The smell of gas reeked throughout the chemistry lab as bunsen burners were ignited. Rae played with the lighter in her hands sending sparks with each click, waiting for her other lab partner to show. She glanced around her table to see that Reid had his head down, Tyler was preparing for class and Kylie was staring out the open window. The bell was about to ring when Caleb finally rushed in. Rae smiled remembering her first day in chemistry.
The teacher, Mr. Carr, had announced to carefully pick partners. She quickly grabbed Kylie's arm saying, "I call the genius!" Kylie smirked at the comment knowing if any person had 300 years of schooling and the god's gift of memory, they too would be deemed a genius.
Across from them Tyler bumped fists with Reid, showing they agreed to be partners. Rae decided they were like the two musketeers; only without the silly feathered hats, the nylon tights and the red cross mark on their chest. Rae stopped in thought, Wait a minute, there were three musketeers.
Books dropped on the black top desk in front of her and she looked up to find Caleb huffing and puffing. Rae smirked while thinking, And the third musketeer has arrived.
Caleb already realized by their seating that they picked partners, but still stated the obvious in a disappointed tone, "You picked lab partners already?" He quickly scoped the room for another lab partner and found no available spaces. He sighed, "I guess I'm working alone."
Mr. Carr had somehow snuck up behind Caleb without anyone noticing and said, "No need to sit alone. Why don't you join these ladies? You three can work together."
As Mr. Carr walked away Reid snickered, "Wow, Caleb. Didn't know you had it in you?"
"What are you talking about Reid?" Caleb asked.
Reid wiggled his eyebrows, "A threesome."
Rae said shaking her head, "You're such a pervert. How you ever get laid is still a mystery to me."
Reid smirked and asked, "Would you like to find out, Rae?"
Rolling her eyes away Rae replied, "Sorry I'm not into children."
Caleb pulled a stool over and Rae wrapped her arms around Caleb and Kylie, "Yes! I get TWO smart people. I'll never fail, again."
Now that she got to know them better, the three boys seemed more like the three stooges than the three musketeers. Mr. Carr started passing out the lab instruction papers and worksheets. Rae said to Caleb, "Cutting it close there."
Caleb nodded his head in agreement and started to fish his book and notebook out of his bag. Rae started to grind her teeth from all of the frustration. Caleb was deliberately ignoring her all day and Rae swore she didn't do anything to him. At least she didn’t do anything to him today.
Mr. Carr explained that they basically had to take these different metal pieces and see what color they turned the flame with the bunsen burners. Apparently the flame color could identify what metal it was.
After doing our tests, we'd have to fill out the lab paper, which included a hypothesis, data, results and a conclusion. It didn't seem too difficult. The worksheet though had definitions and, to add more of a challenge for the people who don't apply themselves, really hard thinking questions that made your brain melt.
Caleb took action by collecting the metals and supplies for the experiment. He slowly dabbed a q-tip into the petri dish filled with metal shavings and quickly let the tip of the flame hit the metal on the q-tip. A sudden flash of white flame came and Caleb threw the used cue tip into a beaker. Rae tried to start some sort of conversation, "What metal was that, Caleb?"
He glanced at Rae for a second and answered, "Magnesium." Caleb turned back to the next metal while Rae racked her brain trying to figure out why he was acting so weird. Was what happened at Nicky’s starting to affect their humorous friendship?
She said quietly, "So you missed a good party? Why didn't you come?"
Caleb stared at the metal in the petri dish, "I had a thing with the family." She wondered how Will and Evelyn were doing? Did something happen to them?
Rae asked concern, "Is everything okay?"
As Caleb gave a nod and the metal shavings went over the edge of the petri dish and danced across the table toward Kylie's side. Caleb muttered, "Fuck," as he glared out the open window that was bringing in a light breeze.
Reid's head snapped up at Caleb's potty mouth and whispered to Tyler, "Someone's cranky today." Cranky would be an understatement, Rae thought. Caleb grabbed Reid's dish that still had the metal they needed to test.
Looking down at Caleb's hand was a deep cut and she blurted out, "What happened to your hand?"
He seemed startled for a second then said calmly, "I cut myself."
Rae rolled her eyes, "No shit, Sherlock. I mean how did you get the cut? I hope you're not becoming a cutter?"
He didn't even smile at her. Yeah, it wasn’t funny.
Caleb instead replied curtly, "I dropped a glass cup yesterday. Could you stop with all the questions, I need to finish this." Rae nodded her head and focused on the paper before her. Why was he being such an ass to her?
A yelp from Caleb snapped her out of her thought. Everyone stared at Caleb and he raised his hands saying embarrassed, "I'm okay. All good."
There was a nudge into her right side and Rae glanced over to Kylie, who whispered, "Are you okay?"
She gave a fake smile at Kylie while saying, "Yeah. Why would you ask?"
Scooting closer, Kylie smirked glancing over to Caleb and whispered to Rae, "Oh, I just think almost setting Caleb on fire might mean something."
Rae was about to reply with a sarcastic remark when she noticed Kylie's worksheet was complete. "Can I borrow your answers?"
Giving a frown Kylie sighed, "Actually, I can't give them to you. Abby gave me the riot act about stopping you from cheating yourself…so bottom line is we're all alone on this one."
Mr. Carr said to the class, "Please hand in your papers at the end of class."
Rae sighed frustrated at Abby's antics and glanced over the other side of the table. Tyler was filling out both their worksheets, while Reid cleaned up their station, so copying them was out.
Caleb, the ignoring prick, was done with his worksheet with very in depth details.
While Caleb was putting his books into his bag, Rae decided to give him a reason to be mad at her. Quickly Rae switched her paper with his and wrote her name at the top of the completed sheet.
The bell rang to dismiss them and Rae got up quickly, handing the teacher the worksheet and went out to the hall way waiting for Caleb’s rage.
As Caleb got up he noticed his sheet was blank and stared at it dumbfound. He quickly scratched his answers down and exited the room to find Rae like she thought. Marching over with the impression of the goggles left around his eyes and angrily accused, "You switched my paper."
Rae leaned back against the wall saying annoyed, "How else was I supposed to get your attention when you've been ignoring me all day. Did I do something to you?"
He placed a hand on the back of his neck and apologized, "I'm sorry, it's not you." He looked away from Rae and stared at the ground, "A lot's been on my mind."
Rae asked bluntly, "Does this have to do with what happened at Nicky's?"
His eyes widened and then shifted when he said, "Nothing happened at Nicky's. We just danced, that's all. Right?"
Rae swallowed a hard lump that had formed in her throat and tried to sound nonchalant in her answer, "Yep. So we're cool then?"
Caleb smiled, "Yeah, we're cool."
They began to walk to their next class and Caleb said in better humor, "Pogue was asking for you?"
Rae glanced over with a curious look, "Really?"
Caleb rolled his mocha colored eyes and said, "Apparently, he thinks you set him up with a Kira ambush."
She laughed and tried to ask innocently, "Why would I do that? I can't control Kira's actions any more than I can control my own."
Caleb chuckled, "Yeah, that's what I thought. See you in a bit."
They went separate ways and Rae had to admit it, something did happen at Nicky's. Like how the sensation of liquid fire ran through Rae's veins when Caleb held her close that night or how Caleb became the only person in the room when they danced.
As she entered the classroom door, Rae couldn't help but think about this awkward situation.
I wish I could convince myself as easily as I did with Caleb. Because at Nicky's something did change, for good or bad, I didn't know yet.