Prologue – A Beginning From Present Experiences

“Holy shit, dude, hurry it up already!”

“I’m hurrying, I’m hurrying.”

“C’mon! Everyone else has left, already.” A tall, lanky boy with short, dirty blond hair and a light complexion glared at the empty locker room around him before returning his attention to his compatriot: a lethargic tan-skinned boy with long brown hair. “Like, damn, Conrad! How the hell did you make it on the team when you’re so slow?”

“Not everyone can be a speed demon, Pierce,” the slower boy responded flatly. He continued moving at a leisurely pace as he pulled a t-shirt over his head and tied back his hair into a pony tail. “…And I’m only here in the first place ‘cause my parents forced me.”

“Yeah, but if not for that, you never would’ve met me!”

“I could’ve lived with that.”

“Ah, you don’t mean that.” Pierce threw his arm around Conrad’s shoulder and flashed a self-assured grin. “Your life would be hella boring without me, and you know it!”

“If you say so…”

“I do say so!” Pierce drew away and crossed his arms impatiently. “Now are you ready to go yet, or what?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Conrad replied airily as he stepped around the bench and toward the locker room’s exit. Pierce quickly fell into step beside his friend, his gait one of supreme confidence — a stark contrast to Conrad’s casual, laid-back posture.

“Ah, about fucking time!” Pierce exclaimed as the two stepped out of the locker room and into the twilight-flooded hallway. “Man, what a first day!”

Conrad smirked. “You really like runnin’, don’t you?”

“Well, naturally. It’s only natural to like what you’re good at doing.”

“I guess you are pretty good at it.”

“Of course I am! Did you see how the coach and the upperclassmen were all over me? I’m gonna be the star of the team in no time!”

“You know we’re in 9th grade, right?”

“Exactly!” Pierce grinned and pumped his fist. “It’s gonna be great!”

“Mm…” Conrad simply grunted in response.

The two boys fell into momentary silence as they walked down the short hallway of the athletics building. After rounding a corner, they found themselves standing outside, right on the curb of the school’s old parking lot.

“Alright!” Pierce began stretching. “How ‘bout a race home?”

Conrad glanced over at him blankly. “…How ‘bout ‘no’.”

“Aw, c’mon. Put just a little effort in, and you might even be able to keep up with the champ!”

“Little early to be calling yourself ‘champ’…” Conrad looked off to the side, and then snorted with amusement when something caught his eye. “Besides, it wasn’t like you had all the attention today.”

“Huh—? Oh.” Pierce’s expression rapidly soured as he caught sight of what held Conrad’s attention: just now, exiting the girls’ locker room were two girls — one short, with a dark complexion and short black hair; the other surprisingly tall, with pale skin and long white hair. They appeared to be absorbed in conversation with each other — or at least, the short girl seemed to be contentedly chattering away to the tall one, who simply responded with slight nods or shakes of her head.

Pierce snorted and snapped his attention away from the girls as they walked off. “Ha! Like I have to worry about the Monochrome Duo challenging me.”

“Wow, that’s rude. I’m pretty sure Kestrel has a skin condition, you know.”

“How the hell do you already know her name?”

“Figures that you don’t. Phoenix and Kestrel both were drawing just as much attention as you, you know. Well, mostly Phoenix, I guess.”

“Hmph.” Pierce crossed his arms impudently as he glared at the back of the shorter girl. “…Just because she can throw hella good doesn’t mean anything.”

“The coach sure seemed to disagree.”

“Yeah, well, when you’re talking about movies and shit, no one cares about anyone but the track star. And that’s gonna be me!”

“If you say so, dude.”

“Damn straight I do.” Pierce scowled. “I’ll show you. And her! And everyone! I’m gonna be the fucking best!”

Conrad smirked. “Sounds like someone’s got a crush.”

“Ha! As if!” Pierce snorted in derision. “I could never like someone like her. I can feel it in my bones already, she’s gonna be trouble. We could never be friends!”

“Yeah, she’s gonna be trouble. Sure.”

“Shut up.” Pierce then glanced around at their rapidly darkening surroundings. “Why the hell are we still standing here, anyways? Let’s go home already!”

“Yeah…” Conrad released a lofty sigh as Pierce took off running. “For once, you say something I agree with…”

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