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Chapter Fourteen

"I already know."

Zacky looked stunned, but also the tiniest bit relieved. From the moment he had stepped foot into the kitchen Lysander had known there was something his father was fretting over, something that he clearly didn't want to bring up but was going to do so regardless. A panic had seized the boy momentarily - had something bad happened to Dakota? - only to be replaced by the sense of discomfort that had found its home within him on Saturday morning.

"You already know?" Zacky repeated.

It was a question rather than a statement, an enquiry as to whether or not he had heard his son correctly. Lysander nodded, unwilling to speak as he finished off his last little bit of cereal. Zacky was patient as he swallowed and took his bowl to the sink to be rinsed.

"I went for a run on Saturday morning," he said as he turned the tap, "and I ended up down at the beach. Some girl recognised me from the photos."

Once the bowl was rinsed he stuck it and the other plates from the sink into the dishwasher, the way he knew that Gena liked it. It was only then that he turned back to face his father. The look on Zacky's face was no longer one of surprise; now he wore a look of concern.

"Why didn't you say something?"

"Because it wasn't a big deal."

The look on Zacky's face said that he disagreed. Lysander raised an eyebrow. He didn't see the need to voice the question - it was already there, lingering in the air between them.

"Lysander," Zacky started slowly, "some of the band's fans can get..." He paused for a moment, searching for the right word. He nibbled on his lower lip as he did this, Lysander noticed. "Fanatic," was the world that Zacky finally chose. "I've seen them do some pretty crazy things to get our attention, so just...be careful, huh? If you meet somebody and things start getting out of hand-"

"I'll call you," he cut the man off. "Or I'll run. I'm pretty good at that." Seeing Zacky about to argue, he went on with, "Dad, really. Don't worry yourself. I'll be fine."

He found Zacky's concern both amusing and annoying despite the fact that he understood the need for it. If he were going anywhere else for the day, he might have listened a little closer and taken his father seriously. As it was, it was Tuesday and he was only heading off to school. If the previous day had been any indication at all it was that the school was a crazed-fan-free zone - a place where he would be completely safe.

Zacky stilled looked a tad weary, but he nodded all the same - just as Lysander knew that he would. The man could hardly prevent him from going to school, after all.

Truth be told, Lysander was already well aware of what some of Avenged Sevenfold's fans were capable of. He had been to those shows with Dakota; he had heard the stories that she had found on the Internet. It was part of the reason that he hadn't wanted them all knowing of his existence in the first place. Even so, he felt he could handle anything that any of them could throw his way. If anything, the encounter with the fan on the beach had assured him of this.

He found that he could also take comfort in something that she had said to him: I had no idea you were in California! The diehards may have known about him, but Dakota's 6dgrz profile placed him back in Columbus. As long as word didn't get out that he was in California - and really, who was going to believe the word of one teenage fan? - he felt fairly secure.

He swiped his schoolbag up off the floor and swung it over his shoulder.

"You want a lift?" Zacky asked him suddenly. "I'm heading in that direction, anyway."

"Got practice?"

"Yep. Wouldn't be up this early otherwise."

That Lysander found easy to believe. What he wasn't entirely sold on was that the only reason Zacky was offering him a ride was because he was already going that way himself. He would have done it regardless - the look on his face said it well. Lysander held back a smile, deciding to just play along for the morning. There was nothing wrong with giving his father some peace of mind.

"Sure. That'd be great."

They called their farewells to Gena, who was upstairs still getting ready for her own day. She left the bathroom only momentarily - make-up only half done - to wish them both a good day and blow her husband a kiss goodbye. He caught it with a wink and grabbed his keys from the table. Lysander sent the woman one last wave before following his father out the door.

The weather outside was unseasonably warm and inside the car was almost stiflingly hot, but Zacky's air conditioning ensured that they were both comfortable within a matter of seconds. Seatbelts buckled and sunglasses slipped over Zacky's jade eyes, Lysander lent back and watched as his father reversed effortlessly out of the driveway. There was a silence between them that was filled by the music pouring forth from the car's stereo system, but Lysander paid no mind to this. Instead, he had to marvel at the fact that not even a month after meeting his father, he already found himself completely comfortable around the man.

Had anybody come to him four weeks ago and told him that at this time he would be sitting in a car, alone with his father and not feeling the slightest bit out of place, he would have laughed at them. Everything about it would have been unbelievable to him - from the fact that it meant he would have met his father to the point that it would also mean Zacky wasn't the stuck-up snob Lysander had always pictured him as. But that was then. Things were different now, and Lysander found himself grateful for the fact that he'd been given Zacky for a father. Things could have been a whole lot worse.

"You like the song?"

Lysander listened. While he was sure that he didn't know the song, he was almost certain that he had heard the voice before. It wasn't Matt's - of that he was positive. He tried to follow the lyrics, listening in as the man sung something about the end of the world and sticking by "you". It wasn't all that bad a song, he decided abruptly. Dakota would love it - if she didn't already.

"It's all right," he admitted at last. "The guy has an interesting voice."

"Adam Gontier," Zacky said, nodding with approval. "His band and mine are going to be collaborating. This is something off his band's next album." Shooting him a grin, Zacky added, "Consider yourself lucky. Very few people have heard this yet."

Hearing a song before its release to the public didn't mean as much to Lysander as it would have to a lot of other people, but it meant a lot to him that Zacky would share such things with him regardless. It showed that he was making an effort to further their relationship when he could just as easily have left it as it was, and that meant more than any amount of unreleased songs ever could.

The drive to Huntington Beach High School was regrettably a short one. Not even five minutes into the drive, Zacky was already turning on to Main Street and closing in on the high school. Lysander peered out through the darkly tinted windows, taking in the sight of the students making their way up towards the building. With a sigh, he pulled his bag to himself and prepared to depart.

Zacky pulled up a little way away from the school, looking uncertain.

"This isn't too close, is it?"

It took a moment for Lysander to work out what his father was referring to, but when it finally did hit him he had to laugh. It was an action that clearly caught Zacky off guard.

"I'll, ah... I'll take that as a no."

"I'm not ashamed, you know?" Lysander chuckled. "Tons of parents drop their kids off at school. It's not a big deal."

"I always hated having my parents drop me off. They'd do it whenever I was grounded, and they'd stop right in front of the main doors where everybody could see."

Lysander thought back to the infuriating woman that was Maria Baker, and he could believe it. He let out another laugh as Zacky scowled at some memory or another.

"I'll bet you looked just like that when they did it to you, too," he said with a snicker, pushing open the door and climbing out. "Shouldn't have gotten into trouble in the first place. Would have saved you a lot of suffering."

"Ah, shut up, you."

They grinned at each other, Lysander securing his bag to his back in the process.

"I'll see you tonight," he said by way of farewell. "Have fun at practice."

"Have fun in class!"

Zacky laughed at the disgusted look that was sent his way, and that was the last thing Lysander heard from his father before he shut the door and headed towards the school. He threw one last wave over his shoulder as Zacky pulled away and headed off to what Gena would have referred to as work, but there was no way for him to know whether or not his father had even seen him - the windows were too dark on the outside for him to see through.

"Nice car, Maverick."

Lysander turned. It wasn't hard to locate the source of the voice once he had, seeing as the boy stood only a few feet away from him and had his dark eyes focused solely on the place where Lysander stood. It took a moment for Lysander to place where exactly he knew the boy from though, but the moment he did he found himself on high alert. U.S. History, his mind screamed at him. This was one of Jack's bullies. More than that, it was the one that Lysander had mentally declared the leader of the little posse.

"I don't think we've been properly introduced," the boy went on before Lysander had a chance to say anything. "I'm Ethan Masters."

"Lysander Maverick."

He knew the introduction was pointless, knew that his classmate was already well aware of what his name was, but he also knew better than to be rude to the boy without provocation. He would never be the first to start a fight if he could help it. Hitting the boy's friend had been an entirely different story - he'd needed to make a point, that their days of bullying Jack were over. There was no point to be made here. At least, not yet.

"I don't know if you remember me," Ethan Masters continued. "I'm a friend of Jeffery Hallon, the guy you hit in U.S. History the other day."

"I remember. Can I help you with something?"

He felt he was at somewhat of a disadvantage here. Ethan Masters already knew that Lysander could throw a fairly decent punch, but Lysander had no idea what this boy was capable of and whether or not being surrounded by others students would be a help or a hindrance. He stood his ground, trying not to let this uncertainty show on his face.

"Nope," Masters replied, a grin making its way to his lips. "Just wanted to say you have a nice car."

"Well, thanks," Lysander replied, forcing a smile onto his face. He hoisted his bag up a little higher on his shoulder before pointedly adding, "I'll see you around, Masters."

He didn't know what response he had expected to gain from this, but it most certainly hadn't been for his classmate to give him a polite nod of farewell.

Lysander relaxed, almost ashamed of himself. There had been no need to worry after all. Ethan Masters had only wanted to be polite, but his mind had jumped to the worst conclusions first. He felt terrible about it.

At least, he did until the boy's foot came out into his path and a well-placed knock to the shoulder sent him tumbling to the ground.

Lysander was no stranger to tripping. Being a runner it happened more often than not, but having somebody deliberately push him was not something that he was accustomed to.

He landed hard, his hands not having reacted quickly enough to completely break the fall. He held back a shout as his left wrist gave a particularly painful jolt, taking instead to narrowing his eyes up at the boy who now towered over him. Around them both, several people had stopped to stare. Lysander didn't recognise any of them, but Masters apparently did. Having an audience have him a whole new air of confidence.

"Better watch your step, Maverick. Ground's a little uneven 'round these parts."

He climbed to his feet, brushing dirt and grass from his clothes as he went. A couple of people snickered; many of the bystanders watched him eagerly, waiting for his counter-strike no doubt. He tested out his injured wrist gingerly, making sure that the damage wasn't too bad, before he decided what his next move would be. His first instinct was to hit Ethan Masters, just as he had hit Jeffery Hallon. There was no doubt in his mind that Masters deserved it, and yet...

Dakota would not have approved.

"Thanks for the head's up," he said instead, shooting his classmate another faked smile. "I'll see you in class, Masters."

There was no other way of putting it - Masters looked irritated as Lysander passed him and made his way up towards the main building. He didn't look back as he walked, but he maintained a state of alertness just in case his classmate decided that they weren't done just yet. The bystanders, many looking disappointed though a fair few looking relieved, departed the scene once they released that there would be no fight taking place.

"Coward," a senior boy muttered as he pushed past Lysander.

Lysander chose to ignore him, knowing that there was nothing he could say to the boy to make him think otherwise. Besides, he had more important things to do. He made a beeline for the closest bathroom, where he promptly set his backpack down and turned on the tap. It took only a moment to make sure the water was suitably cold before he was putting his now aching wrist under it and letting out a sigh of relief. Ice, of course, would have been better, but cold water would do just as well when the alternative wasn't available.

It could have been worse, he knew, and he counted himself lucky that all he'd gotten out of the surprise meeting was a potentially sprained wrist. He had to wonder briefly about why Masters hadn't pursued the attack any further, especially when he had looked so thrilled to have an audience. Perhaps he was just smart enough not to start a fight with so many witnesses around? Or maybe he was simply too afraid to start something with Lysander when he didn't have his friends around to back him up. The thought cheered Lysander.

By the time he'd finished drying his arm off, the first bell had rung and it was time for him to make his way to class. And so he picked up his bag and headed for the Science labs, where he was quite aware that he was going to have to face Ethan Masters again. On the bright side, it would only be Masters and one other of his friends as opposed to the whole five of them.

Masters was already in his seat when Lysander arrived, talking quietly with his friend, but neither he nor Lysander acknowledged the other. Lysander simply made his way over and took his usual spot beside Jack, who showed no signs of knowing that anything had passed that morning. He smiled by way of greeting; it was a look that faded to one of amusement as he examined his friend.

"Why are you covered in grass?"

Lysander looked down at himself. Sure enough, several blades of grass still clung to his shirt and his jeans, somehow having evaded his thorough brush down of himself.

"I had a minor run-in with Masters this morning," he explained, nodding over at the boy in question as he set about cleaning himself off again. "No big deal."

"You got into a fight?"

"Not exactly, no."

The look on Jack's face was one of doubt, but he didn't push the matter any further.

"Sorry," he said instead. "I didn't mean to land you on his hit list."

"You didn't."

"Sure I did. You hit Hallon because of me."

"Maybe. But you never asked me to do it. I did it because I wanted to."

And because it was the right thing to do, he inwardly added. The school might have been doing a decent job of filtering out physical violence, but they still had a long way to go when it came to bullying. Anything that he could do to help put a stop to it in the meantime was a good cause as far as he was concerned.

Feeling a pair of eyes watching him, Lysander looked up.

Almost immediately he locked eyes with Masters. The boy was watching him with a calculating sort of look in his eyes - a look that Lysander didn't like in the slightest. He stared right back defiantly, refusing to be the first one to look away. Masters didn't present much of a challenge. With a simple grin, he turned away himself.

Staring at the back of his classmate's head, Lysander knew that this was just the beginning.


I read this here, I read this at Mibba. I'm just obsessed with this story! I love it!
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
Update! Soon! Please!
I can't help reading this twice. I love it! LOVE IT!!!
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
I read this on Mibba & I re-read it here! It's really great.
Nia_Flores Nia_Flores
Update soon or i will DIE