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This is parts 1 through 6, so you can catch up. Thanks.
He always sat in the back of the class or alone in the corner of the cafeteria. Everyone knew he was there, but ignored him. He was the outcast of the school. He had gotten a reputation of being dangerous. All that floated around was the rumors.
"Well, what's his name?"
"I don't know. People usually call him 'The Crusher'."
"Yeah, didn't you hear? He got kicked out of his last school."
"I heard he beat up a teacher."
"No, he went ape-shit on some kid. Made him deaf."
"I don't care what he did. Just leave him alone."
"Right, he may go crazy again."
"He went crazy?"
At first they got to him, but after a year of them, he hardened. There were random guys who would pick him out. They'd step up to him, trying to fight him; yet, all it took was one look. At that, they'd walk away and later lie to their friends, saying he punked out.
All he wanted was the day to end, so that he could go home and be away from all the chaos of high school. He never wanted to move. Sure, there had been a fight, but he hadn't been hurt. In fact, the guy who started it lost. He was the one who got hurt; yet, the whole town blamed it on him. He was the bully. He was the one who was out of control. He was the hoodlum who made the town's soon-to-be idol almost blind in one eye. Not only that, he injured two cops in the process. Two of his old town's "finest". Both beaten to a pulp just like the town's idol. As one woman had screamed at him, "You're mad! Maaad!" But he hadn't started the whole incident. It was the idol who wanted to start shit, but he stopped thinking about the past because someone was talking to him.
Someone was actually talking to him.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" came a voice. He looked up and saw . . . beautiful. The guy sat. He was surferish. Really surferish. The voice and body language. The guy was tan, tall, had really dark hair that came almost to his shoulder, pouty lips. And his eyes. They popped; they were just so blue. Not that really light blue either. A deep dark blue that shined continuously. He could get lost in those eyes. His nostrils flared slightly. The guy even smelled good.
"Somethin' wrong with my face, man?" the guy laughed and started eating. After taking a huge bite out of his sub, the guy commented, "You don't-" he swallowed "-say much, do ya?"
He shook his head, shaking himself out of the stupor this surferish guy seemed to put him in. "People here don't talk to me."
"Well," the surferish guy smiled, "I'm not from here, so I don't know the rules." He surveyed the cafeteria. "This place is pretty packed for this lunch period. So it was either sit at one of those tables filled with kids who seem to know each other, or sit at the table with the hot, brooding guy."
Did he just call me hot?, he thought to himself and felt a blush start to run up his face. "Hunter," he told the surferish guy.
Those blue eyes locked with his, "Hmm?"
"My name's Hunter," he repeated, falling into those blue eyes.
"Jas," he held out a hand. Hunter expected a hand shake but received a weird hand slapping thing. He eyed Jas peculiarly. Jas smiled, "You'll get used to it."
"He'll get used to what?" came another voice. Both boys looked up. Hunter glowered upon seeing her. Her name was Nokomis, and she was half Chippewa. The only Native American person he had ever seen with his own eyes. Nokomis had decided that he was such the tragic figure, and that it was her mission to befriend him. Oddly enough, she did just that, but he could never bring himself to admit it. That she had somehow broken through all his walls always bugged him, and because of that they shared a very one-sided love-hate friendship.
Jas smiled at Nokomis. So he does have a friend was his first thought. Nokomis, like most people was struck with his beauty, ten times more accentuated with his smile. She blushed as he answered her question, "Our handshake. He'll get used to it."
"Our?" Hunter asked, incredulously while at the same time and manner Nokomis asked, "Yours?"
"Yeah," Jas laughed, "I am your newest friend, man." Hunter blanched at that realizing that he wasn't going to argue with Jas. That realization ran a chill down his spine.
Nokomis sat down next to Hunter, pushing him over, and held out a hand, "Nokomis." Jas gave her the same hand slapping hand shake, somehow not surprised that Nokomis could do it with no problem. "It's nice to meet you...?"
"Jas," he filled in, "And you must be one of Hunter's friends."
"His only friend," Nokomis rolled her eyes and gave Hunter a sidelong glance. She added, "When he lets me."
Surprisingly, Hunter smirked and jabbed Nokomis in her side. Playfully he told her, "Shut up." Both he and she were stunned at this affectionate display. Hunter couldn't explain why he did it, and Nokomis was jubilant on the inside. She'd been waiting for an action like that for more than a year. She laughed, eyeing Jas. "I don't know what you've done to him, but thanks," she told Jas and returned the jab. Jas saw the smile creeping upon Hunter's face.
Hunter noticed it too, and once he looked into Jas's eyes, he immediately hardened again. He slightly shook his head. This guy had a big effect on him, and after being already fiercely attracted to him, he wasn't about to get stupid and let down his defenses. Last time he did that it ended with his world ending around him.
Jas swallowed deeply once seeing Hunter smile. He wondered what had made Hunter so angry and . . . . sad. Hunter's smile lit up his face, and Jas thought that without his whole demeanor, in the looks department Hunter would win everyone over. Don't fall for him this fast, Jas warned himself. "Jas?" he heard his name being asked. He shook himself out of his thoughts. "Huh?"
Nokomis smiled, "Where are you from?"
"New Zealand originally," he answered, "Then we moved to California and then back to New Zealand, and now here."
"Sounded like you had an accent," Hunter said softly and went back to holing up inside himself. Jas stared at him. He had never met anyone like this before - someone who could easily open up and then completely shut themselves off all in one moment.
"Yeah, well, when we moved here to the States, kids used to make fun of my accent. So I learned how to do an American accent, thought I've been told I sound like an American surfer," Jas explained.
"Hmm..." Nokomis began, "Your accent isn't thick, but it's there. It's nice. A very welcome change to suburban Arizona. Why did your family move so much?"
"My dad's job," was all Jas was willing to answer. The three continued in small talk that went on mostly between Jas and Nokomis. Jas noticed this and continually tried to bring him into the conversation. All he received was a few short-lived replies, but something about Hunter had Jas completely hooked in. He knew his first reason for sitting with Hunter was exactly what he'd said earlier. He had seen a hot guy who just seemed to be so . . . alone. He was quite surprised when Nokomis - who went on about some horrible teacher he had yet to encounter but would in 7th period - had sat down. It seemed Hunter wasn't as alone as he thought. Upon seeing Nokomis, his hope dissipated, thinking she was Hunter's girlfriend; however, that she wasn't became quite apparent quite quickly.
By then he was totally lost on what Nokomis was saying, realizing that she seemed to have a knack for filling up silence. He looked at Hunter thinking, You're the blame for this. Hunter looked up at that moment and again their eyes connected. Almost as if he heard Jas's thoughts, he smiled, making Jas smile in return. Hunter hated himself as he felt a blush rise high into his cheeks.
"You okay?" Nokomis asked him with an eyebrow raised. "You're blushing about something."
Hunter reached over to Nokomis one moment before wrapping his hands around her neck - "Hunter?!" Jas called.
Hunter blinked his daydream away and looked at his hand. After unclenching it, he watched the blood roll down the side of his palm and drip onto the table. Nokomis brought out a tissue, quickly wiping up the small amount of blood on Hunter's hand and the few drops on the table. She took out another tissue and firmly pressed it into his hand. Only his middle and ring fingers had cut him, but the cuts were oddly deep. "You take your meds today? You know how your mom gets on you about that," Nokomis chided.
Hunter sighed. This was another reason why Nokomis bugged him. Within less than a year, she had gotten deep into his life. She decided to befriend him the first day of that his family moved into their neighborhood the year before; so she soon got caught up in everything Hunter, including the things that he hid from everyone else. Hunter's mom would forever be grateful to the girl who saved her son. At that moment Hunter was far from that appreciation. "Not yet. I have them here," he told Nokomis lightly. He took out the little baggie with the three pills in it. He tossed them far back in his throat and swallowed.
Jas didn't know what to make of the situation. One minute he and Hunter shared a... moment and Nokomis teased Hunter. Then, Hunter got this empty look in his eyes and blood dripped from his hand. Both Jas and Nokomis called him a few times before Hunter snapped back.
"Don't look at me that way," Hunter hissed, a harrowing ice coming over his voice.
Jas felt attacked. He didn't think that he gave Hunter any sort of look, and the tone of Hunter's voice shook him. "I'm sorry?" he apologized weakly. "I didn't mean to." He hoped that would make it slightly better, but judging by Hunter's stare, it wasn't. Luckily, he was saved a further awkward moment when someone else walked up.
"Dal, man, what's up?" Nate "Krazy" Hopkins leaned down and gave Jas a fake punch to his shoulder. Krazy then looked at Hunter and Nokomis. He gave Jas an incredulous half-grin, "Why are you sitting with The Crusher and Indie?"
Jas was glad that this tall - even taller than himself - guy broke the tension of his, Hunter, and Nokomis's situation, but upon hearing the name Dal, he instantly became annoyed. "I'm not Dal," he rolled his eyes at Nate.
Nate eyed him weirdly and shook his head in disbelief, "Dal, what are you talking about? We've had most of our periods together today. I said I'd be a little late for lunch, but you could hang out at our table with Sean and Dan-"
"Who's Dal?" Hunter found himself asking Jas. Just a moment before, he was ready to jump down Jas's throat after seeing the usual something's-off-about-that-kid stare. After Jas's apology - which he accepted implicitly and instantly - he was fine with Jas. Now, Krazy Hopkins thought Jas's name was Dal, and anything to do with Jas . . . well, he admitted to himself that he wanted to know.
"My bro-" Jas started to answer but was interrupted by yet another appearance.
"Kraze, what are you doing over here? I thought you said we were eating at Sean and David's table?" Hunter, Nokomis, and Krazy all did a double take. Their eyes flowed from Jas to the newcomer who evidently was Dal.
"Shit man, I didn't know you were a twin!" Krazy said excitedly. He gave Dal another look. The brothers were completely identical in his eyes. "I've never known identical twins before."
"Twins?" Nokomis asked. Dal looked down at her and thought, Damn. He held out a hand to her, "Dal." They shared in the same hand slapping that she and Jas had earlier.
"Yeah, and she's Indy," Krazy laughed, clapping Dal's shoulder. Nokomis quickly hit Krazy in the crotch and smirked.
"Just because I'm half Chippewa does not mean you shits can call me 'Indy'," she glowered at the doubled over Krazy whose hands covered his crotch.
Dal and Jas both shook their heads and added in unison, "That is not cool!"
"Dal, why don't you and 'Kraze' just naff off, okay?" Jas suggested.
Dal nodded. He began helping Krazy up, "Yeah, nice meeting ya Nokomis and . . ." he came to a pause, realizing that he had just seen the quiet blond-haired guy who stared unnervingly at Krazy. "Sorry, I never got you're name," he said to Hunter.
"Hunter," Jas filled in.
"Well see you later," Dal went back to his table while Krazy limped after him, too embarrassed to look back.
"Good going, Nokomis," Hunter said softly and jabbed Nokomis in her side lightly.
"Thanks," she smiled and looked at her watch, "Ten minutes before lunch's over. I think I'm gonna get a head start on Bransbury's class. You and Jas have McManmon together next. Why don't you take him?" With that she left the two at the table.
"You wanna get a head start, too?" Jas asked Hunter. When Hunter didn't answer, Jas went on, "Well, it may be easier for me, you know. Without a lot of people in the halls, right?"
"Whatever," Hunter responded emptily, but brightened when he looked Jas in the eye and saw him smiling. He started to get his trash on his tray and stand up.
"Lead me, 'Crusher'," Jas joked doing the same.
Hunter stopped what he was doing, "Don't call me that."
"Sorry," Jas apologized, hearing a faint reminder of the ice starting to flow into Hunter's voice.
"'S fine," Hunter threw his trash away in a nearby trashcan, picked up, his book bag and started out the cafeteria. Jas followed closely behind, making sure to memorize the image of Hunter's ass and calves as he walked a head of him to their seventh period class.
Helena looked at her son when he came in the house, and immediately she knew something was different. He wasn't so withdrawn. His eyes weren't unfocused and despondent, and was that . . . a smile? She wanted to know what caused this. She wasn't suspecting anything bad. She just wanted to know, but for the past year, it seemed that she couldn't communicate with her son anymore. Granted, it was her idea to move here; yet she had never told Hunter that. Though, she knew that somehow he knew it was her idea, and she had yet to be forgiven - well by Hunter. Salene, the older of her two children, had no problem with it whatsoever. That girl could make friends anywhere she went, and she had. Helena just wished Hunter could pick up on that too.
"Hunt, how was school?" she asked.
Hunter shifted nervously. He didn't want to talk to his mom. He didn't want to deal with her especially since Jas and Nokomis hadn't come in yet. Nokomis's coming over after school was no special thing. She lived next door, but Jas? A new person? A new "friend"? He did not want her to get too excited. He didn't even know himself how Jas got him to agree to come to his house.
"Um. . . School's fine," he paused as Nokomis and Jas came in, "This is Jas."
Helena behaved just as Hunter thought she would. She failed at being subtly thrilled that Hunter had brought home another friend and greeted Jas with a strong hug. "Nice to meet you, Jas. I'm Helena." Jas was at first taken aback by the hug, but he handled it smoothly, almost as if hugging was his normal greeting. Helena took a step back, saying hi to Nokomis, and surveyed Jas. She saw Hunter roll his eyes at her hug and thought nothing of it, but then she saw how Hunter looked at Jas. Immediately she pulled her son aside, telling Nokomis to take Jas downstairs to Hunter's room.
"What do you want?" Hunter scowled at her.
"Not that tone from you," she quipped while Hunter sighed. "Jas, he's new?"
"And you met him at school today?"
She took a deep breath before asking what she did next, "You like him?"
Hunter leered at her. "That's my business," he answered icily.
"Just be careful," she warned, just as icily. She lightened her tone, "We don't want a repeat of-"
"I'll be careful," Hunter interrupted her and went downstairs.
Helena sighed. "I hope so," she said to herself.
Hunter started down the basement stairs, softly closing the door behind him. He heard Nokomis and Jas talking to each other.
"Wow," Jas began, "his bedroom's back there, bathroom straight across, TV and sitting area over there and this free space in the middle. It's like having your own little apartment."
"You haven't seen the coolest part," Nokomis commented.
"There's more?" Jas asked, wondering what more there could be.
Nokomis walked over to the light switches and jumped with a start upon seeing Hunter standing there. "I didn't know you'd come down," she said lightly.
Hunter came up next to her, "You were gonna show him?"
Nokomis nodded and asked, "Is that okay?" Hunter simply shrugged and went over to Jas.
Jas turned around and saw Hunter standing there. He wrapped an arm around Hunter's shoulder, leaned his head down a bit and commented, "You didn't tell me your room would be this sweet as."
Hunter took a sharp intake of breath once Jas touched him. He swallowed deeply and closed his eyes, relishing in how good Jas touch felt and how sexy he smelled. After regaining himself, his body immediately tensed up. He didn't want to give Jas the wrong idea. Not so politely, he removed Jas's arm from around his shoulder and asked him, "Sweet as what?"
Jas noticed how Hunter relaxed and was pleased until he felt Hunter tense up. He frowned as Hunter practically swatted his arm away. He liked the feel of Hunter's body against his, and he had totally felt Hunter momentarily give in to the contact. He finally decided to answer Hunter's question. "You know... sweet as." Hunter gave him a blank look. "Um . . . really cool would be the more American term," Jas explained more.
From behind the TV stand bound a lithe, tall, white cat. Its fur was very short making it look very well groomed. It surveyed the room and ran to Jas first, sniffing his sneaker-covered foot and then rubbed against him and it went between his legs. Hunter bent over to pet it, and Jas found himself transfixed on Hunter's ass again. Hunter picked up the cat, facing Jas, and was struck by the lustful look he came to. He didn't know how to react to that look. Luckily he was saved when the lights went out.
Nokomis flicked the last switch turning on the black lights in the room. Jas's mouth hung agape at what he saw all over the walls and ceiling. Words and symbols glowed in the black light, spilling down and across the walls, running along the ceiling. It looked like calligraphy. Each symbol flowed into the next. Nokomis walked joined Hunter and Jas in the middle of the free space.
"What . . . what is...?" Jas asked, walking slowly around the room. He turned back, looking at Hunter whose blond hair glowed along with the white cat. That was the first time Jas really noticed Hunter's hair, which was in between being long or short. Some of that hair had fallen in front of Hunter's eyes, and Jas had to stop himself from going to him and brush it out of the way. He shook his head, Damn, I can't like him this much this fast.
Nokomis interrupted his thoughts, "Hunter wrote this."
"You did all this?" Jas asked Hunter amazed.
Hunter hoped his blushing didn't show in the odd light, "Yeah. I do it when I-when I need to recoup."
"Where do you get the idea?" Jas asked examining some words that had been written so that they looked almost like a large flower.
"Dreams. . . And sometimes when I forget to take my meds. I s-see things," Hunter answered, not wanting to say anymore for he felt that he had already said too much.
"See things?" Jas asked and frowned yet again when Hunter fell silent. He looked to Nokomis, who just shook her head. "Well, this is majorly sweet as. It's incredible."
Hunter just grunted and continued to pet the cat. "Vista," he said in his quiet tones.
"Hmm?" Jas asked.
"The cat. His name is Vista," Hunter explained, going over to Jas and offering the cat to him. Jas cautiously scooped it up. It immediately licked his fingers, its rough tongue scraping against the tips. He liked Vista, and it seemed Vista liked him. Hunter smiled, "He likes you. You get points."
Jas was just about to ask him what he meant when the sound of footsteps with and an annoyed voice came running down the stairs. "Hunter, where is my fan? It's not like you need it down here, and the air's acting up again. So it's really hot upstairs. This damn heat. I mean sure, I'm used to it now, but no air conditioning? Who can function-" Salene stopped her complaining once she entered the room. She saw some guy holding Vista, and even in the odd light she knew he was hot. She went over to the light switch and turned all the lights off. After that she walked to the large pane glass doors and pulled the curtains back. "There now that's better. Really, all that wasted sun outside," she complained further. She turned sharply, whipping her long fire-red dyed hair around her. She walked as sultrily towards Jas and Hunter. She smiled her eyes flowing up and down Jas. Long dark hair, tanned skin, brilliant dark blue eyes. That smile, and as far as she could tell there was a nicely muscled body underneath the t-shirt and long shorts. She smiled to herself, noticing that Jas's t-shirt was just tight enough to make it seem as if he was showing his chest off.
Acting as if she was only standing close to him to pet Vista, she beamed at Jas and batted her eyes, "And you would be...?"
Jas noticed her flirting and flashed her what Hunter saw as an equally flirtatious smiled, "Jas." Hunter's eyes shot darts through his sister. This went unnoticed by Jas and Salene. Jas continued, "And you must be Hunter's sister. Salene, right?"
Salene moved closer, "Mmhmm. Where're you from Jas. That accent of yours is nice."
"New Zealand originally."
"Originally?" Salene pried for more information while continuing to inch closer and closer to Jas.
Hunter found himself acting totally out of character. He ran into his bedroom, retrieved the fan, and very purposefully moved in between Jas and his sister. He handed her the fan, "Yeah, so here. Now you won't be so hot." He glared at her. A look that quite simply said Get out.
Salene rolled her eyes but smiled at Jas one last time. "Well, I got what I came for. Nice meeting you, Jas."
"You, too," Jas returned.
Salene made sure to sashay as much as possible as she crossed the room and went up the stairs. "Oh yeah, Nokomis. Didn't notice you there. I have the facial cream you wanted."
"Oh good!" Nokomis exclaimed and looked back to Hunter and Jas, "I'll be right back, guys." She followed Salene up the stairs, leaving Jas and Hunter alone in the basement.
Jas thanked Helena for the ride home as the two of them got in the car. He hadn't really thought how he was going to get home when he invited himself over Hunter's house earlier that day. Helena kept the conversation going, and Jas found he didn't have to contribute much to it. She asked Jas the usual questions. "So, where are you from, Jas?"
"New Zealand originally," he answered.
Helena seemed very impressed by that, "Oh? Is this your first time coming to America?"
Jas shook his head, "No, we moved here to California when I was eight and stayed for two years before going back home. Now we're here."
"Why did you all—"
"Move so much?" Jas finished her question, "My dad's job is all. His company transfers him to different offices as he's moved up within it."
"Oh, well do you have any siblings?" she asked, peering over to him. She wanted to know all about Jas. He seemed like he'd be a good influence on Hunter.
"I have a twin brother named Dal and then there's my younger brother and sister," he answered casually.
"Oh you have a twin! Is he identical?" Helena's eyes twinkled as she asked.
"Make a right here," Jas told her. She eased the car around the corner, still eyeing Jas expectantly. Jas nodded, "We're identic—"
"Oh my God! I'm an identical twin too! My sister's name is Harmony! Till this day people can't tell us apart. Though in our teen years we went through that `we're-not-the-same-person' phase. Oh! You should've seen me. I went very disco while Harmony got completely bogged down in punk scene. She even started to talk in this British accent and went by the name `Harm'..." Helena continued on about herself and her twin, Harmony.
Jas didn't pay much attention, as he looked out the window. He only had to offer mmhmm's, right's and yeah's. That was enough for Helena to hear; to keep talking. He looked down at his hands, making him think of Hunter's episode earlier that day at lunch. Then he thought of the moments in the basement.
Once Salene and Nokomis had gone upstairs, he closed the curtains, making the room dark once more. He then turned the black lights back on and put Vista down. The tall cat sat in the spot where Jas had placed him and almost expectantly watched both Jas and Hunter. Jas continued to stare at all the markings all over the walls and ceilings, marveling at them. He grabbed Hunter by the hand and pulled him towards the far side of a wall away from the doors to outside.
"This," he said, pointing to words and symbols that looked like a flower, "Does it mean anything?"
Hunter didn't respond at first. All his attention was on the hand that held his. The hand that belonged to Jas, and the feelings that were bustling through him because of that simple contact. He yanked his hand out of Jas's none too gently. He shrugged, "I'm not sure."
Jas raised a brow, "So it does mean something?"
Hunter found himself getting annoyed. He hated being asked a bunch of questions. "I said I'm not sure. I just write them," he explained.
"But..." Jas began, "It's not just that, though, Hunter. It-it's how you've done it. Seems to me that thought and effort go into—"
"No! There's none of that," Hunter interrupted, his voice rising as he started becoming angry, "All you see on these walls aren't some thought out work of art or anything! They're like—like mind ramblings. That's all!" Jas opened his mouth to speak, but Hunter continued. "Crazy boy doesn't take his pills," he rolled his eyes referring to himself, "And he hears them. And they tell me these things, and I write them on the walls and ceiling because if I don't the others will get me." Hunter snapped his mouth shut. He had never directly told anyone but his mom and psychiatrist, Dr. Reed, about the voices.
Jas stood there as if struck physically by Hunter's words. As he started to respond, Hunter interrupted him again. This time his voice was low and defeated and sad. "So now you know why everyone at that school avoids me. I'm crazy, and all these things on the walls are ramblings of a crazy person. They're weird, strange, and stupid."
"No," Jas countered firmly. "They're quite nice. They're beautiful."
Hunter found laughter bubbling up in him and began laughing. Jas looked at him, bewildered. Hunter laughed, "Your accent came on really strong."
"What?" Jas asked him, scratching his neck lightly.
"When you said `quite nice'. I don't know if I can even do it, but it sounded more like `quoite noice'," Hunter explained.
Jas laughed to and put his arm around Hunter's shoulder, pulling him in close. He pressed Hunter into his side as tight as he could, not wanting Hunter to knock his arm away again. He pointed to the flower looking shape again, "You see that, Hunter? That is not weird, strange, or stupid. That's beautiful. I don't care what you hear or not. I just know that these symbols and words or whatever, are some of the most . . . uh—awesome things I've ever seen."
Hunter blushed at the compliment. Color rose up in his face all the way to his forehead. Jas was pleased with himself, happy that he could make Hunter blush like. Hunter turned his whole body away from Jas upon seeing his satisfied expression. Sure, part of his blushing was because of the compliment, but it being this bad was due to how much Jas's touch turned him on. Turning away proved to be a mistake too, for Jas pulled Hunter in closer thinking that Hunter was trying to break their contact. I'm not ready to give this up, Jas thought to himself.
Pulling Hunter in closer put him directly in front of Jas. The front of his body pressed into the back of Hunter. Hunter relaxed again, this time more so than before. Jas grinned and brought his other arm around Hunter and pulled him in tighter. He lowered his head intending on just resting it on Hunter's shoulder, but Hunter shocked him turning his head around kissing Jas.
At first Jas was surprised by the kiss, but soon he gave into it, turning Hunter's body around. As Hunter turned his body, their mouths stayed connected. Jas turned his head and slightly opened his mouth was shocked again feeling Hunter's tongue swiftly lick around his lips and dive inside. Jas moved forward, forcing Hunter back until he was pinned against the wall. He took his mouth from Hunter's, planning to nibble on Hunter's neck but found himself on the floor in the next instant. Hunter had pushed him away!
"But I thought you—" Jas began but stopped after seeing the accusatory look in Hunter's eye.
"Don't do that too me. He did that too me. Used me cos he knew how I felt about him. Paid me a compliment and suddenly I couldn't control myself. I'm not falling for it again!" Hunter stormed to his room slamming the door shut so hard it made Jas jump.
A large, burly man came quickly down the stairs, coming into the room. He went over to Jas and offered a large paw. A paw was exactly what this large hand made Jas think of. He looked up and easily saw Hunter in the large face which sat on an equally large and strong-looking neck. Jas took hold of the paw and was effortlessly lifted from the floor. "You must be Jas," came a very baritone voice that matched this man, Hunter's father. Jas nodded. "Sal," he said, shaking Jas's hand. The grip was one that aimed to crush, but Jas tried his best to match it. Hal grinned at Jas and clapped him on the shoulder, making Jas step forward slightly and looked up at Sal. I'm 6'2" and still have to look up into his eyes, Jas was awed with the sheer size of this man.
Sal's expression darkened and he looked squarely into Jas's eyes. "You didn't do anything to provoke him did you?" Jas figured that by `him' Sal meant Hunter. "Cos he's . . . y'know . . . not all there in the head sometimes," Sal continued and added under his breath, "Just like his mom."
Jas found himself suppressing a laugh at that last comment. "I didn't try to provoke him. I don't know what went wrong originally," Jas began and then began thinking out loud, "I mean I kissed him first, but he kissed me back and..." He stopped himself and fearfully looked at Sal. For a moment he panicked, not knowing if Hunter's parents even knew that he might be gay. He wasn't even sure himself whether or not Hunter was really gay.
Sal's fake broke into a toothy grin. "And you and he just met today? Damn, you kids move fast these days." Seeing the relief flood into Jas, Sal clapped him on the back again and laughed deeply, "We know Hunter's gay. It's no secret. . . So you kissed him?" Jas nodded. Sal shook his head from side to side, frowning, "Did you compliment him before that?"
"Yes," Jas answered.
Sal let out a long sigh, "I'll let Hunter get comfortable enough to tell you the whole story, but that's what a former friend of his did, and then that same friend `outed' him. He's kinda sensitive about it still. . ."
"Oh," was all Jas said. He looked back towards Hunter's door. "Can you or Helena give me a ride home?" he asked Sal.
"Helena can. I'm about to head back out. C'mon," Sal began to go back upstairs. He paused and turned back to Jas, "Just give Hunt some time. He'll come around."
"Jas? Jas, hon?"
Jas blinked a few times and looked over to Helena. She smiled at him, "Don't know where your head is. For a moment it was up in the clouds or something." She laughed at her observation. "Which road do I go down here?"
"Reston, on the left and then you make to more turns," Jas answered.
"Reston and then two more turns. You live in this area?" she asked slowly driving the cars through the neighborhoods filled with large houses with too much land.
"Yes, we do," Jas rolled his eyes. Why else would you be bringing me here? They made their last two turns ending at large cul-de-sac. His house was the second on the right. "This one here," Jas told Helena.
She stopped the car and peered through the passenger seat window. "What nice home," she commented. She put a hand on Jas's shoulder, "You have a nice day, Jas. Hope we'll be seeing more of you around." She beamed at him.
"Bye Helena," he opened his door, got out the car and jogged to the front door. He gave Helena one last wave before she drove off and fumbled around his book bag for his key, which he couldn't find. Just as he was about to ring the doorbell the front door opened. Before him stood the guy Nokomis had hit in the balls earlier that day. He remembered Dal calling him `Kraze'.
Krazy opened the screen door and laughed, "I've never known identical twins before. It's cool though. Dal just stopped what he was doing and told me to answer the door cos you were here. And here you are. It's just . . . weird, y'know?"
Jas just smiled, "Yeah, sure." Krazy stepped out of his way letting him in the house and closed the door behind him. Jas headed toward the kitchen, knowing Dal would be there. Dal was pouring water over the fruit already in the blender. He called over his shoulder to Jas, "Kia ora."
"What's wrong?" Jas asked Dal immediately, not returning his hello. Krazy gave him a bewildered stare.
Dal turned around and made a couple of facial expressions and glanced at the newly hung clock on the wall. Krazy stood their awkwardly, not knowing what was going on between the twin brothers. Jas just sighed, reading Dal's expressions: We'll talk later. "What did I do?" Jas asked in response to the silent command.
"Later," Dal said simply. Krazy stood there not knowing what to do, but he could sense the tension between the brothers. He attempted to make a dumb blond joke which got him the same bothered look from both Jas and Dal.
"So what happened to that guy who was here the other day?" Salene asked Hunter. She poked him in the arm. "Are you listening to me?"
Hunter smiled – something Salene noticed he'd been doing more often. He poked her back in the arm and answered jokingly, "No."
Salene leaned on her hands and scooted closer to the table, "Don't be a shit, Hunter. I know you don't like questions. That doesn't mean I should be purposely ignored. Now really, what hap—"
"He kissed me," Hunter whispered, looking down at his plate of food. At that moment a ball landed in his plate tossing salad and dressing onto Hunter's shirt. A little boy, one of Nokomis's cousins, ran up to the table, picked up the ball and rolled it on the grass, cleaning it off. He looked up at a glowering Hunter and fearfully whispered, "I'm sorry." Hunter just grunted in response. The little boy continued to stand there until Hunter shot him a look. With that he ran away.
Salene passed Hunter some napkins and started to clean the table while Hunter cleaned himself off. "So...," she began, "he kissed you..."
Hunter sighed, "He used me just like G—like he did."
"How?" Salene asked, confused and continued, "Gary was an evil fucktard who felt that he was entitled to everything. He thought that anyone but himself was shit. He used you. Your friend didn't strike me as someone like Gary." Hunter shrugged in response while Salene mumbled, "Plus, he was ten times hotter."
A blush rose up over Hunter's face. He nodded in agreement. Nokomis suddenly plopped down on the bench and swung her legs under the picnic table. She moved over pushing Hunter further down the bench. She leaned a head on his should, an action she wouldn't have done two weeks ago. "So, you two enjoying yourselves?" she asked Salene and Hunter.
"Of course," Salene answered flicking her now blue hair over her shoulder. She smiled to herself asking Nokomis who the guy was playing football with some of Nokomis's younger cousins.
"That's Brian, another cousin of mine. He goes by Ahmik though," Nokomis supplied and then added before Salene could ask the question, "Yes, he's your age." Salene smiled making to get up from the table. "I think I'm going to join the football game—" She stopped talking seeing Jas come into the backyard followed by another his exact double both of whom came tentatively over to the table. Nokomis followed Salene's eyes and smiled upon seeing Jas and Dal. They smiled back, Dal offering a little much in his smile.
Jas pulled his twin back away from the table, seeing that Hunter, as usual, sat with his head down slightly. He hadn't noticed Jas or Dal's entrance. "Could you join the footy over there?" Jas asked Dal.
"Cos of that Hunter guy eh," Dal surmised and then set his sights on Nokomis, "Sure. Maybe I'll get Nokomis alone." He threw a lascivious glare towards her.
"Don't be so transparent. I just wanna—"
"Talk to Hunter alone," Dal finished, raising a brow. "So what did you do that whenever he looks at you, it looks like he wants to waste you?"
"I . . . it's . . . uh. . . ."
"Complicated," Dal finished. "Well go make up," he advised. His voice took on a lecherous tone, "I'll talk Nokomis into—"
Jas hit his twin lightly in the stomach, "She's my friend. Be respectful."
"Okay," Dal gave in and headed over to Nokomis.
Jas watched the two of them talk for a moment, and then they and Salene joined some kids in the football game. He turned his attention back to Hunter and tentatively made his way over to the table. He purposely sat opposite Hunter and softly greeted him, "Hey."
Hunter was thrown out of his thoughts and looked up, seeing Jas. "Who said you could be here?" Hunter asked immediately.
"Nokomis invited me and Dal," he answered softly.
"Don't mean you have to sit here," Hunter snapped and started to stand up.
Jas caught his arm and pulled, making Hunter look at him. "I never tried to use you."
Hunter shrugged, "So you're saying you didn't try your best to get to kiss me."
"Well then, it looks like there's nothing more for us to say, so let go of my arm," Hunter growled.
Jas sighed and gazed at Hunter incredulously, "Where is all this anger coming from? I meet you. We seem to get along. You invite me to your house—"
"I think you invited yourself," Hunter interrupted.
"Well, I asked and you agreed Hunter," Jas countered, still holding Hunters arm, "So what if I only asked cos I took a shine to you. You agreed, and it was you who kissed me, Hunter. I just wanted to be . . . y'know . . . close. . ."
Hunter stared at Jas in what was mostly disbelief, though he knew Jas was right. He tried his best to respond but couldn't think of anything. He noticed that now both he and Jas were almost standing at the table and that most of the guests attention had turned to them. He ripped his arm from Jas's grip and did the first action to come to mind. He ran.
"So, what was that?" Dal asked.
"What was what?" Jas dodged the question.
"What did you do to make your friend get that angry? Why'd he run away like that?" Dal asked more specifically.
"I don't know. He needs to stop whingin'," Jas complained and took note of their surroundings. "Where are you driving us?"
"We need to talk," Dal answered, looking over to his twin.
"About...?" Jas rolled his eyes.
"You and Hunter eh. Is there—is there . . . something going on there?" Dal asked tentatively, and after seeing Jas's shocked expression he quickly added, "I mean . . . not like it's bad or anything. I just—well, we're twins and all. Aren't we supposed to be like the same?" He seemed to be asking himself more than he was asking Jas.
Jas didn't know what to say. He looked at his brother pleadingly. Just say yes, he told himself, but he couldn't find his voice. Dal picked up on that, "So, by your silence that means yes, right?"
Jas started to panic. He began taking deeper breaths. His eyes scanned all around the car and continually landed on the door handle. If only he could jump out. . . He damned the car for being in motion. Dal began mimicking his twin's behavior, breathing just as hard. He nervously filled the thick silence with more rambling.
"I wouldn't hate you, Jas. Like not at all. You're my twin. I wouldn't understand it. How you can like . . . guys. . . And sure it would take time to get used to it, but I would. I mean. I wouldn't embarrass you or anything or tell mum or dad. I kinda' suspected eh. Caleb said he had seen you and Tommy `being yucky' when we were like thirteen. I didn't believe the—"
"Little snot saw that?!" Jas exclaimed, referring to their younger brother. When he was little kid, anything involving hugs or kisses was "being yucky". Jas remembered Tommy being so bold as to "whip it out" when the two of them were alone, and then he boasted on how huge it was. Jas blushed remembering his first kiss, which was right after he gave Tommy the first of many hand jobs. It was in their basement while Dal was sick and quarantined to their bedroom.
Dal snapped Jas from his thoughts, "So you and he did—" He couldn't bring himself to finish and finally burst out with, "For how long?"
"On and off till we moved here," Jas whispered, surprising himself. He didn't think he had to courage to say anything yet.
Dal slammed on the breaks, jolting both he and Jas forward. "Who are you?" he asked Jas. A woman in the gray car behind them threw her hand onto the horn. A loud continuous honk lasted about 20 seconds before she drove by them and yelled, "DUMBASS!!! GET OFF THE ROAD!!!" out her window.
"Dammit, Dal, what's wrong with you?! You can't just stop in the street like that!" Jas chided his brother.
"What's wrong with me?" Dal repeated the question looking at Jas incredulously. "I'm not the one who's been fucking Tommy for the past three years!"
"We only went all the way twice . . . well once really cos I hurt him too much and—" Jas quickly shut his mouth. He didn't know where he'd gotten this sudden courage from, but it seemed to him that he was just telling Dal things he always wanted to tell him. Now that his secret was out, it was easier.
"Jas, I can be okay with you liking . . . guys, but please spare me the details of you and Tommy's sex life," Dal said much more calmly.
Jas laughed nervously, "I'm sorry, but I don't know. . . I've just kinda wanted to tell you about me, about Tommy, and about one or two other guys before this. I just . . . never had the courage eh."
"Just let me get used to it," Dal responded softly, and he meant it.*******************************************************
"I figured you'd be in here," Nokomis said softly after opening the door to Hunter's closet. The closest wasn't big enough to be called a walk-in, but it was long – the length of its two large sliding doors. Hunter sat in the corner farthest from the door of his bedroom. He hugged his legs to his chest, resting his chin on his knee.
"You gonna ask me what happened, right?" Hunter offered.
"Well I already know what happened between you two here in the basement. You told me about that, remember?" Nokomis asked, turning on the light in the closet, and sat down across from Hunter and closed the door.
"Yes," Hunter nodded slightly.
"So I can guess that Jas tried to confront you, you two had an argument, and he probably caught you with some type of question or something that you couldn't answer," Nokomis smiled at Hunter and continued, "I'm right, right?"
Hunter nodded and pouted.
"So for the past two weeks, you've avoided Jas like the plague because of the basement incident," she paused, not wanting to say what she did next, but she knew she had to bring it up, "And you've been lying to your mom and dad about taking all your medica—"
"I don't need it," Hunter implored, smacking a fist on the floor.
"Hunter, don't be stupid. You'll start having delusions again, and if you don't want them to take you over. Take them, please," Nokomis pleaded. Hunter didn't respond, but Nokomis knew she was heard. "So you gonna leave this closet and come back to my cookout? Or are you gonna have to make me spend the rest of the day with you in here?"
Hunter laughed and slid the large door next to him open. "Let's go back." He stood up and helped Nokomis up. The two walked out of his room and to the main area of the basement. Before they reached the doors leading to outside, Nokomis stopped. "You gotta do it right now, or we can just hang out in here all day," she told him.
Hunter went to the bathroom and opened the door to the medicine cabinet. He closed the door and looked at himself in the mirror. Salene was right in what she had said a few days ago. He did look like shit. He hadn't taken time to do anything to his hair which sat haphazardly on his head. Large dark circles lay under his eyes and his skin had taken a sallow color. "Damn," he said to his reflection, smiled wryly and swallowed the pills. He joined Nokomis back at the door. "Let's go." Nokomis smiled as they went to the door.
"Caleb! Can you and your friends cut the noise just a little, please?!" Aroha yelled up to her son's room. She liked the new house, its size, and that even though it was large sound carried through it very easily. The noise of what she assumed to be wrestling 11-year-olds ceased above her. She stood at the bottom of the stairs and listened. She took a deep breath. "Ahh, silence," she sighed to her self. She headed over to the couch in her darkly colored living room to sit and relax but then realized she hadn't tended to her plants in the family room. Plants – trees, herbs, roots – were what she knew. She had a green thumb passed down to her by her mother and grandmother and was proud the she had successfully instilled the same skill in her twins Jas and Dal.
She rounded the corner inspecting the dirt underneath her nails and walked into the family. She jumped when hearing the word shit exclaimed by her son. She looked up and got her wits about her to find Dal and some girl reclining quite snugly on the chaise. She blinked a couple of times and put a hand to her forehead allowing Dal and the girl to sit up and scoot away from each other.
"Mum, this-this is um . . . N-nokomis," Dal said nervously, smiling up at his mother.
Aroha surveyed the girl who smiled bashfully and looked at her fleetingly. She was pretty, she had to admit with long, long hair. Aroha took another look at her and thought out loud, "Indian? Rather, Native American?" Nokomis flashed her a "Who? Me?" sort of look to which Aroha shook her head again, "I'm sorry . . . Nokomis was it? Are you Indian –er— Native American?"
"Yes, Mrs...?" Nokomis found it startling that she had yet to learn Dal and Jas's last name.
"Aroha. That's my name. Aroha," Aroha filled in holding out her hand. "Nice to meet you." Nokomis shook her hand, and Aroha cast a quick glance at Dal. "Well, Nokomis, judging by the looks my son seems to be flashing me—" she sent a harsh glare at Dal while trying to conceal her smile "—and seeing the . . . condition you and he were in when I entered . . . it was nice meeting you." She began to leave the room. Once she rounded the corner she said loud enough for Dal to hear, "We will have a nice chat later, Dal."
With his mother gone, Dal sidled back next to Nokomis and slowly wrapped an arm around her waist. "So?" he began leaning in closely to her. She pushed him back. "What? My mum?" he asked her incredulously.
Nokomis laughed, "No, we have to go." She looked at her watch and then at Dal, "You have to take me home, and we've gotta pick up Jas."
"He's with Hunter and Salene. He wouldn't care if I was a bit late," Dal smiled leaning forward again.
"Exactly," Nokomis agreed, but to Dal's chagrin, she pushed him back once more. "Exactly why we need to go. We gotta rescue your brother."
"From Hunter? What's he gonna do? It's not like he's gonna root for Jas," Dal responded.
"Root?" Nokomis asked, confused.
"Fuck him," Dal answered bluntly, "After what happened at your cookout thing, Hunter's gone from seeming as if he's gonna waste Jas to just plain ignoring him. I thought you had talked to him."
"Hunter's just a bit guarded."
"A bit?! He has titanium walls up to Jas! He won't let him or anyone in. He goes to school. Sits quietly. Gets in fights with random people who try to get at him and goes home. He's now willing to let Jas hang out with him, but then he won't speak to him or if he does it's severely limited. Then I have to watch Jas mope around looking pathetic and act real pissy just cos of Hunter."
"Well Hunter has good reason to be guarded. Anyone who went through what he did would," Nokomis defended. All that Dal had said was true, but she still felt that she had to defend her best friend.
Dal found himself growing more annoyed, "What did he go through? No one will answer that question!"
"Just trust me. I met Hunter when his family first moved here right after the incident. The Hunter you know now is no where near the guy I met, but according to his parents and Salene, he still hasn't fully returned to his old self. Now let's go!" With that she stood and began to leave the room, leaving Dal to silently follow behind her.
"Admit it, Hunter, you were having fun," Salene smiled as she and Hunter sat on the ground in front of a large tree.
"Yeah so?" he smiled back. "What do I do about him?"
Salene looked over to the frozen yogurt shop, A Touch of Yogurt, where Jas stood pointing at various flavors, getting his, her, and Hunter's desserts. She turned back to her brother and asked, "What do you wanna do?"
"I like him, Salene," Hunter said softly.
"Well duh – you just don't kiss anyone," Salene through back with a smile.
"No, I mean like him as a friend now. . . I just—I don't know how to have friends anymore," he sighed.
"You got Nokomis. You got me, and you got Jas. That's a good start."
"Yeah, but I used to be so—"
"But does that really matter anymore? Does that matter now? No. That life's behind us, Hunter. It's behind all of us. Let it go," Salene interrupted softly.
At that moment Jas came out of the shop with three cups of frozen yogurt. He bent down, "Alright. Strawberry with hundred and thousands for you, Sal—" he handed her the cup of frozen yogurt –"Smoothie for you Hunter, and root beer with pistachio and peanut butter cups for me." Hunter screwed up his face after Jas mentioned his yogurt-topping combo.
"Don't knock it," Jas smiled, "It's good." He sat down on the other side of Hunter. "This was a good idea, Salene. To skip today."
Salene shrugged, "I think it's about time for a break."
Jas thought about the recent weeks.
After the incident at Nokomis's cookout, Hunter completely ignored Jas. At lunch Hunter sat mostly silently, only speaking to Nokomis if she spoke to him directly. Nokomis tried to get him to talk to Jas, but it never happened. Finally Jas just gave up on it.
Jas then began to sit with Dal and his friends at lunch. He came to find that they were not the jocks of the school but were a group of them. Dal's friend Sean and Kraze got the twins to try out for the swim team. Coach Anderson, after seeing who easily the brothers cut through the water told them both that they were on the team first day of tryouts.
After putting them on the team, the young coach asked, "Can either of you dive?" The answer was yes; so he had them dive too. After seeing what they could do, he told them, "Jas, you're the faster swimmer. Dal, you're the better diver. I want you here bright and early to get a swim in before class start. Six a.m. Got it?" Both Jas and Dal knew that it wasn't a request but an order.
Jas liked Dal's friends. Krazy – he found out – had been nicknamed that by his mom cos of his erratic yet almost always cheerful behavior. He agreed. The kid wouldn't stop; he was a fireball of energy and had a bad habit of not knowing when to censor himself. Sean on the other hand was mostly quiet, but when he did talk it was either about swimming or diving.
All of Dal's friends were fun to hang with, but Jas missed being with Hunter and Nokomis – even with Hunter's silence. About two weeks later during lunch, Hunter walked up to Jas and Dal's table. He said nothing. He just stood there. Most of the guys at the table stopped talking. Sean's girlfriend, Amy whispered, "Why is `Crusher' just standing there?"
Another guy on the swim team, Dan – who constantly tried to fight Hunter – chimed in, "God, he looks crazier than usual."
Jas was about to get up and confront Dan, but Dal softly put a hand on his shoulder. He leaned over, "It may not've been nice, but Dan is right. He looks bad." Jas looked up at Hunter seeing that Dal was right. Hunter's hair had grown shaggier since the first day of school. He slouched more and his skin had taken that sallow color again. Jas looked into his eyes, which were clear and focused. Hunter shrugged so slightly it almost went unnoticed. With that, he went back to his and Nokomis's table.
"Okay, he is crazy," Amy muttered, shaking her head.
"Of course he is," Dan joined in. "You guys heard about the two cops he took out, right?"
"Cops?" Krazy asked. "I thought it was just some kid."
"Dan's right," someone else answered, "While he was fighting the kid, a cop tried to stop him, and he took the guy out! And then another cop came in to help and he almost took him out too."
"Wait. Who told you that?" Amy asked.
"My sister's boyfriend went to his old school. He was there when it happened..."
Jas stood and left the table.
"Where's he goin'?" Sean asked.
"Back to Hunter's table," Dal answered.
"Who's Hunt—" Sean began and then it dawned on him. "Oh."
Jas was happy that after that day Hunter was no longer silent with him, but he was by no means very talkative and ignored about as much as before. All that mattered to him is that at least Hunter invited him back, not Nokomis but Hunter. As for today, Jas was seeing a different Hunter – mostly when it came to Salene. It was almost as if he had become. . . .normal; however, he soon realized that Salene got a sort of "special treatment" from Hunter.
"...thinking about?" Jas heard Hunter ask.
"Wha...?" he responded.
"You were deep in thought. You barely ate any of your yogurt," Hunter answered.
"Oh sorry," Jas said bashfully. He looked past Hunter. "Where's Salene?"
Hunter laughed, "I told you you were out of it." Jas smiled and Hunter just gazed at him. Jas went back to eating his frozen yogurt. Hunter closed his eyes and shook his head, mentally chastising himself for finding Jas's action so . . . sensual.
Jas noticed Hunter's staring, "What? The toppings?" Hunter lied and nodded a `yes'. Jas held the cup out to him. "Try it. You'll like it. I promise."
"No thanks. That just doesn't look good at all," Hunter declined.
"No really. It's a good combination of flavors," he gathered a spoonful, "Try it." Hunter shook his head no, and Jas pushed the spoonful towards his mouth. "C'mon. Just try it, okay?" He pushed the spoonful towards Hunter's mouth again. Hunter turned, fell back onto his elbows, and turned his head away. Jas hovered slightly over him. The yogurt started to melt, dripping onto Hunter's cheek. Jas laughed and ate the spoonful quickly. He got out a napkin and wiped the yogurt off Hunter's face. After all the yogurt was cleaned off, Jas's hand lingered there still wiping Jas's face. He got caught in Hunter's gaze. "You have nice eyes Hunter," he mentioned softly.
Hunter felt a blush rise over his face. "Thanks."
Jas didn't care that they were on the sidewalk downtown. He knew what he wanted to do. He began to lean in closer to Hunter, who quickly looked away and saw Salene walking towards them holding a small flower pot. He blinked for a moment and looked back at Jas who was even closer. He figured Jas was going to try to kiss him and was surprised when Jas went for his neck instead. He pushed Jas away roughly. Jas glared at him accusingly.
"I'm sorry," Hunter whispered, looking away. "We-we can't be like that."
"Why not?!" Jas demanded. "We both want it."
Hunter shook his head, "No we don't."
Salene looked down at the two of them. Having seen the situation play out before her, she decided to change the subject. "You guys like my flower? It's a brown rose and red one. I'm hoping to get one of those really dark brown ones. I had them pot both. Maybe it'll cross breed or something?"
Jas had fallen silent and stuck to eating his now melted frozen yogurt.
"Maybe?" Hunter offered back to Salene.
The three heard a honking horn when Dal and Nokomis pulled up in his and Jas's car. Jas got up immediately. "Look. It's our ride." He hurried to the car and went around to the backseat on the driver's side and got in slamming his door shut. Both Nokomis and Dal jumped. Dal turned around. "What happened?"
Salene climbed in the backseat, purposely sitting between Hunter and Jas. "He's letting you drive without a license, Nokomis?" she asked with concern.
"She has a partial one," Dal defended and asked, "So you guys have fun?"
Jas and Hunter both stayed silent, an angry expression written across Jas's face; a sad one across Hunter's. Salene answered him, "It was good. Look at the flower I bought."
That's parts 1-6. I hope you enjoyed, I hope it caught you up. I hope it wasn't too long. If it was, let me know, maybe i can shorten those even more for ya, or if this was a success, then let me know that too (email@example.com) Thanks so much.