Chapter One

"Dexter the Delinquent"

To Dexter's reluctant surprise he hadn't changed much physically as his internal clock turned over to seventeen; he was a little taller, but still thin and fragile as ever. Maybe a little muscle was just too much to ask for? Either way, life went on even if he appeared to be standing still so Dexter packed his things for school and prepared to begin his first day as a junior. Duncan was at his door knocking like he cared if his brother missed the bus; mom was probably in the hallway or something, watching him.

"I'll be right there", he grumbled loud enough for his brother to hear through the door.

"Get out here, it's time to go!"

'Time to go down!' Freakazoid growled, the words managing to leave Dexter's lips.

"Not now Freak", Dexter scolded after uncovering his mouth. "You can always have a chat with him after school", he added lightheartedly, though they both knew Dexter would never actually let his counterpart confront his brother. "Okay let's go", he told his brother with a tired smile as he unlocked the door.

Duncan turned the knob and thrust it forwards, smacking Dexter back in surprise. The older teen peered inside, stepped over the threshold of Dexter's doorway and actually snooped around. When he turned to Dexter he eyed him with suspicion.

"Hey twink…were you just talking to someone?"

"Um…" Dexter's eyes darted away, mirroring his attempt to advert the subject. "No…I was reminding myself not to forget anything…you know, for school"

"Only a nerd like you would actually bring supplies for the first day of school", Duncan sighed as if it affected him in some way. "And stop talking to yourself or people are going to think you're crazy"

He bat his fist against Dexter's arm, not trying to really hurt him but it stung all the same. Another thing that didn't seem to change was Dexter trailing after his brother rubbing his arm and telling his mom nothing's wrong with it, then ignoring her comment about him possibly having turrets. Nothing like familiarity!

For all the noise Duncan had made to make their mother believe he was being a good older brother the both of them ended up waiting at the corner. The bus was late. For some reason beyond rational logic Duncan blamed this on Dexter. Unknown to Duncan, within Dexter's head there was a blue boy with superpowers who didn't like him very much, thought he was a downright jerk and wanted to punch him square in the face. With all the malice going through his mind it was difficult to muster his compliant smile as Duncan withdrew his fist.

"Good one, Duncan", Dexter winced as he rubbed his arm.

'One of these days, Dex. One of these days. Pow! Right in the kisser!'

"No", Dexter snapped, mistakenly aloud; when Duncan snapped a stern, questioning look to him Dexter was quick to rephrase. "Ow", he quipped, eyes opened wide. "I said ow"

As Duncan opened his gapping mouth to speak he was interrupted by the squeaking of the school bus's old breaks. Dexter took the momentary distraction as a godsend and rushed past his brother, squeezing through the bus doors before they even fully opened. Startled Duncan followed after Dexter though less enthusiastically. Ahead of him Dexter looked around for a place to sit, but it seemed like the bus was pretty full already.

"Hey there blondie", he heard his brother say behind him. "You've got a free spot next to you"

At first Dexter ignored his brother's comment, but a soft rebuttal caught his attention. He turned around and saw Steff attempting to politely decline his offer. Turned out she loathed his brother as much as he did; that was oddly nice to know. Steff caught Dexter watching her and at first overlooked him, but when she realized who it was changed her strategy. She told Duncan something Dexter couldn't hear, something he didn't like. He turned and glared at Dexter, approached him with heavy steps and squeezed past him in the aisle.

"Says you were supposed to sit with her twink", he muttered with a dented pride.

Thinking he misheard his brother Dexter looked over to Steff who smiled and gave him a wink. Dexter tried to conceal the blush forming on his face as he meekly took the seat next to who he considered to be the prettiest girl in school. Something popped as the bus's engine started up, but it continued on anyways. At first neither teens said a word to each other, but Dexter's silence was out of fear he would say something stupid. Steff peeked over at him and found his shyness kind of cute.

"Thanks for rescuing me from your brother", she joked in her most grateful tone. "You're a real hero"

"Um…" Dexter smiled at the irony of it all. "…just glad I can help? I know how much of a goon my brother can be"

"Yeah…the other football players aren't much different", she looked off somewhere Dexter couldn't see, recalling some event that must have happened over the summer. "You're a boy Dexter, why can't some guys be happy with what they got? They just keep wanting more…"

That came out of left field. Dexter caught his breath, nervously coughed and rubbed the back of his head. As a guy who didn't have much going for him he couldn't really answer her question, but he'd do his best to give her something.

"I honestly can't answer you", he found himself saying in earnest. "I've never had a full cup to begin with so I'm just happy to get what I get"

To Dexter's surprise Steff found his answer amusing and smiled. There was something about the way he looked when he was sad that reminded her of something. But, no matter how hard she thought there was no answer that seemed to fit. Once the silence set in it felt weird to try and bring up another conversation for the sake of talking so she sat back against the leather seat.

She didn't talk to him the rest of the way to school but sat contently with that charming little smirk on her face. When the bus came to a stop she looked out the window at the school and that smile faded to a near straight line. Dexter swung his backpack over his shoulder as everyone began pushing and shoving to get out of the bus. Steff noticed him leaving and followed closely behind.

"I'll see ya around Dex", she quipped, tilting her head in his direction for emphasis.

"Bye", Dexter replied bashfully.

And something in the way he looked reminded her of him; it had to do with his eyes, they weren't blue, but the shape was similar. She recalled that random person in the building, but shook the idea from her thoughts. This was Dexter after all, harmless little Dexter. He disappeared at times, but was usually discovered stuffed in his locker sometime later. As she snapped out of her sudden train of thought Steff noticed that he was standing in front of her starring and waving, trying to get her attention.

"Oh, um…what?" she lightly swatted his hand away and at no ill will Dexter took a step back. "I'm sorry Dex, I wasn't listening"

"The bell rang", he told her plainly, pointing at the crowds heading into the main entrance of the school. "Time for the first day of school"

She smiled and walked with him into the building. As it turned out the two teens had the same homeroom and first period together. Dexter nearly imploded when Steff even offered him a seat next to her in Algebra II.

The teacher had broken the usual expectation of the first day as he had prepared a pop quiz on the board; it was a way for him to see who had actually passed the last course and who…skated by. Dexter pulled out his new notebook and pencil, setting up his desk to his liking. It occurred to him as he saw those in front scramble for paper that Steff may not have come prepared, but when he turned to her received a pleasant surprise. She had come to school prepared and was giving her friend Valery a piece of loose lined paper.

'That's what get's your blood pumping is it?'

Freakazoid's joke came out of nowhere and startled Dexter; his teacher eyed him with a look that accused him of nodding off. He smiled and straightened his paper so he could get started on the quiz. It was easy really, but Dexter knew better than to look like he'd finished early so he traced over his answers and doodled little pictures on his paper only to erase them. Hopefully the teacher wouldn't be able to make them out.

BUUZZZ! BUUZZZ! BUUZZZ!

Dexter sprung for his pager, but his teacher was upon him in seconds. The device was pried from Dexter's hands and eyed suspiciously. Mr. Foster glared at Dexter as he tossed the device lightly in his palm.

"Mr. Douglas!" he sternly told him. "Pray tell what is this?"

"I have to go to the bathroom!" he shouted. "Oh, I have to go REALLY bad! Can I go? I'm done with my quiz!"

Dexter stood stiff as a board and presented his quiz to Mr. Foster. The man didn't quite know how to take such behavior, but accepted the paper into his hands. He eyed Dexter with a strange mixture of confusion and annoyance.

"Sure Mr. Douglas, you can go take a potty break", he smirked wickedly as he began examining the boys quiz. "But only if you managed to get every answer right on the quiz. Sound fair to you?" he looked down at Dexter's paper and when he looked up had a defeated expression. "You're excused, but no dilly dallying"

"Of course!" Dexter agreed as he snatched the pager and dashed out the door. "Be right back!"

But Dexter was soon after scaling the back fence behind the bleachers and making a run for cover. He caught his breath and unclipped the pager from his shorts. Cosgrove had given it to him as a gift a couple months ago to let him know the locations of criminal activity…and when he wanted to hang out.

Freakazoid would have to remember to tell him that school was currently in. He just couldn't go gallivanting around whenever. Holding the clunky device in his hand Dexter read the location:

Apex Chemical

((Author's Note))

Woo! Book two Bad Bellum has begun. Hopefully this chapter gives you guys a good idea of what life's been like after defeating Gutierrez. Be prepared for more romance, new villains and more abilities (wink wink)

Please review! But you know...only if you wanna. No pressure. (puppydog face)