The snow will thaw and we will run

"I always found it kind of funny how the weather depicted the mood of a story."

"Like, in books?"

"Sure."

"Why is that funny?"

"Well, because it's not always the case."

"No?"

"Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet."


It wasn't the nicest of days.

In fact, it was dreary and sloshy outside of the train station. Murky snow and dirty boots had stained up the milky whiteness of winter, leaving a trail of slosh in it's place. After all the snowstorms they'd been having, the almost sogginess outside was a smooth changing of pace.

A racked cough sounded from deeper inside the station. Garfield was sick again. Megan was trying to take care of him, but all the boy wanted to do was get up and run. Jaime didn't blame him. He wanted to do the exact same thing.

Today, though, he was carrying boxes. Searching through a wet and muddy junkyard filled with crap didn't sound especially pleasing to him, so this was the second best option. The best option would be doing nothing at all, but that obviously wasn't going to be happening.

Like, ever.

Jaime grunted as he struggled to lift another box up, its weight all but crushing him. It was so unfair that Cassie could lift these up with ease. She was on her fifth one. He was on his third. It was like she had super strength or something.

Not crash, as Bart would say.

Speak of the devil and she will appear. Cassie walked around the corner, grinning over at Jaime. She ran up to him in a rush. Jaime set his box down, raising an eyebrow.

"Guess who's outside?"

"God himself."

Cassie laughed, punching him in the arm. She shoved his box out of the way with her foot-one foot, she must lift weights in her spare time or something-and planted herself to the floor once more.

"Nah. Not today," she snorted, "It's the guards."

Oh. Joy. Because Jaime just loved getting his ass kicked every now and then from the guards who patrolled the train station like cats looking to feast on the much lesser mice around them. They were all assholes.

Then again, they were just doing their job.

They could be a little nicer about it, though…

"Great." he mumbled, and she grinned again, grabbing his box and balancing it in her arms.

"I'm stealing this. Finders keepers and all that bullshit." She was off after that, hips sashaying down the hallway. Roy With The Buzzcut whistled after her and Cassie scoffed, completely unfazed. Artemis went after him with her fists, on about sexist pigs and how ignorant they could be.

Which meant he had to turn around and get another box.

Sighing, Jaime turned around on his heels and trudged back to Greg's little shack in defeat. The man-who was really more of a cowboy than a cowman-had his feet propped up on his desk and a paper in his hands. He hummed as he flipped to another page of the book, whistling for a completely different reason than that of Roy With The Buzzcut. He raised an eyebrow as soon as Jaime approached.

"Rough luck, boy. That fillie stealin' yer box again?" he asked, chewing on his upper lip. Jaime nodded, resting his head down on the opening between the outside of the shack and Greg's comfy little home on the inside. Greg shoved him off with a scowl.

"Ain't nobody touchin' this 'ere loot. Yuh hear?"

Jaime nodded lazily. He was too tired to care.

Greg gave him another box to carry up and Jaime was off again. Cassie passed him on his way up and winked. Jaime glared back.

She laughed.

Usually, they would be carrying the boxes to Greg, but today they were carrying them out to a truck in the awful, soggy snow. One of the worst days to be doing something like that, but Greg had insisted that they had to or he was going to go broke and leave the train station. And as Greg was one of their main sources of food, that would be a slight problem. He may have been a strict and prideful man, but he did feel sympathy for those who had far less than he did. He would slip morsels of bread and bottles of water to them when the guard dogs weren't patrolling.

Yeah. The idea of him leaving didn't sound too appealing.

Jaime didn't like the rain. Mostly because he loved the snow and the rain poked holes into it that completely tore it apart. Rain didn't benefit anyone. It got rid of the snow. It got rid of the sun. It got rid of the stars.

Besides, thunder and lightning were awful.

Not that Jaime was scared of it, or anything.

...That would be preposterous.

He set the box down next to the truck, his entire body sagging as he tumbled to the ground. Jaime decided that right about then was a good time to take a break. Sounded awesome, actually.

Little droplets of rain hit his face, mixing in with the sweat. He sighed and stared up at the clouds. Murky, dirty clouds.

('You dirty whore!')

Jaime shuddered.

It was a memory that still haunted him. A memory that probably always would. It didn't happen often, but sometimes somebody would say something that would drag him right back to that night, and that place, and those eyes. Jaime had nightmares about those eyes now. They were mixed in with the eyes that looked down in disgust and disapproval. But the train always slammed into him and woke him up.

It was only a nightmare.

(Not really, though.)

He forced that down, shaking his head and his own little rain clouds that had formed around it away. Maybe that was why he didn't like the rain. It was contagious. You could go around and it would be running down people's cheeks or thunder and lightning would be screaming out from their mouths.

It was drippy. And wet. And cold.

There was suddenly a heavy clumping from behind him. Jaime craned his neck to stare around the box he was leaning on. A man with a red-sunburned face and wrinkle lines the size of both the Roys egos (plus Jason's) came around the corner. He stopped in his tracks as his eyes met Jaime's own. His clumpy boots fell silent.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

Jaime blinked, completely unfazed. He turned to stare at the box, then his knees, then back at the man. He repeated this action once more. Box, knees, man. Box, knees, man. Box, knees, man. Box, knees-

The clumpy man clumped on over to him, sticky snow latching onto the soles of his feet like white rice. And soy sauce. And salmon. Oh, Jaime would have killed for some Chinese food right about then…

Clumpy man's clumpiness came to a clump-or, rather, a halt.

"What are you doing on my boxes?"

Jaime had to resist the urge to tell Clumpy Man that they were actually Greg's boxes, not his, as he was only buying the boxes from Greg, and that he could go and fuck himself to infinite and beyond for all Jaime cared. No shits were given. No siree.

"Resting." That was the brilliant answer that found its way out from the absolute bottom of his core. Jason would be so disappointed in the lack of a creative comeback. That response was just so sad.

Jaime considered finding a tube of bleach in one of the boxes and downing it.

The man turned the color of a tomato-which was actually kind of how he had already looked, so the man actually just stared angrily at Jaime. Jaime, who grinned lazily and leaned back against the boxes even further.

Clumpy man clumped about clumpily.

"Get off my boxes!"

"Amigo, I'm just taking a little break. I'm tired from delivering them here, so-"

"Get off!"

"Dude, chill."

Clumpy man let out an angry, animal-sounding noise and clumped off in the opposite direction. Jaime figured he was scott free and sighed. Honestly. Clumpy Man had to learn to chill. Being in the process of buying the boxes and actually owning the boxes were two different things entirely. Jaime leaned back against the boxes even further, shutting his eyes and planning on taking a small cat nap before getting back to work.

Of course, everything went terribly, horribly wrong.

Jaime didn't even realize he was dangling in the air until he was...well, dangling in the air. His eyes snapped open and he screamed, his instincts taking control and forcing his body lash out at whoever was holding him up by the collar of his shirt. There was an angry noise, the sound of a struggle and then Jaime was landing awkwardly on his arm on the cold, wet floor. He groaned, rolling over.

One of the guards lumbered over him.

Shit.

Before he could take off running, Jaime was being grabbed and pulled up by the collar once more. He snarled and let out some nasty words, kicking and punching at the man in front of him who seemed to be more annoyed than phased at all. He glanced somewhere behind Jaime.

"Is this him?"

"Yes! That's the one! The little street urchin was damaging my merchandise!"

Jaime thought of once again screaming that it was actually Greg's merchandise. Then he thought of screaming something along the lines of a dramatic "WHY, CLUMPY? WHY?". He ultimately decided on remaining silent. His arms fell to his sides. He stopped struggling, but a snarl remained on his face.

The guard dog twisted and turned until he had Jaime's back to him. He pinned his arms together tightly. Jaime winced at the pressure on his wrists. This guard dog was probably a pitbull. He would kill him as soon as he got the chance. As soon as he wasn't on the authority's leash.

Actually, scratch that. The authority didn't have a leash. There wasn't even an actual authority.

He could hear the jangling of cuffs as the guard dog got ready to chain up his wrists and send him hot off to jail. Jaime struggled and hissed again, attempting to break free, but to no avail.

'Well, this just turned out brilliantly...'

"Jaime, darling! Mother's looking for you!"

All three of their heads whipped around to the sound of that voice...only for Jaime to see Cassie waving her arms and running up to them. Clumpy man glared annoyedly over at her. Guard dog groaned.

"I swear to God, with the shit I put up with, I'm not getting paid enough…" he continued to grumble as he stepped in Cassie's way, blocking her path to Jaime. The two youngsters shared a look for about a second and then Cassie turned up to smile at the guard dog (whose tail was practically up in the air in a show of uncertainty and annoyance.)

"Everything okay here, officer?" she asked innocently, blinking up at him with blue eyes the color of a sky that was not like the rainy one above their heads. The guard dog narrowed his eyes.

"You know this kid?"

"Sure do! He's my foster brother! Mum's been looking for him the past few hours. Kid tends to wander."

"On to my property!" Clumpy man exclaimed, throwing his hands into the air. Jaime glared daggers at him. Cassie smiled apologetically.

"If he did, I'm so sorry for that. Poor Jaime, see, he-uh…" she trailed off before motioning for the two to lean in. "He's autistic, you see. He doesn't know what he's doing or where he's going half the time."

And Jaime's jaw just dropped.

Because, that definitely wasn't autism. Or, at least, he didn't think so. He was just as uneducated as Cassie was on the subject, but he knew that what she said it was definitely wasn't it. And, Jaime didn't have autism! Again, he didn't even know what it was.

Everyone turned to look at him, though. The two older men were regarding him with a disbelieving look, clearly not believing Cassie's bogus story. Meanwhile, Cassie was one hundred percent into it, giving Jaime a "Do Something Or We're BOTH Screwed" look.

Jaime cleared his throat.

"Yep. Definitely autistic. I am that, that I am."

Shit.

Cassie buried her face into her hands. Clumpy man's eyebrow shot up. The guard dog just sighed.

"You know what? I don't have time for this today. Just take your...brother and go, alright? And don't go around bothering people no more!"

Cassie nodded enthusiastically. Jaime stared in disbelief.

The guard dog was actually letting them go?

"Not a problem, sir! It won't happen again!"

She saluted. The guard dog rolled his eyes and stalked off after that, not bothering to spare the two street rats a second glance. The Clumpy man, meanwhile, glared at them menacingly, pointing two fingers to his eyes then back at them. An "I'm Watching You So Don't Bother Trying Anything" look.

Cassie slung an arm around Jaime's shoulder and practically dragged him out of there. They walked down the steps into the train station in silence untilCassie finally decided to speak up.

"Did that just happen?"

"The guard dog letting us go?" Jaime asked. Cassie nodded.

"Yeah. I mean, super weird, right? I expected him to kick my ass and then haul you off to jail. He let us go! You think he believed my story, maybe?" she wondered.

"Maybe." Jaime said.

No.

"Well, whatever." Cassie said, kicking off some of the snow from her tattered shoes, "I still delivered more boxes than you. Greg's 'gonna pay me the most!"

Jaime didn't have the heart to even argue with her. He was still confused about the entire thing with the guard dog. He figured the guy was at least smart enough to understand that Cassie had been lying and that Jaime had indeed been pissing off pedestrians. Yet, he had let them go?

Maybe he had been tired and had figured it wasn't worth the bother? Maybe he really was an idiot and had actually believed Cassie's stupid story?

Maybe not, though. Maybe not at all.

So then why?

"You still hung up over that incident?" Cassie inquired, pushing open the doors to the train station. The warm, thick air hit him at full force upon entering. The smells of moldy sandwiches and sounds of faroff trains let him know he was home. As much as a home as this place could be. He nodded dejectedly.

"It's the first time it's happened," he murmured, "I just don't understand."

Cassie shrugged. "Neither do I. Nothing to get yourself worked up over, though. Best not to dwell on the past, right? Right! Hey! There's Megan! I have to go tell her about that thing I saw over the weekend!"

Cassie was gone before Jaime could even really process it. She was almost as fast as Bart. But, really, everything was fast for Jaime. Sometimes it seemed the world just moved at a quicker pace than he did.

Jaime was stuck in slow motion. His thoughts were like quicksand, dragging him down. Stopping him from moving any further.

Jaime figured he would probably give anything to not be weighed down by his thoughts. They were one of the biggest burdens he had to carry.

Then again, who was he to really speak? Everyone out there had a burden to carry. Everyone had a target on their chest, painted red and letting those around them know they were ready to play the victim.

And Jaime was no different than the rest.


"Can you read? Write?"

"I'm not an imbecile."

"Well, I didn't know if you were autistic or not."

"Hilarious."

"Did you not go to school? I thought you said you went for a little while?"

"I did. I can read. I can write. I can do simple things. Necessary things. That's about it."

"Have you ever thought about going back?"

"...It's best not to dwell on the past."


"-and so, then he said, "Yep. Definitely autistic. I am that, that I am."."

The crowd around them burst out laughing.

Jaime groaned, shoving Cassie a little bit. She was laughing as hard as they were, if not harder. La'gaan was red in the face from the choking giggles, his face an odd contrast from that of his hair. Jason grinned and slapped him hard on the back.

"Great job, Champ. That showed them!"

Jaime scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

"You can't talk shit, Jay. You weren't there. The dude was fucking terrifying." he shuddered, remembering the feeling of the cool metal of the cuffs on his arms. Roy With The Buzzcut raised an eyebrow.

"Details?"

"Did he have his hands all over you?" Jason inquired, chapped lips moving as fast as his brain could process the words. You had to move fast out here. Fast, faster, fastest. It was all one big race, wasn't it?

"What do you mean?" Jaime asked. La'gaan grinned, elbowing Jason in the shoulder. Jason elbowed him back.

"Dude, this one guard bitch tried restraining me once. He had his hands all over my junk! Wasn't even trying to be subtle about it. Was reaching down to jerk himself off too, I'm sure." Jason laughed, shooting La'gaan a look.

"I wasn't there, but it sounds like something they would do." the green-haired boy confirmed the story's legitimacy, waggling his eyebrows. Garfield snorted. Cassie smiled.

Jaime said nothing.

Jason and La'gaan had to be the two of the "younger" crew that had the most...fun. They had the best stories, did the coolest shit. They had balls made of fucking steel. Jaime wouldn't be surprised if they both ended up in a gang one day. Or juvie.

Scratch that; he was surprised they weren't already in a gang. Or juvie.

"Dude. That's fucked up." Roy With The Buzzcut snorted. Jason bobbed his head up and down. Garfield lifted his bag of glue up to his face and inhaled deeply. Silence fell upon them again. Jaime stared up at the dark, cloudy sky. Thunder rumbled across the outside area they were standing in. People ran into stores or buses or cabs for cover.

La'gaan shivered.

"We're headed out, Jason and I. We've decided to piss off the Dick! Anyone want to come?" he asked, eyebrows raised. Jason grinned.

"That is, if you're not a pussy." he added in. La'gaan nodded solemnly. Roy With The Buzzcut shook his head.

"Nope. None of that shit for me. Already in knee-high with your crazy-ass brother as it is, Jay. I don't need another ass whooping from that damned stick." he spoke up, turning to walk back into the train station.

Lightning shot across the sky and Jaime's eyes widened in panic. Cassie bit her lip before turning to follow Roy With The Buzzcut.

"Yeah, no. Lighting is not for me. Sorry guys." she called out, not sparing a second glance back. A rumble of thunder beckoned all the demons to come out. The humans hid away in their tiny shelters. Those stuck in purgatory were left out to drown in the downpour.

"Jaime?" Jason inquired. Another flash of lightning passed by. Jaime found himself staring up at the sky. He examined it thoughtfully, fear drifting away with the excess water down the gutters.

"I think I'm going to stay here for awhile." he murmured, eyes never leaving the sky. Jason blinked. He was silent for a minute then shrugged his shoulders.

"Whatever."

"Buzzkills." La'gaan grumbled, but then shoved Jason to the floor and took off running into the night. Jason screamed bloody murder after him, chasing him down in a manner similar to that of one of the guard dogs. The crackles of thunder eventually weighed out the sounds of their laughter.

It began to pour.

Jaime didn't even care that he was getting soaked. Or that the slush was soaking into his favorite pair of shoes. He found that he couldn't take his eyes off of the sky above him. The thunder and lightning strikes that crashed down from the heavens above.

Who decided it would rain? Who decided it would fall?

Jaime hated rain. He hated thunder. He hated lightning. It scared him. He hadn't been able to admit that before, but the honest truth was that rain was terrifying. It could take out homes in a single sitting. It could drown you in your sorrow. It could electrify you from the inside out.

Jaime hated thunderstorms because they were far too sad for his liking. Who needed them anyways, right?

"Are you ready to go in yet? Because I'm kind of freezing my ass off."

Jaime shot up into the air.

Garfield stood shivering in the rain, soaked head to toe. It didn't help that he was sick, either. Jaime stared at him flabbergasted, before shaking him harshly.

"You idiot! You're going to get even sicker! What the hell?" he cried out angrily. Garfield winced as Jaime rocked him back and forth.

"I didn't want to leave you alone out in the rain by yourself." he admitted quietly. Jaime stopped shaking him after that. The two stood in silence, the downpour streaming wet trails down their cheeks. Jaime began to shiver too.

The darkness above ate up the light. Shadows caved.

"Well, I'm ready to go in now." Jaime admitted, teeth chattering. Gar looked at him with soft, murky eyes. Jaime remembered hearing that eyes were like the gateway to the soul. The number one thing that people looked at most was a person's eyes.

Maybe because people's eyes told a story. Their faces held tales that were just waiting for the right time to emerge.

Jaime stuck out his hand and Gar took it. It was really small in his own. Too small, even. Garfield's bones jutted out. Their imprints left permanently on his skin were as loud as the roars of thunder. The lions were coming out to eat them away from themselves.

The glue Gar held did nothing to stop the bones from peeking through the creases of his skin.

Sometimes, Jaime forgot how young Gar was. He forgot how little a person could be. Big words and small mouths. That was what they could all be described as. Jaime was left with a sick feeling in his stomach.

Maybe it was the hunger pangs. Maybe it wasn't.

"Jaime?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you think that we could get struck by lightning?"

Jaime blinked over at Gar, a grin plastered on his face. "That's a real Gar question."

"That's a real Jaime answer."

Jaime snorted and Garfield shivered.

"I mean, it would make sense, right?" he asked, "For lightning to come down and hit us? And, would we die if it did? Would it hurt?"

Jaime shrugged. "Probably. I don't know. Why?"

Gar blinked, biting his lip. He slipped his hand out from Jaime's, bringing it to his wrist and flicking a finger over a vein.

"It's nothing." he mumbled.

"No, seriously." Jaime pressed his best friend, "What is it?"

Gar sighed, turning to look at Jaime again. His eyes held a million stories. Thinking of stories reminded Jaime that logic didn't always hold key in every situation. The thing about books was that sometimes rain didn't always mean ill omens. Sometimes it was a red herring. Sometimes there was a plot twist that completely threw a person off their course. And sometimes stories weren't just fiction. There was no happily ever after. The resolution wasn't simple.

Sometimes, the pen slipped. Sometimes, kids fell through the cracks. Sometimes, life wasn't all it was made out to be.

Sometimes, it rained and you didn't even get wet.

"When I was living back at my other...place, or, whatever, I was scared that we would get hit by lightning." Gar finally managed out. His eyes were downcast to the floor, almost as though he were embarrassed to have said such a thing.

Jaime himself wanted to laugh but refrained from doing so. It wasn't nice to laugh at people who revealed secrets to you.

It was kind of a stupid reason for being scared of lightning, though. Stupider than Jaime's reason for hating rain.

"So, you're scared of the lightning?" Jaime asked, perplexed. Gar shook his head.

"I'm afraid of what the lightning does to people, Jaime. I'm afraid because it makes me afraid. Who knows if one day this massive lightning bolt is just 'gonna...come down and kill us all! It's widespread. It always comes back…" He bit his lip even harder. It had turned a sickly pale color. Jaime blinked again.

"Is this really about the lightning, Gar?" he whispered softly. The boy didn't have an answer for that one. He just stared down at the forgotten slush on the ground. He put his thumb to his lip, chewing on a nail. It was a habit. Jaime knew because he had seen him do it when he was nervous or anxious.

Jaime, for his part, no longer had any idea what to do.

He'd never been very good at talking to people in the first place.

"Gar-"

"I don't want this to kill me, Jaime." he whispered solemnly, clutching the bag of glue in his hand tightly and bringing it to his chest. Jaime's heart skipped a beat. He stared at the bag in silence.

"I...I don't want to die."

Jaime swallowed stiffly.

"Nobody in their right mind wants to die, Gar."

"I know that."

Silence. Something that Jaime could break if he wanted to, but was scared to do so. Because if he let the words hang in the air, what was to say that the rain wouldn't wash them away? What was to say the rain hadn't already done so?

"Gar, do you know what chance there is of getting struck by lightning?" Jaime finally asked. Gar blinked in confusion and met his gaze. Jaime just barely managed to hold it.

"No."

"Well, see, it's not that great. Lightning tends to want to move towards the ground, because of stuff that has to do with energy building up and molecules not wanting to play nice. Kind of like La'gaan and Jason."

Gar giggled at that.

"We are what you would call a conductor. Meaning, we can become part of the lightning and its path if we so choose." he continued, "You know what that means?"

Gar shook his head.

"It means that we've been standing out here for ten minutes and no lightning bolts have struck us down. It means that we've chosen to become part of the cycle, but that doesn't mean we're going to die." Jaime breathed out heavily, breath staining the air.

Gar nodded his head.

"And, this?" Jaime shook the bag in Gar's hand, soggy and caked in with the formula to both death and life combined, "This hasn't killed you yet, so it isn't going to kill you now. The thing about life is there's always a chance. Always a risk, right?"

"Yeah." Gar agreed.

"Saying that this might kill you any second now is like saying a huge meteorite might come crashing down on us right now. There's a chance. There's a risk. But, do you really think it's going to happen?" Jaime asked.

"No, probably not." Gar admitted. He was staring shyly down at his shoes again, a slight blush coloring his cheeks. He was just too cute. Jaime grinned and leaned forward and down to ruffle his friends matted hair.

"Great! So, we're good?"

Gar nodded, a thoughtful look in his eyes. "Yeah. Yeah, I think so."

Jaime had been spending way too much time with Bart. He couldn't stop smiling.

"Awesome! Now, we ought to go in before you get so sick your skin turns green. Megan will kill me if anything happens to you." Jaime joked. Gar attempted to muffle his laughter, but failed terribly at it.

"Me with green skin. That's a good one, man." he laughed.

A boom of thunder shocked them both out of their stupor.

Jaime screamed in shock-having not expected it-and Gar burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Jaime shoved his freckled friend to the floor. Gar pulled him down after him. The two snorted and laughed about how Jaime's scream was so girlish and high pitched that it could probably attract the lightning to them.

Jaime proclaimed that this was because he was such a chick magnet.

Gar said it just proved he was a magnet for trouble.

Gar challenged Jaime to a race back inside the train station and beat him there. Jaime probably would have won, but he stopped just before entering the station to stare back up at the dark, cloudy skies and muddy grounds.

He heard the lion's roar and felt the lightning reach out to touch him.

The thing about life was that every day consisted of surviving. Not just food or water or sleep. Things and people that were important to you helped get you through the day. Helped you survive. Things that made you laugh or get angry or upset. These things grounded you. They made you feel something, if not anything at all. And feeling this "something" was what made it worth living another day.

Every day, a lion roared. Every day, it's growl made people shiver in fright.

The thing about surviving was that it wasn't about avoiding the lions, but being able to step inside their cage and roar right back.

Another day went by where Jaime wasn't eaten.

He'd see about tomorrow when it finally did come.


Hello to those still following or reading this story. Thank you for being so patient! I, admittedly, have not written for this story in over two years. This is an old chapter I found saved on my hardrive and I figured why not post it. I hope to get back into writing this story, so maybe posting this will help! Either way, hope you enjoyed.

P.S.: Looking back on it, the autism comments seem a little in poor taste. However, because I wanted to change this least as possible in order to actually post it instead of just edit it forever as well as due to the fact that this story does deal with controversial subject matter, I decided to leave it in. If you are offended by anything that is written in this story, please know that most of it has a story purpose (to either show ignorance or the harsh conditions on the streets) and I am not attempted to make fun of or hate on anybody with these comments. They are for story purposes only.

Alright! See you soon.