A/n- Happy Spring Semester! Obviously, this means reading about band camp... :) All characters and events are mine and used fictitiously.

We didn't get back home until well after midnight, into early Monday morning. I was just sincerely grateful that band camp was not until the next week. Well, maybe I was. I would have died after a full band camp rehearsal that morning. Even if my mom had the strength of Superwoman to pull her through, I didn't. But the rest of the week allowed me only to return to my wallowing in misery… I still had no friends here to speak of, and seeing the male half of my family for a day just made me crazier with loneliness and missing them.

Most of my aggravations were taken out on the battered old drum set that sat in the back of the Drum Cave. Mom had guessed how much I needed that beat-up dinosaur. I caught her in the Drum Cave, looking at the heads and checking the lugs. A few days later I found and invoice for new heads and hardware on the counter in the band room. I didn't say anything, but I tried to remember to turn her coffee on for her more often. I had to do something to let her know that I knew she was trying. I think both of us were still pretty miserable in the days following the show in Gadsden.

The general temperament of the Stephens' Household, Southside Chapter, disintegrated even more after my mother got a call from the school district saying that she was not allowed to extend band camp to a full week after all. She would have three days at it, the Wednesday to Friday before school started. Needless to say, this did not bode well for the next school board meeting. There was no chance my controlling mother wouldn't find out who had made that decision. When she did, I was going to fear for their lives. In the meanwhile, though, we both drove each other crazy trying to figure out how to shove a weeks worth of information and practice into three day's time.

I listened down the stairs at night when Mom made the necessary phone calls to everyone registered in marching band. She informed them of the change from the letter they had received earlier in the summer. Most of the time I got the feeling the kids weren't overly sad to have their summer lengthened by two days.

Instead of having a rookie day to introduce all the freshmen and new marchers to the universe that was my mother's band, we were going to have to start full out with everyone there from day one. I almost felt sorry for the freshmen. Unless you grew up with marching band, the first day of band camp could be pretty intimidating.

So, the Wednesday before school, while most kids were still going to the movies and shopping and whatever else kids did around here, my mom and I were dragging ourselves to Aspen Point High School, home of the mighty Lancers, at some ungodly hour of the morning. And it was already hot. Bleh.

I had never seen my mom so frustrated. She stalked around the room, looking shaken and upset. I sat in a corner, sorting music, while I heard her on the telephone in her office arguing with someone over whether or not we could use the football field. Finally, with some sharp parting words, she stomped out of her office.

"We have to go put some lines out on some other practice field. That's the only thing we're allowed to use right now." I sighed and put the music down. It was mostly done anyway. It wasn't that I minded painting the field. It was the bone-headed admin that decided that we didn't need to be told about it. That pissed me off almost as much as Mom. I scowled as I grabbed the field kit and headed off after Mom for the far-off baseball practice fields.

Painting a field wasn't that big of a deal, if you knew how to do it and had a good five or six people to help you. It was a pain in the butt when there were only two of us, and one of those two was busy taking out all her frustrations on the other so she didn't scare all her new students away. I knew my mother wasn't really mad at me, but it still took a lot of self control not to snap back at her, as we trudged around the too-long grass with cans of chalk paint and string and a measuring tape. I tried to focus on how pretty the looming forest was behind the field. It looked like something out of Jurassic Park. I was waiting to hear the velociraptors any second. I kind of liked it.

The sun was shining through the mist and had almost peeked out over the trees when we were walking back up the hill. It was muggy, even though it was only 7:30 in the morning. Great. Lovely hot mugginess to deal with, in addition to the fact that Mom was already short-fused and we had to basically cram five days work into three.

There were a few kids crowded around the band room by the time we lurched back up the hill. A few of them looked at me, but didn't say anything, so I just followed my mom back inside. I don't do friendly mingling before eight in the morning. I'm much more of a grunt as you drag your equipment out to warm up, then exchange niceties after type person. The group seemed just as content to ignore me, going to a different corner of the room next to the racks of stands while I finished sorting the music for everyone. I caught snippets of their conversation as I double-checked the number of flute parts for the warm-up we were learning today.

"I don't know where Mark is…"

"Has anyone heard from Lisa yet?"

"Ooh, did you hear she made out with some guy from LeRoy this summer?"

"No, when did you hear that?"

More kids continued to filter in, breaking off from the big group to form smaller ones. I noticed some of them were wearing jeans, and one boy had some weird skater shoe that looked very closely related to Bozo's. The guy could barely walk straight… how did he think he was going to march? I rolled my eyes, stacking up all the music into neat piles. I was about to pull out the snare music from the bottom of the pile and go practice, just for something to do, when the lights were suddenly blocked out by a tall figure.

A boy stood in front of me, his arms crossed, with a leery grin on his face. I smiled cautiously.

"And what do we have here?" he asked in a drawling voice. He was looking down with his arms crossed. I guess he wasn't bad looking, but you could almost smell the ego rolling off of him in waves. Whoever he was, he though he was hot shit.

"I don't believe I've ever seen you here before," he continued. "Please let me introduce myself." By this time, most of the gossiping mob was turned towards us. Some were trying to be discrete, but I saw one girl point in my direction. The boy held out his hand to help me up off of the floor. I accepted it, and felt the strong muscles tense as he hoisted me up. He did have nice arms. I brushed myself off as I stood up with the handful of snare music. He caught the hand with the music by the wrist.

"Well, now, maybe we don't need introducing after all," he said, still grinning. "Seeing as you already had my music out for me." I was no longer smiling. He either didn't notice, or didn't care, that he still held on to my wrist.

"I guess I still don't know your name, but then names do only complicate things. But since you're such a pretty little thing, I guess you can know mine. I'm Jack, drum captain." He pulled my wrist towards him and kissed it.

They say that if you ever meet an unfriendly dog not to show fear. The dog will sense it somehow, almost like a smell, and it only encourages them. I don't know if I was more terrified or pissed off by that point. I was contemplating whether screaming for help or punching him would be more effective when out of the corner of my eye, I saw my mom sidle over through the masses. Most of them were openly pointing and whispering now.

"MacFlellan, I don't know if where you come from manhandling women is encouraged, but in this band, mauling a fellow member will get you kicked out." I had never been so happy to hear my mother's sharp voice. It cut through the steadily rising babble, freezing the boy who still held my wrist in his tracks.

"That means let her go, in case you were wondering," Mom said, her voice even harsher. I tried to not let the relief show in my face as he dropped my arm to turn around and stare at my mom. By this point, she had a full out death glare plastered on her face, all aimed at Jack MacFlellan. He was still wondering what happened (I could see the gears turning in his head as he was trying to figure out who this woman was, and if he should challenge her or not) in the time it took Mom to look at the clock, glance around at the surrounding mob, and pull out her whistle. I knew enough to cover my ears, but the rest had no idea. Three sharp blasts brought cries of pain from those standing closest. My mom climbed onto a nearby chair so she could see out over everyone. I doubted anyone else noticed, but I saw the almost manic glint in her eye as she took a breath to address her newest victims.

"Good morning, Aspen Point," she said, her voice carrying over the whole room. Every face was pointed towards her. "My name is Ms. Stephens. I am your new director. I'm sorry band camp was changed in such short notice, but recovery is 90% of the score. We're going to go over the basics of music and marching today, so I can get an idea of where you are all at." She paused to look around. I had taken the opportunity to slide away from MacFlellan while she was talking. I now stood besides a tall girl with straight brown hair and bangs. She smiled at me. I tried to return the favor, but my mouth seemed to be stuck. I ended up just nodding instead.

"Announcements for the day before we get down to business," Mom was continuing from her chair perch. "I have no record of anything from your old teacher. So anyone who is interested in becoming part of the student leadership needs to sign up on the paper on my office door. Make sure to put your name, grade, instrument, and position you are applying for. This includes all section leaders. Auditions and interviews will be during lunch today." She paused again to look at her clipboard. She smiled as she read the other announcement off.

"Drum line will be set today after lunch. Winds will have a half an hour warm up sectional, and then we will all meet back together to go over music." She clapped her hands together. "Alright. It is," she said, looking at the clock, "8:07. You all have until 8:15 to be down at the practice baseball field with water, sun block, and instruments. Drums, just bring sticks. Sign up for leadership auditions if you want to. I better not beat anyone down there. Ready, Break." She clapped again and got down off of the chair into the chaos that was breaking out around her. She made her way over to me.

A/n- Plenty of people have been reading this, but not reviewing. Reviews make better writers. :) And more frequent chapter updates.