The walk was long and filled with silence. Neither one of them wanted to be the one to break it. The day had filled Jamie up with so many questions he didn't know where to start. Or if starting at all was a good idea. Melony just didn't know what to say to him, she felt as though she owed him an explanation but would that really be enough? As the day ended and night began to creep up on them even the sound of their shoes on the sidewalk was different.
Jamie couldn't help but remember the people who showed up only an hour ago. The talents he saw were amazing, could he ever even compete with that? Even Melony. Reaper said Melony could have taken care of that whole group in one shot. What kind of Virtue is she hiding? He knew what he wanted to say but his lips wouldn't move. He knew what he wanted to do but his body just kept walking. Maybe he was getting in over his head, hiding was the best option. Just a thought.
After a while they arrived at Jamie's house. The walk home seemed like it took longer then when they left that morning, but that's how it always was. Stepping in, Melony headed straight to the kitchen and turned the faucet on to clean her face. Jamie walked to the living room and set the paint can down on the floor next to him. Letting the warm water run onto her palms and through the cracks of her spread fingers, Melony began letting herself lose track of time. Jamie walked into the kitchen and opened up a drawer by the sink. Reaching in he pulled out an old frayed paint brush. He looked up at Melony who was still standing, eyes fixated on the flowing water.
“Are you okay? Did you get hurt at all?” Jamie sympathetically questioned. She really went to bat for him today, with all the questions he had the words 'thank you' some how got lost.
“I'm fine.” She replied softly, pulling her hands up to her face washing signs of dirt away. She left the water running for Jamie as she turned around and made her way to the living room. Jamie rested the brush under the water, watching the steam rise up from the sink. After it looked clean Jamie turned the faucet off and ran paper towels along the bristles of the paint brush. Getting back to the paint can Jamie bent over and placed his finger on the rim. Pushing in, the metal dented popping the lid up and off the can.
Jamie once again vanished into the hall and up the stairs where Melony could hear several thuds as Jamie shuffled through his closet. Jamie descended the stairs with a long rug he used to have on his room's floor until he got his newer one. He placed the carpet by the living room wall so any dripping paint would land on it instead of the floor.
“Don't you need primer?” Melony pried as she sat on the couch watching Jamie.
“The can says it's both.” Jamie replied, looking at the side of the can quickly to double check in case he had read wrong. After reassuring himself he dipped the brush into the can shallowly. Bringing it back out he watched a small trickle of paint from the middle of the brush. He kept it hanging over the can for a moment, letting whatever loose paint drip free. He then carried the brush over to the wall and moved it up and down in even strokes. He had watched his father do it plenty of times to have a general idea of how to do it right.
He continued to watch his hand moving up and down on the wall and between the wall and the paint can. Slowly the white of the wall was fading into the red color he and Melony had picked out. She sat quietly admiring Jamie as he worked diligently. It had been about forty-five minutes since Jamie started and half the wall was painted now.
“I envy paint.” Melony stated.
“How so?” Jamie humored Melony's break of silence. Giving her something to talk about might ease the tension. With any luck.
“It's just so easy to start over with. If it gets chipped or if it spreads unevenly or has any imperfection. You can just paint over it and start over. Like the imperfection never even existed. That wall just a few days ago wasn't even there. But here we are now watching it become better then it was before.”
“But humans can't paint over their past no matter what, right?”
“Sometimes I just wish I could put a fresh coat of paint over myself. Then I wouldn't have to worry about my past catching up with me. I would be able to start new. New name and new look, just a new person completely free of judgment... or flaws.”
“I don't wish that all.”
“Why?” Melony shyly questioned as she balled her fist into her open hand on her lap.
“Because I never would have met you.” Jamie said as he continued on the wall. Melony's jaw dropped slightly, feeling her cheeks tingle. “And in any case I wouldn't worry about flaws.” Jamie ran the brush on the wall for the final time. Stepping back he admired the wall's rich color as it gleamed against the lights in the room. “From where I’m standing. You have a perfect coat.” He turned around to look at Melony, who was deeply blushing.
“I really do love you Jamie. I know I’m silly at times and I joke a lot but I do love you.”
Jamie was admittedly shocked she'd come out and said something like that to him. “I know that.” He said, walking over and sitting next to her on the couch. Maybe it wasn't so bad. Him and her being together. He put his arms around her as she buried her head into his chest just to hide her face. Exhausted from previous events, Jamie fell backwards letting his head hit the arm rest. Melony rested her head on his chest and curled her legs to fit on the couch. The last thing Jamie remembered was wondering how after such a long day, Melony's hair still smelled like fruit.
Jamie awoke to the heat of the sun pressing on his face through the only window still left in the living room. Carefully Jamie reached for the remote and flicked the TV on, instantly muting it so he didn't wake Melony. He growled as he saw the clock on the news station saying 'five twenty-three'. Setting the remote down he gently shook Melony and waited for her eyes to open. Her eyelids pried open and looked around for a moment. Then she looked up at Jamie and once she realized where she was her blushing returned.
“I'm going to go get ready for school!” Melony shouted as she jumped off the couch and started running up stairs. Jamie laughed as he sat up on the couch and watched the news report on five bodies found laying in the street. Jamie turned the TV back off, simply not wanting to hear about it. He too walked up stairs and turned into his room. All he could hear was the sound of the shower running and the vague chirps of birds outside. He pulled out a random pair of jeans and another red tee-shirt, along with fresh underwear and socks.
He waited and listened on his bed until he heard the sound of the shower finally stopping. After another few minutes passed the door open and Melony walked out already dressed and drying her hair. “All yours.” She said through Jamie's door as she made her way downstairs. Jamie walked into the bathroom, started the shower, undressed and then stepped in. He tried to make the shower as quick as possible, he figured Melony had already used up most of the hot water.
Finally finishing he stepped out, dried off, and dressed himself. He quickly brushed his teeth and rinsed his mouth out. Stepping out he ran the towel over his head to dry his hair, which never took very long. Stepping through the house he made his way to the kitchen where Melony handed him some waffles. She didn't really have time to make anything like she wanted.
They were both mildly bewildered that they completely forgot to do the homework Barley had handed them but really, who could blame them? It’s not like Jamie ever did his anyways. Yet he always received the top marks in his class. Any test given too him he would flawlessly pass without any formal study or knowledge on the subject. His dad was the same way, endlessly brilliant. Jamie finished his food and placed the dishes away. Together Jamie and Melony stepped out the front door and began making their way to school.
“Most of the people I’ve met that had Virtues are rather... off.” Jamie spoke refusing to let the whole walk be awkward.
“With above human abilities you're bound to get overly eccentric people. It's just how we are. How we distinguish ourselves from those without Virtues.” Melony replied keep her eyes forward. She was so happy inside. But afraid to show even a drop of it.
“You don't seem that off thought.”
“I'm no different.” Melony kept her eyes on the ground now, wondering if Jamie would hate her if he knew what she was.
“Back then, Reaper was it?” Jamie looked to Melony who simply nodded. “He said that if you wanted to, you could have wiped them all out in one go. Is that true?”
“That's incredible. So you're as powerful as my dad!” Jamie shouted in excitement.
“No, not even close.” Melony said stopping in her tracks. “I not dare even challenge the likeness of your dad.”
“There are a few people in this world whose very name is a cause for fear. Your dad is one. You met another one yesterday. Reaper.”
“Is he really that powerful?”
“He only used physical means to wipe the floor with three people in a matter of seconds.”
Jamie looked to the ground and thought for a moment. He seen a lot of people he'd never noticed before. “These three groups. If i'm part of this now can you please explain them to me?”
“It's only fair. First and most important there is 'The School'. It's this huge complex that holds most of the power. They exist to hand out missions if you will, like having a Virtue was a means of profit. They have ranks but the higher ups all seem pretty shady. Student, substitute-teacher, teacher, professor and principal. And then there are some specific titles. But they ranked by power and ability. Everyone at one point or another will have made contact with 'The School.”
Jamie watched as she explained. He remembered that yesterday Melony mentioned all those kids were Students. “So if you were in 'The School' what rank would you be?”
“Probably a Teacher.” Melony spoke as if it really wasn't an accomplishment to her.
“You really are amazing.”
“Kaliber.” Melony harsh spoke barging right in to the next explanation. She noticed they were still this whole time and decided to start walking again, not wanting to be late for school. “Kaliber was started up by Reaper himself. From what I hear Reaper reached the level of Professor in 'The School' and left after a dispute. He then formed Kaliber. I'm not sure why. Some speculate that it's because he wanted a position of power. But nonetheless it has grown pretty big in number of followers.” She looked over to Jamie making sure he was taking the information in instead of just ignoring it. “Okay, Stellar. Stellar is rather new. It's a group whose highest ranking members are based around our solar system and their powers are based off the gods their respective planets are named after. The rest of the group are just called Stars. I wish I knew more to tell you about them but I don't.”
Jamie watched tentatively through the explanation, surprised that this was all going on without him knowing a thing until recently. How could all this be kept a secret. “That's pretty scary.” Is all he found himself able to say. After awhile of thinking it over they reached their school. Everything seemed unimpressive now. After all Jamie had seen recently, everything else looked like it lost it's color, it's meaning. Maybe Melony was right, another coat of paint would do wonders.
The walked silently and separated to their individual lockers without a word to each other. Eventually he sat down in his seat in homeroom and watched Melony walk in a minute later. Barley then walked in and started reading over the seating charts checking to see who was absent. Jamie looked around as Melony sat next to him. He didn't see Damien anywhere, he was never the type not to be in school. He would always say it was easier to sleep in school. Tardy perhaps.
The day carried on mostly as normal other then how much more dreadful it was to Jamie now. Was this really his life before? Finally lunch time arrived and Jamie walked into the noise pollution that was the lunch room and began heading towards his seat.
“Jamie!” He turned around hearing his name to see Damien waving his arm in the air. Jamie looked on in relief until seeing the his other arm was in a medical sling. He rushed over to Damien and looked down at the arm.
“What happened?!” Jamie shouted, which shrouded by the surrounding noise still seemed like just a whisper. Damien didn't answer he just looked at Jamie smiling.
“I missed you. You weren't here.” Damien replied still wearing his smile. From behind him Jamie could hear the faint laugh of none other then Alan. That smug laugh that he would throw out whether something was really funny or not. Jamie quickly pivoted and glared at Alan who must have felt the gaze because he too turned around to look at Jamie. Alan must have seen Damien behind Jamie, there's no way that arrogant face would show for any other reason.
Jamie clenched his fist and paced his way towards Alan as Melony just started entering the lunch room. She looked around quickly then to Jamie rushing towards Alan.
“Jamie wait!” She screamed as loud as she could attempting to be heard over the noise. “Why is he here?” She muttered out as her head turned to the principal at the lunch line. Approaching Alan, Jamie pulled his fist out and swung it forward. Throwing the punch Jamie was astonished when he saw Alan block it like it was nothing. Without any reaction time Jamie saw Alan's fist push into his face sending him to the floor.
It hurt. It actually hurt? “I will not allow fighting on school grounds Mr. Lannon.” Barley said as he loomed over Jamie on the ground.
Jamie's eyes glared in anger as the other students looked on like they just witnessed a car accident. “Forget this place!” Jamie cried out in the now silent room. “I'm easily the top student in every conceivable way! Everyone! Even the teachers are morons. Half the time their wrong!” Jamie brought himself up to his feet keeping his eyes on Barley. “Why should I even be here? It's pointless right? I already know everything your stupid school can teach me.”
“Mind your tongue Lannon.” Barely replied looking on at the enraged Jamie.
“What are you doing Jamie.” Melony said under her breath hoping things wouldn't escalate any further.
“Why, what could a worthless piece of sh-”
“What would your father think?” Barley spoke cutting Jamie off.
“Oh no.” Melony said pushing Damien back a little. “Please keep your distance.” All she heard next was the shrill cry of pure rage from Jamie. She watched helpless as Jamie threw everything he had into his punch. A thud echoed throughout the lunch room as Barley stood still as he held Jamie's fist in his palm.
“I will not be made a fool of in my own school.” Barley lashed out at Jamie who stood still stunned. After a moment of hesitation Melony charged through the crowd and into the small opening that the students had made around Barley and Jamie. She then somersaulted onto her hands and used her arms to catapult her into the air above Barley's head. “Maybe a lesson is in order for you two.” He spoke reaching up as Melony swung her leg down at Barley's head. He grabbed her ankle as simply as he grabbed Jamie's fist. With both of them in his hands he looked calmly up at Melony who returned his gaze. “Class is in session.”