Teenage Drama (Tentative title)

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    Registered User Yoshimitsu27's Avatar
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    Default Teenage Drama (Tentative title)

    Wooo, another fic. Let's see how long I stick with this one.

    Okay, few things to clear up. One, this is set in the later years of high school. It doesn't have a set location, and it combines aspects of both UK and American high schools. It's a HSM-Inspired fic, but it's not a HSM Fanfic.

    Each chapter focuses on a certain character, and I'll be revolving through each character accordingly.


    Chapter 1 - Cody

    Cody was, he figured, the weirdo of his year. He had a few reasons to believe it, too. For one, despite being male, he spent most of his time in the theatre at school, or in the dance studios. Another reason, he wasn't the most popular person ever - most of his friends were in the musical groups, or else other drama geeks. There was a mild dislike of him among the dancers in his year, since he was easily the best dancer and he outdid them all. There was also the fact that his fashion sense wasn't the typical t-shirt and jeans combo that most other boys wore. He liked wearing tighter fitting clothes, or sometimes fancier clothes, just because they looked good on him. And he knew how to accessorise. He was the subject of a few mild crushes.

    His looks certainly didn't hurt that case. While not mind-blowingly gorgeous, he had a certain appeal to him. The way his light brown hair fell messily to his blue eyes. His slightly longer face with a pointed, yet subtle chin. His lithe body, slightly toned from years of dancing.

    Currently, he was sat on a swing at the local park. It was only a short distance from his house, maybe a ten minute walk if he was walking slowly. He was making no attempt to actually swing, just sit there, moving very slightly. Resting his head on the chain, he glanced at his watch, checking the time. Still early. Sometimes he hated coming to the park on his own. It got him thinking. He didn't like thinking that much. There would always be some worry in his head, maybe about a dance exam, or about his social standing, sometimes one of his few friends would be having some kind of emotional turmoil that he had to figure out how to help with.

    Today, though, he was avoiding. It was the first day back at school after summer. He had already gone in to get his mark for the morning, but after glancing at his timetable, he was skiving off his first lesson. Maths. He didn't understand the subject at all, but the school refused to let him drop it. So instead, he just didn't turn up to lessons, and when his exam came he figured trying his best might work. Sighing, he patted his pockets, checking to make sure he had everything. Mobile phone, iPod, car keys, wallet.

    Cody was about to stand up when his phone started buzzing at him. Waiting briefly to count how many buzzes, he pulled it out of his pocket. Phone call. The display read Rachael. Bracing himself for the worst, he answered the call.

    "Hello?" He said tentatively, expecting a tirade. Maybe an angry rant. Or some screaming.

    "Code? Where are you?" Rachael's voice came. It had a bite of impatience to it.

    "At the park. Why?" Cody replied, rubbing his temples with his free hand.

    "Because, if you have a free period you're supposed to be in the library or the common room," Rachael said slowly. Cody smiled a little, in spite of himself.

    "Yeah, but I don't have a free," he replied.

    "Skiving?"

    "Yeah."

    "Maths?"

    "Yeah."

    "You're gonna get caught for that at some point."

    "I told you already," Cody sighed. "They're not gonna do anything about it because I'm shite at it."

    "If you say so." Cody could imagine Rachael rolling her eyes. "Anyway, I have a free, so can we go get some food or something?"

    "Where?"

    "I dunno. What about- oh, hold on." Cody heard rustling from the other end of the line, and Rachael's muffled voice. A teacher must have walked in. Cody grinned to himself. The school still had a no-mobile-phone policy. Some more rustling, then Rachel's voice again. "Never mind, Mr Darby's just been in to tell us to check the bulletin boards at break, and that we-" Cody noticed Rachael included him. "-need to start thinking up what to do for the play this year."

    "I dunno, as long as it involves dancing, I don't mind," Cody said. Rachael was better at thinking of what plays to do.

    "Y'know, maybe you should get involved in the decision making for once, Code," Rachael's insisted. Cody didn't miss the impatience in her voice. "You're the one that wants to be a dancer when you leave school, not me."

    "I know, Rach, you wanna be a singer so you need a singing role and all that jazz."

    "Damn straight. Unlike you."

    "Hey, watch it," Cody scolded jokingly. "Anyone interesting in your free?"

    "Not really. That Danny guy, y'know, the science one."

    "Yeah."

    "Some of the jock gang are around. Pete, Jake and... oh, Damien."

    "Damien?"

    "Yeah, why?"

    "Who else?"

    "Er..." There was a pause. Cody could imagine Rachael looking around the room. "Some of the music group are here. I don't know, why don't you come look? And don't think I missed that."

    "Missed what?"

    "You mentioning Damien," Rachael said. Cody could almost hear her all-knowing voice, even though she clearly didn't know.

    "I did not. That was you," Cody protested.

    "You showed interest."

    "No, I showed surprise. I thought he'd be off trying to perfect some stupid sport move or something."

    "Admit it, you like him."

    "Do not. I don't do sporty guys. Too many muscles."

    "Too much information, Code."

    "Not like that," Cody sighed, rubbing his temples again. "And fine, I'll head into school to talk about the play. Be there in five."

    "What about food?"

    "Wait 'til dinner. It wont kill you. See you soon," Cody said, hanging up. It was still only twenty minutes into the lesson, and school was only a two minute drive away. Instead of heading straight back to school, he went in the other direction to the nearest coffee house. If he didn't get Rachael something, he would have to put up with her complaining until dinner time. It wasn't that he couldn't stand her complaining, it was just that when she started, she tended to never stop. And because he was such a good best friend, he always looked out for her. No one else should be subjected to twenty full minutes about why History lessons are such a waste of time.

    Cody liked Rachael. Not in a romantic way, their relationship was purely platonic. But Rachael was the only person who really listened to him. She was one of the only people to know he was gay. A lot of people suspected, of course, but she was the only person who actually knew. That had its downsides, though. Every time he mentioned a boy more than once, she automatically assumed that he fancied them. More often than not, that was not the case, and he was probably talking about the stupid t-shirt someone was wearing. At the moment, she thought he had a crush on Damien, which simply was not the case. Sure, he had aesthetical appreciation of Damien, but that was about it. He barely knew Damien, and had no intention of going out of his way to change that. Sporty people, as he said, were not his thing.

    Ten minutes later, he pulled up in the school car park, parking his car next to Rachael's hot pink... thing. Cody had no issues with the colour pink, but looking at Rachael's car made him seriously reconsider that. It was nice and all... But seriously, hot pink? Cody thought to himself as he pushed open the double doors and wandered to the common room. He knew Rachael would either be there or in the theatre, and since there was no reason for them to be in the theatre at the moment, it was a no-brainer. He pushed open the door and slipped inside silently. Rachael was... actually doing work? No way. Never thought I'd see that.

    As quietly as he could, he crept around the outside of the room, making 'shushing' gestures at anyone who looked at him, wondering what he was doing. Rachael, still completely oblivious, didn't look up at all. As he crept closer, ready to jump and shout 'boo'...

    "I know you're there, Cody," Rachael stated. Cody frowned.

    "How could you tell?" Cody enquired. "I thought I was perfect."

    "Cody, hun, you're the only person who knows to get me a mocha and a chocolate muffin," Rachael commented simply. "I could smell them when you first walked in."

    "Tch. Fine then," Cody said, defeated. He put the mocha and the muffin down in front of her and dropped into the adjacent seat. "So, whatcha working on?"

    "Stuff for the play," Rachael replied. "Just some criteria for what we need to include."

    "What have you got so far?"

    "Well, dancing, obviously. And singing, so I'm thinking Musical. Plenty of ensemble work, so we can include a bunch of people. I've been looking at different music for musicals and stuff, for something that the band will be able to play," Rachael listed. "A lot of musicals are pretty good as far as music goes. Nothing too difficult, but good enough so that they can show their stuff."

    "Okay, so far so good. Just, promise me no Phantom of the Opera or Les Mis."

    "I know you hate those, so they didn't even cross my mind."

    "And you know what's gonna happen at auditions, right?" Cody asked, just in case Rachael had forgotten.

    "Don't remind me. Diamond."

    "Yep."

    "I don't get it. Why the hell is she still the highest person in the drama club, apart from Miss Griffiths?"

    "Because she can act, sing and dance. And she's damn good at them too," Cody stated, ignoring the death glare he received from Rachael.

    "Cody, are you really gonna sit there and-"

    "No, I'm not gonna sit here and defend her. I hate her. She's a total bitch," Cody said quickly, because Rachael looked like she was still fuming about Diamond. "I know she is. But you can't ignore the fact that she's so full of her self because she has a reason to. She's attractive if you like the whole, fake blond, tits and arse deal, she's confident-"

    "More like arrogant."

    "-and she's suited for theatre. I'm sorry, Rach, but it's true."

    "I know, I know... I just wish Griffiths wouldn't pick her for everything."

    "I know, Rach. I can't stand it either," Cody agreed, his eyes flicking to the door as it opened. Sure enough, none other than Diamond herself walked into the room, her stilletos tapping against the floor with every step. After quickly glancing around the room, she walked straight over to Cody and Rachael, a look of annoyance on her face.

    "Griffiths says you two are in charge of the play this year-" Diamond started, glancing around her as though she was afraid to be seen with Cody and Rachael. Cody could understand why she wouldn't want to be seen with him, but why not Rachael? She was a hell of a lot more popular than Cody was, and she was consistently nice, even if she was a bit difficult sometimes.

    "Yeah, we heard," Rachael said shortly.

    "-so I'm telling you now, if you cock this up and turn it into a farce, so help me God I will find a way to make both of your lives a living hell," she finished, as though there had been no interuption.

    "Can it, Diamond," Rachael snapped back. "Griffiths put us in charge, so we'll run it how we want to."

    "I'm the president of the drama club, and if I want you two kicked out, then all it takes is a quick flash of cash and a few words," Diamond retorted. "Do not mess it up." And with that, she turned, flipping her long, dyed hair behind her and left the room.

    "Don't start, Rachael," Cody yawned. This was going to be one hell of a day.

    *****

    In third period, Cody was sat in his usual seat in his English class. Nearly in the exact middle of the class, sharing a desk with someone he didn't really know. A guy called Chris, who didn't talk much in English. Sighing, Cody prepared himself for a dull lesson. It wasn't a huge class, there were twelve of them, but at least three people had taken the class as a joke subject, just because they needed to fill up space on their timetables. Damien and Diamond had both taken the subject, Rachael hadn't, and some of the other drama geeks had taken it in hopes of improving their understanding of certain set texts.

    "And so, here we are at the start of a new term, a new year," the teacher, Mr Morris, said with surprising enthusiasm. Cody almost admired Mr Morris. He somehow always seemed to have endless enthusiasm for his subject, even when they were studying the most depressing texts known to man. "I hope you're all ready for another fun and exciting year!"

    "What's exciting about reading a bunch of stories?" Damien replied, a slight edge to his voice, as he swept a few strands of his blond hair from his face.

    "Damien, not everyone took this class to piss about," Cody retorted. Damien turned to shoot a glare at Cody, who merely shrugged at him, arms crossed.

    "Cody, watch your language. Damien, if you don't have anything constructive to say, please don't say anything at all. As I was saying, your set text with me this year will be the Kite Runner. I have already sent an order form off for a copy each for everyone. Of course, these copies wont be free, and letters will be sent home soon to inform your parents."

    Cody shifted himself in his seat so he was sat lower, resting his hands on the desk in front of him. The Kite Runner, he mused. I think I've read that one. Which means the theme of the books'll probably be rape, betreyal or friendship. He let his gaze wander around the class to see who was paying attention. Predictably, some people weren't even trying to keep track, instead doodling idly on their paper. Diamond was examining her perfectly manicured nails again. Damien was slouching a bit, kind of scribbling down some notes. On the other side of the room, the drama inclined were taking notes frantically, catching every single one of Mr Morris' words. Next to him, Chris was jotting down something that Cody wasn't entirely sure was related to what Morris was saying.

    "Now, to start the new year, and the topic of the Kite Runner, I want you to work in pairs and come up with a spider diagram of what the book might be about. Obviously, those of you who have read the book will have an advantage, but try not to give much away to those who haven't. You'll be working with the person sitting next to you. Start whenever you're ready."

    Cody sighed again.

    "Something wrong?" Chris asked him.

    "No, but I've read the book and I know exactly what happens," Cody replied, shrugging. "Some kid gets raped and the main character spends the rest of the book in emotional turmoil about it. Gets beaten up too."

    "Yeah, I know. I've read it too," Chris agreed, shaking his head slightly to get rid of some of his black hair from his face. "Once he said Kite Runner, I switched off."

    "So what've you been doing while he's been talking?" Cody asked, interested.

    "Just writing," Chris said dismissively.

    "Writing what? Can I have a look?" Cody enquired. Cody did get interested when it seemed like someone had something to hide. Chris hesitated.

    "Just some lyrics. It's nothing great," Chris answered.

    "Can I see?" Chris hesitated again, then pushed his notepad over to Cody, who looked down.

    "And you raise my heart, higher than the moon," he muttered, reading the lyrics. "Please don't bring it back, not now, it's too soon... this is pretty good."

    "It's nothing special," Chris said, pulling his notepad back. "Just something I've been thinking up all morning."

    "It's good. Do you write songs, then?"

    "Sometimes."

    "why don't you join any of the music clubs? Do you play any instruments?"

    "A few. Piano mostly, sometimes guitar. And me, in a music club?"

    "Yeah, why not?"

    "Because I've heard the musicians in this school. They're really good."

    "So?"

    "So? I can't compare to them."

    "Bet you can."

    It was at that moment when Mr Morris reached them. Cody and Chris had been completely oblivious to him patrolling the classroom until he was stood directly in front of them, looking down to see what they had done.

    "Where's your work, boys?" He asked.

    "Sir," Cody replied. "The Kite Runner's about some selfish kid who spends the entire book moaning about how he's such a jerk for leaving his best friend to suffer. Then he gets beaten up and his best friend's son has to save him."

    "And sir," Chris said, continuing from what Cody had said. "The themes of the book are all about friendship, betreyal, redemption and loyalty. It's told in the first person from Amir's perspective, apart from one chapter when it's Rahim Khan."

    Mr Morris looked at the boys, apparently torn between disciplining them for being so cheeky, or praising them for knowing what they were talking about.

    "Well, write something down so you have something to show for it," he said, settling on a nice mid-point between the two before moving on to the next pair. Cody grinned.

    "Thanks," he said.

    "No problem," Chris replied.

    The rest of the lesson went similarly. Some of the replies about the title had been amusing, including Diamond's "Someone who has horrible hands from too much kite flying" and some jock's "Someone who made a kite with legs". Chris, it turned out, was a very likeable person. After much pleading from Cody, he finally agreed to let the dramatist read a few of his other songs, and received a fair bit of praise about them, too. These are really good. If we'd had this guy in the drama club a few years ago, we'd be doing our own musicals, not ones already made, Cody mused as he read through a song Chris had written when he was, he said, hyper on sugar. However, despite his best efforts, Cody still hadn't managed to convince Chris to join any clubs, and definitely not the drama club. When the bell went, Cody was almost disappointed.

    "Just remember, the drama club's waiting for you," Cody said, grinning and swinging his bag over his shoulder. Chris just rolled his eyes, and Cody left the room, heading for dinner.

    Cody usually left school for dinner, like any student could, so he was actually looking for Rachael instead of heading for the lunch rooms. Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he punched in a quick text message ('rach, meet u outside theatre?'). As soon as he got his reply ('sure'), he changed direction, heading to meet Rachael instead. He couldn't wait to tell her about Chris and his amazing song-writing abilities. If he could get Rachael on board, then she would be able to figure something out to convince him into the drama club. He wheeled round the corner, and found Rachael waiting for him.

    "Took your time, Cody," Rachael said, smirking.

    "The traffic was busy, you wouldn't believe it," Cody replied, taking her comment in his stride. Comments were nothing new to him.

    "So, where to for dinner?" Rachael asked, gesturing to the main doors.

    "Eh, the usual café?" Cody replied. "But anyway, that's not important."

    "Food's not important? Since when?"

    "Well, I guess it is, but that's not the point."

    "But it's dinner, food's always the point."

    "Rachael! Stop contradicting me for a second!" Cody said, maybe a bit louder than he intended. Rachael smirked as she opened the passenger door of Cody's car.

    "Alright, alright, what's got you so excited? Did Damien ask you out?"

    "No, I told you, I'm not interested in him. He's a jerk with too many muscles," Cody replied, starting up the engine and reversing.

    "Then what?"

    "This guy, Chris in my English class-"

    "Did he ask you out?" Rachael interrupted.

    "No. Why are you so interested in my love life? I think Chris is straight, for one," Cody replied, sounding almost exasperated.

    "It's good gossip."

    "Right. Anyway, stop derailing me."

    "Sorry, carry on," Rachael said, grinning.

    "Right, so Chris. I was talking to him in English, 'cause we'd been paired up to do some shitty thing on the Kite Runner, and it turns out he writes songs," Cody explained excitedly.

    "What, like something with no measure and a rhyme every line?" Rachael asked, skeptically.

    "No, like really good songs. He wrote one when he was high on candy, and it was chatting on about kittens and Hitler and the Spanish inquisition and all sorts of random stuff that wasn't connected," Cody continued. "And it worked, because it was just so random. Seriously, Rachael, he's really good."

    "Okay, so, why are you telling me all this?" Rachael asked, still not quite seeing why she should care.

    "Because, if we can get him to join the drama club, we might be able to write our own musicals instead of doing ones we have to research," Cody explained, driving round a corner and keeping an eye out for the sign for the car park.

    "Oh, is that all? So when's he joining?"

    "That's the thing, he doesn't think he's good enough," Cody said, turning the corner on to the car park. "He's adamant that he'll get laughed out of any club he joins."

    "Oh, so he has self-esteem issues," Rachael concluded, opening her door and sliding out of the car.

    "Pretty much," Cody agreed, stepping out of his car and locking the door. The pair of them went quiet for a moment, thinking about how to get Chris to join the drama club as they entered the café.

    As the dinner break progressed, they discussed different plans that might work. As Cody expected, Rachael had some very good ideas about how to convince Chris. Some of them were a bit farfetched ('I know, what about leaving a bunch of riddles he has to solve until he finds his way into the drama club!' 'How would that help?' 'We could tie him up once he gets there and make him join?') but on the whole, she gave Cody a few ideas to work with. The drive back to the school was quiet, but thoughtful as Cody started to consider new plans regarding Chris. There had to be some way to get him to join.

    *****

    Cody found himself in his fifth period class. He had a free period four, so he went to the common room and started some work on the play. Rachael was in her History class, despite much moaning about it. Now, in his Psychology class, he was sat near the back of the room. Psychology was one of the more popular subjects, with seventeen people in this class, and four other classes in the year. Unfortunately for Cody, he had the class with the snobby people, a few jocks, Damien and Damien's best friend, Mickey. Just his luck. Thankfully, he had found a desk to himself, just an empty space to his right.

    "Now, class," the teacher, Miss Barnes, said with her whip-like voice. "You're entering the most difficult year of education, at least as far as Psychology goes. Be aware that if I feel you are not taking the subject seriously, or you're not capable of keeping up with the work, I will have you removed. I expect nothing but hard work from you students. I expect top grades. I expect you, Damien, not to mess about when I am talking."

    Damien looked up sheepishly, dropping the pencil that he had been using in a pencil fight against Mickey. Cody shot Damien a filthy look, but the blonde boy didn't see it.

    "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted," Miss Barnes said, shooting a death glare at Damien. "This year will not be easy. The first term, we will be studying stress and memory. The stress course has a certain degree of biology in it, so any students also studying biology will be at an advantage. Memory is a shorter course compared to stress, so we will be starting with that - and for God's sake Damien, I told you to stop messing about."

    Damien didn't even try to look innocent. He put his ruler back in his pencil case and crossed his arms.

    "Damien, clearly sitting next to Mickey will do you no good. Gather your belongings and move to sit next to Cody," Miss Barnes said. Cody was surprised Damien didn't have cuts on him. Miss Barnes was using what Cody had dubbed her 'pissed off' voice. Grumbling, Damien put all of his stationary and folder into his back and stomped to Cody's desk, dumping his bag on the floor and dropping into his seat.

    "Serves you right," Cody muttered out of the corner of his mouth, eyes still on Miss Barnes.

    "What was that?" Damien growled back.

    "I said, it serves you right," Cody replied, keeping his voice quiet. "Why did you even take this subject?"

    "Because I like psychology? Duh," Damien muttered.

    "Coulda fooled me. You spend all of your time fucking around with Mickey."

    "Would you rather I fucked around with you?" Damien muttered, grinning.

    "Sorry, I've got standards," Cody shot back. Damien looked shocked for a minute, then laughed.

    "Nice one, theatre kid," he replied, no trace of sarcasm or malice in his voice. Cody spared a glance at Damien, who was grinning. Now he was confused. Damien, the jock, the guy who wouldn't be caught dead associating with a dramatist, the guy who spent more time in school messing around, just laughed at something he had said? Cody kept his eyes on Miss Barnes, trying to take in what she was saying. It half worked. One part of his brain was too preoccupied with Damien to focus, though.

    "Now, I want you to work in pairs and look at page three of your booklets. Read through, then discuss the questions."

    Cody sighed. What was with teachers this term and working in pairs? Silently, he opened his booklet and started reading through the information. Someone who had taken a nasty fall and banged his head. Woke up with no memory. A few details about how the brain worked, at least as far as memory went.

    "So, what, we're analyzing someone who was stupid enough to bang his head?" Damien asked. Cody just rolled his eyes. "Hey, it was a joke. Chill."

    "He banged his head and it damaged the part of his brain that controls memory. What more is there to it than that?" Cody asked, more to himself than Damien, as he scanned the questions. "What? List ten things I wouldn't do if I had amnesia?"

    "I think it means ten things you normally do," Damien supplied.

    "Right. Well, I wouldn't know who the hell it was shouting me out of bed," Cody said.

    "I wouldn't know how to make toast," Damien commented.

    "Or coffee," Cody replied.

    "Or why the hell some jocky kid is banging on the door for me."

    "Or what a Jock was in the first place."

    "Or what the hell I'm supposed to be doing with some weird bouncing ball," Damien said, nodding.

    "Speaking of weird, this is weird," Cody commented.

    "What is?" Damien asked, frowning.

    "This. Why are we talking?" Cody enquired.

    "Because we have to?" Damien answered slowly. "Why? D'you not like me or something?"

    "Damien, I spend half of my time shouting at you for being a prat in lessons," Cody replied. Damien just shrugged. "Why would you think I liked you?"

    "Because I'm me?" Damien suggested. "I'm popular. That's not meant to sound bigheaded, but it's true. People like me. Why should I assume someone doesn't?"

    "Because not everyone does like you," Cody answered. "You didn't clock on anywhere that, apart from having a go, I've never said anything to you before?"

    "I dunno. I don't stop to think about stuff like that," Damien said, shrugging. "Seriously dude, chill. I think you're taking the warring cliques a bit too far." Cody just snorted. "Theatre kid, I don't mean to act like a jerk."

    "Sure. You do a good job of it," Cody replied.

    "Can't you ease up, just a bit? I'm sat here permanently, we may as well try to get along," Damien said, sighing. Cody considered it for a moment.

    "Fine. But I'd better get some goddamn roses or an award or something for this," Cody said, writing down a couple of notes. They fell into a somewhat awkward silence while they answered the questions.

    *****

    The front door clicked shut, and Cody kicked off his shoes, stowing them under the stairs. Finally, home sweet home. All things considered, it hadn't been too bad a first day back. It wasn't fantastic, but it wasn't bad either. Sure, Chris had been a surprise, and kind-of making peace with Damien was borderline shocking. Maybe, just maybe, this school year would be just about bearable.

  2. #2
    Registered User Yoshimitsu27's Avatar
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    Double post. Suck it.


    Chapter 2 - Damien

    Damien was definitely one of the more popular people in school. That came with being one of the more sporty people, he figured. He was on plenty of the school sports teams. His favourites were basketball, soccer and tennis, though he was also on the badminton, baseball and volleyball teams. It kept him busy at dinnertime and after school, and because of all of the extra exercise he was doing, he was in pretty good shape. While Cody may have been subject to some crushes, he had girls fawning over him all over the place. It was both a blessing and a curse, he had said more than once before.

    Some of these crushes didn't just come from his appearence, though a lot of them did. He was usually a genuinely nice person. He didn't let all of the pressure to be a bit of a jerk, to take the mick out of younger students get to him. He very rarely had a bad word to say about anyone. The only nice thing he didn't do was go out of his way to help people. That wasn't out of spite, though. It was just him being lazy. Sometimes, it was a wonder he made it to school on time.

    As soon as his alarm went off, he groaned and rolled over to check the time. For some reason, he set his alarm at least half an hour before he actually had to get up. Grumbling incoherently, he hit his alarm clock vaguely, managing to hit the off button on his third attempt, then rolled out of bed looking a bit rough. Mornings were not his thing. But, he figured, there was no sense in being late during the first week. And if he got into school early enough, he could hit the gym for half an hour before lessons. Still half-awake, he made his way to the bathroom for a shower.

    Fifteen minutes later, he was sat in his car. Only a quick shower, he had decided, so that he had time to hit the gym for a bit. It also gave him time to make sure his car was running properly, since he knew there was something wrong with it, he just didn't know what. It made a few very unhealthy sounds when it started up or accelerated, and sometimes refused to go faster than twenty miles per hour. Today, it was just complaining at him for driving it, not protesting in every way it could. At a red light, he braked, the car screeching a bit more than it should.

    "I've gotta figure out how this thing's broken," he muttered to himself, looking down at the bonnet, as if it might give him some clues. Sighing to himself, he shoved his foot on the accelerator and continued his way to school when the lights turned green again.

    It was slightly surprising just how many people were at school so early in the morning. He glanced at his watch, seeing that there was still an hour before school officially started. He immediately recognised Rachael's hot pink car. It was kind of hard to miss it. Next to it was someone's light blue car that he vaguely recognised, but didn't know who owned it. A few of the teachers' cars were there too. He walked up the steps to the main entrance, and went for his locker, which was on the next floor.

    "Hey theatre kid," Damien greeted as he approached his locker. Cody was stood a few lockers down, pulling a couple of books out.

    "Damien," Cody replied, looking surprised to see him. "What're you doing here?"

    "I'm at my locker," Damien said, knocking on his locker. He twirled the dial and opened it. "Or did you mean why am I here so early?"

    "Eh, take your pick," Cody replied non-commitally, shrugging and rummaging through his locker again.

    "'Cause I figured I could get half an hour in the gym before school started," Damien explained, shoving his bag unceremoniously into his locker and slamming the door shut. "What about you?"

    "Couldn't sleep. Figured I may as well come into school, since I was awake," Cody replied, glancing at Damien again. "Figured I could get some work done on the play."

    "Oh yeah, you're in the drama club, aren't you?"

    "No, I'm totally one of the scientists."

    "Hey, chill. Seriously. Why so sarcastic towards me?" Damien asked. Cody opened his mouth, about to retort, but nothing came to mind. He didn't really have a reason. "I'm not that bad a guy, y'know."

    "If you say so," Cody agreed vaguely.

    "Hey, you wanna come to the gym? I could use someone to practice with."

    "Practice what, exactly?"

    "Dunno. Basketball? Maybe tennis?" Cody considered it for a moment.

    "Maybe next time. I've really gotta work on the play," he replied, closing his locker and swinging his bag over his shoulders.

    "Alright, I'll hold you to that. Later, theatre kid," Damien said, turning and heading to the gym. Cody wasn't that bad a guy, but he didn't understand why the dramatist didn't like him. He was plenty likeable. Shaking his head, he pushed open the doors to the changing room.

    Damien held the record for the fastest time getting changed, so no longer than thirty seconds later, he was in the gym, tennis racket in one hand, ball in the other. Just some basic stuff, he decided. Hit the ball against the wall for a bit, then practice his serving skills. Taking a deep breath, he threw the ball up and smacked it as hard as he could. It bounced off the wall and flew back at him. Moving quickly, he lunged at the ball and hit it again.

    *****

    First period class, Damien was sat in Maths, not even trying to pay attention any more. On the desk in front of him, his maths book was covered in scribbles from hours of really-not-paying-attention. The teacher stopped trying to make him work when his last three tests held the record of 'lowest test scores ever'. Damien guessed he should be proud. No other student in history had managed to score negative marks on a test, but somehow, he had done it. The only reason he even turned up to class was to protect his attendance. 'Perfect Attendance' would go down nicely when he tried to get a job. Being such a bad student had its downsides though - he had been put in a seat, by himself, at the back of the classroom so that he wouldn't distract anyone.

    A knock on the door distracted him from his mindless doodle session, and his eyes snapped up to see just who was disrupting the class. To his surprise, Cody walked in, book under his arm and a letter in his hand. Despite the scowl on his face, he didn't look that bad. Damien almost admired Cody's style. Somehow, he always suited what he wore. Today it was a simple pair of black skinny jeans, a light grey top and some matching shoes. Without saying a word, Cody handed over the letter and waited for a response. The teacher had given up on Cody, too, apparently. All he did was glance at the letter, then nod at the spare seat next to Damien.

    "Hey theatre kid," Damien greeted quietly, putting the lid back on his pen as Cody threw his bag on the table and dropped into his seat.

    "Hey Damien," Cody replied, glaring at the teacher. Damien thought that Cody was trying to set the unfortunate man on fire with his mind.

    "What happened? How come you're late?" Damien asked conversationally.

    "Head of year told me I have to turn up, even if I don't do the work," Cody explained, sounding very annoyed. "And I still have to sit the exam."

    "That sucks," Damien replied, clapping Cody on the shoulder. "Look at the bright side, now you can come and be bored with me."

    "Yeah, 'cause I wouldn't rather have a free period," Cody replied dismissively. He pulled a notepad out of his bag.

    "C'mon, I need some company."

    "How come you were sat on your own anyway?" Cody flicked through his notepad. Damien glanced at it, noticing that he had a hell of a lot of notes.

    "So I don't distract anyone."

    "Oh."

    "What're you writing anyway?" Damien asked, peering over Cody's arm so that he could see what was written.

    "Just listing different musicals that we could do. Y'know, the one me and Rachael are organising."

    "Oh, cool," Damien said, looking down the list. "No Phantom of the Opera?"

    "I hate Phantom of the Opera."

    "Yeah, it kinda sucks. I watched Wicked last year, why not try that?"

    "You watched Wicked?"

    "Yeah."

    "Family trip?"

    "Nah, for fun."

    "Oh..." Cody said, clearly slightly surprised. "Well, maybe."

    The pair fell into silence, but it was comfortable, unlike the one from Psychology. Damien wasn't even remotely fazed by Cody's attitude. As far as he was concerned, since he was sitting next to the boy in two classes for a year, he may as well try to get along with him. And, even if the theatre kid was being difficult, he was alright really. But Damien couldn't figure out what this negative attitude towards him was. He was likable, wasn't he? And he didn't really talk about people negatively? Whatever the case was, he was sure he could change it.

    "By the way, what are the requirements to join the drama club?" Damien asked conversationally.

    "What?"

    "I said, what do I gotta be able to do to join your dramatist thing?" Cody just rolled his eyes. "Hey, sorry, didn't mean to offend you."

    "No, it's fine," Cody replied, but he didn't sound like he thought it was fine at all.

    "Are you pissed 'cause I called it a dramatist thing?"

    "No... it's just..." Cody began.

    "What?"

    "I mean... I love drama. And I love dancing. And it just kinda bugs me when people don't take them seriously."

    "Sorry man, I didn't realise..." Damien said again, feeling like a jerk now. He didn't mean to offend Cody at all.

    "No, it's fine. Seriously."

    They both stopped talking again. Damien really didn't mean to sound like a jerk. He had been genuinely interested in the drama club, even if he wasn't that interested in joining it. He made a promise to himself to sneak into one of the club meetings just to see what happened. Just as he was deciding on how best to do that, Cody spoke again.

    "By the way... To join, you've just gotta have an interest in performing. I'm in it for the dance. Rachael's in it for the singing. Diamond's in it... well, because she's a diva."

    "You can say that again," Damien agreed, grinning.

    *****

    Damien swore internally as Mickey broke past his defense, ran to the net and executed a perfect lay-up, the basketball sinking into the net without even touching the rim. Jogging to grab the ball and start play again, Damien glanced around to see who was in a decent position. After finally deciding on no one, he dribbled the ball across half the court before being blocked by Mickey again.

    "C'mon Mickey, you know you're no match for me," Damien taunted.

    "Says the guy who just got served?" Mickey replied.

    "Yeah, but I'm not the guy that's about to fall for the simplest trick in the book," Damien said, bouncing the ball between his legs, sending it behind him to his nearest team mate. Shooting Mickey a smirk, he dodged around him and ran up the rest of the court, jumping and gesturing to his team mate. As soon as he got the ball again, he threw it into the hoop, scoring his team another point.

    "That was a cheap trick, Damien," Mickey accused as play started again.

    "Not my fault you fall for it every time," Damien replied, grinning and stealing the ball. From half way across the court, he threw the ball and scored another point. As the ball sunk through the net, the coach blew his whistle, signalling end of play.

    "Good game, guys! If you keep this up, the championship's ours!" He encouraged enthusiastically. Despite the fact that he said something similar at the end of every training session, the basketball team couldn't help but feel proud of themselves. Grinning and doing the typical manly back-slap and man-hugging that always happened at the end of a training session. Making their way to the showers, most of the team discussed different tactics, but Mickey and Damien were having a completely different conversation.

    "Dude," Mickey said. That was how he typically started conversations, especially with Damien. "What's going on with that Cody guy?"

    "What d'you mean?" Damien asked, pulling his basketball jersey over his head. Training hadn't been that intensive today, so Damien didn't bother showering. He just put a ridiculous amount of deodorant on.

    "How come you're hanging around with him loads?" Mickey asked, following Damien's lead and just making sure he didn't stink of sweat.

    "I'm not? I sit next to him in a couple of classes," Damien replied. "Why?"

    "Dunno, just what people've been saying," Mickey said, as if that was an explanation. "What's he like?"

    "He's alright. He doesn't like me much, but he doesn't hate me either, so whatever," Damien answered, shrugging and stuffing all of his basketball stuff into his locker.

    "Oooh, someone doesn't like Damien the great! Alert the presses!" Mickey mocked sarcastically.

    "I know, it's a big deal, isn't it?" Damien replied, taking Mickey's comment in his stride. He grabbed his bag and hitched it up to his shoulder. "But seriously, he's not that bad. Bit touchy sometimes, but everyone can be."

    "Touchy?" Damien knew exactly what Mickey was implying.

    "Emotional, you ass."

    "Sure he is."

    *****

    Finally, Damien found himself in his free period for the day. The morning, aside from the maths lessons, had dragged on forever. In his dinner break, he and Mickey had gone to play some tennis, so between that and showering afterwards, he hadn't eaten anything yet. Thankfully, the cafeteria was still open for the first half of his free, so he settled in to a random seat in the common room with one of the few sandwiches left. Chicken with a bit of lettuce. Grinning to himself, he took a large bite out of the sandwich, and let his gaze wander around the common room.

    One thing that bugged him a bit about his free periods was that he had taken different subjects to most of his friends, so he was usually left kind of on his own. Only kind of, because he was basically friends with everyone, but none of his closer friends shared any frees with him. Mickey was probably in his business studies lesson or something, the rest of the basketball team in other similar lessons, none of his other sporting friends were free and he didn't really talk to anyone in his other lessons.

    Damien's eyes fell on to a notepad, abandoned on a table. Taking another bite of his sandwich, he stood up and looked at it. He was sure he recognised it, but he couldn't decide where he had seen it before. Despite knowing it was probably the definition of rude to look at it, he opened it up and glanced for a name somewhere. Nothing. Figuring he might recognise the handwriting, he started to flick through it, hoping there might be some kind of clue as to who it belonged to. Nothing for the first few pages.

    "Who'd just leave their notepad lying around?" He muttered to himself, finishing his sandwich and regretting not buying a drink. Turning another page, he finally found something familiar. A list. Not just any list, either. A list of musicals. Quickly scanning the list, based on his hunch, he looked for 'Phantom of the Opera'. It wasn't there. Something else on the page did catch his attention, though. The last musical listed was Wicked, and it had a star next to it. Smirking slightly, he picked up the notepad, then glanced at his timetable.

    "No more lessons with him... guess I've gotta go find him," he decided, leaving the common room. That was a lot easier said than done, apparently. After checking at reception, it turned out that Cody also had a free period, he was just choosing not to spend it in the common room. His first thought was that Cody had left school, so he went to check the car park, remembering that the theatre kid drove the light blue car. The car was still there, as was Rachael's, so Damien figured he must still be in the school somewhere. After racking his brains for a moment, he concluded that Cody must have been in the theatre, and set off in that direction.

    As soon as he got close to the theatre, he could hear something. Someone, rather. Someone singing. It was a male voice, he could tell that much, and whoever he was, he could damn well sing. The singing got louder as he approached the theatre and, not wanting to put whoever was singing off, he entered the rather spatious hall as quietly as possible, making sure the door did not slam behind him. Turning towards the stage, he saw three people. The first he recognised as the back of Rachael's head, where she had a quantity of natural dirty blonde hair, with whom he got along with fairly well. She was sat on the front row of the stalls, watching the stage. The second was someone he did not recognise, but he figured this guy had to be in their year because he looked about their age. Damien vaguely remembered him sitting behind him in one of his classes. And the third person, he recognised as Cody. And Cody was the one singing.

    Still not wanting to distract the theatre kid, he stayed close to the door, just out of sight. As the song progressed, Damien became increasingly aware of everything that was happening on stage. As Cody was singing, he was moving to the beat. Not dancing, just kind of... moving. And the guy playing the piano, even at this distance Damien could tell that his eyes were closed. He was definitely a pro at playing the piano, even Damien could see that. He was so distracted by what was happening that he did not register that the song was over until someone addressed him directly.

    "Are you finished skulking near the back, Damien?" Cody asked loudly, his voice carrying easily. Damien grinned sheepishly, and stepped out of the shadows, arms raised in a 'surrender' gesture.

    "Sorry, I didn't mean to be all creeper-stalker," Damien replied, walking down the aisle between the stalls. "How's it going?"

    "How long were you stood there?" Cody asked, hopping down from the stage.

    "Not that long. I think I came in at the beginning of the song," Damien admitted. "You're a pretty good singer, y'know."

    "Thanks. I wish I could take all the credit, but Chris wrote the song," Cody said, gesturing to the guy that was playing the piano. Chris acknowledged this with a half-hearted wave in Damien's direction.

    "It was really good," Damien said, nodding to Chris.

    "See, Chris?" Rachael piped up, standing up. She walked over to Damien and Cody, but looked at Chris. "Told you. We told you that you could write songs."

    "Yeah, and I didn't know you could write music that good," Cody agreed. Chris just blushed, and looked like he wanted to fall down a trap door so no one could see him.

    "So is this what you guys do on your frees?" Damien asked conversationally.

    "Sometimes," Cody replied. "We're trying to convince Chris to join one of the many clubs on offer. He's refused to join the drama club, orchestra and pretty much any other music club available."

    "Why not?" Damien directed his question at Chris, but it was Rachael who answered.

    "He doesn't think his stuff's good enough," she explained. "Even though we told him that he puts most of the other pianists to shame."

    "Yeah, well, you might have just been saying that to humor me," Chris said, hopping down off the stage to join the other three. This was the first thing he'd said since Damien entered. Damien was a bit surprised to find that he had a pretty quiet voice.

    "Chris, I'm basically the drama king of the school," Cody said, but Rachael interrupted.

    "Don't say that, that makes it sound like you're married to her," she said, pulling a face.

    "Anyway, like I was saying, I'm not about to pull something like that. Most of the school thinks I'm gay because I'm theatre and dancing and shit, so I'm not about to make someone else suffer ridicule, am I?" Cody finished.

    "Are you?" Damien asked. Not harshly, but because he was interested.

    "What, gay?" Cody replied, his voice cool.

    "No, into theatre and dancing and shit," Damien said sarcastically.

    "Well, I'd say that's none of your business," Cody said cooly. Damien sighed.

    "Okay, touchy subject, sorry," Damien apologised, holding up his hands again.

    "By the way," Rachael interjected. "How come you're here?"

    "Oh yeah," Damien said, pulling his bag from his shoulder and rummaging through it. "Cody, you left your notepad in the common room." He extracted the notepad and handed it to Cody.

    "Oh, thanks," Cody said gratefully, taking it and shoving it in his own bag. "I knew I'd left it somewhere, but I couldn't remember where. Thanks."

    "No problem. Anyway, as much fun as it is to stand around talking in a room I've never been in before," Damien said. "I think I'll go. Gotta finish up some homework for next lesson. Catch you guys later."

    "See ya."

    "Bye."

    "See you."

    Damien turned and walked away from the group. As he left the theatre, he thought he heard Chris say, "Do you think he really likes my work?"

    *****

    Home at last, Damien grinned as he took off his shoes and chucked his bag on the stairs. He had been looking forward to being home all day today. No homework or extra practice, he had been looking forward to a night of just being lazy, maybe watching a movie or some terrible program on TV. After greeting his mum in the kitchen, he made his way to the living room and jumped on the sofa. The day hadn't been that bad, all things considered. He figured Cody was slowly warming up to him, and meeting that Chris guy hadn't been too bad. Even his lessons seemed to have gone alright. Smiling contentedly, he relaxed into the sofa and grabbed the remote, putting the TV on.

    "Who knows? Maybe this year might not be so bad."

  3. #3
    PKMN Breeder Doug's Avatar
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    Registered User Yoshimitsu27's Avatar
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    And this is a big 'fuck you' to Atarifever1982Atari2600 :)

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    Not sure what Atari's problem is...

    I think the story is really well written, the only problems I caught were a few minor grammarish things.

    Keep it up. I expect you to finish this.

  6. #6
    Registered User Yoshimitsu27's Avatar
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    Chapter 3 - Rachael

    Singing. Rachael lived for singing. It was her passion in life. Like Cody had his dancing, Rachael had her singing. More tan once, she had been shouted at for singing when she really shouldn't have been, by teachers, parents, sometimes even by other students. But she didn't care, and she sang on. She lived to sing, and no one could stop her. If she wanted to sing, she would damn well sing. In her room, she had a bookshelf, but instead of normal books or textbooks like any other student would have, her bookshelf was crammed to bursting point with song books, both music and lyrics, so she could learn more and more songs. Cody had called her sad once. She had replied that he had a similar bookshelf full of musicals.

    Every morning started the same way for Rachael. She got up at the same time as her parents, even though it was two hours before was even open, let alone starting. She would have a shower, then pick her outfit. As she dried her hair, she put one of her millions of backing tracks on and sang along, over the top of the noisy hairdryer. The neighbours stopped complaining a long time ago, finally managing to tune her out. It wasn't that she was a bad singer, it was just that the neighbours didn't appreciate being woken up at so early in a morning by her singing.

    It was on such a morning when she was interrupted mid-song. She had managed to get "I'm not" out before she was cut off by a text message. She read out the name, and ended up singing "I'm not Cody", which got her a strange look from her mother. Pausing her CD player, she quickly read the text message.

    'hey rachael, wat time u getting to skwl 2day?' Sighing slightly, she typed her reply.

    'normal time, y?' She didn't have long to wait before she had a reply.

    'cause chris is in skwl now and so am i.' Rachael rolled her eyes. She could see where this was going, but she wasn't about to make it easy.

    'cody hun ur gonna hav 2 put a point in ther sumwhere.'

    'dont be difficult rach. come practice?'

    'b in skwl in 10 mins'

    'thx.'

    *****

    "I swear to God you two," Rachael snapped in her perfect 'Diamond-Diva-Voice', throwing open the door to the theatre and half-storming, half-prancing. "It simply isn't fabulous to be in school this early!" Cody laughed as he turned his head in Rachael's direction. Chris just looked confused, so Cody shook his head.

    "I'll explain later," he said. Rachael eased up with the fake diva strop as she approached the boys, a grin on her face. "Rach, that was more like twelve minutes."

    "Because two minutes makes such a difference," Rachael replied, shrugging. "Anyway, how come you're here so early, Chris?"

    "Had to be. Mum usually gives me a lift in the morning, but she's ill and dad had to," Chris explained. He glanced at his watch. "And I don't think I've ever been in school this early. It should be illegal."

    "Yeah, it should," Cody agreed. "But since we're here, we may as well practice, right?"

    "Speak for yourself, Code," Rachael said. "I'd still be in my room doing my hair if you didn't text me."

    "Rach, I keep telling you, your hair looks nice when it's left natural," Cody said, gesturing at her hair. "Why don't you just listen to me for once?"

    "Because you're saying that just 'cause you're my best friend?" Rachael replied, running a hand over her hair. While it was normally straightened, today it was wavy, slightly curly. But they were nice curls.

    "Do I have to remind you about the time you nearly wore that lime green top with those pi-" Cody began, but Rachael cut him off quickly.

    "Okay, okay, maybe you're not. But I like having straight hair," Rachael said quickly, with a slight tone of finality. Cody recognised the tone immediately, and dropped the subject. "Chris, any ideas what song to do?"

    "Um... well..." Chris said hesitantly. Rachael smiled at him encouragingly. Or it might have looked a bit intimidating, because he seemed slightly more nervous than he was before. "I left my note book with all my songs at home. But I know a few other things!" He added quickly.

    "Like, off by heart?" Cody asked, looking impressed. Rachael glanced at him. When Chris nodded, Cody said, "Wow, that's pretty cool. What do you know?"

    "Just a few bits and pieces," Chris replied, moving over to the piano. He played a few chords, then the first few bars of a song. Cody frowned, trying to recognise the tune. On the other hand, Rachael's face lit up. She'd know that song anywhere.

    "You know 'What Is This Feeling'?" She almost squealed. She loved that song. She glanced at Cody, and saw recognition spread across his face. Out of boredom, out of pure boredom, when Rachael was over at Cody's house, she had put this song on her iPod and plugged it into Cody's surround sound system. Not only had they learned all the words, but they had a dance routine to it too. It was part singing, part dancing, part acting. The perfect song for them.

    "Chris, let us get into position," Rachael said excitedly, bouncing up to the stage. Cody laughed, and quickly joined her on stage. They stood back to back, and Rachael nodded to Cody, who started playing.

    "Dearest, darlingest Momsie and Popsicle," Rachael recited, putting on her most annoying voice, the voice that was perfect for the part she was playing.

    "My dear father," Cody said, on perfect cue. He was speaking using what he dubbed his 'pissed off' voice. It worked for the song, so he had used it whenever they sang together.

    "There's been some confusion over rooming here at Shiz," they sand in unison. As they did, they both took a step outwards, still keeping their backs to each other.

    "But of course I'll care for Nessa," Cody continued, taking another step.

    "But of course, I'll rise above it," Rachael responded, also taking a step. They took a step each, as they sang the next lines.

    "For you see, my roommate is," they sang together, turning outwards to look at the stalls. Rachael continued, with one hand on her hip, the other at her chin as she tried to look thoughtful.

    "Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe," she sang in one breath, glancing at Cody with a slightly scared expression. There was a pause, and Cody looked straight at Rachael, a look of disgust on his face.

    "Blonde."

    The pair broke off, and looked at Chris, who had burst out laughing. Rachael just grinned. Clearly, Chris had underestimated just how much she loved this song.

    "Sorry, sorry," Chris said, still laughing. "Carry on." He lowered his hands to the piano, and re-played the last few lines. As soon as Rachael heard her cue, she started singing.

    "What is this feeling, so sudden and new?" She sang, fanning herself with one hand and placing the other one on her chest.

    "I felt the moment I laid eyes on you," Cody continued, shooting a glare at Rachael.

    "My pulse is rushing." Rachael put both hands over her heart, and glanced at Cody again.

    "My head is reeling." Cody put both hands on his lowered head, face screwed up.

    "My face is flushing." Rachael fanned herself with both of her hands.

    And they broke off again. Chris was laughing again.
    "Sorry you two," he said apologetically. "But I can't keep on playing if you two carry on your routine."

    "Yeah, let's call it quits with that song for now," Cody agreed.

    "So, Chris," Rachael said, standing next to the piano. "What other songs do you know?"

    *****

    Surprisingly, Rachael was in a fairly good mood when she settled down to her first period class, History. Despite her hatred of the subject and how she deemed it a waste of time, after their attempted singing practice before school, she had walked into her classroom feeling almost content. Smiling to herself, she took her seat near the back of the class and pulled out her notebook and a pen, poised and ready to take notes. As the teacher started one of his many lectures on World War II, the door swung open and two students stumbled into class. Damien and Mickey.

    "Late again, boys. That's a detention for both of you," the teacher said. "And I think it's best if I seperate you two. Mickey, in front of my desk. Damien, at the back, next to Rachael."

    Grumbling, both boys took their new seats. Rachael sighed slightly. Damien. Sure, she had no problem with Damien. He was a nice guy as far as she was concerned, regardless of what Cody said about the boy. That said, she wasn't completely oblivious to his negative traits. Like his complete inability to concentrate whenever he was sat next to Mickey. There were a few lessons where their teacher spent more time shouting at them than he did actually teaching. It wasn't that he was incapable of learning, or studying. It was that he didn't seem to do any. She couldn't supress her surprise when she saw that his notes were quite detailed. Apparently that showed on her face, because Damien spoke.

    "What's that look for?" He asked.

    "No reason," Rachael said evasively. She lowered her eyes to her notes, about to write something on the inflation that occured in Germany. At least, she thought it was that. She had missed exactly what had been said.

    "No, c'mon, tell me," Damien said, sounding almost pleading. Biting back a grin, she finished the sentence she was writing. She loved that effect she had on people. Apparently people were concerned about what she thought of them. But it wasn't nearly as bad as reactions to Diamond's behaviour.

    "It's nothing," Rachael started. She paused for a second to decide what to say. "You just kinda surprised me."

    "Why's that?" Damien asked, genuinely interested. He glanced up at the teacher, catching the end of his point, and scribbled down a few notes.

    "To be honest, I didn't really think you bothered with this lesson," Rachael explained, highlighting a few notes here and there, then adding a few more. "You spend most of your time messing around with Mickey."

    "Well, yeah," Damien said, as though it was the simplest thing in the world. He glanced over his notes, then swapped pens and started underlining the important details. "I mean, Mickey's my main man. If we didn't mess around in class, someone'd think we were sick or something."

    "I guess that's true," Rachael said. She delved into her bag and extracted her textbook, flicking through to the pages about pre-war Germany. "I mean, that's why Cody gets so pissed off half the time. The other half is..." She stopped, realising she was basically telling all her best friend's secrets to the guy he didn't like.

    "The other half's what?" Damien asked, leaning over to look at Rachael's textbook. "Also, see, I can totally work and talk at the same time."

    "Yeah, I guess you can," Rachael agreed. She hesitated for a moment. "Do you promise not to tell Cody I told you anything?"

    "Promise. Cross my heart and all that," Damien said sincirely. Rachael looked at him for a moment, trying to decide if he was lying.

    "Alright. I think Cody's jealous of you."

    "Jealous?"

    "Yeah. I mean, think about it," Rachael continued, glancing up at the teacher who was now sat down, writing something. "You're this really popular guy. You're good at pretty much everything you do. You're on all the sports teams and even though you never seem like you put much effort into it, you pass all of your subjects."

    "That's not true," Damien interjected. "I sit with him in maths and we just sit and do jack for an hour."

    "Yeah, but what about all your other lessons? Mostly As and Bs, right?" Damien nodded grudgingly. "You can afford to blow off one lesson. But look at Cody. As far as the rest of the school sees him, he's just this weird kid who spends too much time in the theatre and dance studios, who has no friends apart from me, and he co-ordinates all of his outfits so that he always has good fashion sense. He's never included in anything, unless I invite him."

    "I guess so," Damien admitted. "But I don't get it. That's why he blocks me out?"

    "It's probably how he deals with it," Rachael suggested. "He resents the fact that he's so different from the rest of the year."

    "So why doesn't he do something about it?" Damien asked, holding his pen over his paper so it looked like he was working, even though his mind was definitely not on the work right now.

    "Look at it this way, Damien," Rachael said, sounding slightly harsh as she mimicked Damien's actions. The boy was smarter than he seemed. "Let's say you wanted to go into the drama class, and someone said that you had to change yourself. Like lose the sports, the fashion, everything. How would you take it?"

    "Oh. Yeah, I see what you mean," Damien conceeded. He sighed. The two fell into a slightly awkward silence. Rachael paused for a moment, and realised how she sounded.

    "Sorry, I didn't mean to get all bitchy on you," Rachael apologised.

    "Nah, it's fine. I get it, really, I do. I just didn't realise..." Damien trailed off. Rachael sighed to herself. Damien was a nice guy, really. She figured he just didn't know how to relate to other people. Or, at least, he was a bit oblivious to other people. As far as she could tell, it wasn't because he was malicious. It was because, really...

    "Damien, don't you find it kinda tough?" Rachael asked, turning the page of her textbook.

    "Tough?"

    "Yeah, I mean... You're really popular, but not everyone likes you for being you, right? Isn't it tough having people try to hang with you because you're good looking or sporty or whatever?" Rachael elaborated. Damien didn't say anything for a second, and she wondered if she'd taken it a step too far. Just as she was trying to think up another apology, Damien spoke again.

    "Yeah, it is a bit," he agreed. "I never know if people are hanging with me because I'm me, or because they just wanna brag to their friends. Half of the time, I think my only real friend's my main man." Rachael nodded, and they fell silent again. She was right. Damien didn't have trouble relating to people because he didn't care, it was because he didn't know who was being a real friend and who wasn't. They stayed silent for a while, vaguely writing notes. Just before the bell, Rachael spoke again.

    "Sorry for being all depressing," she said. "But can you do me a favour?"

    "Yeah, what is it?" Damien replied, raising his eyebrows.

    "Don't tell Cody I told you any of this. Try to be his friend, sure, just don't tell him. He'd kill me, and he's too pretty for jail," Rachael said. "And... can you try to be nice to Chris, too? Those two are good friends now."

    "Okay, sure thing."

    *****

    As soon as her third period class finished, Rachael was already on her phone, rapidly typing out a text message to Cody and, by proxy, Chris. Just something short and simple ('meet @ theatre, get dinner, bring chris?'), and she quickly made her way down the corridor. Her period three lesson, Art, had dragged on forever. She still wasn't sure why she had taken it, and was taking Cody's approach to his maths class. Instead of focusing on the plant in front of her to draw it, she drew stick men running around with axes or climbing walls just because she knew she was going to fail anyway.

    She approached the theatre, standing at the double door entrace, glad that the theatre was so close the the entrance to the school. Scanning the corridors to see who was walking past, she kept her eyes open for a glimpse of light brown or black hair. Unfortunately, as she well knew, Cody and Chris were coming from their english lesson which was half the school away. Sighing to herself, she opened her phone to read the reply Cody sent back ('on our way, b ther in 2'), then started humming to herself.

    "Sorry about the wait," Cody said as soon as he got close enough to Rachael that she could actually hear him. "Morris was adamant about keeping us behind to congratulate us on 'how well we embrace the book'." He put on his most sarcastic voice and disapproving face, clearly showing his displeasure. "So how was art?"

    "You really wanna know?" Rachael replied. Cody looked torn between answers. Laughing, she pulled out her sketchpad and showed him her lesson's work. Chris gaped at it. Cody raised an eyebrow.

    "Axes? Those are new," he commented. The three of them walked out of the school and over to the car park. Just as Rachael was about to take out her keys, Cody put his hand on her arm, shaking his head.

    "What? You always drive us," Rachael complained.

    "That's because I'm not being caught dead in your car, Rach," Cody replied. Chris looked at the pair of them.

    "What's wrong with her car?" He asked, completely perplexed. Cody shot him an incredulous look.

    "It's hot pink. I have enough people questioning my sexuality already," he replied, turning back to Rachael and holding up his keys. "Here, you can drive but we can take my car." Rachael looked like she was considering this for a moment, but they both knew what the answer would be.

    "Fine, but next time we take my car, whether you like it or not," Rachael said. Cody merely shrugged, climbing into the passenger seat, leaving Chris in the back. The drive to the usual café was as short as ever, but the three sat in complete silence. Rachael was half concentrating on the road, half wondering if Damien had said anything to Cody. Or to Chris. But neither boy raised the issue, so she assumed he hadn't. Pulling into the carpark, she glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Chris sat there, looking thoughtful as he gazed out the window. After parking up, the trio entered the café, Cody grabbing seats at their usual table.

    "What'll it be, Chris?" Rachael asked, looking up at the menu. "I might have something different today... Maybe pancakes..."

    "What? No, I'll pay for my own," Chris replied, reaching for his wallet. Rachael shot him a look that was clearly challenging, but not intimidatingly so.

    "Chris, if you hang with us, you've gotta keep to our rules," she said. "Every time we come here, we alternate who pays. Today it's my turn, 'cause Cody paid last time. Which means next time, you're paying. That is, if you don't mind," She added quickly, realising she was being somewhat demanding. Chris kind-of shrugged.

    "Alright. But I'll just have a chicken sandwich, please," he requested. Glancing at him again, Rachael could tell that he was slowly trying to form some kind of plan to pay for his own food. She beat him to the punch here, though.

    "Why don't you go sit down? I'll bring the food over in a sec, and Cody looks like he wants some company," she suggested. Chris nodded.

    "Thanks," he said, before turning to join Cody at the table. Rachael turned her attention back to the menu, and ordered their food. Minutes later, she was sat with the two boys again, already starting her pancakes.

    "Oh, Rachael, I almost forgot," Cody said after swallowing another mouthful of pasta. "Guess what Damien said in english." Rachael felt a knot form in her stomach. Had Damien told? Even though he'd promised?

    "Let me guess..." Rachael replied, mulling over what to say. "Oh, he asked you out?"

    "Ha ha," Cody said sarcastically. "Though you're kinda right. He asked if I wanted to go play tennis with, and I quote, 'a few of the guys' after school."

    "Oh, cool," Rachael replied, feeling relief wash over her. "You gonna go?"

    "Dunno. What d'you reckon, Chris?" Cody asked. Clearly, he had noticed, like Rachael had, that Chris hadn't said much so far.

    "Can you play?" Chris asked, then took another bite of his sandwich.

    "I'm alright," Cody said modestly.

    "I'd say go for it, then." Rachael nodded her approval, her mouth too full of pancake to reply coherently.

    *****

    In the brief time between periods four and five, Rachael and Cody were walking to their next lesson, drama. This was the only lesson they shared together and, when they didn't have dinner or a free together, they spent the walking time exchanging gossip about the school. Even though the school year had only just started, there was still a wealth of information that was circulating around. When Rachael had told Cody about the cheerleader who had managed to get herself pregnant, Cody had replied about the teacher who had been fired for 'unprofessional conduct'.

    "So, she was caught flirting with students?" Rachael asked as the pair approached their lockers, which were right next to each other.

    "Probably. Or she was caught blowing the football team," Cody replied, putting some of his books into his locker.

    "It's the school's fault," Rachael commented. She quickly rummaged through her locker, and pulled out her drama folder.

    "Probably. She was barely five minutes older than us," Cody agreed, shutting his locker. "And she was entirely tits and arse."

    "Like Diamond?" Rachael asked, nodding towards the girl in question, who was currently berating one of her groupie's choice of headband. The entire corridor was currently being treated to a very detailed explanation of why turquoise and pink should never be mixed.

    "Yeah, exactly like Di-" Cody was cut off by someone barging straight into him. The guy, Rachael vaguely recognised him as being on the football team, turned and looked like he was about to apologise. As soon as he saw who he'd run into, his face turned into a sneer instead.

    "Watch where you're going, fag," he snarled. Cody's expression suddenly turned very cold. He turned to walk away, but the footballer grabbed his shoulder, turning him back round. "Don't walk away from me."

    "Oi, lay off!" A voice shouted. Rachael turned to see Mickey walking towards them, looking pissed off. He walked right up to the footballer and shoved his hand off of Cody.

    "Cool it, Hawthorne."

    "No, you cool it, Matthews," Mickey retorted. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

    "Treating this guy like he deserves?" Hawthorne snapped. "The dirty little queer." Rachael held her breath. From what he could tell about Hawthorne, and what she knew about Mickey, she would bet anything that this would not end happily.

    "Who the fuck do you think you are?" Mickey demanded. "What gives you any right to say stuff like that?"

    "'Cause man, he's not normal," Hawthorne said, some mix of defensive and mocking.

    "Oh yeah? Well, guess what," Mickey snapped. "I'd rather be like Cody than some stuck up, up-his-own-ass jerk like you." Hawthorne just looked at Mickey. Rachael could practicely see his thought process. Getting into a fight with Damien's best friend was not the best move he could make, and everyone knew that.

    "Whatever man," Hawthorne said, shrugging and walking off. Mickey turned to Cody.

    "You alright?" He asked.

    "Yeah. Thanks," Cody replied shortly, before heading to Drama, leaving Rachael and Mickey behind. Mickey looked completely dumbfounded. Rachael took pity, and decided to explain, though not in nearly as much detail as she had to Damien.

    "Don't mind him," she said. Mickey looked at her. "He's just like that. He really is grateful. He just... kinda struggles to talk to people sometimes." Mickey nodded.

    "Is he coming to play with us after school?" He asked, raising his eyebrows. Rachael quickly glanced at her watch. If she left now, she'd make it in time for her lesson.

    "I think so. But don't be surprised if he doesn't show," she said. "I'll see you later," she added, before walking in the same direction as Cody.

    *****

    As soon as the last bell rang, Rachael remembered something.

    "Cody," she said, tentatively. The boy had been quieter than usual for the whole lesson.

    "Hmm? What's up?" Cody asked.

    "Are you still gonna go play tennis with Damien and Mickey?" She asked. Cody thought for a minute.

    "Yeah, sure," he replied. The pair of them headed to the tennis courts.

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