new…" or " Did you hear what happened a few minutes ago from somewhere a few miles from me that I caught wind of even though I can't possibly have known because it was so far away…" all without taking a breath. I suspected some hidden radar or satellite dish was in that hair, which today was fixed sky high.

            " Captain of the basketball team!" she suddenly turned around and half screeched. I managed a weak smile and tried my best to indicate that she caught my attention. " Do you think you can win your away match today after school?" Now how on Earth did she know about that? I guess I answered that question before.

            " Err… I hope so…" I answered feebly and pretended that I was doing a crippled up worksheet I quickly threw onto the desk. 

            " Always the hardworking one! No wonder you are the smartest guy in the year! If not, the entire school!" Her voice just never seemed to be under a certain 'high' frequency and it had a paralysing effect on me most of the time. I wished for her to stop that half-squeal once in a while.

            " What's the answer to question four!" another "acquaintance" asked from behind me. I was saved by the bell and reached for salvation before anyone else dreamed of moving – they were trying to wake up from their peaceful slumber.

            I dashed swiftly and elegantly down the corridor, with several unknown faces calling my name and waving. Another thing that never failed to amaze me was that everyone seemed to know me, at least my name. Even the teachers knew I am the guy with a sandwich for lunch everyday. However, there were always exceptions.

            " I see you are the first one here… err… Jimmy?" Mr Corcoran, the music teacher, fixed his half mooned spectacles as he tried his best to ramble through all of his memories – I would like to call them somewhat "disorganised". I sat myself down at a keyboard absentmindedly and muttered an answer. I gave up trying long ago, he would only forget it the second afterwards.

            I slide my fingers up and down the black and white keys, trying to flex my joints from their white knuckles. After a brief practice of the C-minor scale, I began to play the exact piece I played everyday. The song was called – "Untitled". It held a lot of sentimental value for it was a piece that a… friend, had taught me. I was not told the name of it, but it had been so long ago. My fingers moved automatically as I fell into every note and interval through the earphones.

            " The master, Beethoven, is once again on his keyboard!" an envious classmate exclaimed as she entered the room.

            " OH! So that's his name! Sorry about that Beethoven… I was sure I knew someone else with that name…" I continued being carried off in my song, ignoring my surroundings as the room filled up. My favourite was actually Bach, though I could find no piece of his better than this. The rest of the lesson was spent learning different musical concepts, which I was familiar with since the start of the year. It gave me time to prepare myself mentally for the game after school. The irritating bell finally rang.

            " Go get'em!" the coach shouted at us, a little aggressively. I knew better than to stand in front of him, unlike that new kid who found himself now completely soaked. Before I knew it, I was already on the court, dribbling in zigzags through the opposition. I had a knack for speed but I did not feel like going past the three-point line. A satisfying "whoosh" was heard and the first three points were won.

            The newly formed cheerleading squad did a clumsy sort of dance. Most of my team goggled at it, for obvious reasons. I particularly found it disgraceful, especially after the other team took the chance to do a show-off dunk. Sooner than I knew it, the game was finished and we won - marginally due to the lack of concentration from my team. The cheerleading squad advanced towards me, which my teammates only too gladly diverted for me. I was shaking my head as I entered the changing rooms.

            " Nice game," one of the team members gave me a thumb-up as he entered.

            " You guys actually noticed there was a game on?" I sneered.

            " Yo chill out," Mike walked to the bench across from me, trying to get his breath back. Beside me, he was the one who played more than the others did in the team. " Just because you are an asexual that doesn't mean we have to follow you."

            " First I'm not asexual and second, you don't see the other team being distracted! They were the most experienced team in this league and I was surprised they hardly laughed at the moves our cheerleaders made…"

            " OK! Stop your moaning already. I know the team couldn't have done it without you captain," Mike gave me another thumb-up sign along with a clicking noise he does with the side of his mouth. It was his trademark gesture. I simply replied with a sigh, showing my displeasure. Mike was always the carefree, joking maniac; I could not remember him as anything different. However, the guy was the best shooting guard, dominating our left side court – before the cheerleaders came in that is.

            " Basketball is a team game! Plus, I'm not that great," I was once again cut off before I could continue.

            " Yes, you are that great. That's why you are the captain. Look, I understand what you mean, but the team just doesn't want those new cheerleaders to think they've done a bad job ok? A little encouragement, that's all."

            " Funny a little encouragement could last so long that I'm ready to go while none of them has even thought of changing yet," I rolled my eyes and decided to drop the topic at whatever excuses Mike put up next. He was a sharp-witted guy, changing and drifting around girlfriends as much as he changed his clothes – maybe even a little more frequent. He already started looking for new targets elsewhere after his targets were all used up from our school within the first two years there. I had a strange feeling he would go countrywide soon.

            " Why can't you just pick a girl to put onto your arm like what everyone else in their right minds are trying?" Mike exclaimed. I knew clearly where this topic was taking me, and was not liking it. " I mean, I've known you long enough to know you are interested in girls?" I frowned at the mock uncertainty in his voice.

            " Can't your drop it?" I stuffed everything into my sports bag rashly as Mike continued not to shut up.

            " Why do you always do that when we come to this topic? I understand how some of those cheerleaders would not even meet my standards - forget about whatever level yours could be. But you can take any girl from any level in our school, if not the whole town after those newspaper incidents!"

            " I admit I was on the local news twice for saving a cat off a tree and catching a half-starved and mellow escaped convict, I kind of felt sorry for that old guy… that does not mean I'm famous!" I almost ran away screaming when I first saw that criminal's face. I was lucky he almost begged me to kill him, the poor man. Fifty years old and all that he wanted were to see his kids.

            " You're the captain of the basketball team who won the league cup last year; you're the smartest guy in our year, proven by the award you had last year; you are approved by all art and music teachers, you don't know how many times I had to listen to Mr Frazer moan about how your dropped art. You are a physically, mentally and artistically charged babe magnet! Hey where did he go?"

            I vaguely heard him as I turned the corner, through the door and headed away from the basketball court. My house was close enough for me to walk home, which proved to be a lucky day for me to avoid Mike's rants. He would forget it by tomorrow. Unfortunately, I would not.

            I brushed my mess of hair back, not that it mattered because they were thick and strong enough to go back into place. The autumn leaves blew around me in a mini-tornado, all thanks to the power of nature. Due also to the power of nature, I began to recite another infamous soliloquy of mines that were all similar.

            " Fame and fortune, what everyone wants. I may not have those, nor am I desperate, but I do not feel life should be satisfied with just these artifices. I am tired of being alone. No, not alone but lonely. I mean, who doesn't want someone to be there to comfort and help you when you are down? Who doesn't want to care and feel deeply for someone? I know I do… Then why am I just standing still like a rock as the world waltz by? Things are changing each second and I will…

            " Regret… when it's too late," I pulled the sides of my windbreaker together and sighed. My hair, long enough to just reach the top of my eyebrows petted my forehead out of sympathy. Within all the emotions: joy, defeat, hate, despair… the one that hurts the most is regret.

            " Have I not already learnt my lesson once before? I was too late to understand what I had to do… Before I knew it, my chance was gone, like a melody in the wind. What if this happens to me again? What if this was just like the last time, where I will once again suffer for missing a chance?"

            Small droplets of rain began to rain down on me. They said the rain is never cold when you are young; I ran into my house shivering. As the warmth greeted me, it only raised my frown. I had gotten used to being cold and aloof… Maybe I was scared to change? Maybe even unable to change… I shook my head to dry my hair a little, and also to throw other things out of my mind. The sun behind the clouds continued its journey west, as I started my journey towards bed.

            I hit my head on the desk, yawned and rubbed my eye with one hand while smoothing my sore head with the other. Another typical morning in my sad little diary, if I had one. Secrets and feelings should be kept hidden inside, writing them down would be foolish. One would only leave a weakness to be exploited once the writings were discovered. I yawned again.

            " Gonna you stop it!" Damien's annoyed look bore down on the back of head. Great, another Leo. Why are they always like that? So arrogant, yet totally blinded to their own incompetence. I could almost see him stepping all over me like a carpet if he ever had a chance. The only thing, or rather things, that kept him from doing so were my popularity, intelligence and the strength to start an "aggressive discussion". Aggressive of course being physical, though the Leo would never admit that he could be beaten.

            " If you don't stop I'm gonna kick…" I stopped him with a noise half way between a moan and a growl. He only managed to feed his little ego upon me because of one little aspect that he triumphed over me at. " No wonder you can't getta girl. They'll all scream and run away!"

            That was exactly it. Sometimes, his sense of self bothered me to no end because he could never see his faults. On the other hand, if one simple girl could mesmerize him to regard his position higher than the sky… I wish I could experience this. My eyes abruptly snapped wide opened and narrowed. The boy watching us jumped in surprise.

            " I know, I know, but he's not that ugly!" Damien attempted to joke. I ignored this and remorse at the image I had of a single individual in my head. These similar events always provoked me into the same thought pattern of internal struggle. Was she only a substitute I choose at random to burrow my regret? The regret of being too late to speak my thoughts…

            " Shut up," I whispered sternly at Damien. My patients were wearing thin. I kept my silence afterwards, while observing my surroundings. People often said I looked stoned on drugs, if only I was. I was merely wearing a cursed mask, void of any emotions, while my thoughts tumbled rashly beneath it like a storm. If a poet were to describe my social exterior, the best metaphor would be an owl.

            The bell rang as I got up and idly drifted towards my first class. Moving through the corridors, along with the rest of the school, the masses of hair and people made it hard to see beyond a few metres – just like the darkness. However, I was used to these surroundings. Through my lazy eyes and ears, I lifted my left arm and allowed several small kids to rush past from behind. As I flowed down the staircase, with my back against the wall, I braced myself to the Mexican Wave someone was trying to start. Due to my knowledge of this school and a fit of mad chuckles from above, I looked up just in time to dodge a falling cola can, which unfortunately was half empty and spilled over a certain girl down next floor. I swiftly opened the other side of the swing doors on the landing as the others tried squeezing through the other side. Sometimes, it amazed me to see the same things happening each day.

            I glided into my English room and landed myself onto a chair. Out of habit, I read what was on the board. By reading just a few words, I understood the lesson plans and hit my head on the desk in frustration – same old thing again. I noticed a special individual walk past me, sitting down at her desk. I chose to remain with my head on the desk, once again pondering about her. Am I just tired and wanted someone, anyone, to be with me?

            " Where did you rush off to yesterday?" Mike slapped the back of my head. I frowned at him as he sat down next to me. " Probably not to your girlfriend – since you don't have one. Now when are you gonna settle down and…" On he went with his fake tone that sounded like a worried mother.

            " Oh, that topic again," Kevin arrived a few minutes later. " I would just go out with someone so you can get him to shut up!" Kevin was some type of music freak. His hair reminded me of a flag: blue, black and white hair dye divided his hair into thirds. I guessed his natural hair colour was a dark colour because no light seemed to be able to shine through the middle region, which was the black hair dye. Either that or he was covered with so much dye his genuine article was totally lost.

            " Yeah, you should. Just to get him off yours and our backs," the Square was completed as the last member, Elf, walked in. He was a plump boy with very pointy ears, hence came the nickname. Like most people with his appearance, he was kind and quiet, the prime nominee for Santa. However, his social skills were recognisable along with his intellect. To sum it up, his high school status was a popular geek.

            " Whatever," I looked sideways to avoid eye contact. Unfortunately, it was to the direction of Julian, who was just across the channel of desks. Today, her hair was curly and filled with different sorts of gold and silver clips. She also had glitter on her face, making her look stunning by normal standards. Mike caught this as a chance for him to match-make.

            " Hey, she doesn't look half bad now does she?" he made that trademark clicking sound again as he nudged my arm. I inwardly groaned and asked myself another usual question.

            Do these people have anything else to think about other than this subject?

Then I realised my hypocrisy and told my inner voice to shut up.

            " No, she doesn't," I did not want to lie and I was positive Mike would manage to attack from a new approach even if I disagreed. But I now had the truth on my side. " Why don't you ask her out then?" I tried to counter his assault with this messily little punch. However, Mike had his new trap set and ready in these few seconds.

            " I am talking about Julian you know," Mike whispered in my ear.

            " I know you were talking about Julian…" My inner self who I told to shut up a while ago got his revenge. He did not remind me of Julian's sensitivity to her name. Julian immediately spun her head round with eyes filled with interest.

            " Did someone mention my name?" I inwardly rubbed my sore knee as my inner self kicked me for pulling him into this.

            " Yeah, he just said you looked great!" Kevin began to join in pointing at me with a sly grin. This does not look good… Look what you've gotten me into! Sorry… Sometimes I hated it when I was right – almost as much as I hated Mike's craftiness. My internal debate was cut short as we both trembled at the high-pitched squeal. Of course, one was in my spine and the other was visibly clear to the Square. Mike, Kevin and Elf jeered silently.

            " Thannkk yyooou!" I was more than paralysed from her voice. This would make an awesome attack for an RPG game, maybe I should consider contacting Squaresoft. I was saved as the teacher started complaining about her workload to the class again. I looked, from the side of my eye this time, to the girl sitting behind Julian. She was talking to her friend, probably oblivious to the events that just occurred. I sighed silently.

            You are an idiot. Why don't you take your friends' advice and make a move on her. I've had enough of her running around in here! The voice in my head yelled out. I was about to reply mentally. I know exactly what you are thinking! You know you will feel like you are just using her to forget the past. How you were too late in the past to voice your feelings, now regretting it greatly. But can't you see that if you let this chance go, the same thing can happen again!

            I furrowed my brows. A long time had past since Ashley left. Without knowing my feelings. I cursed myself for being an idiot in the past. I used to imagine myself telling Ashley in all kinds of scenes how I felt about her. In reality, I could not. I remember the last day I saw her. I was so close to opening my mouth, voicing my emotions. I was standing trembling in front of her. Her face was innocent and sweet. Her eyes curious at what I was about to tell her as a parting gift. My mind was travelling at light speed without going anywhere. My eyes were wandering all over her face, planning to burn every detail into my brain. My heart was like a boom box. Through my internal struggles, I managed to choke out – good-bye. She smiled, whispered her thanks, and left. I stared defeated at her figure, walking away.

            Walking out of my life.

            I wanted to shout stop. My trembling lips could not fulfil my wish. I stood alone as the wind rushed past me. It almost urged me to chase after her. Instead, I turned around, and struggled against the wind in the opposite direction. After what seemed like an eternity, I looked up at a church with its stain glass windows high above me. The usual peaceful feeling it typically brought was forced away as my inner eye saw them shatter before me – like my heart. I bowed my head to face the ground and saw droplets of liquid landing on the ground. I had wondered if they were my tears, or the rain that began to fall at the time. Even as the rain grew heavier, I still could not tell the difference.

            Now, just a few metres from me, was a girl. She was caring, charming, pretty, but most of all… special. She reminded me of Ashley. An old feeling had recently risen and it rushed through my veins continuously once again. Was this the same feeling I experienced in the past? Which made me weak and vulnerable. Or was this just an illusion my head projected with the help of loneliness and foolishness?

            Why would I bother doing this to you? You are such an…

            " Idiot…" I finished my mind's statement with the ghost of a whisper.

            " What?" Mike asked, questioning his ears.

            " Nothing," I replied facing him. My mask of emotion, or lack of it, covered all my thoughts from everyone. Was the mask really a gift, or a curse?

            The sun was shining at lunch. The Square was sitting on an old picnic table outside. Mike was bathing in the sun, telling us not to disturb his tanning. It was impossible since he was laying on top of the actual table in front of us. Kevin was as ignorant as ever and if there was a yearbook, "ignorant is blessed" was great to use on him. He might have a high IQ, but his common sense was in a desperate state. He could act as if nothing had ever happened even after a bomb had landed a few inches away from him. This could play to his advantage, shown as he began to lie his lunch on top of Mike's stomach.

            " I sure hope you're not putting my hand in your sandwich Kev," Mike hesitated when he seemed to have felt something wet on his trousers.

            " My bad," Kevin spoke sheepishly as Mike found Kevin's chocolate milk were spilled on a very awkward position of his body. Mike screamed and sped away to the toilets.

            " I really won't go in there if I was him," Elf managed to say softly before another scream was heard from Mike's direction.

            " Yeah, it's common knowledge that the toilets and its taps shared the same pipe," I composedly placed my bag on where Mike was laying not long before.

            " You all are so gonna pay for this… You hear me!" Mike returned and roared threateningly. Kevin continued to eat his sandwich as Elf tapped a tune with his fork. I listened to the birds chirping lightly on a nearby tree branch. " Just you wait you…" A string of curses erupted from his mouth, causing damage to any tender ears near by. When he finally stopped with a grin on his face, we all knew he had used all that time to plot his revenge.

            " Where are you guys going? Hey, come back here!" Mike shouted as members of the Square dashed off in opposite directions before Mike's campaign of revenge could be put into action. I rounded the corner, trying to put as much distance between him and me as possible. I bumped into someone, knocking the person to the ground and rolling away for a few metres. I almost bowed in shame at my own weight before I recognised who it was.

            " Hey Gavin," I pulled him up effortlessly with my left arm. This was the guy who was the weakest in strength, lightest in weight and highest in voice from the whole school. His long hair did not help show his masculine side, if there were any.

            " Thanks," he shakily tucked a few strains of brown hair behind his ears, obviously still recovering. He picked up his bag and Bible from the ground. " I was just reading when you…"

            " Don't worry about it," I kind of felt sorry for him sometimes. Everyone made jokes about him and he was considered openly to be a loser. Unlike others, he did not mind. He once told me he considered strength and violence would not solve problems and only love and compassion could… I dozed off right about then. Apart from his incompetence in defending himself, he was also exploited for his beliefs.

            " Which girl would you like most to pull into your sack Gavin?" a small kid taunted as he walked past. Gavin began to answer after him with a huff.

            " I don't want to and…" I put a hand on his shoulder. I questioned if he had actually gone through puberty, although he told me his actions were backed by religious reasons. He showed no interest in women whatsoever, he said he only loved his God, hence his plan to be celibate. I sighed.

            " Ignore them man," I shook my head.

            " But they need to understand that…" I cut in quickly.

            " Ignore them," we began to walk along the side of the school building. " Are you ever planning to get married?" I asked out of curiosity. As far as I heard, this guy actually went to church every Sunday.

            " Well, I don't know. I do want to have a family, maybe even a kid, adopted of course…" I rolled my eyes inwardly. If he managed to find a girl who would suit him, I would believe all pigs could fly. " …Therefore I consider love is just a higher form of friendship… How would I know if it was there? Oh I would realise it because I consider it would just click…" I turned to him as he left the last part of the syllable hanging in the air.

            Gavin was almost off to another world with the look in his eyes. All the little details on his expression seemed to contribute to the atmosphere around him. It was as if time had suddenly stopped around him. His mouth was half-opened and the size of his blue eyes quadrupled – seemingly hypnotised. There were sweat drops on his forehead, his face as red as an apple. I could almost see his heart trying to burst through his ribcage, especially since he was trembling almost uncontrollably.

            Click? I almost laughed at my mental comment. I slowly turned my head to the directions his eyes were dreamily set, unsure if I should go up to the girl and congratulate her in her success in manipulating a guy that would never…

            " You know a lot of people right? Can you tell me… who is that?" Mostly I would have protested to the first comment, but I was shocked at that moment. Which was not a common thing for me. " Please can you tell me? I beg you!"

            " Err… sure," I managed to utter as the girl disappeared, not out of distance, but behind a significant fraction of the school's male population. " Are you talking about that girl over there? Blonde hair to her shoulder, your height – tall, dressed in a miniskirt and blouse and with the shades hanging on her collar?"

            " Yes," Gavin sighed in that ill way everyone does in his conditions. I only managed to raise an eyebrow as I looked sceptically at him. " Do you know what type of person she likes?" he asked innocently. I almost rolled on the floor laughing. If I knew, I would be murdered for that information. " Do you think she'll like… me?"

            What? I hope you are kidding kid! "What type she likes", that is a joke! Well, that girl there is Vicky Valentines! The connotation of her surname says it all! Guys ranging from ten to twenty-five; living from North to South Hemisphere; own a red Ferrari sports car or a run down skateboard – all got rejected! I heard the record was a second date so far. "Do you think she'll like you", you have no chance whatsoever, especially when you have the nerve to insult my intelligence by asking this question that any new kid in the school could answer! I mean do you know they are planning to clear the roads just for her in case the ambulances can't get through for the next Valentines Day!

            " I really don't know if she will like you or not Gavin," I spoke against that nagging voice in my head that was still speaking. Sometimes, it would be a wise idea to preserve innocence. " I don't think she would be the kind of girl you like. I mean, why lose a forest for a tree? There is this very cute girl going to band camp… hello?"

            I gasped as I watched him march up to the crowd of guys, surrounding his newfound target, with determination radiating passionately. I faced the ground and closed my eyes, unable to watch. The voodoo that she do. My mind joked almost disbelievingly at Vicky's unbelievable charms. I nodded in reply as I prepared my ears for a fit of laughs. However, my calculations could be all wrong. There would be no jeers and I would look up to find… before my mind finished its prediction of a parallel universe, a wave of hilarity erupted from some distance before me.

            " Yep, that could only happen in those sappy romance movies," I sighed and walked away shaking my head. Gavin did not even reach the middle of the circle. The first heartbreak. My heart froze at the word I had unconsciously used. My thoughts reverting back to my own problems. Before I could plunge into my own contemplation, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

            " I need your help," Gavin whispered with a spark of confidence in his eyes. I had almost mistaken them for a blast furnace.