Emi's Point of View

"Hey, Walkie-Talkie, where'd John-John go?!" I called ahead to the skinny, dark-haired boy walking ahead of me.

He turned around and stopped.

His dark eyes met mine and he looked concerned.

"I thought he said he'd be right behind us."

"Well, he's not." I may have sounded a little more worried than I had planned.

"I haven't seen him since before we left the restaurant." Tater said.

We stepped out of the main path of the sidewalk. A cold breeze blew back Tater's unruly brown hair. I regretted having not worn a jacket.

"We've got to go back to the restaurant," Walkie ordered and so we headed back.

He went in to the Chinese restaurant and Tater and I stood outside the window, our faces dramatically shaded in hues of pink, blue and green by the neon signs. I found it odd that in Las Vegas the Chinese restaurants had the same neon signs as in our Middle-of-Nowhere, Arkansas town.

Walkie came out looking worried. I could tell from the disheveled state of his hair that he had been nervously tugging at his black bangs. It was his tell, I had watched him do this time after time at quiz bowl, most often after the words 'math computation'.

"They said he paid and left minutes after we did, Walkie sighed and twirled a strand of hair around his pointer finger.

"Walk, we've got to tell the police," Tater said urgently.

"No, we can't. We promised our parents we'd be careful. That we wouldn't go out too late. We promised we'd stay with Kris. We'll get in trouble and Kris'll get in trouble. It's…I plan on going on my Senior Trip, Tater, and if we tell the police they'll tell our parents and they'll never trust us alone again. Is that what you want, Tater? To be stuck living with your mom for the rest of your life?" Walkie said angrily.

"You know that's not what I ment, Walk!" Tater said in a slightly raised voice.

I couldn't stand to see them fight, they were like brothers to me.

I was surprised when my parents actually let me come out here with 4 guys, but I guess they figured Shi'd look after me. My parents would freak if they knew that Shi had kicked us out for a little 'alone time' with Kris.

I figure they didn't know Kris too well, either. He put on a responsible mask at home, as the straight-A student who just dressed like some sort of punk rock spawn of skateboarders crossed with the entire Hot Topic store. But since he had been here he had spent most of his time wasted and playing emo rock ballads on his guitar.

I didn't feel out of place around the guys, though. None of them would ever do anything to me.

Walkie had a girlfriend, as he was eager to show off to anyone who would sit still long enough.

John-John, like me, could've been a child prodigy, maybe could've made it all the way through college and working as a lawyer at a law firm in Little Rock right now, but we both had chosen to stay in our hometown school, our families' alma mater.

Tater was my cousin, younger by two months, but born the year after me. (my birthday is in November, his in January) We had grown up together but rarely saw each other any more because his parents had divorced when we were in kindergarten and his dad enrolled him in another school closer to him but farther from mine.

Walkie and John had been on quiz bowl with me for the past few years and we had taken our previously non-existent team to state three years running, never placing higher than fifth in finals though.

I saw Walker bite back another yell and anger shook his body. Tater was breathing heavy and his dark brown eyes sparkled with a blend of fear and anger.

"We have to do something, Walk. What if Johnny gets hurt? Then it'll look bad on us, even more so than leaving him in an unfamiliar city would," Tater spoke quietly, trying to be logical.

"Yeah…but…they'll tell our parents…then," Walker's face fell.

I knew how bad it felt to admit you were wrong, that your idea was bad…I knew Walkie, I knew he wouldn't stop arguing yet.

"We'll have to be interrogated! They'll make a big deal of it!" Walker yelled.

"I'm not stupid, Walker!" Tater raised his voice for the first time all night.

No, he wasn't stupid. He had done middle school math in the second grade, but he wasn't an angry person either.

"We have to go to the police, Walkie, and you know it," I said as calmly as I could to him.

"I…I know…let's go…" he sighed, leading us onward.

I know, I know…I'm just setting the story up. The next chapter'll have the CSI's in it…and some SANDLE!!! The characters here are based on actual people. Friends of mine.

What do you think?