The Universe Hates Me

Chapter 20


Despite the fact that Sam and I's first date was kind of a bummer - well, OK, I can't lie; it was the worst freaking date in the history of bad dates - I felt...not love, never love, but I did feel at ease with him. I mean, you had to hand it to him; the guy was sweet, not too bad on the couldn't judge him on one date gone wrong. Plus, he helped me keep my mind from straying to some not-so-friendly (read as: totally drooling-over) thoughts about Fang.

Sam and I had been going out regularly for the past couple of weeks. We hadn't exactly become official, but everyone knew we were together. We'd been growing a bit closer, too. Even Lissa and I had spent more time together. Like, it was so weird...I had even learnt to tolerateher. Scary, I know.

Lissa and Sam had seemed to become pretty close friends, too; I had seen them quite a few times together, chatting away and laughing. They really seemed to enjoy each other's company. It was nice.

But...there was another friendship, in a pretty crapass state, that I wasn't too happy about. Fang and I had been gradually drifting further and further apart. It seemed that ever night since The Date From Hell, he had been trying to avoid me. I'd barely talked to him the past two or so weeks, and every time we did so he seemed so bitter, or we'd get interrupted. Every time Sam approached us, Fang would tense up and melt back into the shadows, not even making an excuse as to why he was leaving.

I hated this.

I didn't want to lose my best friend...again. I just realized how lame I have made this story.. uh.. it happens.. Yes, well, you know what, Kenz? You can fix it with some Fax. Everything can be fixed with Fax. Scrape your knee? Fuck bandaids, I. Want. Fax. Got cancer? Who needs chemo, We. Have. Fax. Easy, yeah?~ Gees Kay, chill its coming.. like for real.. next chapter. :p

I sat in class, absolutely bored out of my mind, and listened with what had to be a wow-is-she-stoned? look on my face as the announcements started.

"Good morning, Mustangs!" trilled the voice of Holly Madison, our overtly peppy Student Council President. "Please stand for the Pledge!" I had to wonder...why was she so excited about the pledge? About standing?

Sighing lazily, I dragged my butt off my chair and stood along with the rest of the class as she started us off. "I pledge allegiance to the-" we all picked up and mumbled the rest of the Pledge before taking our respective seats. I had pretty much zoned out as soon as Holly had started blabbering at us like some Barbie recording. I couldn't really care less about any of what she was saying, anyway.

I had begun shoving all my things into my bag when the noise of girly squeals echoing across the room came to my attention. I paused slightly; something Holly had said must've come to their attention.

"Yes, that's right, guys!" Holly was saying cheerfully, "I repeat, Junior and Senior prom is nextSaturday night! Remember, guys, don't forget to by your tickets this week, before or after school in the Activities Offices! And, everyone? Better start finding your date...before it's too late!" I rolled my eyes. Rhyming. Really? "This is Holly Madison, signing off. Have a wonderful day, Mustangs!"

I groaned inwardly as the room filled with loud conversations. Girls were talking about hair, dresses, nails, shoes, blah blah blah.Guys were blathering on about which girl to take, who would put out, who would look the best in their dress...It was going to be a long two weeks with everyone obsessing over this overrated dance.

I nearly jumped out of my seat and thanked the Lord when Mr Howel silenced the class.

"Alright, guys, settle down for a minute, yeah? I need to go over your final projects and then you can talk about your makeup and all that shit." He silenced the class with a flip of his hand as he sat, cross-legged, on his desk and took a swig of his Monster.

Have I ever mentioned how flipping awesomemy Music Theory teacher was?

"Since we've been working on expression these past few weeks, I figured that this would be the perfectproject. Lately, we've learnt that many songs speak what we can't say, or express, in words to someone or somethingin real life. It's a way to show how we feel without all that pressure of saying whatever to so-and-so's face. So, your final project is to write an original song expressing something you feel or something you're going through. It's got to be something you wouldn't say in real life. You've got all week to complete it and you'll need to work on it at home. I suggest you keep a notebook with you at all times. I've said this before and I'll say it again; you never know when inspiration will strike. Make sure it comes from the heart."

He finished walking around the room handing us the grading rubric, which barely had anything on it since you aren't really graded on music. His main points were effort, creativity, heart and soul.

"Have fun with it, guys. Your songs will be due Friday by the end of class. You can come in at anytime for help or just a friendly opinion. Also don't forget the annual talent show in next Tuesday night; I want to see a few of you slackers there, 'kay? Right, you lot are dismissed. Go back to your mindless teenage chattering," he said, flicking his hand and turning his attention to his iPhone.

"Ten bucks says he starts playing Angry Birds," I whispered to the person next to me, a boy who usually hung out with the skater clique. He shot me a look and as soon as I saw the unmistakeable don't-come-near-me-I'm-concentratingfrown on Mr Howel's face, I held my hand out to him, smugly awaiting my ten dollars.

The guy just shot me a look and turned to talk to his friend.

Psh. Cheapskate.

But then the entirety of the project appeared to me...what the heckwas I supposed to write a freaking songabout? I guess there was how much I love cookies. That would definitely be from the heart.

I was just in the middle of contemplating the depth of my cookie song when the bell rang, saving me from any more squealy girl prom talk.

I grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder, glad that I'd already gathered my things, and bolted out of the class, headed for lunch - what can I say? It's the best part of the day. I grabbed my food from my locker - yeah, I pack, it's not like I want to have my stomach pumped because I'd eaten some of the schools mystery meat- and headed over to meet Sam at our usual lunch spot. About halfway across the courtyard, Sam spotted me, grinning and waving me over. I was about to wave back when something caught my eye.

Fang, sitting under a tree, a half-eaten apple in hand. His face was pretty much expressionless, but I don't know what did it - he just looked sad, you know? I think it might have been the slant of his eyebrows, or the tiny puckering of his mouth...he just looked different from his normal "I don't give a fuck" sort of facade.

I bit my lip, realizing my best friend was looking so solemn about something and I wasn't even there to ask him who the fuck it was, exactly, I was sucker-punching.

Well... fuck, way to make me feel like a bitch.

It was only then that I realized where the Fangalator was looking. At my table, where Sam, Lissa, Nudge and Iggy were, eating their food - dumbasses had actually gottenthe mystery meat - and laughing and chatting, all happy and stuff.Theywere all happy...Fang wasn't, though. Fuck. I really had my priorities messed up, didn't I?

Sam must've noticed my hesitation because he called out, "Max? You coming, babe?" and waving me over some more.

I shook my head, peeking at Fang from the corner of my eye. "Hang on a a sec, yeah? I'll be there soon!" I called back, before making my way over to Fang, who had noticed Sam and I's exchange and was watching with 15% curiosity and 85% smugness.

He watched me as I walked over, eyebrows raised, probably wondering where my change of heart - and seating choice - had come about. I plopped down beside him, making sure my shoulder crashed into his. Fang didn't fall over, though, just grumbled, "Piss off, Max." I laughed at him and poked his side.

"So, whaddya got for lunch, yo?" I asked, trying for a gangster sort of tone.

"Max," Fang said, "no. Just no."

I pouted at him, hoping I didn't look too ridiculous. "Fine. So, what do you have for lunch, Fang?"

"Food," he answered noncommittally.

I grimaced, because I knew...things were still weird. I mean, I had wanted to rock up next to him, start up our banter, just like old times. But that didn't happen, ever.Things weren't like that. Because, yeah, I felt a little awkward around Fang now. Not, like, omigod-get-him-away-from-me, but more...oh-jeez-why-is-this-so-weird?

"How boring," I said. "You ought to try something new for a change. Like that horrible sludge they call 'mystery meat' from the cafeteria. That is, if you're interested in explosive diarrhea." I paused, waiting for Fang to ask, Like Kenny in thatSouth Parkepisode? but he didn't, and I felt my face fall slightly. Fuck. Things were

"What are you even doinghere, Max?" Fang asked me after some more silence.

"Spending time with my friend," I answered immediately, wincing when he scoffed.

"And what about your boyfriend?" he retorted, not missing a beat. Well shit.

"He'll be fine without me for however long lunch goes for," I told Fang coolly. "We're not attached at the hip, you know."

"Sure as hell seems like it," Fang muttered.

"Look," I said loudly, starting to get fed up, "I can go, if you'd rather sit and mope here all lunch."

"Yeah? Fine, if that's what best friendsis all about. Go."

"Fuck you, Fang," I said blithely, before sighing. "Fine, you win this round. I'm just gonna say you won that little scuffle, and go on and say what I wanted to before you turned into a bitch. No, shut up," I held up my hand as he opened his mouth, but when it looked as if Fang was about to speak, I grabbed his sandwich and shoved half of it into his mouth, "Yes, atta boy. Now, as I was saying, I know I haven't spent much time with you as of late." Fang raised his eyebrows, as if to say, Oh, you really think so? but I ignored him and continued, "So, I wanted to propose a Max and Fang day. The two amigos. Bros for life. Besties. BFFLs. Whaddya reckon, sister?"

Fang gave me a flat look, yanking the sandwich from his mouth and shoving it in mine. My eyes widened and I started coughing. Fang just smirked, not even smacking my back to help me out. In the end, I had to swallow - cooties and all. "What the hell, Fang? You couldn't even spare me the...oh, I don't know...germless half?"

"You know you love it," he deadpanned.

"Oh, yeah. So when I get mono, and I'm on my deathbed, it'll be all fun and games?"

"Max, Max, Max," Fang sighed, shaking his head. "I don't have mono."

"Mhmm. Sure." I rolled my eyes and grabbed Fang's water bottle, taking a swig.

Ignoring me, Fang added, "An STD...maybe."

Immediately, I started coughing again, spraying water all over my jeans and shoes. I was still spluttering when I asked, ""

"God, no," Fang laughed, and it was almost like we were BFFLs again, no one between us...except there was. Sam and Lissa.Almostlike we were BFFLs... "Your expression, though...priceless."

I kicked his calf and scowled. "Unbelievable..."

"Aw, but you still love me."

I sniffed. "Sure, but only because you have kickass hair."

Fang nodded proudly. "I know, hey?"

"So, are we game or not? For the Max and Fang day," I elaborated, in response to Fang's questioning look. "'Cause, you know, I have a bucketload of childhood besties who're totally up for chilling with me if you're not."

"Sureyou do, Max." He rolled his eyes, plucking the other half of his sandwich from where it was now dangling between my teeth. He took a huge munch, saying with his mouth full (pig), "You sure Sam's OK with it, though?"

I snorted. "Fuck him if he does, right? It doesn't matter either way. Sam doesn't ownme. I'd kick his ass if he told me no, anyway." I leant back against the tree, narrowing my eyes at Fang, a little miffed that he would even think that I'd let Sam push me around and shit.

"Oh, I'm sure you could hold your own against him, Max," Fang assured me wryly. He rolled his eyes. "You've done it to me a fair few times, I know that much."

"Absolutely," I nodded. "I'll whoop your butt if you so much as laugh at my hair."

"But, Max..." Fang said innocently, "everyonelaughs at your hair. See, over there? Look! They're cracking up at that rat's nest!"

My head whipped around to where he was pointing, my glare already in place. "What? Those bastards! Who is it? Where are they?"

I turned around to look at Fang, but instead smashed my cheek into his waiting fist.

"Owww," I moaned. "I hate you!"

Fang chuckled as I crossed my arms, huffing. "Sorry, sorry!" he said. "Please forgive me?" I snuck a look at him from the corner of my eye, nearly choking on my spit as I saw him attempting the Bambi eyes. One look at him and I was done. How can someone look so damn attractive whilst attempting to act like a child?

I mean...oh, fuck it. He was goddamn hot and I wasn't going to deny it any freaking longer.

"OK, OK," I relented. "You're forgiven, you big emo baby."

"So what'll we do, Maxie?" he asked, shoving the last of his half-eaten-by-me sandwich in his mouth.

"Well," I drawled, "I say we could throw on our spy gear, dress up all badass and shiz, maybe be all Superman and rescue some mutant experiments out of some evil scientists' labs. Don't that sound like fun?"

Fang rolled his eyes at the reminder. "Just like old times, eh? We can get caught by your dad and almost get him fired when you try to roundhouse kick his boss." Fang had somehow procured a plastic container of grapes, and proceeded to pelt them at me.

"Hey!" I said defensively, "The possibility of my dad's science-y work experimenting on humans was, like, forty percent, OK? It could have happened."

Fang sighed in exasperation, closing his eyes. "Omm," he said, "omm..."

"I - what the hell, Fang?"

"Hang on, I'm picturing you charging through that governmentally secured lab and demanding where the Brains On A Stick were hidden."

"Hey! I was six, OK? They all looked pretty nasty, too!"

"Oh, yeah," Fang scoffed. "His lab coat just screamedevil."

"Shut up," I muttered rudely, shoving him to the side a little. "Idiot."

"I love your originality when it comes to insults," Fang said in what seemed to be a sincere voice. "But, seriously, what's the plan?"

"Dunno," I answered. "Whatever you want. Just a Max and Fang day, do whatever. We need one of those. Like, ASAP." I couldn't bring myself to look at him as I spoke; I felt so...well, ashamed. How could I have bailed on my bestie like that?

"I'd like that," Fang said, putting his hand over my shoulder and hugging me to him, holding me close.

I could feel his breath against my neck. Oh my God...

"So," I said, clearing my throat. "You free tonight?"

"For you? Always," Fang whispered into my hair. Did he just kiss my head? Or was that my imagination?

We sat in silence for what seemed an age, just enjoying each other's company and pretending that there was no underlying tension. Even though...yeah, there kinda was.

"Do you need to go make sure Sam isn't having an separation anxieties?" Fang asked after a while.

I turned to him, scowling, just as my phone buzzed. I dug it out of my jeans and read the message:

From: Sam

Where r u? Need 2 ask u something.

Slightly annoyed that Fang was kind of right, I immediately responded.

To: Sam

Eating lunch with Fang. Ask me later.

I stole a glance at Fang who was watching me smugly, as if he knew that Sam was getting ansty about our 'separation'. Not a beat later, my phone buzzed again.

From: Sam

Talk l8er 2night?

I sent back a 'yeah, sure' before turning back to Fang and shoving my phone in my pocket. "Sorry about that. You know how popular I am," I shrugged.

"Yeah, with your mom."

I ignored him, continuing, "But my minions will have to deal, because I'm eating lunch with my BFFL today. He's a bit weird, but...ya know."

"What a coincidence," Fang drawled. "I am too. And my best friend has somehow managed to steal my pudding. Some things never change."

I grinned at him, knowing that I had pudding all between my teeth. "Nuh."

"Your manners are still the same as when you were two," Fang muttered.

Things were going to be OK, I knew that much. Tense, awkward, but OK.

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