AN: Been a while, huh? Anyway, didn't feel like doing my War and Peace reading, so I rationalized it by updating on my rendition of Warren Peace. Stretching it a bit? Probably. Short chapter, but whatever. This may get me off my ass to do more. Let me know what you think.

Chapter 6

The Little Lessons



The conversation between the two teenagers in one of the back booths of The Paper Lantern was anything but comfortable. Both wanted to speak, express something, but neither knew exactly what that something was let alone how to put it into words. Their wonton sour had been already devoured before either could gather up the syllables to break the awkward silence, but it wasn't the stuttering Warren to speak.

"So, what happened between you and Lash?" Crystal looked up at Warren as she delicately sipped on her small cup of tea.

"Oh…um…nothing really." He swirled his own cup of tea with the spoon the waiter had provided him.

"Bullshit." Her teacup still resting upon her bottom lip, her words barely audible.

"Sorry?" Warren blinked.

"That's bullshit. If nothing happened then you would have been trying to burn Lash for no reason, but you're not that type of person so something happened. Speak, Warren."


"Come on. I won't bite."

Warren could feel the heat rushing into his cheeks, not heat produced by his power.

"He wanted me to lose to him in Save the Citizen. He said that's what a friend would do."

"And are you?"

"Am I what?"

"His friend."

"Um…I…uh…I don't know."

"You don't seem to be very sure about that."

Right then the waiter returned with their orders of chicken and broccoli. Both promptly thanked the overworked waiter and Warren stabbed his chopsticks into a piece of thin brown chicken before popping it into his mouth.

"Do you not know how to use chopsticks?" Crystal had placed a piece of broccoli in between the two wooden instruments, poising it in front of her lips, staring at her fellow diner.

"Nope. Never tried." The blonde's eyes widened with shock, as if it was the most ludicrous thing she had heard all week.

"You're not serious, are you?"

"I am. Sorry." Her eyes softened at Warren's quiet admission.

"No need to be sorry, you poor deprived child."

"I am not a child."

"Oh, shush. Here." She reached across the table to his hand, instantly flooding his body with coldness. She loosed his fist that was around the chopstick and placed his fingers in a position that he did not know he was capable of. He felt like they were about to either slip from his fingers or break in half.

"Now try. Like this." Crystal guided his fingers to a stalk of broccoli. "Now, move the sticks apart just a little bit then clasp the food lightly, but try to keep the sticks in the same position." He did as she told and surprised himself by successfully getting the yummy broccoli into his mouth without having to stab it.


"Learn something new every day, huh?"

"Seems like it."

"All you needed was a little help."

Crystal smiled before digging back into her own food, keeping an eye on Warren's progress with his own.

When Warren stood in front of the Paper Lantern, watching Crystal Snow walk away, with her phone number now in his phone, he felt happy. Happier than he had since, well, he couldn't remember. Extracting his earphones from his pocket, he started his walk home, the sound of the band As I Lay Dying adding rhythm to his footsteps. It wasn't till he was at his doorstep that he realized that he and Crystal never did study for that upcoming test. With a silent chuckle, he unlocked his door and stepped into the dark house.

Warren navigated his way through the dark to the window in the living room, opening up the blinds to flood the room with light. His mother liked to keep the house way too dark for his own taste. Warren glanced around. The place was a mess. Old newspaper and magazines all over the floor. Unopened mail piling up on the coffee table. His mother's spare work uniform on the couch, underneath Warren's cat Nightshade, a black beauty that he has rescued a few months beforehand from an angry neighbor with way too many animals.

He moved out of the living room into the kitchen, flicking on the fluorescent bulb overhead as he entered the room. The kitchen table held an overflowing ashtray, a half drank cup of now cold coffee, a disconnected white curly cord from their kitchen phone, and residue of his mother's makeup. The sink was overflowing with the week's dishes.

Warren set down his bag on the linoleum floor before gingerly rolling up his sleeves, exposing his still tender tattoos. He turned on the faucet and started looking for a sponge.