It's also humor or mystery, but it only allowed one tag:P
Enjoy. Don't let Renee get too crazy.
Chapter 2 All of my friends were obsessed with my tendonitis and Osgood-Schlotters. None of them realized the danger of sleep deprivation. It’s rather hard to fall asleep weighted down by three ice bags and listening to a somewhat…heated…argument one room over. So I was running on a lovely four hours of sleep. Quite fun. I arrived at my locker and was shocked to see none other than Lena leaning against it, arms folded. “Since when do you get to school before the third bell?” I asked. She
twirled her hair innocently. “Oh, I’m helping you break the habit. Like with a druggie. Rehab, and all.” I elbowed her with my good arm, clearing the path to my locker. “Thanks for that flattering comparison.” A small crowd of seniors passed by, joking and rowdy. Several wore the bulky gear of a football player. My eyes latched on to them and followed shamelessly. A hand gripped my chin and wheeled it around. “Beat the habit, Ren, beat the habit,” she intoned. “Because of you, I just missed an eyeful,” I accused. Lena nodded brightly in agreement. “Let’s get to class before I kill you.” History was my worst class of the day, every day. Not because of the subject itself—falling asleep wasn’t painful in the least. Because of who I had to sit next to. Chad Davidson. My brother’s former best friend. Chad was one year younger than my brother, and two grades lower, due to being held back, but they had still been almost as close as Lena and me. He used to come to the house every day. Needless to say, he didn’t come anymore. But seeing him every day was like a constant slap in the face. Chad, Chad, Chad. Jared, Jared, Jared. Plenty of Chad. No Jared. And Chad wasn’t exactly helping with the awkward atmosphere. Every once in a while he’d glance over at me, and look as if he had something to say, but then he’d shake his head and turn away. Thanks for sharing your opinion and helping me through this hard time, Chad, really appreciate it. I had to admit, he did seem like he was having a rather hard time too. With Jared, I remembered him as a lively, excitable person who was always laughing, snorting, or “Ooo” ing. He hadn’t done any of that in months. Or at least he hadn’t done it where I could see it. Well, due to him, my already-suffering grade in History had taken a sharp plummet. If my parents asked why I was failing History, I’d just blame it on Chad. Always good to have a scapegoat. Then again, maybe not. This had all started after Jared. Hearing his best friend’s name might not help the situation a whole lot. Scrap that idea. And letting my thought ramble like this probably wasn’t helping that C minus either. But it was fated to die anyway, so I would just let it do so in peace. Chad leaned over and tapped my shoulder. I started, shocked out of my thoughts. This was the first time in the month or so we’d been in the same class that he’d made any sort of contact with me. I turned my head towards him, inquiring. “Are you holding up alright, Renee?” he asked. He actually seemed sincere. That just made it worse. Yeah, I’m just dandy. My body’s falling apart, my parents hate each other, I have to abstain from dating for a month, and my brother’s disappeared. Just freakin’ perfect. But I’d blown up at enough people already. “No,” I replied curtly. “But thanks for asking.” He nodded awkwardly and went back to his homework. Guess I couldn’t blame him. As the teacher instructed us to flip our textbooks to page 5,000 or some such, I let my head fall into my left hand. This was going to be a long day. Math class came all too soon, and with it a fresh dose of Lena. “So, how’re you managing?” she asked. I wanted to smack her for her cheerfulness. “Hmm, I haven’t let a boy ask me out in three hours so far, so I’d say I’m doing pretty good.” Lena put a hand over heart. “Well label me impressed and ship me off to North Korea.” I slammed my math book down, muttering. “That would be fabulous. Then you’d never come back.” She twiddled her fingers dismissively. “Did you hear the news?” I looked up—the teacher was writing the answers to the homework on the board. Amazingly, I’d gotten about half of them right. Such an accomplishment. “Seeing as this is a high school, there’s a lot of news; I’m not sure if I’ve heard the news you’re talking about.” Lena was grinning at her homework—I suspected she’d gotten them all right. Little over-achiever. “You haven’t heard it, then. You’ll see.” The teacher was putting up the last few problems when there was a knock on the door. Everyone’s eyes except Lena’s went in that direction. Hers went in the direction of the empty seat behind me, and narrowed. “Dammit!” she hissed. “He’d better be ugly.” I blinked. That was unexpected. “He who?” With my wholly clean mind, I was thinking of what would happen if I added two more letters to the end of the second word. “You’ll see.” This time, she didn’t sound as pleased. The door creaked open—I could only imagine the last time they’d oiled it—and in stepped a boy. That would probably be the he. “Class,” the teacher announced. “This is our new student.” No s**t. “Come tell them your name and something about you.” I thought teachers only mortified new kids like that in books and movies. Poor kid. He stepped forward. “My name’s Cole, and I’m new. Obviously. That’s about all you need to know about me.” I tapped my lips, secretly pleased. That was pretty much what I’d say in the same situation. So I wasn’t alone after all. I gave the kid a run-over, even though, with my current situation, that probably wasn’t allowed. Oh well, screw Lena. He was pretty good looking. Long, dark brown hair, large hazel eyes, tall and filled out. Perhaps more than “pretty good looking”, but I ranked everyone by Jared, and to me, none of them came close. The teacher seemed slightly offset by his brusque introduction, but recovered quickly enough. “Cole, you’ll be sitting by Renee over there in the corner. She can tell you what we’re doing.” Way to put me on the spot. Guess I knew why Lena wanted him to be ugly. Sucks for her. Cole made his way toward the desk, in no apparent hurry. Why should he hurry? He probably wasn’t super pumped to begin a fascinating day of math. He plopped into his seat and angled his head towards me. “What do you have to tell me?” I really didn’t feel like explaining what we’d done in math for the past month, so I kept it nice and simple. “We’re going over homework. You want to follow, get out your textbook. If not, do whatever the Hell you want, because it’d probably be more interesting.” I was already foisting my bad habits onto the new kid. Ah, well. Lena, on the other hand, looked pleased. Cole pursed his lips. “I think I’ll go with the second option,” he decided. “Smart choice.” “Then why aren’t you doing it?” he wondered, gesturing towards my opened textbook. Hmm, good point. “Because if I fail one more class I’ll be locked in my room for the rest of my life, and that would be horribly depressing, so to avoid depression I’m actually paying attention to class, slightly.” He paused a second in rummaging through his bag. “For once, someone who actually explains something,” he approved. When his hand emerged from the bag, it held a battered sketchpad. Oh, so he was one of those guys. “You draw?” I asked skeptically. A rather pointless question, seeing as he had a semi-full sketchpad and pencil in hand, but I felt like clarifying. “No, I just decided to bring this sketchpad around because I thought being an artist would really impress the ladies.” He didn’t even raise his head from the drawing. I kept a straight face, trying not to show the fact that I was somewhat giddy on the inside. Finally, someone who could come close to keeping up with me in the one area I dominated. “That’s definitely going to work,” I agreed. Not even trying to be subtle, I leaned over to glimpse his current drawing. It was an old-fashioned well, with a bucket and rope, but the well was completely dry. “See?” Cole’s face had the hint of a smile. “It’s already working. You are so fascinated by my work that you will soon wish you were dating me, because I am just that amazing.” I pushed away, hopping back into my seat. “You wish. Who draws a dried up well? Honestly? If you’re going to draw one, at least let it have water in it.” It came to my attention that I’d missed the first part of the lesson. So much for keeping up that grade. He shrugged. “I find it has more character. If I’m the only one drawing it, then I’m unique. If I draw one with water simply because everyone else does, I’d be conforming.” My gut wrenched. Cole’s words had awoken a memory as easily as the picture. I ran my eyes over Jared’s Cookie Monster T-shirt. Seeing my hesitance, he smirked. “What do you think?” Choosing my words carefully, I replied, “It’s very…interesting. Let’s just say you’ll be the only junior wearing a Cookie Monster T-shirt.” He bobbed his head. “That’s the point. I’d hate to conform.” That was what he always said. “I’d hate to conform.” It was practically his motto. And yet somehow, despite all of his odd quirks, he was still popular. Maybe it came with the looks. Maybe disappearing was another quirk. I lowered my gaze to my math book, lips a thin line. I didn’t really feel like bantering anymore. Cole wasn’t entirely oblivious. “Something wrong? Did I offend you?” Nothing’s wrong. I really, really love math. “No, I’m just…tired.” Wow. That was the very best lie I could come up with. Beyond sad. “Of course you are.” I wasn’t looking at him, but I could feel he was rolling his eyes. It was like a sixth sense. Or a fifth. I’d always thought I was missing one of them. Coming in about eight minutes late, I understood about three percent of what the teacher was saying. But hey, some is better than none, right? A certain someone murmured in my ear, “If you understand more than a word she’s saying, then congratulations and could you relate it to me?” Slacker. “Hate to disappoint, but I can’t claim as much,” I admitted. “Now get back to your pretty little drawing and let me pretend to concentrate.” He shuffled away, but not before a small comment. “At least you realize it’s pretty.” It wasn’t until I returned my focus partially to the teacher that I realized Lena was squinting at me. A lot. I tore off a piece of paper, scribbled, and aimed it. It’s not my fault he got the seat next to me! She made a face upon seeing my note, and sent it back, with extra. It’s your fault for talking to him. Don’t go breaking this on your first day. Uh oh. Someone wasn’t happy. But it wasn’t like she thought. Relax, I’m not talking to him anymore today. I’m actually trying to pay attention. He reaction to this one was what I expected; a snort. But she didn’t leave another one in my lap, so she must’ve been fairly satisfied. Now if only I was, too. Home time was blissfully quiet, since both parents were at work. I stuffed my face with cookies and watched reruns of Medium as a productive way to pass the time—I thanked G-d everyday for my metabolism. The bad guy in the episode just happened to have dark hair and hazel eyes. But I wasn’t thinking of Cole. Nope, not at all. This abstinence thing was working really well. Now I sounded as if I were abstaining from sex. I wish. My parents arriving was my cue to make a beeline for the bedroom. Today, for once, I didn’t need the ice right away, though I knew I would once night came. If I ever heard another old person complain about how much their joints were bothering them, I was going to slap them, honestly. They ain’t got nothing on me. Muse was decided on as the best way to tune out my parents. Cranked up to full volume. Perhaps I’d lose my hearing; that’d be a blessing. The one line of Uprising made me cringe. Our time is running out… It was exactly how I felt about Jared. Whatever could be done, it had to be done soon. Or else… No. I hated “or else”s. We’d do something. I’d do something. I’d get him back by myself if I had to. No matter what it took.