Your name is Tavros Nitram and you hate your dad. Okay, maybe hate is a little harsh but you’re at least highly upset with him and you may dislike him at the time being. You are 14 years old and you are saying goodbye to the only home you’ve known. Houston may not be the best city and your neighborhood may be terrifying and notorious for gangs and drug deals but it’s all you know. You can’t imagine living anywhere else, much less across the country.
You know that this move will be good for your family. Your dads can finally get married and you’ll have your own room and you won’t have to wear the same clothes that Rufioh wore like eight years prior and you’ll live in a safe neighborhood. But you don’t want to leave, not when you’ve finally made a true friend. For years, you’ve been following your brother and his friends around and then high school started and you met Dave Strider.
Dave is super cool! It didn’t take long for you to attach yourself to him. He’s in your math class and you aren’t sure if he actually struggles in math or he just doesn’t care. That’s how you ended up becoming friends. The teacher had assigned partners and you two were stuck together. Instead of doing any work, Dave just doodled and stayed silent. It was really awkward, but the next day he dropped his book bag next to you and he’s been your math partner since. You’re not sure how, but you two started talking at some point and now you’re inseparable! Well, you were. You probably won’t be now, though.
Tavros: Be Past Tavros.
“I’m not exactly sure how to say this and I, uh, don’t really want to say it, to be honest, but I kinda have to or else, uhm, that would be really sucky of me and I try to be a good friend and I don’t want to ruin or friendship or anything but, uh...” you start, pausing to chew on your lip. You’re sitting cross legged on Dave’s bed, trying to gain the courage to tell him that you’re moving and leaving him behind.
“Oh, man. This is it? You’re finally gonna admit your big homo-crush on me! Tav, dude, I like you but I’m not sure if I’m ready for this. I’m just a child still. Just a girl, not yet a woman. I don’t think you could take being in love with me. I run a blog, you know,” Dave interrupts, his sunglasses pushed up on the top of his head. His eyes are a bright red and despite being curious, you’ve never been able to ask about it. You don’t want to be rude. Instead you throw a pillow at him.
“No, shut up. This is important. Let me figure this out. You know I have a speech impediment, douchebag.” You pause, gathering your thoughts. “Okay, the thing is… my dad got a new job. Kind of. Like, it’s the same company, but uh, it’s at a new building.”
Dave nods, pushing his sunglasses back down so you can’t see his eyes again and he’s not smirking anymore. He has become a living statue replica of himself.
“So, uh, we have to, like, move.” You pull at your ears, hissing slightly because you forgot that Dave pierced them last week in a fit of teenage rebellion and also because he didn’t want to be the only one with pierced ears. Because then people might think he did it nonironically or something. Who knows? You’re pretty sure Dave doesn’t actually know what irony is even though your English teacher spent a whole unit on it.
“Oh, cool. Good for you, man. Get out of that shithole you call a neighborhood when you have the chance. Where you going? Pasadena?” he asks after a beat of silence. You frown and shake your head.
“No, we’re uh. We’re moving to the east coast…” you mutter. Dave stares at you for ten seconds before shrugging.
Past Tavros: Be Future Tavros but not future enough to be present Tavros.
“Why do you even have all this stuff?” Dave asks, gingerly picking up a battered Barbie doll with hair chopped to the point of almost being bald, a silver sequined dress slipping off and chewed feet. Tragically beautiful. He tosses it into the trash bag and rifles through a pile of discarded action figures and dolls.
“I didn’t have a lot of friends and after Rufioh turned like ten, he wouldn’t let me hang out with him anymore so I had to occupy myself. I played with dolls and read books most of the time.”
“No wonder you’re such a pansy nerd. Good thing I came along and saved you before it was too late. You were like one day away from suspenders and pocket protectors.”
“At least, I’m not, uh, failing English. And English is my second language,” you retort, crinkling your nose.
“Oooh, ouch. Really hitting me where it hurts. Because your pity D is so much better than my indifferent F. Come on, man. Let’s pack you up so I can finally get rid of you.”
You frown and look down at your box of clothes. You leave next week and most of your stuff is being shipped out tomorrow morning with your dad. He leaves early to set up the house and school and all that good stuff. You really don’t want to leave. You’re sure that as soon as you leave Texas, Dave will forget that you ever existed. You don’t have a phone and while you have his cell phone written down and even saved in your dad’s work phone, you’re not sure if you’ll ever work up the nerve to call him on the phone. You’ve never been big on talking on the phone and you know neither is he. Usually he uses Pesterchum where he talks with some kids from the internet. He even calls one of them his best friend. He’ll be fine without you.
Past but Future Tavros: Be Present Tavros.
You grip your suitcase tightly and stare out the window at the planes. You’ve never been on a plane and you’re really looking forward to it! You’ve always wanted to fly. In fact, you want to be a pilot when you get out of school. You just wish you were flying to go on vacation, not to move away forever.
Your papa squeezes your shoulder and tells you that he’s so proud of you being strong and understanding that this is what is best for you all as a family. He knows that you’re afraid of losing contact with Dave but assures it’ll be fine. Dave is your best friend and he wouldn’t want to lose you either. Which you would believe if Dave had shown up at the airport like he said he would. But your plane boards in fifteen minutes and you’ve already passed security so you won’t be able to see him even if he does arrive in the next fifteen minutes. You pout and try to pretend it doesn’t bother you but then your papa hugs you and you just have to cry because all of Rufioh’s friends had shown up and it’s not fair because you don’t want to leave and you want to stay with Dave and you were actually starting to maybe make some other friends at school too and—
“Tavros Nitram to the Security Desk, please. Tavros Nitram to the Security Desk, please.”
You sniffle and look up at your papa. He shrugs and tells you to go to the Security Desk. Please. Then you both snort and you hurry off because you only have ten minutes.
“Dave!” You run to him as soon as you see him, his awkward slouch with his sunglasses pushed up. His eyes are downcast and he’s trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible. Of course you have to ruin it by running and pulling him into your arms, babbling in Spanish because you’re not exactly thinking and you’re just so happy to see him.
“Whoa, slow down, Speedy Gonzales. Geez, it’s like you’re surprised I showed up or something. Like I would miss this for the world. I gotta try and win you back, remember. Like, I show up at last minute with flowers and a heartfelt confession and you decide at last moment you’ll take me back and we’ll kiss under the window as the plane flies off into the sunset. It’s supposed to be romantic and you ruined it,” he pouts, going back into his slouch. You giggle as he smirks. “Anyways, seriously. Sorry, man. Bro’s truck ran out of gas halfway here and we had to get it towed. Here.”
He hands you a poorly wrapped package. You rip it open because you’re running out of time. Inside is a pair of custom headphones panted like a record. You gasp.
“Oh, wow! Dave, this is so cool! You didn’t have to! Man, I didn’t even get you anything and your birthday is next week! Wow, gosh. I don’t know how to thank you!” you gush and hug him again. You wrap them around your neck like he does when he’s mixing beats on his turn tables. He has the tiniest smile and he punches your shoulder.
“Whatever, man. You better go I think your brother is coming our way to get you. Text me as soon you can, okay? Hell, I even give you permission to call if you’re just letting me know you’re alive. I don’t trust those tin cans. It defies the laws of nature. Now, go! Leave!” Dave pushes you towards your brother, who grabs your hand with urgency. You wave frantically and try to keep your eyes on Dave but Rufioh is tugging you along because the “plane is boarding right now and papa’s going to have a panic attack if we don’t get our asses on that plane like now” and you have to turn your back to keep up.
Tavros: Go to school.
You are sitting in the main office with your dad as he talks with the principal and vice principal. You probably should be listening but a blonde girl is sitting three seats away from you, her arms crossed and an angry pout on her face. She had walked into the room five minutes earlier and she had thrown her bag against one of the chairs and sat down heavily. The principal didn’t even spare her a glance. She’s not doing anything now but gosh, is she pretty.
“Can I leave now?” she suddenly says loudly with a huff. The principal and vice principal glare at her to be quiet and she just rolls her eyes and huffs again. She looks at you and then she grins slyly. She glances back at the adults and then pushes herself up and moves a seat over. And then again and again until she’s seated next to you. She doesn’t look at you as she whispers, “Are you the new kid from Texas?”
You crinkle your nose, unsure if you should be talking to her but you nod. She gives you a once over and gives a look that says not bad.
“Mr. Doherty? If I show the new kid around can I get out of Saturday detention?” she gives puppy eyes and her eyes are the brightest blue you’ve seen. She’s wearing dramatic blue eyeliner and mascara and her lips are shiny and plump and they seem like they’d be really soft. She is really pretty, wow. Mr. Doherty, the principal, gives her a look and you have the feeling she is often sitting in the office, trying to worm her way out of trouble.
“We’ll see about the Saturday, but if you could show him around it’d be great.”
“Awesome! Come on! I’m Vriska Serket! And you are…?” she trails off, grabbing your hand, the schedule Mr. Doherty holds out, and wrinkles it immediately afterwards as she opens the office door.
“Uhm, Tavros. Tavros Nitram. I’m a freshman,” you provide, grimacing as Vriska leads through the halls with a hurried pace. She hasn’t even so much as glanced at your schedule so you have no idea how she knows where to take you but you decide it’s better not to ask questions.
“Me too! Oh, cool! We might have classes together! Hold on, lemme just take a look at this… Okay, so your locker’s upstairs, I think near Kan. Because M and N are near each other, right? Yeah! Okay. Oh, man. Tavros, you are gonna love it here. We’re gonna be the best of friends and we’ll get into cahoots together. I’m gonna make you wicked cool!”
“You, uh, really don’t have to do that.”
“I know. That’s what makes me so nice!”