This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Andrew was leading Will by the tie up the steps of the house, banging open the screen door as they entered the hallway. Brody, sitting on the couch, looked up at them both in surprise and grinned.
"Andrew," he greeted, "I see you finally housebroke your pet."
Andrew shrugged, heading for the stairs, "He can do tricks, too."
Will spluttered indignantly, "Excuse me? I'd rather you not discuss my sex life with my roommate, if you please..."
Andrew turned and pulled twice on the tie drawing Will in close and wrapping his arms around him, "Uh-huh."
Will rolled his eyes. "You just want to get laid," he commented.
Brody looked between the two of them and groaned, "For God's sake, you two are worse than newlyweds. Just go get a room, already."
"What?" Jared asked, standing in the doorway with a 12-pack of beer with a suspiciously French label on it. He looked over at Will in Andrew's arms and he groaned, "Oh no, not again!"
Andrew sighed a little in frustration, but gave Jared a warm smile as he walked over to shake his best friend's hand. "How's the captain of the team?" he asked with a big grin.
"That's not been decided yet," Jared replied, balancing the beer under his arm as he shook Andrew's hand. "Coach Thorburn says it will be announced at the sports banquet at the end of the year."
"Excuse me," Brody stated, squeezing past Andrew to liberate the beer and already restocking the fridge with it.
Andrew leaned on the wall and studied his old friend. Jared had changed little over the last year: still a lanky powerhouse of a goalie with a dark complexion to match his inquisitive dark eyes, all tucked under the distinctive Condor's baseball cap.
"You're Assistant Captain now," Andrew reassured. "You've got it in the bag, don't stress too much over it." He clapped him on the shoulder and smiled, "I was scared to death waiting to find out if I had been named Captain."
Jared rolled his shoulders, "Sure, whatever--it's'all good. How about you, how's varsity at UNB?"
"I didn't play," Andrew replied, accepting the beer Brody handed him.
"Oh," Jared said, the tone of his voice sounded like he had just heard someone had died.
Andrew shook it off, "I didn't try out because I wanted a year off, and I don't want to play hockey the rest of my life. I had a pretty intense year, what with my courses and everything."
Will came up behind Andrew and rested a hand on his shoulder. It had been a difficult decision for Andrew to make. He had spent long hours on the phone long-distance talking it through with Will who couldn't offer much by way of a perspective, but had acted as a sounding board. Andrew had always been strong academically, but the transition from high school to university had thrown him for a loop, and it had taken extra effort for him to maintain a straight-A average. It had come at the cost of his hockey dreams.
"Enough doom and gloom," Andrew said, forcing them all to change the subject. "Hey, where's Lisa?"
Will winced as Jared suddenly looked like he wanted to be anywhere but right there, and everyone was looking at Brody rooting through the fridge to make room for the last of the beer. "Wha?" he asked, looking up seeing everyone looking at him.
Andrew seemed confused, uncertain if he should repeat the question or ask Will later in private. He shrugged, and decided to just ask. "What happened with Lisa?" he asked, choosing his words with deliberate care.
Brody sighed, pulling a beer out of the fridge and twisting its cap off, "It was all a miscommunication," he protested.
"A girl called," Will explained, "looking for Brody."
"So?" Andrew said, not quite understanding.
"Yeah, well Lisa was here," Will continued.
"She went crazy," Brody finished moving across to fall heavily into a chair at the kitchen table. "All mad and stuff because it wasn't her."
"Ah," Andrew said, drawing a conclusion.
"I said that it wasn't as if we were in a real relationship anyway," Brody continued, taking a pull from his bottle. "She got madder at that."
Will shook his head, "That's an understatement."
"It's not like we were monogamous or anything," Brody complained, trying to sound innocent and blameless; as usual that only served to make him sound even more guilty.
"Yeah, when he told her that she got really mad," Will shot back, putting on the kettle for a cup of tea; it was too early in his mind for beer, not that he was particularly fond of drinking, anyway.
"And I don't get it," Brody said dismissively. "Did I say I was in a relationship? They expect me to just know these things and get mad when I don't."
Andrew nodded with wide eyes, glancing over at Will, "Which reminds me: Will, we're monogamous."
Will glanced up, "Don't I get a say in that?"
"Nope," the three other guys in the room said at the same time.
Jared kicked off his shoes to wander into the living room and claimed the end of the couch, changing the channel on the TV. It was pretty much accepted that he was a member of the family; it seemed he spent more time at the house than he did at his home, and during the school year Will appreciated the company when Brody and Andrew were both off at University.
Jared was one of those harmless souls who was typically Canadian. He drank beer, watched hockey and came rushing to help his friends whenever they needed him. And despite the fact that he had become a permanent fixture on Brody's couch whenever there was a hockey game on, he seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with Will. Probably because Will often ended up working on their homework while Jared watched the game.
Andrew made to follow him, the telltale sounds of the sports network coming from the living room. And Will cleared his throat to catch his attention. He paused and grinned, suddenly torn between his two loves, hockey highlights and Will.
"Oh, go watch the damn highlights," Will stated, crossing his arms as the kettle began to boil behind him.
Andrew shot him an apologetic look before slipping into the living room. Will rolled his eyes as he made himself a cup of tea and picked up a book he was reading for class, walking out onto the front steps and sitting down to enjoy the sunny afternoon.
He was getting sunburned and enjoying every moment of it. So when the screen door rattled on its hinges behind him, he threw a disgruntled look over his shoulder, squinting up at Andrew towering over him.
"Hockey done?" Will asked.
Andrew nodded as he sat down next to Will on the steps, "I'm sorry; it's just I really missed just hanging out with the guys. I'll make it up to you."
"How?" Will said, closing his book and moving a little to sit closer to Andrew, smiling at him.
Andrew was taken aback a little; he hadn't prepared for that and he thought about it for a second, "Umm, well, whatever you want."
"Anything?" Will asked, a distinct tone of excitement entering his voice.
"Sure, whatever you want," Andrew reaffirmed.
Will's face broke into a broad grin as he looked directly across at the Mustang parked in the driveway.
"No..." Andrew said, his heart sinking to that low point in the stomach where it knotted up into a lump. That kind of fear that came with knowing he was stuck by his own promise. And he licked his lips, "Not that, please?"
Will stood up and stuck his hands into his pocket, a habit that always made Andrew grin when he saw it, except this time he didn't like what it implied. Will walked over to the Mustang and leaned down to peer into the driver's seat, before he reached out to open the door and get in.
"Aww, come on," Andrew sounded helpless. "Not in my car..."
"But you will teach me?" Will asked, leaning out the open window and smiling across at him.
"So long as it's not in my car," Andrew caved a little. "Just not my car." His eyes were filled with concern as he again pictured disaster when Will turned his car into an expensive pile of scrap metal.
"Where are we going to find a car?" Will asked looking about, until his eyes settled on Jared's little apple-red Toyota parked behind the Mustang. He glanced back at Andrew, who had seen the look.
"He's not going to say yes," Andrew said firmly.
"Yes," Jared said.
Will glanced at Andrew with a particularly smug look on his face. Jared could never say no to Will. His kryptonite was the way Will said `please' in that close-clipped British accent of his. It always sounded so earnest, and like the typical laid-back kind of guy he was, he naturally agreed without a second thought.
Brody was watching the proceedings, highly entertained by Andrew's reluctance at Will's excitement. He cleared his throat as he dramatically got to his feet and extended a hand to Andrew. "Dude, good luck. One thing I've learned," he smirked, "never teach your girlfriend how to drive."
Andrew hung his head in dismay, "Think if I gave him a fifty and told him to go buy himself something pretty he'd forget about it?"
Will arched an eyebrow and indignantly crossed his arms, looking unimpressed with the statement.
Brody looked at Will, then back at Andrew, "Better make it a hundred."
Will was early for school that morning. His Sunday had been relaxing despite the fact that Andrew hadn't been around, his mother insisting he spend the day with her, shopping. He had grumbled about it to Will Saturday night, the two of them promising to postpone their dinner together and the usual antics that came afterwards for later in the week; privacy at Brody's wasn't a possibility when hockey night in Canada was on.
Will found it more humerous that it was Andrew who seemed to take it the hardest, his recent excitement for spending time with Will only added to his frustration. And Will couldn't help but grin as he stared into the cup of Lisa's famous thermos coffee.
Lisa gave him one of her looks, suspicious of why he was grinning, and hesitant, wondering if she really wanted to ask.
Will looked up, "Andrew," he said simply, answering her question.
"I guessed that much," Lisa replied, tearing ruthlessly into one of her mother's banana muffins, pulling its cap off to get to the soft insides. "It usually is when you grin like that."
Will nodded, sitting back into his chair and tilting his mug slowly to drain the cup down his throat; he sighed expressively as he set it down, "I was just thinking of how open he was this weekend."
"Open?" Lisa asked, flicking her hair back as she fixed her green eyes on him. "Andrew's always been open."
"Well," Will blushed a little, "he was a little more open than he was at Christmas."
"I don't get how you mean," Lisa confessed. "Open how?"
Will licked his lips, a little embarrassed; he was always shy discussing his sex life with other people, "Well open, about being gay; he was...we were out in the park and he wanted to, you know...hug and stuff."
Lisa nearly choked on her muffin as she laughed at him, "I was half-expecting you to tell me you two did it in the middle of Confederation Park. So, you're saying he's more comfortable being out?"
"Well yeah," Will replied, pouring himself some more coffee. "It was nice, like a regular relationship."
"You are in a regular relationship," Lisa retorted, watching a couple of freshmen tear through the cafeteria chasing after a couple of the all too familiar green jackets of the Condor's hockey team. Hero worship was still in full force in the school.
"You know what I meant," Will said, watching them run as well.
"Well, as I remember, after that first Christmas he was pretty comfortable at school," Lisa remarked, looking back at him. "And nobody really treated him any differently."
"They did," Will replied, "but I get what you're saying. And it doesn't bother me, I like the fact he is comfortable being seen with me."
"Well," Lisa reached out to pluck a rogue strand of Will's hair and set it back into place, "I'm not really that surprised. Were you straight, half the girls in this school would be chasing you."
"Lies," Will said, blushing as he stood up. "There is only so much flattery I can stomach this early in the morning; besides I need to get upstairs before the sprogs, otherwise they will tear my classroom apart."
"You can run, William Carter," Lisa yelled as he beat a hasty retreat, "but one of these days you're going to see what we mean."
Will shook his head as he started up the stairs to the junior high wing of the school. Their high school shared facilities with the junior high, which was tucked away on one of the upper floors towards the rear of the school. Will had luckily been spared attending it having only immigrated to the school in grade nine. But the horror stories both Jared and Lisa had told him about their experiences there had made it sound terrible.
To Will it was just like high school but with smaller kids, or sprogs as he affectionately dubbed them.
He slipped off his coat, walking into the teachers' lounge to hang it up on the rack and walking over to fill a mug with the thick sludge that always passed for coffee in that building. Lisa loved the fact that he was working there; it meant she no longer had to steal coffee from the high school lounge, dodging Mister Greenwood who had noticed her foraging trips last year and had given her detention for it.
He adjusted his tie and steadied his nerves; he was always nervous first thing in the morning and had thought it would pass after the first week, but it hadn't. Like stage fright before a big performance. After all he was an "acting-teacher;" it was perfectly acceptable for him to develop stage fright.
He steeled his nerves and strode out into the pandemonium of seventh- and eighth-graders running between their lockers, talking, yelling, screaming and generally terrorizing one another. A couple of bright faces turned and greeted him with tiny voices, and Will responded to them politely, reaching into his pocket for the keys to his classroom.
He would never get used to being called Mister Carter, it was such an alien name. His father had always been called Major Carter or simply the Major. Nobody dared drop to a more informal address for him, mister was for enlisted men. So it was something that was uniquely Will's, something that would be his right into adulthood, his title that he was earning.
He fumbled the key in the lock and swung the door open, suddenly swept forward by the rush of pushing kids all wanting to get in and to their desks a few seconds before the bell went. Not because they were eager to get started on their days, but more from the fact they wanted to be inside the classroom rather than in the hall, it was more space for them to expand into.
Will shook his head wondering where Mrs. Casey was as he took his desk and began to fish out his teaching books from his satchel. Like the kids, he too had homework: correcting an English test he had given them on the spur of the moment. Pop quizzes were a great way to get even with rambunctious sprogs that had tried to make his life miserable for most of that week.
He shuffled the tests as he glanced up at the clock, nearly eight-thirty and he would have to take roll call and settle in for an hour of English, before slipping into history. He hated calling it social studies; it was a daft name for history and so very American that he refused on principal to use it. He taught history and was proud of it.
The bell rang and there was still no sign of Mrs. Casey; Will sighed to himself as he walked to close the classroom door, standing aside to let little Bobby McCormick rush to his desk, consistently a few seconds late. Bobby was such a contrast to his twin brother Peter sitting in the aisle next to him. Bobby was such an extrovert, outgoing and fun-loving, while Peter was so quiet and introverted it took everything Will had to convince him to participate in the class some days.
He turned back to the class momentarily uncertain what he should do. Normally, Mrs. Casey would be there with a lesson plan for him to run through, some guidelines about what he was supposed to work on with the sprogs. Without her guidance he felt woefully unarmed to face thirty seventh-graders, an Uzi or a good textbook would even the odds a little.
"Good morning, campers," Will said loudly as he balanced himself on the edge of his desk. "I have tests for you; I'm pleased to say none of you failed which means you're actually listening for a change." He grinned at their small faces waiting patiently for him.
Sure, he thought to himself, they looked innocent now, but he knew from experience they were secretly plotting his untimely demise, or worse yet, their next prank. He remembered one of his father's old battle adages, show them no fear...
He picked up the register and started at the top reading names and checking for hands. It felt so strange to be on the opposite end of the whole morning ritual that went on in every classroom in the school. Checking names and marking absents while he kept one eye on the door for reinforcements to arrive.
But like Monro after Fort William Henry, he was to be left to the mercy of his enemies.
He stood up and began handing the tests back as the students, noticing Mrs. Casey's absence, began to murmur amongst themselves, plotting mutiny. And he knew that if he went over the test with them they would go into full revolt. He needed a distraction and quickly.
He walked back to the front of the class and scooped up a book from the corner of the desk, a particularly dull piece of Canadianna that was being force-fed to the students because it was on the curriculum. Will shuddered; when he was their age he had been studying Shakespeare in an English private school. Here, the students had to content themselves with something that wouldn't challenge a seven-year-old to read.
He sighed as he looked up at their pained faces, knowing that they hated the book as much as he did. There were even a few groans from some of the more vocal students anticipating an hour of complete catatonic boredom.
Will dramatically tossed the book back down on the desk. "You know what?" he said, reaching down to pick up his own schoolbooks. "Who here would like to know what it's like in high school?"
He looked up at them, smiling as his ploy worked. They weren't rumbling mutiny, in fact some of them looked mildly curious to see what trick he had up his sleeve. That was good; at least he had their attention.
"Richard the Third," Will said, holding up the book. "Anyone tell me anything about him?"
"He was a king, right?" one of the kids chimed up hopefully.
"King of England," Will smirked to himself, "but not just any king." Will walked back to the front of the class, "He was considered the evilest," his voice sank conspiratorially, "nastiest King of England."
A couple of the kids leaned forward a little curious. Still others began to look bored.
"He killed his own brother to become king, murdered his own nephews. This man was an all-around bad sort of guy." Will grinned, "You may think this is boring," he directed to a couple of boys who were whispering in the back, "but it's a story about war."
That got their attention.
"Yep it's a story about war, and about love," he looked over at some of the girls and winked at them. "But most importantly it's a story all about greed."
He perched himself on the edge of his desk. "I'm not going to read it to you because you won't understand most of the language," he said simply. "But I'm going to tell you the story and we're going to discuss it just like in high school..." He affixed a dramatic tone in his voice, "Richard was born deformed, his body twisted to make him, at least in his own mind, ugly." Will twisted his body a little to add to the drama, "And he was jealous of his brother, the heir to the throne, who was in perfect health..."
Will needed a glass of water; he'd been telling the story for over an hour now, still no sign of Mrs. Casey. The class were probing him with questions, especially when he asked them what they thought about Richard the Third. It was rare that he could have their complete attention, and even rare to get them all participating in a discussion.
They'd covered Richard's rise in the book, they'd touched on some of his motivation. The jealousy and the greed. He was surprised how quick they all were, excited to actually be challenged by something, much like Greenwood had discovered about Will. Using that example, Will didn't talk down to them as he found himself enjoying the discussion as much as they were.
It was almost a shame the bell had to ring. He looked up at it in mild annoyance as a couple of students got up to rush towards the doors. He started to stand as well, noticing that a couple of the students hadn't moved and were looking at him expectantly. Little Peter McCormick amongst them.
Will froze and sat back down, relaxing into the chair behind his desk as he looked at each of them staring at him. "I suppose you want me to finish the story," he said, staring forlornly into his empty coffee mug. "Tell you what;" he decided getting up again, "why don't you borrow it from the school library, and if you get stuck on anything come and ask me. Fair?"
The students all clamored in agreement getting up themselves to finally go to their recess. Will shook his head and took off his glasses, pushing his hair out of his eyes with a hand. He had really enjoyed that, English solo down, history to go. He took a deep breath and went off in search of a refill on his coffee.
"Her name's Cynthia," Will said, sitting in the Tim Horton's and glancing at the girl Jared had been surreptitiously eyeing for the past twenty minutes.
"Huh?" Jared asked, snapping out of his daydream and giving his head a shake to clear it.
Will looked over his shoulder at the young Chinese girl who was working behind the counter pouring coffee and smiling sweetly at the customers; he glanced back at the lovestruck Jared. "Bit obvious, innit?" he stated, jerking his head in Cynthia's direction.
Jared blushed. "When did you become an expert?" he demanded, wrapping both hands around the coffee cup and picking at its brown plastic lid.
"Well technically I have nothing to lose," Will stated, loosening his tie, and after a moment's pause took it off entirely and stuffed it into his bag.
"She is pretty though," Jared said, wistfully staring again.
Will rolled his eyes and glanced around for a clock, their lunch hour was nearly over and they were due back at school. He liked spending his lunch hours with Jared; they'd started doing it last year during the whole outing incident, a way for Jared to protect his friend from the other school kids, but after all of that it had just become something they always did.
"You could ask her out," Will said, turning slightly and waving at Cynthia.
She caught Will's wave and broke out into a pretty smile. Will clearly heard Jared sigh at the smile and he rolled his eyes again. "Would you just get over there?" he insisted crossing his arms.
"No, I can't," Jared said becoming shy again. "Let's change the subject, `kay?"
"Hey, I don't want to hassle you," Will said, holding his hands up in mock surrender. "It's your love life, or lack thereof..."
Jared's eyes narrowed at Will, and Will grinned back at him.
"Student council elections for next year," Jared said, deliberately following through on his motion to change the subject. "I hear Charlene is running for President."
"Nothing like having an ex-girlfriend in a position of power," Will replied. "You thinking about running against her?"
"I wouldn't have time," Jared admitted. "Between school and hockey I don't have much time for the extra curricular stuff. You should run."
Will choked on his coffee, "'Scuse me?"
"You should run for student council," Jared insisted. "You're pretty popular, everyone likes you and you have a rep for being smart."
"They only like me `cause of Andrew," Will responded.
"I think it was when you slugged Todd Gadreau last year," Jared commented.
Will shook his head. "I don't think I want to do it," he said with full honesty. "Charlene fights nasty and the last thing I want is a repeat of last year when she found out about Andrew."
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," Jared said quoting the favourite adage. "She soon gave up after Andrew came out. What could they say, really? They couldn't have a go at you without him getting involved, and since the hockey team had his back--all for one and that..."
Will chuckled shaking his head, "You know, that always confused me a little. I mean, I know that Todd didn't take it well, but the rest of the team, why'd they do that?"
Jared thought a moment on the end of last year, of the revelation that Andrew Highmore, their hero and Captain, was gay. That bastion of masculinity, the one guy they all aspired to be, was actually gay...
"I dunno," Jared shrugged. "Andrew was so cool, didn't give us any bullshit or anything. He didn't deny anything. You were either with him, or against him." Jared smiled, "And after you decked Todd, Andrew suddenly had this big scary boyfriend protecting him..."
"Oh give over," Will said blushing, looking at himself in the mirror: tall and thin, looking far too much like an academic. Sure he dressed stylishly; he was always smart and Lisa dragged him once a month to her stylist so his brown hair was always neat, highlighted and hanging in an off-center parting that he always found looked cool. But he still wasn't a match for a hockey player...
Jared grinned and punched his arm from across the table, "Seriously though, there were a couple that had a problem with it. But you know Andrew, he was important to all of us, he was our Captain..." He gave up lamely trying to explain it, "We just had his back."
Will smiled, "Your turn next year."
Jared shook his head, "I'm not like him."
"Nope," Will replied with a grin glancing down at Jared's belt buckle then back up into his eyes playfully, "you're not."
Jared turned bright red, "Stop that!" He blushed, "You need more up top and less down below before that happens."
Will shrugged, "You're still a hero to the freshmen, you're the best on the team this year, and," he sighed, "you just need to have a bit of confidence in yourself." He chuckled, "This from the resident school fag... I'm lecturing a jock about confidence..."
"Stop calling yourself that." Jared winced at the word.
Will blinked, "Fag? Why? It's just a word, I'm not afraid of a word. Fag, queer, gay makes no difference to me I still get laid more than anyone else in the school, and with a hot guy too..."
"'Kay; see, this is why I don't like having coffee with you." Jared blushed again, "I may be accepting and all that, I just don't need to picture you and Andrew..." He shuddered, "'Kay, now I'll have nightmares."
"Yeah," Will said making a face. "Don't know if I like the idea of you having dreams about me."
Jared folded his arms defiantly, "Why not? I'm good-looking."
"It's not that..." Will said, becoming a little unsure of the conversation.
"Oh sure, I'm no Andrew, but I'm handsome, my momma said so!" Jared set his jaw.
Will licked his lips and shook his head; "Right, um, I am not having this conversation with you."
Jared grinned and slapped Will's arm, "I'm just teasing you, bud. You are way too easy to tease."
Will shook his head, "Don't do that, I was worried I had another gay hockey player on my conscience. I think Coach Thorburn would have my hide if I seduced another of his team captains..."
"You seduce me?" Jared snorted, "Dude you're so the bitch in this relationship. I was seducing you..."
Will pursed his lips and crossed his arms, "Yeah, well how about we change the subject before you start writing up wedding invitations and sticking me in a dress, huh? Andrew would object."
Jared grinned, "He'd be best man."
Will stood up and picked up his bag, "Enough of this nonsense, we have to go back to school..." he looked over at Cynthia, "Unless you're actually going to make a move on her."
Jared looked over at the girl again, the lovestruck look returning to his face as he hesitated. "I can't," he stammered out.
Will rolled his eyes again. "Oh I give up," he declared, walking over to the counter.
"Can I help you?" Cynthia asked in a timid-sounding voice.
"Extra large double-double," Will ordered, surveying the rows of tantalizing doughnuts behind the counter. He resisted the urge and grinned at her, "Have I introduced you to my friend, Jared?"
Cynthia shyly smiled at Jared, who in turn smiled back at her.
Will stood patiently watching his cup of coffee still in Cynthia's hands getting cold while she hesitated. If he didn't hurry this along it would be stone cold by the time he got to drink it.
"So," he said dramatically, "there's a barbeque at my house on Saturday night; you're welcome to come." He glanced back at Jared who was still blushing. Typical, the mighty hockey player who went to war every week for the honour of his school was terrified of a girl.
"W...where?" Cynthia asked hesitantly.
Will reached out, producing a pen in a magician's flourish and bending down to scribble a number on a napkin. "Here, this is my number; call me and I'll give you directions." He glanced at Jared as he snapped his wrist making the pen vanish much as he had made it appear, "Ready to go?"
Jared nodded mutely as they walked through the Timmies to the parked Toyota out back, Will slipping into it smiling as he anticipated getting his hands on the Toyota that weekend for his first impromptu lesson.
"What'd you do that for?" Jared protested as he got in and started the car, backing out of his spot and driving back towards the school.
"You like her, right?" Will asked. Seeing Jared nod he continued, "Well I just wanted to expedite matters a little..."
"Expedite?" Jared asked with a frown.
"Speed them up a bit," Will explained as the Toyota rocketed up the hill towards the school. "Besides, I wanted to have the barbeque anyway. Sort of welcome everyone home."
The car pulled up in the student parking lot and Jared shrugged. "I guess." he said, letting himself out.
Will sighed as he got out as well, walking with Jared back towards the school, "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have done that without asking."
Jared grinned at him, "You kidding? I'm glad you did, I'm just being shy an'shit."
The two high schoolers passed a couple of Will's grade-seven students, sitting on the grass by the gym doors eating their lunch and talking.
"Hello, Mister Carter," the three of them chimed innocently as he went past, suddenly breaking into nervous giggles and covering their mouths with their hands.
"Seems like you have a fan club." Jared said, holding the doors open for Will."
"Shurrup, you," Will grumbled, marching past him.
Jared winked at the girls and followed Will inside, "You're popular."
"Leave it out," Will said speeding up a little, embarrassed. "Come on, chemistry in a few minutes and you know Mister Chiasson expects us to pass."
"Yeah, but you're teacher's pet. `Course you're gonna pass," Jared said, hurrying to catch up to him. "It's me that has to worry."
"Which reminds me," Will said, stopping in the hall to pull out a couple of sheets of loose leaf from his bag. "Last week's lab notes."
Jared grinned as he took them. "Thanks, Carter," he said, looking them over. It was a great arrangement: Jared did the maths and Will did the written work; between the two of them working together they were actually pulling down a decent grade in chemistry. It all went back to their first year as lab partners in biology, Will was atrocious at math, and Jared's written English put a fourth-grader to shame.
Will gave Jared a soft smile, "Any time, mate."
They had just begun to cross the cafeteria as Jared caught sight of Lisa over beside Charlene. The cheerleaders and popular girls always lunched together, it was like a small social club of good looks, popularity and money. To Will, Lisa never seemed to belong there, she was too smart for it, but she loved the attention. He gave her a wave, and she sparkled back at him with a brilliant smile as she saw him.
"What about Lisa?" Jared asked, nudging him. "She coming on Saturdaynight?"
Will gritted his teeth, "Do you really want her and Brody in the same place at the same time?"
"I bet I can get her to come," Jared said firmly.
Will considered it, "Ok, loser has to...?"
"The loser has to buy a six-pack for the winner over in Quebec," Jared said, his grin solidifying into a plan.
"Deal," Will said, shaking Jared's hand firmly; not that he really liked beer, but he wasn't about to pass up beating Jared at a bet.