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    *HJ*
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Always - 2. High School and New Faces

That morning when Drew arrived at Clearstone High, he was very surprised that it didn’t feel that much smaller than his last high school. This didn’t make much sense to Drew considering this particular town was not even close to needing such a large school. He had no trouble parking his car; the parking lot wasn’t even half full.

As he made his way through the parking lot, he realized what his mom meant by all the girls. He could hear the giggles and the girlish whispers as he climbed the steps. He didn’t smile, he didn’t acknowledge them. He stopped before he reached the top, to look at the elaborate décor of the school.

Stone steps led up to the large, red bricked building. In the middle the steps were separated by a guard rail. The double doors leading into the building were tall and rounded off at the top; almost resembling the doors of a cathedral. The building was huge, from the view of the steps Drew could see that it was a three story structure that twisted and turned its halls, causing the building to become sectionalized. He stood in awe at the building before him.

Drew felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned, only to see another unfamiliar face. The young man who stood before him had a tanned complexion that was complemented by his short, neat, black hair, chocolate eyes, and muscular body. Standing at six foot, he was slightly under Drew’s eye level. His eyebrows were dark, but not over powering. His chin was ever-so slightly cleft, but it worked quite nicely with his features. Like Drew he had a strong jaw line, however, when he smiled, deep dimples appeared in his cheeks giving him a younger appearance.

"Impressed?” Jeff asked nodding to the building.

Drew nodded.

"This school is a town landmark. It was founded in 1901, but not as a high school. It was actually the town’s first courthouse slash jail. It was converted into a school in the late 1950’s. The latest renovations were made in the 1980’s,” the young man relayed the information to Drew as he also looked up at the magnificent building.

"Why would a town this small need a school this big?” Drew asked. “I mean there can’t be more than 700 students in this place.”

"The town wasn’t always this small. In 1998 the school district was split in half, this half remained Clearstone and the other became Riverstone. The schools are huge rivals. I’m Jeff Rower,” he extended his hand toward Drew.

Drew shook his hand, “I’m Drew Knight.”

"I know who you are. Everyone knows. You are basically the talk of the town right now.”

"Great, and here I was thinking it would take a couple of days for everyone to realize.” Drew frowned deeply.

"Hey, don’t think of it as such a bad thing. I mean you just got here today and you are already the most popular person in school, other than David Davison, the Mayor’s evil bastard of a son. He is someone you will want to avoid, along with the rest of his lackeys. Don’t worry about spotting them they stick together pretty tight. They all wear the tight t-shirts and David wears a black leather jacket. Anyhow avoid them at all costs.”

"What about you? What’s your story?” Drew asked curiously.

"I’m a senior, captain of the boxing team, football team, and the baseball team. Speaking of boxing, we would love to have you on the team. We’ve lost to Riverstone three years in a row. Washington’s state champ should put an end to that losing streak. If you are interested in being on the team I can set you up a time on Wednesday to try-out. Not that you actually need to try-out, but it’s a formality.”

“I’ll be there.”

"Alright man I’ll see ya’ around.”

Jeff trotted off into the school. Drew continued up the steps behind him and entered into the large, elaborate lobby. Drew found himself looking around in awe again. The floors were marble, the walls were white cement blocks and in the center of the lobby was a large bronze statue of a horse rearing up on its hind legs. Engraved under it were the words, ‘Home of the Clearstone Stallions, Where Dreams Run Free’.

The lobby had the feel of a normal run of the mill high school. It was no mystery that the schools colors were blue and gold due to the fact that there were banners everywhere sporting the colors. The lobby was the basic shape of a large square that had been lined with benches and connected to two hallways on opposite sides of the room that led off to other wings of the school.

As Drew looked around he noticed all the busy students scurrying around the lobby with their books and inquiring eyes. Drew ignored their stares and began what he found to be a short search for the main office. Down the hallway to his left he found what he was looking for.

As he entered through the arched doorway he found a young, petite woman sitting behind a large desk, surrounded by paper work, and swamped with incoming phone calls. While he was waiting for one of her free moments which seemed to be very limited, he stared out the window to look at the passing students. He watched the faces of the strangers that passed for what seemed to be a very long time before he saw the clique of guys Jeff had mentioned earlier. As described each was sporting a solid black or white t-shirt.

As the group passed, the leader, who was about Drew’s height and build, shot him a wary glance. Drew didn’t pay it much attention, but he had a feeling that they wouldn’t be friends in the near future.

"Can I help you?” The woman asked as she looked up through her long, messy brown hair.

The woman was in her late twenties. Drew looked at the dark circles under her brown eyes and tried to look slightly happy. All he managed was a blank expression.

"Yeah, I’m a new student, Drew Knight. I was looking for my schedule and whatever else I may need.”

"Umm, yes, hold on I have that here somewhere,” she began quickly looking through stacks of papers and files.

Drew waited patiently until she found what she was looking for.

"Alright,” she sighed, “Here is everything you need. When you arrive at your classes your teachers will assign you your books and it says here that your guide is Luke McGowan.” The woman frowned whilst she said the name. “Wait here and let me see if I can find you another guide.”

"What’s wrong with the one I was assigned?” Drew asked perplexed.

"All guides are chosen by computer, which matches you by your class schedules. You have almost every class with him, but you wouldn’t want to get involved with him.”

"Why?”

"Well, he isn’t very well liked here, and I’m sure the principal wouldn’t want you to get into any trouble. It’s better if we just find you a new guide.”

"Alright, if you want, but I think I can find my way around.”

"Well, then why don’t you just go on and if you have any trouble than just come back and we will find someone for you.”

"Sounds good. Thanks for your help,” Drew said as he turned to leave.

"Have a nice day,” she said as she began to attack the paper work once again.

Drew exited the office and shuffled through his papers to find his schedule. He was able to read the first class before someone, who was apparently in a hurry, ran past him and knocked the papers from his hands. The guy who had caused the incident kept running and Drew was left with the mess. As he bent down to pick up the strewn papers a young man began to help him. Drew looked up from the floor and met his eyes. He caught his breath. The eyes he were looking into were holding the same pain as his own.

The young man’s long eye lashes shaded his caramel eyes. His hair was strawberry blond, cut in a shaggy style and gelled to perfection; unlike Drew’s messy look. He was wearing a white t-shirt under the white and blue pinstriped dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the first three buttons unbuttoned. He also wore a pair of faded, baggy blue jeans and black and white converse shoes.

When he stood he was about an inch shorter than Drew, however, he had the same muscular build as him.

"Are you alright? It looked like he hit you pretty hard,” he said handing Drew his papers.

"I have been hit harder. Thanks for helping me,” Drew looked at him for a short moment, “I’m Drew Knight,” Drew said as he extended his hand.

"It’s nice to meet you, Drew,” The guy shook his hand and then smiled halfheartedly.

"No name?” Drew asked smiling his old bright smile.

"No, I have one, but it’s better I don’t tell you.”

"Why?”

"Simple,” he let the faint smile fade from his face, “Plausible Deniability.”

"Alright, I guess I should avoid you then?”

"It would be in your best interest.”

Drew had noticed that the boy had been staring, not at him, but through the window of the office directly behind him. When Drew turned to look into the office, he saw a tall man with dark hair glaring at the young man. When Drew turned around the guy who had helped him had already left.

Drew turned to look back at the man he believed to be the principal, but he too was gone.


Meanwhile, across town, Jane had started her shift at the hospital. She worked as the day-time Emergency Room doctor. Things were very slow that particular day, and she had some down time to deal with. She really didn’t like the fact that things were so dreadfully slow, because it made her think about Jordan, which made her feel horrible and hopeless.

To avoid thinking about it she would find herself sitting and talking to the secretary, a 60 year-old woman named Eleanor, for most of the time. Eleanor was pretty much the only person she had met in the few days she had been there that she liked to talk to. She had met the handsome middle aged doctor that worked in the pediatrics wing, but seeing how her last marriage crashed and burned. She wasn’t at all interested in pursuing a relationship, even though he was good looking and really seemed to be interested.

“Why don’t you go talk to that pediatrics doctor, instead of bothering me all day?” Eleanor laughed.

“He doesn’t interest me Eleanor, no man does, not anymore.”

“Jane, I know you have been hurt in the past, but not all men are like your ex-husband. Give Dr. McGowan a chance. He’s a nice man, he even has a son, well nephew, your son’s age, they would make great friends, I think. Although, you shouldn’t believe what you hear about the boy, he is a good hearted kid.”

“No, I have had my fill of men.”

“I am disappointed to hear that,” a deep voice said coming around the corner.

“Dr. McGowan, how nice of you to grace us with your presence, you’re just in time to take Ms. Knight out to lunch.” Eleanor decided to emphasize her title as Ms.

“Well, if you’re free I would love to go, in fact I’ve been dying to ask you,” Dr. McGowan said smiling.

“I appreciate the offer but I would rather n-.”

“Please.”

“I can’t I’ve got other things to do.”

Dr. McGowan had a disappointed look on his face and for a moment Jane really did want to go but she was too afraid. Dr. McGowan smiled at her and Eleanor, turned and left.

“He really is a handsome man.”

“Eleanor! I should wring your neck!”

“Well, you can’t deny it, all the women are after him.” Eleanor smiled.

“Why should I add to the competition then?”

“Fine, be stubborn then. See if I care.”

Eleanor’s smile faded as Jane lifted her head and walked to her office.


Drew found his way to his first class easily enough. Although it did help, that anyone he asked directions from was more than happy to talk to him. He figured it was mostly due to the fact they would have something to tell the press later.

When Drew arrived at the advanced calculus room, he gave a slight knock on the door. Class had already begun, but none of the students had quieted down enough for anything to be taught. When Drew stepped into the room it was obvious what the topic of conversation was, when everyone became silent. Drew let a frown cross his face as he looked at the inquisitive faces that stared at him as he walked to the teacher’s desk.

“Mr. Greene?”

“Mr. Knight I wasn’t expecting you until after the break.”

Mr. Greene was in his late thirties. He still possessed all of his raven black hair, but it was beginning to gray around his temples. His eyes, bright blue, were set under heavy eye lids surround by crow’s feet. However, he was physically fit, and professionally dressed.

“Yeah, well…” Drew replied lifelessly.

“Please take a seat by Mr. McGowan, I will have another desk in here tomorrow, but until then that will be your seat.”

Drew looked back over his shoulder at the only empty desk in the room. The same young man that helped Drew pick up his papers earlier that morning, sat alone and secluded in the corner next to the window. Drew let surprise flood his face when he realized that that young man was no other than Luke McGowan, and he was staring straight at Drew.

“Is that someone else’s seat?” Drew asked trying to find the reason for an extra desk.

“No, but-” Mr. Greene started.

“With all due respect Mr. Greene, I think that I of all people can decide what is best for me. Don’t worry about getting another desk.”

Drew turned and realized that all thirty-two students in the class were staring at him with wide eyes and dropped jaws. Drew however, was only looking at Luke, as he walked to the back of the class to take his seat.

“Why didn’t you tell me who you were this morning?” Drew asked in a whisper as he took his seat.

“I figured it would be best if you were not associated with me,” Luke whispered back.

“Why is that?”

“You’re taking advanced calculus, so you’re pretty smart. It’s not that hard to figure out.” Luke looked Drew square in the eye. “I’m the ex-member of a local gang who killed my own father. If I were you, I would avoid me too.” Luke shifted his body toward the window and stared out at the sky.

Drew looked back out at the thirty one students staring at him.

“What?” Drew asked in a loud, irate tone.

They all turned back around at once. Drew saw Luke grin out of the corner of his eye.

It was sunny and slightly windy outside as it often was in spring. Drew turned his attention to the sketch book on Luke’s desk. The drawing in it was extremely good. It was almost an exact copy of the landscape outside the window, but the only difference was the landscape was dark and stormy rather than bright and sunny.

Luke turned and looked at Drew’s wandering eyes and then shut the book. Drew saw the anguish in his eyes as he did so. At that very moment, he didn’t know why, but in an odd sort of way Drew felt like he was connected to him. They shared a pain that few people would ever know.

As the class lingered on Drew found himself completely spaced out. For what had only lasted an hour seemed like a millennium to Drew.

When the bell finally rang Drew still felt dazed. Despite that, he still noticed that Luke took his time leaving. He was very cautious as he walked out of the room, looking down both ends of the hall before he walked out the door.

Luke tried to adopt the same relaxed posture as his classmates when he walked, but Drew could tell he was tense. His shoulders were slightly slumped, head held level, and his pace fast. A slight frown marred his face and his expression showed that he was hyper alert to his surroundings. Drew noticed a slight limp to his walk.

Drew realized then that Luke might not be isolated by the people around him, but that he might be isolating himself. Drew then thought about the gang, and the principle. This made him wonder if just for a second that maybe he should heed everyone’s warnings.

As the morning passed, Drew found himself sitting next to Luke in all of his morning classes, except for Spanish, which was due to the fact that Luke took German.

When it came time for lunch Drew saw Jeff setting at a large table of guys he believed might be the boxing team. That didn’t include the beautiful blonde that set just to Jeff’s left. As Drew approached, the girl elbowed Jeff and looked straight at Drew. Jeff smiled and got up to welcome him; the girl followed suit.

“Hey, Drew! Come sit with us and meet the team,” Jeff said pulling another chair up to the table.

Drew approached Jeff, who had put his arm around the girl that accompanied him.

“Drew, this is my girl Rose,” Jeff said proudly, beaming.

The girl was wearing a short, pink mini skirt, with a white button up blouse. Her long, blonde curls reached down to the middle of her back and matched perfectly with her golden eyes. She was also tall for a female; 5’8, Drew guessed.

“Hi,” she said in friendly manner, much like Jeff.

Drew tried to smile back. “Hi,” was all he could manage.

Jeff, still smiling, motioned to the table and they took their seats. Drew looked around at the other guys setting at the table. He counted seven, but there was still one empty chair beside Rose. Drew looked over the cafeteria for Luke, he was nowhere in sight.

“Drew, this is the boxing team. There are eight of us, not counting you, and we are all hoping that will change. A state champ is something our team could really use,” Jeff said in between bites of his hamburger.

“I told you I would join, I don’t go back on my word,” Drew said, forcing a slight smile.

“Well,” Jeff began pointing around the table, “This is Matt, Jake, Lance, Joey, Brett, Mike, Ryan, and Lucas.” The guys all nodded and smiled.

“I heard that you ticked Mr. Greene off royally this morning. What did you do?” Mark, a brawny, raven hair guy asked.

“Oh, I guess he was mad about my refusing to take another desk,” Drew said.

“Another desk?” Mark asked.

“Yeah, the one left was beside of that Luke McGowan guy, and Mr. Greene wanted to bring in another desk and I told him it wasn’t necessary.”

Every jaw at the table dropped. Drew rolled his eyes and took a bite from his burger.

“You took up for Luke McGowan?” Rose asked with a smile.

“If you want to call it that. He helped me this morning and I was just returning the favor. He seems like a nice guy to me.”

“That’s what Jeff and I keep telling everyone,” Rose eyed the others at the table. “I was his best friend, still am if I can ever get him to talk to me again. We leave a seat open every day, but he never comes to lunch anymore.”

“Rose, you know Luke has his reasons,” Jeff said looking at her.

“What are you talking about? What did he do to make everyone send him into exile?” Drew asked confused as ever.

“He keeps himself isolated from Jeff and me because he is afraid that David and his gang might come after us as well.”

Drew gave her a funny look.

Jeff sat back in his chair, second hamburger in hand and sighed as Rose began to explain.

“About a year ago, when we were still juniors and Luke lived with his father, him and David Davidson had a falling out,” Rose paused and looked at Jeff who nodded at her. When she got conformation that Jeff had already informed Drew about David she continued, “Jeff and I were his best friends along with David. It was Luke’s seventeenth birthday, and we were all down by the docks when Tyler Chipley came by. Tyler had never been really popular with many people, but Luke seemed to like him.

“As the night progressed we all began to get really drunk. That’s when David began to hassle Tyler. At first it was just playful then he started to get violent. Luke stepped in and David got pissed, he started fighting Luke and Tyler both. Luke played football, but he didn’t have the fighting experience to keep up with David. Luke ended up with a broken wrist and the last thing anyone remembers is Luke helping Tyler to his car, so that he could take him to the hospital.

“We ended up passing out shortly after and in the morning when we woke up we found Luke about twenty feet from his car, and Tyler was dead, face down in the lake.”

Drew realized he was staring at Rose.

“So, what happened? Who killed him?” Drew asked.

“It was ruled as an accident, but after the whole thing with Luke’s father happened, people began to think Luke did it.” Rose scowled at the others around the table.

“What thing with his father?”

“I’m surprised you haven’t heard. After the fight Luke had with David,” Rose was talking only to Drew now, and he had to concentrate to catch everything, “David pretty much declared war on him. The first thing David did was to accuse him of batting for the other team, if you catch my drift.” Drew nodded in understanding. “You think that wouldn’t be so bad, but Luke’s father had never been very accepting, and when that rumor got around to him, he lost it. Luke got home from school and he found his father drunk. His father had a gun and he was going to kill Luke, but thankfully he was so drunk that his aim was off and Luke was able to defend himself. They wrestled over the gun and it went off, killing his dad.”

“So who does he live with now, his mom?” Drew asked.

“No, she died when he was born. That, I think, is why his father never showed much affection toward him. His Uncle from his father’s side took him in. Ben McGowan, the pediatrics doctor at the hospital. He doesn’t act like family to him either; he blames him for his brother’s death, but without him Luke would probably be in foster care.”

At about that time the bell rang ending the lunch period. The other guys at the table got up and left, but Jeff and Rose lingered behind with Drew. Drew’s feelings had changed from shock to sympathy for Luke. Drew knew what it felt like to have no one. All the months he spent in foster care was enough to make him realize no matter how much his mom had hassled him he could barely stand it without her. He understood what Luke was feeling.

“Drew you are just the kind of friend Luke needs. You meet him before you heard about his past, and I don’t think you’re the type of person to hold it against him,” Rose said.

“No Rose, Luke won’t go for it. He won’t even talk to me,” Jeff said as he looked at Rose’s pleading eyes.

“Oh, come on if he was going to let anyone in it would be someone who could fight David and win. Drew is totally capable of that from what I have heard about his boxing reputation,” Rose said.

“What exactly do you want me to do?” Drew asked.

“You like Luke right? You believe me that he’s a nice guy?” Rose asked.

“Would you try and get him to let someone in. He needs a friend, a good friend. I know he wants to let someone in he’s just too scared of letting people get close to him.”

"Rose, do you realize who you’re talking to?” Jeff asked. “The last thing that Drew Knight wants is more trouble, and that is exactly what Luke will bring him.”

Rose was silent as she looked down at her feet. Drew knew Luke could and would potentially cause him trouble, but there was something telling him that he should take Rose’s side. Not only did he have a weird feeling, but he couldn’t help remembering the look in Luke’s eyes the first time he saw him; the identical pain and fear.

"I agree with Rose. Besides, I think I can relate to his situation. How do I get him to talk to me though? I mean his mind seems pretty made up,” Drew looked from Rose to Jeff as he spoke.

"You will just have to be persistent with him. He’ll come around eventually,” Jeff said.

"That is something I can do. I have nearly every class with him.”

Jeff smiled, “What is your next class?”

"Roman History with Jacobs.”

"Yep, Luke’s in that class.”

"Perfect.”

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Copyright © 2013 *HJ*; All Rights Reserved.
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Sweet start. I really like this story. I am terrible with names and I had no idea what story 'Always' was. This caught my attention the first time and is still doing so now

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Saw this story updated today, and out of curiosity, decided to check it out. It amazes me the talent here that you young writers have. I am blown away by this story, and you are doing a great job, in writing and telling your story. Definitely will keep reading. Great work

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On 08/10/2012 04:16 AM, joann414 said:
Saw this story updated today, and out of curiosity, decided to check it out. It amazes me the talent here that you young writers have. I am blown away by this story, and you are doing a great job, in writing and telling your story. Definitely will keep reading. Great work
Thank you so much!
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