Author's Note: Rose wrote this chapter… hope you like it

The hallways of Washington High School were practically oozing with people. Zack Martin sighed as he slowly made his way down the hall from his English class. He usually walked at a quicker pace, but ever since he started high school, where the traffic in the hallways was at a stand-still, he had to adapt to walking slow.

As he continued on his way, he thought about the changes that had been made in the passed few weeks. For one thing, he was a high school student. That was a big change. He was meeting a lot of new people, but he had not really made any friends. He did not have many classes with his friends from middle school. He had lunch and gym at the same time with Bob, but that was all.

The biggest change he was going though was the fact that he and Cody were no longer together constantly. In fact, he hardly ever saw Cody anymore. He was always studying when they were at home. And at school they did not have any classes together. Cody was in all the honor classes. And in math he was in a class with sophomores.

'It's weird,' Zack mused silently as the hallways began to clear and he was able to walk faster, 'I don't even miss him that much.'

When Zack and Cody got their schedules in the mail at the end of the summer, it scared Zack when he found out that they did not have any classes together. He did not admit this to Cody, of course.

'I guess it's good that we're finally doing things on our own.'

All of the sudden, Zack realized that he didn't know where he was going. He still did not have his schedule memorized. He stood close to the wall and dropped his backpack to the floor. He rummaged through it for his schedule. The crowd in the hall was dispersing. There were only a few students left scrambling to their classes.

'I'm going to be late again,' he realized glumly, 'great.' He began to rummage through his backpack, trying to find his schedule.

"Look, there he is!" said a voice from behind.

Zack ignored it. He continued to search for this schedule until he felt the presence of people behind him. The silhouettes of three kids covered him. He looked up and was face to face with three people who he had never seen before. They didn't look happy.

"Um… hi?" he said nervously.

"We need to talk to you," said the kid who was standing in the middle. He grabbed Zack by the shoulders and pulled him up. He pinned him against the wall. He was not that much taller than Zack, but he was strong. He had a good grip on him. His shaggy reddish blonde hair fell across his forehead

Zack quickly weighed his options. He could kick the guy in the shins, than make a run for it. Or he could start screaming for help like a little baby.

'This is crazy,' Zack thought, 'I'm totally outnumbered.'

"Are you even going to say anything, Martin?" the guy taunted.

"How—how do you know my name?"

The three of them laughed.

"Oh, I don't know," said the kid who was holding him against the wall, "Maybe it's because I just spent forty-five minutes listening to Mrs. Horton saying 'nice job, Mr. Martin' and 'that's correct Mr. Martin'"

"What?" Zack said, thoroughly confused, "What are you talking about?"

The guy beside him laughed, "Now he's trying to play dumb, Patrick. Let's just get this over withso we can get out of here."

"You want me to beat you up, Martin?" Patrick asked, "Because there is a way you can get out of this."

Zack stared at him, "Can you just tell me what's going on?"

"We're failing math and it's because of you." Patrick said, "Half the class is failing and it's all because you keep messing up the curve."

"What are you talking about?" Zack asked angrily, his voice raising. He was not worried about the fact that he was outnumbered three to one; he was getting more annoyed.

"Is there a problem here?" inquired a voice from behind the three boys.

For half a second, Zack felt relieved. A teacher would be able to get this creep to stop bothering him. But then he realized that the voice was too young sounding to be a teacher.

"Are you guys beating up freshmen again?"

"This one deserves it, man" said Patrick, "I can't fail again!"

"What are you talking about?"

'Finally, someone else is as confused as I am,' thought Zack.

The kid who was doing the talking walked around Patrick and Zack saw him. It was Brady Krieger, a sophomore in his gym class. He had dark, tanned skin and his hair was dyed platinum blonde. He and Zack were sort of friends.

"Zack?" he asked, surprised, "What did you do?"

"I don't know!" Zack exclaimed.

"I thought his name was Cody," said one of the guys who was standing next to Patrick.

"Yeah," Patrick said, frowning, "What's going on here?"

Zack shoved Patrick off of him, feeling reassured, "You're after my brother, not me."

"They're twins," Brady said with a laugh.

"Oh," Patrick said nonchalantly, "My bad."

"Yeah, whatever," Zack muttered as he bent down and picked up his backpack, "Now I'm late."

'And I still don't know where I'm going!' he added silently.

"No wait, Zack," Brady called, jogging after him, "Why don't you come with us? You're already late. If you skip you won't get in trouble. Teachers hardly ever take attendance anyways."

"Wait a minute," Patrick said, "I'm sorry I got him mixed up with his brother, but that doesn't mean he can hang out with us."

"He's cool, Pat," Brady said, "And it's your fault he's late. The least you could do is give him something to take his mind off of that."

"And he has to live with that loser," one of the other guys pointed out, "He probably needs something to take his mind off that."

The others laughed. Zack didn't. He knew that Cody could be annoying but that didn't mean that other people were allowed to insult him like that.

The group began to walk down the hall.

"You coming, Zack?" Brady asked.

Zack stared at his backpack, then at the other boys.

'This could be my chance to finally start making friends,' Zack said, 'that sounds a lot more fun than more school.'

He slung his backpack over his shoulder, "Yeah," he replied, "I'm coming."

"By the way," said Brady, he motioned to the other two boys, "This is Eric and this is Steve."

Eric was the tallest of the group. He had dark brown hair that was down to his shoulders. He was wearing jeans and a leather jacket. Steve was also tall. He had spiky black hair and a pierced eyebrow. He wore a bright red hoodie.

Zack fell into step with the other boys, and they walked to the cafeteria. There was a lunch period going on so they did not look suspicious at all. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Cody. He was sitting with a small group of kids.

'Don't see me, Cody,' he prayed silently. Cody knew that Zack did not have lunch that period.He also hoped that the guys didn't see Cody. Zack knew that Cody could be annoying, but he was still his brother. He felt like he had to protect him.

The boys walked through the cafeteria to get to the courtyard outside.

Zack stepped out into the warm September air. He made to sit down on one of the benches that encircled a fountain, but to his surprise, the group kept going.

"Uh, where are we going?" he asked.

"What part of the word 'skip' do you not understand?" Steve asked in a teasing voice.

"We're going to the Laundromat," Brady explained, "My older brother owns it. It's closed during the day so no one's there.

Zack frowned.

"We'll be back before next period," Brady told him, "Don't worry."

"That's not it," Zack said, "What is there to do at the Laundromat?"

Patrick and Steve started laughing.

"Yeah, Brady," Patrick said, "He's really cool."

Zack blushed, more with anger than embarrassment. Who did these idiots think they were to talk to him like that?

Brady pulled a small plastic bag out of his pocket and shoved it into Zack's hands, "This is what there is to do at the Laundromat," he said quietly.

Zack glanced at the bag and his eyes widened. He had never seen what was in the bag in person before, but he knew exactly what it was.

It was a joint.

That's all for now : ) Please review