Shane stared out of the window as Diane drove down the long drive that led to Ledger School. The school's buildings were low and unassuming, tucked into the trees. The dorms, cafeterias, and common rooms made up one side, while the classrooms, offices, and counselor's quarters made up the other. Diane parked as Shane continued to look at what would be his new home.

"Get out of the car," Diane said impatiently. She was already on the other side of Shane's door, tapping her foot. Shane got out of the car and closed the door. Then he opened it and closed it again.

"Just come on," Diane said, grabbing Shane by the arm and pulling him. Shane broke from her grasp and opened and closed the door one more time.

"You happy now? Come on, let's go."

Shane followed Diane into the school building. There was a man inside the front doors, apparently waiting for them. "Shane Heaney?" the man asked.

Shane gave a nod.

"Great, welcome to Ledger. I'm going to show you and your aunt around and then we'll get your things out of the car and show you your room, okay?"

Shane was quiet as the man led them around. The place didn't seem so bad. Lots of the students stared and whispered as they passed. But Shane was used to people whispering about him.

"Well, let's go get your things," the man said when the tour was over.

"What's your name?" They were the first words Shane had said all day.

"Oh, did I forget to introduce myself? Sorry, I do that a lot. I'm so used to everyone knowing me. I'm Walker. I'll be your counselor."

Shane nodded, and the three of them went out to the car. They gathered Shane's things. Shane closed the trunk three times, and then they headed back to the school. Walker led them to Shane's room. He unlocked the door and he and Diane went in. But Shane stayed outside and backed up a few steps.

"Come on in," Walker said. "What's wrong?"

Shane looked at Diane, and she looked around the room for whatever was causing the problem. It was easy to find. "I told you no red!" Diane said, pointing to the red comforter on one of the beds. "He doesn't like the color red! I was clear on that."

"Oh, I'm sorry. It was laundry day today. Your roommate must have taken a different blanket. I'll get it out of here." Walker picked up the comforter and took it out of the room.

Shane backed up against the wall. He didn't want the red to touch him. It didn't, but he still felt the need to wash his hands. He went into the room and into the bathroom, closing the door behind him so that Diane wouldn't yell at him. When he was satisfied, he came back into the room. Walker was back, and there was now a green comforter on the bed.

"You like green, right?" Walker asked.

Shane nodded. He didn't know if he was going to like Walker or not. He seemed nice enough, but it was hard to tell at this point.

"Well, I'll let you two say goodbye," Walker said. "Dinner's at six. School starts tomorrow at eight. Your roommate can answer any additional questions you have if I'm not around, okay?"

Shane nodded again, and Walker left. Diane turned to him. "I guess this is goodbye for now," she said. "I'll come to visit you, and Sarah will too, okay?"

Shane gave another nod. Diane moved in for a hug, but Shane backed away. He didn't want to touch her; he had just cleaned his hands.

"Fine. I hope this place helps you, Shane. I really do think this is for the best. Call me if you need anything, all right?" She hesitated at the door, maybe waiting for Shane to say something. When he didn't, she just said, "Bye then," and left the room. Shane was alone.

Shane had just finished unpacking when the door opened, and someone came in. Shane figured this was his roommate, and he immediately disliked him. He was wearing a red shirt.

"Hey, man, you must be my roommate," the other boy said. "I'm Jordan." He held out his hand to shake, but Shane waved a hello instead. Jordan let his hand drop.

"Okay. Hey, what happened to my comforter?"

"Walker took it away."


"I don't like the color red," Shane said simply. He tried his best to be honest with people.


"So Walker took the comforter away."

"Well, I don't like the color pink but whenever a girl wears a pink shirt I don't make her take it off…although it would be entertaining."

"It's different," Shane said.

"I'm wearing red," Jordan said, pulling on his shirt. "You want me to change?"

"If it's not a problem."

"Well, tough, because it is. You'll just have to put up with it."

Yep, Shane definitely didn't like this kid.

Shane was forced to eat dinner with what would be his new therapy group. His new roommate, Jordan, was there, as well as three other kids.

"Hey," one of the boys greeted. He was tall and solidly built, like an athlete, with brown hair and brown eyes. He had an easy smile. "I'm Trip. You must be the other new kid."

"The other?" Shane questioned.

Trip motioned to the boy sitting on his left. He was smaller than Trip, shorter and skinnier. He had dirty blond hair and sharp blue eyes. His mouth was turned down just the slightest bit, and his eyebrows were furrowed. He looked angry. "This is my new roommate, Landon," Trip introduced him. "He just got here yesterday."

"I'm Shane."

"So what's your malfunction?"

"Malfunction?" Shane asked, confused.

Trip smiled. "You know, what's wrong with you? You gotta answer the question. You and Landon both."


"Because everyone has to," Trip said. "It's a rite of passage, sort of. I had to do it."

Shane just shrugged. He didn't really feel like talking to these people.

"Okay, then, how about we just start with ourselves? We're the Cranes, your new group. You'll basically be spending the rest of your high school life with us so you better get used to it. Like I said, I'm Trip. I was sent to Ledger because I was partying too much, I failed my classes, and got kicked off the football team." Trip smiled. "My parents decided it was time for a change."

The girl sitting next to Trip leaned forward to talk. With even that slight movement, Shane could tell she was graceful. She was tall and slender, with beautiful light brown hair that cascaded down over her shoulders and green eyes. "I'm Jo. I used to model overseas, and I got a little carried away with the lifestyle. So my parents sent me here. Trip and I are the ones that have been here the longest."

"Always bragging about being here the longest," Jordan said with a scoff. "I came, like, two weeks after you guys."

Trip and Jo just laughed, and Shane got the sense that the three of them were really close.

Another girl came and sat next to Jo with her tray of food. "Oh, a newbie! What's your name?"


"I'm Seely." She held out her hand for Shane to shake, and he did. She seemed like she had a bubbly personality. She had short blond hair and a wide smile.

"Tell him why you got sent to Ledger so he'll feel comfortable to share with us," Jo said.

"Oh, okay. Well, I was being a bit rebellious. So, my parents decided it would be best if I came here."

"Jordan, you go," Trip pushed.

"I got arrested. It was just wrong place wrong time, but they took me in. I had drugs on me, and the judge decided to sentence me here rather than have me serve time, which I guess I'm grateful for."

"Landon?" Trip asked. "Care to share?"

Landon sent Trip a glare, but then he began to speak. "Same as most of you. Partying, getting into trouble. My parents sent me here."

Trip turned back to Shane. "What about you?"

"My aunt sent me. I was… being difficult."

"Hm." Trip tilted his head thoughtfully. "You look kinda familiar. Maybe I know you from somewhere…."

"I doubt it." Shane didn't think Trip seemed familiar at all.

"I swear I've seen you before….Oh well, I'm sure I'll think of it later."

The rest of the dinner went by smoothly. Shane was quiet. He had always been more of an observer anyway. After dinner, Shane went back to his room and spent the rest of the evening laying on his bed, listening to music with his eyes closed, trying to relax himself. A new place, all these new people, it was a lot. And the more stressed Shane was, the worse his compulsions were.

Jordan didn't come back into the room until ten thirty. Shane figured this was a good time to go to sleep. He didn't want Jordan to try and talk to him or something. Apparently, Jordan agreed. He crawled into his bed without even changing his clothes.

Shane got the light. Then he got into bed, got comfortable, and reached over to the nightstand. He pulled his clock to him and set the alarm for seven in the morning. Then he turned the ringer on. He checked the set time again, and then he checked that the ringer was still on. Then he checked both again, and again, and again.

After about ten minutes of this, Jordan sat up. "What are you doing?"

"Checking my alarm."

"You've checked it, like, a hundred times already. You're good, Man."

"It just… it calms me."

"Fine. Do what you want, Freak." Jordan turned to face the other direction.

Shane was used to being called a freak, and much worse, so he didn't mind it too much. He kept checking his alarm until, finally, he fell asleep.