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America was no different than what Jack had expected it to be.

Bright sunlight filtered through the windows of every corridor and every classroom, the same alien accent bubbling from everyone he met. But the people here were the same as those he had left behind. They judged him by the way he looked and went out of their way to avoid him. He could hardly blame them, sometimes.

It was the way he liked it. After all, he still had people who loved him. His Ma would be waiting patiently for his return as she wasted the day away watching crappy daytime TV and flicking through magazines she'd read ten times over. She was the only person who could put a smile on his face at the end of the day, and sometimes she took pride in that.

Once upon a time, she had worked as a nurse. She would come home at nearly the break of dawn and collapse into her bed, still dressed in her uniform. Jack missed those days so much it ached.

He let a small smile play on his features as he remembered how he would wake up for school and find his mother passed out on the kitchen table, half a sandwich still in her hand and a cold mug of tea beside her head. Her light brown hair would have fallen out of her messy bun, and she would snore softly as he ran around their apartment in a panic. He always left it so late he had to throw on his uniform haphazardly and making a lighting quick breakfast, leaving his Ma's plate of buttered toast on the table for when she woke up.

He used to give her a tiny kiss on the cheek before he bolted out the door to the bus, slinging his little backpack over his shoulder and closing the door behind him as quietly as he could so as not to wake her.

That was such a long time ago. Years actually.

The bittersweet memory was suddenly cut short; he wasn't alone anymore.

He blinked in surprise, snapped out of his head by the sound of someone throwing their books down on the desk beside him and the feeling of a body falling into the chair beside him.

There was a long beat of silence, filled with the awkward shuffling and fidgeting of some guy Jack vaguely remembered from last class. The boy shifted uncomfortably in his seat casting a nervous glance at Jack and catching him looking. Jack quickly snapped his gaze away.

It was surprisingly difficult to avoid looking at the guy again but Jack stubbornly fixed his eyes straight in front of him. Maybe, if he ignored him for long enough he'd go away and leave him in peace. But, after a few more seconds of awkward silence there came a deep cough from the boy who obviously expected Jack to acknowledge him. Jack waited for one more stubborn moment before taking another look.

The boy met his eyes squarely this time and Jack took the time to assess his appearance.

Dark brown eyes stood out from warm, olive skin with a shock of thick dark hair flopping onto his forehead. The guy was well built, thick shoulders covered with a light blue hoodie and Jack watched as he toyed with his jacket's sleeve nervously before speaking.

"Hey," he said, giving Jack the surprise of his life as the deep rich tone came out of his mouth. Jack wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but it certainly wasn't that.

"Leave me alone," Jack muttered, the words coming out harsher than he had intended, but oh well, it was done now. All he wanted was to get through today. He had no time for friends and, really, no time for school. He shouldn't even have come here in the first place.

The guy looked surprised at Jack's tone, eyes widening a little before he frowned in annoyance. "No need to be rude, I was just being friendly."

"Do me a favor and don't bother," Jack snapped, coupling the jagged words with a dark glare. Of course, he was being rude. That was the whole point.

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