The bell marking the end of third period was just about to ring and the art students in the painting class were hurrying to clean up their work stations. For a change, Todd, too, was in a rush, but not to get to lunch - he had an appointment that afternoon down at the Marilynn Clinic and Lance was driving him. The sooner they got there, the sooner they could leave, and the sooner Lance could get back to school. Todd hated making him miss classes, especially when he knew how important it was to him. A hand came down on his good shoulder and Todd jumped a little turning around, then relaxed when he saw the smiling face of his art teacher, Mrs. Littlefield.
"So, Todd, have you thought about the City Art Contest?" she asked him, getting right to the point. "The winner goes on to a State level, you know. I think you would do really well."
"Actually, yeah," Todd said with a half-shrug, finishing up washing out his personal brushes and putting them back in their smooth, leather case. It had been a gift to him several years ago from Mrs. Littlefield. He slipped it into his backpack and smiled at her. "I figure, what the hell, right? Nothing to lose. If I win, it's a little extra money in my pocket, you know?"
"And excellent name recognition," his teacher reminded him, but Todd shrugged that part off. It wasn't like he was ever going to be famous anyway. Noticing he was actually getting ready to leave the art room, Mrs. Littlefield put a hand over her heart and glanced out the window. At Todd's confused look, she grinned. "Just checking to see if the world was ending, dear. Are you really going to lunch?"
"Nah, I gotta go off campus. I gotta doctor's appointment... for my shoulder," Todd quickly bluffed. Mrs. Littlefield seemed to buy it, for which Todd was grateful.
"Make sure you eat something, too," she called to him as he left the room and Todd just waved at her over his shoulder.
It was slow going to the parking lot. The halls were crowded and Todd had to walk carefully to make sure no one jostled him. He looked fondly up at the ceiling and wished he could just crawl across it to get out of the school, but coming out as a mutant didn't seem like a good idea right now, given everything that had been on the news lately. Not that people didn't already suspect, he guessed. He'd gotten a few very nasty letters shoved in his locker which he quickly destroyed - no way was Lance ever seeing those.
At last, Todd reached the parking lot. Lance wasn't there yet, which wasn't surprising given that his class was on the opposite side of the world, so he climbed up on top of the hood of the jeep, stretching his legs out before him and putting his good hand behind his head, just soaking up the pale sunlight just breaking through the slightly cool, cloudy afternoon.