High School Auditorium
“Sammmmmmmmmmm!!!!” Rich replied. He was sure glad to see a friendly face. Sure, they’ve gamed throughout the summer, talked through Discord, among other things. But, physical interaction was scarce and definitely appreciated. As he was approaching Sam, Min Jun came onto the scene as well. “Hyung!” Rich said to Min Jun. Returning the bro hug, Rich chuckled at Min Jun’s comment. “Well, as one of our resident Instagram models, you’re not too shabby either. Of course, Sam, you look great as ever. There is no need for me to comment on that further.” Rich said to both Min Jun and Sam. Scanning around, he isn’t noticing any other Knights around yet. “Well, doesn’t look like anyone else is here yet. I’m going to head in first, check out the scene. I’ll try to save you two a seat.” Rich said, smiling before walking away.
Entering the auditorium past the faceless crowd, Rich scanned the gathering crowd, trying to make out whether or not if he notices anyone. He did not. Not particularly anyways. It looks like Bellamy is getting a talking to from the principle. He sure started early, Rich thought and chuckled inwardly. Adjusting his sunglasses and fanny pack, Rich continued his strut, weaving between the crowd. Then, he noticed that Alex was being tasked with not only taking still photos, but also the video of the opening ceremony as well. Perfect opportunity to make a statement. As he past what he deemed an angle that the camera would capture, Rich would proceed to Milly Rock, for all to see. His friends would expect this, those who don’t know or like him would scoff at his outrageous behavior. As he did so, he noticed a face in the crowd. Sage Whittaker.
With a small grin, Rich made sure to make his way up to sit right next to Sage, knowing how she hates being crowded. “Whittaker! Good to see you back! How was your summer? Spend your days covered in paint and smelling of...sage?” Rich said, in a low enough voice where his words were only heard by Sage and those within 2 feet of the two, which at this moment, there were none.
Sage had been on her phone texting her best friend Aramintah when Rich arrived. Lost in thought and completely unaware of the impending doom headed her way.
Jumping at the sudden whisper in her ear, Sage had dropped the cellular device she had been holding. Pressing her lips into a thin line, she balled her hands into fists to refrain from muttering a slew of curse words that would make Samuel L. Jackson blush.
Why me? Why today? Is this all just some cosmic joke to you??? She thought loudly as she glared up at the ceiling of the auditorium.
Taking a moment she leaned forward in her seat to check and see if there were any cracks on her screen.
Sure enough, there was one. Right down the left of the glass rectangle.
Perfect. There goes my earnings this week. She thought numbly.
An unfamiliar emotion began to stir within her chest. Having been passive aggressive her entire life, it was extremely rare for Sage to become angry. With a heavy sigh she scooped up her phone and turned to face him.
She had met Rich during freshman year in gym class. At the time physical education was a mandatory elective for those in 9th grade. Otherwise Sage would have avoided that subject like the plague. The class itself was everything she despised. Things that included forcing kids to interact with each other and build teamwork, along with high-intensity exercises like basketball or track. Sage was more of a swimming, yoga, or rock climbing enthusiast. She hated running.
Like with most girls in their age group, Richard decided to flirt with Sage when the class was forced to run the mile. The whole time he had kept his pace along side her in an attempt to get the hippie's attention. Noting his arrogant nature along with the huge ego he sported, she decided to let him down in the nicest way possible. A HUGE mistake on her part... She was so passive he didn't seem to take the hint.
After that Richard had started teasing her every moment they were in public together. Calling her an "art freak" or mocking how poorly she lifted weights. It was only when they were alone and away from others that he would apologize and act as though they were old friends. His Jekyll and Hyde act was really bothering Sage and had caused the zen mindset she tried so hard to maintain to slip momentarily. Due to her frustration and confusion there was never a time that she wasn't annoyed by him.
Despite her hostile feelings towards Rich, she noted the pun with a slight smirk twisting at the corner of her mouth. Humor had always been her Achilles heel. Her biggest weakness. That icy mask that she tried so hard to perfect around him cracked slightly, but within seconds, the mask repaired itself and seemed to strengthen. Instead of answering him, Sage decided to remain silent. Silence was golden. However with his huge ego, she doubted he'd notice her lack of response.
“Me? I had a bangin’ summer. Games, parties, making bank on Twitch with the rest of the gang, and general debauchery. Not like you would be interested anyways. I would have invited you, but again, you can’t be at parties painting the crowd and dusting the folks with fairy dust or whatever, right?” Rich babbled on.
An obvious coping mechanism to cover his nervousness around her...
Courage flared throughout her being. Red hot rage took over her senses, mimicking the burning intensity of the Sun. Whether it stemmed from irritation or exasperation she didn't know. All she did know was that she didn't want him here. And for once she was going to stand up for herself. For once she was going to be aggressive.
"Listen Richard..." Sage began, feeling slightly uncomfortable talking to someone outside of her social group. Bracing herself, she continued on figuring that honesty was the best policy.
"It's not like I would have gone to your shindig or whatever you call it. And let's be honest, fairy dust is way too rare a commodity to waste on something as insignificant as a..." Unable to find the words to say, she paused momentarily only to notice how her hands seemed to be talking as well.
"Whatever. Honestly, this hot and cold attitude that you got going on is really starting to get on my nerves. I would really just appreciate it if you left me alone. I'm stressed enough as it is without you coming onto me."
With a slightly shocked expression, Rich leaned back a little from Sage. "Yikes man. I mean, for one as claiming to be all about peace and love, you definitely just went off there. You sure you weren't reading things like Popular Mechanics and tending to a crew of oil rig workers during summer? Geez. I just wanted to come over a say hi to an old friend. And look, you've even dropped your phone. Looks like it cracked too. Looks like now you'll fit in with the rest of the girls around here, with their cracked phone screens and Ugg boots..." Rich said, sarcastically trying to defuse the tension as usual.
Freakin Ugg boots? Why would I want that garbage?
"And what do you mean hot and cold attitude? Like...." His voice got even lower. "I mean. I thought I made it known to you that I care about you." Why did he lower his voice? The auditorium was rowdy enough, it was not as if anyone would hear him. No one he really cared about anyways. So what if a junior happens to filter by and hears it? If Rich catches any rumors he did not intend on spreading, he will shut it down immediately, or he will find someone that can.
Sage felt the color drain from her face. Now that the heat of the moment was over, her sweet cinnamon roll persona had returned and was absolutely horrified. Immediately she wanted to apologize for sounding so rude. Despite her true thoughts coming to light; the last thing she wanted to do was hurt anyone's feelings. She remained silent however, determined to get her point across. He really did bring out the worst in her.
Crossing her arms she frowned at him. Refusing to let him see what his words had done to chink her armor. She wouldn't be able to act this way for much longer though... She felt her resolve slipping. An urge to be passive and let others walk all over her.
Not going to lie, this one kind of hurt. Richard thought.
He has always cared about Sage. It started off in a friendly way in freshman year. Sure, he had his appearance to look after. Sage was not someone he would consider to fit in to his social group. But, he always found her intriguing. A breath of fresh air that everyone needs from time to time. With this brief interaction, Rich is starting to wonder if he should cut his loses and truly stick to whatever social stigma his group of friends have of only going after and dating the 'popular' girls in school...
The sound erupting from the auditorium as more students piled in was a cacophony of chaos to the ears of Alex. He had, for the most part, kept to himself, kneeling down every so often to pick up some trash in that small area where the video camera, tripod, and a few other pieces of equipment were sitting. The wires were about as tidy as they could be, when, for whatever reason, a conversation that didn't seem too far off from his position, caused his ears to burn. A word. No...a name. Sage. Still knelt down, Alex peeked up over the equipment in the direction of the voices, and noticed her sitting there with -what hell was his name, Rich?- who the kid new was notorious for being quite the asshole.
The contorted and uneasy expressions on Sage's face were enough though, to realize that whatever details were being chatted up, the girl didn't really want to be in the conversation. But could he blame her? From what little Alex remember last year, he had a thing for Sage, at least, he remembered her complaining about him on more than one occasion. Either way, she didn't look very happy at all.
"Fuck." Alex mumbled, still partially hidden behind the equipment and wondering when his legs will push him back up to a standing position. He wanted to step in, but was it his place? I mean, he couldn't catch every piece of the conversation due to ambiance, but he latched on to enough to know perhaps at least intervening with a quite "hello" was needed. With a heavy sigh, he stood to his feet, and walked around the seats and over to where Sage and Rich were sitting. He was really pushing the envelope of his comfort zone, as well as possibly breaking up a conversation he shouldn't be. But what the fuck ever...
"Hey guys." Alex motioned his hand in a half-wave, and gave a smile. "Crazy as fuck in here right now, eh? And here I am, having to screw around with the video equipment. Lucky me." He gave a bit of a nervous laugh, adjusting the collar on his button shirt, but the idea was to move the attention to him, if even for a brief moment.
Noticing that Alex had made his way over. Rich shuffled back a little, still staying within conversation distance. "Oh hey Bellamy. How was moseying up with Henderson earlier? I noticed you handling the camera there earlier too. Hopefully you caught my sweet dance moves. I want to be Rosefell famous, ya know?" Rich said, his usual smile and attitude returned to him. He is not going to let anyone else see the softer side of him. There were only a few, among an even more selective few, that were allowed to see it. Sage being one, at least occasionally. "Anyways. I think it is about time I get outta here. The Knights are probably waiting somewhere. Bellamy, make sure you catch me and the Knight doing what it is that we do, which is run this school. Whittaker, don't take life too seriously man, otherwise no amounts of Impossible Whoppers and whatever hippie shit you're into will help you." He put on his most confident smile and gave Alex the 'I fucks with you, but only a little' nod, and he gave Sage a wink as he made his way back down the bleachers to look for the rest of the Knights.
What an eventful start to the school year already... Rich thought.
As Rich disappeared into the crowd of incoming students, Sage could not help but shake her head in agitation. She exhaled a sigh of relief that she did not realize she had been holding.
"I... I don't even know what to say to that." She groaned outwardly all while rubbing her palms against her eyes. As if somehow she could wipe away all the stress this day had already given her.
Finally, remembering the reason Rich had walked away in the first place, she turned to face Alex.
A little while back, the school offered a summer creative coarse for any art geeks that wanted to participate. Naturally, Sage and Minty jumped at the opportunity. Anything art related had the two of them at the edge of their seat. The teacher running the class at the time thought it would be a good idea to pair students together in an effort to exchange different perspectives and gain inspiration. Of course Sage wanted to partner up with her best friend. A natural choice since the two had always been a dynamic duo. However... the teacher thought otherwise.
"You cannot obtain new ideas from someone you talk to every day. I've already gone ahead and assigned everyone partners." Peering down at the clipboard she held in her hand, she smiled before continuing.
"Sage, you go over there. You and Alex can exchange ideas." She pointed across the classroom. The gesture a way to dismiss her student without having to argue any further.
Casting a quick glance over her shoulder at Minty, the bohemian gathered her belongings and made her way over to the new kid in school.
She had seen him in passing before. Tall, handsome, and quiet... Probably as quiet as Sage if not more. The gossip going around said that he was a fairly talented artist. Especially in photography. There was an air of mystery about him. Something that made her curious. Something she couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Hello..." Sage squeaked as she took the seat next to his. Immediately she felt her social anxiety start to kick in as she flipped open her sketchbook. It was rare that she spoke to others... especially someone as intimidating as Bellamy.
"My name is Sage. How are-" She suddenly stopped speaking and cut her introduction short.
For a moment, her obsession with worldly culture caused the wallflower to forget her fear. Eyes wide with excitement, she absentmindedly leaned forward to lightly brush his left arm with her index finger.
"WICKED tattoo!" She grinned. There on his arm was a single image. A nordic rune of sorts. The tattoo looked to be homemade and simplistic in design. Despite that, it was actually pretty cool looking.
"It means..." She paused, her face scrunching in thought. Desperately with squinted eyes and pursed lips, she attempted to drag back a piece of information from her days spent practicing with rune stones. Not her favorite method of divination... But pretty interesting all the same.
"Oh yeah! It's the Wayfinder? Right? I think?" The statement came out as more of a question. As intelligent as Sage was, she never had absolute faith in her memory recall. Probably due to the occasional pot she smoked for 'artistic inspiration.'
"The compass. So the traveler can find their way through the storm?" She waited for confirmation before continuing on.
Alex arched an eyebrow at the girl, clearly a little unbalanced by the barrage of words being hurled his way in a short amount of time. And it was early. Either way, he gave her a friendly enough smile before responding, and looking down at the Vegvísir that was inked on his forearm years ago.
"To be honest." He started in a low voice, almost as though he was reflecting on the image for a moment. "I hadn't put much thought into it. I mean, the work itself yes, but the idea behind it, really wasn't all that profound." He shrugged, looking back up at Sage with the same smile. "Sorry."
He certainly hoped that his response wasn't off-putting, but the young man wasn't about to fabricate some elaborate story for the sake of it. "But, thank you for the compliment otherwise." He nodded to the other.
"I see." She said leaning back in her seat, honestly a little disappointed.
"It's pretty symbolic in a way if you think about it. Kind of like a reminder to keep going during rough times. To remember to stay true to yourself in the midst of chaos."
Stop talking. You're being weird again. Her inner critique screamed at her.
An idea formed in her mind as a small smile made its way to her lips. After picking up her pencil, she leaned forward and began drawing the outline of her project.
"You have just given me the BEST inspiration! Hmmm... Maybe I will get something out of this class after all."
A half hour passed by as she sketched out her thought for the next painting. It was only a rough draft, but the image had a lot of promise already. The students in the class had plenty of time throughout the week to perfect and finish the ideas they come up with today. Satisfied with her work, once she was finished she nudged the sketchbook over to Alex to show him an image of a tall Nordic Viking on an old fashioned boat.
He stood at the healm, both hands grasping the railing during what seemed to be a hurricane. The sky above matched the scenery around the warrior. Heavy dark clouds met with a thick curtain of rain. Lightening accented the sky showing that Odin was not too far away.
However, in the middle of the sky clouds parted to show a clear patch of a starry night. In its center was a full moon, and layered over the moon was the symbol of Vegvisir.
"It's a start..." She said, starting to feel a little sheepish. Her insecurities began to take over and once again she doubted her talent. Noticing all the flaws she had made.
That, and the fact that she had opened up to Alex so quickly. But when the muses take hold of her it was almost impossible for Sage to reel in her excitement. If a topic were brought up that she was passionate about, she loses herself when talking or even thinking about it. There were many times when she got in trouble for this very same issue due to daydreaming in class. In a way... art was one of her reasons for living.
A pair of cornflower blue eyes brought Sage back from her memory. Much to her horror, she realized that she had been staring at the photographer this whole entire time. Almost as if she had been caught in a trance from reliving the past.
Fuck I'm so lame. Way to be weird dumbass. While thinking this she stared down at her feet as a way of summoning some semblance of courage. An effort to say something. Anything.
"Um... Happy first day of Senior year!" Her face froze.
HaPpY fIrSt DaY oF sEnIoR yEaR? Cringe.
"No doubt!" He elicited a bit of a laugh in response. Sage had always been a bit strange in social situations, but then again, so was Alex. Did two awkward moments make a right? Who knew really, but it was still nice to see a familiar face and someone he considered a friend. "Honestly, it's been a pain in the ass since I got here, but I'm adjusting. Henderson has me working the video camera during the speeches." He motioned his hand toward the area where the equipment was set up. "So...we'll see how that works out."
"I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure you will do great! You always do." She murmured, still reeling from the awkward feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Speaking of Principal Henderson, he noticed at the left of the stage, the man himself was tapping his watch, indicating that it'll be time soon. Alex let out a sigh and rolled his eyes while simultaneous waving back. "Hey, sorry, I-I gotta run, but maybe we'll catch up later?" He said with a half-smile, as he began moving back toward the top.
"Definitely! See you around." She smiled waving at his retreating form.
Sage sat back down in her seat and leaned forward placing her head in her hands. She elicited a loud groan that sounded half banshee and half dragon. The students within her vicinity whispered among themselves, giggling at her expense. Furthering the assumption of how odd the little hippie seemed to be.