Kaz buried his father the day after his fifteenth birthday.
Even the sun was cruel that morning, an obscenely bright but cold April day. Then it started raining, just pouring down by the bucket load, when they left for the cemetery. The rain flooded the grounds and caused several mourners to lose shoes in the mud and trip. Everyone attempted to squeeze under the tent that covered his father's open grave, and no one could truly mourn when the person next to you was elbowing you in the gut.
For Kaz, everything just blended together. He couldn't recall a word the minister said during the service, but Kaz felt like he talked for what felt like an eternity. Afterwards, every single one of the mourners who came up one by one, offering Kaz and his mother their condolences. All he could do was nod at them as they walked by.
He watched behind foggy glasses as the gathered began to break up. He stood fidgeting in his uncomfortable, itchy black suit, feeling broken and lost. Kaz looked to his mother for support, for help, but her eyes were overflowing with tears and her voice wavered whenever she thanked someone for their condolences.
Kaz cast his eyes down towards the mud. Trying to meet her gaze now... Now it was just painful, as painful as looking at the casket, or the news reports about his father's murder. It somehow felt like she was disappearing, too...
Anxious thoughts began to rise in him, making him feel something akin to panic.
Who would he turn to now? Who was a stable adult he could turn to when he needed them?
Kaz wasn't ready to be thrown into adulthood at age fifteen.
His brown eyes searched over the crowd. Was he really... alone?
Even his only friend, Tom Majors, had left the funeral before the service even started, saying he had a big math test that he had to study for. That and Tom just "couldn't handle" seeing his murdered father being placed into the ground. Kaz knew that Tom could never handle anything having to deal with dying or death, but could he not even be here to comfort his own friend?
Kaz sighed, looking over the crowd for Tom one last time before simply assuming he'd returned home, without even telling him goodbye.
He was alone.
The loneliness and despair that had been building in him rose to a crescendo that was so powerful that Kaz wasn't quite sure how he managed to keep his knees from buckling. Not one real friend was there for him...
Suddenly, the funeral director was tapping his shoulder, telling him it was time to say any final goodbyes before the procession of black cars pulled away from the tent and the workers got down to placing his father in the ground.
"Okay..." Kaz said, retrieving his mother and guiding her by the arm, forcing them both to bow their heads one last time.
They sealed his father's grave on a day of stark contrasts, of black against white, and it was the last time that Kaz would ever find himself in a place of such extremes. Because in the coming moths after the dirt fell on the coffin, his life would begin to shift into an entire spectrum of colors.
And it would all start when he became interested in a little game called Chaotic...
"I want to NOT ride the bus to school every day," Kaz thought to himself, hugging his backpack as some seniors tossed a football back and forth from one end to the bus to the other. He wished his headphones hadn't broken last week, so he could ignore the chatty cheerleader across from him who wouldn't shut up about her cheating boyfriend. Even the nerd stereotypes were annoying as sin today, tossing their used tissues near his feet and attempting to start their volcano project on the bus.
Kaz banged his head against the glass window. "It'll all be over soon..." he told himself. "School lets out in two weeks. Just keep reminding yourself about that."
To distract himself, Kaz pulled out his Chaotic game scanner to glance through his ever growing online deck. He smiled fondly at the cards. Ever since he went to the hobby store and purchased his scanner and a ton of Chaotic cards, he'd fallen in love with the game and its playing style. It was unlike any game he'd ever played before, offering online and real life battles.
Online, he ruled as KidChaor, preferring to use UnderWorlders, as he was a strong follower of the tribe. He enjoyed focusing on fire attacks with some earth attacks, planning out everything before each of his matches. And Kaz loved how most UnderWorlders have high strength, dominating the other tribes in power and courage. Perhaps, it had something to do with Kaz, himself, tending to be more cautious and less adventurous in real life...
Kaz shook his head, attempting to shake away those thoughts. He was doing just fine in the real world. Good grades, staying out of trouble, being invisible and losing his best and only friend to the athletic cliches.
Kaz adjusted his glasses as the bus pulled up to the school and sighed. In little over a month he had completely lost Tom to baseball; Tom being the one to sever all ties. Of course, Tom was still a bit of a geek like him, so he saw him enter and exit the hobby shop from time to time. He was getting into Chaotic just like him. Kaz bet they would've been the best of buddies playing the game together, swapping cards, strategies and all awesome things Chaotic.
Seemed like fate slapped that idea right from his hands, it seemed.
When they screeched to a tooth-grinding halt at the school, Kaz lets the flood of students exit the bus before him. He wasn't about to step into that flood, so he just stood there and watched them all pass. A few girls giggled at him, muttering the words, "crazy" and "geek-a-zoid" like he hadn't heard them before. Even a few jocks punched him in the shoulder as they walked by, laughing loudly as Kaz flinched back at the physical assault.
Kaz was the last one off the bus and the last one to enter total hell, aka high school.
Thankfully, his high school deposited the idiots into their proper classes. Ah, yes the basic math class, low-functioning reading class and just the basic history class for those who couldn't even remember George Washington was the first president of the U.S. Meanwhile, Kaz was placed in much more advanced classes for gifted and talented students. He almost never saw them, except for gym, but they were pretty easy to avoid even in there.
But he still hated them for all their bullying towards him. Starting in elementary school and picking on him because he wore glasses, to all those awkward years during middle school, and now even in high school he's still shoved around and beaten into lockers because.... Well, because who else are they going to pick on? He doesn't really know why they target him. Maybe because he's weak? Because he doesn't have friends who'll back him up and defend him?
Kaz inhaled deeply, allowing himself to reach for his code scanner in his backpack. He gave himself a moment to let the sensation of touching his scanner calm him. It was something akin to a safety blanket for him. He hardly went anywhere without it on his person.
Relaxed now, he headed into school, going off to homeroom.
His first class went by without any problems.
But in his second class, Kaz's arm exploded. Pain. Erupting in his right shoulder. He rocked to one side with the force of the blow and bit his lip to keep from crying out.
Gym class. Dodge ball day. Every jock's favorite day to just fucking annihilate everyone beneath their skill level. What unrelentingly stupid jackass decided that it was a good idea to take a cluster of people with widely varying body types, strength levels, and skill sets, and then encourage them to hit each other with a ball?!
Kaz at least tried to like some sports, like soccer or swimming. But what was the fucking point of getting hit in the face by a red rubber ball? To teach you that it really, really hurts? Who knew!?
Kaz always tried to get out early and as painlessly as possibly- a glancing shot off his leg or shoulder. So he was standing off to the side of the game, thinking about how to improve his deck, when the pain struck him.
He looked over. Danny Baker, a seventeen-year-old football player that has been held back many times, was grinning a dumb grin, and then he hits him again, in the exact same spot. Kaz's shoulder felt like it could just drop right off onto the floor. Kaz's eyes dart right over to the two teachers standing off in the corner of the gym, talking to each other, not even watching what was going on.
Kaz didn't even bother yelling since he knew no one would hear him unless he screamed bloody murder at the top of his lungs, but then he'd just be another wimp, another crybaby, the weakling-
"Stop," he tried to tell him. "I'm already out."
"Make me, pussy." He hit him again. Again. Same spot, over and over. "Fuckin' make me."
Kaz couldn't. Danny knew he couldn't. Eventually, he ended up just walking out of gym, the teachers not even noticing him throwing the doors open to the locker room and leaving. Of course, he got pegged one last time in the back of the head before he left. Of course...
But overall it was still a better day than most. He scored an A on a math test and a history exam, so all's not completely awful. He finished his English homework on the bus ride home. Surprisingly, when the bus stopped in front of his house, he got off the bus without getting tripped by someone.
First thing's first, Kaz went inside and went into the kitchen to prepare his five-star dinner of a sandwhich, chips, and lemonade. After throwing his backpack on the couch, he went upstairs with his fabulous dinner and entered his bedroom. After making quick work of his food, he logged onto his computer. It quietly whirred and clicked, starting up.
"Time for some online matches," Kaz smiled as he watched the screen light up. "Let's get Chaotic!" Thankfully it was Friday, meaning Kaz could play late until two in the morning without worrying about having to wake up early.
He finished his last match off against some guy called OVWTCHJEFF13, playing his Toxis card against Bodal. Kaz laughed out loud when the dude played Bodal of all creatures. "Must be some noob," he shook his head. "Or he really just wants to give me an extra easy win."
After seizing his victory, Kaz leaned back in his chair and cracked his back. A huge yawn escaped past his lips, and he blinked at the time in the bottom corner of his screen.
"Oh snap." he muttered. "It's nearly three." He was actually kind of surprised that his body wasn't as tired as it normally would have been at that time, being his internal clock usually slowed down around one in the morning.
He ran a hand through his spikey red hair and yawned once more. "Didn't even change yet," he mumbled, removing his pint-tinted glasses and rubbing at his eyes.
The moment Kaz got up out of his chair to change into his pajamas, still rubbing his sleepy eyes and fumbling through his barely lit room, his body was already complaining internally of the movements it hadn't decided he was ready to be making quite yet. It wasn't like he had just spent the last twelve or so hours playing an online card game or anything.
He was just about to remove his yellow waistcoat when a soft ping was heard coming from his computer.
"Huh?" He glanced over at his computer and noticed that an instant message had popped up. "Chaotic mail? That's strange..." The letter on the screen opened up and typed out a random code: GHLKYUV
"A bunch of letters?" His brow scrunched together, and he hummed. "Looks like some sort of code or password. A code or password to some place on the Chaotic website, perhaps?" Kaz looked around the screen for some place to type the code into. "But where do I...?" Then his gaze landed right onto his code scanner.
"I wonder if this works on here," Kaz said, gently picking up his red scanner. He typed in the code onto his scanner, tilting his head a bit when it let out this weird little chime. Then the password vanished and his scanner turned off!
Kaz blinked. "Wait...? What?" He tapped his scanner a few times and pushed the buttons on it, but it wouldn't turn back on for him. "Oh no, no, nononoooo!" he cried out. "Is it broken? No, no, no. My online deck's on there! Oh man, what happened?" He looked up at his computer screen and noticed the no symbol blinking on it.
"No, I can't access my deck on here either!"
He was standing at this point, anxiously pacing his bedroom. "Was that code some sort of virus? Did I break my scanner? Oh man, oh man..." He set his scanner down on his nightstand and set down on his bed. "Okay, Kaz, calm down. Calm waaaaay down. Maybe it's just an update or something. Yeah, yeah. That's it! And if not..." he sighed, taking off his glasses and rubbed a hand down his face. "If not, then I'll just call the tech. support number that came with the instructions tomorrow."
He laid his glasses down beside his scanner. "It'll be fine. These things work themselves out all the time. It'll probably be just fine in the morning." he told himself. He eyed his red code scanner from his bed, feeling some sort of emotion twisting around in his gut. "Fuck..." he sighed, turning off the lights and turning over to face away from his scanner.