Re: Pokémon: Conifer [RP]
Chance Ansley & Michael Barret
En Route to Conifer High (maybe...)
Mornings at the Andersons’ has always been a messy affair, but today it was especially so. It was, after all, the first day of school. The bus was due to arrive any second, and the food was just getting passed around the kitchen. The kids were rushing to get ready, naturally putting everything off until the last possible minute. Chance could hear the smaller ones chattering excitedly downstairs, with Momma Anderson’s voice barely rising over their chaotic chorus. How the woman brought order to the home every day was a miracle to chance, but she seemed to love every moment of it. (It certainly helped that their neighbor, Tin Karma, was usually around to give a helping hand.)
Chance smiled at his reflection as he realized he enjoyed it as well. The Anderson’s home was always full of energy, never enduring a dull moment. Conflicts usually had a way of sorting themselves out. Despite the fact that none of them were truly related, they each felt a deep connection with one another—like they were a real family. Soon, Chance would have the pleasure of plunging into the morning fray.
But first, he would attempt to bring order to a different chaos. The smile faded from Chance’s face as he looked over the unfortunate mane of hair sprouting from the top of his head. For the fifth time that morning, he felt doubt. How was he supposed to explain it? Ever since the eclipse, it had grown at an unbelievable rate. Despite their best efforts to tame it, his hair remained out of control. The only way he could keep it from falling over his eyes was to wear a visor. Would the teachers at Conifer High even allow that?
Gripping a thick brush tightly, Chance braced himself as he plunged it into his hair. Stubborn as ever, the teen’s locks refused to yield to the brush’s coarse bristles. Chance winced as he yanked the brush free, and then sighed in defeat. It was futile, he knew. He had gone through several brushes in the past few weeks, and he didn’t feel like it was necessary to break another. It was time to just give up.
Yet another victory to the mane.
Grabbing his red visor from the vanity, Chance placed it around his head and turned his back to the mirror without giving it a second glance. He took several deep breaths, trying to fight back the worry. If he didn’t get a grip… worse things could happen.
“Chance!” the teen’s thoughts were luckily interrupted as someone called for him. The brunette poked his head out the doorway in time to see Michael at the top of the stairs.
“Come on,” the black-haired almost-17-year-old waved impatiently. “We gotta go!”
“Right,” Chance nodded, his stomach suddenly turning over. This was the moment of truth—either he would make it or he wouldn’t. Gulping, he shouted back to Michael, “Gimme a sec.”
The teen grabbed his bag from his room and raced after his foster brother. He made it down to the bottom of the stairs in time to see the kids flee out the front door. Mrs. Anderson was shooing them out, passing out forgotten lunches and giving last minute instructions. As soon as the last one was out the door, she turned and gave the oldest boys a weary smile.
“All set?” she wiped her hands on her apron.
“I think so,” Chance nodded, shouldering his backpack.
“Keys?” Michael asked with that serious expression that was usually masking his face.
“Oh, right,” Mrs. Anderson pinched the bridge of her nose, thinking. “Um… Kitchen cupboard.”
“Going to be alright here alone today?” asked Chance jokingly as Michael made a bee-line for the kitchen. “Now that Derek’s going to school, you got the whole house to yourself.”
The foster parent chuckled with a shake of her head, “It’s going to be different, that’s for sure. I think I’ll miss having little Derek around.” Her expression grew concerned as she asked in a whisper, “Will you be okay today?”
Chance took a deep breath. Mrs. Anderson meant well—and it was clear she was worried for him—but asking him that question wasn’t helping. If anything, it made him more nervous. The teen usually wasn’t this anxious about the first day of school; but now he had to worry about controlling his… problems… and avoid the attention of unwanted eyes. Smiling at Mrs. Anderson, he tried to forget that she said anything.
“I can’t find them,” Michael called from the kitchen, sounding a little agitated.
“They should be—Oh!” Mrs. Anderson’s eyes grew wide with sudden realization. “Never mind, Michael! I got them in my pocket!”
The black-haired youth came from the kitchen, hands folded across his chest. In the past, he might have gotten angry with Mrs. Anderson’s absent-mindedness. Now, however, he wore an amused smirk.
“Long morning?” he caught the keys in his hand as their foster mother tossed them across the room.
“The longest,” she continued chuckling at herself. “Oh, but look at the time! You guys need to get going!” She gently took Chance by the shoulder and ushered him out the door, waving for Michael to follow.
“If you need anything,” she looked at Chance meaningfully, “call me and let me know, okay? Drive safe, Michael. Oh, and make sure that everyone got on the bus—Tin, too. If he’s still out there, will you give him a ride, the poor dear?”
“Of course, ma’am,” Michael nodded respectfully. Like Chance and his sister, Michael could never bring himself to call Mrs. Anderson “mother” like the other kids. Yet he still held her in the highest respect. “Ma’am” was the next best thing to mother, in his vocabulary.
“See ya after school,” Mrs. Anderson said her final goodbyes—moments before realizing they hadn’t eaten breakfast. Within seconds, she sent them on their way with two pieces of barely toasted bread. Michael immediately aimed for their ride: a well-rusted heap of junk that could have once been called a Chevy pickup. It was the only car the Andersons could afford to give to their teenagers currently—but it was more than enough to get them to school (and avoid the annoying bus ride to school).
Michael and Chance tossed their bags into the back and climbed in, their doors needing slamming in order to get them shut properly. As Michael turned the key in the ignition, letting the hulking beast roar to life, Chance was once again confronted with doubt. He had been fine up until now—when the reality of returning to school felt strongest.
“Is this really a good idea?” he quietly asked Michael, staring into the dashboard.
The curly-haired teen took his eyes from the rearview mirror and scrutinized Chance closely. Chance bit his lip, knowing that Michael was trying to gauge his emotions right now. His foster brother knew better than anyone else what could happen if he... panicked.
“You can’t put off school forever,” Michael shrugged as he cranked the truck into gear.
“I could be homeschooled.”
“Doesn’t Mrs. Anderson have enough to deal with?”
Chance winced, knowing he had hit a good point there. He wouldn’t want to burden Mrs. Anderson any more than she already was. She was too good a person to do that to.
“Besides, that would attract attention anyway,” Michael continued nonchalantly, twisting in his seat so he could see as he backed out. “People might start to wonder why you’re not attending school anymore. If they get nosy enough… they’ll start watching the house and…”
The black-haired teen shook his head.
“But what if I mess up?” Chance wasn’t yet set at ease. “What if, somehow, I lose control again and someone sees me? Like, what if, during a test, I start stressing out because I can’t remember the answers and—”
Michael slammed on the brakes, staring at the windshield. Very sternly, he ordered, “Chance. Stop. Breath.”
Chance followed his gaze and took in a sharp breath of air. Intricate patterns of frost had begun criss-crossing their way across the windshield. The brunette quickly squeezed his eyes shut, fighting against the surge of emotion heading his way. He concentrated on his breathing, trying to take his mind off of his worries.
“Worrying about it isn’t going to help anything, Chance,” Michael scolded as he released the break and finished pulling out of the driveway. “In fact, it will only make it worse for you.”
Thankfully, the ice started melting away as soon as Chance regained control of himself. Good thing it’s so warm this morning, Michael thought to himself as he glanced up and down the road. The quicker it melted, the least likely someone would notice. Though it was getting closer to autumn, the frost hadn’t come quite yet… How would two teenagers be able to explain why their windshield was frozen now?
“Just… take it easy,” Michael went on, though Chance refused to look at anything but the passenger window. “Act natural. Forget that you even have the… you know. Today’s just going to be like any other school day.”
Chance doubted it, especially since he looked a little… different this year. How many kids were going to stare at him like he was some freak of nature? How many questions was he going to be asked?
“What’s your story?” Michael asked, as if he had read Chance’s thoughts.
“Um… It’s a medical disease…?”
“You’re kidding me right?” Chance’s foster brother snorted derisively. “They’ll ask for a doctor’s note, and you don’t have one.”
“Oh.” Chance honestly hadn’t thought about that. “What should I say then?”
Michael pondered for a moment, then suggested, “Tell ‘em you’re growing your hair out for a charity cause.”
“What?” the wild-haired kid didn’t follow.
“I’ve heard about how some folks grow their hair so that when they get it cut they can donate the hair to make wigs—you know, for cancer patients or something like that. People won’t think you’re a freak for doing that; in fact, they’ll think you’re doing something great.”
“But how long can I keep up that story?” Chance frowned. “Someone will wonder eventually why I haven’t cut my hair yet.”
“You should be able to keep it up for a while. We’ll figure out something else when it comes to it,” Michael seemed confident of his plan. Maybe… we’ll find a cure before then, Michael added in unspoken thoughts.
The more Chance thought about it, the more reasonable it sounded. A sudden burden had been lifted from his chest—and for the first time that morning, he actually felt hopeful. He would go with Michael’s idea. It made sense, and it didn’t mark him as some kind of a weirdo. Perhaps he could pull this off.
With an optimistic grin, Chance nodded, “Alright, we’ll go with that.” After a moment of reflection, he added, “Thanks for having my back.”
Michael gave one of his characteristic half-smiles, and replied, “Anytime, bro.”
Just then, they pulled up to the bus stop and looked around for any abandoned children. As far as they could see, all the Anderson kids had made it to the bus. But they waited to see if Tin would show up; the kid was usually pretty responsible, but if he had gotten caught up with the Anderson kids he might have been waylaid.
“Wait! Michael, waaaaaait!”
Chance heard the muffled yell and turned to look out the back window. He guffawed as he spotted a blonde-haired tween racing down the road behind them, a bulky trumpet case beating against her legs.
“Well, there’s Celeste…”
Michael glanced up in the rearview mirror and shook his head, “Must have forgotten her trumpet…”
“And that’s why I never took up an instrument,” Chance joked, sitting back in his seat. “Too much stuff to carry around.”
Michael chuckled but said nothing as he waited for Celeste and anyone else to catch up with them.
(OOC: I hope this is okay with you, Sheepat, that I went ahead and skipped ahead to the route to school. I imagine that Tin would have loved to come over and help the Anderson's get ready, but I thought that it might be bunnying-ish if I assumed that Tin was over [not to mention, my first post would have been too short for my liking xD]. Really, I have no idea where Tin is currently ^^' BUT I'm looking forward to future interactions! :D)