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Chapter 20

I like it here. I like it with the Bensons. And I like them. Although, I haven't really let my guard down yet. It's only been a week. Give it some time.

"Come on, Luc!" Jeanette called.

I lagged behind them as I carried a plastic container of pineapples. We were going on a picnic.

Never been on one.

Jason helped Brian set down the blanket. It was a windy day, so they had to use rocks to keep the blanket down.

Luckily the weather worked in our favor today. It's fairly warm for the middle of October.

I set the pineapples down and sat on my knees. Jeanette sat down beside me. The other two were in front of us.

Jeanette opened the basket and passed out sandwiches.

"So Luc, how was your first week of school?" She asked.

"Okay." I answered.

"Just 'okay?' Have you made any friends?" She asked with a concerned look.

Jason scoffed then laughed, "He doesn't talk to anybody! He just walks around with his head down and hood on!"

I looked at Jeanette, "It's true."

She nodded.

"What about you, Jason?"

"The usual; nothing interesting." He answered.

"Really?" Jeanette sighed.

"Alright," Jason paused, "there was a fight in the lunchroom."

"Someone got thrown across a table." He finished with a confident nod.

It's true. I saw it.

Jeanette sighed and shook her head.

"Brian?" She questioned.

"Cut a guy open." He said simply.

I snapped my head up. "Did he live?"

"Yes." Brian answered.

With Brian, I found he's a man of few words, but when he feels like speaking he gets really deep. Or medical.

"Cool." I gasped quietly.

"Jeanette?" Brian asked.

"Not much. Just fixin' people up." She answered.

For doctors those two sure are very open.

I bit into my sandwich. Yay! Peanut butter and jelly!

I ate a small pineapple chunk. They taste good, but sting my tongue.

We chat amongst each other and enjoyed the picnic.

The next day Jeanette took me clothes shopping.

"It's okay! Really! I don't need any new clothes." I pleaded with her.

"A sweathood, shirt, pair of jeans, and shoes is not a wardrobe, my love."

"So just pick out anything you like and I'll get it for you." She said.

I'm not getting out of this, am I?

As I scanned aisles, Jeanette followed behind me.

I saw a black faux leather jacket that caught my eye.

I pulled on the sleeve to show it to Jeanette.

"No color?" She asked.

I looked at the jacket.

"I could put a red shirt under it." I suggested.

"Alright." Jeanette nodded.

I grabbed a medium and put it over my arm.

We grabbed a few more items before purchasing.

"Thank you." I said politely.

"Of course!" Jeanette smiled.

We headed home.

Jason came to me in my room while I hung up my clothes in the closet.

"You wanna go to the field again?" He asked.

I turned to him with a disapproving look.

"Okay, then..." He stopped to think. I went back to the closet.

I heard a clatter from behind me.

"Who are these two?"

I turned to him. He had the picture in his hands.

I moved to him and took the picture. I set it back on the nightstand.

"Hey." Jason groaned.

"I don't want to talk about it."


"How's the, you know..." He held his arm like mine.

"It's fine. Two weeks to go, I guess."

"How about when you're done we just hang out?" Jason suggested.


Jason and I walked through the forest. It was nice. Chilly, but also warm. Not yet comfortable, or uncomfortable.

"Hey Luc?" Jason called.

"Yes?" I answered.

"I'm not trying to upset you or anything..." He started.

"If you think something is going to upset me then it's probably best you don't ask."

I hunched my shoulders, "but, I'll let you ask anyway."

"What happened to your parents? Your real parents, I mean."

My heart skipped a beat. I was not ready for that.

"All I know is: one was Black, one was White." I said.

"And," I twirled my hair around my finger, "I like to believe it was my "Dad" who had great hair."

I laughed. I have never said that out loud in my entire life.

Jason looked at me. "What?" I questioned.

"Nothing." He answered.

"Actually, something," he said.

"Where were you born?"

"Hm. I dunno. I like to believe it was New Orleans." I answered.

Jason laughed. "Why New Orleans?"

"Because I want to go there."

"Well, then let's ask Mom and Dad later." He said.

"Eh." I responded.

We continued to walk. Eventually we circled back home.

"Hey boys. Hungry?" Jeanette called from the living room.

"We got it!" Jason called as he pushed me by the shoulder.

We went into the kitchen. I, of course, fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Jason just fixed himself hot dogs.

"What's with you and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?" Jason asked.

"I like 'em!" I answered.

"I can see that! You fix them all the time!" He grinned.

I stuck my tongue out at him.

"Hey boys." Brian greeted as he entered the kitchen.

"Hi." I said.

"Hey, Dad." Jason said.

"How do you feel about New Orleans?" He asked.

"I'm not really a fan of swamps." Brian said rubbing the back of his neck.

"Oh." Jason and I said dejectedly.

"Why?" Brian asked, tilting his head.


"No reason!" I jumped over to Jason.

Brian gave me a doubtful look. I just smiled at him.

Jason smacked my arm. "Let's go upstairs. We can trade music taste."

He hopped out of his seat and ran past Brian. I ran after him.

We went into his room. It was painted dark blue with blue furniture accompanying it.

Jason played his music on his phone. I still don't have a phone; never asked for one. Too scared.

He listened to a variety of music genres: rock, heavy rock, pop, R&B.

" want a martyr I'll be one. Because enough's enough, we're done." I like screaming music!

The song finished and Jason passed the phone to me.

"You kinda look like him. Your hair at least." He laughed.

I blew air.

Of course, I pulled up David Bowie. But what song to choose?

"I can remember. Standing by the wall."

Maybe I should have chosen Moonage Daydream...

Bonding over music. Who woulda thought?

The next day Jeanette and Brian decided on a place for us to move.

Kansas! Can you believe it?

"So, let's get packing!" Jeanette said.

"Ooh!" I squealed and ran upstairs.

I started packing like crazy, by the end of the night I was done.

"Whew! I didn't expect you to be done so quickly." Jeanette said as she came into the room.

I chuckled, "I may have been a bit too gung-ho."

Jeanette chuckled. "I'll go check on Jason."

She left and I laid on my bed. I grabbed the picture and looked at it. Their smiles. I smiled.

"It seems I'm getting closer to you guys." I stated.

"I'll make it back to you guys. Someway or another."

In the morning, Jeanette told us we didn't have to go to school today. She wanted us to focus on packing.

"I have to say goodbye to my friends, Mom!" Jason complained.

Must be nice.

Jeanette sighed, "okay. Ask your father if he can take you on his way to work."

Jason cheered and bounced downstairs.

Jeanette turned to me. "Well, what do you want to do?"

"Um...I have a favor to ask..." I wringed my hands.

"Sure." She said.

"Well you see, at the home, we uh...I uh...may have kinda sorta very slightly threw my phone out the window." I started.

"And it broke...severely..." I finished.

Jeanette burst out laughing.

I hung my head.

"No, I'm not laughing it you! Just how you phrased it!"

I looked at her.

"Come on," she beckoned me, "let's go."

That was quick. We walked out of the phone store. I decided on an LG G5. Added all my contacts back. Just need to put in everyone else's numbers.

"Thank you." I said to Jeanette.

When we got back to the house, the first thing I did was call Rachel.

"Yeah, finally asked to get a phone. Sorry it took so long." I said to her.

"It's fine. It's just good to hear from you." Rachel responded.

"Is everything okay? They treating you well?" She asked.

"Yes. Really well. We're moving to Kansas!" I cheered. I sure as shit didn't tell her about my arm.

"What?!" She and Wesley questioned

Apparently I was on speaker.

"Why so far?" Wesley questioned.

"They wanted to move East." I answered.

"I didn't complain." I said.

Wesley chuckled. "We're glad you're happy, Luc."

I am. In a way. Hopefully it can stay this way.

A couple hours later, the three of us were in the kitchen.

"Hey look!" I said as I leaned on the counter beside Jason, "there's a Panera Bread right down the street from our school. We could go after school. Or to the other restaurants."

Jason looked at my phone screen.

"Somebody did their research." He said.

"Yep! Our new house is only eleven minutes away from the school."

"Cool beans." Jason grinned.

"Uh," Jeanette chimed in, "going to restaurants after school isn't going to be a daily thing, is it?"

"No..." I drawled.

"Ooh! We could walk home from school once we get familiar with the area!" Jason exclaimed.

"Wha- It's an over an hour walk!" I protested.

Jason giggled devilishly. He is so serious.

"I have a job for you Luc," Jeanette started.

I raised an eyebrow. She held up a finger.

"Make one friend at this new school."

I pointed at Jason, "Jason's my friend."

"He's your brother. He doesn't count." Jeanette countered.

"Ah..." I said discouraged. Jason pat my shoulder.

"Actually, I have a few jobs for you," she mended.

"Ah..." I repeated.

"Sorry but, your hood: no more walking around with it on at school."

"I mean you can, but I'd prefer you didn't. At least just walk with your head up."

"Got it." I gave her a thumbs up as I sunk in my seat.

"And this is for both of you; stick together." Jeanette said.

"Got it." We said. I wouldn't mind sticking to him.

She then smiled at us. "You'll be fine."

The day after the next, we left.

Jason and I sat in the back of the car. We had a big trailer thing attached to the back of the car. It had majority of the furniture in it. I listened to my music with one earbud in. In case anyone started talking.

I looked out the window. At the trees passing.

It reminded me of a memory from my time with the Narsons. We were always on the move until we settled in Charlotte. So all I ever really saw was trees.

"Someone take this broken heart and make it new now," I related to this song so much it made me uncomfortable.

I looked at the three.

These three make me happy. What about Evie and Indra? Whenever I think of them there's some lingering association with my former home life. But they brought you happiness. Equal hapiness. Just wait for me. I swear I'll make it back to you guys.

"Go to the bathroom if you need to." Jeanette said as she ran into the restroom.

We stopped at a resting area.

Brian pat us on the backs. "I'm going to hit the vending machines."

He left.

I didn't want to go to the bathroom because I was afraid I'd hold them up, but damn it! I had to go!

"I can go on my own!" I said to Jason as I burst through the bathroom door.

"I'm not gonna let you go in there alone. You could get jumped!" He retorted.

I scoffed.

I groaned loudly as I washed my hands. "I can't believe we have fourteen hours to go!"

"Could sleep through it." Jason leaned against the wall.

"Yeah right," I said "I'm not even tired."

Jason hunched his shoulders.

When we got back into the car, I tried to go to sleep. But, there was food.

I munched on some chips, but I was mad 'cause I just wanted to go to sleep!

Then Jeanette pulled out a box of green stuff. She held it out to us. We freaked out.

"What is that?!" Jason screamed.

"Wha- It's Kale!" Jeanette said.

"Why's it green?! It looks like the Devil!" I screamed.

"You two!" Jeanette giggled.

"It's staring at me..." I hissed.

Brian laughed. Jeanette did too.

Jason and I chuckled.

Hours passed. I went to sleep. Eventually, I sunk to the floor and just hung onto the seat. I just carried on sleeping. It was good sleep too.

When I woke up it was night. I crawled back into the seat. Jason and Jeanette were asleep.

Brian was wide awake. How does he do it?

"Just a few more hours, Luc. Then we'll be there." He said lowly. I jumped slightly. He must've felt me staring.

"Ok." I responded.

In a way, I was always afraid of Brian. Maybe I was projecting my former adoptive father onto him. I don't know. They are completely different.

Brian is more relaxed than anything. He's put together. Kind. Helpful.

I'd always remind myself of those traits so I wouldn't get too scared.

I should probably ask him to hang out with me, but I'm too anxious.

I stretched and rolled my neck. My eye was heavy -- even if I did wake up a couple hours ago.

At this point, it was one in the morning. Or more. I lost track of time.

Brian pulled up to a house. He parked in the driveway, then let out a heavy sigh.

"I am never doing that again." He whispered.

We were here.

I smiled widely. "You did great!"

"Thank you," he said, "now get some sleep. It's still a few hours before the real estate agent gets here."

You ain't gotta tell me twice.

I sat back in the seat and closed my eye.

When I woke up again, I was on the floor. Again.

Jason was gone. So was Jeanette. Brian was leaned back in his seat sleeping soundlessly.

I opened the car door as silently as I could and hopped out. I closed the door too. The house was dark blue with white accents.

In my mind, I just wanted to go. So I did. I walked down to the end of the culs-de-sac and around.

I stopped when I saw a trash can rattling. I jumped and yelled when a head and torso popped out. It was a boy.

"Ah! Hello!" He said. He wore goggles over his eyes and wore a hoodlike hat.

"Wha- Why are you in the trashcan?" I questioned.

"Lookin for chocolate chip cookie that got thrown away!" He spoke so fast I almost didn't catch it. He had a somewhat high-pitched voice.

What is it with me and meeting strange boys under strange circumstances?

"Chocolate chip cookie?" I repeated.

"Chocolate chip cookies are the real deal!" He said.

"Soooooo! I's heard a rumor a new family was comin down! Is that you, huuuh?"

"Yeah...." I drawled.

Strangely, I liked the guy. He was kinda adorable. Platonically, of course.

"Ooh!" He gasped and dropped into the trashcan.

It rattled one good time and then he popped back up with a half eaten chocolate chip cookie in his hand.

"Ah...there she blows!" He cooed.

Oh my god. Please don't eat that.

"Sup shawty! You was riiiiight!" He sang the last part. He actually sang to the cookie.

"Whelp!" He vaulted over the trashcan and landed in front of me. He was pretty short too.

He held out his hand. It was covered in dirt.

Oh dear god.

"Dex T. Manning! At your service! Top of the mornin to yas!"

I sighed and shook his hand.

"Luc." I said simply. He shook it frantically. I noticed he kind of shuddered. He let go of my hand.

"Luc, huuuuh? Is that short for something?" He flipped the cookie through his fingers.

"Lucky? Lucas? Lucifer?" I laughed loudly at the last one.

"No. It's just Luc." I chuckled.

"Awright. Soooo tell me about yourself!" Dex said.

"Why do you covering your eye? Makin a fashion statement??"

"I uh...."

"Ah don't hurt ya self one-eye!" He said.

"Gotta run! See ya!"

He ran off. He ran kind of...awkwardly.

"I'm runnin, runnin, runnin, I'm runnin over here! Run, run, run, run, run!" He sang.

"Oh I need to start hanging out with normal people." I mumbled and walked back to the others.

"Whew-weee!" Jason's voice echoed in the empty house.

"Come on Luc! Let's explore!" He ran off. I of course followed him, as if an echo or reflex.

"Woo-hoo!" I cheered with my arm in the air. My voice echoed throughout the room. I think it was a bedroom.

It was so spacious in here.

Jason jumped up and landed on the floor on his back.

I just laid down normally opposite of him. The ceiling was white.

"White is a boring color." I stated.

I recalled always staring at my old ceiling. While I did, everything was still.

At night, Jason and I just put down our mattresses and put covers on them, then hit the sack.

We had unpacked some things during the day, but we didn't finish and it was mainly the downstairs area. We'd have to put our beds together in the morning, most likely.

Never "put a house together" before. It was exhausting, but fun. In a couple days, Jason and I would go to school.

Jeanette and Brian got jobs at the University hospital. It wasn't too far from the house or school.

Please god, let me have a class with Jason.

This time, I attempted to make myself look better. Pulled my hair up into a ponytail --left my bangs alone -- and dressed up nice. Ish.

"Class, this is Luc Benson. Give him a warm welcome." My new teacher said.

She didn't make me go to the front of the class or stand up, she just gestured to me.

I got a few scattered "hi Luc's" and that's it. Of course, I awkwardly waved. To no one in particular.

The schedule here was kind of like Lake Washington's, some blocks were on different days. I can adjust quickly.

In my second block I saw an empty seat. The only empty seat in the back of the classroom.

There was a boy sitting in the seat beside it. He had dirty blond hair.

I took a breath before going to sit down.

"Hi." I said to him.

He turned to me. "Ah, hello again Luc." He said. Oh, I know that high pitched voice.

"Dex?" I questioned.

"The one and only." He responded.

I sat down.

"Welcome to Lee's Summit North High, shawty." He said waving his hands. After first block, I have all classes with Dex. Only two with Jason.

At the end of the day, Dex had gotten into an altercation with two other boys. They hated his "mannerisms."

I was standing right there. I didn't want to get into it because I was afraid it'd escalate, but then again, Dex was my friend. (We chat it up throughout the day.)

Eventually one of the boys pushed him and he fell onto the floor. Dex swung at the guy's legs. I seized the opportunity and grabbed his hood and dragged him away.

"Hey! I'm in the middle of kicking his ass!" Dex yelled to me once we reached another hallway.

I rolled my eye.

"What's going on?" I heard Jason's voice.

"Not much." I said nonchalant.

I felt Dex grabbing me. "Hey!" I shouted.

He climbed up my back and sat on my shoulders.

"Ow!" I yelled.

"Get off my shoulder!"

"Which one?"

"The right one!"

He kicked his leg over my head and put in on my left shoulder. He wrapped his hand around my head. Dex didn't feel heavy at all.

Jason looked at us funny.

"Now look at us! We're so big no one will dare approach us!" Dex cackled.

I started walking with Jason at my side and Dex perched on my shoulder. I had a few things to report to Jeanette when we got home.

"Shawty!" Dex called after a while. I rolled my eye. That's his nickname for me now.

"Shawty!" He called again.

I sighed heavily, "what?"

"What happened to your arrrrrrmmmm?" He asked all cutesy.

I pointed. "He did it."

"He saved your life." Jason retorted.

"True." I said.

"By breaking it?" Dex asked.

"It's not broken. I walked into the street and a car was coming." I started.

"Jason just pulled me back too hard." I explained.


I burst into the house because I wanted to tell Jeanette everything that happened today.

"Aaaand, I'm joining two clubs: the Writer's Circle and Gay-" I cut myself off.

"What?" Jeanette questioned.

I was going to say Gay, Straight, Alliance. But I don't know how they feel about that.

"I made a new friend!" I changed the subject.

"Really?" Jeanette started to smile.

"It's true. He had the kid riding on his shoulder." Jason vouched.

"Not your bad shoulder, right?" She questioned.

"Right." I said.

"Good. Well, that was quick." Jeanette said.

"How about you Jason?" She asked.

He held up his hands.

"Not much to tell. I just sat and did my work." He said.

Jeanette hung her head and sighed.

Jason left.

Jeanette looked up at me. "I didn't know you liked to write." She stated.

"Oh yeah. I haven't done it in a while. Not since..." I trailed off.

Since Mallard Creek.

"I'm going to lie down. Kinda tired." I said as I backed away.

"Ok." Jeanette said confused.

When I got into my room, I sat on my bed. I decided: I didn't like the paint on the walls. I wonder if they'd allow me to paint them.

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