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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2091727-Beginning-to-Trust
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Relationship · #2091727
Originally called Fright Night! Whole Story needs revising.

Tobias searched through Chris's movie collection, looking for a movie to watch. A movie scary enough for Friday the 13th. This collection was infamous. It consisted of every scary movie ever made. She had the classic oldies like Frankenstein, the newer ones like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream. She also had the new smash hits like Halloween H20 and Scream 3. She definitely had a thing for scary movies. She also loved the thrill of being scared witless right in her own living room. He'd witnessed it. He'd seen this collection of movies hundreds of times before. He'd even bought her some of them. Chris was his best friend and had been ever since he'd moved there. He'd originally lived in New York City, which he missed terribly. The best thing about moving had been to get away from the gangs, which he'd had some trouble with. He shuddered even to think about it. Tobias sighed, no use thinking of the past right now. Not when things were so great. He decided on a movie that was not Chris's favorite.

"Hey, Tobias, did you pick a movie to watch yet?" she asked as she was coming in from the kitchen. In one hand she had a bowl of popcorn, and in the other she had two sodas, on for him and one for herself.

"Yeah, your favorite, The Blair Witch project," Tobias answered. He took a soda from Chris and plopped down on the couch. Then he looked up at her.

"No way, absolutely not! Not in this lifetime!" she said emphatically.

She glanced at him, guessing what was coming next. She was right, he was giving her a killer pleading puppy dogface and saying, "Come on, how often does Friday the 13th come around on the month of Halloween. It's like historical. It wouldn't be fair if you didn't get scared!" he added a "please." Just for effect.

Chris caved in, "Oh, I guess I can suffer through it, but it doesn't mean I'm going to let you coast through it scot-free."

"It is the one guaranteed way of forgetting school," Tobias promised as Chris placed the popcorn bowl on the coffee table in front of them and then turned off the light out of habit.

The den in Chris's house looked like some cool old wood-cabin house, the walls looked like dark cedar logs stacked on top of each other. There was a big crimson couch and two easy chairs. The television sat on top of the cedar entertainment center with the VCR set in the TV.

Just then Chris's mom stuck her head in.

"I'm going to the store for some more steaks. The cat ate half of them while I was gone today," she rolled her eyes as she continued, "You'd think by now he would've have noticed that it was raw, not cooked, but then again, maybe he likes it that way. What movie did you pick to terrify my daughter tonight with?" she asked somewhat curious.

"The Blair Witch project," Chris said, rolling her eyes.

"Now Tobias, why in the world would you pick that movie?" she asked in a teasing manner. This was because she knew exactly why he picked it. Because it was the only scary movie in the world that Chris didn't watch over and over again. She'd gotten it from Tobias, and he still hadn't gotten a chance to watch it with her because she normally flat out refused to see it.

"I just want to see Chris really and truly scared for once in her life!" Tobias said in a good-natured way. "I would've chosen I Know What You Did Last Summer but the last time Chris and I watched that we got kind of bored and switched to the television movies. I don't want her to be bored. That's the horror we go through every day at school."

"I'd watch out for your friend there, Chris. One day he'll flip and you're going to wonder what hit you. He knows you too well," her mom said smiling as she left.

"Remember to buy the main course, CANDY!" Tobias yelled after her.

"Tobias, don't!" Chris hissed. "Let's just start the movie."

Tobias started the movie by pushing the play button. Even though she wouldn't admit it, Chris was scared the minute the movie started. Tobias knew because even if she was trying to hide it, she was slowly moving closer to him on the couch. The popcorn on the coffee table was barely touched.

During the first fifteen minutes Chris managed to contain her fear, at least the part that was in the town anyway. Once the trio headed out in the woods, Chris grabbed a hold of Tobias's arm and would not let go.

It took him by surprise. It was so completely out of the blue. She'd never ever done that before. He found his heart was beating quickly even though he wasn't scared. During the first day in the woods, the characters slowly made their way toward the campsite or as they called it the resting-place of the Blair Witch. It was then that Chris, scared out of her wits by what the girl had done, that she griped her friends arm tighter. He felt a slight shock of pain go through him, as she griped his arm.

Chris was barely containing herself from hiding her head in his shirt, she was that scared. There was a back-story that Tobias didn't know about. She'd once been lost in the woods, overnight and she'd been all alone, had heard crazy things and even seen some crazy things. Including a shadow that seemed to talk. By the time they reached the middle of the movie, where the trio finds the weird woods, with all the stick figures and things, Chris had given up her last nerve of pride. She shocked Tobias totally when she wrapped her arms around his waist, shifting his arm to lie over her shoulders.

Tobias was just as shocked to realize that he didn't mind having her that close to him. In fact, he found it very comforting. They watched the rest of the movie like that, because there was no way she was going to let go now.

As the camera went out and the last screams died away, Chris turned to Tobias and said menacingly, "You are so dead for making me watch that movie. Cause you are the one I'm calling at 3 a.m. this morning when I can't fall asleep."

"Why are you so afraid of that movie?" Tobias asked as he turned his head so he was inches away from her mouth.

Chris realizing how close they were, slowly shifted out and away, saying, "I hope I didn't break your arm."

"No, you're not that strong!" Tobias said.

"And what is that supposed to mean?!" Chris challenged.

Chris's brother came into the room. "Mom says supper is ready! Come and eat!" Ben said. "What did you watch by the way? You look so pale Chris!"

They both got up and walked the narrow hall in which a hall mirror hung and a small table with mittens and other stuff on it sat. The lush red carpeting followed them all the way to the kitchen. So did their conversation.

"I'm serious, I want to know why The Blair Witch project scares you so much," Tobias said, giving her a slight look of concern.

They sat at a round table in the somewhat country style kitchen. The same log walls, with a white tile floor, and gorgeous cedar countertops. The stove was black on top, with the microwave mounted on to of it. It was also black with very distinct numbers. The dishwasher was onto the sink that you could pull out from under the counter.

Tobias sat across the table from Chris, with Chris's mother on one side and Chris's brother on the other. It was hard to imagine that they had added to this house piece by piece. Just then his thoughts were interrupted by Chris's voice.

"Do you really want to know?" Chris asked, her voice suddenly very small.

"Of course, I'm your best friend remember? You know you can tell me!" Tobias said. She glanced at him with a sad look.

He was wondering what could be so bad when she began. "We were out camping in the woods, all three of us, my mom, me and my dad. We went for a walk and they got separated from me. I didn't even know at first that they were missing. I was just walking along, confident that my parents were behind me," Chris said as she ate the pork on her plate. When she finished, she continued. She'd noticed that her mom had taken her younger brother upstairs.

"When I noticed, I was sure I could find them if I started running back where I came from. I was sure I had just gone a little too far ahead and that they were behind me. So I started running back towards the campsite, or at least in the direction I thought was the campsite. I was wrong. Well, after I had been wandering around for two hours, I gave up and tried to take shelter out in the woods for the night. I deposited myself in this grove of trees, you know, kind of like the grove where they found the rock garden. Just like them, I didn't realize that this site had been already staked out," Chris said meaningfully.

"It was scary enough when I knew I was all alone. Then after dark I started carefully to go to sleep. That was when the noises started. At first it sounded like people talking, then it grew louder to sound like hail against a windowpane. It kept getting louder and louder. Soon it was burying in on me.

"It turned out to be a bear, a big black bear that had already decided this was his home. And just like a black bear it felt it needed to defend it's territory. After it was all over, I could never say what or who stopped that bear, but I will say that when it was done with the bear, it was dead."

"I was horribly hurt and so was my dad, because I heard later from my mom that my dad had seen the bear attacking me and had attacked it. She said that she never knew what possessed him, but he killed the bear within five minutes."

"I was laid up in the hospital for a month, with injuries to my spine and my shoulder. To this day I still have this burning pain I get in my shoulder when it is going to rain. I just don't like the woods, no matter how you slice it. My dad never fully recovered from the bear attack, and when he died of cancer the next month, it hit me and my mom really hard. Two weeks later she realized she was a month pregnant." Chris finished, tears collecting in her eyes, and sliding down her cheeks.

Tobias had her in his arms in a second, he tucked her into them, protecting her from everything he possibly could at that time. When Chris's mom came downstairs, she smiled to see her daughter finally opening up to someone. She gave Tobias a special smile and continued cleaning u. Finally, Chris pulled away from him and wiped her eyes.

"Thanks, Tobias. I really appreciate it," she consented. They walked to the door.

Tobias headed out, then turned around, "I care about you, so don't ever be afraid to tell me something. I know I'm not afraid to tell you anything." With that he walked away towards his home.

On the walk home, Tobias contemplated over and over in his head his plan. It had been an idea he'd gotten while there, and as he followed the sidewalks home, it grew as he sorted it all out. He smiled as he entered his house.

His house had been constructed out of oak wood, and it was like a cottage that belonged on a lake, not in the middle of a city. It had high ceiling tiles and big spacious rooms.

"Toby, are you home?" A voice called from the living room as Tobias entered the hall through the big oak door. He headed down the hall toward the sound of the voice. He entered through the doorway into the big living room that had a cream colored love seat, a glass coffee table with oak wood and a glass top, two leather chairs that were cream colored as well, a new flat television that hung on the wall framed by cream paint, a VCR and a DVD player that was attached to the television. On the couch was his mom, reading a brochure about how to protect your kids from gangs.

"I'm back from Chris's," Tobias said, walking into the living room and sitting on the couch next to his mom. "What are you doing?"

"The same thing I've been doing for the past two years. I'm trying to figure out how to keep you away from those gangs, Tobias," she answered, looking u to stare her sun in the eyes.

"Mom, I told you, I'm done with that. I don't ever want to go back to where I was in New York. I have the scars to prove it." Tobias exclaimed, exasperated.

"Toby, I'm only trying to protect you. I don't want to go through that hell again either," she said. "Have you told Chris yet?"

Tobias looked at his mom, and not for the first time realized there was a lot more to her than meets the eye. He was looking at a woman who used to be a lot younger, but raising her son had taken its toll, and now she had a gray tinge to her hair, which she died her natural color, blonde, to make her look better. She had bright blue eyes, a small nose, and full lips as well. She was pretty but it was hard for her to keep the haunted and worried look out of her face. Her eyes, which used to be so full of laughter, were now filled with concern, as she looked her son in the face.

She looked at her son, seeing not for the first time, his tall lanky figure, with hair cut in a crude boy cut, his hair coming down to his ears, longer in the back. He had brown puppy dog eyes, brown eyebrows that were thinner, and a suntanned face. He had grown up to be so handsome but he still had scars from the beatings he had gotten. It was hard to believe her son had been through so much and half of it she didn't even know about. Ever since this whole thing started, she had gone through article after article about gangs. The articles she had read had prompted their move here; the brochure saying the best way to get away from a gang is to move. So they had moved, to this town.

"No, I haven't. Not yet anyway. I just found out some news about Chris, though," Tobias said, knowing that the drill was coming so he decided to head it off at the pass. His mom and dad had both been drilling him about his new friends ever since New York.

Suddenly, he had his mom's full and undivided attention. "What did find out?" she asked, surprised that he was being so corporative.

"Well, tonight we watched the Blair Witch Project, and it really scared her. And I mean really scared, by the end of the movie she was practically sitting in my lap. I've never seen her so scared," Tobias explained. Then he continued, "I guess when she was younger they went camping together, sort of as a farewell trip because her dad had cancer. They were walking through the woods, and she got separated from them. She got really lost and built herself a lean-to to sleep in overnight. In the middle of the night, she started hearing voices, which kept getting louder and louder, and then she started seeing a shadow coming closer and closer to her. It was a bear, turns out she shouldn't have picked that art to sleep in. The bear attacked her and hurt her pretty bad. Now her parents had been searching for her all night and they finally followed her screams to her."

His mom's face was white, and she looked very concerned. "Oh, my God," she whispered.

"Her dad saw the bear attacking her, and he launched himself at the bear. He killed it in five minutes time and no one knows where he got the strength. He died a month later, and Chris was still in the hospital with torn ligaments in her shoulder and spine injuries," He finished, looking at his mom.

"Sounds like she's had a lot to deal with. No wonder she was practically in your lap. I'm scared just thinking about it and I didn't even go through it," His mom said. "Now that she opened up to you, why don't you do the same?"

"I will, when the time is right. Now can I go to bed?" he asked, getting a smile out of his mother. For a second, the laughter was back in her eyes.

He smiled and said goodnight to her, then headed down the hall that was decorated with pictures of him and his family. He stopped in front of the picture of his injuries in the hospital. Sighing and thinking 'Never again,' he opened the door to his room.

Inside was a bed with a blue bedspread, a dark oak stand up dresser, a walk in closet, and a desk that sat in the corner. Atop the desk was a picture of the entire family, and he had a full calendar of Buffy hanging right next to the desk. The walls were painted blue and he had a poster of New York hanging on his wall. He flopped down on the bed, looking around the room to see how far he'd come. Nothing that needed to be hidden was there; save for the journal he had been keeping ever since he could write.

He sighed and pulled off his clothes, flinging them in the direction of the hamper that sat in the corner of the room. He pulled on his New York boxers that had an outline of the city on them, threw back the covers and climbed in bed. He forced himself to think of nothing and within minutes he had fallen asleep.

However, his mom in the living room didn't go to bed. She sat there thinking about her son, wondering just what kind of tortures he had had to endure while in the gang. She had been reading about gangs forever, ever since she had found a knife in Toby's room, hidden under his bedspread. She'd read about all sorts of horrors, initiations, drugs, alcohol, and the crimes they committed. She didn't know what had happened to Toby, but she knew what happened when he'd tried to leave the gang. Anyone who tries to leave a gang either gets killed or severely hurt. What had happened to Toby had ended him up in the hospital for at least three weeks. She didn't remember the exact time frame anymore; it had all run together. But as soon as he was well enough, they had hightailed it out of there.

Just then, the garage door opened and closed, and heavy footsteps sounded as they headed towards the living room, just like every other night. Tobias's father entered the room; he had a stubborn face and eyes that were just as weary as his wife's. He always arrived this late home from work. He came and sat down besides his wife, turning to smile at her.

"So, how's it going, is he okay?" John asked.

"Yes, he's fine. We learned more about this Chris he spends so much time with," she answered. Then she told him the story Toby had told her.

"Hmm, sounds rough. You know Gina, maybe it's time we met this Chris that he sends so much time with," he relied, giving his wife a look. She nodded in agreement.

"It should be on a night when you get home early. She could stay and eat supper with us as well. I mean, Toby eats over there," Gina consented.

They both looked at each other in agreement, then they headed to their room for bed. They both had trouble sleeping that night.


After Tobias left, Chris headed down the hallway, toward her room. Her mom stopped her halfway there, "Chris!"

Chris made a detour and went into the kitchen, which was right off the main hall. She walked into the kitchen, noticing that her mom had the door to the dishwasher open. It was full and needed to have soap put in it. So Chris walked to the door under the sink and pulled out the dishwasher soap. As she filled it, she asked, "What did you want mom?"

"I'm glad to see that you and Tobias are becoming better friends. It makes me feel a lot better," she stated. Then she added with an evil grin, "Maybe you're already more than friends."

Chris gave her mom a glare, "Mom!!!" she growled.

"Jeez, don't have a heart attack, I was kidding," she said, holding her hands up in surrender.

"Did you have a real reason for calling me in here or did you just call me in to tease me?" Chris inquired, looking at her mom.

"Actually I did have a reason for calling you in here. It's about tomorrow night. I have to be at work for a meeting, and I can't have you here with Tobias alone, so there's no movie night, not if I'm not here," she finished.

"But mom," Chris exclaimed, "Tomorrow night is Saturday, it's Tobias's birthday. I have to do something with him. We'll be good here. Please, Ben will be here, I can keep my eye on him and he can keep his eye on us, that way everyone's being watched," Chris proposed desperately. She couldn't believe this. "I can't believe this! I finally get a good friend and now I can't see him on his own birthday. That's great for our friendship!" She said sarcastically.

"Chris! I'm sorry, I didn't know about this till right before I left work. I was going to tell you and Tobias during supper but you were telling him more about Dad, and I haven't ever heard you talk about Dad to anyone. I didn't want to interrupt. I wish I could change it but I can't. But there is an alternative to having Tobias here," Mrs. Camille said.

"And what's that?" Chris said in disbelieve.

"You could go to Tobias's house. I know his parents are anxious to meet you. You can take any movie you want over there. And you could bring his present with you," Chris's mom suggested.

"You mean you'd let me go to Tobias's and come home without you walking with me!" Chris said incredulously.

Chris's mom smiled as she looked at the shocked face her daughter was making. "Yes I will. I think you are old enough to do that. Besides you are responsible enough to do that now."

"What about Ben?" Chris asked, sure that she would have to take him with her.

"I already have a babysitter for Ben, so don't worry about him. Although it shows maturity to ask about your brother," She said. "You can call Tobias first thing in the morning. Now go to sleep."

Chris walked in a daze into her room. It was definitely unique. No one would be able to say this was Chris's. It had posters of Frankenstein, Scream 3, Disturbing Behavior, and the Faculty. She had a collection of Beanie Babies on her dresser, and she had all the scary movies that she had seen written in different colors on her closet door. She smiled, took a brown marker and wrote The Blair Witch project on it. The desk had her schoolbooks on it. The furniture resembled the furniture from Titanic; it had all that wicker texture. The desk, dresser, bed, and bedside table were all like that. And in the corner sat Tobias's birthday present, which he didn't know he was getting.

"Well, I guess I should get to bed," she told herself. She only got halfway to bed. The reason was a book that was begging to be read on her bedside table. It was a horror book, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. She was only halfway through and she couldn't wait to read the ending.

It was 11:00 by the time she finished it. Now thoroughly scared, she dropped off to sleep.

She was woken up by the alarm clock, which went off at 7:00 a.m. the next morning. Chris rolled over and groaned. Why had she set her alarm clock? It was Saturday. Sighing, she lied back and tried to go to sleep. After ten minutes of that she realized that she wasn't going to get back to sleep so she got up.

Walking over to her closet, she flung open the door. Inside the closet was a royal mess. Chris paged through the closet, thinking about what she should wear. Finally she reached the clothes she'd been looking for. She pulled out a gorgeous green blouse and a pair of jeans with a flower design on them. She proceeded to drop the clothes on the bed and turned to dig through her underwear and socks drawer. She emerged shortly after with them and got dressed. The bedroom door still closed, she brushed through her hair and put on the little makeup she had. She headed for the door, thought better of it and dove back on to the bed. She dozed for a little while, checked the clock, decided 8:00 was as good a time as any to wake Tobias up, and dialed his number on her phone.

The phone waked Tobias up very suddenly in his room ringing. He turned over and checked the clock. 8:01 a.m. The only one crazy enough to call him at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning was Chris so he reached over and picked up the phone.

"Hullo," he said, still not quite awake yet.

"Hey, Tobias. Did I wake you up?" Chris asked, thinking it would serve him right.

Tobias sat up in bed, turned to look out the window, and said, "Yeah, you did."

"Good," she said, as he smiled, that was just like Chris, "It serves you right for making me watch the Blair Witch Project last night."

"Hey, no one forced you to do anything," Tobias objected as he got out of bed and reached his closet, pulling out the first decent outfit he could find.

"Oh, really, Tobias. Now tell me what you would've done if I had said no. You would've complained and kept bringing it u all night long and you know it."

"Well, I for one think that I suffered the most, cause now I can't even feel my arm anymore and I have a bunch of bruises all over my waist," he put out.

Even over the phone, he could hear and see Chris blush beet red. "I'm sorry," she said sheepishly. For one second, he thought he'd gone too far. Then Chris blurted out, "You brought it on yourself, you know."

Laughing, he said, "Okay, okay. It's my fault, I admit it. Now what time do you want me at your house?"

"Well, that's partly why I was calling. You know my mom works at a publishing company, well they told her that she's scheduled for a meeting tonight from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m." Chris explained.

"And you have to stay home and watch your brother, right?" Tobias finished, not bothering to hide the disappointment in his voice. He had just pulled on his jeans and now he plopped back down on his bed.

"No, I'm not saying we have to call off movie night," Chris said, "just move it from my house to your house."

For a second, Tobias's mind ran, trying to decide if that was a good idea. Then he thought to himself, 'Maybe if Mom and Dad meet Chris, they'll trust me again and not be so nervous all the time.' "Okay, Chris, hang on while I go check, okay?"

"Sure, I'm not going anywhere," she said over the phone, then started to make her bed so the bedspread with Scream 3 on it showed.

Tobias put the phone down, dodged the stuff on his floor, mentally making a note to clean it up before Chris got there. Then he trotted down the hall, turning into the kitchen, which was also designed with the same theme in mind as the rest of the house. It was a big country style kitchen, complete with an island and everything. His mom stood at the coffeepot in the corner of the island and his dad sat at the island next to her, drinking a fresh cu of coffee.

"Good morning, Tobias. I didn't expect to see you up this early in the morning," his dad said, looking up from his coffee.

His mom glanced behind her, seeing her son standing in the doorway. It was now or never. She knew she'd have to initiate it. Nowadays her husband didn't initiate anything. "Toby, I'm glad you're up. Your father and I would like to talk to you for a minute."

'Uh, oh.' Tobias thought, 'what now?' "Yeah, what is it?" he asked, waiting somewhat tensely for what was to come.

"We have been talking and you've been sending a lot of time with Chris and yet we've never had her over here. Since it's your birthday and all, maybe you could have your movie night over here and then Chris could stay for supper," His mom rushed through the proposal, like she thought her head was going to get her head bitten off or something. She glanced at her husband, and saw he liked the idea, so she turned back to look at her son. To her surprise, he burst out laughing.

"What are you laughing at, young man?" His father bellowed, obviously perturbed. "It's not funny."

"If you were me, trust me, it would be funny," he said, then saw his father start to get madder so he rushed on, "See I just got a call from Chris saying that we can't be at her house tonight because her mom has a business meeting. So she was wondering if we could be over here, instead. That's what I was coming out to ask you guys."

He saw his mother and father relax, and then his mother said, "Well, of course she can. What time would she get here?"

"Well," Tobias said, thinking, "I usually get to her house around 2 .m. and we usually get two movies in before eating. So could she be here at 2 .m.?" he asked, glancing from his mother to his father.

"Yes, that's just fine, Toby," his mom said. "Even your dad will be here tonight."

'Perfect,' he thought as he headed back to his room, 'now she'll have two people interrogating her.'

"Hey, Chris, are you still there?" Tobias asked into the receiver, wondering if she'd hung u.

Chris had already moved on from her bed to picking up her room. Most of her dirty clothes were now in the hamper. And she could see her floor again. His voice startled her, but she didn't let it show, "No, this is a robot. I'm going to take over the world," she said in a monotone voice.

This got a laugh out Tobias, and she smiled, saying, "What's the word?"

"They said yes. Their anxious to meet you, but I thought I'd warn you, my parents are very worried about what kind of friends I have," he said carefully.

Chris was confused and then she blurted out, "So I might not be good enough to be your friend in your parents eyes!"

Tobias heard the hurt in her voice and quickly said, "No, no it's nothing like that."

"Then what do you mean?"

Tobias sighed and said, "I was waiting to tell you this some other time, but I guess it's now or never. Um, when we lived in New York, we didn't exactly live in the best neighborhood."

"So I fell in with a bad group of kids. They accepted me and I thought everything was great. I didn't allow myself to see what was going on until it was too late. See, the group I fell in with was a gang, and it was called the Dragons. I was in sixth grade," Tobias stated, hearing Chris gas in the background.

"I was accepted and I thought that was great, so when I was invited to join the Dragons, I accepted, no questions asked. It turned out, there was a whole lot I didn't know about my so called friends," He sighed, remembering.

"Tobias, what happened?" Chris asked and it sounded to Tobias as if she was in pain, just like he was.

"When I joined the gang, I went through an initiation test, and I was required to have knifes and guns in my own house. I was all right; I did everything they did, which included drugs and alcohol. Then when we were out having fun one evening, the Dragons got busted for alcohol abuse and drug abuse. I was arrested and dragged to the police station. I sat there waiting for my parents to come bail me out. It was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, to see the shame and disappointment in their eyes."

"We made a deal, my parents and I, that I would quit the gang, because I saw what it was doing to me and my parents. That's where the worst trouble started," Tobias said, sighing.

Chris's throat was sort of choked u, but she continued listening.

"I wish I had never joined the gang, because when I went to tell my friends that I had to quit the gang, I was sure they'd understand. I was wrong. The minute I returned their weapons and told them, I got jumped. I still don't remember the details of the fight, but it landed me in the hospital for three weeks with a concussion, a few broken ribs, a broken leg, and cuts all over my body because they had fought me with knifes too." He remembered.

"As soon as I was well, my parents and I high tailed it out of there. That's why we moved here. My parents still don't trust me much and I am constantly drilled about my friends," Tobias finished painfully.

Chris sat in silence for a while, and then she spoke up, "Tobias, I'm so sorry, but I am glad you told me. It's good to know you trust me."

"Yeah, well I thought I'd better tell you, so you don't feel alienated tonight when my parents start grilling you. I remember more than I told you but I can tell you the details some other time, okay?" he relented.

"No problem. Yes, I'll be there when you want to talk about it." Chris said, and then heard her mom call her to breakfast. "Listen, Tobias, I have to go. My mom's bellowing for me. But I'll be there around two okay?" Chris rushed, then it hit her with a smack, "By the way, what do you want me to bring to watch?" She asked.

Tobias's eyes searched his room, his eyes landing on his schoolbooks. "Um, why don't you bring the Faculty and Disturbing Behavior, okay? I have a craving for movies that make the school system seem evil."

"Okay," she said, laughing, "I'll bring them over. I can't wait to see your house. Be there by two," she said then hung u.

Tobias sat there looking at the phone for a few moments, then started picking up his room, no use having her know that he wears boxers to bed or anything.

Within two seconds of Chris hanging u the hone, she heard, "CHRIS, IF YOU DON'T GET OUT HERE RIGHT NOW, YOU DON'T EAT BREAKFAST!!!"

"Coming!" She yelled and rushed out of her room, down the hall. It was because she was in a hurry that she didn't look down or check the floor. She rushed through the hall, seeing the picture of her Dad out of the corner of her eye, her baby pictures and her brother's as well. She was going so fast and not looking down, and this is why she tripped over her brother's matchbox cars, sending her crashing into the wall. The impact with the wall, combined with the force she landed sent a blast of pain up her arm to her shoulder.

The loud crash sent her mother running into the hallway. "Oh, my God, Chris!! Are you alright?" She exclaimed loudly. She ran toward the figure on the floor, noting that she had just missed the table in the hall, and saw her daughter clutching her arm.

"I think I hurt my shoulder," she said between gasps of pain.

Her mom looked at Chris's shoulder, saw the blood already starting to soak her green blouse, said, "Ben, go get a rag from the bathroom; Chris don't move."

Ben, who had been staring in horror at the blood dripping on to the lush maroon carpeting, disappearing into the color on the floor, looked at his mom for a second, saw the stern look she gave him, ran around the matchbox cars and into their bathroom, which had white tile flooring and a nice Jacuzzi bathtub with a shower also attached. He reached into the cupboards, grabbed the gauze from the shelf, ran back into the hallway, and handed it to his mother.

"Thanks, Ben," she said, and then started wrapping the gauze around Chris's shoulder.

The minute her mother touched her shoulder, the pain that had been somewhat bearable the moment before, now gave way to a burning pain that hurt so bad that she winced. 'Great,' she thought, 'why do I always have to be so clumsy.'

"Okay, Chris, I'm done. Ben's going to help you to the car, and I'm going to go grab a new shirt for you and Tobias's birthday present. I'll call Ben's babysitter on the way and ask if I can drop him off early, and then we're going to swing by the emergency room and get that fixed up," Her mom stated as Ben helped Chris to her feet, then the stumbled across the carpet, Ben for once not complaining and doing what he was told to do, and Chris not arguing with Ben. Then her mom swung down the hall, being careful not to step on the matchbox cars, and grabbed another shirt from Chris's closet that she liked, it was a blue blouse exactly like the green one and it matched her outfit just fine. Then she grabbed Tobias's gift as she hurried down the hall to her room to grab her keys and her cell phone. Looking behind herself as she went, Mrs. Camille locked the door and headed into the car.

The car she climbed into was a mustang, which also had on seat covers so that the interior wouldn't get wrecked by whoever was in the car. Her kids had always complained about it, but now she was glad she had it on the seats. They were lucky; her mom had just missed rush hour traffic, and it was smooth riding from their house to the babysitter's.

The whole time, Ben kept looking at Chris with concern and finally, when they reached his place to get out, Chris said, "Don't worry, Ben. I'm not going to die. It's just a little wound, the doctors will fix it right up."

Ben smiled sadly and replied, "You're not mad at me, are you?"

Chris looked confused. "Now why would I be mad at you? Just because you left your toys in the hall and I got hurt?" Chris asked. Ben nodded. "No way am I mad at you! Just because I got hurt doesn't mean it's your fault. True, you shouldn't have left your toys in the hall, but I shouldn't have been running down the hall either. I was going so fast that I didn't see where I was going," Chris explained to her little brother.

The worried look left his face and he smiled at her. Then he gave her a quick hug, and ran up to the babysitter's front porch. She let him in, and they waved goodbye as Chris and her mom left the driveway. Once on the expressway again, Chris's mom said, "Chris, thank you for letting your brother know you're not mad at him. You know he just forgets sometimes and he doesn't need to feel guilty about it. None of us do."

"I know that," she said as they passed the sign that said 2 miles to the hospital. "I just feel kind of foolish, because I should've been more careful. This is going to make such a great first impression on Tobias's parents," she said sarcastically.

"Now, Chris, accidents happen. They'll understand," her mom said as she turned into the emergency room's parking lot. She quickly located a place and then pulled into it. "Come on, Chris, let's go."

Chris winced as she sat up and got out of the car. The hospital loomed ahead of her like a spooky old house. Sighing and wincing, she and her mom made their way into the emergency room. They entered a scene of chaos, babies crying, kids sitting, and parents yelling at their kids to be quiet or yelling because they'd been sitting there for a while.

Chris and her mom approached the desk, and the nurse behind it. "What is the nature of your emergency/?" she asked like a drone. She had long blonde hair, inched lips, a nose that was pointy, and piercing black eyes. She was wearing a white nurse's uniform and she might as well have been working in the morgue that's how dead her senses were.

"My daughter was running down the hall and she tripped over my son's toys, slammed into the wall and now her shoulder is bleeding. We applied pressure to it and it's warped but we want it checked out." She finished, while the blonde haired lady whose name was Yvonne, took notes.

Then she stated, again like a robot, "Is there anything else you would like to tell the doctor?"

"No," her mom said confused.

"Great! Go sit over there and we'll be with you shortly. Because your daughter is bleeding, she and others with more serious injuries get our to priority. Please be seated." She said, finally sounding like a human being for the first time.

Chris and her mom walked over to the uncomfortable hard backed chairs and sat down. They looked around the room, trying to judge how long they'd be there. They didn't see too many emergencies with a lot of blood, so they hoped the wait would be short. And it was, an hour later, they were called in, while many of the people who had been there before them still sat waiting, impatiently for their own names to be called.

A nurse that was actually acting like a person led them down the hall. They entered a room with white walls, a bed in the center, instruments on the counter, and two chairs for the patients to sit in.

"Please be seated on the bed in the middle. The doctor will be in here shortly, but first, tell me what happened so you don't have to tell the doctor again." She said.

They looked at her and finally Chris's mom said, "We told the lady at the desk what happened."

"Oh, okay. I just thought I'd check because sometimes she gets it wrong. She's been working here so long that she acts like a robot sometimes. But that's just between us." The nurse said as she left.

Shortly after that, the doctor came in. "Good morning, how's everything today?" he asked.

"It's been just such a great day today." Chris said sarcastically, before she could stop herself.

He chuckled as he moved over to look at Chris's shoulder. "I'll take that as a been better. So let's see what is going on here," he said as he slowly unwrapped Chris's shoulder, causing her to wince. "Sorry," he said as he saw the wince out of the corner of his eye. When he saw the wound underneath her wraps, he said, "You really did a number on yourself, young lady."

The flesh was bright red and the shoulder was dislocated as well as seeing the bone biting through the flesh. Blood was still coming out of it, but it looked like it was clotting up and stopping. All in all, it was clear that he had to snap the shoulder back into lace and then stitches would be required. Finally, he looked up at Chris and her mother. Instead of focusing on Chris's mother, he focused on Chris.

"The wound is pretty bad, you must have been going real fast down that hall. You dislocated your shoulder, the bone tore through the flesh, and it requires stitches. I'll have to op your shoulder back into lace and it's going to hurt, a lot. I'll have the nurse give you a shot to numb your arm. It won't make you tired or anything, it'll just numb the arm so you can't feel it as much," he said as he went out to find a nurse. Seconds later he came back with one. It was the one who'd showed them their room.

"She'll give the shot and I'll be right back after I check on the patient before you." he informed them, leaving them with the nurse.

"Well, we're just seeing each other so much today. This is going to hurt a little, but try not to move," she said as she went around to the back of Chris. She winced when she saw the Chris's shoulder, and gave the shot as fast as she could.

"Just tell me when," Chris said, waiting to feel the shot. She wasn't aware that it was over with.

"I'm already done. See that wasn't so bad," she said. She smiled as she walked out and the doctor walked back in.

"Well, are we ready?" he asked, going around to the back of Chris.

"I guess," Chris whispered. Then she heard a crack as he swung her shoulder around, popping it back into place. Chris bit her lips and didn't say anything as the pain ripped through her.

"Okay, now that that's done, I'm leaving. Another technician will be coming in to stitch you up and then he'll tell you what you have to do to keep the stitches from coming out. You're a very brave young lady, you know," he said winking, "I've had grown men cry out when I popped their shoulders back into place." Then he walked out the door and was gone.

"That hurt a lot," Chris stated, "You don't think the stitches will hurt as much as that do you?" she asked her mom.

Her mom sat there, wishing that she could go through it instead of her daughter. "I don't think it will hurt as much as the shoulder does when he popped it into place. I know it will hurt a little, anyway. I wish I could change it," she said sadly.

The door opened and a technician came in. "Well, what can we do for you today?" he asked. "I guess we could stitch up that shoulder of yours."

Chris smiled, and sat there as he stitched up her shoulder. It was painful, but not as bad as she thought it would be.

"There, all done. Now, when you take a shower make sure you have Band-Aids over it and here are some painkillers to take. Don't do too much physical activity, I'll write you a gym excuse, and I would suggest ice on it as much as you can. You should make an appointment for her in six weeks, by then we can take the stitches out and worry about her muscles and such. That's about it. I hope your day gets better than it has been," he said leaving the room.

Chris slowly got up and walked over to her mom. "Well," she said, "that was so much fun. Can we do it again?"

Her mom laughed and said, "Come on, it's almost 1:20 p.m. and we need you to get to Tobias's house. Come on."

They headed out and walked to their car with the painkillers and the sling she was supposed to put her shoulder and arm in. Traffic was horrible and by the time they got home it was 1:40. Chris changed her shirt while her mom went in to get the movies they'd picked out to watch. Then it was back in the car and they got to Tobias's house at exactly 2:00 p.m. Chris got out and walked up the big porch to ring the doorbell. Then she stared as her mom left the driveway.

Just then the door opened and a lady with blonde hair stood there. "Hi, I'm Chris." she said, introducing herself to who was obviously Tobias's mom. She had the same eyes and features. 'So that's where Tobias gets his good looks,' she thought.

'So this is the famous Chris,' Gina thought. "Hi, I'm Tobu's mom, Gina. It's great to finally meet you, Chris. Why don't you come in?" she said politely.

Chris entered a big spacious hallway, marveling at the gorgeous wooden floor and the full-length mirror right next to the closet. She followed Gina down the hallway, thinking 'Toby?'

They crossed into a country style kitchen with two males sitting at an island, talking. Chris heard part of their conversation as she headed into the kitchen.

"Dad, just give her a chance. Don't just make quick judgments like you always do," Tobias pleaded.

"I'll make my own judgments, Tobias. If I must remind you, your mother and I knew those gang members you used to hang out with were no good," his dad said sternly.

"Yes, but if my memory serves me correctly, you at least reserved judgment till after you'd met them. I just don't want you making judgments before you even meet her." Tobias explained.

"Don't tell me what to do!" his father roared.

Tobias sighed, and looked away from his father. He caught Chris and his mom coming into the kitchen and he got up to greet Chris and to introduce her to his parents, when he caught sight of her sling.

"Chris! What happened?" he exclaimed.

"Well, it's nice to see you, too, Tobias." Chris replied. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your parents?" she asked.

"Sorry," he said then turned to his parents, "Mom, Dad, I'd like you to meet Chris Camille. Chris, " he said, turning back to her, "I'd like you to meet my parents."

Chris smiled and shook his parents hands. "It's nice to meet you."

Tobias, who obviously couldn't wait any longer blurted out, "Chris, what happened?" he was really concerned and his parents could see it. So far, their impression of Chris was pretty good.

Tobias looked like he was about to shake her to get the answer out so she ended the suspense, "Oh, my brother left his matchbox cars out in the hallway. Right after I got off the phone with you, I ran down the hall and slid into the wall when I tripped over them. I dislocated my shoulder and split open the skin. It was just a riot!" she said sarcastically.

"Yeah, I'll bet. So you had to get stitches and everything?" Tobias asked, worried.

"Oh, Tobias, don't worry, I'm not dying here. That would be just great. I finally get a good friend and then I die on them, I don't think so. You're going to have to do a lot worse to get rid of me," she said in a mock stern voice. Tobias started to laugh.

Meanwhile, his parents were watching this with some amusement. They'd just found out some very useful information. That she wasn't easy to get rid of and that Tobias, for the first time since sixth grade, had a friend that wasn't going to let him get away with anything.

"So," Gina said, "what movies are you two going to watch? Do you want something to eat and drink?" she asked.

"Well, Tobias and I decided on the Faculty and Disturbing Behavior. It's a protest against the schools," Chris answered, grinning.

"Uh, Mom, we'll just take some sodas, okay?" Tobias said, trying to dodge the interrogation. He walked to the fridge and took out two sodas, a Sprite and a Coke for Chris.

"We'll just be in the living room. Let us know when supper is ready," Tobias said as he led Chris out of the big kitchen and into the hallway. They took a left into the big living room. Chris stopped and stared at the room.

All around her, she could see the vast space. It was weird to look at such a big room, but seconds after she was in it; she started to feel comfortable. Tobias knew how overwhelming the house could be, so he made sure to stay with her as they headed over to the couch.

"God, Tobias, your house is huge! It's nothing like our tightly knit quarters at home," she commented, settling herself on the love seat, although she thought of it as a couch. Tobias strolled over to the TV, put in the first tape, the Faculty and headed over to sit next to her on the couch. It was then that he realized she was shifting back and forth like she couldn't get comfortable.

"What's wrong?" he asked, curiously.

Chris sighed, wishing that this hadn't happened. Now she had to admit she wasn't as strong as she tried to project, even with an injury like this one. "I can't get comfortable," she admitted, blushing, "It's my shoulder, I guess I hurt it a lot more than I thought. It's just stinging every time I move. I can't find a position that doesn't make it hurt."

Tobias smiled, thinking for a minute. Then he moved slowly, pulling a pillow from the other side of the love seat, and tucked it behind her, to support her other shoulder. He finished by resting her shoulder against him, so that she could still see the screen.

"That any better?" he asked, giving her a triumphant grin.

"Yeah, thanks." she said.

"So what really happened? Did your brother just forget to put his toys away?" Tobias asked.

Chris gave him a nod, and then said, "It's weird, though, because he never, ever apologizes for leaving his toys in the hallway, even when I get hurt. It's like an unspoken rule at our house, nobody is ever at fault, it just happened." She gave him a sad smile, and then continued, "It's been like that ever since my dad died. We know no one is to blame, so we don't blame things on others."

Tobias knew this was a hard subject for her, so when she finished, he started the movie, allowing himself a little freedom to give her a hug.

Chris felt the hug and was grateful for it. They watched the first movie, unaware of the fact that Gina and John were taking turns watching them, together. After the first movie ended, Gina and John met in the kitchen at the same time.

"What do you think of her?" John asked his wife, since most of the time he couldn't tell what she was thinking.

Gina smiled, knowing her opinion could never be guessed. "I think that they'll be the best of friends for a long time, at least that's if something else doesn't develop out of this." Gina was surprised just like her husband to find out that didn't scare her. In fact, neither one of them had been scared by Chris's or Tobias's behavior tonight.

"I agree with you, there's nothing to worry about." John agreed, because his wife, even though sometimes irrational, was making a lot of sense today.

They continued making supper and taking turns watching the two in the living room.

Halfway through Disturbing Behavior, Tobias and Chris started talking.

"Hey, Chris, when's your birthday?" Tobias asked, aware that he didn't know hers even though she knew his.

Chris smiled, "I was born on Halloween, Tobias. That's why I love scary movies so much!" Seeing the shock in his face she finished saying, "I don't want you buying me anything, understand? I don't need you to spend money on me. I've done without it on every other birthday in my life, no use breaking that record."

To her surprise, Tobias agreed, "I understand. And I won't buy you anything, as long as you didn't buy me anything."

Chris grinned sheepishly, and said, "I guess I'm breaking my record, huh?"

Tobias, looking at Chris, said, "So you mean to tell me that you've never gotten a birthday present from a friend."

"That's right," Chris said, the sadness showing in her voice. "What about you?"

"Well, the only presents I remember getting, were ones that needed ammunition."

"Sorry, Tobias," Chris consented, caring showing in her green eyes.

"Aww, that's okay. You didn't give me them. I just feel bad for both of us I guess." Tobias said.

"Um, Tobias, you haven't been getting any people bugging you about hanging out with me, have you?" She asked, craning her neck, causing the stabbing pain that made her gasp.

Tobias gently rubbed her shoulder, relieving the pain and saying, "No, but it wouldn't matter. I like hanging out with you. If they don't want to, it's their loss, so don't worry about it, okay?"

Chris felt relief flood through her, because she had been worried that it would occur to Tobias that hanging out with her wasn't worth it.

They watched the rest of the movie in silence, save for gasps of pain from Chris.

His parents had been watching the whole affair, and they realized they hadn't been paying any attention to the changes their son had gone through. Whatever had happened that night when that gang jumped him, it had changed him into a son that they were beginning to feel proud of.

When the movie was over, Gina went into the living room. She caught how they were sitting, but didn't say anything, not wanting to embarrass her son, who was something she was suddenly concerned about. Now that it was, she realized life was going to get better.

"Why don't you guys come in for supper," Gina said, heading back to the kitchen.

Chris and Tobias untangled themselves, and Chris feeling a little self-conscious that his mom had seen how they were sitting without an explanation, managed to stumble over her own two feet, and she went crashing to the floor. She landed hard on the floor, sending shocking pain up her arm.

Tobias was on the floor next to her in a second, saying, "Chris, are you okay?" he asked, even though it was clear to him that her shoulder was killing her.

Tobias's parents ran in, seeing what had happened, Gina headed back into the kitchen for ice, and John moved to sit next to his son on the floor.

"What hurts the most?" John asked, knowing that probably it was her shoulder, but he wanted to make sure that she hadn't damaged anything new on this fall.

"My shoulder," she said, "It hurts worse than before." Her features gave off how much the pain was.

Gina came back in from the kitchen with ice wrapped in a towel. "Here, put this on it. Do you think you can walk, or would it be better if you stayed there?" she asked, truly concerned about her.

Chris smiled to see that she was concerned; maybe his parents were starting to trust him again. "Well, I'd love to get to the kitchen and eat but I don't know if I can walk right now. My shoulder hurts a lot and the painkillers aren't taking care of this new injury," she said. "I also don't know if I should try walking because that's the second time today I've fallen on the floor. I'd feel even more foolish if I did that a third time today," she finished, the blush deeply settling in her face.

Tobias saw the blush and he was about to correct her when his father said, "Maybe I can carry you to the table," he offered, even though he was nervous about what might happen if she told her mother about that.

Tobias knew it was a nice offer but he wasn't really eager to do that. He also knew Chris's mom wouldn't mind if he carried her to the table, because of what had happened today.

"Naw, Dad, I can do it," Tobias said, surprising Chris, "It's your day off, relax, I think I can carry Chris, she isn't heavy, anyway."

Gina smiled, noticing that familiar competition between father and son, and once again thanked God for helping her son out of the mess he'd been in.

Tobias had bent down to pick Chris up and he got a cuff on his head as she was lifted off the floor. He carried her baby style, and said, "Hey, what was that for?"

"I didn't mind the second part of that sentence, but the part about your father being off of work, does that mean that you think picking me up is work?" she asked, giving Tobias an inquiring and mock killer look.

"I didn't say that," Tobias said, realizing the joke, but just goofing for the hell of it. They entered the kitchen and Tobias saw the chicken dinner on the table. He was surprised; it had been a long time since they'd eaten a real meal. His parents usually ordered pizza or something, saying that it was more important to be with him. He'd expected the same treatment with Chris here. Humph, he thought, and moved to put Chris down at the chair, but at the last second straightened up.

"Are you hungry, Chris?" he asked.

Realizing what was going on, Chris said, "Don't even think about it, I'm starving Tobias." When that didn't help, she demanded, "Put me down now! Tobias!"

"Oh, okay fine," he gave in, setting her down on the chair. Then he sat down next to her, and his parents sat at the other two chairs.

They sat there for a few minutes in silence, then Gina started up a conversation by saying, "So, Chris, why the obsession with scary movies?"

Tobias tensed, waiting for Chris to get mad.

"I don't know, really. I guess it's just the thrill of being scared, stirring up your senses like an alarm clock in the morning. It's just something I've always liked. When I was a baby, we used to play peek-a-boo and when my dad would pop out from behind his hands, he says I laughed like it was the funniest thing in the world, instead of crying when he scared me. I guess it's just my personality," Chris finished, and then took a bite of her chicken.

Tobias relaxed and added to the conversation saying, "Besides, Chris was born on Halloween, that must contribute to it sometime."

"Ha, ha, Tobias," Chris said, flinging him a look that only made him laugh harder than he already was. His parents had looked like they were about to die when he'd said she was born on Halloween, because they said there had never been a baby born on All Hallows Eve.

Chris had seen the look too and said without thinking, "That's why I have such bad luck, I'm cursed." She flashed them all a grin.

'That girl is a character,' John thought, 'Why don't the kids at school like her.'

Gina was thinking, 'So that's why she doesn't have many friends. The kids at school think she's weird because she has a personality.'

"So, Tobias," Gina said, "Did you tell Chris it was your birthday?"

"Oh, yeah, I know. There's no way I'd let him get away without telling me," she told Gina. It was amazing how little they'd seemed aware of their friendship. At least now they were interested in finding out.

Tobias was surprised at how well the dinner was going. It wasn't as tense as he'd thought and his parents hadn't tried interrogating Chris yet. They'd finished the dinner and Gina stood up to start putting away the dishes. Chris stood up and without being asked to, started moving things from the table to the counter.

When Gina turned around, she saw Chris and Tobias helping her clear off the table. She watched, amazed at the table manners that she had never known existed. Now, more than ever, Gina realized they needed to stop living in the past.

John watched also, looking at a son that seemed to have grown up on his own and they'd just never noticed it. Or took the time to notice it, he corrected himself. Once they'd all sat down again, Chris went out to get her present for him from the hallway.

As she walked down the hallway, she thought about what his parents might think of the unusual present that she'd gotten him. She was a little embarrassed to have him open it up here in front of them, but she was just going to have to deal with it. She picked up the package that was on the floor and hurried to the kitchen with it.

She entered the kitchen and saw that his parents had at least two gifts for him on the table as well, and her uncomfortable feeling lessened greatly. She set the present down and returned to her seat.

She saw Tobias look at the presents, and he didn't seem to realize what they were for. So Chris said, "Happy Birthday, Tobias."

That snapped him back to reality. He opened one of the presents from his parents first. He knew Chris wouldn't mind. He still had no idea what she could have possibly found for him.

The first one contained four books based on a game called Resident Evil. It was a good present and they had kept with the scary movie theme. It was interesting because Tobias was sure his parents wouldn't have approved of that kind of book.

Tobias looked at his parents and for the first time he saw his mother smile and saw also that the laughter had returned to her eyes again. As he opened up the second one, he was surprised again to see that he'd gotten a drawing pad and paper. His mind whirled as he remembered the first drawing he'd ever done, the symbol the gang had made. It was made to be scary, but this had been truly frightening. See it started out as a T and ended with a scrawled L that looked like a winding serpent. It was his symbol in the gang, and after vandalizes they would each sign their names, just to irk the authorities that discovered it. It was unreal to see that his parents had looked past that and seen talent that could be used in drawing. That had been the one thing he'd really missed from the gang, the drawing they'd done on walls and stuff.

He thanked his parents, then turned to Chris, who'd been watching the whole thing from across the table. "So, what did you get me, Chris? I know it's unusual." He said, sensing her anxiety.

He unwrapped the gift carefully, pulling out the box that was inside. He sighed, and then opened up the box. Inside was another box. So he undid the second box and inside was another box. "Is this some kind of joke?" Tobias asked, turning to see the laughter in her eyes.

"Just keeping you in suspense that's all! Besides if it's not unusual, then it's not from me," She said, giving him a smile that showed triumph.

He kept digging through the boxes; he finally reached the final one. Chris watched as he pulled it out, hoping that he would like it. She was feeling very nervous all of a sudden and hoped that he wouldn't think it was dumb.

His parents felt the suspense and also wondered what she'd gotten for him. As he opened the box, it felt as if he were moving in slow motion. His first glimpse at it told him that she had been very careful in selecting this gift, and that it wasn't just any gift.

His heart started to beat fast and his pulse raced as he flashed back to a time a few months ago, when they'd first moved here. His attitude hadn't changed a lot from when he was in the gang and yet Chris had still invited him over to see a movie marathon of Scream, when he'd told her he'd never seen it. She'd run into him at the video store, musing over what to rent to watch. It had been summer and he hadn't made any friends yet. She'd invited him over, and they'd watched Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 3, all in a span of one Friday night. He remembered asking her about the Greek letters on the necklace Derek had given Sidney for protection. He'd said some remark about there never being any protection granted by a piece of jewelry. And yet she'd still called him and had him over again, every Friday night that summer.

He started, coming back to reality and seeing the same Greek letters on a necklace that was placed in a nice box in his hands. He glanced up at Chris and was told, "It's good luck, it'll protect you" reciting the line from the movie they both knew so well.

"Come on, Tobias, show us what you got," Gina prodded, knowing that John was just as curious as she was. Tobias reached in and pulled out a necklace that had Greek letters on it. It was sterling silver and it did not look cheap.

"Chris, you shouldn't have sent so much money on me!" Tobias exclaimed.
"Well, your welcome, Tobias, I appreciate your gratitude." Chris shot back at him.

"It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it looks so expensive." Tobias explained, looking at Chris.

Her grin stretched across her face pleased that he liked it. "Don't worry, Tobias, I didn't buy it. I made it in Jewelry class this year," Chris said. "It took me a lot of time to make it, I used it as my quarterly project. Needless to say, I aced it."

Gina and John looked at the craftsmanship of the necklace, impressed beyond believe that Chris had made the necklace. Also amazed by the fact that she'd sent so much time working on it at school.

"So, do you like it or not?" Chris asked. Tobias was still staring at the necklace in amazement. This is why his next movements were lost on her as he got out of the chair and gave her a hug. He did it carefully so as to not hurt her shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her.

Then he gave his parents a hug as well, letting them know he appreciated their love and caring. He put on the necklace, and thanked Chris again.

Chris checked the time and saw it was 7:00 .m. "I'm going to have to head home. My mom will get really mad if I'm not home before her."

"Okay, Chris, well it was nice meeting you. I hope you can come back soon." Gina said, meaningfully.

"Thanks for having me. It was great meeting you. Thanks again," Chris said as she walked with Tobias to the door.

Tobias opened the front door, and stood looking at the blackness of the night. "Are you going to be okay walking home by yourself?" Tobias asked worriedly.

Chris smiled in the dark, "I'll be fine, I just need to get home soon," she said, hoping she sounded more confident than she did.

"Okay, thank you for the necklace, I love it," Tobias said, giving her another hug.

Chris said, "Goodnight, Tobias." Then she headed out into the night, telling herself that she'd be fine. She disappeared around the corner of the block, heading for her house in a world that was almost pitch black. Shadows leaped out from the darkest corners, making bushes into the unheard of horrors of the night. She walking slowly down the block, the sidewalk cracked in several places making it more difficult to walk, when all of a sudden, she tripped over one of the cracks. It was then that she heard the plodding footprints behind her. They stopped almost immediately after she did, but the sound was there.

'Is someone following me?' Chris thought scared beyond belief. 'Chris, calm down, you're imagining things,' she told herself, trying to force down the panic that had come up so vividly. Shaking her head, she took a few more steps in the direction of her house. When she didn't hear anything following her, she thought, 'See it's your own imagination, you're letting it scare you without having anything to be scared of.' She was halfway home when she heard a shuffling of leaves and branches snapping in the shrubs that stood along side the sidewalks. She froze immediately and heard footsteps come to a stop, a little too late. Someone was following her! What was she going to do? 'Well, you can't let them know that you know they are there. So continue walking, don't run,' she told herself. It was a little harder to make herself follow those orders, but she did.

Walking slowly, Chris started to head around to the other corner of the street. She crossed, bringing herself to two blocks away from her house. It was then that she heard a crack, when a branch must have broken from the trees. She looked around wildly and saw a little pile of branches sitting on the sidewalk. 'The Blair Witch,' she thought, terrified. It was the last straw that broke and she burst into a flat out run, looking at the sidewalk under her feet, just to keep from making her already terrified mind even worse. She was in a panic and running blindly past trees and shrubs. As she approached her house her seed increased, she jumped the steps to the patio and unlocked the door in record time. She pushed it open and locked it tightly, and then she headed carefully down the hall to her bedroom.

A figure appeared in a red shadow at the end of the hall. It looked like a moving red bear and was good enough to frightened Chris's already overworked imagination. She let out a scream, and she watched as the figure got closer and closer to her. She closed her eyes, waiting to feel the hand come at her throat. A few moments passed by and then she felt human hands clamp down on her shoulder, shaking her and voicing something unintelligible manner. Out of sheer shock, she opened her eyes and saw the person who had a hold of her was her mom.

Sighing with relief, Chris said, "Mom, what are you doing here? Your home early."

"No actually I'm not. They told me the wrong times, I was a little late for the meeting and we adjourned early. Someone in that company just wanted me to look stupid," her mom said, sighing as well. "Also, when I picked up Ben he said something was bugging him and said he wanted to ask me a question. I said sure, what could be so bad. You want to know what he asked me?" She had an inquisitive look and a somewhat scared look on her face. This was definitely serious.

"Sure," Chris said, "What did he ask?"

With the grave look still on her face, she answered, "Ben asked me if I was the one who'd left his toys out in the hall."

Chris felt a shiver of fear go through her, 'No wonder he was so upset. But that means someone else moved it, but who?' "Did you leave his toys in the hall?" Chris asked hoping beyond hope that she was the careless one. But this hope was dashed, as her mom shook her head no.

"So, who did?" Chris asked, scared of the answer.

Her worst fears were confirmed as her mom said, "I don't know."



Chris had a hard time sleeping that night. She kept hearing strange noises and seeing shadows lurking in the hallways and bedroom. Her imagination decided to take this chance and runaway with her, making her imagine a thief breaking in and stealing things, moving with seed and experience. She thought she saw someone enter her room, and she held her breath, hoping that she was wrong. She was wrong, the creature stalked around the bed, heading for the far side. Whatever it was ducked under the bed, then without warning jumped onto the bed, causing Chris to almost have a heart attack.

Meow!

"Freckles, is that you?" Chris asked knowing it was her cat. "God you scared me! What are you doing in here anyway? Are you looking for a safe lace to sleep?"

Freckles responded with very loud purring.

"Okay, you can sleep here tonight. I could use the company." Chris finished.

With Freckles tucked securely on the bed, Chris fell asleep, feeling safe with her cat there to protect her.


Weird things continued to happen all day Sunday. Chris had three phone calls that were hang-ups. At first she thought it might be Tobias trying to scare her but by the third time it was apparent that it wasn't. Tobias was too nice to call her three times, usually after the second call he identified himself. So the fear in Chris continued to grow, nurtured by all the strange things that were happening at her house. Chris wanted to talk to Tobias, but she decided to wait until school the next day to talk to him about. She thought that she'd look a little foolish calling him and trying to explain what was going on over the phone. So Chris spent a nerve racking Sunday, amazed at how little her mother seemed to notice her jumpy nature.

Chris woke up the next morning, threw her covers back and got up. As she did so, she felt a tight pull in her shoulder. She whimpered a little and walked a more cautiously over to her closet. She was looking for something a little less restrictive to her shoulder, and finally she settled on a cream-colored shirt with a pair of blue jeans. She gathered her clothes and went to eat breakfast.

She had barely sat down when the doorbell rang. She sighed, all ready to get the door when Chris's mom appeared and said, "Don't worry, Chris. I'll get it."

"Hi, Mrs. Camille," Chris heard Tobias say with an especially cheerful voice.

Soon they both appeared in the doorway. Tobias came and sat down next to Chris.

"You're awful early this morning, Tobias, what's going on?" Chris asked Tobias suspiciously.

"Hey, I just thought I'd get here early. Besides it's going to longer with your shoulder in that sling," Tobias said.

"Oh," Chris groaned, "don't remind me." Chris gulped down the rest of her cereal down, and got u slowly, just in case her shoulder decided to hurt a lot if she moved to fast.

"Well, it's off to the drill mines. Bye Mom," Chris droned, trying to sound like a robot.

It was obviously too early for this because Tobias said, "Yeah, ok, Chris," jokingly.

Chris managed to glare at him and tried to swing at him with her arm. Unfortunately, she picked the wrong shoulder. "OWW!" Chris shouted and Tobias moved over to take Chris's backpack.

"Why don't we lay off the teasing for a while, Tobias. I'm afraid Chris can't control her desire to tease you right back, and right now it's hurting her," Mrs. Camille suggested.

"No problem, Mrs. Camille. Come on Chris, let's start walking," Tobias said as he took the lead heading out the door. Chris was just behind him, and at the end of the walkway, she turned and waved to her mom.

"So, why are you so touchy this morning?" Tobias asked as they headed down the sidewalk toward school. Tobias remembered when going to school used to be fun, in New York. But it had turned bad with the gang, and the last thing Tobias wanted to be a part of now.

Chris jolted him out of his thoughts as she answered him; "I didn't get much sleep Saturday and Sunday night."

"Why not?" Tobias asked puzzled. "You seemed fine when you left our house. I thought your shoulder was not hurting very much."

Chris sighed because now she had to show him again what a weak person she was. "It wasn't my shoulder that kept me up. Something happened when I was walking home from your house. I could've sworn I was being followed," Chris saw the look on his face and continued quickly, "I kept hearing branches break and slow plodding footsteps behind me. And then my mom told me that the reason my brother had been so worried about me was that he thought maybe he'd get blamed for something he didn't do," Chris rushed through.

"Huh?" Tobias asked utterly confused.

"My brother didn't leave his matchbox cars out in the hall, and my mother didn't move them either. No one knows who moved them," Chris said meaningfully. She got the reaction she'd expected, but found it didn't comfort her as much as she thought it would. "Then, yesterday, we got three hang u calls. It's like someone's trying to get to me," Chris blurted out, before she could stop herself.

"Well, it does sound strange but I know how we can stop someone from following you home. I'll walk you home. Does your mom about this?" Tobias asked suddenly.

Chris shook her head, "I can't tell her, she'll just go back to treating me like I'm not in high school. I can't afford it."

"You have to tell her, Chris. She's your mom, just trust me on this. Tell her!" Tobias said emphatically.

Chris sighed, "I will, alright Tobias? I'll tell her. I was going to tell her last night, but she scared me half to death, and then told me about the cars, I just forgot."

By this time they'd reached the school. On the front of the building were big bold letters that said Jefferson High School. It would've been unique if there weren't already more than three Jefferson High Schools' in the state. On closer inspection, the high school was built of brick, and had newly painted walls because of where graffiti once stood. When you entered through the big row of doors, you walked into a huge lobby, and to the right was the office. The cafeteria was located on the second level of the school, and Chris's locker was on the first, half a row down from Tobias's, which was great because of what had happened to her shoulder.

They walked down the hall toward their lockers. As Tobias passed Chris's, he handed her her backpack, saying, "I'll be right there, ok?"

Chris gave him a nodded response and opened up her locker. She looked and found her book for Culture class, and her Jewelry equipment, and moved them into her book bag. Even as Tobias was approaching, Chris could feel Keith Manning, the quarterback of the football team, coming up behind her. She knew he was going to say something about her shoulder, even before he even thought about opening his mouth.

"Hey, Chris what happened? Did you fall off your broomstick?" Keith asked.

Chris saw Tobias tense up and knowing his past experiences, she knew it would be better to come up with a comeback than sit there and let Tobias stew about it.

"No, I'm not stupid. I never fly without a helmet and protective gear. Although you seem to forget to wear your helmet when you lay," Chris said, without blinking. Keeping her iron self-control was something she prided herself in at school.

Chris and Tobias beat it quickly to their first class, leaving Keith there to figure out what she'd just insulted for They entered the classroom and sat in two desks, one right behind the other. Chris wanted to ask Tobias about his almost losing it with Keith, but just then the bell rang, and class started.

Culture class was all about learning about different cultures and their customs. It also explored holidays they all had in common and how they were celebrated in each country. Cause it was so close to Halloween, they were discussing different Halloween customs.

"Halloween, which was called All Hallows Eve originally, was celebrated on October 31st. There are all sorts of different reasons that All Hallows Eve is for. Some believe it is a night where the dead awaken and walk the streets to return with one victim at the end of the night. It's also thought that witches thrive on Halloween and have ceremonies where they fly and dance naked around the fire. I know we just finished our first quarter, but I'm telling you right now, I'm not going to sugarcoat the reality of what some cultures do to themselves and each. Some have cruel rituals that are a very real art of their culture," Mr. Burgeon smiled, "And I am sure you are all wondering what I'm getting at." He saw a few heads nod. "Well, I am assigning a report on any aspect pertaining about Halloween. You may not have partners. This is a solitary assignment," the class groaned, Chris included, though she used to love solitary assignments. It meant she didn't have to interact with anyone and she wouldn't have to deal with the teasing that always chased her. "But you may sit with your friends while you figure out what you want to base your report on. When you have decided, come tell me. Topics are on a first come first serve basis. All right, get to work," Mr. Burgeon finished.

Tobias leaned over toward Chris and said, "Why don't you research the Blair Witch project? You could find out if they really did make it u," Tobias grinned when she shot him a killer look.

Just then her look vanished and Tobias heard a familiar voice, it was Heather Boos, one of the prettiest girls in the school, but she couldn't attract Tobias's attention. Heather was 5'4" and she had the body of a Barbie doll. She had light blond hair and blue eyes.

Chris sighed, knowing what was coming. All the girls drooled over Tobias. With his sandy blonde hair and his piercing hazel eyes, Tobias was the guy all the girls wanted. Each had a different reason, but Chris knew Heather's reason.

"Hey, Tobias, want to sit with us?" Heather asked, three other girls, her clique, behind her.

Tobias also knew Heather's reason, and for some totally whack reason; he didn't find any of the girls who approached him attractive. He knew deep down that none of them would understand what he'd been through and most of them wouldn't even care.

"Naw, not today. I'm Chris's buddy today. She hurt her shoulder and I'm just going hang with her today," Tobias said straight out. He still had the confidence the gang had given him. The girls sniffed and then walked away, utterly embarrassed.

Chris smiled and said, "Hey, Mr. Popularity, what are you going to do your report on?"

Smiling, he said, "I asked you first."

Chris gave him a defeated look and relented, "I'm going to base it on Sleepy Hollow the movie and see if I can find out how much of the movie is related to the book, tying in the myths of All Hallows Eve. Now what about you?"

"Well, I think I'm going to research the Halloween movies, see if I can find bits of cultures different customs in them." Tobias said, knowing Chris thought it was an excellent idea.

They both got u and headed to Mr. Burgeon to tell him about their reports. They stood in line for a while and then Chris was standing in front of Mr. Burgeon.

"Well, Chris what are you doing your report on? I know I can count on it being original," Mr. Burgeon smiled.

"I'd like to research Sleepy Hollow the movie and the Headless Horseman and see how much of it comes from the myths of All Hallows Eve," Chris said. Mr. Burgeon was her favorite teacher.

"That sounds alright. By the way Chris what happened to your shoulder?"

"I tried on my brothers match box cars and I popped it our of place and as well as pushing through to the flesh. It was not fun!" Chris told him, and then headed toward her seat.

Her face burned because she knew Keith had heard, because he'd been passing by when she told Mr. Burgeon. He was going to come after her with a comeback, because by now even Keith would've figured out she insulted him. Looking at the clock, Chris sighed, seeing plenty of time to research in the library for her paper.

Tobias came and said, "Let's head to the library. I just asked permission for both of us. Come on."

Chris smiled and followed, noticing that Heather and her female friends were following behind them. The fact didn't escape Tobias and he started to talk to Chris, making sure the other girls could hear as well.

"So, Chris, guess what's in the theaters," Tobias teased, sending her a look that said if they wanted to listen, might as well give them something to listen to.

"I'm a little scared to ask, but what's in the theaters, Tobias?" Chris said, she was not about to change what she said just cause they were listening.

Tobias grinned a wolf-like grin, "What else, a new Blair Witch project with added scenes. Want to go see it?"

"Oh, no. You are already in trouble for making me watch the regular Blair Witch," she refused.

"Aw, come on. You're not scared are you?" Tobias said.

All of a sudden understood what he'd just done to her. He'd gotten her in a situation so he could ask her about the movie and get her to say yes because of her pride. A look of understanding overtook her.

"You're a devil, you do know that, don't you?" Chris demanded.

He gave her a successful grin and she said, "Yeah, alright let's go see it. I'm guessing you already know when it is laying right?"

"Of course, it lays tomorrow night at 7:00 .m., you going come?" Tobias asked, trying to understand the nervousness that was lying in the pit of his stomach. His relief was tremendous when she nodded.

"Meet me at the theater, I'll be there around 6:00," Chris said.

"Why can't I just meet you at your house? It'll be faster, because you're on the way," Tobias said, totally unaware now of the girls listening in.

"I'll be Habitat for Humanity, Tobias. If you want to swing by the church on the way, then go ahead. In fact, I think I'd refer it that way. Maybe I can scare you half to death before the movie even starts," Chris compromised.

"Great," Tobias said. They'd finally gotten to the library that was on the third floor and they'd had to climb three flights of stairs. "So where are you heading?" Chris asked Tobias.

"Over there by the computers," Tobias pointed. The library was arranged with computers in a long row and then a bunch of tables with chairs set at them. There were three identical card catalogs, and you could also find topics on the computer. The bookshelves were dark oak and filled with books in rather good condition.

Tobias and Chris headed to the card catalog, and both looked up their separate topics. They each found information on their topic and then checked out what they needed from the library. By then the bell had rung.

"Come on, Chris, let's get this stuff to your locker," Tobias said, taking her load from her.

"Tobias, I can do it," she insisted. He gave her a look and sighed, "Okay, maybe I can't do it," she relented. It was hard for her to admit she needed help especially to Tobias. She didn't her best friend to think she was weak.

They walked to lockers and Chris took her books and put them in the locker. Then they slit up, Tobias had to go to drawing class and Chris had Jewelry. They'd agreed to meet in the cafeteria.

Jewelry was okay, they learned how to make earrings, and cause handling the sodden was hard with something so small. They all worked hard in that class, because they wanted to be in there.

At lunch, Chris was sitting waiting for Tobias when Keith approached her. She sighed, knowing something was coming in front of the entire cafeteria.

"Hey, Chris. You owe me an..an..an," Keith stammered.

Chris smiled and helped him finish the sentence, "apology."

"I know what it is! I want an apology. You insulted me!" Keith said angrily.

"For what, Keith?" Chris asked sweetly. Her confidence was coming back, because she'd just seen Tobias come into the cafeteria. Just his prescience reminded her that she had a backer at the school now.

"What do you mean, for what? You know what?" he yelled, basically because he couldn't remember what she had said that had gotten him so mad. Realizing she knew it too, he said to cover his own ride, "Well, at least I didn't trip over my brothers' matchbox cars."

"No, that's actually true. You didn't. You forgot to wear your helmet in the game last week." Chris saw Tobias sit down next to her, and she could see his knuckles white and clenched.

Keith steaming mad by this time, moved menacingly toward Chris, saying, "You'll take that back right now!"

"Keith, if I took it back, then you'd be standing there looking pretty foolish, staring hard at me like you like me or something," Chris said, treading on the thinnest water possible.

Keith sputtered, "Like you..Yeah right. I just don't like your disrespect, that's all." Then he stalked away.

"So, what happened to you?" Chris said, turning pleasantly to Tobias.

"Have you always been that snotty to him?" Tobias asked.

"No, but I figure it's time that I start standing u for myself. Besides every time he gets anywhere near me, you look like you're going to punch his lights in or something, and I don't want you getting yourself in trouble at school. That's the last thing you want either, because your parents are starting to trust you again," Chris answered, and then added, "Besides, I don't want to see you get in trouble either."

Tobias looked at Chris and saw her blushing slightly. "Thanks," he said.

Tobias met Chris at her locker at the end of the day. "So, how was the rest of your Keith free day?"

"Okay, though I have a lot less homework cause I can't lay in gym," Chris said, as she pulled out her Culture books for the research paper. "You going to walk me home?" Chris asked.

When he nodded, she felt relieved. She thought maybe Keith or somebody else might feel like scaring her. 'I wish this never had happened,' Chris thought.

When they were at least a few yards away from the school, Tobias asked Chris, "Have you ever been on a date, Chris?"

Chris looked at him, surprised. "Well, no. Tobias you know I'm not that popular at school. Besides, none of the guys would go out with me. Not pretty enough," she mocked.

"Now, how can they say that? You're very beautiful. Trust me, I've seen a lot of girls and none of them looked half as good as you," Tobias exclaimed.

"Was it with the gang?" Chris asked. She glanced over at Tobias and saw his neck begin to flush red.

Knowing he was blushing, but not caring he said, "Yeah, there were plenty of girls with us all the time, the guys always had their girls with them." He spoke a little louder, "It was inevitable, but I never hung with any of those girls. I'd had a few approach me, but it wasn't what I was interested in. I hung with them because I was accepted and I wish I hadn't now."

"Well, Tobias, have you ever been kissed?" Chris asked, desperately wanting to know.

"Yes, I have, but nothing that I want to recall. The girls that hang with the gangs are very insistent. Sometimes you have to push them off. It's not pretty." Tobias answered honestly.

They were nearing Chris's house and Tobias stopped talking.

"I'll see you tomorrow in school, okay?" Tobias said, watching her climb the steps to her house. "Don't forget to tell your mom about Saturday night!'

"I won't, thanks for walking me home," Chris yelled and let the door slam shut behind her.

Looking carefully at the floor, Chris headed to the den, where she found her mom working on reading a manuscript. "Mom, I have to talk to you about something," Chris said, gathering her courage.

Her mom looked u at her and smiled. "What is it, |Chris?" her mom asked.

"Well, um, I was going to tell you Saturday, but you were busy telling me about what Ben said that I forgot. When I was walking home from Tobias's, I was being followed. I don't know by you or what, but I kept hearing footsteps and branches breaking behind me. I just thought you should know," Chris finished.

Her mother looked concerned, "Are you sure?" Her daughter nodded. "Well, did anyone follow you home today?"

"I don't think so. Tobias walked me home," Chris explained. "We're going to the new Blair Witch project movie. He asked me about it in front of everyone and of course I'm not going to say I'm afraid to see it, so he got me to say yes," Chris said, frustrated.

"You're going to have a very uncontrollable friend," Her mom said, smiling.

Tuesday Night

Tobias neared the big steeple church, and he slowed down. It was a big church, with plenty of room. Before Tobias could even get to the front door, Chris came out, looking different than what she had been wearing in school.

She ran over to him, excited, "We're almost done, we just have the roof yet,"

"That's great, but Chris you didn't have to change clothes," Tobias said. "What happened to what you were wearing at school today?"

Chris smiled, "Well, if you want me to wear my sandy clothes full of wood sprinkles, fine but I'd rather be comfortable. I know you've never seen me in this before," she said, "but I just wouldn't wear it to school. They don't know everything about me."

The outfit she was wearing contained a leather shirk, and a white to.

"It sure is different," Tobias said, "I like it. You look fine," he admitted.

Chris smiled, "Great. Now just exactly how scary is this supposed to be?" Chris asked, nervous.

He gave a gory laugh, "Worse than Tales from the Crypt."

"Then you realize you're not going to have an arm by the time this movie is done, right?" Chris stated, eyeing him.

He just laughed and said, "I think I can survive without an arm. By the way, how did you do any work with hammering if you can't use one of your arms?"

"Well, I can sand and work with a level and other things so someone else can be doing what I had to do," Chris explained.

Then they reached the theater to see Heather and Keith going into the new Blair Witch movie. 'Just great,' Chris thought

"This is why I like my own living room. I don't have to worry about what someone will say if I get scared and grab your arm, no one will make a big deal about it and say you like me. That's the last think you want," Chris said flatly.

"And why would I care if they told everyone that we went to a movie? It's just the mumbling of two idiots, one of which lays games without his helmet and the other who thinks that if she breaks a nail it's the worst day of her life." He turned and looked at Chris. "I wouldn't mind at all if they thought that, that's their choice," He said, leaving a lot unsaid, but it didn't need to be said right then.

They went and got tickets, popcorn and sodas. Then they headed into the dark theater. It had stadium seating and the most of the seats were taken u. Keith and Heather were all the way at the to, like they were spying on Chris and Tobias, which they were. So Tobias and Chris picked some seats at the bottom, trying to find two seats but only seeing couples couches. Tobias shrugged and sat down on the couch next to Chris, saying, "We sit on a couch at your house." Chris smiled, he was right.

They settled in and watched the movie. Chris was scared from the beginning and seeing footage that had just been found, but was not from the type of camera the three teens had brought along, terrified Chris. Tobias's arm was around her shoulder and every time she felt pain, he rubbed her shoulder a little.

Tobias hadn't been as surprised when she'd grabbed him arm this time, but he was again happy to have her that close to him. It was a weird feeling, but every time she got closer to him, his pulse raced. It made the movie much more interesting.

"Tobias, you are aware that Keith and Heather will be teasing you all day tomorrow about going to this movie with me, right?" Chris asked, her doubt and fear that he would decide she wasn't worth the bother was still there

Tobias turned to look at her and said, "Yeah, and like I said, I don't care. It's something I can handle, Chris. Besides your necklace protects me from harm, remember?"

Chris turned to smile at him, her mouth was inches away from his, and Tobias made an involuntary movement toward her, when the screen erupted with screams. Chris whipped her head to look at the screen and saw the Blair Witch laughing into the camera footage, yelling, "None of you are safe from me, I'll get you for disturbing my resting lace."

Chris screamed, along with many others and buried her head in Tobias's shirt. Shaking violently, Tobias felt the fear in his fear and wrapped his arms tightly around her to show her she was safe. Chris felt grateful for his simple gesture and laid her head on his chest. They watched the rest of the movie like that, Chris shifting only to relieve the pain in her shoulder.

When the lights came up, Chris slowly moved further away from Tobias. Heather and Keith were moving slowly down the aisle toward them.

"Chris, are you going to be able to sleep, tonight?" Tobias teased her, grinning wickedly.

"No, but that's okay. I'll just keep phoning your house until you wake up, then I'll keep you up the rest of the night by talking to you. Tomorrow's going to be a wicked day," Chris sent the smile right back at him.

Tobias shook his head and was about to say something else when he heard, "Well, if it isn't the Sling Girl and Tobias on their little date," Heather said.

Chris's face was going into that stone face that could get the scariest gang members off her back in a second. Chris turned and said, sweetly, "And if it isn't Barbie Girl and Ken! What are you going doing outside of the world of vanity?" There was an icy tone in her voice that said, don't mess with me!

They didn't hear it. Keith, "I may be Ken but I'm not a girl who hides her face in a guys shirt, just to make an impression. What are you hoping to get, Chris?"

This time Keith had gone too far, but before Tobias could start his fight, Chris exploded like a nuclear bomb.

"Look, Keith. Let me tell you something. Leave me alone. Tobias and I are friends, although I know you have no idea what that means because you don't understand the concept of friendship," Chris burst out, rushing forth with the words, "Now I don't mind a little teasing here and there, but your singling me out is going to stop right now. The reason I had my face in Tobias's shirt, even though it's none of your business, is because when I was young I got lost in the woods and was attacked by a bear. My dad died a month later from cancer, so now that you have your details, JUST LEAVE ME BE!"

Chris and Tobias turned and walked out of the theater. Tobias could already see the tears filling Chris's eyes, so when they got to a darker area of the sidewalk Tobias picked her up in his arms and held her tightly in the darkness. She let loose the tears and by the time she was done crying, Tobias had his hands tightly woven into her hair. Chris rested against him, feeling safe where she was.

Finally she tore herself away, saying, "Well, I think I just got myself in a whole mess of trouble."

Tobias said, "If you hadn't said anything, Keith would be on the floor with a lot of broken bones. I was about ready to slam him one."

"It would definitely improve his IQ. That's for sure," Chris said darkly.

Tobias smiled and they headed away from the theater down the dark deserted streets. "Their just dumb. Even gang members would think twice before giving you problems," Tobias consented, making her feel a little better. He knew it was time to start telling her some of the things that had happened.

This so hard to talk about, he thought, then said, "I keep having the same dream over and over and I can't get it out of my head. I think I need to tell someone, but my parents aren't strong enough to handle it."

"What is it? You know you can tell me," Chris said.

Tobias took a deep breath, "Well, when I with the gang, I did what they did. The night that I tried to leave the gang, I got jumped. They kept shouting traitor and die but what I keep dreaming about is the pain," There was a painful look in Tobias's eyes, "I got stuck by at least 10 different knife, I was like a stuck pig, but every wound burned because they'd dipped their knifes in acid. We always did it; it was a way of making the impression stick, although I'm ashamed to say I did it too. The blows to my head were hit with rocks and I know I broke a few bones somewhere. I ended u in the hospital with a concussion and 10 knife wounds and not to mention the other wounds they gave me. I still have all these scars. That's why I don't got swimming in school and why I am not taking gym,' Tobias finished.

Chris heart went out to him, and she stopped and turned to face him. She was just about to say something when she and Tobias heard a branch snap. They looked at each other and within seconds they had decided that they better make a run for it to Chris's house. They both bounded from the greasy sidewalk and they heard pounding footsteps following them as they bolted for Chris's. They turned the corner and Chris ran u and let herself and Tobias into her house.

With both of their hearts beating loudly, Chris yelled, "Mom, mom where are you?"

They went on a search of the house and finally found her in the kitchen, reading the same manuscript from the night before. "What is it?" Mrs. Camille asked when she saw their faces.

'I think someone followed us here. We heard a branch snap and then we bounded toward the house and heard someone chasing us all the way here. What do you think happened?" Chris explained.

Tobias smiled at Mrs. Camille and she said, "Well, I don't know. Maybe you shouldn't be walking alone any more." She seemed peculiarly out of breath.

"It was probably Keith and Heather, trying to scare us. I mean you belted them pretty bad," Tobias said, also out of breath.

"I don't know if I want to walk alone anymore," Chris said honestly.

Mrs. Camille said, "Tobias, why don't you call your parents and see if they can come pick you up. I don't want you walking home alone, since someone followed you two here."

"Okay, thanks. I wasn't particularly eager to walk home by myself, anyway," Tobias answered.

Chris showed him the hone in the living room and sat down with him as he dialed his number.

The phone was ringing and was picked up, "Hello, this Gina."

"Hi, mom, its Tobias. Can you come get me at Chris's?" Tobias asked.

"What's wrong?" Gina asked immediately.

"Well, Chris and I were coming home from the movie and we heard someone following us, so we ran for her house, and we heard someone chasing us. I'm not real eager to walk home if someone's going to follow me there. I'm trying not to look for trouble here." Tobias explained.

His mom was surprised but she managed to compose herself, "Sure, I'll be there in a little while, ok?"

"Great, Thanks, Mom." Tobias said as he hung u the hone. He turned to look at Chris. She looked slightly scared yet and sighed, wishing he could stop her from being scared.

"So, on a happier note, what are you doing on Halloween?" Tobias asked, knowing that her birthday was that night.

"Nothing much, my mom and my brother always go trick or treating but this year he's going with a bunch of his friends and a mom. I know it's my birthday, but we usually don't do anything big. Not since dad died anyway," Chris said, wistfully.

Tobias heard the sad note and said, "Well, do you mind if I come over and we watch a Scream marathon. I know they're your favorite!"

Chris smiled. "Great! I now have something to do. Maybe Halloween won't be so boring this year."

"I don't think that Halloween will be boring this year. I'd bet my money on it," Tobias consented, then heard the doorbell ring. "That's my mom."

Chris followed Tobias to the door. "See you tomorrow in school," she said.

Tobias went outside with his mom. They climbed in the truck and drove away.

Chris went into her room and got into bed. She was exhausted but she could still remember the safe feeling that she'd had earlier when Tobias held her. She fell asleep peacefully, thinking about that.

Tobias, however, was u very late that night, working on his birthday resent for Chris. He knew she was going to love it.


Chris met Tobias in front of her locker the next morning

"Hey, Chris, how'd you sleep?" Tobias asked.

"Actually, last night, I slept great. The best in a long time," Chris said, cheerfully.

Her cheerfulness disappeared as Keith approached from behind her.

"Hi, Chris. Did you and Tobias have a great time on your date?" Keith asked, trying to needle Chris.

"Hi, Keith," Chris said without thinking about it, "Are you sure you should go somewhere without your lineman protecting you. I mean, who would be there to take care of Heather?"

Keith exploded, "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Your date with Heather, of course. The last time I checked, you didn't like Heather. I guess that must have changed. I hope you and Gerald have a fun time fighting over her. Well I guess I'll see you and Heather around," Chris said and dragged Tobias away. She'd noticed as she'd talked that he had been standing next to Keith seething.

Keith said, as Tobias passed him, "Don't think you can get away with that kind of disrespect, Tobias. I can still hit you." He was desperately trying to keep some of his pride.

"Sure, Keith," Tobias said, "What ever you say."

It was good that Chris had dragged him out of there because once they were around the corner, Tobias started to laugh.

"He needs a brain transplant. I mean, he comes to bug you about your 'date' and you end u turning the tides," Tobias said as Chris started to laugh also.

Tobias said, "Well, I looked for you this morning for a reason. We're going back to New York City for a few days."

Chris looked shocked, so Tobias finished, "We have to fetch some of our stuff and I want to see my grandmother. She still lives there."

Chris's mind raced. Tobias going back to New York? What if the gangs found him or if he gets hurt. She didn't want to lose him. She felt desolately lost. Finally she sputtered out, "How long?" She still had the shocked look on her face.

Tobias sighed, he didn't know she was going to take this hard. "Well we'll be leaving the 20th and we'll be back the 27th. It's just for seven days. I'm sorry, I didn't know until this morning. I think it's a trip for my parents telling me they trust me again."

Chris choked back her fright and said, "lease be careful in New York. I want you coming back here in one piece, understand?"

Tobias noticed her being brave act and said, "Yeah, I promise. Besides," he said, pulling the necklace out from under his shirt, "this will protect me, right?"

Chris smiled at the evasion of talking about getting hurt for her sake, "Right, that'll protect you."

Tobias had one other question, "Do you think I could come over the 28th and just watch some Halloween movies, and I'll tell you what happened in New York City, okay?" He suggested.

"Yeah, we can do that," Chris said. Just then the bell rang and they scurried to their classes.

With Tobias gone, Chris felt very alone. She went on through the motions of school but she realized how used to having a friend she was. It was the longest school days of her life, even before he'd moved here. She crossed off the days till he came back. She worried day and night about whether he was safe. She couldn't wait till he came back.


Tobias, in New York, was having a great time. He spent a lot of time with his cousin and Grandmother and he finalized his present for Chris on her birthday. He missed her a lot more than he anticipated, but didn't call because it was long distance and he didn't want to cost Chris that extra money. So he wrote her a letter the one day about what was going on and to assure her that he was safe.


Chris received that letter the day that he was supposed to be back. She was relieved to hear what he'd said to her. The letter began:

Dear Chris,

I'm having a blast here. My grandmother is happy to see me and loves to hear about my new friends. She couldn't quite take it when I was in the gang so she doesn't have such a picky agenda on my new friends. She says to say hi and hopes to meet you someday soon. She doesn't even mind that you like scary movies like I do. It's weird, because everyone here is being a lot nicer to me. When I was in the gang, I did the drugs, but I guess they screwed me up a lot more than I thought. When grandmother asked me why I watch all those scary movies I told her that they replaced drugs and alcohol because you still had the thrill but you didn't get messed up in the head. My cousin and I went to Times Square and we almost ran into some old buddies of mine. I thought that coming here might be a temptation but I found myself walking away from them on my own and not even looking back. Both of us went to see that sorry excuse for a Scary Movie and it was not even funny. We both didn't like it. My mom and dad are relaxed here, and I've been trying to stay in sight whenever possible. It's nice how relaxed it is here but I miss being home. It's not the same without my best friend here. I'll be home in a few days and I'll see you on the 28th. We'll talk about what you want to do on Halloween and your birthday. See you soon.

Sincerely,

Tobias


October 28th, Friday.

Tobias showed up at Chris's door promptly at 2:00 that afternoon. It wasn't even light out because there were some pretty nasty clouds overhead. A perfect night for a Halloween movie marathon. He rang the bell and stood there waiting.

Chris answered the door and she gave him the biggest hug.

"God, I missed you," she said into his jacket.

Tobias was totally taken aback. He recovered quickly and hugged her back, tightly. "Hey, I told you I'd come back in one piece," Tobias said.

Chris pulled back and did a once over, checking for any sign of any injury whatsoever. When she didn't find any she let him in the house.

"Hey, Mom, Tobias's is back from New York!" She yelled loudly.

Mrs. Camille walked into the room, wearing a gorgeous yellow dress like she was on her way to a fancy dinner party. It turned out she was.

"Hey, Tobias. How was New York?" Mrs. Camille asked as she checked her reflection in the mirror.

"Pretty good. Not real eventful, which is nice for once," he said, then added. "You look great. Where are you going?"

Mrs. Camille smiled and said, "I'm going out to a business dinner. I have to meet this new author and discuss the necessities of her book. I think we got a good new writer on our hands." She smiled again and then continued, "I know I'm supposed to be here when you are, but I talked to your mom and she said it was all right if I left you two here alone. Ben is at a babysitters, so you don't have to watch him. All I want is for you two to behave and please don't blow anything up," Her mom pleaded with Chris.

Chris gave her a grin and said, pointing to her sling, "I don't think I ought to be operating anything electric. Tobias will have to help me. It hasn't been getting any better," Chris explained, "It's been getting worse."

Tobias sighed inwardly, concerned but not about to show it right now, and told Mrs. Camille, "I'll keep an eye on her. Maybe I'll just tie her to her chair and make a banana split for my self to eat."

"Great, well, I guess that's it. I'll be home before 8:00, so be ready to have me drive you home. While you were gone, Chris still had a nightly person following her home so I started picking her up from school," Mrs. Camille said as she went out the front door.

Chris locked it securely behind her. She'd been doing that a lot lately. She took a look outside to make sure no went in the garage before it closed and watched her mom leave the driveway. Then she turned to Tobias.

"So, you want to watch a few movies," she asked grinning.

Tobias smiled and relaxed. She was still the same as when he left, only a little more cautious. 'I wonder what happened while I was away,' he thought.

"Sure," he said as they headed into the den. Nothing had changed. Chris turned and he caught himself staring at her sling again. 'Gotta stop that,' he told himself sternly.

"Okay, I'll go get the popcorn and sodas, why don't you put in the movie," Chris said as she headed down the hall. She headed into the kitchen and found the popcorn sitting on the counter along with two sodas. She smiled, her mom thought of everything. She picked them up and headed into the living room. What she saw there made her laugh.

While she was gone, Tobias had dropped his coat on the couch and was stretched out with Chris's dad's old pipe. He'd put on a long bathrobe and looked like a rich guy in some movie.

"Well, what do we have here?" Chris asked as she put the popcorn on the table.

"Just put the popcorn on the table, miss." He said in his best British accent.

"You're a nut, you know that?" she said as he sat up and she settled down on the couch.

"So," he said, grinning at her, "What's wrong with that?"

Chris just shook her head and pushed the play button on the remote control. The movie started and they both started eating popcorn. Halfway through the first movie they started talking.

"Hey, Chris, what happened while I was gone?" Tobias asked, seriously.

Chris's face clouded for a few moments and Tobias's stomach clenched up. "Well, Keith didn't leave me alone like I thought he would. He bugged me the entire week you were gone. Finally, I'd had enough," she said. "He'd started in on me without warning. I mean usually he starts out with a 'Hi, Chris, what have...' kind of thing," she said. "But he didn't even bother with any of that. He just starts with..." Chris said as the memory flashed into her mind.

She'd been standing by her locker minding her own business, putting her books into her locker before lunch. Keith strolled up to her with Heather right next to him.

"So how are you doing with your withdrawal, Chris?" Keith said bluntly, his eyes full of mischief that was his trademark when he was bugging her.

Anger hit her hard with a ferocity that Keith wouldn't have seen in her before. She tried to control it, but he egged her on.

"I mean, it must be hard not getting any, you know, with Tobias gone and all." He stated, Heather smirking next to him. It was then that she put her two cents in and combined with that and Keith; she was bent with rage.

"Yeah, Chris? How does it feel? You've been awful cranky this week. It's obvious he's getting something, otherwise why would he stick around you," Heather added.

By now the entire hall was watching and wondering what Chris was going to do about this latest battle. She did what they wouldn't have expected.

"You are so lucky that we are in school, because if we weren't, you two would have black eyes," she threatened. "Let's get a few things clear," Chris said in a crispy voice. "Even though it is none of your business, Tobias and I aren't 'getting it on' or anything like that. As far I know, we're friends and that's none of your business either. Second of all, why Tobias hangs around me, that is not for me to say, cause I don't know. I can only assume that if he didn't want me as a friend, he'd start hanging around with someone else. Finally, if you don't back off and I mean now, you will be in for a big surprise, because if you think I'm mad now, you've seen nothing yet. I know you get a big kick out of nagging me and whether or not it has anything to do with helping your ego, I want you to know that from right now, YOU LEAVE ME ALONE, UNDERSTAND?" She said, enunciating each word clearly.

From behind Heather and Keith, Mr. Hammond appeared. He'd heard everything and agreed with the verbal beating that she was giving him.

"Ohh, I'm so scared," Keith said as Heather snickered.

Chris lost all manners of control and her face turned as hard as rock. At this point in time, not even a lion would've messed with Chris.

This got through to Keith, and realizing he'd gone too far, he looked around the hallway and saw that he'd broken a rule that no one would forgive him for. It was an unspoken rule that you didn't mess with Chris, simply because she never bugged anyone else, unless they'd bugged her first. He'd just gone way overboard and when Mr. Hammond tapped him on the shoulder and told him and Heather to go wait for him in his office, he realized how foolish that had been.

Chris faded back to reality, and seeing the killer look on Tobias's face, she said, "Needless to say, he got himself in trouble. Which he fully deserves."

Something close to ice cold rage washed over Tobias as he heard what Chris had to say. Man, right now he'd give anything to attack this guy. But realizing that was the wrong emotion, he quickly doused it.

"Oh, Chris, I'm sorry," Tobias said, seeing she felt miserable, he continued, "First chance I get I'm telling Heather that the reason I hang out with you is because I want to," now more talking to himself than Chris, he rushed on, "and that who I have crushes on is none of her damn business, either."

Chris looked at him, wondering for the first time whom Tobias had a crush on at school. Then she said, teasingly, "I don't think she would care about your unrealistic crush on Sarah Michelle Geller, you know that? We've only watched I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, and every Buffy show that 's ever been on. Plus we always have to watch Buffy every Tuesday, even if it's a repeat."

Tobias smiled good-naturedly, saying, "Hey, don't call my crush unrealistic. Besides, just cause I have an unrealistic crush doesn't mean I don't have realistic ones," he finished. He turned to look back at the screen. All of a sudden this was really boring. Other ideas flashed into his mind and finally he said, "Want to watch I Know What You Did Last Summer?"

Chris laughed and said, "Oh, fine." She got up to walk over to the television and took the movie out of the VCR. Then she knelt to get the movie out of the cabinet underneath. See, even though they were her movies she kept them in the living room because that was where the only TV was. She looked through them until she saw it. She reached in, grabbed it, and put it into the television. Then she turned and saw her dilemma. Tobias was sitting on the right side of the couch, and the popcorn was sitting right on top of the couch cushion closest to the left side of the couch. So, now she had to go around Tobias's side, unless she wanted to knock over all the popcorn and spend the rest of the evening picking it up. Not the fun she'd had in mind for this evening. So she walked over to Tobias's side and tried to step over his legs and get to her seat on the couch. Unfortunately, she didn't make.

Tobias saw it coming the minute she got off balance. She came crashing down and landed on top of Tobias. He'd pulled her down to try to stop her from crashing to the floor. She landed squarely on his lap. Chris, seeing that she was safe from the floor, started to laugh.

Tobias turned to look at her. Her hair was all over the place, shading her green laughing eyes from him. She was slightly flushed up in the face, but she was laughing harder than ever. He cracked up, laughing with her.

"Are you okay?" he asked, between laughter.

She turned to smile at him. "Yeah, I think so. Oh, Tobias I'm so sorry." Realizing she was sitting on top of him, she blushed bright red and shifted her weight to get off of him. She managed it without looking ridiculous.

"Hey, there's nothing to be sorry about. It's my fault I should've moved my big feet. " He said, getting a few laughs out of her.

"Well, we might as well watch the movie even though it's already about 10 minutes in," Chris said, turning to face him.

"Definitely," he agreed and they both sat back to watch the movie.

Halfway through, Tobias noticed Chris rubbing her shoulder, trying to relieve the pain.

In the darkened room, Chris didn't see Tobias's worried expression. She did see his movement though. Tobias stood up and pulled her to her feet as well.

"Tobias," she asked her heart thumping loudly, "what are you doing?"

He seated her on the couch and then sat of the top of the couch's back. "I can see you're in a lot of pain. I'm going to try and fix that," He said, stubbornly. "It's no use arguing with me," he told her back, "so just let me know if I'm hurting you, alright?"

"Okay," she said, shaking head. Just then, she felt a pull in her shoulder from the action and winced.

"Sorry, are you okay?" Tobias asked, concerned.

"Don't stop, you were making it feel better for a while," Chris answered, feeling his hands on her shoulder. Whatever he was doing was working because the pain stopped for the first time since she'd hurt her shoulder.

"Thanks, it doesn't hurt anymore," She said, expecting him to stop. When he didn't, she asked, "Why are you..." But she never got to finish.

"Chris, I know a lot about muscle pains. The gang got them all the time. As bad as I was when I was with them, I still learned a lot more than my parents want to hear about." Tobias told her still working on her shoulder. "See, when it stops hurting, you still need to work it or the pain will come right back again," he finished and swung himself down on the couch.

"God, if your parents would just look at you, they'd realize that you have changed and grown up so much," Chris complimented.

At that Tobias blushed. After all, he wasn't used to compliments. He smiled, and said, "Thanks."

"So, what do you want to do now?" Chris asked him, smiling. Sometimes she wondered what was going on in his head.

"Well, plan A would be to finish the rest of the movie," Tobias said, pointing to the screen. The movie was to the part that showed Ben Willis chasing Sarah Michelle Geller to the store.

Chris looked at the movie, "Boring. What's Plan B?" She asked.

Tobias grinned, "Well, we could put on a different movie."

"Nah, got any other brilliant ideas?" Chris rejected.

"Well," he said mysteriously, "we could just..."

"We could just what?" she said, curiously. What was he talking about?

Without warning, he bolted from the couch and lunged at her. She guessed a second too late what was going on. She bolted from the couch and ducked under his arm.

"You can't catch me," Chris said, tauntingly.

"Oh yeah, watch me," He said as she tried to fake him out. She didn't quite make and his arms made it around her waist. They both landed on the couch all tangled up.

Chris was laughing so hard, she couldn't stop. She didn't see Tobias right himself up, and pull her upright as well. Finally she stopped laughing. He'd been laughing too, however and now they smiled at each other.

"You know, this is the second time tonight that you've ended up on my lap," Tobias pointed out to Chris. He saw her face, but his mind was somewhere else. He'd gone back to the last time some girl had been in his lap. He'd been in this dirty hangout. As usual, most of the guys were hanging with the girls they'd picked up. There were always girls hanging around, but they weren't the kind of girls that you'd want your mom to know about. And again the guys were trying to get Tobias to participate in what they thought of as routine. One girl in particular was trying her very best to get him to put out. 'Great routine,' Tobias thought.

Chris's hand on his shoulder brought him back to reality. He shook his head to clear it, seeing at the same time a concerned look on Chris's face. She was still siting on his lap but now she wasn't smiling.

"What's wrong?" Chris asked. What was causing the pained look in his eyes. Realizing again where she was, she slid off his lap to the seat on the couch next to him.

'Maybe I could tell her,' Tobias thought. 'But would she understand?'

"Well, I was just thinking. I guess to explain what's wrong, I have to tell you the truth about something that I kind of fudged up a little," Tobias explained, getting a 'you lied to me' look from Chris.

"It's not like that, Chris. I thought if you knew, you wouldn't want to be friends with me," Tobias said.

Chris was confused. "Tobias, why would I not want to be friends with you. I don't care about what you've done before. I mean, I care but it doesn't matter as much as you think it does. I like the you I know, that's the reason I'm friends with you."

He smiled slightly. "Remember when you asked me if I've ever kissed anyone before and I told you about the girls that hung around the gang. Well, I left out about how far it went." He said meaningfully.

'Oh, Tobias,' Chris thought.

"It didn't start out that way. I was determined not to let it happen. But one night I had just enough alcohol and I had this girl hanging all over me. But I was a little too drunk, and a little too high. And this girl has no shame what so ever. She didn't care, she put her hands where ever she wanted, and I kinda let it happen," Tobias said, his face burning bright red from shame and embarrassment. For the longest time he couldn't even look at her.

"Tobias, you made a mistake, it happens to all of us," Chris said, reassuringly.

"No it doesn't, not according to my parents. God, if they knew about this, my mom would scream, and never let me out of the house again. She certainly wouldn't let me come back over here ever again." Tobias shuddered, thinking of the reactions both his parents would pose.

Chris was shocked, could his parents really be that stereotypic? "Why? Just because I'm a girl?" She asked.

"No, not because you're a girl. Because you're a beautiful girl." Tobias said, looking over at her for the first time since he'd told her what happened. Her eyes smiled, that's one thing he always liked about her. She didn't just smile with her mouth; her whole face lit up. His thoughts wandered a little, until he caught himself wondering what it would be like to touch her face when she was smiling like that. Then he quickly reigned himself in, telling himself firmly, that won't help you now.

She turned to face him, that gorgeous smile lighting up her entire face, "You really think I'm beautiful," She asked, her voice small. She realized then that she was inches away from his mouth. The tension held for a while.

"Chris, uh, look, we both know that I'm no beauty judge or anything, but yeah, you are beautiful." Tobias answered honestly. Just then all the hair at the top of her head tumbled down in front of her face. She shook her head to get most of it out of her face.

The tension was broken all of a sudden by the sound of the door being opened, and a voice calling, "Tobias, you better get out here soon, I have to get you home."

Tobias smiled at Chris and they both got up and headed for her mom's mustang. They traveled through the dark night to Tobias's house. When it came into view, it looked like a ghost house, to Chris anyway. 'How could Tobias stand living that big house, with so many rooms and noises,' Chris thought.

It didn't seem to bother Tobias however, as he climbed out of the car and into the night. He got to the front door and waved, his features standing out behind the light of the spotlights on the house.

"So did you two have a good time?" Chris's mom asked, curious for information.

"Yeah, you could say that," then seeing her mother's look continued, "don't worry, we didn't do anything improper."

Chris's mother laughed and said, "Well that's good. Come on, let's get home."

And that's what they did.

However, back at Tobias' house, Tobias was still wide-awake, working hard on something in his room. He was sure to give Chris the best present ever, and he just prayed that she'd take it.


Halloween Night


Tobias arrived at Chris's house as soon as it got dark out on Halloween night. He knocked on the door and then stepped quickly back into the bushes to hide. He couldn't believe how perfect Chris's house was for scares. All he had to do was hide in the concealment of the lush green bushes that lay underneath the balcony on the second floor. He waited there, quietly. Chris answered the door and looked around. He watched as she shuddered, then turned to go back in. There was an eerie atmosphere this Halloween. All around the neighborhood, children were trick-or-treating.

"Hello?" she asked tentatively. Tobias waited three counts and then, without warning, jumped from behind the bushes and yelled boo. Chris screamed a bloodcurdling scream and forced herself to look at who had scared her.

"Tobias! What are you trying to do, send me to my grave!" she demanded.

He grinned ghoulishly, his face looking a little pale because of the streetlight in front of her house, "Exactly and I'm doing my best. You know, you're pretty fast for someone who just got scared."

"Tobias, you know what's been going on lately! People following me home, putting toys in the hall, and then you go and pull this," she said, shaking her head and then giving him a sound hit, "you are so dead!"

"Cool, cause then I can haunt you for the rest of your life," Tobias said, devilishly.

"Well, ha, ha," she laughed sarcastically, "Great prank. Come on in. I already have the popcorn. What kind of soda do you want?"

"Pepsi is fine," he said as he shut the heavy door. He was standing in that familiar hallway, and looking at the house he'd been in for a hundred or more times.

"Hey, Chris, why don't you go put on the movie and I'll get the sodas. That way you won't strain your shoulder too much. What do you want?" Tobias asked.

Obviously, he wasn't going to take no for an answer, so she told him, "A Sprite if fine. Thanks for your concern."

Chris headed into the living room and got Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 3 out. She pushed Scream into the player, and went to sit on the couch. On the coffee table, was the remote control, which Chris picked up and rewound the movie. Then she dimmed the lights, which were on the wall behind her. She sat for a while on the couch, waiting for Tobias to bring the sodas in. Then she looked down at the coffee table for something to occupy her time while waiting for him. Sitting there on the table, in plain view was an old, dusty, and crinkled edition of the New York Times.

"I wonder where this came from. We don't get the Times here," she murmured to herself.

She sat back on the couch to wait for Tobias. He was taking his time getting the sodas, but that wasn't so unusual. He loved to make her wait, and just when he knew she was getting worried he'd walk in and sit down on the couch. So instead of just sitting there doing nothing, Chris reached for the New York Times, and started leafing through the papers. The first thing that she noticed was the date. It wasn't as old as she had thought, cause it was dated last year, sometime in November. The next thing she noticed was that taped on the inside of one of the pages was a note, and an address. It was written on a post it pad and it said:

Dear Tobias,

I found this in the attic as I was sorting through the junk you and your parents left behind when you moved. It was in an old trunk marked Tristan. I know this brings up bad memories but no more so than the last years of horror. I wanted to throw it away but then you know who stopped by the other day. The time of safety's up and I want you to be careful. Watch out for whoever is around you as well. Love you,

Trish Hothorn


Now that the note had peaked Chris's interest, she paged through to find the article in question. She checked the address again and realized why they'd received this instead of Tobias. Chris's address was 458 Circle Road, and Tobias's was 458 Circle Court. Intrigued, Chris continued reading the article, all the while not noticing that it was taking Tobias a little too much time to get two sodas, even for him.

The story was set in New York City, which was of course where Tobias used to live. It was about two twin brothers who grew up downtown in a not so safe neighborhood. It said that at an early age the brothers were very close but when both twins joined a gang, one twin, showed a lot of anger and hatred against everyone he came in contact with. Tristan was that twin's name and he was drawn deep into the world of the occult and gangs. The other twin Tobias managed to stay on the surface for a while. Chris blinked her eyes rapidly; sure she'd read it wrong. But no, there was his name. Tobias? This was getting even more interesting by the moment. She continued on through the article, thoroughly absorbed in it. Way too absorbed to notice sounds coming from the other room that should've scared her half to death.

The article continued, saying that by the time the twins were 11, Tobias had dived deep into the occult world as well. Tobias, his parents said, had always been reachable, but once Tristan was in there was no way to stop him. He moved out of the house and started staying with the gang at all times, bringing some favor. Which is why, when the gang attacked a local house, Tristan was with them. Tobias was as well, and there were two people killed. They were all charged with criminal charges, but Tobias and Tristan were both offered paroles if they fessed up and testified against the rest of the gang. Tristan said he would never betray the gang, and Tobias said yes. As it turned out Tristan had fired both those shots, and when Tobias was walking home one night he was jumped. That was when the family decided to get out of there. They left Tristan to the hands of justice, saying none of them knew him anymore. Basically he was charged with two accounts of murder, giving him one chance at parole if he behaved nicely. The possible release date would be October 28th, 2000.

"Oh, no!" Chris muttered, horrified. She sighed, realizing what Tobias had been hiding from her. Finally, she thought she understood about what had happened to make him so afraid of friendship. Just as she made this revelation however, the lights in the house switched off, leaving her alone in the dark with this horribly scary story on her mind.

Chris looked around the living room, seeing shadows of things that weren't anywhere near real popping out all over the place. The bookshelves, on either sides of the TV, morphed into terrifying monsters, her dad's chair morphed into a panther and the couch turned into the Blair Witch.

Chris lasted about two seconds before screaming at the top of her lungs. Then she got a little more practical and called out, "Tobias? Where are you?" Nobody answered, as how long the place had been this silent suddenly registered in Chris's mind.

"Okay, Tobias, your Halloween Prank is over. You've officially scared me, so come out and take your bow."

She was answered by an eerie silence that chilled her to the bone. She felt a whisk of air lick up her spine, stilling her heart. 'Something is definitely wrong,' she thought.

She got up her courage and moved from the couch to the door of the living room. New monsters arose from every step she took and new horrors arose in her mind as well. Could it be the mysterious phantom that made her hurt her shoulder? Was it the Blair Witch coming to wreck havoc on her home? Her heart pounded as she thought about these things, and her pulse raced as she looked around, hearing things that were not to be heard. She instantly ordered her mind not to play tricks on her, but she had reached the state of fear that her mind had taken over and it was in panic mode. The creatures that she saw arise from the shadows were constantly morphing into newer and more horrible things. She walked down the long hall, wishing that it wasn't quite as long as it was. As she passed the mirror, she glanced into it and all the stories of Bloody Mary come rushing into her head. Her mind started reciting the old rhyme, but she managed to stop it short. The soft red carpeting cushioned her footsteps and she realized that it would also cushion any other person's footsteps as well. She turned the corner into the kitchen, and looked around. Nobody was there and the sodas were sitting lying on the counter. That terrified Chris. Where'd he go? What had happened?

'This is so not good. GET OUT OF THERE NOW!' her mind cried. Just then she heard a door close and heavy footsteps headed toward her. Chris went completely pale and turned around reluctantly. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Tobias heading toward her.

"Tobias, you scared me! What happened to the lights? Is this another one of your tricks?" she asked, her voice wavering. If he could have seen her eyes, he would have seen just how terrified she was.

Tobias didn't answer and just proceeded until he was close enough for Chris to see him clearly, which meant he was not even a foot away from her. That was when she noticed something was wrong with his eyes, with his whole face for that matter. His eyes gleamed, and there was not a familiar mark on him. The scar that was right across Tobias's cheek was gone, and the skin color was lighter than normal. But it was the look in his eye that was scaring her the most, for they showed craziness in them.

"What's wrong? What's going on?" she repeated, backing up a little bit.

When his voice came out, it scared her because it was too rough and it sounded a lot like the Tobias she'd known before school started this year. There was a loud growl attached to it also. "Nothing's wrong. Everything's right. Now, could you direct me in the direction of Tobias, please."

"No, you aren't. You couldn't be him. It's impossible," she cried out, her heart beating like crazy.

"Oh, yes, I can. I'm Tristan. It's so unfortunate that you know that. I can't believe he told you. We both promised to not talk about the other. Oh, well. I guess I'll have to dispose of you too. It's a shame I have to dispose of such a beautiful young girl. I mean, Tobias and I are twins after all. We think alike, or we used to. But I won't make the same mistake twice. I won't leave you to testify and put me behind bars, now can I?" he said calmly, calculating. That scared her beyond terrified. She'd watched enough horror movies to know that only crazy people were that calm. She shook a little and caught a glinted object out of the corner of her eye. She gasped in fear as Tristan took a huge butcher knife from behind his back.

Chris screamed bloody-murder for the third time that night. They stood in the hall leading to the door towards the upstairs. Her house was set up kind of backwards, so Tristan stood in her way of her room. She backed up till she hit the closet door behind her. She had no chance for escape. The thing behind her was a dead end that had already ended. Across from the kitchen door was a little end table with a vase on it that she could use to protect her self. But her shoulder hurt too much to be able to make any quick movements and that gave away any chance of defending herself because she wasn't about to turn her back on Tristan. Chris finally did the only thing she could get her fear-numbed brain to do; she closed her eyes as tight as she could. Then she stood there, waiting. Tristan had stopped speaking and was now singing a somewhat redundant poem in a soft voice that was truly terrifying.

"One bright morning in the middle of the night,

Two dead boys began to fight.

Back to back they faced each other,

Took out their swords and shot each other.

Two deaf policemen heard the noise,

And came and killed the two dead boys.

Now if you don't believe my story is true,

Go ask those two blind men, they saw it too.

It was the mumbling of a crazy person. It scared Chris even more, if that were at all possible. Her poor, tortured heart gave another effort to beat even faster and her stomach churned, like a huge stone had been dropped in it.

She waited for a while the opened her eyes a bit and saw Tristan standing there, clearly enjoying how terrified she was. Then he raised the knife. She squeezed her eyes shut again, waiting for that big knife to come crashing down on her. When a few moments had gone bye and she was just about ready to open her eyes again, Tristan said, "Say goodbye to your life." Chris felt tears running down her face. She felt her life flashing before her eyes.

Chris felt a hand pull her forward, and the suspense held a little while longer, then she heard a voice say, "Gotcha." This made Chris open her eyes. The knife was gone, it lay on the side table, and Tristan was gone as well. Standing there was Tobias and behind Tobias was Chris's mom.

"So, do I pass the inspection? Is this the perfect Halloween/Birthday or what?" Tobias asked. His heart was pounding as well, but for a different reason. He saw her relax as she put everything together.

It had all been a big act. They'd planted the paper, and time the electrical shortage just right. It had all been made up.

"Yeah, it is," she answered as her heart slowed down tremendously.

Her mom smiled and said, "Well, I'm glad you like it. It was all Tobias's idea. Now I really need to go to the store. I ran out of candy about thirty minutes ago."

"Okay, bye, mom," Chris said, as the door closed.

"So what do you think? Did I scare you?" Tobias inquired a mischievous grin on his face.

"Tobias, I can safely say that this has been the scariest night of my life. You even topped the night in the woods," she said, her voice wavering. She was clearly happy and deliciously scared. She was still pretty pale though.

Tobias's happiness turned sour as he asked worriedly, "Are you okay? I hope I didn't scare you too much."

Chris smiled, touched by his concern; he still thought she was going to disappear into thin air. She gave him a great big hug.

"What's this for?" he asked, his own heart pounding a mile a minute.

"It's a thank you for the best night of my life," she explained, intending on saying more but she was cut short.

"What makes you think it's over? You gave me a birthday present, the least I can do is give you yours," Tobias said, fumbling in his jacket for something. He pulled out a box, and handed to her. "Happy Birthday, Chris."

Chris looked at it, then started to unwrap it. There was a white box underneath the wrapping paper. She pulled the top off and saw something that made her heart stop. Inside was a necklace, and on it was Tobias's symbol, which he'd shown her. That was another thing he'd kept secret from his parents. His symbol was never told to them and they never asked. "Oh, Tobias," she said, looking up at him, "Thank you. I love it." She told him, then moved to put it on.

"Here let me, the catch is tricky. It was made for a guy not a girl," he told her, taking it and putting it around her neck. After he was done he put his hands down on her shoulders. "You look beautiful," he whispered.

Now Chris's heart was racing again. But she needed to know a few things. "Tobias, did you have someone follow me home every night? And did you move the toys into the hall?"

Tobias's smile told her the answers but she listened anyway. "Either I followed you home or Steven did. And no I didn't put those toys in the hall. Your brother left them there, just like he said. Your mom had called a few minutes after you left the house that night, and I told her to change the story. I was horrified that you got hurt, but I was able to use it anyway. Face it, Chris, I'm pretty smart," he said.

"Yeah, you are," Chris said. Just then Tobias brought one of his hands up to rest on her cheek. Tobias couldn't believe how soft her skin felt. He moved the hand down till it rested on her chin, then he tilted her face up into his. He leaned in, taking a chance, and kissed her tenderly on the lips. She felt love, warmth, and comfort in the kiss and she knew that she wouldn't have to worry at all again about him. It was clear that he wasn't going anywhere.

When he finally pulled back, and looked into her eyes, Tobias said, "Wait until next year. You're gonna love the sequel."

"I can't wait," she whispered, "I can't wait."


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