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Chapter 21

Today is my birthday. I opted not to tell anyone. I didn't care, overall. I never celebrated it, so why bother?

Just to get it out of my system: I'm sixteen! Yay! Ok off to school.

When we got to the front of the school, Dex was there with a bundle in his hands.

"Sup Shawty. I got a very important gift for ya."

"These the finest chocolate chocolate chip cookies in Kansas!"

He held out the bundle to me and Jason.

"Take em. Take em, take em, take em, take em!" He said.

"Okay okay." I gave in.

I took the cookies and stuffed them in my bag.

Dex grinned widely, then ran into the building.

"How many times do you think that guy was dropped on his head?" Jason asked.

I hunched my shoulders.

"Why'd you give me all those cookies?" I asked when I sat down beside Dex.

He pointed and put on his goggles and hat. "Cause. I know today's your birthday."

I choked on air. "How?"

"I broke into the office after I met you." Dex answered.

I chuckled. The chuckle grew into a laugh. I looked at Dex. He had a completely neutral expression. Oh god, he's not kidding. My laugh turned into a nervous and chaotic laugh.

"Why would you do that?" I asked once I stopped laughing.

"Because I'm good at it, and I like to know everyone who comes through the school." Dex answered.

"And since you're my friend I gave you cookies." He explained.

I huffed and pressed my head on the desk.

I felt Dex pat my shoulder. "Don't worry. I won't get caught."

I groaned in response.

In transition to our next classes, I carried Dex on my shoulder. He'd climb on me on his own, and I didn't care either way.

People who would pick on him would steer clear when I was around.

What I found out about Dex is, he's good at math and science. Which probably goes hand-in-hand with his...craftiness. And, he's a prankster; he changed Jason's locker combination. Jason had to go through a whole ordeal to get it fixed. The next thing was this; he had a firecracker and lit it in the back of the class. It was chaos, between me running around trying to catch it and him just standing there watching with a grin. Everyone else was hiding under their desks.

We got sent to the principal's office. Miraculously, we didn't get suspended. But to make sure Dex didn't cause anymore trouble, I dragged him back to class.

The teacher refused to let us back in, so we just sat outside the door.

"Fucker." Dex crossed his arm.

"Are you out of your mind?! Why did you do that?" I snapped.

Dex blew air. Hell, I don't even think he knew why he did it.

"Wanna go stalk Jason?" He asked.

"Hm? Do ya?" He questioned.

I shook my head and chuckled, "let's not cause any more trouble."

"In fact," I pulled out my phone, "let's go to Panera after school."

I texted Jason to "recruit" him.

"Okay." Dex said. He then cheered.

Jason responded with a thumbs up emoji. I cheered. Tortellini Alfredo here I come!

"You did what?" Jason questioned while we ate.

Dex just cackled. When we got to Panera Bread and got our food, we told him about class. And other things.

Jason pointed his spoon at me, "and you! How can you catch an exploding firecracker?"

"Well...I just wanted to contain it at least." I held up my hand.

"Ooh, good news!" I decided to change the subject. "Brian says I can get out of this sling by tomorrow!"

My shoulder felt one hundred percent better. I was overjoyed, I'll finally be able to use my dominant hand again. No more sloppy handwriting! No more shaking! No more...more handicapped-ness.

"I catch myself wondering if they'll look at me differently..." I pondered. I was talking about Evie and Indra of course.

"Who?" Jason asked.

"N-No one." I stammered.

He and Dex looked at me suspiciously. I hunched my shoulders and stuffed pasta in my mouth.

When I -- sorry "we" -- got home, I went straight to my room. Jason breezed past me. Jeanette was in my room. I saw her put a folded shirt in my drawer.


"We've been together long enough, Luc. You can start calling me "Mom." She said. I raised an eyebrow.

She stood up with a content sigh and brushed her pants.

"Never had one before." I stated blankly.

"What? Someone to fold your clothes and put them up neatly for you?" She joked.

"A mom."

Jeanette looked at me. She had this look on her face; pensive, sad. Eventually she gave a small nod and walked towards the door.

"Well, you do now." She pat my shoulder. I would've said something else, but she rushed out. I'd have no problem calling her "Mom," but something about it made me uncomfortable...

I heard the door to her room close. I went to her door and stood there. It was silent. Did I upset her?

I shook my head and snuck away to my room.

Later that day Brian, Jason, and I sat on the porch deciding on a place to eat.

"Where's Mom?" Jason asked.

Brian rubbed his hands together, "she's feeling a little under the weather,"


"so it's just us guys." He finished. He smirked.

"Wanna go to a nightclub?" He asked.

Jason and I cringed.

"You're joking, right?" I questioned.

"Dad." Jason groaned.

Brian chuckled, "relax. It was just a joke."

We both exhaled.

Eventually we decided on a burger place. It was closer to Brian's workplace, so we had a bit of a drive.

At dinner, Brian spoke to us. I was kind of upset Jeanette wasn't here with us, but I guess there's nothing I can do if she's sick.

"So Luc, how are your first few days going?" Brian asked.

I looked up at him.

"Um...." I had to think. Majority of the interesting stuff came from Dex's shenanigans, and I didn't want to get into trouble.

"It's fine. Nothing major." I laughed a little.

Brian nodded his head, "Jeanette tells me you have a new friend."

"Tell me about him." I laughed again. Oh god, I'm in trouble.

Jason took a sip from his glass and his eyes widened for a second.

"Well, his name is Dex. He's really short. And weird." I said.

Brian made a thinking face.

"Is he that boy with the goggles? Runs kind of funny?" He asked.

I pointed, "yep!"

"How did you two become friends?" Brian then asked.

"Well..." I wasn't sure how he'd react to me telling him we met by Dex popping out of a trashcan, "basically he popped out at me...and we just kept talking since."

"I mean, he's in all of my classes and we live on the same street, so how can I not speak to him?" I laughed.

Jason spoke up, "the guy is a handful."

"He looks a little small to be in highschool." He added. I nodded in agreement. Maybe he skipped grades.

At dinner, I watched Brian subtly. He laughed and smiled. He seemed to genuinely care. I enjoy his company, so I decided to bite.

It took a while to work up my courage. When I did, we were already back home and I was shaking and stammering.

"Um Brian, would you maybe wanna hang out at some point?" Brian turned to me. He had a small smile on his face.

"Just the two of us?" I clenched my jacket.

Is that how you're supposed to ask it?

His smile widened.

"I thought you'd never ask!"

"Of course we can." He nodded.

Great. I was happy he said "yes," but also scared of what hanging out would entail.

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