Beneath Water

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Original poster

The springtime breeze rustled through the trees in the courtyard of the school building. This warm breeze carried flower petals in through the open window on the second floor of the school building, scattered the delicate white teardrop shapes over the desk of a young girl who sat there with her face tucked into the pale brown pages of an old book. The room around her was silent, the board before her cleaned. The girl was alone here, enjoying the solitude of her studies. Suddenly, a banging sound broke this serenity.

Rapidly approaching the door, several pairs of feet slapped the tile. Through the classroom door, several of the girl's classmates emerged. There were a few men and a couple of women in this group, all smiling and talking loudly. One of the girls stepped forward, a bright grin on her face, and tugged the book out of the girl's hands.

"Serith! Quit studying for once and come have fun with us. It's getting hot out now, we can go to the pool to have a good time!"

Serith looked alarmed, glancing up to see who had taken her book. An uneasy smile slid over her features and she shook her head in emphasis to what she was saying. "Nooooo, Karine, I don't think..." The other girl laughed and set the book on the desk in front of Serith.

"It's fine to just tell us that you can't swim, you know."

These words caused Serith's eyebrows to rise on her face, her mouth setting in a thin line. "No, it's all right. I can swim, I'll come with." Serith stood up and tucked the book into the bag that she had slung over the back of her chair. The pool was not far from the school and thanks to the classes involving swimming, most of them had their swimming suits in the lockers within the school.

Clad in their swim attire and chatting animatedly, the group arrived at the local pool. Everyone except Serith seemed delighted with the prospect of swimming to cool off from the blazing heat of the approaching summer. Serith on the other hand was attempting to act casual while dangling her feet cautiously into the water.
Loud laughing came from the courtyard of the school, were a small group of teenagers were listening to 'You're Gonna Go Far, Kid by The Offspring' and acting like fools. One of which was singing along to the lyrics he knew all to well, his black and bleached hair hidden under his bandanna. Despite the warmth, he had on a leather jacket and jeans, his boots unlaced. Under his leather jacket, he had on an Offspring band tee.

"Darren! Hurry up! We're heading out to the pool soon!" some of his friends shouted, waving out to him. He chuckled and waved back, pulling his CD out of the player and rushing up the hill, into the building to change, then they all headed down to the pool. It wasn't to busy, but there was a lot of teens. Darren was a social butterfly, so this environment fit him well.

"Oy, wanna race?" someone shouted and he happily agreed, jumping into the water to start.

"Hey, Serith, how's it going?" A sarcastic blonde female asked, walking up to said girl. She had a couple of males behind her, waiting for what they were here to do.

At the sound of her name being called, Serith turned her head to look at who was behind her. It was a voice that was familiar but not recognized instantly for who it was or Serith wouldn't have answered. The music had concealed the sound of steps behind her, an annoyance to Serith now. She wasn't positive what the girls wanted but she could assume it was nothing pleasant.

Trying to stand on equal footing with the girl, Serith pulled her feet from the water and pushed off the ground into a standing position. The lower part of her legs felt cold with the breeze and she shivered a little. The large body of water so close by put her on edge since the earlier comment had been all too true. Serith was afraid of water, hadn't been willing to even try to learn to swim since she'd nearly drowned as a child. At the very moment, it seemed foolish since she was now more afraid of the water.

"Ah, hi. What do you want?" Serith didn't mean to come off as curt, but it wouldn't have mattered either way. They weren't here for conversation and she didn't want to talk to them. She was wary as to why they would even be approaching her.
"Oh, nothing big, just a little... test," the blonde answered before shoving Serith into the deep blue water, laughing loudly.

Darren had won the race, yet again, but something caught his eye. He snorted as a girl was pushed into the water, finding it sad that had happened. However, when she never came up, and no one was doing anything, he became worried. He jumped back into the water and swam down, his vision blurry, but he could see the girl once he had gotten close enough. He reached out and grabbed her hand, pushing off the ground ad lifting them both to the surface with ease, in one bound.

One there, the brought here onto the concrete, leaning close, before folding his hands and pushing down on her chest a few times.

"Apparently, book worms can't swim," one laughed, and Darren growled.

Despite being wary of the blond girl's intentions, Serith hadn't considered the possibility that she might end up being pushed into the falsely welcoming depths of the artificially sparkling blue pool. Time felt like it was slowing when the girl pushed her, Serith's hands grasped for any hold that she could find and found none, her fingers curling into her palm when nothing could be found. The air as she fell pushed her hair into her face and Serith could just see the sardonically smiling face of the blond girl before she plunged backwards into the water.

Though it seemed unreasonable, Serith felt that she was sinking so deep into the water that she couldn't see the sun rippling over the surface. It was then that she realized that she had shut her eyes tightly against the water. Her hair seemed like the tendrils of something evil as it swirled across her skin and caught in her hands when she managed to think enough to shoot one out. It hit Serith that no one had come to help her and distressed, she began to try to get to the surface on her own. Her movements, however, as uncoordinated as they were, only served to keep her from floating to the top of the pool.

It was then that someone's arm encircled her waist and began to pull her upwards. Remembering what little water safety training Serith had been willing to go through, Serith stilled when she felt his grasp over her. She couldn't make out who it was, barely willing to open her eyes even a little to see the person that had rescued her.

When Serith could feel the stable ground of the smooth stones beneath her belly, she coughed and a spurt of water poured from her mouth. She heard the words that the other girl spoke and it made her angry but not nearly angry enough to try to get up. She felt washed out and weak, instead lifting her head to search for the person who saved her. Nearby was a boy who was absolutely sopping wet. Serith coughed once more, followed by "Thank you, for helping me."

The group of people who had accompanied Serith now rushed to her side, apologetic for not having noticed her absence from the throng. Serith fussed against them though, trying to talk to the person who had helped her.

"Who are you? I'll make you cookies or something..."
"Nah, there's no need to make any cookies! I'm Darren, nice to meet ya," Darren greeted, the three scars on his cheek shifting as he smiled. Though, after a few moments, he was on his feet, yelling at the three people.

"She could have died!" he shouted. Once he was done with his tirade, he turned back to Serith, helping her to her feet.

"Come on, I'll help you get home," he said.

Though it was touching for Serith to see the concern shown for her when the person - Darren? began to shout at the idiots who had pushed her into the water, Serith waved her hand at him. It was pointless to attempt to reason with them when, if they had the capacity to put it together that what they were doing was foolish, they would not have pushed her into the water in the first place.

Darren helped Serith get up, a feat for her given that her body had spent itself with the adrenaline of being convinced that she was drowning. Serith was tired and felt leaden in every limb of her body. The muscles moving her did not readily cooperate, which made her movement sluggish. She smiled apologetically to Darren, who had offered to help her home. She knew that she was being very slow but as if the defeat of her muscles was not enough, her head was thumping from the adrenaline and lack of oxygen as well as her eyes burning from the chlorine. Overall, she was grouchy.

"Thank you for the offer..." Serith began, intent on turning him down since she didn't even know him. She was going to supplant Karine as her aid instead, but before she cold turn Darren down, Karine had already stepped forward, a gleam in her eyes.

"That's soooooo nice of you. I'd take her but if she were to fall down or something, I wouldn't be able to help her up. Thanks so much!" Serith opened her mouth to object but Karine buried Serith's face in her shoulder to give her a hug. When she pulled away, Serith looked up at her with a confused, if vexed look.

However, it seemed that Karine was worried that Serith might back out still and instead pushed them both toward the exit of the pool. Serith turned helplessly to Darren, her expression still rather confused. "Thanks, then, for taking me home..." she said awkwardly to him.
Darren, being the dense one that he was, hadn't really picked up on anything.

"Ah, yeah, no problem! But, uh.... that was a little odd," he chuckled, gesturing towards the direction of the girls friend, as emphasis. He walked out of the parking lot, slowly, and started to think. He shrugged and let go of Serith for a moment, only to pick her up bridal style, with little to no difficulty.

"Much better!" he cheered, now able to walk faster. Once he had gotten into a general neighborhood area, he looked down, eyes a little red from chlorine.

"Where to, darling?" he asked, giving her a small pet name, like he did most others.

The warm breeze was cold in Serith's hair, still dripping with water as she was. This had contributed largely to her not being prepared for what then happened, which took her entirely by surprise. Without really any warning at all, Serith was swept off her feet and was being carried as though she were entirely a nonissue. Serith was torn between being embarrassed enough to try to get down onto the ground and not wanting to accidentally injure the person she had to thank for rescuing her from the water.

"I.. I'm sor-" but, quiet as she was, he didn't seem to hear her and spoke himself. Entirely taken by surprise at the whole mess of affairs today, it was the final thing and Serith was at a loss for words. Stubbornly, she decided that he was making fun of her for the fact that she was being so slow. This, combined with the sudden realization that everyone at the pool had seen that she couldn't swim, was enough to make Serith's cheeks brighten with pink from the mixed humiliation and annoyance.

"Thank you for helping me, again. I'm sorry I've been so much trouble for you..." this statement was accompanied by a little wiggle, indication that she could certainly walk on her own. When this was not the outcome, she pouted a little trying to keep from looking more like a child that she already did. The boy's clothes were also soaked and it occurred to her that he might be cold as well.

"My house is just down the way here and around this corner. You should go get a change of clothes, so you don't catch a cold..."
"Huh? Oh, no, it's fine. I have to get you home. 'Sides, not that big of a deal, if I catch one I do, and if not, I don't," he shrugged nonchalantly and walked in the directions she had given. He looked around at all the large homes, much larger than the small apartment he shared with his brother. Their father had left, and mother died years ago, and since Darren's brother was of legal age, he gained custody. It was fine as they were.

"So, uh... what high school do you go to? I think I might've seen you around the library... certainly not in the manga section though!" he joked, laughing loudly, as if he hadn't noticed her embarrassment at all. In reality, he hadn't, being completely oblivious.

The jovial attitude of the boy was surprising to Serith, so much so that she was not entirely sure what to do or how to act. The look on his face made it clear that these houses were foreign to him and Serith felt strangely uncomfortable with the realization that he was not accustomed to such large houses. He seemed unaffected though, by the whole affair, which made her less uneasy.

"I go to the school just past the pool, Scheler High School. I don't think I've ever seen you before... " Serith laughed nervously, indicating for him a house a few doors down. It was modest and yellow with tulips in the garden next to the front door, not remarkable in comparison to the houses surrounding it. Conversation was not Serith's strong point, though, and Serith tried hard not to frown at her own discomfort.

"I uh... What school do you go to, then?" she asked, waring between her desire to cover herself since she was only in a swimsuit and the fact that she did not want to push him away after he helped save her from the water.
"Ah! Actually, I go to the same school! Heh, I guess we've never seen each other around cause I'm like... average, and you look like you have your nose in a book, studying most of the time," he declared, laughing rather loudly as he walked up to her home. He walked up and jiggled the handle, noticing it was unlocked.

"Huh, guessing someone's home?" he asked, going in and setting her down. He looked around and whistled.

"I have never seen a house so big," he muttered, examining the home, but keeping his manors.

"It's awfully big, yes, isn't it? It's usually empty, though..." Darren had opened the door now and placed her on the ground, giving her the ability to look around. Serith moved to the side of the doorframe, her hand gesturing behind her. It seemed rude to make him just stand there, especially when her plans involved brewing a cup of tea to sip.

"There's no one but me here. You can come in for a minute if you'd like..." Serith glanced over the pristine living room, moving her hand to indicate the white leather couch in the room. The beige walls seemed washed out by the strong sunlight flooding through the windows into the room but there was no denying that the whole house rang with silence.

"I do not talk a lot with others" Serith admitted reluctantly in response to his comment about the school. It was embarrassing now, that he had seen her and she'd never seen him. Serith's cheeks turned pink again and she searched for something else to talk about.

"What year are you?"
"Uh, junior, you?" Darren asked, looking at the nice leather before sitting in it, sinking into the cushions. It was bright, but certainly much quieter than his room, even if it was just him and his brother. He examined the interior carefully, quiet for once.

"You know, if you ever need someone to hang out with, you can always call me. I'm like a social butterfly, so everyone kinda knows me, and you can find me anywhere," he informed, smiling widely, to where his eyes almost shut.

Serith had moved away already to the kitchen to make herself a glass of tea when Darren started talking. It was an unexpected offer on his part and she smiled a little to the canister of tea bags kept on the counter. It was a quiet thing, really, that her parents weren't often around. If she told everyone that her house was empty, she'd immediately be the go-to for parties.

"I'm a junior, too. You must be in a different class..." the mug with her hot water was put to boil and Serith padded into the living room once more. It felt strange that someone else would be here with her in this house, yet it was oddly comforting to not be alone. Serith did her best to smile at him, her mistrust warmed somewhat in the face of his kind offer.

"You don't have to feel sorry for me. But... thank you. It might be nice to be able to talk with someone. Uhm. What about you, then? I'll bet you have lots of people to talk to, huh?"
"Heh, yeah. But, what I would kill to be smart, you know? People like me because I'm good looking, social, and fun. I, however, would love to be one of the smart kids. And to have my mother around.... can you keep a secret?" he asked, leaning forward and turning his head to gace at Serith. He could smell the tea floating through the air, as it it was in front of him. He gazed intently into her eyes, his face serious.

Taken aback by the sudden seriousness of the boy she was talking to, Serith put her index finger to her lips. It was surprising, she thought, that others would want to trade social skills for the ability to be good at studying. She was going to respond, perhaps say something about how she'd like to have a few more social skills up her sleeve, but the seriousness delved into something intent and he was looking at her intently.

Serith dropped the hand at her lips and instead brought the mug to her mouth instead, sipping the hot tea. Serith was at a loss for words as to how to respond to him but over the rim of the glass, she responded to him. It was unsteady, her words, but they carried well in the still air despite how quiet she was "Of course I can."

Serith was both uneasy at having someone near her but there was a niceness to being around someone else, even if it was just someone that she barely knew.
"Well, I live with my older brother, because my mom died a few years ago. I don't tell anyone about it because I want people to think I'm happy as could be... It gets a little difficult on mothers day, and parent teacher meetings. And I'm saying this to you because, well. I'm guessing you have both your parents. Try not to be so alone and get out there. Even if nobodies in the house, you can go out and meet your friends. Plus your smart. I may have social skills, but I'm not smart, I blew my finals last year, I have no parents, and no matter how hard I want to, I don't think I'll get into a good college. So, I wanna make a deal. You be my tutor, and I help you be happier," Darren offered, smiling at his proposal.

Unexpected as it was, Serith felt strangely connected with the boy who was suddenly intruding on her quiet life. The spilling of information was sudden but not entirely unexpected, since she had asked him and everything. There was a curiosity in her, though. Some part of her wanted to meet his brother.

Smiling, Serith stood up with her mug in hand. "I'll agree to tutor you, but I want to see where you live." Serith grinned at Darren and sipped the last of her tea. She set the tea mug down and smiled impishly. "I have to go get changed into normal clothes first." She didn't even hesitate to see if he would agree, she ran up the stairs to her bedroom without looking back.

As quickly as possible, Serith pulled on her clothes. In her rush, Serith dressed in a plain green summer dress with small white dots. She pulled on white sandals and a straw hat with a ribbon before bouncing downstairs to return to Darren. "All right! Let's go!"
Darren had literally just realized she was indeed in a bathing suit, and blushed lightly as he watched her run up the stairs. He was intrigued by the shy girl.

He waited, twiddling his thumbs before jumping up as she ran back down.
"Alright! It's kind of a long trek, you sure you'll be okay?" he asked, looking down at her and holding the door open, leading her towards the lower income parts of town.