"Time stands still when you're with me
How can I make you see?
Your crazy antics make me want to scream
Your name so loud that my ears start to bleed
Is this what it's like to have a friend?
After the day she whipped Icarus, Diane had apparently been 'suspended' from classes. But how suspended can you be in a boarding school? I knew for a fact that the school wouldn't dare send Diane home to her mother-who knows how long Diane would last at home without breaking the law in some form or other? I swiftly corrected myself; Diane was obviously not at home in Ireland, Europe even. She had left her home on the other side of the planet, far away in Arizona. In any case, now that I had a friend, it felt odd now that she was not attending class until Monday. Technically, we'd only been friends for about twelve hours, but I still felt a little hollow when she was absent. But I knew that she had to be somewhere. And how easy is it to hide Diane, of all people? Not very.
When the bell rang for lunch, I melted into the crowd as best I could, trying my best not to be noticed. This became increasingly difficult as the students thinned out, vanishing into the cafeteria. Where could she be? She obviously didn't have dorms with the other students. So she must share one with the only other non-teacher female in the school-Ms. Kyota.
I slipped unnoticed to the nurse's office, though I hesitated at the door. How would it appear to Kyota if I suddenly took an interest in Diane when she didn't show up at school? I was uncharacteristically indecisive. Having never had a friend before, I wasn't sure if this was normal for friends or weird. I'm not talking kids-being-silly weird. More like bordering-on-stalker kind of weird. I stood with my back to the wall for what felt like an eternity, trying to reason through this. But nothing came, which was really frustrating for a boy who always has some sort of backup plan. I kneaded my temples, sluggishly formulating a the beginnings of a plan. But I knew that I had to act soon, because as suspicious as asking about Diane could seem, hovering uncertainly outside the door would be doubly so. Steeling myself, I ducked into the office.
Ms. Kyota was at her desk, investigating something on the computer whilst simultaneously jotting notes on a small pad by the mouse. At my entrance she politely looked up, calm and collected.
"Yes?" she acknowledged, awaiting my response. I suddenly felt warm. I really should have thought this out. I cleared my throat awkwardly, looking for anything to focus on in order to avert Kyota's gaze.
"Yes, um," I began clumsily. If I could've seen my ridiculous dialogue, I never would have set foot in the medical office again for shame. "About Diane? She wasn't at school today, and I was just wondering…,"
"She's been suspended from classes for the remainder of the week," she informed automatically, returning to her notepad for a brief moment. "Why?"
"I guess I just...wanted to thank her," I said truthfully, rubbing the back of my neck. This improvisation business was more stressful than you would think. "For saving my skin yesterday. Icarus would have torn me apart."
"Icarus and his entourage," corrected Ms. Kyota, allowing herself a mischevious smile. "You are wise to be grateful for Miss Sullivan's interference. I would allow you to see what she did to your assaulters, but I fear that they may lose control and further injure themselves."
"If anything, it would be me getting hurt," I stated, getting slightly suspicious. Was there another variable I was missing? "How could they possibly get-"
It was then that a hand clamped over my mouth, pulling me backwards. I gave a muffled yelp as two fingers were poked into the side of my head.
"Get out the cashbox! This is a stickup!" gruffed an obviously fake voice from behind me. Identifying the true voice, I grunted impatiently and rolled my eyes. Laughing at me, Diane let me free, and I spun around to look at her. If I were accustomed to this whole friendship business, I would have smiled at her, but instead I narrowed my eyes and gave her my best evil face.
"One could hardly pull a 'stickup' on me," I snarled, my voice more venomous than I had intended. Diane shrugged at me-by now she apparently knew me well enough to slough off my apparent hostility when I didn't mean it. But how?
"One could hardly rope Diane into mercenary status," quipped Ms. Kyota, smiling to herself at some inside joke. Now it was Diane's turn to give the nurse her scowl. I had a sneaking feeling that it was better than mine.
"How ya been, Arty?" greeted Diane, ruffling my hair as if I were her younger sibling. Wincing inwardly, I pulled back and gingerly tried to remedy Diane's catastrophic meddling.
"That was uncalled for," I growled, whilst simultaneously fixing my hair. This only served to invite Diane to further aggravate me. She ruffled it again, which was really annoying. More annoying than I was accustomed to. I tried to bat her hand away, but she ceased on her own when she saw how much it was bothering me. It wasn't quite the hair itself that was irking me; it was more Diane's actions. Even after I'd done all I could to intimidate her, Diane obliviously cut straight to antagonizing me. Once again, she had baffled me.
"I go looking for you when you don't show up at school, like a good friend," I emphasize in exasperation, uncharacteristically moody. "and you reward me by intentionally annoying me. If you're trying to make a good first impression on me in terms of 'friendship,' you're not doing a very good job."
"I don't do first impressions," replied Diane, as if that was a disgustingly mainstream thing. I sighed at her. "Besides, I get the feeling that you wouldn't willingly slide into any first-impression stereotypes anyway. You're too much of a cleverclogs for that."
"...'Cleverclogs?'" I muttered to myself. Diane nodded at me.
"Um. Yeah," she responded slowly, as if it were obvious. "Cleverclogs. You're the biggest cleverclogs I've ever met. Possibly the biggest on the planet."
"Why can't you just call me Artemis?" I snapped. "First 'Arty,' now 'Cleverclogs.' What next? 'Lunar?'"
"Lunar?" echoed Diane with half a chuckle. I pouted, not used to being stood up by anyone at anything. I'd only come up with such a lousy nickname because the conversation had taken such a radical spin that I couldn't have predicted its outcome. Another first.
"Or something." I grumbled. Diane laughed at me again.
"I dunno what I'll call ya, but it'll be something better than that!" crowed Diane. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, attempting to channel my chi just like Butler taught me. But it was difficult to be calm around Diane.
"Am I bugging you?" she prodded, literally poking me in the shoulder. Nobody ever poked me.
"Am I bugging you?" I retorted. I was beginning to doubt this whole friendship nonsense. Why couldn't everything be expressed in some logical form, like an algebraic equation or a sophisticated syllabus? At least then I could dissect it, make sense of it, figure out its inner workings. I hated this guesswork, it was all utter nonsense. None of this was making any sense. That was exactly why I was so irritable. Normally I was calm, cool, collected; but now I found myself in a situation that no amount of studying and knowledge-seeking would guide me through. I had to rely on instinct and whatever Diane told me. As ridiculous as it sounds, it made me feel powerless.
And despite my valedictorian status, I hated being powerless.
Apparently, I'm not the only one.
"Hey, talk to me, man," insisted Diane, elbowing me gently. Despite myself, I listened. "Why are you getting so worked up? I'm just messing with you."
"That's the point," I relented, deciding to stick with honesty for once. "I'm not used to being messed with. I don't like it. It makes me feel like I'm not on top anymore."
"So that's your problem," identified Diane, raising her eyebrows at me as she pointed. "You take everything too seriously. And then there are things that you don't take seriously enough. You're all over the place, dude. Either you didn't have a childhood, or something nasty must have happened to you, because your priorities are seriously skewed."
"Since when are you a psychologist?" I jabbed absentmindedly. I'd calmed down by now, but I marvelled at Diane's effective reading. Dr. Po would be beside himself with envy when he discovered that this punkish devil-may-care girl made it through to me before he did.
"Speaking of shrinks," purred Diane. I recognized that dangerous spark in her eye-it had been glimpsed in my own gaze on several occasions. "Whaddaya say we pull a little prank on the good doctor?"
I gave my most winning vampire smile. For a girl that was nothing like me, Diane thought just like I did.