HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATIE! You run the best blog ((mooneymannyinthesky on tumblr)) Everyone go check that shit out, I happen to be the crack North bigasseyesfullawonder, yo
All of his life, Jackson Overland Frost has never laid eyes on his father.
Not that his father walked out on him, of course, or that he's an orphan in any way, Jack wouldn't be able to survive without the monthly checks he got in the mail.
But if it wasn't for those checks, Jack would doubt the existence of his father completely. He never picked up when Jack called, he never wrote back, and he only came home when Jack was asleep. He tried to stay up and wait for him, but he always managed to come right when Jack's eyelids began to droop. The man was as mysterious to his own son as the dark side of the moon. And don't even get him started on his mother.
His dad moved often, traipsing from house to house like the circus Jack had wished to run off to. He upgraded his phone and changed the number almost every day; the man was loaded, not that Jack ever knew how he came to be that way, or why he chose to keep his son so far away when he kept sending three thousand dollars in checks every month, or even simply if the man liked Coke or Pepsi. Big details and small details were enveloped in white oblivion, like the envelopes covering the checks he sent. The only information his father ever gave him was way back in the beginning, when he first named the boy.
Jack doesn't even know his dad's real name. It's always whited out on the bank statements, and even when he travels to the bank to deposit the check, the bank tellers, ironically, never tell. It's very possible that he's paid them off, he does have the resources to do so.
And then there are some mornings when he wakes up to find half the house is packed up, and all of the exits are locked. (The man has the money to actually make sure that he can't open the locks when he does so.) It always means they're moving the next day to an undisclosed location. Jack has gotten used to this and hardly ever questions it. All of his stuff is packed up and he's forced to spend the day inside. (He has tried to sneak out of the house, but everything is padlocked and there are even security guards on the other end of every door, which he discovered the hard way.)
So Jack stays inside on his laptop, watching youtube videos take a poorly-aimed stab at comedy, and trying to drink as much soda as he can to keep his stamina up. But he had more of a chance of catching Santa Clause stuff himself down the chimney on a sweltering August day than his own father walking through the front door.
He kept his eye on the front door until he couldn't keep them open any longer.
When he woke back up, he was in the back of a Mercedes Benz, traversing an unknown country side.
Wherever they were going next, he hoped it was cold.
As the long, warped hours went by, Jack had to wonder how much it cost to pay for two cars and their gas to go the same distance with two chauffeurs, and how much cheaper it would've been just to have him ride with his father. He must've spent millions of dollars over the years, just to keep himself a secret from his own son.
Why? That's something Jack Frost has never known. And a part of him wonders if he ever will.
He manages to doze off in the car, and when he comes to his usual chauffer, Cornelius Wind, is shaking him vigorously.
"H-hey, what gives, Wind?"
The chauffer just shoved a sack into his hands and pulled him out of the car.
Of course, Jack wasn't really looking for an answer with that, just like his father, Mr. Wind never spoke to him either.
"What the —" he turned the sack over in his hand. It read Jansport on the side and had two zipper compartments that fit like ripples inside the other, and there were two pockets on either side, formed with a pattern similar to that of a circus's safety net.
"Is this a… back pack? What do you want me to do with this…" he unzipped the larger ripple and inspected the binders and pencils inside.
"Wait a minute." He narrowed his icy blue eyes, "Where are we?"
As if on cue, a bell sounded, loud and explosive in his ears.
"You have got to be kidding me."
He shook his head, his lips quirked up in a smile.
"Public school? Is this his idea of a joke?"
Wind just stepped out of the way and gestured to the huge, daunting public school.
"But it is your idea of a joke, isn't it? You're sick. This is wrong. Wind, there are other students in those classes!"
He just laughed silently.
"You think this is funny? This isn't funny! That one time you honked at that biker and he got off the road and tried to get you to pull over, but you just kept driving and splashed water in his face? That was funny. This? This is not funny; this is very, very serious, I can't go in there, I refuse. I'm going to hyperventilate," he sped up his breathing and sprawled his limbs across the back seat, "See, I'm having a seizure right now. Kids who have seizures have no business attending a public school, now can you please just drive me back to whatever's supposed to be home now and —"
Wind took advantage of his position and clasped his thumb and index around the boy's ankle. He lifted him up by said appendage and dragged him outside, where the cool air coiled itself around the exposed skin on his abdomen.
Other students filling into the building looked at him with amusement and a sprinkle of hostility.
Jack really did not want to go to public school today of all days, he just woke up from a five hour nap across two different time zones, and all he wanted to do was stay in his pajamas and familiarize himself with his new house. Unfortunately, he would be getting the former of those two desires, since he hadn't the chance to change into regular clothes.
Not only would this be his first time around actual people, but a large group of actual people while he was still in his pajamas.
He liked complete strangers. The kinds of people you can say hi to on the street or make a fool of yourself in front of and they'll never be able to hold you accountable, because they don't know you. You could say extremely private and personal things to a complete stranger and never experience any of the consequences.
But these strangers were different. These were the strangers that you couldn't be yourself around, you have to please them because any embarrassment on your part would be permanent, not a single mistake is lost on their narrowed, calculating eyes.
More than anything, Jack did not want to go to school.
He was terrified.
"Wind, let go of me!"
He just shook his head ever-so-slightly.
"This is embarrassing, come on, I can walk."
He shot a disbelieving look over his shoulder.
"I promise I won't run."
He just kept walking toward the front of the school.
A girl sat on the bench outside the front doors. She wore a colorful sweater with a bright yellow scarf, and short, choppy hair that stuck up in different places, a teal streak lighting up her blonde hair. She had dark green jeans that seemed to change colors in the folds.
"Hello, you must be Mr. Wind!" she stuck out her hand, clutching a golden-pink tote bag with the other as the silent man shook it with a gentleness never wasted on Jack himself.
"Very nice to meet you, I've heard a lot of great things! But, um… where's Jack?"
Wind held his ankle a bit higher before dropping him in front of the girl.
The man just smiled before slinking off, which reassured Jack… a little. Wind was always looking out for him, so if he was happy with this, then there must be something right with it.
But then again Wind was a bit of a sadist, who knows what's in store for him here?
But he'd like to take it as a good omen.
"A-are you okay?" she helped him to his feet and dusted him off a bit, "U-uh, sorry about that! You must be exhausted from you trip, all the way from Las Cruces!"
"Las Cruces? Where's that?"
"Wha — New Mexico. You lived there for a month, and you didn't even know what state you were in? How is that even possible?"
"I don't know, why don't you tell me? It seems like you've got more answers than I do."
"Um," she murmured, clutching the tote bag harder, bringing it nearly to her ribcage, "Never mind. Let's start over. My name is Trudy Anna, pleased to meet your acquaintance, Mister Overland Frost!" she shook his hand heartily as well. He felt like his arm would come loose from its socket.
"Uh, great…" he rubbed his shoulder, "But… how do you know my name?"
"I'm you escort, silly! Come on," she wrapped an arm around his elbow and whisked him through the front doors, "Or we'll be late to first period; you don't want that on your first day!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," he stopped and turned on her, "Slow down —"
"No time for that!" she sang, flying off towards a classroom that read DR. BENNETT and LITERATURE below it and 300.2 below that.
Trudy Anna and Jack stumbled in to the classroom blindly, and with a great commotion. Students looked up from homework, either completed or being completed as quickly as possible before checked, and the doctor whose name is embroidered on the classroom gave a look of shock.
"Hello, Dr. Bennett! This is Jack, he's new."
"I see." He sighed, his voice a strange mix of exasperation and excitement, "Well, Jack, since I see you and Trudy Anna are already acquainted, why don't you take the empty seat next to her?"
She practically threw him into one of the far desks, next to the window overlooking the courtyard.
The class period went on as usual, or at least what Jack assumed to be usual for the rest of the students, he really had nothing to compare it to. Jack had never been enrolled in public school for the duration of his life. He took classes online, which allowed him to sleep in late, procrastinate for as long as possible, and spend days on end in his pajamas. Well, as far as pajamas and public schools go, there was no difference there. Some kids looked at him funny for the snowflake-printed nightwear, and because some of them had probably seen his marvelous entrance outside, but other than the initial glances he first received as he tried to get comfortable in the plastic chair, no one paid him any mind.
But that was fine. He was used to that.
The class was different from online school. The teacher spoke the lesson out loud, which basically ensured Jack would only listen to half of it. Dr. Bennett talked about some dead guy who did alive guy things at one point, and what the class could take from his life's struggle and something about the American spirit, Jack didn't even really know. Trudy Anna tried to get his attention a couple times during the lecture, whispering jokes along the way, but he couldn't really make out what the hushed murmurs were supposed to mean, so he just smiled and nodded awkwardly.
There was an odd pain in his chest when Trudy Anna attempted to communicate with him. He felt like he should say something witty back, or laugh, but he couldn't honestly tell what she was trying to relay to him. She could be telling him his fly was down for all he knew.
That, of course, wasn't the case, because he was wearing pajamas. The universe managed to remind him of that fact every few seconds.
The kids were reprimanded for putting their notes away prematurely; the bell hasn't rung yet, Dr. Bennett nearly growled.
It occurred to him then that he should've probably been taking notes.
When the bell rung, Jack stood beside Trudy Anna's desk, feeling like an awkward lug of wood placed in the middle of a classroom, watching as she put her notes away and packed her book bag back up posthumously.
"Hey." He began.
"Oh, hi! Sorry, we all try to get away with packing up when he goes into one of those long tangents about his favorite poets, but he's observant for someone reminiscing great works of the past." She giggled.
"Ahem." Dr. Bennett cleared his throat. She made a noise not unlike a mouse.
She grabbed onto Jack and tried to smuggle both him and herself out of the classroom, but Dr. Bennett called his newest pupil back to his desk before she could actually get away with it.
"Um, yes, Dr. Bennett?"
"It's unfortunate that I have you first period, because there are some things I wish to discuss with you, but perhaps that should wait until after your classes. Mr. Frost, would you be so kind as to drop by my room today after school?"
"Um, yeah. Sure."
"Great. You are dismissed."
Trudy Anna tugged him out into the hall, navigating through a bustling swarm of students with the fifteen-year-old in tow. She did a great job darting back and forth and making sure he didn't get hit in the face by burly upperclassmen racing to get to their next period, or letting anyone with boots step on his feet.
Almost all of the girls here wore boots, he noticed as he glanced down at the bustling community of human feet traversing the halls.
Him? He didn't wear shoes. He never really needed to. He was hardly ever allowed to leave the house, and when he was, he wanted to experience every last sense of the outside world, including the feel of top soil being hoed by his bare toes.
The tile inside was weird, different then grass and mulch and mud, the ground didn't breathe, it didn't sing with the sage advice and wisdom of millennia spent watching humanity clamber on. In a sense, the tile was humanity clambering on, not the impartial, unmoving observation.
The day went on unremarkably, besides the mini heart attacks he would get whenever someone tried to strike up a conversation with him. He had literally nothing to talk about, and even if he tried, he was positive he would mess it up one way or another. The kids will hate him, he's willing to bet his life they will, it was only the matter of time that he concerned himself with.
Every class was like the first. Some kids stared. They got over it. The teacher talked. So did Trudy Anna. Kids packed up. The bell has not run yet. The bell did, and Trudy Anna granted him safe passage to the next one. The classes offered a rotating cast of characters, save Trudy Anna. Maybe that's why she was his "escort."
Jack was in no way accustomed to regular school, but what he could glean from movies and magazines told him that he was a special case when it came to being "escorted." Maybe his dad was paying her.
The courtyard was a beautiful oasis amidst the drab gray and faded maroon of the school. The building itself was constructed in a way where the cinder blocks and concrete seemed to wrap itself around the lush garden. Every classroom on the left side had a perfect view of its tranquility. Jack found himself staring out the window and daydreaming of being out there, among the dancing blades of grass and wavering lilies, with the koi in the center pond to keep him company.
But when lunch rolled around Jack couldn't even try to wander into the courtyard. Trudy Anna was already leading him into the cavernous cafeteria and asking him urgently if he'd rather have pizza or corndogs.
"I… don't have any money on me."
"That's okay," she beamed and leaned in closer to him, flashing the innards of an amethyst and cerulean sequenced wallet, "He always gives me extra money for lunch." She whispered.
"Gotcha." Her smile was bright and spread to his own lips like a rash.
As they waited in line, she didn't remove her arm from around his, but he didn't call her out on it. She chattered excitedly about the people they would sit with after receiving their respective meals and who to avoid and how well their school team was doing at regional's, which was a surprise to everyone, even the coach, though he tried to play it off as something he knew they were capable of through the whole seasons they didn't win a game. With hard work and determination, anything is possible.
Jack laughed despite himself, and despite the coach, whose last name sounded like an expensive dish at a seafood restaurant.
Talking to incomplete strangers was a daunting chore, but the way Trudy Anna just spoke her mind, as if they had been friends for years, made it feel like they were. It felt like he knew her.
After she had paid for both Styrofoam trays heaped with pizza and varying sides, she gave a joyful laugh and an enormous smile.
"Come on! You get to meet everyone now!"
She ran off ahead, and Jack lagged a moment to catch his breath.
He had never seen anyone walk the way she did. Her ankles, creased with colored denim, crossed at every stride. The way she treaded, he was afraid she would trip, but it was a practiced march, no doubt; she didn't lose her step once.
He gave a miniscule, raspy laugh at the wonder of his first…he didn't want to be imposing, but his first… friend.
Was she a friend? He felt a very amiable vibe coming off of her, but maybe it was too soon to really tell if they were friends or not.
She sat down at a table full of boys, all smiles and waves as she sat down. Obviously, her smile was contagious to them as well. There was one of the burly upperclassmen at the table, garbed in a maroon letter jacket with admittedly impressing facial hair. The other two were older than both him and Trudy, but he couldn't be sure exactly as to what grade. All he knew was that the senior with an abominable snowman budding from his chin dwarfed them all considerably.
Maybe he was moving too fast with this relationship. They weren't friends. She had friends already. It was more than probable their dads didn't find them so repulsive that they would spend millions of dollars just to get away from them.
Their dads probably ate with them as a family, and played catch with them when they were younger, and taught them to ride a bike and —
Yeah, he wasn't a friend of Trudy Anna's. She was just a really nice girl, so nice, but so naïve. She didn't understand that her vibrant personality attracted weirdos like him, and she should just stay away. He was a chore, not a friend.
Maybe this was something she already knew. Tomorrow he would be on his own and Trudy Anna would be with her friends and forget all about that Frost boy. Most everybody does, really. She's no different.
"Jack! Don't just stand there, your pizza's going to get cold!" she called to him. The other boys' eyes were on him in an instant, calculating and analyzing.
All he could do was stand there, staring as her smile slowly faded into an impartial line. Jack stumbled forward through the ever-moving current of students, and slowly made his way to her table.
"Um, hi." He greeted, addressing the new faces.
In retrospect, he was probably the new face.
"What were you doing, standing over there? Are you okay? I showed you where the nurse's office is, didn't I?"
"…Uh, no." he answered, but his eyes and mind were on the other boys, who didn't look threatening, but didn't look welcoming.
"Ah, stupid! I should've done that first!"
"That's okay, you said it yourself, if we hadn't have hurried, we would've been late for class."
"I guess you're right." She sighed, taking a bite of pizza and smiling around it, "It's been quite the day, hasn't it? I suppose it must be hard, changing schools so suddenly."
"…Yeah, but I… didn't actually go to a school before this."
"Y-you didn't? Were you homeschooled?"
Jack gave a howl at that, but soon settled down to address the inquisitive furrow to his escort's brow.
"I wish. I did virtual school, you know, online classes."
"Oh! That's cool, things must've been really different th —" she looked up at one of the other boys, who stopped her sentence in its tracks.
"Oh, I – I'm being rude. Jack, this is Nick Saint," she pointed to the bearded upperclassman, "he's known on the wrestling team as North, though, so that's just what everyone calls him, and this is Elias Aster," she gestured to the emerald-eyed, perpetually frowning boy currently working on an egg salad sandwich, "But you can call him Eli. He's a bit of a track star around here, like I said, we're not too great on the sports front, but he's actually really good at running and shot put, and this is Sammy Manen," the name was left to be associated with the last boy, a short, portly senior with golden hair stuck up in odd places, "He doesn't talk much, but he and I are, and I don't mean to brag, but I mean, we are, the art club's greatest members."
Sammy stood up and did a little bow. Jack laughed.
"And, Nick, Eli, Sammy, this is Jack."
At first he wondered why he didn't get such a fancy introduction, but then he figured it was because those sorts of introductions were a friend's only deal. His smile turned a bit sad, which was not lost on the girl seated to his right.
"Uh…Dr. Bennett seems to really like him."
"W-wait… he does?"
She nodded fiercely.
"He doesn't normally summon new students to his room after school, so you must be special."
"That or you're in trouble for being a larrikin."
"Eli! Be nice!"
"Sorry," he said, though he wasn't, "Geez, I was just kidding, mate."
An odd sensation came over Jack in waves. Eli's accent shouldn't have thrown him off as much as it did. But the Australian dialect triggered something inside of him, and his head felt like it was going to split for a second. His breathing felt shallow.
"Jack, are you okay?"
And then it was gone.
"Yeah, peachy, I'm just a little tired."
"Of course," North agreed, "Five hours is long time for car ride."
Jack felt déjà vu rise in him like bile, but he pushed it down just like he did on days he was sick, but didn't want Wind to know and take him to the doctor.
"Heh, yeah," he managed, leaning on the table more than necessary for an able-bodied person.
Sammy fanned himself.
"Sammy's right, all the way from New Mexico in one drive? I've always wanted to go to New Mexico, but not that badly. Twenty-four hours is too long to be trapped in a car for."
"Wai — did you say twenty-four hours?"
"Yeah. I can imagine that's how long it must've taken. A drive from Las Cruces to here? Twenty-four hours at the least."
"I…It was five hours. I checked the clock."
"Time zones change," North shrugged, "It is possible clock was wrong."
"Wait, wait, back up. Where is here?"
"Is that… I don't know, in Vancouver?"
"No. We're in that funny little state right above Florida." She giggled as heartily as before, but there was a gentle undertone to her voice now.
"Oh. That far south, huh?"
"'Fraid so, mate." Eli rolled his eyes. Trudy Anna elbowed him in the gut and he let out a pathetic oof.
"Be nice." She growled under her breath to the alleged track star.
Lunch and the rest of the day went by similarly, but when everyone else filed out of the school in huge waves of shoving and belligerent students, Jack waited. Once the crowd had died down, he snuck his way back to room 300.2. He knocked against the sign that read DR. BENNETT and the man looked up from his paperwork, and around the metallic frames of his reading glasses that had fallen too far down the slope of his nose.
"Jack Frost! Just the man I wanted to see!" his tone took a nosedive, "Please shut the door."
"The door, Jack. Please."
Jack shut the door.
He walked closer to the boy, and Jack thought that maybe Eli had been right. He was in trouble.
But when he gave the boy a once over (and a twice over and a third over and a fourth over), his expression softened.
"It's so great to see you again, Jack."
The taller man had to lean down to fully hug the boy with both arms, and he hugged him as if it was the only human contact he had ever and will ever receive.
Jack didn't want to admit it, but this was the only hug he'd ever been given, and he wanted to hang on, and hug him back as deeply as he was being hugged, but he knew better. He shrugged the man off, and gave him a suspicious and angry look, though all he wanted was to be back in a hug so warm, his mind had to remind him that it was wrong, and weird, and downright creepy.
"Jack, wha —" he caught the boy's glare and his smile deflated into something melancholy, "This morning, when you pretended like you didn't know me, that wasn't for your father?"
Jack shook his head slowly.
"That was for real."
"You really don't remember anything."