"Summer Days, Summer Nights"
By Roby Carr
Part One: School Is So Last Week!

-----

"Jackie! I finally found the pair of red cargos that I wore to the homecoming game last September! And my Biology book is in here too!"

Jaclyn Edith Kelly-Goss only raised an eyebrow and leaned back against Andrew Robb's locker as she peered over at her best friend. Less than a foot away, at the next locker over, Claire Lillian Roberts was digging through her own locker, rambling about every old item she found in there. Under most circumstances, Jackie would have made an extremely sarcastic comment about 'sweet nostalgia' and would have headed to the cafeteria to get a bottle of Gatorade and a bag of Cheetos from the vending machines, but it was hard to be cynical or hungry when everyone was so loud and happy.

It was that last day of the school year at Glen Ellyn Public High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and even Jackie would admit she was having fun. The hall around them was filled with sophomores cleaning out lockers, reliving the good times and hugging goodbyes, though they would more often than not be seeing each other at parties within the next week. Due to the last day of school, Jackie suspected fully that most of them were also heading out to party that night, one of the things she was - in an unusual turn of events - partaking in.

"Ewww..." Claire cried, holding something as far away from her as possible and wrinkling her nose in disgust at it, "Jackie! Look it this! It's so gross!"

Glancing down, Jackie did, in all honesty, have to say that the... the thing that Claire was holding was quite possibly the most disgusting thing she'd ever seen. It was a plastic Ziploc bag containing something that might have been food - a sandwich? - at one point in time. Something was scrawled on it in thick permanent marker, but Claire's cursive handwriting was, as always, illegible to Jackie when she was without her glasses.

"What is it?" she finally sputtered, staring at the thing with undisguised repulsion.

"I think it was from my health project last fall - you know, the one on the nutrition values of McDonald's food?" Claire guessed and began giggling, "You hungry?"

"What is that, a mutated Big Mac or something?" a masculine voice asked and Jackie squinted her eyes. When she looked closely, she finally made out the words 'BIG MAC' and she could form the slight outline of an extremely deformed fast food item underneath a thick layer of white fuzz.

"I thought I took it all out of here the afternoon after I presented my project," Claire explained in a slightly apologetic tone, looking sort of guilty. Looking up though, her expression became confused and she cocked her head to the side, dropping the Ziploc bag back into her locker carelessly. "Vince-" she stammered, flushing and standing quickly. Jackie rolled her eyes at the fuss she made of straightening her skirt.

Vince grinned at them, his hands were tucked into his pockets as casually as was possible. He was a senior, possibly one of the hottest guys that were graduating from Glen Ellyn High that year in the well-known opinion of most of the school's female population. Jackie thought he was rather bland looking in comparison to a certain senior with dreadlocks, but Claire was in agreement with the rest of the girls.

"I thought that you were supposed to be at that rehearsal for graduation," Claire said and Jackie wanted to laugh. Her best friend was a talented girl - Speech, Lacrosse, Soccer, the viola - but flirting was one thing she could not do.

"Yeah. I am. Me and Ben snuck out." Claire flushed even deeper.

"But where is-"

"Mister Vincenzo!" a voice boomed and Vince smirked, winking at Claire.

"Right on time, as usual." He turned away from the girls and shouted back, "Mister Benecio!"

As if on cue, the sea of excited sophomores parted and even Jackie had the decency to flush a flattering shade of bright red at the appearance of yet another of Glen Ellyn High's most worshiped senior males. Jackie had heard plenty from Claire about the clean-cut Vince with his Italian-American features and his spiked black hair - but Ben was far better looking in Jackie's eyes. He was taller than Vince and had coarse cut dark brown hair, his skin a few shades darker naturally. What Jackie knew of the two senior boys mostly came from Claire - mainly of the different things they had said while flirting with her when she would occasionally be correcting papers for her English teacher and they would be waiting for the previously mentioned teacher who was also their Speech coach.

"It must be my lucky day," Ben remarked, joining Vince near the two girls and leaning up against the locker to Claire's right, "I come looking for Mister Vincenzo and I find him chatting with the beautiful Miss Clarice and her ravishing acquaintance, Miss Jacqueline." Jackie was flushing so hotly that she quickly assumed Claire's previous position at the locker, piling trash in the brown paper bag at her side and refusing to look up until the boys and Claire had finished their goodbyes and she felt Claire crouch down beside her signaling they'd left.

"I think he likes you," her friend whispered and giggled as Jackie rolled her eyes, "Ben, I mean. Not Vince, you know, 'cause of his girlfriend."

"Ben likes anything that waltzes past on a miniskirt," Jackie replied, tossing a few broken pencils atop the pile of old math quizzes and other papers while she attempted to figure out a way around having to touch the Ziploc bag containing the Big Mac.

"You aren't wearing a miniskirt," Claire pointed out and watched as her friend finally just gave into picking up the corner of the bag with two fingers. The two girls stood up, Claire lifting the bag by its handles. "You know," she said, "I'm going to miss this locker."

Jackie sighed, "Why? You never remembered to locker combination. You had to keep asking the woman in the attendance office what it was." Claire just shrugged in response and deposited the brown paper bag into the trash can, following her best friend out of the school.

-----

At Dakota Union High School, the celebration on the last day of school had passed. Summer had officially started for its students, having let out two days earlier and for at least two of them, summer had already started getting boring. In the Hawkins household, where the air conditioning had blown out and the repairman couldn't come until the next day, Virgil Hawkins was actually bored.

And when you're a superhero, getting bored is an extremely hard feat to accomplish.

But even his best friend, the blonde super genius Richie Foley, couldn't come up with an idea of an activity that would take up the next hour and a half before Virgil's older sister, Sharon, returned with the car and they could head out to the always air-conditioned mall. Their marathon of the Bloodsucker Teenage Zombie movies that had taken place the night before had left both boys drained of the energy it would take for Virgil and Richie's superhuman alter-egos, Static and Gear respectively, to go on yet another patrol. And besides, it would look slightly pathetic if people realized Static and Gear had nothing better to do that go on three patrols before one o' clock on a Saturday.

So instead, both teenagers sat slumped over at the kitchen table, waiting for some divine intervention to give them some inspiration as to what two teenage boys with superpowers were supposed to do.

It was Richie who finally spoke up. "One-on-one?"

Virgil's head, against the tabletop turned ever so slightly so that one eye could stare at his best friend. "Pops and Sharon already had enough trouble getting their cars over the blacktop. Didn't you see the marks, man?"

"Yeah... We go out there and we fry," Richie agreed, staring up at the clock. It felt like an hour had passed, but the clock only recorded five minutes. Maybe it was broken. "Aw, man... You just reminded me of something I heard lately. You'll never believe what people have been saying."

"Try me."

"They're letting Hotstreak out of jail."

At this, Virgil's head shot up and he turned full in his chair towards Richie, his eyes narrowed. "No way, man. Hotstreak can't be getting out already."

"The city only had him for petty arson and disturbing the peace. They were going to let him out in another two months anyway," Richie explained, looking just as frustrated with this. He ran a hand through his blonde hair, making a quick note that he needed to get a haircut now that summer was starting. He glanced up at the clock again. Another five minutes had passed. "Besides, it's always the same with bang babies. They lock 'em up in those cells right next to each other. Even if the city doesn't let those guys out, they break out all the time." A thoughtful look came over the super genius. "You know, man... I could probably sketch up some better equipment to keep bang babies in jail and then Gear could hand them over to the city..." The idea was tucked away in the back of his mind automatically.

"Great. You can think up schematics for stuff in seconds. You can build a laser out of a toaster. But you still can't figure out anything for us to do?" Virgil groaned, as he often did when his best friend began to stare off into the distance and talk about inventions.

"We could always watch Bloodsucker Teenage Zombie IV: High School of the Apocalypse again," Richie replied blandly, but the idea added a spark of interest in Virgil's eye.

"I'm thinking Shopping Mall from Hell."

"You've got a deal, man."

-----

"I can't believe you convinced me to do this, Claire," Jackie groaned, staring at the mirror in front of her, "Why did I ever think it would be alright to let you do this to me? Why?"

"Because you love me," her best friend answered casually, stepping back to take a look at the work she had done.

Jackie turned to face her friend, looking halfway between extremely annoyed and slightly pleased. Her dirty-blonde hair was short, just below her chin at it's longest point, having been cut that way the previous fall before school had started up again. It was tied back in two short pigtails, her bangs straight over a pair of dark brown eyes. Pale skin and no make-up were the usual on her elegant, defined features, much like her lack of jewelry. The grungy, black t-shirt she wore was from a Metallica concert, one of the many pieces of her late brother's wardrobe that had been passed down to her. It hung off her wiry form, but when Claire's thoughts lingered on it, she realized that Jackie wasn't thin because she didn't eat much - as had been the case last year while she was in mourning - but instead was thin because she'd been so active in sports lately. Jackie's shorts were actually from Claire's own closet and were camouflage girl's cargos fastened with a thick steel-studded belt. Underneath them, she wore black fishnets leading to a pair of high-tops that were, once again, borrowed from Claire.

"You look amazing," Claire finally told the other girl, smiling girlishly and flopping down by the bed. Jackie slumped back against the mirror and crossed her arms over her chest, glancing around the room before she glanced over at her friend, realizing she hadn't scrutinized the other girl's clothing choices. She was wearing a dark purple mini-skirt over her favorite pair of jeans, an extremely tacky fad that she'd fallen in love with. Her shirt was a simple white tank top, the straps made of lace. On her arms were Jackie's black and white striped arm warmers under several golden bangles. Around her neck was her favorite piece of jewelry, a Christmas present from her cousin that had been dubbed 'the Cleopatra necklace', and on her feet were orange, white and navy New Balance sneakers. Her hair, reddish-auburn curls that were coiled like tight springs, had been tied away from her naturally tan face in a low ponytail and, as she had taken to doing in the year, she was wearing smoky eye make-up and dark red lipstick. "What is it?" she asked suddenly, catching Jackie's eye, "Did I say something wrong, Jackie?"

Rolling her eyes, Jackie glanced at the mirror a second time before she decided that she was sick of caring what it was she looked like. It wasn't like she was hanging out with anyone tonight who hadn't seen her at her worst. She sat down next to Claire on the bed and her friend sat up, turning.

"So, who's coming again?" Claire asked, cocking her head to the side. Jackie heaved a sigh.

"I told you twice today, already. Why don't you tell me and I'll point it out when you screw up?"

Claire looked indignant as she replied, "I will not screw up! I completely remember. It's Angela, Jaime, Ryan, Leslie, Brenden, a couple of guys from the basketball team that Brenden said he would bring, Maria and Katie."

"And Michelle and Crystal," Jackie added, "but you got most of them, so you did good." Claire looked flattered by this compliment, so Jackie took it as a cue to change the subject while Claire was in a good mood. "Isn't your love slave supposed to be swinging by to pick us up?"

"I told you not to call him that. He's my boyfriend, not my love slave," Claire complained, "And yes, Brenden is coming soon."

"Let's get something to eat," Jackie said, standing and pulling her friend to her feet.

"We're eating at the bowling alley and then we're heading to Big 10 where we're going to eat again, Jackie. Why do you want to eat now?"

"Because I'm hun-" Jackie began to reply when the doorbell interrupted her in mid-sentence.

Claire grinned, looking extremely happy. "Ha! I win! No food for you!" she teased and Jackie rolled her eyes, letting Claire take her by the hand and pull her towards the door where they would meet their friends.

-----

Claire couldn't help but grin as she glanced at the scene around her. Their table - the really awesome one at the back that could fit, like, twenty people into one booth - was in total chaos. Both the salt and pepper shakers had been opened and overturned sometime ago by Leslie to keep Jaime from dumping anymore into her glass of Diet Coke. Not that it actually stopped his reign of terror. He simply got his hands on the shakers from the nearest table and dumped the entire of those into her drink. In fact, not one drink at the table was safe since the boys had started a game of Suicide Pop, dumping anything they could find into their glasses and daring each other to drink them. Ryan had almost thrown up on Maria, who was sitting next to him, when he had grabbed one Suicide Pop that a boy from the basketball team named Brady had mixed together. Claire had seen him dump ketchup, mustard, honey mustard, salt, pepper, Sprite, milk, and orange juice into half a glass of Coke before mixing it up with his spoon and challenging Ryan. Katie was yelling at another guy from the basketball team, Nick, for spilling one particularly nasty Suicide Pop all over her new suede skirt and her white top. Jamie was flirting with Angela because it seemed he was impressed by her ability to down one Suicide Pop after another without even gagging. Crystal and Michelle had left at least an hour ago, but not before Michelle had been drenched with a glass of water and Crystal had begun the Suicide Pop game.

Claire meanwhile was leaning forward, letting Brenden and Jackie argue above and on either side of her, while she dug into an extremely large bowl of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream.

This was what made her happy. Not the yelling and screaming and gagging and strange looking mixtures, but the whole idea that even though they were hating each other right now, they would undoubtedly be friends again in minutes. It just seemed to be how things worked.

"Claire! Tell that jerk that he's a jerk!" Jackie huffed, slamming back down next to her.

Claire glanced over at Brenden who was also back in his seat also, though he was glaring out the window furiously. "You know," she suggested carefully, "We should probably head out anyway. You and your family are leaving for Ecuador tomorrow, I think, and Jackie and I have to catch a plane pretty early-"

"Since when?" Brenden asked suddenly, turning to face her and not even noticing Jackie anymore, "You never said you were going somewhere."

Claire just shrugged innocently. It hadn't seemed like it was a big deal to her. She was going to have to stay with her aunt and uncle for two months anyway while her parents remodeled their house, so she had asked if Jackie could come. Her aunt and uncle said yes, Jackie said yes, plane tickets were bought, and suitcases were packed. It had seemed like such a simple process that Claire didn't even realize she hadn't mentioned it to anyone until now.

"I'm only going to spend time at my aunt and uncle's house," she said simply.

"How long?"

"Two months."

"Claire!" Brenden cried, "Two months? That's most of the summer. How could you be going somewhere for the whole summer and forget to mention it to anyone? It's so stupid."

Claire looked extremely hurt and glared at him. "I am not stupid!" she protested angrily and Brenden sighed.

"Nah, Claire... That isn't what I meant. I know you aren't stupid..." He frowned. "I can't hear myself think. C'mon..."

By the time she'd followed him and managed to make it over Jamie, Angela, Maria, Brady and Ryan, Claire was beginning to think that sitting in the middle of the booth wasn't as great of an idea as she had originally thought it was.

"Where're you guys going?" Maria asked, stopping them and getting the attention to at least Ryan and Brady.

"Outside," Brenden answered roughly, grabbing Claire's hand and attempting to pull her away but Maria stopped them again, asking, "Why're you going out there?" She grinned and Ryan let out a catcall. Claire flushed and followed Brenden obediently, refusing to look back.

"Why are you mad at me?" she asked once they'd left, taking the side door which led into a parking lot.

Brenden sighed heavily, shoving a hand through his hair, something Claire had begun to notice was one of his nervous habits. It had gotten quite a bit longer than it was the summer before, but Claire didn't doubt that he would cut off his shaggy, light brown bangs again, not too far into the summer. Perhaps even in Ecuador. He glanced up at her and, for once, Claire saw worry and apprehension in his dark eyes.

"Look, Claire," he tried to explain, looking extremely frustrated, "It's like this: remember what happened last summer?"

Claire would have raised an eyebrow if she knew how, but she settled with simply looking surprised. "Of course, I remember. How could I forget?"

How could anyone who knew what had really happened ever forget? The summer before had been too strange for words to describe. Jackie and Claire had been kidnapped, Jackie was rescued, Claire was basically brainwashed, they both found out they were mutants, Brenden and Angela found out they were mutants... The list went on and on, all culminating in a face off which Jackie and Claire had participated in, in order to save their own town from having to go through what they went through. And other then Jackie, Brenden, Angela, and herself, no one else knew any better than to think that the girls had been abducted and were saved unharmed by 'a special squad'.

Claire actually had thought it was kind of cool when she looked back on it, especially because they all still had their mutant abilities. Of course, Brenden thought the entire experience had been horrifying, especially since he hadn't known where either of the girls were, or even if they were alive.

"July 10th," he said firmly, catching her gaze and frowning like she was a little child. "It was one month from tomorrow, last year that you two disappeared and I didn't know if I would ever see you again. And then when I did see you finally, you were trying to kill me and Jackie and Angela. Maybe you don't remember it that way, but you had some idea of what was going on. You knew more about those guys than they knew about themselves. I didn't know shit."

"Brenden, I-" Claire stammered. Even after seeing how much more protective he'd become in the past year, she still hadn't understood that he was so much more affected than any of them.

"Claire," he began and she bit her lip, ready for whatever he was going to say next, "I... I just want to know that I can keep you safe." The next thing she knew, Brenden's arms were around her shoulders embracing her, and as soon as her mind began working again, she hugged him back even tighter. "I don't know how I'm going to do that if you're way over in Dakota," he mumbled into her curly, reddish hair.

"Don't worry," she muttered back, "I can astroproject, remember? I'll come back now and then to say 'hi', and you'll know I'm okay. I'll have Jackie with me." She paused, pulling back to smile at him. "And I need to learn how to take care of myself. We're mutants. Who knows if something like that will ever happen again?"

"I hope not," Jackie's voice said and the two turned to see the other girl, staring boredly at them from the side door of Big 10, "'Cause if you two start acting this this every time that sort of thing happens, we are going to have some serious problems."

Brenden smirked at her. "It was Ryan, wasn't it?" he asked.

Jackie just rolled her eyes, replying, "Now, however did you guess that?" She reached up to touch the side of her head that had been soaked by what was probably one of Brady's Suicide Pops.

"Let's get out of here before they set the place on fire," Brenden suggested, not bothering to hide his extreme amusement in Jackie's predicament.

Jackie frowned, stalking down the street towards where Brenden had parked his truck, the anger far too strong to be simply from the snickering Brenden had taken too. He stopped laughing and narrowed his eyes to glare at her retreating figure before turning to glance at the concerned expression of Claire's face.

"What was that all about? Can't she deal with a joke?" he asked stubbornly anyway.

"Last summer, Brenden..."

Hugging her arms around herself, Claire jogged off down the street after Jackie. When he realized what had happened, he wanted to kick his own ass as he set off down the street at a lengthy stride to find the girls. His comment had undoubtedly reminded Jackie of one incident in particular from the summer before. A pyrokinetic mutant that went by the name of Pyro - one who had become the first guy she had actually liked since her brother's death earlier that year - had set her house on fire, laughing the whole time as Jackie's family was trapped inside. Her family had escaped with only minor burns, except for her grandfather who almost died in the hospital from lack of oxygen. That act by Pyro had set Jackie on a rampage, releasing all the rage she felt over her brother's recent death, and the girl was on the verge on killing Pyro when they stopped her finally. Since then, the slightest mention of fire made Jackie flinch.

He was still caught up deep in thought when he reached the doors and didn't even bother to pull the key to the truck's door out of his pocket. Instead, he set his hand up against the cool metal, glad for a chance to finally use his abilities without having to worry about exposure. Brenden's hand began to glow and there was a click as the door unlocked and he climbed in, starting the ignition by twisting the key that was already in it.

No one said anything on the ride while he dropped off the girls.

-----

Virgil and Richie stepped out of the theatre, both boys considerably happier, cooler, and more scared of trees that they had ever thought they would be in their lives. Of course, people had said that was what happened when you saw Bloodsucker Teenage Zombie XIII: Murderers Hide in Trees. And, as all Bloodsucker fans knew, those movies were never disappointing. Each movie always seemed to have more blood than the last, though it was always tasteful and believable killing - even when it was done by little elfish creatures with green skin who named themselves after days of the weeks and were known as the ferocious 'Tree People'. It was these Tree People that had Virgil and Richie making sure to avoid trees as they headed out to their car, arguing about important issues.

"Virg, just admit it. Halloween on Devil's Drive is the only Bloodsucker movie that was creepier than this one."

"C'mon, man! Halloween on Devil's Drive was the second one made, sure, but they had possessed little kids dressed up in Halloween costumes killing people! That isn't scary! Spring Break by Brutal Bay was creepy," Virgil argued back heatedly.

Though it took the entire two minutes that the walk to the car consisted of, the boys finally agreed that Camp Cadaver Creak was the scariest of the Bloodsucker movies with Driver's Ed is for the Dead coming in as a close second thanks to the fact that the evil brain-eating worm creature that was pretending to be the teacher looked a lot like the woman that had taught them.

"Arson on Christmas," Virgil said suddenly as they were climbing in the car and Richie raised an eyebrow.

"We didn't ever even see that one, man," Richie pointed out, pulling the passenger door shut and clicking the seatbelt into place, "Remember?"

"It was because of Hotstreak. The movie was supposed to start playing Christmas morning last year, but at midnight, Hotstreak set the movie theater on fire," Virgil explained and started the car. Richie nodded, staring out the side window of the car as he often did.

"Other people saw the movie. We were in the real thing."

-----

Jackie frowned as Claire tugged her cell phone out of her pocket and checked the time again. For the past hour and a half or so, the girls had been sitting in chairs near the luggage terminals at Dakota's airport while they waited for Claire's aunt and uncle to show up. A copy of Antony and Cleopatra sat in Claire's lap, held open by one of her hands as the other checked to see if she had missed any phone calls. Jackie had entertained herself by playing Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on her Gameboy SP, but even that could only consumed her attention span for a few hours and she'd been playing it on the plane ride also. Though she wasn't actually so bored that she would snatch up her copy of Alice in Wonderland - she'd read it several times before - Jackie felt herself on the edge of doing something that desperate.

"Are you going to bother calling them again?" Jackie groaned as she heard the distinct beeping noise that told her the buttons on Claire's cell phone were being pressed. She didn't even need to turn her head from the Gameboy to know that her best friend was sticking her tongue out in response.

Despite her own grumbling, Jackie was secretly praying that Claire's aunt and uncle would pick up their stupid cell phones, even if it was just to tell the two girls that they weren't actually going to show up and the girls should walk. At least then they would know what was going on. Jackie saved her game and clicked the Gameboy off, glancing over at Claire. She had, once again, been unable to reach her family and was now staring at the screen of her cell phone as if that would make it more likely for her aunt and uncle to call.

"I just don't understand it," Claire complained, her gaze locking with Jackie's own, "Why in the world would they just not show up? Or even call? I never knew them to be anything but prompt and-"

"Claire." Jackie frowned at her friend as she cut her off. Claire had been speeding up to the point that Jackie could hardly understand between the indistinct syllables and muttering, though the copper-haired girl had apparently not noticed it at all.

"Yes, Jackie?"

Jackie nodded towards something behind Claire and asked, "Those your missing persons?"

Claire twisted in her seat instantly and hopped up, smiling brightly as if she had only been waiting for five minutes instead of almost two hours. Heading towards them were two people; the woman was black-haired and obviously of Asian descent, but the family resemblance between Claire and the man was unmistakable. Claire's aunt waved cheerfully and Jackie began to wonder whether everyone in Claire's family was always so chipper. If so, Jackie was going to get quite a few headaches in the next couple months. Claire and her aunt embraced each other tightly but her uncle was a little more reserved, simply patting her on the shoulder fondly.

"Claire-bear!" Claire flushed instantly at the nickname given by her aunt. "I'm so happy that you came to come the summer! You'll just adore Dakota, I promise!"

"I'm sure it'll be awesome, Auntie Karen," Claire replied and turned, grasping Jackie's wrist tightly and pulling her forward, "This is Jaclyn Edith Kelly-Goss."

Claire's uncle raised an eyebrow before saying, "Got a shorter version for that, Kelly-Goss?"

Jackie just rose an eyebrow in response and sharply answered, "Jackie."

For a few moments, Claire's uncle gazed at Jackie as if he was sizing her up in a test she hadn't been informed of. Jackie just stared back, sticking her hands in the pockets of her camo cargos. When he finally nodded to himself, Claire's uncle extended his hand. "Mark Roberts."

Claire looked ecstatic that Jackie had been approved by her family members until a confused look crossed her face and she bit her lip before asking, "Hey, how come you guys were so late? And you didn't call us either. I was worried." Jackie crossed her arms across her chest as Auntie Karen glanced at Uncle Mark, a silent conversation seeming to pass between their glances.

"It was an unexpected... situation that held us up. Several telephone poles had been knocked down along with a-" Karen paused. "There was just a bit of damage done by some unruly kids."

Claire nodded understandingly, but Jackie wasn't appeased by this answer. She had seen these same expressions before when her own parents had something that they couldn't tell her little brothers. It was the look of a blatant liar, who wasn't very good at it either. Jackie turned her head, glaring at her bags instead of either of Claire's aunt or uncle as she picked up her duffel bag and swung it over her shoulder. Jackie picked up two more of her suitcases and the three others with her began picking up luggage also. As the heavily loaded quartet set off towards the parking lot, Jackie frowned at Uncle Mark's back.

Jackie wanted to know what was going on.

And she would find out.

-----

.......REVIEW

a/n; I'm feeling really weird as I type these words. It's 12:00 AM and the only reason I'm still on such a typing high was from all the de-carbonated root beer I've been drinking all night. So, if anything I type from this point forward sounds really confusing or something, take pity on me. I've been working on an essay on Antony and Cleopatra for my Honors English 9 class and I'm on a total brain drain at the moment. No sleep, caffeine, plot bunnies, and the evils of Shakespeare do that to you when mixed together. But that isn't my point. My real author's notes are on the story and also pleading that everyone keep faith in me on this story. Please continue reading.

REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW - (i have an early final next thursday... make me happy...) REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW

This story is, as the summary said, a sequel. Strangely, it's actually a sequel to a story I wrote in the X-Men: Evolution category, but it should be pretty easy to understand even if you don't watch Evo. I'll try to make things as clear as possible, but the main link between these two stories is Jackie and Claire. There are, of course, some Evo characters mentioned at different points, but it won't be of too much importance.

REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW - (i have an early final next thursday... make me happy...) REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW

For everyone who didn't read "Rest in Pieces", the prequel to this story, Jackie Kelly-Goss and Claire Roberts are a form of self-insert type characters because their personalities - and even names - are mixes of people I know. Same with Brenden Kelly, Ben, Vince, the faceless Andrew Robb... But they're more of original characters now, because I realize that my friends have all changed a ton since we entered high school and nothing even really had a big "just-like-this-person" thing in the first place. Go ahead and insult them as much as you like, it doesn't feel like you're insulting me or my friends. And for all people who are considering wasting your time to bother saying, "NO ONE LIKES SELF-INSERTS! BLAH!", I will have to point and laugh. I obviously like to read self-inserts and so do other people that I know. Get a clue and don't waste your energy to be mean.

REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW - (i have an early final next thursday... make me happy...) REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW

Next, I beg everyone to have faith in me. I will finish this story. I know I haven't written more than the first couple chapters for many of my fics that are posted, but the real truth is: I have written it. I wrote it all months ago. I'm just too lazy to bother posting it. My new mantra is "I will post at least once a week any new material I have", so I swear I will get this fic done, just like I'm going to get my other fics done. My life just got a lot more stable, so I'm ready to do what I love. I'm going to type up my stories.

REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW - (i have an early final next thursday... make me happy...) REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW

Thanks to all readers, reviewers, and supporters and here's to hoping for more next week.

.......REVIEW

- Roby Carr