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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1003888-Friend-Zones
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by Seuzz
Rated: GC · Book · Occult · #2183311
A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
#1003888 added February 8, 2021 at 12:01pm
Restrictions: None
Friend Zones
Previously: "Worlds Turned Upside Down

Class ends, and you hurry over to where Will is still sprawling lazily in his desk. "Hey, about lunch," you start to say.

He glances back at Caleb. "Yeah, what are your lunch plans?"

"Same as usual."

"How about we go find Jack?" you suggest.

"I thought he had fourth lunch."

"So we'll have lunch while he has study hall."

Will looks amused. "We can't eat in the library!"

But he must have read the expression on your face, for the smile falls off his face and he levers himself upright with a grunt.

"I'm gonna go hang out in the library," he tells Caleb, who maintains a poker face. "I'll, uh, catch up to you later."

He puts out his arm after he's on his feet, as though to drape it around your shoulders. But you give him a look and take a step back, so with a private smile he falls in behind you as you exit the classroom.

* * * * *

Jack usually hangs out in the library with two of his best friends, Parker Stott and Wendy Terrill, during fifth period, when they all have a study hall. No one's at the usual table when you arrive, but you settle at it in anticipation. Will slumps, but you sit upright and look all around the library, head swiveling like a lighthouse mirror. "Who are you looking for?" Will asks.

"Keeping an eye out for Jack."

"So what's the deal that you're so interested in—?"

"Kristina wants me to talk to him, find out what his problem is."

Will mumbles something back, which you distractedly ask him to repeat. "I said, why are you trying to do such a good job at caring?"

"Well, why are you doing such a good job of not caring?" you retort.

"I care. I just got other things on my mind. I thought you would too. I thought we were gonna go find Chris and—"

"He's just gonna tell us he doesn't know anything. Like yesterday, when we ran into him. 'I didn't see you in the theater' is what he said."

"Doesn't mean we shouldn't try."

"Oh, hush," you tell him as the library door opens and Parker and Wendy walk in. You shoot your hand up to gesture them over. Will slides lower in his chair as casual, low-key greetings are exchanged all around.

Parker Stott is the guy you had earlier pigeonholed as a Geoff Mansfield clone. Like Mansfield, he is dark of hair, brow and eye, and is well-coiffed and polished over. He wears his thick hair in a pompadour, and white, even teeth show in his smile. But Leah knows him him as a bright, even-tempered guy who excels in some hard-core classes, but isn't a snot or a show-off about it. Wendy, meanwhile, is a small girl with long, thick brunette hair that hangs almost to her waist. Today, as in most days, she has it bunched into a long, loose braid that drapes over one shoulder and over one breast. Like Parker, Jack, and Kristina, she is on the school band color guard. Together, they are a kind of Four Musketeers group who hang out together constantly and take most of the same classes.

"Is Jack coming?" you ask them as they settle in.

"I dunno," Parker says. "He left early at lunch." He looks unhappy. "He's in a bad mood."

"It's his ankle," says Wendy.

"What's wrong with his ankle?"

"He sprained it. He's on crutches."

"Oh no!" you gasp. Jack loves dancing and light gymnastic routines, so a hurt ankle would actually explain his bad mood.

"Kristina says he's faking it," Wendy tells you in a confiding tone.

"Oh, don't say that!" Parker tells her.

"I'm not saying it! I'm only telling what she's saying!"

"Well, she shouldn't be saying it."

"Why does she think he's faking it?" you ask. "Why would he?"

"I don't know," Wendy admits, while Parker rolls his eyes. "He's been weird the last couple of days." She nudges Parker. "You need to talk to him."

"Has anybody talked to him?" you ask.

Before anyone can answer, Adam Dortch joins you with a "Hey guys. Who are we talking about?" he asks as he flops into an empty chair.

"No one," you quickly reply.

"We're talking about Jack Li," says Will. His lips twitch into a tiny, insolent smile, and he nudges you under the table. "Go on. Tell Adam about—"

"Oh! Jack!" Adam chortles. "What happened to him? I saw him just a little while ago. He's on crutches now?"

"We're trying to figure out if he's faking it," Will says. You give him a hard glare, but he only snickers.

"For what, sympathy?" Adam chortles. "Is that why he was going off with Semple?"

"Adrian Semple?" You wheel on Adam, despite yourself. "Where were they—?"

"Off toward the portables, I guess." Adam pulls a Dr. Pepper from his pack, and after a quick, furtive glance around, cracks it open. "Sympathetic Semple," he muses.

"Yeah," Parker drawls. "Can we talk about something else?"

* * * * *

You're mad at "Will" for what he said in the library, and you tell him so afterward. "I thought you of all people would know better!" you conclude.

He listened with obvious but quiet amusement as you reamed him out, and even after you've run out of breath, he takes the time to chew and swallow the last of the sandwich he is hurriedly consuming in the between-classes break. He even lets out an appreciative belch before replying. "I was trying to help you out," he says.

"Well, you didn't!"

"Sure I did. I got Adam to tell you that Jack and Adrian went off together after lunch."

"Well, you pissed everyone off when you did!"

"So? Am I supposed to care if they're mad at me?"

"They're your friends!"

"They're your friends," he corrects you, and touches your nose with a fingertip. "You're sure acting like they're your friends."

"Well, they're your friends too! Aren't they? Don't you want them to be? Don't you see how hard it's going to be for me to, you know, hang out with you with them if they don't like you?"

He laughs. "I don't think they mind. Besides, you can talk me up with them. Can't you? Can't you?" He pinches your shoulder.

Then he pinches your other shoulder. Then he pinches your arm and your shoulder again and the top of your breast and—

"Stop that!" You slap him away. "What are you doing?"

"Trying to set it up so people won't think it's funny that we're hanging out together so much."

"Well, how is that—? Oh my God!" Now your face is burning. "Are you trying to set us up as—?"

"Don't tell me you weren't thinking about." He leans in to give you a heavy leer. "I know how you think."

He leaves you gasping, and turns to trudge back into the school.

* * * * *

Your head is in a whirl the rest of the afternoon. Is Leah right? Does she really know the way that you think? You feel like you know the way she would think—that's how come you tried shutting her up in the library, and why you yelled at her afterward. So if you know how she thinks, doesn't that mean she knows what you think? And does that mean that you would be thinking about you and her maybe becoming ... more than just ... friends?

The thing is, you're pretty sure that you are not thinking that.

Oh, not that there's anything wrong with Leah. She's pretty neat, in fact. Only she's kind of wild, and you're not sure you could keep up with her. Or that she would want to slow down enough to keep up with you.

And yet, she has said and done things around you that sort of seem like she might be into you that way and that much.

But what does she think of you? Because if you know the way that she thinks, couldn't you just ... ask yourself now what she thinks of you?

* * * * *

It turns out you're not the only one who wants to know what you and Will think of each other. At your locker before seventh period, you're interrupted by poke in the back, and wheel to find Adam grinning down at you.

"Hey," he says, and crowds in close, pushing you back against your locker. A crowd of students surges and writhes behind him, so maybe he has an excuse. "So I didn't get to talk to you at lunch about what I wanted to talk to you about," he says.

"Which is?" you ask.

"What are you doing Friday, and who with?" He gives you a hooded smirk, which he probably thinks is seductive.

"I don't know," you admit.

"Well, are you gonna be doing it with your new best pal? What's his name, in the library with you?"

"Will?"

"Yeah. You gonna be doing it with him, or do I still have a chance with you?"

Next: "The Ghost of Boyfriends Past

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