The Drake File


Sometimes, he still missed Seattle.

But then he started thinking. What about Seattle did he miss? It wasn't C.J. Walker, hunting him down daily like a game of cat and mouse. It certainly wasn't snobby Cindy Scott, looking down her long, pretty nose at him disdain. And it absolutely, positively, certainly wasn't those days at home, right before his parents' divorce.

He still remembered all of it. Those days where he just wouldn't come to school altogether; he was so afraid of the bully. Those days he'd admire the soft sheen of Cindy's blond hair, the way her blue eyes would twinkle when she laughed (which, by the way, was too often for it to seem real). Those days where he wanted to follow his brother Dylan to college just so he wouldn't have to witness another one of his parent's heated arguments.

One day he'd just come to into school, as if it were any other regular day. Boys were scurrying away, their eyes averted, as if they'd just seen the dragon and were too cowardly to face it. His curiosity had always been his strong and weak point. He'd gone in the exact opposite direction that everyone else was headed, and then he'd seen it.

C.J. Walker had been stuffing a wailing kid half his size into a locker. When he was finished, he looked up, and their eyes had met.

That was the end for him.

He still remembered those days where he and several other boys would be shoved into a fence, head-first. How he'd come home with black eyes and the miracle that his mother never noticed that someone had used her make-up. How he'd gotten over his claustrophobia because of how C.J. would trap him in some stranger's locker for hours.

He still remembered his mother dropping off at school, how she'd handed him his lunch money absentmindedly, how she didn't even hear his muttered reply before she drove off. Skipping school had almost been too easy.

He'd just hang out in the bakery down the street from the middle school. No one ever bothered to look in there. He'd munch on the donut he had bought with what was supposed to be his lunch money, and just rest on the bench in the nearby park for the entire day. There was always someone there in the park. No one ever bothered to pay attention to him there.

He liked spending his time there. Hanging out in the park, alone, was better than solving word problems and getting his face pummeled in by C.J. Those few peaceful days at the park were blissful.

He still remembered the look on his father's face when he came home one day, the phone dangling from his father's large hands. "Drake," his father spoke quietly. "What is this I hear about you skipping school?"

The color drained from his face. He only had time for one quick thought (oh…shit) before he had to listen to a long, long lecture by two angry parents who, for once, weren't angry at each other anymore.

"You've missed so many lessons, Drake!" His mother exclaimed. "You're going to have to make up all that work."

"Then I'll make up for it, Mom," he insisted. "I'll go to summer school, I'll do whatever I can! Just don't make me face C.J. again."

"C.J.?" She echoed. "What is this I hear, Drake?"

He shut up. "Nothing," he muttered.

His father shook his head. "You're going back to school tomorrow and that's final," he informed him.

He still remembered when his mother parked in the school parking lot and how she walked him to his locker, how everyone had stared at them strangely. And he had tried to shrink back, feeling like a five-year-old again. His mother was probably the only parent in the entire building.

But he had survived through the first period. Lunch came around, and he had peeked behind a wall before he went anywhere. He had stepped out, thinking all was safe, when he spotted C.J. The larger boy glanced at him once before grabbing a different boy by the shoulders and throwing him into a trash can.

The only explanation he could come up for that was this: He had skipped so many days, eventually, C.J. had just forgotten about him.

He still remembered crushing on a girl for the first time. Cindy Scott was popular, Cindy Scott was the prettiest girl in school, but most of all; Cindy Scott was cruel.

He still remembered the Fall Ball, his sweaty palms whenever he tried to approach her, and the feeling that every single person in the room was watching him make a fool of himself. He still remembered the disgusted look on her face as she took in his appearance. Most of all, however, he still remembered the way she laughed in his face when he had asked her to the dance.

He still remembered his parents fighting, their voices so loud he had grown accustomed to wearing earphones in the house all the time, even when he was sleeping. He still remembered silent, resentful dinners and how his parents each tried to win him over to their side. He still remembered how, sometimes, his parents would be gone from the house until after he fell asleep.

He still remembered the weekends, when Dylan came home for a little bit. Actually, he remembered one weekend in particular, when, for once, his parents weren't fighting. His mother came to him separately, taking him away from his father and Dylan.

She looked nervously at him once before shutting her eyes and saying in a rush, "Drake, your father and I are getting a divorce."

He hadn't felt surprised. The fighting had been going on for so long it had almost felt routine, and this point had been inevitable. No, he had actually felt detached from the entire situation, almost as if he were someone else, watching his and his mother's discussion from far away.

"You're going to be living with me," she said. "Starting tomorrow, we're packing to move out soon."

He should have felt at least something at that point. But he didn't. Instead, he saw his hellish middle school life flash before his eyes. He thought of C.J. Walker, and those lonely days in the park. He thought of Cindy Scott and watching reruns at home instead of having fun with the so-called girl of his dreams. He thought of falling asleep listening to punk rock music, even while he was dreaming.

So when his mother asked him whether he wanted to stay in Seattle or move to a different city, his answer had been immediate, without a second thought.

Most of the time, Drake Dane Sullivan never wanted to see Seattle again.

At the time, she had really disliked summer.

Summer had brought monotony, pure boredom. The San Joaquin Valley heat was scorching, staying outside was an impracticality. All her friends were off vacationing elsewhere, she had absolutely nothing to do.

"You should have signed up for camp or something, if that was the case," her sister Angie informed her matter-of-factly the minute she had come in grumbling about it.

"That was a lack of thought on my part," she admitted openly. "But I thought that there'd at least be something to do!"

All of the people living on their street were as old as her or older. There were no young children playing on the front yard any longer, no energetic dogs chasing after a Frisbee and no people taking a stroll outside anymore because it was simply too hot.

At times like this, she would bask under the shade of her mother's planted orange tree. However, after a few hours of this activity, she became bored again. So she tried climbing the tree. It'd been a few years since she had last tried reaching the top, so this time, it was much harder climbing than she had remembered.

She had looked around, and then she gasped, delighted, as she looked at the next door over. "Angie! Mom, Dad!" She shouted, climbing back down again and rushing into the house. "The sign next door says the house is sold! We're going to have new neighbors!"

A few weeks had passed, and the sign had been taken down, furniture placed inside the house, and their neighbors had finally moved in. But she had never seen anyone come out of the place.

Normally, her mother would have gone over to introduce herself. However, when she mentioned this to her mother, she had groaned and replied, "It's so hot, Maddie. Maybe some other time."

So far, it seemed as if meeting the new neighbors was never going to happen for her.

She then set up her own little station above the orange tree. She had gotten her sister's old binoculars in an old trunk and peered through them for hours on end. No matter how many times or how long she peered through the lenses, no one exited the house. At least, not while she was looking.

One day, Angie had noticed her long absence and entered the backyard exasperatedly. "Maddie!" She shouted. "Maddie, what are you doing?"

She climbed down the tree with her binoculars in her hand. When she reached the ground, she placed a finger to her lips. "Shh, Angie! I wanted to see what our neighbors look like, but I've never seen them come out!" She kicked a rock near her feet. "Plus, Mom doesn't want to go meet them because it's so hot, so I…"

"So you decided to stalk our neighbors?" Angie asked incredulously.

"I'm not stalking them!" She answered defensively. "I'm just waiting for them to come out."

"Which is the same thing as stalking them!"

"Is not!"

"Is too!"


"IS TOO! Honestly, Maddie, you are the weirdest twelve-year-old I know," Angie sighed, rubbing a spot between her eyebrows. She snatched away the binoculars from her hand. "And give me that! Before someone actually catches us like this!"

Maddie pouted. "I'm not weird, Angie! You're just uptight." She grabbed the binoculars from her sister's hand and Angie ran after her, trying to catch the binoculars back.

"What was that, you little runt?!" Angie reached for the lenses, but she tossed them in the air. The binoculars sailed over the wall and into their new neighbor's yard.

"Oops?" She offered, and Angie shot her a menacing glare.

"Great, now what are our neighbors going to think when they find those in their bushes?! They'll find out the truth; that one of the Richards sisters is stalking them!"

"I've told you many times already, Angie, I'm not stalking them…" She smiled, noticing something out of the corner of her eye. She ran off to sit under the shade of the orange tree. Angie sighed and placed her hands on her hips.

"I think we should be quieter. If we're too loud, someone will hear us and come out to see what all the fuss is about."

She had then looked up at Angie with wide, innocent eyes. "Oh, but someone already has come out."

Angie blinked. "What?"

She smiled a sly grin. "Mission accomplished."

Her sister looked at the same spot she was looking at and the color drained from her sister's face. Someone was perched on top of the wall separating their back yards, and he had an amused smile on his face. In his hands were a pair of binoculars, which had the name ANGIE written all over it.

Angie's mouth opened and closed silently. Her eyes were wide open in shock. "One of…our…new neighbors…came out…"

She nodded thoughtfully. "Well. I didn't think our new neighbor would be a boy as old as you, Angie."

The person was still perched on the wall, so he jumped down into their backyard, the old binoculars still in his hand. He grinned once he stood in front of Angie. "Well. This is interesting, isn't it? Is your name Angie?"

Her sister nodded mutely. "That's…Madison…" Angie stammered, pointing at her. She snickered, and her sister elbowed her.

He grinned. "I'm Dylan, Dylan Sullivan. My mom, my little brother, and I are going to be your neighbors from now on. Nice to meet you."

Angie smiled weakly. "Yeah. Same here. Welcome to the San Joaquin Valley…"

Dylan grinned slyly, holding out the binoculars. "Nice to know our new neighbors are so observant…"

Angie flushed scarlet. A few houses away, the people there could hear a twelve-year-old girl's and a twenty-year-old man's boisterous laughter echoing off of the heated walls. And, if they listened very closely, they could hear the twenty-year-old woman's embarrassed protests.

So the next time she thought of this day, two years later, while she helped prepare for her sister's eventful wedding, she was still able to laugh about it.

Other times, Madison Richards didn't think summer was so bad.

A/N: I have no chapter this week (and I was really, really, scared that if I didn't post something up this, week, I'd stop writing altogether) so I thought, since I already had this typed up, I might as well post it...

This is just a prologue, a preview (since the main characters are twelve right now and they haven't exactly met yet...) I already have the next chapter completely written. =)

So what do you think? I'd like to hear your thoughts and speculations.