Mafia? Just what the heck is that?
And he's the son of the leader... whatever that's supposed to mean.
Oh, you're wondering who I am?
I'm just a girl.
Feel free to raise your hand if you think that things aren't looking too good for me.
JUST A GIRL
Chapter 1: Coffee, Toast and Headless Chickens
I woke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting in under the door.
The mother is a genius.
She's exploited the only way to get me up other than dropping a pile of bricks on me. Yeah I'm talking one second I'm a happy girl cosying up to my pillow and the next I've got a bump the size of Ayer's Rock on my head. Not exactly my idea of fun.
As the tempting tendrils from a rich brew waved itself back and forth under my nose, I managed to drag myself away from my duck down blanket.
Why duck down, you ask? Well, I'd like to know the answer to that too. What was wrong with chickens? Chickens are perfectly capable of producing chicken down. Help our chickens find jobs… buy chicken down covers.
Ok, so I'm trying to distract you from the fact that my butt just hit the carpet instead of my feet. What's a girl to do to gain a little sympathy these days? I pushed myself off the floor. I kicked away a pile of clothes which had tangled themselves around my foot, and made my way slowly towards the bathroom.
After the usual morning ritual was done I trudged out of my room, eyes still closed. What? Just because I was up and walking didn't mean I was awake. The railing felt pleasantly cool under my fingertips. I smiled. Too quickly, the smile proceeded to fall off my face. Ah crap… where did the railing go?
My eyes flew open.
Well, at least the carpet's lush, I contemplated. How do I know that? Because my butt happens to be sitting on it.
"Mum!" I yelled, "Can you get someone to fix the railing?"
My mother sounded exasperated as she yelled back, "There's nothing wrong with the railing dear! For God's sake Tia, try opening your eyes!"
"They are open," I grumbled, pulling on the door of the kitchen.
What? Where the heck did my kitchen go?!
"Mum!" I gasped, "Someone stole the kitchen!"
I heard a groan coming from somewhere behind me. Rubbing her temples, my mother sighed, "The kitchen, honey, is over here. Remember? Moved house."
Oh. So that was why I was so disorientated- I had a vague memory of riding in the back of a moving truck and shifting box-loads of stuff around. The new kitchen was brightly lit, and music was drifting from the radio placed near the sink. Wait, music? That was supposed to be music? I grimaced. In my world, eighties punk rock did not fall under the category of music.
"Do you have something to say, Tia? You're looking a little constipated."
Did the woman have to talk about constipation while I was having breakfast?
I briefly toyed with the notion of voicing my inner thoughts, but decided not to face the wrath of the mother. Not yet, anyway. I mean, I wanted to eat my breakfast alive. It was only a matter of time. Settling into a wooden chair, I attempted to stuff as much toast as I could fit into my mouth before trying to talk (rather unsuccessfully).
Mum turned around, closing her eyes as though she didn't want to see the sight of me. I grinned, absolutely loving being the bane of her existence.
"Mmmmphhhmmmmmhhh!" I insisted.
"Tia! What are you trying to say? For God's sake get the food out of your mouth. Or at least, here!"
She slammed a glass of orange juice onto the table and barked, "Drink!"
When I finally managed to swallow my toast, I looked up. I had a feeling she wasn't going to like what I was about to say so I grabbed another piece of toast and stuffed it under my favourite old tee-shirt before answering her. Well, she asked for it.
"I said," I paused, casting her an innocent look, "I'd like to hear myself eat?"
Mum glared at me, and the third piece of toast I was trying to cram into my mouth (I figured, might as well eat now, before she cut my food rations for the week). Uh-oh, her nostrils are starting to flare. Please note that it is never a good sign, kids, when the parent flares their nostrils. Get out of the way Tia, before she-
I dodged just in time as a piece of toast flew miraculously at my head. Amazing feat for the toast, being inanimate and all.
"Urghh!" I groaned as though mortally wounded as another piece of toast landed in a perfect throw on my head.
"Are you insinuating that my taste in music is bad, Tia?" Her voice wavered dangerously as she placed the now empty plate of toast in the sink.
Noticing her narrowed eyes, I couldn't help retorting, "Please, mother dear, think of the starving children in Africa before you waste more toast!"
And then my feet were pounding down the hallway. Pulling on a sweater hanging by the front door, I grabbed my bag and attempted to turn the extra slippery doorknob. Mum must have oiled it, I'm sure. It would also explain where our bottle of Virgin Olive Oil had gone- into stopping naughty children like me from slipping away like an eel after, well, being insolent.
I'm such a little kid at home, I admit it. My mum adores it, really.
After catching a glimpse of a figure stomping out of the kitchen and into our rather long hallway, there was enough motivation and effort for the door to open.
Okay, so maybe my last statement wasn't the best thing to say. Africa! What was I thinking?
I dashed outside as though someone had set my hair on fire, but not before another piece of toast ricocheted off my eye.
Couldn't she at least aim for the mouth?
Here's the one and possibly only thing I can say for sure about mum. She has a deadly aim. Or maybe just a hell of a lot of practice with me as humanoid target number one. Hmmm... don't particularly like the sound of that.
And then I was a free woman, the distant slamming of the front door barely reaching my ears.
Trampling down the road in my worn scruffy sneakers, a thought suddenly struck me. Moved house equates to new school which equates to new people. Do you see me jumping for joy? If you do, you require a new set of eyes.
It was all because we moved house. I recalled raving about chickens (of all things) at, I squinted at my watch- it was now seven o'clock so… six in the morning. Now try telling me that isn't a sign of someone who is, quite frankly, raving mad! But great. So I have pieces of toast stuck to my hair, my scruffy old sneakers on my feet, and my oldest (favourite) shirt on under a disgusting sweater my gran probably knit me in fifth grade.
This is how I'm supposed to face my new school and my new classmates.
Talk about utter embarrassment.
It didn't help my cause that I couldn't exactly run back into the house like a lunatic because I'd be kicked out (literally) by my overly enthusiastic mother, possibly looking worse than I do now. Grab life- what was the Latin phrase again?
I glared as the piece of toast I had so hurriedly stuffed under my shirt fell onto the asphalt. Then I glared some more, mentally willing it to pick itself up and throw itself back into my hand with the burning passion of a dying man.
What did happen was a big, red and yellow thing with a sign saying, I squinted again, B-U-S- came rambling towards me.
I thought despairingly of my toast, but then another form of panic gripped me.
Looking like this and late? On the first day? Oh what fun! I'd be the bane of all the teachers and students in the school- there would be stories of rape regarding to why I was late or worse, tales of fraternization with some spunky young male apprentice at the school and then... oh the horror of horrors, my pure, virginal name would be forever tainted with this darkness foreshadowing my desolate fate... oh, oh, woe is me!
How I look forward to the rest of this day!
And in case you were interested, I'm also looking forward to jumping off the bridge just there.
I slung my bag over my shoulder and sprinted- and no, I don't care if I look like a headless chicken. All that mattered was that I could, apparently, run- my old gym teacher told me that, and the hell was I going to get to school late.
Crap, Tia, it's gaining on you, that grinning yellow instrument of torture- those menacing black tires are rolling faster! Come on, you have to do something!
So what did I do, with my brilliant 290 IQ? I ran in front of the bus, mentally congratulating myself on my wonderful impersonation of the headless chicken, and then froze.
Ho-hum. What a great way to start the day (other than coffee, bricks and carpet). I'll just go off and get myself killed. I was kidding about the bridge before, in case you were wondering.
The bus was bearing down on me and instead of getting the hell out of the way, I squeezed my eyes shut and attempted to pray (though I have never prayed before in my life, but dear Lord, I'm trying).
And the smell of burning rubber filled my nostrils as the shrill squeal of tires filled my ears.
I am mute!
I flicked my eyes open, scrambling up the stairs of the bus and almost leaping onto the bus driver in my enthusiasm (thank you Lord, I swear I will pray every day, no, every hour of the day). Then I realized how no one else had seemed to share my enthusiasm.
In fact, they all seemed to be glaring at me.
Actually… if looks could kill I'd have been in my coffin right now. Buried and rotting, I added to myself as the bus driver cast me a withering glance.
I hurriedly untangled myself from the driver. So I had been a tad enthusiastic. So what? They didn't have to stare at me like I'm a leper. I'm quite a healthy young thing- a bit on the plain side, but healthy none the less.
I gritted my teeth... stop looking at me as though I'm grime off the bottom of your shoes you little twits! And for no reason at all-
I reconsidered my last thought as a guy glowered at me, his hands grasping a plate which had presumably held a rather glorious piece of cake. That was, before it got introduced to his face.
Walk pass Tia, just walk pass.
Yes, whistle and look up to the sky (or rather the grimy ceiling of the bus) and pretend nothing's happened.
No damn it, don't stop and laugh at the guy.
I found myself seated at the back of the bus. Twenty something pairs of eyes continued to glare at me as I lowered my bag. A blush rose to my cheeks and I felt myself feeling a little embarrassed, but that soon gave way to anger. I always was hot headed, and I'm not afraid to admit it- sometimes, it's the only thing that keeps me going. So glare at me like I'm a headless chicken. I'm dead proud to tell you I am one (and no, I never lie).
I don't care what you withering wimps of students think. I can do fine just by myself. And again, no, I don't need you to like me. At all.
I turned my cheek towards them, looking out the window instead. Much more fascinating.
A group of guys were sauntering towards the bus stop. The bus rumbled past them. Ha! The suckers!
I reprimanded myself, feeling a twinge of sympathy- after all, they had just missed the only bus on this road for an hour. And then I was choking, gosh air please… gasping, I sucked in deep breaths. Were my eyes deceiving me? Were the laws of Physics deserting me? My body was thrown forward as the bus shuddered to a stop. I took another deep breath… okay, I do have a vivid imagination at times but this was too real. Momentum never lied and heck, as far as I knew Newton never lied.
The bus had stopped.
Anger throbbed like a wild beast in my mouth (kind of like when King Kong pummelled his chest with his fists /insert ape-like grunts here/). I had looked absolutely ridiculous, even risked my life to simply board this bus and all I get for my efforts is an face full of hostile glares. My hands clenched into fists… and here come those arrogant jerks, just sauntering along… and what do they get? The bus driver stopping oh-so-considerately for them.
They were twenty metres away from the stop! Twenty! And how far was I? Oh about one.
Bitterness should be a sin. No, really.
I was just about to charge up to the bus driver and give him a piece of exactly what I thought of his rusty old bus when I bit down hard on the inside of my mouth. Now, Tia. No more stuff ups. You've already had more attention than you want for the day.
So I sat rather quietly compared to King Kong (remember him? Yeah, the thing throbbing in my mouth) and watched that annoying little clique of guys gather aboard.
Anger was still rising up my throat like bile, though I didn't even know why I was getting so worked up.
My back tensed. Of course it helped (note my voice drips with obvious, blatant sarcasm here) when I realized that I could practically feel the air around me crumbling within itself, withdrawing into icy silence. I swear the temperature dropped to negative degrees Celsius. And funnily, no glaring at the gang. Everyone was averting their gaze. In fact, no one was meeting their eyes. Right- I've heard about these sort of people and their little "gangs". They usually made a corner of the back page of a local paper if they were lucky.
It was then that my fate was sealed. I decided to be different from the others... so I looked up, and found myself physically stuck to my plastic seat by the sheer intensity of an angry glare.
I looked back down, averting the gaze like all the others, only noticing well worn jeans and brand name shoes... a set of long legs...
I was relieved as the confident footfalls fell short of me and I allowed myself to sneak a peek through my lashes (or what I have of lashes).
A guy was leaning casually against a seat, his hand falling short of a girl's shoulder. The casual display of nonchalance was in perfect asymmetry against the cruel expression on his face, almost as though he hated everything, everyone... even himself.
But the features smoothed to a cool chill in the matter of seconds, and no one seemed to notice the brief lapse in composure except me. This was probably because all the other students were too busy being occupied with learning the art of invisibility. When would they ever learn that holes never open up when you want to be swallowed?
"What are you doing here?" Soft words slashed through the air like knives.
The girl he addressed just buried her face deeper into her book and attempted to ignore him.
"I said, what the hell are you doing here?" the boy continued in an eerily calm tone.
Solemnly, he reached down and took the book out of the girl's grasping hands.
"Didn't I say that the next time I saw you here you'd be dead? Or don't you take my threats seriously?" his voice barely raised a notch, but it was laced with poison... it was a voice made for the devil.
Harsh words scraped against gentle tones like the scratching of nails down a blackboard- enough to the make the hair at the back of anyone's neck rise up and do a little dance.
What?! How dare my neck hairs learn to hula when I can't even dance for the life of me? The nerve!
He continued to stare at the girl, a mocking smile barely lifting the corner of his lips. After a moment of silence, he flipped open the book and unblinking, proceeded to rip it apart, flinging the torn pages into the air. Then, as though on second thoughts, he grabbed a crisp white page and slashed its jagged edge down in a fluid arch.
The girl flinched as a scratch appeared on her cheek, and her eyes widened with too much terror expressed in them.
I myself was trembling with barely contained anger at his actions.
What was wrong with the people, or should I say, gormless newts, on the bus? How could they just sit there calmly and listen to their sweet little MP3s while someone was being abused by the rudest, most immature little boy I had ever met?!
And what infuriated me no end was the others, the idle ones.
The spectators, watching curiously for any tasty gossip and when nothing "interesting" happened they went back to whatever they were doing… the only sign of life being the turning of their heads to stare wistfully out the window.
It disgusted me.
What this boy was doing was wrong. And obviously the people on this bus were blind as well as mute.
But I'm not.
I don't care if I get into trouble; I simply abhor people who pick on others. Especially helpless people like this girl, who looked like she was about to burst into tears. I was scared at the concept of what I was about to do, but I wasn't going to admit it. I stood up slowly, my heart was thumping crazily against my ribcage as all eyes gravitated towards me.
Quickly, I strode up to the guy, tapped him deftly on the shoulder, and as he turned around to face me, awarded him with a swift punch under the jaw.
And trust me, I'm not some puny little weakling either. I was fast and efficient. I thought he would have staggered back, but all he did was slowly turn his head to look at me.
You know one of those carnival games involving shoving balls down the throat of smiling clowns with hollow eyes? And how the heads of the clowns sort of swivel and stare at you accusingly? Well, that's what he reminded me of.
All of a sudden the bus went very, very quiet. Quieter than before, if that was possible. It seemed everyone was holding their breaths in one collective intake of air.
Another guy broke the silence. "I'll take care of her, Jae."
He started towards me menacingly, his muscles almost bulging out from the teeny T-shirt he was wearing (maybe that was why he was wearing it).
Oh Tia, seventeen, dead, and sadly, never been kissed. Surprisingly, with one seething look from Mr. I-just-returned-from-the-top-of-Mount-Everest, the other guy backed off.
And then, oh, what joy, the ice man himself, the most brilliant bastard I have ever met in my life, stepped towards me.
I am one pounded chicken.
Another blast from the Antarctic confirmed my thoughts.
One pounded, chewed and spat out chicken.
I could feel him forcing me to fall back. That's when something in me snapped and I thought, what the heck- if I die, I'm going to die with pride.
So I lifted up my trademark stubborn chin and found my brown eyes blazing into his black ones.
You know how they say that eyes are the window to the soul? That can't be right, because if his eyes were the window to his soul, it meant that he had no soul. Only a wretched spectre peeking out of his eyes- eyes rimmed in perfect darkness.
What I saw in those eyes shook me, and my breath caught in my throat.
They were emotionless… and black, the only word I could use to describe it... it was as though all the shadows of the world had gathered behind those eyes, and all the light and happiness and warmth had been sucked out, until it was all but an empty void of space. Endless and unapproachable.
The only thing that gave away what he was feeling was a slight clenching of his rapidly reddening jaw.
I never knew I could punch that hard, and for some reason, Jae, as they had called him, was more menacing than muscle man. I secretly wished muscle man would come back. Heck, I'd even wash his tiny shirt for him.
I felt like massaging my aching fist, but then thought better of it. Any movement would be a weakness in this silent war, and any weakness was a flaw.
A page of the book drifted between us, obscuring his eyes and leaving only his, at this angle, oddly vulnerable lips.
But before I could be sure of what I had seen, the moment was gone, snatched by the shadows just as his eyes had been, and I mentally kicked myself. Vulnerable? I've seen a viper act more vulnerable than him.
Think of the girl Tia. Anger once again pumped though my veins, drumming with every beat of my heart. He is not a person. He is a… a monster. Remember that.
The very same anger was grating against my nerves now, practically aching to be let out.
So I granted its wish. I blasted a wall of searing flames at his ice dusted composure, hoping, in vain, to burn him to death.
Why is it that death wishes always happen to be in vain in situations like these?
I unclenched my rapidly aching fists (yeah, they were still clenched) and prepared myself for the torrent of ice daggers that was sure to follow. Daggers which would most likely embed themselves in my heart.
I smirked- hey, at least I have a heart. That's something I had over him.
But, surprisingly, my death didn't come. Ha! I am a survivor!
Hmmm. Maybe I was being over dramatic (again) and he did have a soul. But whatever, he was still evil… and bad boys don't turn into good guys. Nuh-uh.
He took another step towards me, and then he was so close that I could almost feel his warm breath brushing against my cheeks. I was definitely going to have to wash my face after this.
He leant towards me, and for one moment I thought he was going to simply punch me back, but then his breath tickled my ear as he hissed, "After school."
Yep, wash my face... and with soap, no less.
Well, at least his breath was human.
A/N: Hey guys, this is the first Chapter revised… yet again... sweat. Although it's still not perfect- far from it, I still hope you guys enjoy this latest version. Oh and please review, they make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
P.S. Note that I've removed the lyrics from Hero in this story due to some polices of the FP website.