Thursday came faster than I expected it to come; Wednesday consisted of me mattress shopping (which was a lot harder than I thought it would be) and trying to make my apartment look…homelier. Normal.
I avoided downtown, where I knew Ant would probably find me; knowing my luck that was inevitable. I didn't plan on going back there and seeing them again. It's not that I didn't like them, but they just didn't fit my goal. Being homeless wasn't the life I dreamt of living.
On Thursday I spent an hour (no joke) trying to look like what I assumed to be 'normal' and 'proper'. I wanted to look like any old fourteen-year-old transfer student attending his first day of high school. I even spent the week before I even signed up for school to come up with an air-tight story behind my travels, lack of records and public school experience, and parents.
Eventually I became Samuel Jesse, a mature young teenager who lives with his parents in a apartment, and his parents work all the time now that they settled down with normal jobs after years of traveling together with Samuel on their funding for researching in order to write a travel book, and once they wrote it they finally settled in Arizona and decided to let Samuel attend school although he's mostly alone in his house since they work early mornings and late nights.
Quite a mouthful, isn't it? But I was able to make this tale very official and bullet proof, which gave me enough confidence to be able to meet Brittany at seven that morning, where she said she'd wait for me. She had her hair up and wore a clean sundress, a heavy-looking bag on her shoulders. When she saw me her whole face lit up.
"Morning!" she greeted as I fell into step with her, following her to where I assume the bus stop was.
"Yeah, morning," I said briskly, too distracted by thoughts of what it would be like to attend an actual high school. "Uh, thanks for this," I added with a genuine smile. She returned it.
"No problem. Here it is," she said when we reached a corner, where a STOP sign was. "Lucky for us, most kids our age live in houses, or nicer apartments down a couple blocks, so you and I are the only ones here…and Polly too, but she ditches school a lot so I doubt we'll see her."
I didn't even bother to ask about Polly. "I see," I said instead, nodding at her. She laughed a little at my serious air and shook her head at me.
"You're a weird guy," she giggled. "You talk so business-like. It's just school."
"I've never been to school before," I retorted. "Forgive me if I'm a bit distracted."
"No, no, that's understandable," she admitted, waving her hands at me in defeat. "Hey, if you want, we can walk to the stop together from now on, since we live in the same building anyway."
I shrugged. "Sure." Why not? Brittany smiled again and waved in excitement when an ugly yellow bus rolled up and opened its breathy doors. I followed her onto it and sat next to her in a back seat, where it smelled like gum and B.O. Nobody bothered us, though sometimes a girl or guy sitting up front turned to talk to Brittany, but never addressed me. It was either rude or thoughtful since I was sure I didn't look very approachable at that moment.
When we got to school I waved good bye to Brittany after she pointed out the office to me. When I got to the office I approached the front desk, all smiles and eager to discover how this public school system worked. I hadn't received a schedule but I had written down my choice courses, and was pleased when the lady I spoke to handed me the same list I had given the school before. It had my teacher's names and class numbers and everything.
So I went to my first period class (French I with Miss Lair) and sat down in an empty seat, unsure of if I was supposed to say hello to the teacher first or not. I decided against it, since she looked busy at her computer. Once the bell rang she walked up front and turned to us, her sharp blue eyes gentle but stern, which matched her tight blonde bun and dressy attire.
"Bonjour," she greeted.
"Bonjour," the class drawled as she wrote on a clipboard, her eyes scanning each desk. When her eyes met mine she pursed her lips and her thin dark eyebrow shot up to burrow beneath her bangs. She even clicked her tongue and tilted her head at me, then looked down at her chart thoughtfully.
"I see, we have a new student," she said in clear English, turning back to face me. I lifted my hand awkwardly in greeting then saluted at her blank face (I seriously thought that it was appropriate), which made the class snicker and Miss Lair's eyes narrow.
"Oui," I responded. She grimaced at my words, which confused me. This was French class, after all.
"Did you take French at your old school?" she asked me. I shrugged.
"No. I've been home schooled my whole life."
Her face, though still stone, seemed to leer a little at my response. "Je vois. Qui est un problème."
"Not really," I said, then switched to French; "I've traveled everywhere, even France, so I am very fluent in the language. I do hope to be able to learn more about it in your class, though," I flashed a very polite smile and she opened then shut her mouth, the leer quickly turning to an amused laughing sort of expression.
"D'accord," she said, her face turning stone-like again. "I hope I can live up to those expectations, monsieur."
"I expect you will," I replied briskly. She laughed a little (the class looked startled at this) and told me to stay after class so I can catch up, then went on a lesson about verbs and the past tense. After class was over I walked to her desk and she tilted her face at me, her eyebrows raised high as if seriously observing me and determining whether I was deserving of attending her class or not.
"You missed quite a lot. Transfer students, definitely those who come in the middle of the year, always struggle to catch up. Judging by the fluency of your French, though, I suspect that this isn't the case for you, Samuel," she smiled lazily and handed me a folder. "Here are some notes I printed for you, just so you know what we've been working on so far. Good luck."
Touched, I nodded in gratitude and left to my next class; English. Though the next three classes were very clean-cut and uneventful, when lunch rolled around I found myself thoroughly confused about how the cafeteria worked. I went inside, sat down, and wondered how you were supposed to go about buying lunch. I didn't have any money on me but my stomach was insistently growling at me, which annoyed the hell out of me. I kept looking at the lunch line longingly, knowing fully well I could easily manage to get some lunch. But not here. Not now. Not ever, actually, since I planned on cutting off all ties of my past—powers included.
I startled when Brittany appeared, all smiles, holding a lunch tray. Two girls and a tall guy stood with her and they all sat down.
"I didn't know you had this lunch!" Brittany said in excitement. "I should've asked, but man, to think we have the same lunch!"
"Yeah, what a world," I said. Brittany didn't react to my rude mutter and motioned to her companions. "These are my friends."
"I'm Sally," a brunette said, lifting her hand in greeting, her other busy lifting a bottle of sparkling lemonade to her lips. The red-head next to her popped her head in front of me, her abnormally large green eyes all dreamy-like.
"We've got two Sam's on our hands," the boy sang with a cackle. "I'm Paul," he said, flipping grossly long brown hair out of his face. I smiled awkwardly, uncomfortable with all the new faces. I liked Brittany but her friends unnerved me. A lot.
"So, Brittany has told us about you," Sally began. "Must be hard with working parents. I can relate," she said with a friendly smile. "Mine are always off somewhere. I have to take care of my sisters."
"Nobody wants to listen to your sob story, Sal," Paul said gruffly. "So, dude, how you likin' the school so far?"
I shrugged and looked at the table, emitting as many 'leave me alone' vibes as possible.
"Yeah, it aint much fun," Paul sympathized, apparently not catching my persistent 'leave me alone' message. "But it's school, y'know? As much as it sucks, we hafta go. It's like, required or something. Gay."
"Don't use gay in a derogatory manner!" Samantha shrieked dramatically, pointing her plastic fork toward the heavens. "My dads taught me that even the most innocent off-handed comments like that are offensive and ignorant!"
I resisted the urge to just walk away.
"We know you have gay dads already," Paul complained. "Stop throwing their homosexual lessons in our faces."
"ARGH! YOU ARE SUCH A JERK, PAUL!" Samantha cried.
"You're just over-sensitive."
"YOU'RE A HOMOPHOBE!"
"I'm not a homophobe. I fucked a guy once…"
"EWWW! WHAT THE HECK?"
"I didn't need to hear that," Sally cut in, covering her ears. "That's just gross, Paul."
"It doesn't make you gay," Samantha agreed. "So shut up."
"You shut up."
"YOU SHUT UP!"
"YOU'RE SUCH A DUCK!"
Even I looked up at the weird insult. Everyone stopped yelling and stared at Samantha, who looked totally serious. She realized the change in atmosphere and looked at us frantically.
"Duck?" Brittany asked with a small smile.
"My daddies say that cussing is a sin," Samantha sniffed in a matter-of-fact manner, crossing her arms. "You're going to Hell, Paul, you cussing mean homophobe."
"I told you, I'm not a homophobe!"
I resisted the urge to tell them that actually, angels are ass holes who don't care if you cuss or not and don't care about sinning or whether or not you deserve to go to Hell or not. They were sinning, cussing, ass holes themselves. Hypocrites.
"Hellloooo?" I snapped out of my trance when I saw a hand being waved in front of my face. I looked over and saw that it was Brittany. She had an apologetic smile on her face. "Sorry about them. They're…er, energetic."
"I can see that."
She laughed. "Yeah, sorry. But hey, we're going downtown to a concert. We're gonna go see Ingrid Michelson, and we wanted to know if you'd come."
I blinked. "Um…really?"
"Yeah!" she beamed as if she were overjoyed I was even paying attention to her. "We're going Saturday night, around seven. I have an extra ticket since my mom ended up not being able to come, so…no need to pay anything."
"I…" I hesitated, unsure. It wasn't that I was worried about Ant magically appearing, but I was uncomfortable with Brittany and her friends, much less going to a concert or—wait, what was I thinking? This is what I wanted; a normal life with friends and making weekend plans and hanging out. Why the heck was I hesitating? "I'd love to."
"Yeah?" she smiled.
"Then I'll swing by your apartment and pick you up. I'll bring the ticket."
"Sure," I nodded. "Thanks for inviting me."
"Of course I'd invite you," she said with a soft smile that made my stomach shiver a little in anxiety. Then Sally appeared, bending down on the ground between us with an intense look on her face.
"Heeeeey, no flirting allowed, you sickos."
"We weren't!" Brittany snapped.
"Suuuure," Sally said. "Whispering all by yourselves over there."
So, the rest of lunch was like this. I didn't realize how hyperactive teenagers can be—especially Brittany's friends. I found myself slowly easing into the atmosphere though, and actually gradually joined the conversation. Then the bell rang and everyone went their separate ways. The rest of my classes went by quickly, which was a relief. I was starting to get tired of all of this.
After school I sat with Brittany on the bus again and she talked about Ingrid Michelson and even let me listen to some of her songs on Brittany's iPod. I wasn't really into that kind of music, but she wasn't a bad singer or anything so I acted impressed as we listened to her music. When the bus rolled to our stop Brittany walked me to the apartment building and then went in the other direction while I climbed the stairs to the second floor, where my apartment was.
I was surprised to see Natalie waiting outside my door. When she saw me she lit up and met me at the stairs in excitement.
"Hey! I wanted to hear about your first day," she said. I shrugged and let her walk with me to my apartment.
"Nothing much to tell. It was fine, I guess. I got to meet Brittany's friends."
Natalie flinched at this and I laughed. "You've met them?"
"Oh, I've met them," she muttered. "They're so weird."
"Yeah, well…" I said as we stopped in front of my apartment door. "Thanks for greeting me. I'll uh, see you later," I waved awkwardly and opened the door, nearly falling over when Natalie hugged my waist tightly and said good bye before she rushed next door. I shut the door behind me and made my way to the couch, dropping my bag in the middle of the floor.
I was so exhausted that I collapsed on the couch and slept soundly through the night.
"Reports of unexplained disappearances have stumped the local law enforcement. There are no leads as of yet, and yet the police don't seem to be digging too deeply into these kidnappings—CLICK."
It was 4 o'clock on Friday and I was sitting on the couch chewing on a granola bar, my hand poised up toward the TV as I channel surfed. I had been too engrossed in attempting to open my snack to bother changing channels until now. I didn't like the news; I felt that I'd rather not know what the world was doing, or else I might be tempted to do something. What, I don't know, but I didn't plan on finding out.
I had been lazing around on the couch since I got back from school, bored out of my mind. What little TV I did watch mostly didn't bring any entertainment to me. I ended up just sitting there quietly, thinking. But things – random unimportant things on the TV – still kept catching my attention. In the end, though, I always managed to push my worries in the back of my mind and concentrate on doing nothing.
Before long, I found myself breaking an unspoken rule. I made my granola bar's wrapper float away from me and flip into the trash can without even batting an eye. I didn't want to use any of my powers unless absolutely necessary, but somehow my boredom became so overwhelming I got distracted.
Even so, I found the surge of power – the effects of using that small energy – rush through my veins. It felt exciting to use my powers after such a long time, but the sudden excitement that coursed through my veins startled and upset me. I struggled to push the urge to do more in the back of my head and stood, leaving the soft couch. I had to do something…something to distract me. Anything.
I left the apartment, unsure of where I was going but positive that it would be better than staying here.
For a while, I just wandered. Despite having been there for a while, I didn't have any clue of what there was to do here. I mean, it's Arizona. What was there to do other than lasso up horses or hike up mountains? I had to resist the urge to speak in a southern drawl half the time…and nobody even spoke with an accent here.
Eventually I found myself somewhere else. Not somewhere else as in some grocery store downtown, but somewhere else. Like, full-on new state business. I had no clue as to where I was, all I knew was that I was not in Arizona and most certainly not anywhere I've been before.
So why was I here?
Sometimes I just was. It was really hard to control my powers sometimes and I'd find myself somewhere else at extremely random places and moments. I was usually pretty good about controlling it, but sometimes when I got careless enough it just happened.
Startled, I almost forced myself home, but decided I might as well. I mean, nobody knew me here and I was trying to distract myself. Besides, I noticed that I was in what looked like a city. Not sure what city, but it looked pretty lively. It looked fun and I needed fun.
I smiled breezily and wandered the streets, trying to find something to do. I still wasn't sure where I was, I didn't try to find out. It was okay not to know where I was, as long as nobody knew me and I was safe and could do whatever the heck I wanted.
So I went into the nearest club.
I know, I know, a fourteen year old in a club was weird, not to mention illegal. But I was curious. Besides, there was nothing better to do in this city that didn't involve prostitutes or expensive dinners. So a club seemed fine to me.
Getting past the grunts was way too easy. My powers were pretty much unlimited, as far as I knew, and though I knew I was cheating by using them (I kept telling myself not to use my powers, to be normal, but life is way too hard – it's like the universe keeps telling me to use them. Not to mention my will was pretty weak) I found it easy to get past the two guards.
Once inside, I immediately flinched at the colorful flashing lights. Shielding my eyes I stepped deeper into the pounding club, the music deafening and the strong smell of cheap cologne and perfume clogging my nostrils. I felt drunk just by inhaling the alcohol-infested air.
"Hey," a random girl called out to me as if we were old friends, waddling over to me. She had tan skin (spray-on, I assumed) and hideously bright blonde hair. Her grin was way too wide to be natural. "How're you doin'?"
"Um, okay?" I replied uneasily.
"HAHAHA! THAT'S GREAT!" she bellowed, slinging her arm over my shoulder. "We went to high school together, y'know."
"I…highly doubt that."
"It's true, it's true! Or was it middle school? NO, elementary! Oh my gosh you haven't aged one bit, are you a vampire?" she gasped with wide eyes. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I was usually a pretty patient guy but this girl had some weird obnoxious waves that insistently began to break down my patience, little by little.
"No, I'm not a vampire."
She squinted her eyes at me. "Are you sure about that?"
"I'm fairly sure," I said calmly. "I don't even—"
"OH!" she suddenly cried, tightening her arm around my neck. "You moved, didn't you? I remember! You moved to California! I think…I think…" she trailed off.
"Lady, I don't know you."
"Oh sure you do!" she giggled.
"I really, really don't," I said.
"Your names Eric, right?" she said, the slur evident in her voice. "Eric…somethingorother."
"No. My names Fernando the Incinerator…the Third."
Her eyes widened and her mouth opened. "Whoa—really?"
She wheezed in obnoxious laughter. "FUNNY! YOU'RE FUNNIER THAN I REMEMBER, ERIIIIC!"
I grimaced. "Excuse me." I slowly pushed her arm off and slunk away as she stumbled off to slur out the same dialogue to some poor passing man. I shook my head, bewildered. I mean I know TV made clubs seem sort of like this, but reality was so much worse. I'd prefer the clubs they portrayed on TV over this dump. Drunks everywhere and spilt drinks scattered on the floor where poor drunkards could easily slip and break their necks.
Yeah, not a very classy place. I knew that coming in but this was just ridiculous.
Sighing, I sat at the bar. The bar tender turned with a smile to greet me but stopped when he actually saw me.
"Kid," he said sternly, "how did you get in here?"
"The front door," I retorted. "Can I have something to drink? Water – something nonalcoholic."
"Of course, nonalcoholic," he grumbled. "Lemme see some I.D."
"I seem to have left it in my other coat," I said.
"Real funny kid," he growled. "Now get out or I'll call the—"
"I don't think you want to do that," I smiled. His eyes connected with mine and glazed over ever so slightly. "Now get me some water."
"O'course," he mumbled, turning his back. I released my hold on him and gasped, pressing my forehead against the cool table top. Man, using my mind powers could really take a toll on my body if I pushed too hard. Weird. Usually I didn't have such extreme side effects.
"Must be the alcohol," I chuckled sarcastically. I thanked the bar tender when he handed me my glass of water and took a long sip, relieved at the cold comfort it gave me. I peered around the club, observing the drunken (and sober) interactions going on between strangers. There was a lot of slapping and grinding going on.
Again, not a very classy place.
"To think I actually believed this would entertain me," I murmured in bemusement. I pushed my empty glass away and slid off the chair, approaching the door. I was sure that I spent a good chunk of my day here. I should probably sleep and get rest for the concert tomorrow.
Stretching, I left the club, thoroughly disappointed. I decided to try to find somewhere to eat, my stomach growling in agreement as I attempted to decide what to eat. That was when I saw them. They were just standing there, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, staring out into the streets. Looking. For something.
It was Sam and Dean Winchester.