One World Away

Chapter 10 Introductions

As the night transitioned to day, the fifteenth of January arrived with Saturday. As expected, the power had been knocked out by the now ended blizzard, but the backup generators luckily kept the heaters running. Despite the storm having ended, the five buildings of Alina High School were still encased in snow, which meant the confinement of the students would continue until it cleared out. . .

     As the sunlight that had hidden beneath the storm clouds made itself known, teen after teen began awakening. Aris Valkry stretched as he sat up from his spot in the corner of the health classroom.

     "Good morning." Glancing aside to the source of the greeting, he saw a yawning Dahlia just a few feet away.

     ". . . Good morning." The boy returned the greet and began to stand and like many others, stretched the rest of his limbs. The intercom soon activated, knowing students would be waking up around this time.

     "Good morning students and staff. Entrances are currently closed off until further notice. Students, please remain in your classrooms, breakfast will be brought to you soon." It cut off and the noise was replaced with groans from the children. Internet connection was nonexistent, and that meant a majority of people would have nothing to do. However, that wasn't the case for the newly established friends. . .

     "Now that I'm not tired, I want a rematch." Dahlia challenged the winner of every game the night prior, slamming the chess board down on a desk.

     ". . ." Aris simply sat himself down on the other end as she set the pieces up. What the new girl didn't know was that her opponent had recovered from his own tiredness as well. . . And so, the results were more or less the same.

     "You're so cruel. . ." The brunette mumbled as she let her head collapse onto the desk.

     "I don't know what you were expecting." Jessie sighed as he groggily sat down next to them. "Let me propose a game that's more. . . interesting." He mentioned as he shook off his drowsiness. The girl raised a brow before widening her eyes as a Monopoly board found itself on the table.

"You've gone mad. . ." She murmured. Aris simply stared down at the board before nodding and straightening his posture.

"Let the game begin!" The photographer declared mischievously, the dices beginning their rolls. . . Full turns went by and Dahlia smirked as she monopolized the red and yellow colors of the board, Jessie looking confidently as his takings of the green and orange. All of which had multiple houses upon them, and somehow, the property-less Aris miraculously dodged their properties time after time, stacking up on hundreds as he passed 'Go' again and again. His luck even held strong when he rolled right into jail, his imprisonment making it impossible for him to land on the two monopolizers' land. Upon his escape, he still skipped over their stuff and found himself at the Blues. . . which he decided to buy, breaking his lack of spending spree. To make matters worse for the other contestants, he had more than enough money saved to get both properties hotels. In a matter of turns, both Jessie and Dahlia landed on them and just a few turns later, they were both bankrupt. . .

Their heads collided with the desk in unison.

"How are you so good at these things?!" They demanded as they sprung back up!

". . . I don't know." Aris answered blankly. His opponents simply sighed. . .

Unbeknownst to the three. . . they had a spectator. . . though an unwilling one. A girl dressed in a beige shirt and skinny jeans rested her cheek upon her palm. Blonde, nearly golden, locks hung from her head, it's rear side tied into a loose braid. Two of her bangs were quite long, framing her face whilst the rest concealed her forehead. Just beneath them was her very bored expression that didn't quite match her ocean blue eyes. . . Like many other's, the lack of internet connection was irking her, but unlike most others. . . Her friends were not in this class, or more accurately, they ditched her and went to other classrooms overnight. She could guess that they had likely gone to their boyfriends' classes, and unlike her, they actually had boyfriends. So, she found herself alone and quite bored, leading to her simply watching the game of Monopoly.

Her ocean blue eyes finally glanced up to see who was playing. . . She recognized Jessie Blythe, or 'Picture Boy', having known him since kindergarten. Her eyes then wandered to the other boy of the three. . . who she absolutely no idea about. The blonde spent a moment analyzing him, seeing if he rang any bells, which he most definitely did not. The only thing she deemed as noteworthy were his eyes. . . She found them pretty. Lastly, she looked to the girl of the group. Just as she had with the previous, no recognition came by. It was odd because she was familiar with nintey percent of the girls in their grade. . . It was then that she remembered the news of a new girl. . .

"Picture Boy, deal me in." Her medium pitched voice called out as he pulled out UNO cards once again. The three turned to the latest arrival, the blonde seating herself between Dahlia and Jessie.

"Claire? I didn't think you'd care for a card game." The photographer murmured in shock. Claire Leto let out a sigh as she glanced at the deck.
"I'm bored and don't have WiFi, this is better than nothing." She decided before facing the confused brunette. "You must be the new girl, huh?"

"Oh-Uh, yeah. Th-That's me." Dahlia confirmed awkwardly, taking a deep breath and composing herself. "I'm Dahlia Sarah, it's nice to meet you."

"I'm Claire Leto, right back at you Flower Girl." Claire introduced herself nonchalantly whilst Jessie passed out cards.

"F-Flower Girl?" The artist questioned, only for the jadette to shake his head.

"She nicknames everyone she meets, I usually just ignore it." He explained, the blonde scoffing lightly.

"I'm hurt." She feigned with a roll of her eyes, letting them land upon the patiently waiting Aris. "What's up with him?" Claire asked without a care for him hearing. Dahlia felt a frown spread across her lips. . .

"Waiting." Aris responded robotically.

"Mhm. . ." The blue eyed duo simply gazed at one another. They blinked twice as the third and fourth parties shared a confused glance. "You're weird." Claire concluded as she leaned back in her seat and held up her cards.
". . . Weird." Aris soon did the same as the brunette felt her frown expand. . .

This girl's kind of rude. . . The new girl mused before shrugging the thoughts away and looking down at her own cards. The game soon began. . . With no option but putting down a Draw Four, Dahlia sent it toward Claire, who smugly smirked and put her own Draw Four down.

"You guys are doing this on purpose." Jessie grumbled as he drew card after card.

"Better luck next time, Picture Boy. Oh, and green." The blonde smiled, only to tape as she was hit with a double Draw Two, one from Aris and another from Dahlia. "Okay, I see how it is. . ." She narrowed her eyes and glared at the ravennette, who simply sorted his own cards into a comfortable order. "Picture Boy, have any Draw Fours?"

"No." The jadette answered.

"Flower Girl?"

"No. . ." The glare returned to Aris.

"You're lucky we're separated. . . What's your name?" The party crasher sighed out the query.
"Aris." The ravennette told quietly.

"Aris. . . You're also lucky I can't think of a nickname." Claire sighed once more.

"Can you go, please?" The photographer beckoned only to get hit with another Draw Four. "Oh, come on!" As the game went on, it was clear that the two blue-eyed teens were simply that much luckier. However, it was also clear that Claire brought more luck to the table. Soon, she found herself without any cards.

"And victory is mine!" The blonde cheered triumphantly!

"That was painful. . ." Dahlia whispered. The original three realized that Claire's bored energy had been extinguished after the victory, if her brighter tone was anything to go by.

"So, you three got anything else I can destroy in?" She questioned arrogantly.

"Nah, we're all out. Unless you want to play Chess with this guy." Jessie pointed to the ravennette.

"Ugh, lame!" The blonde groaned before looking around for something to do. Aris simply gazed to the table as Jessie curiously eyed the newest arrival. She huffed and scooted toward her fellow girl, leaning into the brunette's ear.
     "Soo. . . How about we go somewhere else and get to know each other? Can't imagine Picture Boy or Aris wanting to hear all of it." Claire proposed, curious about what the new girl's deal was. . . However, Dahlia saw it differently.

In other words, ditch the boys so we can talk. . . She deciphered quite easily. "Um, I'm sure they'll be okay. Aris doesn't really have much to say anyway-" the door to the classroom suddenly bursted open, a few girls with shameful looks on their faces walking in.

     "Scratch all of that, I need to go and talk some sense into them!" Claire stormed off, leaving all but Aris confused on many levels.

     "What. . . just happened?" Dahlia wondered as she snapped out of her stupor.

     "That's Claire for you." The photographer stated. "What'd she ask you?"

     "To get to know me in private." The artist relayed, a bit confused herself.

     "That's about par for the course. She's pretty popular, and whenever there's a new kid, she usually pulls them aside to get to know them." Jessie explained.
     "That's. . . nice?" The new girl murmured.

     "How she acts around you really depends on if she decides she likes you or not. It's confusing even then." He finished as he himself began to get a little lost.

     "Okay. . . What do you think, Aris?" The girl turned to face him.

     "She called me weird." The ravennette restated monotonously. The artist and photographer shared another clueless glance before sweatdropping. . . Aris was even harder to read than Claire.

*Hours Later*

     Once the sun began to set once again, it had already completed its job, helping the workers rid the school of the snow whilst completely doing so to the roads. Students, dressed in their winter clothes, began to get picked up one after the other as worried parents rushed to get their kids home. Jessie was soon gone, leaving Aris and Dahlia in the courtyard. Before long, Aster Sarah had come honking.

     "Oh! Aris, come on! I want to introduce you to my mom. It's better if I do it myself than just let my tongue slip." Dahlia beckoned him along, not really giving him a choice in the matter. The car window slid down the moment her mother realized she was pulling a boy along. A smirk spread across her lips.
     "Hey sweetie, are you doing okay- Oh! Who's this?" She asked as her brow raised suggestively. Her daughter simply sighed as the boy cluelessly glanced between them.

     "Mom, this is my friend Aris Scarlet. Aris, this is my mom, Aster Sarah. I wanted to introduce him before you came asking. . ." The younger brunette said, anticipating her mother's reaction.

     "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you. I hope my little Angel hasn't been a bother." Aster greeted him softly, the new girl immediately flushing red.

     "Mom! At least try not to embarrass me!" She yelled through grit teeth!

     "It's nice to meet you, too, ma'am." Aris politely replied.

     "Do you need a ride home, honey? I'm more than willing to help out one of my daughter's friends." The mother offered, but the ravennette shook his head.

     "Thank you for the offer, Miss Sarah, but my sister is coming." He explained.

     "Well, I hope you get home safe, hun. Come on Dahlia, Chrysanthemum's waiting back home." Following her mom's orders, Dahlia found herself in the passenger seat.
     "I'll see you on Monday, Aris. Bye!" She waved as they drove off. The boy gave a slight wave back before walking back to the inner courtyard. . . The teenage girl huffed off the cold and faced forward in the seat.

     "Is your friend. . . okay? He didn't really seem all there." The older brunette asked with concern.

     "Well. . . I don't really think he's had much social interaction, like ever. . ." Dahlia stated with a sigh before turning it into a smile. "But I'll give him plenty more." She declared. . . The woman's lips thinned into a line. . . To most, he would've seemed normal. To Dahlia, he seemed anti-social, but to Aster. . . he was emotionless. Despite that, she let her lips curl up just a little at her daughter's courage.

You have so much of your father in you, Dahlia. . . .

*Alina High School - Courtyard*

The number of students left at the school lessened more and more over time. As the day waned into the late sunset, only two students remained on campus. . .
"Hey, you're. . . Ar. . . Aris! Aris, right?" Claire Leto stood before the bench seated Aris Scarlet. . . He gave a nod of affirmation. "So, what's your deal? You not have any friends or are you just quiet?" She patiently awaited for an answer, the ravennette staring up at her for a few moments. . .

"Dahlia's a friend." Aris stated.

"Flower Girl, huh? So, you're just quiet?" The blonde assumed.

". . . I guess."

"Why though? Flower Girl and Picture Boy are pretty talkative, I can't really see you sticking with them for too long." She asked curiously as she sat down next to him.

"I. . . just am." He answered blankly as usual.

"God, you're hard to talk to." Claire admitted with a sigh.

". . ."

"And weird. Definitely weird." She added.

". . . Everyone calls me weird. Why?" Aris wondered. The girl raised a brow at the question only to realize that he was dead serious. . .

"Wow, you're weirder than I thought." Her response irked him. . . It didn't answer his question. "So, waiting to get picked up too?" The blonde inquired.
"Mhm. My sister should be here soon. . ." The boy retorted.

"Has she graduated?"

"No, she's a Junior."

"What's her name?"

"Iris."

"IRIS?!?!? Y-You mean Iris Scarlet?! You're her brother?!" Claire exclaimed in pure shock! The ravennette simply nodded. "H-How the heck are you all quiet when she's one of the most popular girls in school?!" The girl didn't understand a thing. "Wait, if she's your sister, shouldn't she have been snowed in too? There's no one else here but us." That confused her more than anything. . . and what threw her off even more came next. Her classmate took out his phone, which she recognized as an older model of the one she had. He went to his messages, and saw. . . nothing. Rising to his feet, the boy began to fasten his backpack to his rear and zip up his jacket. . .

"I guess I'm walking home." Aris muttered. Before he could distance himself, the blonde put two and two together. . .

"They forgot about you, didn't they. . .?" Claire mumbled nervously. . .
". . . Yeah." was the last thing she heard before he was too far for them to talk any longer. Glancing down to her own phone, Claire realized. . . that she had been forgotten too.

*Scarlet Household*

The blizzard may have been over and the sun might have done its part to get rid of the snow, but the cold still lingered. . . and so, by the time Aris walked onto the driveway, he was shivering. His blue eyes noticed that the garage still had some snow, which meant his parents couldn't have brought him back, but they also took notice of the car that belonged to his older sister just ahead of him on the driveway. . .

". . ." The ravennette made his way up to the steps to the main entrance and rang the doorbell. . . When it opened, it was Iris who met him on the other side. . .

"A. . . ris. . ." The redhead turned a ghostly pale as realization struck her right in the face. "Oh. . . uh, crap. . ."

"Can I go inside now?" Her brother asked.

"Wait! No! I-I-. . . Uh. . ." His sister began to think of some sort of excuse, but not a single thing crossed her mind that could possible work. . . She was so horrified by her mother's possible reaction that she didn't even notice Aris slip right past her. The moment she did, Iris snapped around only to see the boy walk up the stairs. The ravennette paused for just a moment, glancing to his parents as they watched a movie with their youngest child. Iris bit her lip as his piercing blue eyes met her own emerald. . .
     Aris quietly walked to his room, going unnoticed by all. . . .