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Note:Last chapter was title "-loner-9" even tho it should have been "-loner-8". I'm calling this Loner 10 there shan't be a true Loner 8.
Loner: Birthday-Part 1

Hunter flipped the quarter around with his fingers. He ate his pizza slowly, not really enjoying the overly greasy food. He saw the large cupcake Nokomis had placed next to his plate and smiled. "Thanks," he said to her quietly.

"No prob," Nokomis smiled back.

Jas sat down quickly, slamming his tray onto the table. He began looking over his shoulder, shooting harsh glares towards Dal's table. Hunter followed his glares, and they rested on Sean.

"What did he do?" Hunter asked.

"Who Sean?" Jas spat, "He didn't do anything. It's that girlfriend of his. Amy."

"What'd she do?" Nokomis asked, now glaring towards Amy's direction.

"I don't wanna get into it," Jas mumbled. He was rescued when Dal walked up with Krazy in tow. Dal leaned down a quickly kissed Nokomis on the cheek.

"Are we going out tonight?"

"Wish we could go alone, but tonight is Friday, Hunter's night," Nokomis replied apologetically and smiled when Dal threw on a frown.

"Why is it Crush--Hunter's night?" Krazy asked, correcting himself upon seeing Jas's glare.

Hunter was surprised that Krazy Hopkins knew his name, and it showed all over his face. "It's my birthday."

"Birthday?! Your birthday?" Krazy exclaimed and went to the seat on the other side of Hunter and plopped his tall frame down. Draping a long arm over Hunter's shoulder, "We have to throw you a party then!"

Hunter looked at Krazy's arm as if it were diseased and covered in popping boils. He shrugged it off his shoulders. "You don't know me. There's no reason you would throw me a party."

"Oh, Kraze just wants an excuse to throw or be at a party," Dal chimed.

Krazy was about to respond, but Jas interrupted him, "You know it's the truth, Kraze."

Krazy shrugged, "So? He's a friend of yours and Dal's, Jas which makes him of course a friend of mine." He draped his arm over Hunter's shoulder again, "And even if we don't know each other well doesn't mean that that can't change. Right, Hunt?" Hunter turned to Krazy and nodded while forcefully removing Krazy's arm from himself. Krazy continued on about how he could throw a party that night, really getting into the idea when Jas came to Hunter's rescue.

"He doesn't want a party," Jas interrupted quietly. He looked at Hunter, "He'd rather just sit at home, relax, and not make a big thing about it."

Hunter smiled softly turning to Krazy, "Exactly."

Krazy actually pouted, "Fuck, I was set on partyin'."

Dal went around to Krazy and clapped a hand on his friend's shoulder, "Have one anyway, then. Now let's go to our table." He paused for a moment, "So why don't the four of us go to Hunter's after school? That okay with you?" He looked to Hunter for a response. Hunter slowly nodded and then looked up at Dal, offering him a light smile.

"Have fun, man," Krazy lightly punched Hunter's shoulder. "Happy birthday!" he smiled and sauntered over to his table followed by Dal.

"That was different," Hunter said quietly. "Actually talking to Krazy Hopkins."

"Never thought you'd see the day, huh?" Nokomis smiled. She turned to Jas, "So what did Sean's girlfriend do to make you angry before?"

Jas shook his head and looked back at Dal's table. He turned back to Nokomis and shook his head again, "Nothing. It was nothing." He went on to eat his lunch in silence while Nokomis told Hunter how she, Dal, Jas, Salene and he could all celebrate Hunter's birthday in the basement at his house.

All for of them laughed as Dal finished telling his joke. Jas looked into the rearview mirror, smiling at his brother and Nokomis. He was happy for them and watched as she managed to snuggle closer to her boyfriend. He stole a glance at Hunter who seemed to be in his own world but was still smiling from Dal's joke. A very comfortable silence hung between them.

Nokomis's cell phone rang, breaking the silence. "Hello?" she answered the phone, leaning her head onto Dal's shoulder.

"Hey, Nokomis," Salene responded, "I'm over at Tasha's house. She and Gwen are gonna drop me off so tell Jas or Dal that they don't have to pick me up later, 'k?"

"No problemo. I'll tell him right now," Nokomis promised.

"Thanks. See you guys soon, alright?" Salene hung up.

"Hey Jas," Nokomis began, "You don't have to pick up Salene later. She's getting a ride home."

"Good," Jas smiled. He glanced quickly at Hunter asking him, "So what you wanna do first?"

Hunter shrugged, "Let's play it by ear."

Jas nodded, "Sounds fine."

He slowly turned the corner onto Hunter and Nokomis's street and drove down the two blocks it took to get to their houses. As they got closer to the houses, they saw a guy sitting on the hood of a small red car. He had his knees pulled up to his chest with his hands around him. Jas parked the car across the street from Hunter and Nokomis's houses and the guy sitting on his car. Everyone got out of the car except for Hunter who sat frozen, just staring at the guy. Jas leaned down looking at Hunter, "Is everything okay?" Hunter didn't answer. "Hunter? What's wrong?" Hunter still didn't answer. Nokomis saw Hunter staring at the guy sitting on the hood of his car. He had on sun glasses which meant she couldn't see his eyes, but she saw where his head had turned.

Directly towards Hunter.

She opened Hunter's door and leaned down so that she blocked his view of the guy. She looked Hunter in his eyes. "Gary?" she asked, remembering a picture she had seen of the guy who betrayed Hunter and was also seriously injured by him.

Hunter slowly nodded and softly responded, "He's more muscular now."

"What?" she cocked her head slightly to the right.

"He has more muscles now," Hunter said further and focused his gaze on Nokomis rather than through her. "I knew he'd show up sooner or later. He has too much of an ego to have stayed away forever," Hunter spat.

Nokomis was surprised as she hadn't heard Hunter sound that angry in a long time. She quickly moved back as Hunter got out of the car. Jas and Dal exchanged a glance and both went over to Nokomis and Hunter. Hunter stood there staring at Lalo, who frowned and returned a small, small wave.

"Who's Gary?" Jas and Dal asked in unison.

"Hunter's ex-boyfriend," Nokomis answered softly and added, "The one he um. . ."

"Is this the guy everyone talks about you beating up?" Dal asked.

Hunter nodded and quickly walked across the street to Lalo who slid off the hood of the car and just stood there. Hunter looked at Lalo and chastised himself for his first thought was, Damn, he's even hotter. He shook his head a blinked a couple times, "Gary, just leave."

"I-I--" Lalo was surprised at how nervous he now was, "I j-just wanted . . . to see you a--"

"No," Hunter said with a lot less anger and a lot more control than he'd thought he'd have in this situation. He walked around the car and turned to Jas, Dal and Nokomis. The three still stood in front of the car. "C'mon you guys," he beckoned them, acting as if he hadn't just seen the guy whom he hated more than anyone. Nokomis was the first one to cross the street and then Dal and Jas followed. Jas clicked the button, locking their car. They all stared at Lalo who stood slumped against his car with a sad look on his face.

As the four of them started up the walk to Hunter's house, Lalo called out, "Don't just walk out on me again!"

Hunter spun around so fast he almost crashed into Nokomis. He stalked back to the end of the walk and glared at Lalo, his hands balled into fists. "You were the one who walked out!" he said in an icy tone.

Lalo came around the car, "And I was wrong and stupid to have done that but--"

"Exactly right!" Hunter interrupted, "Now just leave!"

Nokomis, Jas, and Dal looked amongst themselves each wondering if they should do anything. They were all floored hearing Hunter yell at Lalo. They had never heard him yell or show this much emotion before.

Hunter began walking back to them, and this time Lalo followed. "Just hear me out, Hunter," he pleaded. Hunter ignored him and continued up the walk. "I'll tell you the truth!" Lalo tried in a ditch effort.

Hunter stopped, turned around and peered at Lalo. He swallowed, his brows furrowing in confusion. "What did you say?"

Lalo sighed in relief, seeing Hunter get less angry. "I'll tell you the truth about everything," he said to Hunter, hoping that what he thought was right. That Hunter may have seen past some of his delusions.

"No lies, Gary? No games?" Hunter asked much more quietly now. Jas, Nokomis, and Dal noticed this. Hunter was returning to the Hunter they knew.

"None. Just come take a ride with me please?" Lalo asked.

Hunter turned back towards his friends. He reached into his pocket, went to Nokomis and gave her the keys to his house. "Nokomis, can you order some pizza or somethin'?"

Jas stepped in front of her, looking at Hunter, "This was the guy you said outed you and fought you? You're gonna go with him?!"

Hunter nodded.

"But why--" Jas began, but Dal interrupted him.

"We'll get the pizza, Hunter," he began ushering Nokomis and Jas towards the house. Jas threw a harsh look at his twin. Dal threw the look back, continuing to guide Jas and Nokomis towards the house. "Obviously they have deep stuff to talk about. Let's leave them alone."

"Yeah," Nokomis agreed, "It'll probably be good for Hunter." She went up stoop's steps and began unlocking the side door.

"But that's the guy--"Jas began but was again interrupted by Dal.

"Stop being jealous. It's not like Hunter's gonna fuck the guy," he said softly yet firmly to Jas.

Jas glared at his brother and stormed into the kitchen, not bothering to say hi to Helena. She looked at him bewildered as he quickly went into the basement.

"What's got him?" she asked Nokomis and Dal as they came in.

"Oh, he's just a bit sour cos Hunter's gone off with his old boyfriend Gary--" Dal began.

"Hunter's done what?!" Helena exclaimed, interrupting Dal. She quickly moved past Dal and Nokomis and went out onto the stoop seeing Lalo's car drive off down the street. "Fuck!" she cursed under her breath, going back into the kitchen.

"Is there something wrong, Helena?" Nokomis asked.

Helena looked at Nokomis sitting alone at the peninsula. She sat down next to the girl. "Where's Dal?"

"Dealing with Jas," Nokomis answered.

"Do they know who Lalo is?" Helena asked her as she rested her head in her hands.

"Yes," Nokomis nodded and passed Helena strawberry flavored water.

"Thanks," Helena smiled, opening the drink and guzzling it down. It was her favorite flavor. She looked at Nokomis, "Y'know, you're a great friend for Hunter . . . and for Salene."

"Thanks," Nokomis smiled softly. She took a swallow of her water, "So? Was Hunter's going with wait. Why did you call him Lalo? I thought his name was Gary."

"He's going by Lalo now," Helena explained. She saw the confused expression written across Nokomis's face, "He stopped by the other day, wanting to see Hunter. I told him--"

"No?" Nokomis offered. Helena nodded. "Hunter's going on that ride with him is a bad thing then?" Nokomis asked.

Helena shook her head, "If Lalo does what I think he will, it will only be bad for me, Salene, and Sal, but not for Hunter."

"Why not?" Nokomis asked, "How would it only be bad for the three of you?"

Helena looked away from Nokomis and gazed at her hand folded on the table in front of her bottle of water. Nokomis saw a tear drop onto Helena's hand. She felt uncomfortable, not really knowing what to do. Helena turned her teary gaze back to Nokomis, "He'll know we lied to him."

"Lied?" Nokomis asked her voice barely above a whisper.

Helena nodded. Another tear escaped her eye. She wiped them away. "You go downstairs and have fun with your friends." Helena wrapped her arm in Nokomis's and led her to the basement door. "Oh?" she began, sadly looking at Nokomis, "When Hunter gets back, promise me something, will you? Just be there for him, okay?"

Nokomis nodded, completely confused, but still complied. "Okay."

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