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Message Man

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Josh has never been hiding in the corner. He has always been the most known one, the most popular one, the most visible one. It's not that he loves all the attention he gets, he's just completely fine with it. However, he's a bit afraid now, and doesn't want people from the new school to like him only because he's known from somewhere on the Internet.

That's why he gets afraid, when some random, tall, brunet kid recognises him at the school gates immediately.

"Wait... No way!" the stranger shouts, laughing, and grips his head in his hands. He approaches Josh, not looking away from him for even a second. "Hi man, Josh? It's definitely you!"

"Yeah." He starts laughing with the guy, walking in his direction. "And you are?"

"Brendon," he offers his hand to Josh, and when they finally touch, he shakes their hands with an enthusiasm.

"Josh."

"I know, man!" They both laugh like old friends, but nobody even notices them. It looks like students don't see anything behind the school gates, like it's a closed space. "What a coincidence, I watched your last video out of boredom and I can't believe you moved to this hole from Vegas! You're indeed here! I can't believe it, what the hell?"

"Yes, unfortunately," he responds. After a second he realises that what he just said might be offensive, but Brendon seems to not have a problem with it, so he doesn't apologize. "But I think it will be better for me, you know? I believe I didn't left everything back there in Nevada in vain."

"Don't even think about that. With me here you'll forget about Vegas forever."

"Dude, we met 2 seconds ago. Did you just propose or something to me?"

"Why not?" Brendon opens gate doors and lets Josh in. They both enter school area.

"If you only do this to use me, you can simply fuck off." Josh glances at Brendon, while he leads him to the building.

Brendon seems to be very cool and nice guy, even his eyes are radiating with joy, and Josh appreciates this really much. However, if he already met someone, who knows him from social media, he has to keep the distance, at least at the moment. Almost all his friends in Vegas were his childhood friends, who decided to be friends with silly, emo kid he had been in the past. Don't get him wrong, he loves and appreciates everybody, who pays attention to him and likes what he keeps doing, but can he be a hundred percent sure if none of them will take advantage of him? No, he can't.

If he really wants to make new friends here, he will. But if it's Brendon, he has to get to know him more to give him a chance. They met 5 minutes ago, but it's visible from the first sight, that this kid literally emits energy and you can definitely have fun with him. They also already got really comfortable around each other. Josh doesn't like boring and quiet people, because he knows, that they wouldn't get along well with him.

Brendon, being Brendon, doesn't take Josh seriously and doesn't feel offended even a little bit. "Calm down, Josh. I want to show you around, because you are a cool guy."

After all, Josh is thankful, that somebody bumped into him and cheered him up. Ten minutes ago he wanted to shoot himself and show his parents the price of moving out. He wasn't even sure, if he came to right place. He looks around and notices, that it's much louder here, than in his hometown. People never were so exuberant the second day of school year. Maybe it won't be that bad, if everybody is cheering and smiling. That's a good first impression, he thinks.

"Have you dyed your hair?" Brendon speaks up again, typing something quickly on his phone. "Last time I had seen it, it was pink."

Josh decided spontaneously to dye his hair yesterday evening, so people don't recognise him that quickly. He didn't think somebody from Ohio even knew, who he was, but safety is number one priority. He doesn't care, if he looks better with this or that colour, or if people tell him he should keep it. He dyes his hair, when he feels a sudden need to, and likes to experiment. That's why he put on a yellow colour on his hair this time. It looks ridiculous and even glows in the dark, but looks cool.

"Apparently so. Want to touch?" Josh asks half-jokingly, half-seriously.

"Are you kidding me?" Brendon asks a little too loudly than necessary and they both begin laughing, again, but this time people start turning around, surprised, that Brendon actually is close to somebody beyond his group, and that this person is actually new to them all.

"Not at all."

"Dude, it looks great," Brendon compliments, sliding his hand through yellow curls, and if they hadn't attracted an attention before, they surely did this time.

Not caring about weird glances and whispers directed towards them, Josh looks around the territory. The building is even bigger, than his, unfortunately, old school. He can't get used to the fact, that this should be his second home right now, and his hometown school, the school he lazily went to two months ago, is the past and he will never appear there again.

It hurts. If hurts even more, as he's a teenager. If he was, for example, a little 10-year-old kid, he would be disappointed and irritated, yeah, but the desire of having many more friends, new toys, that weren't available where you lived, a bigger house to invite classmates, and just this child's mind would take over control and he would forget about the whole Vegas in one week.

But he's 18 now and he can already think rationally. He's aware, that he probably left all his happiness, all his accomplishments, all his life behind, because he has to start everything from zero, even though he worked so hard to be successful before. It's like he's newly born again. He doesn't have anything his with himself here. He doesn't even have his drums, because they are going to be delivered to Columbus soon.

When he went to school on the last day of school year a few weeks ago, he couldn't even imagine that it might be the last time he had seen those faces. But it was. He couldn't even say goodbye to everybody he wanted to, because his parents decided to surprise him about a departure a few days before moving. They didn't care, that he had some real friends and he might not find anywhere else, they didn't care if he had a girlfriend, they didn't care, that it might affect on him really negatively. His friends were as shocked as he had been, but he could not do anything with it, as convince them, that he will never forget about them, he will call often, nobody will be able to replace them. He wanted to cry, but he's a person, who doesn't keep any tears inside his body.

He's pissed off and he doesn't know, how he will be able to hide and control it. Long story short, he's in a dark hole. He doesn't show it, though, because he just doesn't want to repulse new people.

"Do you think anybody from here knows about me? You know, like from the Internet," he asks out of nowhere.

"I don't think so." Brendon shrugs blankly. "I might be wrong, but people here don't care about this type of thing."

"Don't try to convince me high school kids aren't addicted to the Internet."

"Well, I am not," Brendon declares loudly.

That's new. "Okay, so what do you do for fun, then?"

"Many thi—"

"You like to party," Josh jokes, but lights up and starts laughing at Brendon's annoyed expression. He wasn't wrong. They suddenly stop walking towards the doors. "Dude, I could read that from your face a long time ago. You're a party animal."

"Who are you to judge me?" Brendon rolls his eyes, before gazing directly at Josh.

"That's fine. You can invite me somewhere some time and show me around, when you're still not drunk to death."

"Shut your face, God," Brendon groans loudly and starts walking away from Josh, approaching the building. "Are you coming or not?"

Brendon opens the door for Josh and they leave crowded area to find themselves in even more stuffed place.

"Are there any fine people here?" Josh asks probably too quietly, compared to wild, loud students around.

Brendon widens his eyes. "You aren't serious. Can't you see how many creatures are here? You will for sure find one and even more than one. But wait," he tugs at Josh's sleeve. "You don't touch a blonde biology teacher, or you have no life in this school."

Josh laughs at him, confused. "Wait, are you trying to hit on a teacher?" He opens his backpack for a sheet with his today's classes.

"I don't know, I just want to protect her."

If Josh would be able to laugh more, he surely would. Brendon is ridiculous and that made him feel a bit better. If other people here are going to be similar to Brendon, maybe choosing this school wasn't a very bad choice. "I have English first," he says, not taking his eyes off a piece of paper, still not sure, if he reads the right thing.

"Too bad we can't be together, I have biology now." He wiggles his eyebrows and Josh rolls his eyes as hard as he can. "English classroom is right behind us. Have fun and see you around."

"Don't come in your pants when your biology wife appears," Josh jokes, before turning around and heading to mentioned classroom. Only if he knew, what happened yesterday. He can hear muffled sounds behind his back, but doesn't say anything else to piss off Brendon more.

The classroom is almost fully filled with people and Josh finds empty places at only 2 desks, so he decides to choose the one at the back corner. He feels like somebody follows him to his destination and isn't wrong. A second after he seats at his desk, some boy with black glasses on his nose seats beside him.

"Oh, sorry if I occupied your place—"

"No, sit, you're fine," the stranger smiles, before moving comfortably on his chair. "You're new? What's your name?"

Josh smiles at him and says his name.

"Dallon," the other responds, fiddling with his pencil. "You're new here, because I haven't noticed a yellow head before."

"Yeah, I moved from Vegas—"

"Vegas, as Las Vegas?" Apparently this guy likes to interrupt people, or he does it unawares. "Big thing, man. What made you move here?"

"My parents, I had no choice." No matter, how many times Josh wants to forget, that his parents took his whole life away from him, he has to bring it back again.

"I'm sorry, but you will feel good here. It's a nice city, nobody's died in this school yet."

They both laugh, even though Josh feels sick. He's happy, that he has made two friends already, but also feels bad because of this whole situation, that has absorbed his mind since last week. They sit in comfortable silence, before a short, older, tough looking woman interrupts everybody's recent actions.

"Good morning," she welcomes and everybody greets her back. "Before we start, we should have a new student with us today." She shuffles trough her papers on a large desk and finally takes one piece and then puts her glasses on. "Is here Joshua Dun?"

Josh raises his hand from the back of the room confidently. The class turns their heads behind. People are nicely surprised.

The woman chuckles, looking up from her desk, "How could I not notice you?" She probably means his bright yellow hair. "I already thought you wouldn't appear today, or get lost, but here you are. How do you feel in our beautiful school?"

One girl in front of Josh snorts, because come on, how can teachers still see this school beautiful, if they have so many hassles with students?

"Really nice so far, to be honest. I hope it keeps going that way."

"Why didn't you come to school yesterday, the first day?" a girl sitting at the very front asks loudly.

"Me and my parents were too busy and exhausted after a flight from our city."

"Is it different than in Las Vegas?" the teacher continues. Despite her stone look, she seems really nice.

The whole classroom can't remain silent right now. Loud whispers and can be clearly heard over and over again. Josh kinda likes, that he's already a main object of conversations and doesn't feel uncomfortable even a little bit.

"Not really, but I've been here for less than one day, so we'll see later."

More and more people turn around to see, where Josh and Dallon sit, and Josh starts to feel bad, that his friend has to deal with all these strange glances from needy girls. One of them stares between both of boys like hypnotised and Josh gently waves in her direction. The girl blushes and looks away abashed.

"Are they always like that?" he asks Dallon.

"They just know, that they already have zero chances with any other boy here, so they are beginning to hit on you, or something. Be careful."

"Sure."

Josh tries to pay attention to his new English teacher. It's hard, as Josh has never been interested in literature and the woman has to be so passionate about it, that she constantly talks and talks for the whole hour.

After 10 minutes Dallon finally pulls out another notebook and three pencils and begins to scribble some stars. Josh has nothing better to do, so he watches him draw, till the bell rings. It felt like forever.

Josh hurries out of the classroom, staring at his schedule paper and doesn't even notice, when Dallon disappears in crowd. He can't understand anything from this jumbled building plan and decides to follow people that seem to be his age. That doesn't work either. He just followed some girl like creep to the bathroom.

He walks back down the stairs and notices two colored heads, one girl with bright orange and the another one with blue hair. The blue one talks to some teacher, while the one with orange hair types something on her phone. He decides to approach her.

"Hey, do you know, where the classroom 23e is? And nice hair by the way."

The girl smiles to her phone, because she still hasn't looked at Josh. "Thank you, and wait a second." She finally looks up and doesn't expect, what she's seeing. Her whole face lights up. "Hey... Josh? So it's not rumour, that you're here! Of course it's not."

Josh frowns a little bit, because it's concerning, that many people can recognise him, and he doesn't know anyone here. "Can you tell me what rumour?"

"My parents told me, that Duns are permanently returning to Columbus after 20 years. Don't tell me you don't remember me."

Indeed, this girl seems familiar to him, but he has already so much stuff inside his head, that no matter how hard he tries, he can't remember.

The girl sighs. She isn't going to give up easily. "Josh, William Dun... Is it telling you something?"

Josh feels embarrassed, because his memory is hidden behind one huge fog, especially, when he actually has to think about something. "Will—, Williams... Hey, I know, I know!"

The orange-haired girl raises her eyebrow with already huge grin on her face, "Come on."

"Har—?" Josh tries.

"Hayley, silly!" The girl tries to act annoyed, but rolls her eyes and then bursts laughing.

"Obviously, Hayley!" He almost hits his head with his palm and takes a step forward to hug her. "I'm sorry, I'm so stupid. It's nice to see you again."

"Yeah," she still giggles, "Don't you remember, when you all used to visit us here? You weren't stuck in Vegas the whole life, though."

"Yes, I remember something."

Josh wants to bury himself alive. He doesn't usually feel embarrassed and ashamed, no, he always laughs things off, goes away and acts cool, but in front of him stands Hayley, his childhood friend.

It all had started before Josh and Hayley were even born. His parents had started a company here, in Columbus, and Hayley's family has always been very close to Josh's. That was one of the reason her parents had been hired at Duns' company. However, Duns knew they couldn't handle to keep their high positions, when they found out, that Mrs. Dun had been expecting a son. They were aware, how overworked they could be and didn't want this to affect on their future child.

They'd decided to move away and let Williams take over the company. After Josh had been born they visited Columbus a few times, and that's how Josh and Hayley met, but it was so long ago, that Josh wouldn't remember it now, if she didn't remind him. His parents still haven't told him any details, but apparently the company still exists and works well and they just wanted to do a big return.

"And?" Hayley continues.

"What?" Josh asks stupidly, feeling everybody's gaze directed on him.

"How do you feel?"

Josh rolls his eyes. "Terrible and great at once."

"Have you met somebody? Except for me." she asks, looking around and then at Josh, checking him out. This boy really grew into a handsome man through all these years. Who would've thought? Everybody grows  and she still stays in place. At least she makes up her short height by her confident personality.

"Yeah, Brendon—"

She mutters under her breath, "Of course."

"—and Dallon."

"What a surprise, I know both of them. You won't get bored with them," she replies.

"That's why I'm here, right?" Josh says with a smirk, "But anything I'm going to do, it just can't affect on a schedule of my videos."

"Oh, yeah, I heard you're the real star, Joshua!" she chuckles jokingly, before wincing, when somebody attacks her shoulder.

"I heard a star, so I'm here."

Brendon slides between both of them, pushing away the crowd and holding his backpack tightly to his chest.

"This time we're not talking about you," Hayley complains.

"Then who?" Brendon asks seriously.

"The 'no fucking way, is that you?' Josh," Josh mocks him.

"Oh, right, I forgot I'm not the only one famous now," Brendon says jokingly.

"So you know?" Hayley asks him.

"Yes, to my surprise he knows." Josh smiles at two of them. Hayley is almost one head shorter than Brendon. It looks funny. "So... do you think I will succeed here? I don't want people to laugh at me. Anyway, I wouldn't let them."

"Why would they? You do a sick job and I'm sure nobody here does anything similar," Brendon replies.

"Oh, wait," Hayley interrupts. Both boys give her a confused look and she's confused as well. "There's this one boy, Ashley's friend—"

"Tyler?" Brendon asks with disbelief. The hallway gets even more crowded.

"Yes, Ashley told me yesterday to check him out. I didn't have much time, but I found out he's pretty big too." She smiles.

"So the rumours are real then!" Brendon says loudly with furrowed brows. "Nobody really talks about it often anymore, but look, surprise, it's true."

Well, that's new. Josh has always been two steps ahead from everyone. His bright pink hair and fully tattooed arm despite his young age drew a lot of attention in his previous school. His looks itself intrigued people and made other students interested in him, but, if that was too little, he attracted by his personality as well. He couldn't get rid of kids clinging to him in the hallways every break and taking photos secretly, even though he was fully aware of that. That didn't make him mad.

This will be his last year of school in new city, with new people. He thought people will get interested in him, like in Vegas, that he will stick with his disguise and continue being on top. He thought people will get taken-aback, but at the moment he realises it would be too easy.

Now, if it's true, it seems like he's going to have a competition, and he's been so dumb that he didn't even expect that.

He stares at the wall behind Hayley's back, concerned, and isn't listening to what she's talking about with Brendon. All he hears are muffled sounds and ringing inside his head.

After about 2 minutes he comes back to Earth and manages to take a deep breath. "So, can you tell me, where the classroom 23e is?" he finally asks.