"How was school?"

I shrugged and grabbed some floor near Dom, watching his feet as he looked something over, for a leak maybe. "Not too bad. Spent the day doing placement tests so they could figure out where to put me. I think I'm gonna end up in grade ten."

"Uh huh. Make any friends?"

I grinned. "You make it sound like kindergarten or something. Nah, I didn't make any friends, 'though I didn't get much grief, so that's cool."

He slid out from under the car to pin me with a look. "Whattaya mean? Who gave you a rough time?"

"Relax, Dom. It's no big deal. Typical first day 'hassle the new kid' crap."

He studied me curiously, and I realised that he'd probably never been picked on in school in his life, not the same way most kids were at some time or another.

"I got white kid nicknames, the crappy locker that no one else wants, ignored by everyone who's anyone, and the teachers think I'm a spacer because I didn't answer to Darien or Miss Conrad fast enough."

"A spacer?"

"You know, junkie. Bet you're gonna get some questions later, when I hand in work and they don't believe it's mine."

His eyebrows went up. "What?"

I grinned. "They've already decided to expect crap from me. So when I hand in good stuff - and I will, by the way - they'll think I paid someone else to do it or something."

His eyes narrowed. "I'll talk to 'em."

I shrugged. "Whatever, 'sup to you. Don't stress it."

He shrugged too, mimicking me, and I laughed. Suddenly the day seemed a lot better. "So when do I get my mechanic training?"

He gestured for me to get down to scoot under the car. "Right now."

I walked away instead, and he looked puzzled. He laughed, though, when I came back wearing one of his wrinkled shirts over my clothes. It hung down to my knees.

Hey, I wasn't gonna get crap all over my new clothes. The oil and grease and shit would never come out.

Next: Running Free