AN: So I recently found the Truancy Series.

Let's just say I'm now obsessed.

Anyway, I've been working on this for awhile and finally finished it. Hope you enjoy!

(Oh, and it contains minor spoilers for Truancy City.)

Red scowled as he scribbled an answer to his homework. He was only halfway done and already his eyes were drooping. He wasn't sure how—or even if—he was ever going to finish.

Rubbing his eyes, Red sighed and leaned back in his chair. Outside his window, the sky was starless, making it seem as if the City were the only thing in existence; a sea of lights surrounded by a gaping black hole. Under the lampposts, late-goers walked quickly as they cast long, ominous shadows onto the ground. Few were out—or even awake—at this hour, yet there Red was, working dutifully—albeit reluctantly—through the night.

He stared broodingly out the window for a few more moments before turning his attention back to the paper in front of him. Wish as he might, it wasn't going to finish itself.

-:-

Shuffling through the thin, silent mob of students, Red made his way to his classroom. He was early—a first—and still had a little homework he wanted to finish. Reaching the locked door, Red leaned against the wall and slid to the ground, pulling out his homework.

After only a few moments—and even fewer questions answered—a figure detached itself from the growing river of grey, moving towards Red like a phantom.

Looking up blearily, Red nodded his head in greeting as his best friend Axel sat down beside him. The two shared a few of the same classes, their first one included.

Quickly scribbling on a piece of scratch paper, Axel passed the note to Red. You finish the homework?

Red shook his head in reply, gesturing to the half-filled in sheet in front of him. Axel nodded in understanding and wrote another note. That's more than I have done. Think I could take a look?

Turning his head, Red stared sharply at Axel, who looked back with desperate eyes. Red shifted uncomfortably. Sure, they were best friends, but Axel was asking him to cheat. They both knew the consequences for that.

Sensing his hesitation, Axel hastily added: C'mon, man. You know how much Mrs. Davis hates me. I'm screwed if I don't get this at least partly done!

Red frowned slightly. It was true, after all. Mrs. Davis—their strict math teacher—seemed to loathe Axel with a burning passion. In fact, she had spent part of class the previous day telling him what a "horrible little miscreant" he was. But still…

Axel jumped on his indecision. It's one homework assignment. And, really, what are the chances of us getting caught?

Glancing sideways at his friend, Red gave in. He slid his sheet over—inconspicuously, of course—and Axel beamed at him. He grudgingly smiled back, though he was slightly nauseous at what he had just done.

But, like Axel had said, it was a one time thing.

Right?

-:-

Red looked at the paper the teacher just handed him back with something akin to pride. It was always a pleasant surprise when he did better than expected on an assignment or test; he certainly wasn't dumb, but he had never really been the best in any of his classes.

Movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention and Red curiously turned to his right, wondering what could have disrupted the sea of heads bent over the recently returned paper.

His eyes were instantly drawn two rows over and one seat up, where Axel sat grinning and waving oh-so-subtly at him, though for his part, he was careful to not let the teacher see.

Red mockingly grinned in reply, only half teasing. It was rather comical—though very strange—to see the normal monotony interrupted by such a carefree face.

Axel gestured to his own paper happily, which had the same score as his own. Red smiled hesitatingly back, secretly sick to his stomach. Of course it was the same score; they were exactly the same, after all.

This wasn't the first time Axel had turned in an assignment identical to Red's, and each time the feeling in his gut got worse. He wasn't exactly sure what it was; guilt, anxiety, or maybe even anger. After all, Axel didn't exactly deserve the grades he got.

But now that he started, he couldn't just back out. And even if he could, would he?

That was a question he couldn't answer.

-:-

Red stared down at the test in front of him, feeling numb in the mind. Social studies had never been his strong suit.

Still, he had people counting on him; or rather, person.

Catching Axel's eye, Red held up three fingers, then changed it to a fist a moment later, signaling that on the third question, the answer was A. While studying in the library, he had stumbled upon an old book of seldom-used communications—which included basic hand signals.

Red continued to relay his answers to Axel until the essay question, where his friend was left to fend for himself.

Neither took much notice of the teacher looking up from his paperwork.

-:-

As another of the many assignments students were required to do was being handed back, Red looked over at Axel, who was just getting his paper back, the teacher scowling down at him; every teacher acted as if the students had murdered their families. Red mentally rolled his eyes; how messed up was that?

He didn't know quite how unfair it could really be.

The teacher continued passing the homework back until he reached Red, whom he sneered at before giving him his paper. Red frowned as the teacher passed onto the students behind him; he was used to hostile attitudes from teachers, but he normally wasn't singled out like that.

Red shrugged the thought off; it was common for a teacher to treat a certain student more maliciously than usual for seemingly no particular reason. Just because he tended to blend into the background didn't mean he was invisible.

Comforted by that thought, Red tucked his doubts into the back of his mind, where they remained untouched.

At least for a little while.

-:-

"Crap. Crap. Crap," Red repeated under his breath even as he kept a pleasant expression on his face; he wasn't about to let anyone think he was worried.

Because he wasn't.

Really.

Okay, maybe a little.

Or a lot.

It's only the principal's office. What are they gonna do, hang me? He chided himself for being so anxious. Because, really, what was the worst thing that could happen?

Expulsion. Red's seamless façade slipped for a moment as he scowled worriedly, creases lining his forehead. A few students around him glanced at him curiously, wondering what could cause such consternation, besides the usual, of course. Becoming aware of the stares, Red hastily smoothed his expression, continuing down the bustling hallway.

He was being silly, he told himself again. He wasn't even positive they were calling him down for cheating; he had broken several rules before—they were mostly useless in his mind. No talking in the hallway? Red snorted. What a pathetic attempt at maintaining control.

But he didn't know how effective that 'attempt' really was.

Walking down the stairs to the first floor of the District 18 School, Red paused as another thought struck him. He had heard that there was a Disciplinary Officer scheduled to inspect today. That meant that he wouldn't just have the principal punishing him, but also one of the few people whom could expel students.

What a comforting thought.

Red shook his head, mentally berating himself for thinking like that.

He looked over the heads of the students around him—he towered over the elementary school kids whom had their classes here—and tilted his head curiously as he noticed a disruption in the otherwise continuous flow of students.

He made his way over there, eager to delay the inevitable, if only for a little while. As he got closer, he saw that it was a small, skinny redheaded boy that was blocking the oncoming rush of traffic.

The boy, whom was seemingly oblivious to the students glaring at him as he stood in their path, was smiling at a picture taped to the wall. As Red looked at the picture himself, he smiled, too. He could see inner strength in the painting and the kid, despite how fragile he seemed. The strongest people could hide in the most unlikely places; they just needed time to fight their way to the surface. Red didn't want to see this spirit broken along the way.

So he stepped into the bubble of serenity that surrounded the boy, other students rushing by on the other side.

"Hey, that your painting, kid?"

-:-

Despite what he had told the kid—Cross—Red found that life on the street wasn't exactly the life for him.

But he did find it ironic that while so much had changed in his life, the rest of the world remained untouched.

He just saw it in a new light now.

-:-

Red scowled as he rummaged through another pile of garbage. It had only been a couple hours and already he could feel the hunger strengthening its grip on his stomach. He wasn't sure how—or even if—he was going to survive.

Rubbing his eyes, Red sighed and leaned against the cold brick wall. Above him, the sky was starless, blocking from sight the filth that he knew covered the alley he currently occupied. Under the lampposts, late-goers walked quickly, eager to get away from the ominous shadows lurking just in the edge of vision, where the artificial glow does not reach.

He stared broodingly out the alley for a few more moments before turning his attention back to the garbage in front of him. Wish as he might, his food wouldn't find itself.

AN: So I was about three-fourths done with this when I read Truancy City. As much as I enjoyed that little flashback of Cross's, I found that it didn't really fit my story . So if he seemed a little OOC in parts of it, I apologize. I had to go back and change a bunch of stuff to make him seem at least somewhat care-free and not super worried about being expelled :/

Oh, also, Axel was a name used in Truancy City, when they were in the bar and Takan called a bunch of Truants and Cross was like, "Whaaa..? He knows all of them by name?!" I was going to use Ken but then I remembered that he was one of the founding Truants and Zen had recruited them out of the schools, so that didn't work .

By the way, does anyone know if Truancy City really is the end of the series? I mean it said it was the "concluding book" and all, but I mean…He can't just…He can't just leave us like that D:

It'd be awesome if you reviewed :D