tyWarning : Long chapter (as in more than twice the usual size), but cutting it in half was impossible for me. It needs to be read in one go.
That’s the number plastered on me starting today. It’s still too small to be considered important enough…
But it’s better than 15.
Day sure seems to be starting off well, what with rain clouds gathering outside. I sighed internally. I don’t have high hopes for today.
BANG BANG BANG
That sounds like Nikita.
“NIKO ARE YOU DONE YET?” Yup.
I decided not to answer, and instead squinted at the mirror.
She got impatient and swung the door open.
“Seriously how long do you need to use the bathroom?” My big sister grumbled in her half asleep voice.
“Do I have a beard?”
“No seriously, if you look closely it looks like there’s some stubble…” I said, leaning closer to my reflection.
“It’s your birthday right? Yes you have a beard.” Niki said, giving my head a small pat.
“Don’t mock me, I swear right here-”
“Okay little man, I need to pee now. Get out.”
It took me two minutes to get ready from the moment my alarm woke me up. I was hyped for today!
I glanced out the window – at the worrying gray clouds – but didn’t let it deter my mood. Rain isn’t necessarily bad.
No. I really have a good feeling about today.
It’s going to be a little busy – I have two or three errands and a test today, but…today is Nikolas’ birthday and I’m excited to give him my present.
I opened my drawer and pulled out the small box, making some last minute checks. I hadn’t known what to get him, but once I’d seen this in a store I knew I couldn’t not buy it for him.
“Now, he might not like it.” I told myself, my face growing serious. “And well that’s okay.”
I really hope he likes it though. He’ll probably get a lot better presents from others who spend more time with him.
“It’s the intention that counts?” I bit my lip. “Right.”
I grabbed the gift and hurried down the stairs.
I dragged my feet on the sidewalk, hating that I could practically feel the rain on my skin already. That and dad.
I mean it’s my birthday is it really necessary to make me repeat every single thing I’ll be doing today can’t I get some kind of loose and what the hell, make me recite all that stuff and then pull out a present like this whole charade isn’t getting tedious-
Something caught my eye and halted my internal rant.
Is that a puppy?
It was standing near the edge of the bank, looking at the river. I can’t see the little thing’s owners anywhere. Did it get lost?
I made my way over to it. It didn’t give me a single glance.
“What are you looking for little buddy?” I asked, trying to see what the puppy was staring at so intensely.
There was just the calm flow of the river.
I gave my watch a quick glance. Bah it’s my birthday, I don’t need to hurry to school.
I let myself slump down onto the ground beside the puppy. If you ignored the impending rainclouds, it was really nice out here, beside the river.
The puppy tended to ignore me, but from time to time it would notice I had a shoe and would try to eat my laces. Or it would play around in the grass.
But it wouldn’t take long before it’d be back in its spot, staring at something.
I wonder what the poor thing’s waiting for?
I couldn’t not stop here. Not after what I heard on the radio. I still had a minute or two to spare before heading to school – and hopefully catch Nikolas in time before classes started.
The river is definitely worth stopping for, but today’s stop was for a whole other reason. Ridgevalley news this morning had been about a young boy’s suicide.
They say he was younger than I am, and they think he was pushed to take that his own life because he was a supernatural, and he’d been constantly bullied because of this at school. So he came to this bridge and jumped, after chugging down an alarming amount of alcohol.
This anti supernatural business is getting ridiculous. It’s stupid and dumb, and it’s just fear making people act out.
I’m sorry you had to suffer that.
I hope, whoever you were, you can rest in peace now.
I know what I said, but I actually thought for a second I’d be late for class.
And yeah, it’s my birthday, but the teachers would call my parents and then I’d be questioned about what the hell I did to be late. A lot of useless chatter really.
Lucky for me, class hadn’t started yet. Everyone else was still waiting outside the classrooms.
I rounded the corner and spotted Zac and his little gang of weirdos chatting and laughing about something.
You know what would be a great present today?
I’ve really gotten better to switching to this state. I still can’t get time to slow down like I’d managed in the police station though.
Zac stiffened as the world around me shifted. His friends, on the other hand, were discussing some new songs they’d found.
Zac snapped around and grimaced at me. “Will you stop that!?”
His friends didn’t react. I was the only one who’d heard him.
“Ha! I knew it! You have the same power I do, don’t you?” I asked. My grin only grew wider as he grew unhappier.
“Well hallelujah for you. But NO. Now stop this crap.” He ordered.
“What do you mean no?”
“I mean drop the fucking subject and stop this. Class is going to start.”
“Ohhh, you can’t control this can you?” I smirked. “So you have like some sort of weaker version or something?”
“Idiot, we don’t have the same power, or else we’d have the same tattoo.” He snapped.
I frowned. “What?”
“Looks like you’re time’s up.” Zac said, just as I noticed one of his friends had walked past us.
“What the hell kid? What are you staring at?” The friend asked my inanimate self. He shoved my shoulder.
I went back to my own body.
“Watch it!” I snapped, after giving the friend a shove in return. I clenched my fist as a warning, just as the school bell rang.
“Is that a challenge kid?” My senior snarled. “I’m not a little geek you can toss around.”
Zac stopped any fight from happening by putting his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “It’s not worth it. He’ll keep fighting till you’ve beaten him two inches from death. You don’t need more trouble.”
The friend laughed at me before going back to Zac and the orange-haired friend.
The worst thing is, I don’t know if I could have beaten him… but I would’ve still tried anyway.
Pfiou so far, not so bad for today. I managed to avoid Zac this morning, that’s a big plus. I didn’t find Nikolas though. I heard he came to school late though.
I weaved through the thick crowd and headed for the journalism club.
I knocked on their door. It opened and I was handed a wad of cash, a thanks, and the door closed again.
The journalism club was working overtime these days and when they heard I was doing any/all odd jobs around school they jumped on the opportunity to hire me as their errand girl. It was mostly for refreshments. They asked me to go buy donuts and coffee, and I got to keep the change.
I poked my head outside the school, and after confirming it hadn’t started raining yet, I quickly made my way down the stairs.
Break didn’t last very long, so I probably won’t be able to find Nikolas in time to give him his present. Well…then again if I hurry I might make it in time…
“This is my unsurprised face.” I said as Elvis once again told me he’d neglected to get a picture or even a look at the tattoo his brother had.
“Shush listen, I didn’t see the tattoo, but…I overheard the doctors or nurses or whatever talking about my brother.”
“Ooh something interesting I gather?” I smirked. Elvis gave me a weak smile.
“They said they put a bandage over it because Dex was having some sort of allergic reaction to it. Like intense reaction. They even said something about finding traces of magic in his system. But you know our family, there’s only my great grandpa who’s got some werewolf from his mom’s side. There shouldn’t be anything noticeable in his blood. And they find that worrying, really worrying. They’re calling it…they’re calling it some kind of magic tattoo.” Elvis said, swallowing with some difficult.
I couldn’t help a small smile. “A magic tattoo? That’s a thing?” I thought that was a myth. Like some type of wishful thinking.
Elvis broke down then – in the middle of the corridor.
“It’s not supposed to be. Magic tattoos were banned for a reason! People can’t handle that type of thing! People die from it! Dexter is going to die!”
“Woah calm down man. They must’ve figured out some way to make it work. That flame kid they arrested is still alive.” I said with a short chuckle.
What had he said though? 50% survival rate?
A small hand grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.
“He has a name you know!” An angry girl practically snarled at me. “His name is Tyrion and you should show him some respect.”
I’ve only seen her a few times around school, but there’s something oddly familiar-
Oh of course! I can see it now! The freckles, the tan skin, the yellow green eyes, the dirty blond hair…
“You’re flame ki- I mean Tyrion’s sister!” I exclaimed and her angry frown only grew deeper. The resemblance was uncanny. “Can I talk to him? Do you think he’d mind?”
“I’ve met your brother before, it’s okay.” I insisted. Well sort of…behind prison bars and such.
“No, no, even if I wanted to I couldn’t.” She said, shaking her head vigorously. Clearly she’d never even want to in the first place.
“What do you mean?”
“The police moved him to…another facility. Out of town.” She said getting angry again. I had the distinct feeling it wasn’t necessarily against me. “Don’t ask why they just thought it’d be – apparently he’s too –” She stopped herself from saying anything else, only opting to glare at me. “Just have some respect for my brother. I’m tired of everyone treating him like some sort of dangerous radioactive material.” She said, before walking away.
“Wow.” Elvis muttered as he watched her walk away.
“I know, I’m learning so many new things today!” I said.
“Glad to see you’re having fun.” Elvis snorted.
“Well it is my birthday.” I grinned.
“Oh yeah happy birthday. Do you want a dare?”
“I have a great dare.”
“You never refuse a dare.”
“It’s my birthday. I don’t feel like beating up a friend because his dare was stupid.”
“It’s not that stupid, it’s an awesome dare I swear.”
“I get to say no on my birthday.”
“No, but imagine this dare okay, there’s a pige-”
Elvis was cut short by my science teacher.
“You’re wanted in the principal’s office.” My teacher said with a half-smile.
Elvis made a haha-you’re-doomed-but-I’m-sorry-for-you face.
I reached the principal’s office just as break ended. He kept me for a good fifteen minutes to talk to me about some complaints he’d gotten of my misbehavior. A lot of complaints. I’d been given a lot of chances, (mostly thanks to my great grades I bet) but things were starting to get out of hand. If I don’t change something soon, I’ll be facing suspension.
I’m really trying to just focus on the good things today.
I stepped out of the student’s committee with another pay in my pockets for a job well done. I’d used up half my lunch, but that just meant I still have the other half left to go see the gang!
I managed to make it back early during break, but Elvis said Nikolas had been sent to the principal’s office – so I missed him.
But luck’s on my side for lunch! The corridors are mostly empty, everyone’s already gone outside.
I heard an irritated snort behind me.
“Well if it isn’t the ice queen herself.” The brunette groaned. I grimaced at the nickname.
“Miss goody two shoes.” The purple headed one sneered.
I don’t know who these two are. I think I might have shared a class or two with them?
“I’m not looking for trouble.” I said, really not wanting to waste more time than I’d already wasted.
“Ohhh, I’m shy little miss Grace. I do errands for everyone because I’m just such a nice person. And I could have any boy I wanted, but I’m too self-centered.” The brunette mocked. I’m not sure what I did to get on their bad side.
“Look, I have somewhere I need to be-”
“Off to see Nikolas? He doesn’t like you. Wasn’t that clear enough? Will you stop following him around already? Some of us have a better chance with him than you do.” The purple haired girl said with unveiled jealousy.
“What? I didn’t know you liked him.” I mean, I know some of the girls tried putting some moves on him, but he always brushes them off and they pretty quickly get the message. “Since when?”
“Does it matter?” She asked, flicking her hair back. A little bit yeah. You don’t even know him. I’ve never seen you around him. This is probably a this week kind of thing.
“I guess not.” I replied, instead of the million other things I wanted to say. I went to leave, but she stomped her foot.
“Hey! You didn’t get the message did you?”
“Look,” I snapped. “Don’t start getting on my case for this. If you want him so bad, and if you’re so sure he’ll like you better, then go out there and get him. Don’t attack me, it won’t do anything.”
“There’s the nasty ice queen we all know and love.” She sneered.
The brunette, who’d made her way behind me at some point, suddenly exclaimed, “I got it! Ooooh 40$, neat…”
“Hey!” I shouted, but the brunette tossed the envelope I’d just earned to the glasses girl. “Give it back.”
“Consider it your annoyance fees. We do have to look at your face every day.” She said, looking hysteric as I tried and failed to get my money back.
“Give it back.” I repeated in a low voice instead of doing something else I’d regret. She was undeterred.
“Run along ice queen. You’re not in your element.” She said, giving me a harsh poke in the shoulder.
I slapped her in return.
It wasn’t even that harsh of a slap.
“You crazy bitch!” She yelled holding her cheek like I’d swung a bat on it.
“Give it back.”
“Hell no!” She shouted, and I feigned to slap her again – as a threat, but the brunette grabbed my ponytail harshly and pulled it back, bringing my head with it.
“No wonder you don’t have any friends.” She spat, as I crouched on the floor, clutching my hair and willing the tears to stay back.
“This could’ve gone so much easier.” The brunette said, shaking her head at me as they walked away with my cash.
I found the nearest bathroom and locked myself in.
I let myself slide to the floor, and I sat there. Mourning the loss of the money I’d spent so much effort gaining. Cursing the stupidity of some people.
And fighting tears that in the end never came.
She’s lucky. The old me would’ve done a lot more than slap her. The old me would have that 40$ back.
Lunch was pretty much over. We were lucky enough not to get the rain just yet. Elvis and I got up, getting ready to head back to our lockers.
“It’s kind of weird we didn’t see Salandra.” Elvis looked around the quickly emptying courtyard.
It was weird. I’d barely seen her since the school year started. That was pretty unusual.
“She was looking for you earlier too.” Elvis continued.
She seems really busy these days.
“Nikolas! There you are.” A way too sweet sounding voice called out. Took me a few seconds to recognize her.
Elvis glanced behind him and then rolled his eyes.
“Remember me right? Elaine?”
She laughed this weird high pitched chuckle and playfully shoved my shoulder. “Very funny.” That wasn’t a joke meant for you. “Well anyways, Halloween is coming up soon right? And usually we host a party at someone’s house.”
“And you should host it this time! Last year was a haunted house theme, but this time we’re going with a Murder Mystery theme.”
“Ha ha. Haven’t you heard? I’m grounded.” I’m surprised the news hasn’t spread to all the students in school.
“So? I’ll take care of everything. You just need to have your parents accept, so you better get your flattery out.” She said, blinking at me a few times.
“I really don’t-”
“You just need to turn on that charm of yours.” She said with a wink. She decided to trail her finger down my arm then, which made me jerk back and frown at her.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go out for a small date? You have my number.” She said with a flirty look.
“I lost it.”
“Oh you’re so mean.” She said with a laugh. “Keep me updated for the party okay?” She added before finally leaving us alone. Elvis snorted.
“She’s really into you man.”
Veronica walked up to us from her lunch spot with Lucas.
“Heard you were hosting a Halloween party.”
“That literally happened two seconds ago.” I snorted. “You have good ears.”
“I like to eavesdrop. Sounds really cool. It’s going to happen right?”
“Are you kidding me? Hell no.” I rejected again.
“But Niko, you love mysteries.”
“I don’t think Elaine’d be able to think up a mystery worth solving.” That girl rubs me the wrong way.
“Aw, she just wants to have a reason to hang out with you. Give me the reigns. All the reigns, I have fantastic ideas for this party.” Veronica enthusiastically said. And then she proceeded to list out some ideas that really did sound good.
Good enough for me to reconsider.
End of school
It started off nicely – nice enough for me to actually have hope that today would go well! But no, decidedly today was just meant to be horrible. I should’ve seen the impending rain as a sign. I’m just waiting for it to start to fall before I get home.
Oh, my uncle wouldn’t be happy if I came home drenched. Especially since he decided to take me out to eat at a restaurant tonight. I needed to hurry home, he said, because he’d made reservations.
If only I’d been able to see Nikolas today, I could’ve called it a success. I’m always so busy. I miss his smirk and his aloof attitude and the banter he has with Elvis. I sighed, it’s a necessary sacrifice.
But, I just wanted to wish him a happy birthday and give him my gift. However, apparently even that was too hard for today.
I undid my ponytail and redid it, barely registering that someone had called my name. Doesn’t matter, either way I have to head home quickly.
It’s only when I’d rounded the block that I realized that had been Nikolas.
And he’d actually called out to me and I’d just walked past like I couldn’t care less. Of all the times…I don’t care if I’m late this is my opportunity!
I kept running, rounding the building on the other side – since it was quicker at this point.
I hope he’s still there! I’ve missed him all day! This is my last chance.
But when I got back to where I’d seen him, there was only a puppy. It looked up at me with its big round eyes and waggled its tail.
“I missed him again didn’t I?”
My shoulders drooped. Really, cue rain at this point.
10 seconds ago
I decided to do an emergency stop when I realized the puppy from this morning was still waiting by the riverside.
I asked around, to the people hanging out near the stores, if this was their puppy or if they knew who it belonged to. Most didn’t, but one of them admitted to thinking it was the kid’s puppy. The kid who’d drowned himself that week.
That really made me sad. I tried picking up the puppy to bring him home or at least to some kind of shelter, but I swear to god that puppy wanted nothing to do with that. It was determined to sit and wait.
So I decided to give it some company. I’d already wasted enough time, a few more minutes wouldn’t change much.
I was saying my goodbyes to the stubborn ball of fur, when I spotted a familiar figure walking down the sidewalk.
“Sal?” I called out, but she didn’t react.
“Didn’t Elvis say she was searching for me? Guess she didn’t have anything to say after all.”
The puppy yelped behind me. I was honestly curious – pretty sure it wasn’t happy birthday. Nobody remembered my birthday today, I even had to remind Elvis and Veronica. But it’s not that surprising. I’m not like Veronica who gives us a countdown to her birthday.
“She probably just didn’t hear me.” I said aloud again, and the puppy yelped in response. “Okay fine.”
I took off at a jog, hoping I could catch her before she rounded another corner.
What can I say? I’m really curious as to what she had to say.
Feels like I don’t see her as much anymore and I have no idea if I really did piss her off. Wasn’t that what Zac had alluded to? And I guess I kind of did brush her off a little harshly when we were talking about my basement…
I reached the end of the alleyway, but when I looked left, right and forwards, I didn’t spot the familiar head of blue anywhere.
I’d missed her and I had no idea which road she’d taken to head home.
Ah well, guess I’ll see her…we’re Friday so Monday then?
I grimaced, might as well head home then.
No one’s POV
“At least you’re cute. Makes my day a little brighter.” Salandra said scratching the puppy on top of its head. It gave a small bark and wagged its tail. “What do you think little guy? Think it’s going to rain before I get home?”
“I think you’ve got a good chance of making it before then.”
Salandra nearly jumped out of her skin, but she’d definitely recognized the voice this time. She spun around to see Nikolas standing there, with that smirk of his. The grin spread across her face.
“We must’ve gotten switched around. I went that way-” Nikolas said, gesturing at the small sidewalk.
“Oh, but I came back around that way.” Salandra cut in, gesturing at the other sidewalk.
At that, both teens burst out laughing.
“It’s been like this all day!” Salandra said between laughs.
“Well day’s not over yet.”
“You’re right. Here.”
Salandra took out her gift, and with slightly shaking hands from her suddenly beating heart, she gave it to Nikolas. “Happy birthday.”
The surprised but extremely pleased expression on his face, made it all worth it. Didn’t matter now if he liked the present or not. (Well half of her thought so. The other half still really hoped he liked it.)
Nikolas, as he unwrapped the gift, couldn’t quite get over the fact that she’d even remembered his birthday in the first place. Let alone gotten him a gift.
Salandra anxiously waited as Nikolas peered inside the box and…smiled. He handed it back to her.
“You’re going to have to put it on for me. I can’t do it one-handed.”
Salandra gave a silent nod and took out the bracelet with his name engraved in it.
He gave her his wrist, and she wrapped the band around it, focusing her attention on the task at hand – and not on how close he’d gotten.
She treated him better than he did. He didn’t even know when her birthday was and here she was giving him a gift.
He wanted to ask her then: When’s your birthday?
Where have you been? You’re always so busy.
Everyone says I’m rude to you and I’m starting to realize that… maybe I am sometimes. But yet, you’re still nice to me?
But his mouth kept itself shut as she finished tying up the gift.
Nikolas looked at it.
“It’s upside down.” He said. Salandra’s face began to turn regretful. “But hey. It just means people’ll see my name right before I punch them.”
Salandra let out a snort for a laugh. It was cute that she tried to hide it.
“Don’t make jokes like that!” She said, trying to contain herself.
“Oh, there’s that promised rain.” Salandra said as raindrops began pattering into the river.
Nikolas hadn’t even realized it was raining until she’d pointed it out.
It was time for both to go home if they wanted to stay somewhat dry.
“So, does that mean,” Salandra began, gesturing at his wrist. “you like it?”
He had a few other jokes to make about it, but he could tell she’d been worried he wouldn’t like it. So he opted for a simple answer.
“I love it.”
She smiled, a smile that reached her eyes. And if she’d looked at him, he would’ve been able to appreciate it more.
“Come on, we’ve gotta get out of this rain before we’re drenched to the bone.” Nikolas said with a small laugh as leaves overhead dropped some strong droplets on them.
They set off running, holding their hands up in a feeble attempt to block the rain, almost slipping and falling in the quickly forming puddles, but mostly laughing when they managed to save the other from a slippery fall.
This is a platonic relationship I swear
Im not sure I came out of writing this chapter intact. Once again these two make it happen differently than planned.
Note: Sooo I made this mistake you see. I signed up for a challenge on Boolprop…a SimNaWriMo challenge, which basically for me means trying to get 10 updates in October. Starting with this one! So that means *takes out chapter calculator* There are two weeks that will have 2 updates, and the other two weeks will have 3 updates. Which is which? It’ll be a surprise
So in the end if I manage this, you guys are just benefiting from this lol. (I was kind of planning to have the Murder Mystery Party chapter posted on Halloween but because of this it’ll probably be posted earlier…)