Rating: G

Disclaimer: I don't own the show, the characters, yadda yadda yadda

Summary: Everyone has a story. A stranger offers his insights into the lives of some interesting teenagers.

Special Thanks: I dedicate this ficlet to the mythical town of Carson. Rock on.

Author's Notes: I wrote this in like an hour and it's unbeta-ed and way short. This was totally a sad attempt at procrastination. I was wondering at how Carson is sort of the go-to place in the YA fandom, and it got me thinking about the people that live there and the things they see it. It's weird, I know.

There are certain things you come to expect, living in a small New England town. People wave or nod politely when you pass them in the street, whether you know them or not. Sunday mornings are always quiet. And no matter how simple or normal things appear to be on the surface, everyone that walks through this town has a story.

I've run the convenience store here in Carson for well over 37 years, and I could write a book on the goings-on of the townspeople. But I won't; it's not neighbourly. What interests me most are the kids that come here from the fancy school the next town over, at all times and for the darndest reasons.

There's the senator's son that comes to pick up a copy of the New York Times every weekend. Apparently you can't find it in New Rawley. He came in one Sunday and got all excited to see a picture of his dad in the paper and pointed it out to me. Friendly kid. He gave me some advice on the signs out in front of the store. I asked him if they teach business out there at that prep school and he told me it was a personal hobby of his. I said kids these days have weird hobbies and he laughed. It seems like this kid has everything he could ever possibly want, but I've seen how quiet he gets when Dona's daughter's around. She lives in New Rawley with her father, and the boy just stops breathing when he sees her.

She doesn't come as often as the Rawley students. Local kids tend to be loyal to their towns but they do pop up every once in awhile. Bella, the daughter, usually comes with the McGrail kid. I know about him 'cause to the Carson baseball team he's public enemy #1. Apparently the boy's got a hell of an arm on him. And he has a senator's son envying him so he's got reasons to smile.

Their friend Will is special. He's a Townie who's gotten himself a scholarship to the Academy. Folks from New Rawley couldn't stop talking about it when it happened, and from what I can tell the pride is justified. He's a smart kid. A good kid. Always polite. But you can tell the stress of trying to live in two completely different worlds is starting to weigh on him. He tries to satisfy his Townie friends and his Rawley friends, but if he's not careful he's going to end up splitting himself apart.

The Brit makes me laugh. It's a few years that I see him around these parts; he must be graduating soon. A lot of the other folks cringe when they see him coming, but not me. His attitude, his money... those aren't things that should be held against him. Frankly, I think he's a hoot. I've had to bite my cheek more than once as he loudly, and wittingly, mocked the store patrons. Let's just he's ruffled his share of feathers. But I also know that I've sold that boy more calling cards then I can remember, and whenever he takes them out to the payphone on the side of the store, he leaves long messages for someone who's not on the other end.

My personal favourite, though, is the dark-haired girl and her young fella'. The first time they walked into my store, she was wearing one of those summer dresses that catch in the wind and was dragging along her young man behind her. The boy couldn't take his eyes off her, though I don't know if she noticed. Reminded me of when my late Agnes and I were that age. They came in looking for candy, and the boy was teasing her about her sweet tooth. You could tell the relationship was new, always touching each other. She paid for her own sweets, sticking her tongue out at the boy, and then pulling him in for a kiss. It was love, pure and simple. So imagine my surprise when I saw her again a few days later, dressed as a boy with a pretty blond on her arm.

Her eyes widened when she realized I recognized her, but I just winked and charged her for the candy she was buying. Now, I don't pretend to be "with it", and I know there's a probably a lot going on in the world today that I'm better off not even trying to understand. But I know a sweet, young girl when I see one, and if she's in a situation where disguising herself as a boy helps, then who am I to judge? I've seen her with the boy in her disguise, so he must be in on the secret. And while she's got her act down, he still stares at her like a man dying in the desert stares at water when she's a boy. Like I said, it's love, pure and simple.

Fall Session starts in three days. I'll be here when the kids get back. Everyone's got a story. Some are sadder than others, some more surprising. But I sure can't wait to see how they end.