Nifty Disclaimer - This story is a work of fiction and contains scenes including sexual relations between people of the same gender. If this isn't your cup of tea, or is illegal where you live, please do not read. Any relation between fictional characters and real people is purely coincidental.
Right now, eighty-nine miles away, the first AIDS patients are out there, infecting dozens of others before they die.
In the White House sits a man who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's in a little over a decade. In a few years, he will likely begin to suffer the very first stages of that disease, and a few jokes will be made about a President who forgets things from time to time.
In a few years, over two hundred marines will die in their Beirut barracks. Cuban-armed guerrillas will invade the island of Grenada, necessitating an American military response. In ten years, the Soviet Union will cease to exist and the Cold War will die with barely a sigh.
At this moment, Richard Ames and three other men whose names I vaguely remember are passing information to the doomed Soviet Union. The information they are giving will result in the deaths of Americans, and are pure Treason in every sense of the word. It will be years, decades even, before most of them are uncovered.
Across the country, sometime soon, Savings and Loans will be used to bilk investors of their money. I can remember some of the ringleaders' names; more than enough to keep it from happening.
Yet, instead of revealing what I know I've chosen another path. It's been thirty days since I woke up in my own twelve-year-old body. Thirty days of summer, swimming and playing with friends whose faces I'd long since forgotten and whose names were nothing more than vague memories. A whole month I'd been here, living in a past that I'd been told I'd observe for twenty whole minutes.
Yes, I'd changed some things, some minor, some major, but only within my family.
I was back in my bedroom of the townhouse that we lived in for three years, and the happiest place I remembered living as a child. It was a big room, dominated by the king-size waterbed from my maternal grandmother. A walk-in closet held the toys of a wonderful childhood, toys I had wished I'd taken better care of when I became an adult. The huge Millennium Falcon would have garnered a good price on ebay in my later life, and one of the first things I'd done was carefully set it up in the closet so it wouldn't be damaged. It was still fairly new, and so far undamaged, and now it would stay that way. Likewise, all my original action figures were now put into the Darth Vader Collector's case with all the original equipment I could find.
Mom thought it strange that I didn't play with them much anymore, but I had told her I was 'growing up.'
It took me two days to remember a conversation with my sister from when we were both adults. I'd asked her when 'it' had started. We were both drunk at the time, crying with memories of our dead parents, both the good and bad, and I'd finally asked her the question I'd never dared ask before. I remembered her answer in time, and spent the entire month sleeping with my door open instead of closed, as I'd always done as a kid.
That's why I was awake that night, exactly six days after we'd watched the premier of MTV. My door was open, and I heard Dad's door opening and his quiet steps down the hallway. Jenny's door was to the left of mine as I looked out into the hallway and when he paused at that door, I sat up in bed.
"What are you doing, Dad?" I asked in a soft voice. He jumped, and turned to look into my room with startled eyes.
"Just checking on you kids." He said quickly, but his eyes wouldn't meet mine.
"We're fine, Dad." I said in that same voice, soft and quiet, but I knew there was an edge to it, an edge I put there on purpose. "You can go back to bed."
"What are you doing awake?" He asked me with a nervous edge of his own.
"I was worried about Jenny and couldn't sleep." I said in a voice that was still quiet, but no longer soft. "I think I'll be able to sleep now."
"Get some sleep." Dad said in a stern voice and walked back to his room. I let out a sigh and unclenched my fist that was hidden under the covers. When his dark head had disappeared back into the bedroom I felt myself relax even more, but I didn't go to sleep for the rest of that night. Both Mom and Dad were out working the next day and so they missed me taking an afternoon nap to catch up on my sleep.
Twice more in that first month of my second childhood Dad came out of his bedroom, and both times I woke in time before he entered my sister's bedroom. After the last time, I resolved to myself that since I was still there, I would make some more changes in my family's past, and maybe create a better future, at least for my sister. It had taken a week to find an article in the paper that gave me an opportunity to raise the topic I wanted to raise without being too overt.
"Dad, did you see the article in yesterday's paper about the guy who was sentenced to jail for molesting his daughter?" I asked Dad as we were driving back from church the Sunday before Labor Day. All four of us were in the car this time, having made the drive to the church in Livingston that dad was the Assistant Pastor of at this time. The car jerked slightly as he tensed and my mom turned her head, her brown hair twisting as she turned to look at me with open curiosity.
"Yes, I did." Dad said through grated teeth. "Where did you see it?"
"At the library." I answered him. I was spending a few days a week at the public library, something I'd done since the fourth grade and not something to make them suspicious.
"They shouldn't let kids your age read things like that." Dad said, and I recognized the start of a rant about how society was going downhill, and an attempt to divert the topic of the conversation. I was not about to allow that to happen.
"Why not?" I said, interrupting him. I was in the backseat, safely away from him and he was trapped, driving the car. He might pull over if he got angry enough, but I wasn't twelve years old mentally. "If it happens to kids our age, shouldn't we all be aware of it? If kids were, they could know how to stop it from happening in their own families."
"Well, that's not something you need to worry about." Dad's voice held a note of finality to it, a signal he didn't want to pursue this any further.
Too bad, I had a vested interest in pursuing this conversation.
"I would hope not." I said firmly, and my eyes caught his in the rear-view mirror. "If it did, I know that whoever was responsible would end up in jail. No one hurts my sister like that and gets away with it, no one."
"That's good that you're protective of your sister." Mom said with a nod of her head and a look at dad. That confirmed something I'd always wondered about. Mom had suspected something, but she'd never acted on it until Jenny had spoken up four years from now. "Isn't that right, Dave?"
"Yes, that's right." Dad said, looking away from my gaze and back onto the road. His knuckles on the steering wheel were white from the strength of his grip and I leaned back in the seat. Jenny just looked at me with a blank look, and I smiled at her. She returned that smile tentatively.
I prayed that she would never know what had once happened, and vowed to myself to remind Dad every month for years to come.
Labor Day, like most holidays was spent split between the two sides of the family. That was another thing I'd never quite understood. My mother's parents lived right around the corner from dad's mother, but the holidays were NEVER spent together. Nanny and Papa (mom's parents) would hold a dinner/barbecue/whatever at their place, and then we'd go over to Grandma's for the same thing there. That year, both of my grandmothers complained I didn't eat enough, which meant I limited myself to one hamburger at each place instead of three or four.
I'd lost ten pounds in the last month, and found that working out at twelve was still hard work, but a lot easier than waiting until I was older to start. Mom had been able to get me a new pair of running shoes, despite the tight finances, and I used them to jog each morning. Unlike my adult self, I'd started to enjoy running in the early morning, watching the world wake up as I sweated through first one mile, and by now up to three miles each morning.
Mom had been able to afford the shoes because of the money we'd saved from our not eating out as much. With dad doing 'church' business all day, business that brought in almost no money, it was up to mom to provide most of our income. Her job as a dental assistant paid well, but she was up early each morning and exhausted by the time she got home. In my original childhood that had meant we'd eat a lot of meals 'out' or from fast-food because she was too tired to cook, and dad either didn't know how or refused to do 'womanly' work.
It had started with me suggesting that I'd make spaghetti one night when we didn't have the money to actually go out and eat. Mom had come home so tired she let me do all the work. The next day, a Saturday, I had gone grocery shopping with her and excitedly talked about all sorts of things I could cook with the different food in the store. She had looked at me with doubt, but I'd convinced her to buy more food than she had planned.
After that, I always started dinner so that it was ready by the time she got home. The leftovers were always enough for her to pack a lunch not only for herself, but for dad. Jenny and I would eat whatever I fixed for lunch, usually sandwiches, and the money we saved added up pretty quickly. When mom had asked what I wanted for being so 'helpful', I had told her some running shoes.
Last week, Nanny had shown up to take us shopping for Back-To-School clothes. That had really brought home the fact that I was going to have to face something I was dreading even more than other kids: school. It was bad enough the first time around, listening to boring teachers drone on about things that I already understood, but now, to have to go through it again when I'd gotten to within six credits of earning a bachelor's degree, it was nearly impossible to comprehend how I'd survive.
I'd gone to the seventh grade orientation the week before, and it had been a very odd experience. Walking through the halls of the only school I'd ever attended from start to finish had been like coming home, and yet I definitely didn't feel like I'd belonged. There had been several faces that were vaguely familiar, but I still hadn't talked to any of them.
That was one of the problems I remembered from my childhood. The complex we lived in had lots of kids, but most of them were either older or younger than me. There were two brothers, one of them my age, that I was friends with, but they went to the catholic school. Thus, none of the kids I lived near went to the same school I did.
Still, I was better prepared for the seventh grade than I had been the first time around. The idea of going to different classrooms wasn't odd to me anymore, and while the P.E. locker room did still hold some fears for me, I wasn't nearly as terrified as I had been the first time. Thanks to Nanny's shopping spree of the week before, I had several sets of new clothes, and thanks to my taking a more active role in their selection, they were much more 'in fashion' than I had worn the first time around. I'd also managed to talk her into buying me a new pair of glasses, ones with wire frames that looked ten times better than the old pair I'd 'lost' recently.
Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, my seventh grade year, number two, began. Jenny and I got up, ate breakfast, mom and dad left for their work (okay, Mom left to work, Dad to go around and 'visit' church members). Then Jenny and I began the long walk to school. For her it was a little over a mile, but for me it was closer to two. I didn't mind, really, since I hadn't woken in time for my morning jog.
She was nervous the entire time, but I gently reminded her that I'd gone to the elementary school she was attending, and knew she was getting a cool teacher. It wasn't a lie either, I remembered her being very happy with her fifth grade teacher, and that our cousin Josh who lived nearby was also going to be in that class, a surprise for both of them and something they both had liked.
Her school was on the way to mine, so after I walked her to her classroom, I continued on my way to my school. As I walked briskly, I noticed a lot of other kids heading in the same direction and wondered about how I'd not remembered that from when I was doing this the first time. As I entered the dirt path that would be paved the next summer into a bike path for the kids walking to school, I nearly bumped into two girls that were very familiar.
"Davey!" Ronna Souza said with surprise. She was a large girl with long black hair. The other girl with her was skinnier, with mouse brown curly hair and a pleasant smile.
"Hi, Ronna, Hi Jeanette." I said with a small smile. I'd known Ronna since the fourth grade, when we'd both been bussed to the City's new Gifted program for smart kids. Jeanette was her friend, and I realized I'd made a mistake when Jeanette looked at me with surprise. We had not really met yet.
"Uh, hi." Jeanette said with a look of confusion. "Have we met before?"
"I'm pretty sure we did, or I heard Ronna mention you last year." I temporized quickly. Ronna had still been in the Gifted program last year, and while I had attended the school because I was in its district, I'd not been in the Gifted program. That's because during the fifth grade we'd moved to another District and when we moved back, the program was full, with no room for me, so I'd gone to a regular class. Still, I'd seen Ronna on recess breaks and we'd talked occasionally.
"So what classes do you have this year?" Ronna asked with an air of hope and I had to smile again. She'd had a crush on me, she admitted once during high school. It looked like the crush was on now.
"English with Mrs. Klopf." I said with a smile. I remembered this teacher. She'd been high on the list of my favorite teachers. "World History with the loony Mr. Shelton" The guy really was a loon, talking as if he'd lived in the Middle Ages, and that class had been the first and only 'D' grade I received in Junior High School. "I have math with Mr. Webb, P.E., and Library Aide at the end of the day."
"How'd you get Library Aide?" Ronna demanded and I just shrugged. Truth be told, I don't remember how that had happened, but it had.
"Wow, we're not in any of the same classes." Jeanette noted with a small frown.
"Be happy, I'm a smartass and it'd make your classes a living hell." I told her with a smile and Ronna laughed.
"No, you're the one who never does any homework and doesn't get in trouble." Ronna teased me and I had to laugh, remembering the fourth grade Parent's night and my dad's horror at my empty homework folder. I still scored A's on the tests though, and had gotten A's in every subject.
"Well, I had Mr. Lietz last year, and he made sure I did homework." I countered and Ronna let out a laugh of her own.
"Yeah, every time I saw you, you were griping about him making you do something." Ronna said.
"Watch it, geek!" A guy's voice rang out as someone bumped me from behind, almost making me lose my balance. Both girls instantly stopped laughing as a tall, blond kid rushed by after bumping into me.
"Fuck off, Breckenridge." I shouted out, loud enough that heads turned all over. We were in sight of the school and I think half the school must have heard that shout, because they were looking. Brian Breckenridge stopped, and turned with a look of incredulous anger on his face.
"What did you say?" He demanded in a voice that tried to ooze danger, and I could barely suppress my laughter. He was tall, and among the most well built kids in the school. In seventh-grade, he'd give a high school sophomore a run for his money. He wasn't quite a bully, but fairly close to it, and extremely popular; "every girl wanted him, and every guy wanted to be him" type of popular.
"I said to fuck off if you can't see someone walking in front of you and not bump them when you pass by." I countered in a lower voice. I'd lost most of my chubbiness over the last month, but was still nowhere as built as him. He lived along the path I walked to school, and I'd seen the weight equipment in his garage many times. "Don't try to blame me if you're half-blind this early in the morning."
"You've got a mouth on you, don't you?" He stepped up to me and we were eye to eye, our noses inches apart, and I couldn't help but smile.
"The important thing about having a big mouth is having the ability to back it up when the time comes." I said quietly, so quietly only he could hear.
"Do you?" He countered, the anger receding from his face.
"Do you want to find out?" I countered back with a raised eyebrow.
"Football practice after school - be there!" Brian Breckenridge stated flatly, as I'd known he would. That was the thing I'd learned about him in high school. He picked on those that were weaker than him, or didn't stand up for them self. Those that stood up for themselves, he gave a grudging respect to without ever having thrown a punch.
"Sure." I said with a shrug. Originally I'd only joined football my freshman year, but I saw nothing wrong with starting a little earlier. Brian, along with a few others from the team had become good friends before my dad moved us to Nevada in the second month of my first year of high school.
"See ya, Jones." Breckenridge said as he turned and hurried off towards the school. Everyone who had been watching let out a collective sigh of disappointment and the two girls I'd been walking with looked at me like I was insane.
"He could have killed you!" Ronna said after a moment, and as we began to resume our walk to school.
"Naw, he's a nice guy deep down." I countered and she just shrugged. Jeanette got a speculative look on her face.
"What did he say at the end?" Jeanette asked.
"He wanted me to meet him at football practice." I answered her.
"So you're going to fight him?" Jeanette's voice was surprised.
"No, he probably wants me to try out for the team." I answered honestly.
"You? Play football?" Ronna laughed at that and I bit back a surge of resentment.
"Me, play football, yes." I said with a hint of anger. Okay, I didn't totally bite back the resentment. I was a little off-kilter here, because when Brian had stepped that close, I had felt a surge in my pants, and was now walking with my hands in my pockets, trying to hide the obvious reaction. Fortunately, it went down fairly quickly, quick enough that by the time we reached the school I was no longer trying to hide anything.
"Well, we'll see you." Ronna said with a wave as the two girls walked towards their first class of the day. I had English and made my way to the portable that was the classroom for this topic. At least it had good air conditioning, and on a day that was quickly growing hot, that was always a bonus.
Mrs. Klopf was just as I remembered her, short, with dark hair and a welcoming smile. The subject was a lot drier than I remembered, though, and I had to fight the urge to fall asleep as she talked about the stuff we'd be studying throughout the year. There were a few kids I recognized vaguely, one or two from my sixth grade and others that I would not have met yet. I kept to myself for most of the class though, until she did the usual 'pair up and get to know another student' thing.
"I'm Brandon." The guy behind me said with a smile and I realized I had not been paying attention to the person behind me. I'd totally forgotten that Mrs. Klopf didn't seat us alphabetically, but let us pick our seats, and I'd been sitting in front of Brandon, someone I got to know a lot better in High School.
"I'm Davey." I said automatically, shaking his hand and returning his smile. He was tall, like I was, with brown hair and a face that reflected the handsomeness it would show, as he grew older. My eyes caught someone else's as I turned around and I was surprised to see Brian Breckenridge was in this class as well. I hadn't remembered that, or even heard his name when she called roll earlier.
"Brian says you're going out for flag football." Brandon continued and I remembered the two had been good friends for a long time although until now they'd gone to different schools. They'd met on the pee-wee football team years before, and been friends since then. Brandon was one of the few I'd call a good friend even after we moved back to California and I didn't play football anymore.
"Well, it's either that or fight him, I think." I said with a shrug and a smile. "Considering the girls in the school would kill me if I messed up his pretty face, it's safer to do football."
"Oh god!" Brandon chortled as he burst out laughing. He was laughing so hard he had to wipe a tear from his eyes and we had the entire class looking at us. I just smirked and winked at Brian, who instantly looked murderous. It was obvious he hadn't heard my comment, but figured it was about him. "Brian, you have to hear this!"
"Hear what?" Brian demanded, leaving the geeky kid I knew as Todd Williams and scooting his desk closer to ours. Mrs. Klopf started to frown, but I knew she wouldn't do anything.
"Hear me make jokes about your pretty face." I retorted and Brian frowned as Brandon started laughing even harder.
"You really want to get pounded, don't you?" Brian demanded in a low voice.
"Really, Brian!" I said in a horrified tone. "We just met and you're already wanting to pound me? Sorry, I don't go for that unless you have flowers and chocolates in your hand."
Brandon fell out of his chair he was laughing so hard, Brian's face turned red, then purple, and settled back to red as he began to laugh. Todd, who'd stood and was standing close enough to hear had wide eyes and a shocked expression on his face. Mrs. Klopf had finally decided we were being too disruptive and started walking our way.
"Bring your desk over quick, Todd." I said to the shorter, thin boy. He did as I said and I smiled as Brandon sat back in his chair, still holding his side from the laughter. Brian was still chuckling under his breath. When Todd sat down, Mrs. Klopf was only halfway to us so I had time to bring up a dopey subject.
"So, like, we've all read the Hobbit and like it, eh?" I asked with a slightly raised voice, as Mrs. Klopf got closer. Brian looked at me like I was crazy, but caught on pretty quickly as I knew he would.
"Yeah, that hobbit character is a riot." Brian said aloud and I let out a sigh of relief. Even if he'd never read the book, it was a good line.
"Yup, Bilbo is cool as hell." Brandon said with a nod. I remembered he'd read the book as a kid. He was a little more literate than Brian, one of the things we'd had in common in High School.
"I liked Gandalf better." Todd added, his voice still untouched by puberty. My voice, along with the other two bigger guys, was starting to crack as it went up and down. Todd was a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkein, I knew that because we'd become friends in the eighth grade when we shared a math class. He'd even taught me how to write notes in elvish so the teacher couldn't read them if they were found. We'd also shared several packs of Big Red gum over that year.
"Gandalf's cool but its Elrond that I really like." I said as Mrs. Klopf finally made it to where we sat together.
"You're supposed to be talking in pairs." She said with a slight frown. "Not in groups of four and laughing so loud you're disturbing everyone else."
"Sorry, I just mentioned how much I liked the hobbit, and Brandon does too, as does Brian here, and apparently Todd." I said quickly. "Is it true that the school has a copy of that film they made from the book?"
"Yes, and we'll be watching it later in the year." Mrs. Klopf said with a puzzled smile.
"That should be cool." Brandon pitched in quietly and Mrs. Klopf smiled.
"I'm glad you boys think so, now get back into your pairs and finish your assignment." She said and Brian scooted his desk over with Todd after giving me a warning look.
"He is so going to get you for that comment you made." Brandon said with a smile.
"As long as it's on the football field and I have a chance to knock him on his ass as well, I don't care." I said with a smile and shrug.
"So, you play football before?" Brandon asked me, leaning forward as Mrs. Klopf looked our way.
"Not really." I admitted. "We couldn't afford the pee-wee league or anything."
"You've got some good size on you; you'd probably make a good lineman." Brandon said with that disarming smile that made me very glad I was sitting down.
"That's what I was thinking." I said with a smile of my own. "I can see without my glasses no problem, it's just that my depth perception goes a little off without them so I can't catch too well."
"So you're not blind without them?" He asked me curiously.
"No." I said softly. "It's kind of weird because I don't really have bad vision. It's just that my eyes don't focus the right way and the muscles in them have to work harder for me to see. The glasses keep them from having to focus, but without them I see pretty well. Not perfectly, but well enough. They don't make contacts that work for it either, so it has to be glasses."
"That's got to suck." Brandon said with a frown and I nodded just as the bell rang.
"So, what class do you have next?" Brandon asked as we both stood and put our books into our backpacks. Mrs. Klopf was reminding everyone they had to write up a paragraph on what we'd talked about and turn it in tomorrow.
"Math with Mr. Webb." I said with a frown, not sure if he had been in that class or not. Mr. Webb was the basketball coach.
"Oh man, I've got you in two classes this year?" Brian said from behind me and I almost jumped. When I turned to face him, though, he was smiling.
"Probably more." I said with a smirk. "It's my year to be tortured."
"You know, that's going to get on my nerves eventually." Brian said with a frown as Brandon cracked up laughing. We moved as a group out of the room and towards the main classroom wing.
"Then stop opening your mouth and walking right into them." I retorted and he started to say something, and then clamped his mouth shut with a frown. Brandon and I both started laughing.
"Well, I'm off to Algebra." Brandon said with a wave, heading to the farther wing that was where the eighth graders had their classes. I'd known Brandon was smart, but Algebra in the seventh grade?
"C'mon, we got idiots math for stupid linemen." Brian said to me with a nod of his head and a caveman-like grunt. I couldn't help but laugh and was surprised at how differently things were going. I had NOT planned this. We made our way to the right classroom and Brian made it a point to direct me to a seat next to his. Several other people filed into the class at the same time, and we were soon surrounded by the 'jocks'. I recognized several of them even as Brian introduced me to them for the 'first' time.
"Davey's going to be joining the team." Brian said after the introductions were done and before the bell had rung to start the class.
"He's the one that smarted off to you this morning?" Trevor Rush asked. Trevor was the quarterback of the flag football team, and would be the starting quarterback our Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years. He'd end up with a scholarship to USC where he'd play until he broke his arm in his sophomore year there, effectively ending his hopes of an NFL career.
"Yeah, and every time we've met since then." I quipped softly. "I'm the pain in the ass brother he never wished he had."
That set everyone nearby laughing just as the bell rang and I gave Brian a smirk. He made a fist and shook it at me in mock threat and I just raised my eyebrows. I knew him better than he thought I did though, and pretty soon he'd be shooting back the one-liners at me.
"We'll have to watch him." Brian said softly as the teacher stood up. "He seems to take every other comment as someone making a pass at him. I think he's spent too much time in San Francisco."
The howls of laughter at that comment earned us a glare from Mr. Webb. A tall, thickset man in his mid-thirties, Mr. Webb was a sports fanatic and ended up teaching most of the jocks at school. He let them get away with a lot, but laughing so loud on the first day of school might have been a bit much. He went up to the board and wrote a quick problem before turning to those of us who were laughing.
"If one of you jokesters can solve this problem you can laugh all you want in my class." He said confidently and I decided to take the dare. I wasn't good at math, but this was pre-algebra stuff. Hell, it would be next year before I even took pre-algebra, and this problem was from that level. Still, I knew it well enough from having taken the course four times in college before passing. I got up in the sudden silence of the class and walked to the board, only taking a minute to look at it before solving it completely.
"What's your name?" Mr. Webb asked me.
"Davey Jones." I answered him quickly. His tone was guarded and I was worried for a moment.
"What are you doing in my class?" He asked me.
"Earning a free-pass to laugh all I want?" I quipped and realized it wasn't smart for a pre-teen to make fun of an adult.
"Stay right there." He said firmly and I froze in place as he went to his desk and wrote a quick note out. When he finished, he handed it to me. "Go to the office and give that to Mrs. Weaver."
"Davey's in trouble!" Brian said with a malicious smile and the class broke up in laughter. I just grabbed my backpack and left, mentally kicking myself in the ass. My first day in school and I was getting sent to the office. I didn't even bother looking at the note as I went into the office at the front of the school and handed it to the student aide there. She took it, frowned and then disappeared. A few moments later the tall, blond, and beautiful Mrs. Weaver appeared. Every straight boy in the school ended up with a crush on her, despite the fact she was in her late thirties.
"Davey, come with me please." She said and I got up to follow her into her office. She sat down, pointing to a chair on the other side of the desk, and frowned for a few moments as she rifled through her desk drawer before pulling out some papers. "Mr. Webb says he thinks you've been placed in the wrong level of math. Why don't you take a moment and answer the questions on these forms for me?"
"Okay." I said softly and took the papers, pulling a pencil out of my backpack. I knew I was in trouble when I saw they were math problems. If I answered them as I knew how, I'd be pulled out of Mr. Webb's class and put somewhere else, which I wasn't sure I wanted. Still, the fact of the matter was that I would be bored in there and here was a chance to get me into a level of math that might actually help me learn it right the first time around. She watched me figure the problems out as I made an honest effort with each of them. The problems near the end I totally flubbed up, I knew, but at least I'd gotten most of them right. It took me nearly thirty minutes, and only took her ten more to look them over.
"I think Mr. Webb was right." She said softly. "This is odd, we didn't have any indication on your file that you were this advanced."
"I use to be in the Gifted program until my parents moved out of the district." I explained quickly. "When we moved back, there weren't any more openings in the program."
"I see." She said with a nod of her head. "Well, let's see what I can do."
She got up and left the room then. I sat there nervously wondering if this was the right thing for me since I didn't want to change too much of my own past. What if I was yanked back to my own time? Then I realized that I no longer thought that was going to happen. I'd grown to accept I was here, in 1981, and that I'd have to live with that from now on. I still didn't want to change too much, though. The butterfly effect was constantly in the back of my mind.
"Well, here's what we're going to do." She said as she returned just after the bell ending classes rang. She handed me a new class schedule. "There's an opening in the Algebra class the same period as your current class is scheduled, so we're going to put you in there. Almost all of the other Gifted classes are full, so the rest of your schedule is pretty much the same, except I've changed your last two periods around. There's an opening on the debate team in sixth period and I've switched that out with your Library Aide period. Then I've switched you into the Sports P.E. at the end of the day instead of the regular class."
"Um, sports P.E.?" I said with a slight frown.
"Well, you are going to play on the football team, aren't you?" She asked me with a knowing smile and I felt my eyes widen in surprise.
"How did you know that?" I asked her.
"Brian's my nephew and he talked to me this morning after he met you." She said. "He didn't remember your name but he pointed you out to me."
"Oh." I said as the tardy bell rang. She just smiled and handed me another slip of paper.
"Here's your tardy pass, now get along to World History." She said with a smile and I groaned aloud.
"Great, looney Shelton, just what I needed now." I muttered and she laughed aloud before giving me a disapproving glare for bad-mouthing a teacher. I left the office with a slight smile, looking at my revised schedule. This was unexpected, but it wasn't something I'd totally disagree with. The class I'd be in now was likely the same one as Brandon was in, which was a good thing in my opinion.
World History was even worse than I had remembered it being. Wayne, the kid who'd been suspended on the last day of his sixth grade year managed to get sent to the principal's office within ten minutes of the class, Mr. Shelton's classroom was as warm and stuffy as I remembered it being, and like my memory of the first time around, I had a hard time staying awake in the warm room. Combined with Mr. Shelton's monotonous drone of a lecturing voice, I was doomed.
Luckily lunch was right afterwards, and I had money for a cafeteria lunch that day. It wasn't the best lunch, but it was decent. I didn't see anyone I knew right off as I got in line for food, but as I entered the room with a tray of salad and baked chicken, I was hailed by Brian and Brandon from the table full of jocks. I sat down in the seat between them, obviously saved for me and smiled. It was so different than my original first day, sitting in a far corner and being miserable.
"So, what happened with Aunt Ellen?" Brian asked me and I gave him a dirty look, to which he laughed.
"Nothing dirty." I said, managing to get a round of laughs and hoots from all the people around us, including Brian.
"I'm going to tell her you said that." Brian said with a smirk and I just shrugged.
"It's the truth." I said firmly. "Nothing wrong with telling the truth, is there?"
"Oh man, he's good." Trevor said from across the table. I just smirked at him too.
"So seriously, what happened?" Brandon said and I let out a sigh.
"They figured out they placed me in the wrong math class." I said with a shrug. "So she changed my schedule around. I've now got Mrs. Dent the same period."
"That's with me." Brandon said with a smile that I returned earnestly. Yep, I'd have to say that was definitely a good thing.
"Oh man, now we got two smart boys to do our homework." Brian groaned aloud.
"Five bucks a paper and if you tell anyone I'll kill you." I said quickly and I could see several of them looking at me to see if I was serious or just joking. "Oh, and a five hundred dollar deposit to make sure you keep your mouth shut."
"Are you serious?" Brandon asked from next to me.
"Yep, this way no one can say I'm unwilling to help out and no one is likely to take me up on the offer either." I admitted with a shrug and saw him smile while most of the others just stared at me.
"You are one arrogant asshole." Brian quipped and I smiled.
"Tell me something I don't know." I challenged and he smiled.
"Your shirt's on backwards." He said and I paled before looking down, and as everyone laughed, I realized I'd been had.
"Good one." I said with a chuckle, showing I could take it as well as give it out.
"So what do you have this afternoon?" Brandon asked me curiously. I noticed most of them were eyeing my plate. It was decades before anyone would hear of the low-carb diet, but that didn't mean I couldn't use it to my advantage now. Salad without dressing and baked chicken wasn't the tastiest of meals, but it helped me to lose the rest of the weight I wanted to shed and get into shape so that I'd be better off when I was older.
"Science with Mr. Beren next." I said and was surprised when Trevor, Brian, and Brandon all said they had that too. I didn't seem to remember them being in so many of my classes originally, but then we hadn't really been on speaking terms the first time around the block. "Then I have debate class and P.E. last."
"So she did switch you into our class, cool." Brian said with an approving nod. "You know, it's too late for you to back out now. You're going to be doing wrestling too after football, and then maybe track in the spring. Do you play baseball?"
"I haven't played baseball since I was little." I responded automatically and was grateful it sounded like it fit my current age. "The folks don't really have that much money to spare and so sports was out of the question."
"What do your parents do?" Brandon asked curiously.
"Mom works as a Dental Assistant, dad's a preacher." I said with a slight frown.
"Uh, oh, preacher's kid here." Trevor said from across the table and I just smirked at him.
"Well, don't worry, if you want to play we'll make sure you can." Brandon said with a nod of his head that got an approving grunt from Brian, who was busy slopping his mouth full of a hamburger. "Now, what's that crap you're eating?"
"Salad and chicken." I said with a sigh. "I've still got some fat to get rid of and it helps."
"You've been working out much?" Brandon asked me and I smiled.
"A little." I admitted with a shrug. "I've been running about three miles. Not really good times, but just going for distance. I've also been doing push-ups and sit-ups and stuff like that."
"That sounds better than half the guys were when they started practice last week." Brandon said with an approving nod. "Coach was pissed and we've got our first game next week and half of them can't even complete the laps he gives out in practice."
"Shut up Walker." One of the guys who obviously couldn't complete the laps said with a grunt. "We don't have to run like you do."
"Let's go for a walk." Brian said as he finished off his tray. I only had a few bites left myself and finished them hurriedly before joining Brian, Brandon, and Trevor at the exit. Brian led us off towards the field at the back of the school, moving in relative silence except for the few people that called out to greet the guys I was walking with.
"Dude, so why haven't we really met before?" Brian asked as we neared the backstops in the middle of the field. There wasn't anyone near us, and he took a seat on the bench that served as a dugout for the middle school's baseball field.
"My family's always moved around a lot." I said with a shrug. I went on to explain how dad never seemed able to keep a church for more than a few years before we moved on, and how much I hated it. Money was always tight, and it was a pain to make new friends at every damn school when I'd be gone the next year.
"Dude, that sucks." Brandon said softly and I nodded in agreement.
"I'm pretty sure we're here for a few years at least." I said with a shrug. "Mom's got a good job that makes most of the bills, and there's no churches that are really looking for pastors so dad's working with one down in Livingston. Mom's job is in Waterford so we won't move any further than we are now." Waterford was to the east of us and Livingston was to the south. That meant where we were now was the halfway point for both. "Mom's told dad several times she doesn't want to move again."
"That's good." Brian said with a firm nod of his head. "You're pretty cool, Davey. You don't have to go out for football if you don't want to."
"I do want to, Brian." I said with a smile. "I want a chance to knock you on your ass."
That earned me a full punch in the arm from him, which I returned right away. I was wincing from the bruise that would likely form on my arm, but he was wincing too and rubbing his shoulder, a smile of approval on his face. Trevor was smiling, as was Brandon and I realized this was a good thing.
"You know, we're going to rule this school." Brian said in a voice that was quiet, but full of pride. "We're the biggest kids in our year, bigger than most of the eighth graders. We play on all the teams, and ain't none of us stupid either. I think you'll be a good friend and fit right in with us, Davey."
"I do, too." Brandon said with a nod. Their words were both welcome, causing a warm feeling in my gut, and made me nervous. I looked out over the field for a moment, noticing a small group of seventh graders sitting in the bleachers near the end of the school's pavement. There was Sean Dowd, Guy, Sean Rule, and a few others. I'd spent most of my seventh and eighth grades on those bleachers with them, playing Dungeons and Dragons or talking about stupid stuff that never went anywhere, just like my adult life.
"They'll never know what hit them." I said, turning away from my past and facing a new future with a wide smile.
As with all my stories, E provides immeasurable input, grammar checking, and all those other lovely editing thingies that make the story so much better!
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