Act 1: Chapter 5, Part 1

Posted on June 25, 2017

Chapter 5: In Which Evan is Furious

In Which Chris Thinks He's Clever

Evan. First Day of School. Last Bell.

And the first day ended, sending teenagers spilling out into the September sun. Some started straggling off toward their respective trolley lines, but many more chose to stay and mill around the campus to debrief the day with their friends. The freshman class, in particular, remained in large numbers, as this marked the first time that nearly all of them could take advantage of being of First Age and the accompanying loosening of curfews and other behavioral restrictions.

Evan’s phone beeped nearly as soon as he got outside. Meet us by the beech in the east quad. Should get Chris, axe him. Angie’s text said. Evan smiled at the reference, but also had to acknowledge and let pass a flash of annoyance at the fact that, A, Megan hadn’t yet given them Chris’s number, and B, that Angie apparently expected him to just break into the undoubtedly huge group of people surrounding Chris and bug him about hunting, rather than bring it up with her and Ryan there to help him make his case.  

Chris wasn’t exactly hard to find. Evan just had to find a big clump of people, which there happened to be over at the corner of the Social Studies building, which was the building to the southwest of the Math and Science building. A good twenty people or so were all crowded around in a circle.

He also glanced over at what he thought was the beech tree; there were only a few in the quad, and one of them was a young oak tree, so it wasn’t that one. He did not see Ryan or Angie yet.  

Sure enough, once he got close enough to the crowd he could hear Chris’s voice, muffled and indistinct. He couldn’t see the Light Bearer through the crowd, but he definitely was in there. Evan wandered up to the back edge of the crowd and stood on his toes. Able to peer over the heads of a lot of the people in the crowd, Evan could see Chris in the center, speaking and gesticulating enthusiastically, part of a small circle of guys. Those guys were the Olympians.

Lead by Brandon Chase1, Lauren’s boyfriend, who was standing right there next to Chris, the Olympians had possessed the stupidest name of any party in Asphodel Middle School. They were in the Olympus school district, yes. They were rich and handsome and athletic, from well connected families, yes. They had also been in middle school. And now that they were high school freshman2, it was extra ridiculous. You couldn’t call your crew the Olympians if you were freshmen.

Evan could hear Chris speaking, and see him too, if he stayed up on his toes. “I spring forward, dive rolling just to cover ground, tossing my brand into the air so it doesn’t get too near my head, and end the dive up on one knee, thrusting up through the Mother’s thorax. Fuck it smelled bad! I hated that thing. Oh, also I catch the brand.” Chris mimed catching the brand with an easy grin.

That… wasn’t what he’d told them at lunch. He’d said he burnt his hair with the brand. “Hmm,” Evan hmmed. An appreciative murmur was passing through the crowd, so it was to Evan’s surprise when Chris immediately glanced straight at him, straight into his eyes, then widened his eyes and slightly reverse nodded his head in a manner that clearly conveyed the statement, Oh, hey man.

Evan blinked and rocked back on his heels. He stepped a couple yards away from the crowd and stood on one foot.

Evan had just switched feet when the crowd started clapping, then started breaking up. After a minute or so, it was just Chris left with the Olympians.

However, before Evan even was able to decide whether that would be a problem, Chris seemed to have made his goodbyes and slipped out of the group, approaching him. Eyes followed him, of course, both in Brandon’s group and among those still hanging around, but Chris seemed to have carte blanche to speak with whoever he wanted without comment.

“Hey man,” Chris said, an easy grin on his face, sincerity in his voice. “How’s it going?”

“You know. School’s over,” Evan said, unsure what the other boy was looking for in a response.

“Absolutely true,” Chris said with a nod, as if the exchange had been anything more profound than the statement of facts that it was. “Where you guys meeting? You guys have plans for the afternoon?”

Evan shrugged. “Uh, first question is under the beech in the east quad. By which I mean, that tree right there. I think.” He waved at the tree he thought it was. “Second question: I don’t know. Our usual MO is bum around until someone suggests doing something everyone’s into. We can do that for way longer now that we’re fifteen, which helps, because usually no one suggests anything.” He chewed on his lip a little, considering. “Though if Megan and you join us, that might change things. Megan was always better at suggesting things to do.” He frowned now, looking down at the ground, still nibbling. “She still hasn’t given us your number.”

Chris laughed. “Shit, yeah, okay. She managed to get her phone taken away. She gave me your numbers, though.” He dug out his shiny iPhone and his fingers flickered across the phone. He grinned at Evan and continued, “She’s probably getting it right now, so keep an eye out for her.”

A mere moment later, Evan’s decidedly not-shiny not-iPhone buzzed. He dug it out and slid it open. The text from Chris, which included Megan, Angie, and Ryan in the recipients, read, Sup this is Chris, I gotta get some stuff from my locker, meet you at the beech. Evan raised his eyes to and an eyebrow at Chris.

“Pretty good, right?” Chris said, still grinning.

Evan kept his eyebrow raised. “That’s your A material?”

“Oh come on,” Chris said, still smiling, clearly enjoying the exchange. “I mean it’s not a joke, it’s just a clever way to accomplish multiple things at once.”

“It is that,” Evan said, still holding his expression.

Chris’s smile widened, then he waved a hand in mock disapproval as he started walking backwards toward the locker hall. “Ach. You’re a philistine.” Back to sincere: “You’re fun though. I’ll—“

“Hey! Uh, sorry,” Evan said. “We wanted to know something though. Other than on your journey here, you ever go out with gunners regularly?”

“-catch you in a bit. Uh.” Chris seemed frozen for just a quarter second, his eyes wide, then he took a step back waving a hand and shaking a head. “Aw, nah, never really before. Gramyres hunt alone. You know how it is.”

And he was off, weaving through the milling students of the east quad.

Evan looked after him for a moment, nodding. Then he sighed and looked around to see if Angie and Ryan were visible anywhere yet, only to find Megan approaching. With Beth walking next to her.

  • 1. Maybe? Evan could never keep track even while school was on, let alone after an entire summer. It’s not like he was about to follow them online. That was Ryan’s job.
  • 2. To be fair, they might have realized how ridiculous that was and changed to a new party name over the summer. Again, Evan did not keep track of that sort of thing.