Once upon a time, in a land not so far from Oregon, but pretty far from Australia, two little boys met. Now, it was rather odd that they would meet and become friends, as there were two years difference between their ages. Nonetheless, young Colin and younger Ryan did meet, although their first meeting left something to be desired.
Ryan, a gawky boy that already stood head and shoulders above his year mates, wrinkled his nose at the boy who had sat next to him on the bus. This boy was reading a book. And not just any book, oh no, it was a science book that Ryan hadn't heard of being mandatory reading.
"Hey!" He said, reaching over to take the book from the other boy. "Whatcha readin' that junk for? That's for dweebs."
The other boy blinked at him, brown eyes not hidden by thick glasses so of course he couldn't be a dweeb himself. "I like science."
Now, Ryan was no dummy, and he knew that when a boy about his age said 'I like science' what he really meant was 'I have no friends.' So, then and there, Ryan considered it his Sworn Mission to save this other boy from a friendless, science filled existence.
When he informed the strange boy of this, said boy did not react in the way Ryan had hoped. Instead of being happy and grateful, the boy glared at him and said "I like science." The boy then took his book back from Ryan and moved to the front of the bus. Ryan blinked. That had always gone so much better in the fantasy novels his mother had read to him when he was young.
Colin was not having a good day. First, his parents had moved them across town over the weekend, so this was his first day in the brand new school. Even though it was still the same town, Colin didn't know anyone who went to this school (although, some of his friends at the other school had claimed to know people who knew people that went here. They said that the math teacher made sure that you never told the wrong answer by carving the right one into the unfortunate student's skin). Colin was pretty sure that his parents would never send him to a school where the teachers carved stuff into people's skin, but if the teachers were aliens, or really tricky, then it might be that his parents simply didn't know. He would have to watch out for them, anyway.
His day had gotten worse when the English teacher, Mr. Kurtz, had caught him reading the latest Batman comic instead of some play by a dead guy no one cared about. Mr. Kurtz, obviously not informed of the wonders of Batman, had confiscated his comic, and said that he could only have it back when his parents came and got it at parent-teacher night next month. A whole month without his Batman?!?! There would be a new comic out by then! Colin would be so behind, he just didn't know what to do.
To add insult to injury, at lunch time Colin had discovered that his sister, Linda, had taken his lunch, meaning that he had hers. He didn't like the pink thermos filled with grape juice (Colin preferred apple), or the Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich that their mom had packed for her. How anyone could like peanut butter and honey was beyond him. It was PBJ for a reason. Honestly. Any other day, Colin would have just traded the sandwich with one of his friends, but of course, they were all across town. So, he was sitting by himself anyway, and wasn't that just a kick in the tush.
After lunch, Colin's day had gotten slightly better, when he had science with Mrs. Jameson. Mrs. Jameson, he discovered, was actually a doctor, but of science instead of medicine. The other kids had kept coming to her with their ailments, so she had asked to be addressed as Mrs to avoid the confusion. She actually knew what she was talking about, and they were just starting a section on marine life. It was fascinating! There were millions of different kinds of animals, not just fish or sharks, that lived in the ocean, with more being discovered all the time! This means, that one day, maybe Colin could discover a whole new species of sea animal, and he would name it after himself, never his brother (who was being a jerk and kept telling their parents that Colin broke something he didn't) or his sister (who wasn't so bad, but kept wanting to put Colin in makeup or dye his hair red. He hated how he looked with red hair).
Mrs. Jameson had been able to recommend some books for Colin to read on Marine Biology, ones that he actually hadn't heard of before. Colin had went to the library immediately after class (which was ok, cause it was study hall next) and was able to find one of these wondrous books.
His day, he believed, was finally looking up. Well, it had been until the bus ride back home when some random tall kid that probably played basketball stole his book, and expected to be thanked for it. Colin remained in a snit for the rest of the trip home. It wasn't until his Mother had asked how his day went and just listened to his list of woes, that he considered that he might have been too harsh on the boy.
"Is he someone that you know, from one of your classes maybe?"
"So, he was just a kid sitting next to you on the bus, while you were reading?"
"Wouldn't that have been awfully boring? It's not like he was doing something else, was it?"
"No, he wasn't."
"So, he might have actually thought that this was the best way to be friends?"
"Well, he might have," Colin allowed. "But he still shouldn't have taken my book!" Satisfied that he had won that round, Colin graciously accepted his Mother's offer of cookies to take with him the next day. After all, Colin was no dummy. He knew the way to most boy's friendships were their stomachs.
The second time that Colin and Ryan met, they still weren't friends.
Ryan was still on his Quest to find and befriend Colin (even though Ryan didn't know his name), but first, he had to find out more about him. Obviously, the previous tactic of just removing the offending piece of Science had failed, so a new plan was in order. A better plan. A Plan, to beat all other plans! Now, if only Ryan knew where to begin.
Ryan's plan, such as it was, involved lots of watching (not stalking, oh no, never stalking) of this kid. Hopefully that would enable him to learn this boy's name. And with a name, came Power! Mwahahahahahahahahaha! Ok, so his evil laugh didn't sound very evil. He could work on that with the boy as an audience, once his Sworn Mission was successful.
It made sense (to him at least) that if the boy had gotten off before Ryan did, that Ryan would be able to get on the bus, and thereby (and henceforth, or verily. Whatever it was that his Mum had said) make sure to have an empty seat that the Boy might sit in. And sure enough, when the Bus was only a few stops away from the school, The Boy got on the bus, with what seemed to be his brother.
Well, that put a bit of a wrench in Ryan's plan. On one hand, he might be able to get more information, but on the other, if The Boy wanted to sit with his brother...
Luck, it seemed, was on Ryan's side, as The Boy seemed to be in a bit of an argument with his brother.
"Come on, Colin! Let me have just one!”
"No, Marshal! Mom gave these cookies," 'COOKIES!' Ryan thought. 'I love cookies!' "so that I can give them to people at lunch. Not to feed your bottomless pit of a stomach."
"But, Cooooollliiiiinnnnn." Man, the other boy was such a whiner. Ryan was glad that his Sworn Mission wasn't that way.
"No, Marshal." And with that, Colin sat down in an empty seat, without bothering to look at its other occupant. Victory!
"So, what's this I hear about cookies?" Ok, so it wasn't his best opening line, but he hadn't had breakfast, and he was hungry, damn it! And, uh, he had better make sure to keep that last part purely inside. He did not want to be as intimately acquainted with the bar of soap as his older brother, Richard, was. The Boy sparred Ryan a glance, before looking back to the front.
"They're for my friends.” Ryan frowned. The Boy had been reading a science book, because he had no friends. So, how did he have some today? Well, maybe it was best to go for broke (which was a cool saying that he picked up from his brother Raymond).
“I want to be your friend.” The Boy (Colin, he reminded himself. His brother had called him Colin) frowned back at him.
“No, you want to steal my science books. I like science.” Ryan scoffed at this.
“Nobody likes science. 'cept for dweebs, maybe, but you can't be a dweeb, 'cause you don't have glasses.”
Colin glared at Ryan, and hugged his bag close to his chest.
“I do like science! Well, marine biology, at least. It's full of amazing creatures that most never realize exist.” Ryan, wasn't so sure.
“I know all about animals.”
“Did you know that there's a fish that has a light attached to its head?”
“There's no such thing!”
“Is too! It lives up by the arctic circle, and it's so dark that it has to have the light. It uses it to attract smaller fish.”
Ryan furrowed his brow, trying to figure this out. “Why would it want to attract smaller fish?”
“To eat them, of course.” Ryan considered this for a second. Attracting smaller fish to eat them was cool. This couldn't be real science.
“Well, that's not real science. Real science is like those letters Mr. Nelson made us memorize. The periodic table or whatsit.” Colin gave him a 'oh you dummy' look, and Ryan didn't like that. He got that a lot from his teachers, and didn't really care anymore, but Colin, his Sworn Mission... well, he just couldn't give Ryan that look.
“It is too science. Science encompasses Biology, Chemistry (where they make things blow up), and Physics, where they learn about why things work.” huh. Maybe this science thing wasn't so bad. The blowing things up part sounded cool. Maybe it was a high school thing.
“I'm Ryan.” He held out his hand, and Colin looked at it suspiciously before shaking it.
“Colin.” By then, the bus had reached the combined High School/Junior High school, and the other kids were all getting ready to leave.
“Wanna sit together this afternoon?” Colin looked at him for a second, before agreeing.
“Sure. I'll save you a cookie.”
The third time Ryan and Colin met, each knew that they had found a friend for life.
They had gotten on the bus that afternoon, Ryan in high spirits because of the promise of a cookie, and Colin in slightly less high spirits because of his frustration at his shyness. He had intended to share the cookies with a bunch of people, but when push came to shove, he found himself unable to join a large group he hadn't been invited to. So, they sat next to each other on the bus, Ryan by the window since he got off last, and ate cookies.
“Your mom made these?”
“Yeah. Doesn't your mom make cookies?”
“Well, sometimes. But with six of us, its hard to make enough cookies.”
“Yeah, I'm the youngest. They're all big. Reggie's the next closest in age, and he's 16 already.”
“Huh. How old are you?”
“I'm only 12. I can't wait to get out of school, though. It's all so boring.” This was said around a mouth full of cookie, and Colin answered similarly.
“It's not so bad. Sure, some of the classes are stupid, but most of them can be pretty cool.”
“I suppose. I guess if Batman went to school so much, it can't be all bad.” Colin's eyes lit up.
“You like Batman?!?!”
“Of course! Batman's the best!”
They spent the rest of the ride home talking about comics. Colin began to look forward to the bus trip, as that was the only time he and Ryan had together during the day. Ryan tried to like school, since Colin did, but he never really got into it. He liked it better when Colin explained things to him (which Colin did frequently), and since he already knew it, what was the point in going to class? Now, making people laugh, that was something that Ryan really got into. Of course, he had to drag Colin along with him.
Years later, Colin would look back upon his parents move as the best thing that had ever happened to him. And if, on one of those days when he had been thinking about how they met, he had called his mother for her cookie recipe, well, Ryan wasn't complaining.
Ryan looked back upon meeting Colin with equal parts thankfulness and embarrassment. He really hadn't meant to be such a little brat. It's a good thing that Colin didn't know how to hold a grudge (Ryan held them for him. Ryan still wouldn't let Linda into their house without checking her things for hair dye).
And, while they didn't quite live happily ever after, it was pretty darn close.