Nala is too sick to get up the following morning and ends up staying at Asia's house for the next few days. Her friend's parents are more than understanding and accommodating. Corbin does not even call to confirm his sister's location. He is rather dedicated to his decision not to interfere in her life anymore.
Asia ends up going to school alone on Monday. Sean is waiting with Madison at the front gate to ask how Nala is. "She's not dying," Asia assures him. "She won't be at school for a while though."
"What about you?" Madison presses a hand to Asia's forehead to check her temperature. "Is Peters contagious?"
"I don't think it's that serious of a sickness." Asia shakes her head. "Nala just spent too much time outside and weakened her immune system. Unless I walk around with wet hair and bare feet, I should be fine."
"That's good to hear." Madison ruffles her hair, which is still down and wavy rather than braided. "Are you going to look like this forever now?" he asks.
"You said I looked cute." She blushes.
"Well, that's not a matter of hairstyle. I'm not a slave to my fetishes like this guy." He taps Sean who swats his hand away immediately. "Tell Peters to wait until her hair gets longer. She won't get any sleep after that."
"Nala's hair is halfway between her shoulders and her neck right now. It's like the netherworld of hairstyles," Asia sighs.
"Aren't you looking happy," a female voice interrupts their conversation.
"What do you want?" Asia frowns when she recognizes the reddish brown hair of her former friend Celia.
"I was just impressed that you can still show that sort of expression. I thought for sure you'd gone goth on us or something. That's a cute outfit though."
Asia looks down at her new black coat. Despite her dislike for her former friend she still enjoys being complimented. "Thank you, Davis." She smiles at her.
"Davis?" Celia raises an eyebrow. "So it's like that now, is it? Can't even be bothered to use my first name anymore, eh?"
"Well…" Asia averts her eyes.
"It's fine, Kon. I don't want you dirtying my name with your mouth anyway. Lord knows how many dicks you've sucked in your lifetime."
"Only one recently," Madison sees his chance to interject.
Celia almost laughs until she notices how confident he looks. "I see. You've found someone willing to take you in after everything. That's rare these days. I wonder what's wrong with him."
"There's nothing wrong with him!" Asia loses her temper. "He's perfect. He's the second half of the prince combo," she uses the well known nickname the freshmen girls have for Sean and Madison who are almost always seen together.
"What?" Celia finally notices Sean standing next to his friend. He waves at her calmly, almost as if to mock her ignorance. "I see." Celia grits her teeth. "Something is definitely wrong with these princes. I heard one of them was dating a hick. I didn't realize they were both lame in the head."
"He is not!" Asia is furious. She may be able to stand people insulting her but Madison is a different matter. Despite how often she hits him, he is actually very important to her. He is the only boy who does not treat her like a tramp.
"Getting a little loud, aren't we?" Celia gestures toward several other students who have all begun to stare at them. "I'm sure you don't want to cause your boy toy too much trouble. He'll be avoided like the plague if everyone finds out about you two." Asia lowers her head shamefully.
Madison places his arm around her shoulder though. "Who cares if they avoid me?" he scoffs. "Sean, are you going to start avoiding me?"
"I should have asked you that after I started dating Nala," Sean counters.
"See, the other prince is aright with my choices. I think I'm going to be just fine. Run along now, Davis," he emphasizes the fact that he is not on a first name basis with Celia.
She grits her teeth as she contemplates how to react. Soon a smile spreads across her face. "You know, I've been talking to Ricky." Madison is surprised by Asia as she jolts under his arm. "He's really nice."
"No, he's really not," Asia tries to warn her.
"I think I'll ask if he's single," Celia continues.
"Who is Ricky?" Madison looks to Sean for answers.
"Senior on the baseball team," he whispers. "He was also invited to that graduation party I mentioned."
Madison frowns as he recalls Sean's story. "Come on, Asia." He tries to drag her away from Celia.
"I'm serious," she continues trying to convince her former friend. "You don't want to get involved with him."
Madison tugs on her arm a little harder, hurting her enough to force her to follow him. "Are you mad?" she asks when she notices the angry look on his face.
"I won't ask what that guy has to do with you, but as long as we're… dating," he has trouble saying the word, "you are forbidden from going near him."
"You don't have to worry about that," Asia agrees. "The last person I want to see is Ricky." Madison winces as he realizes that Asia has no trouble saying this person's name at all. He has never let this many things about one girl bother him this much. This only serves to prove how much more serious about her he is than any of his previous girlfriends, if they can even be called such.
Asia's day goes by slowly as she does not have anyone to talk to. Her only reprieve is lunch when Sean and Madison come to see her. It is too cold for them to eat on the roof anymore. Everyone in Ms. Register's homeroom is already used to the prince combo coming to visit, making it easier than having her come to their homeroom in the second year hall. Their conversation is normal with Madison acting childish and silly as usual while Sean remains quiet, probably thinking about Nala.
Asia is extremely relieved when the end of school bell finally sounds. Since becoming friends with Nala, she has never had to endure this much loneliness. She misses her greatly and is overly eager to return home and continue nursing her back to health. She is so engrossed in the idea that she does not even think to wait for Madison or Sean before deciding to leave the school on her own.
She has just exited Ms. Register's room when the familiar voice of Celia calls to her. Asia stops in her tracks but does not turn around. She is contemplating sprinting down the hall but she knows she would get in trouble. With a loud sigh she puts on her best fake smile before turning around to face her former friend. Asia is an expert in pretending to be polite. "Hello, Davis," she greets her properly. "Can I help you?"
"Look who I brought." Celia is dragging a senior boy by the arm.
Asia jerks backwards as she recognizes the short crew cut hair, symbolic of baseball players. "Ricky," she whispers.
"Long time no see… Ash-ia," he emphasizes her name, pronouncing it properly. "It is a really nice name, isn't it?" he pretends to ponder for a moment. "Were your parents drunk when they chose it?"
"Ha, I've never heard that one before," she laughs sarcastically. "What brings you to the freshmen hall, Ricky?"
"My new friend was showing me her homeroom." He points at the geography room. The light is still on, meaning Mr. Thalmus is inside, grading papers or something similar.
"Ah." Asia nods slowly. "Well, you'll have to excuse me; I'm really busy."
"Don't be like that." He steps forward, pulling his arm free of Celia. "I thought you'd be dying to talk to me. Celia here has been talking about you nonstop."
Asia silently mouths at her former friend, asking her why she would do such a thing. "I'm just trying to be helpful." Celia shrugs. "You were obsessed with him the moment school started. I heard you were going to talk to him but suddenly all of this with the bathroom stall happened. I was afraid you never got around to it."
"Oh, is that so?" There is a gleam in Ricky's eye. He is surprised that Asia never told Celia it was him who started everything with the bathroom stall. "I was under the impression you two were friends. Am I wrong?" he can sense the rift between them.
"We've been best friends since junior high," Celia answers first. "We were on the gymnastics team together. I was better of course."
"Of course you were," Ricky mutters sarcastically. He seems to be having trouble putting up with this annoying freshman girl.
"Then of course this whole business with the bathroom started," Celia continues. "I didn't want to get caught up in it so I distanced myself."
"Nice preemptive action," Ricky pretends to praise her. She doesn't seem to realize it but his opinion of her is dropping, not that he thought much of her to begin with. Asia is aware of his thought process though. "So you just let go of a three year friendship to save your own reputation. I'm impressed," he continues sarcastically.
"You like that?" Celia is caught up in his pretend compliments, completely unaware of the hidden insult. Asia is visibly shaking now. No matter how mad she is at Celia she is still worried about her.
"What's wrong, Asia?" Ricky grins at her menacingly. "Are you cold?" He touches her arm, to which she overreacts, leaping back and taking a defensive stance. "Whoa, you really don't like me, do you?"
"Whatever gave you that idea?" it is her turn to be sarcastic again.
"What is going on?" Celia is finally aware that something is wrong. "I thought you liked Ricky. I'm trying to help you out here."
"First off, you're doing no such thing, you conniving sod," Ricky finally reveals his true face, insulting her outright. "You found out the friend you abandoned had actually gotten with the lesser half of the prince combo and you wanted to rattle her. Nice job picking me. I can't think of a better person to put her in her place."
"Huh?" Celia stares at him in disbelief. "I just wanted to show her crush that she was with another guy."
"I know, brilliant," he cackles. "You really have a black heart."
"You." She points a trembling finger at him. "You're not supposed to be like this. You're the ever popular ace of the baseball team."
"So what?" he scoffs. "I don't give a damn about all you tramps lining up for autographs. I find it amusing to pit you all against each other and drive you into despair. That's exactly what I did to you two. A three year friendship based on respect and sportsmanship shattered like a piñata. That's priceless."
"It was you," Celia realizes the truth a little too late.
"How does it feel? Be honest." Ricky lifts her chin so he can look at her glistening eyes.
"You bastard." She shoves him away.
"That's right, I'm a bastard," he laughs again. "I don't think you have a right to call me that considering how you abandoned your friend and all though."
"That was your fault," she spits.
"You didn't even know that a moment ago." He grabs her by the arm and twists it. "Don't go calling people names now, understood?" he brings his face close to hers.
"Un-understood," she stutters.
"That's better." He releases her. "Now we have you to deal with," he turns his attention back to Asia. Immediately she curses herself for not having run while he was dealing with Celia. That's not the kind of person she is though. Friend or not, she would never abandon anyone with the horribly sadistic Ricky.
"You've really blossomed, haven't you?" He grins at her. "To think you'd end up with one of the princes; even if it is only the lesser one. Is he into tramps? Did you offer him your body?" Asia stands perfectly still while continuing to shake in fear. "I guess you are kinda cute, now that I look at you. I should have at least given you a taste before I discarded you. What do ya say; do you want to see if doing it with me is a good as your fantasies?"
"Not on your life," she finds enough courage to respond.
"Hey now, no need to be so rude. I don't like it when people are needlessly short with me." His statement is extremely hypocritical as he is nothing if not rude to everyone else. "Why don't you and I find a nice broom closet to get acquainted in?" He grabs her shoulder. Instinctively she swats his hand away while stepping back again. He glares at her angrily. "That was incredibly rude." She gulps in fear as he moves to grab her again. She shuts her eyes just as he raises his hand, not wanting to even look at his face.
"Yo, Celia!" A loud male voice echoes down the hall, surprising all three of them. Asia opens her eyes to look as Trevor Polanski skids to a halt in front of Celia. "Hey, girl, what's up?" He raises his right hand for a high five. His other one is occupied, holding a metal baseball bat slung over his shoulder. When she doesn't respond he turns his attention to Asia and Ricky. "Hey, man," he greets his upperclassman with a smile. "You're that fourth batter, ain't ya? I'm thinking of trying out for the team when winter ends. What do you think?"
"Excuse me?" Ricky raises an eyebrow. "Did I say you could talk to me, twerp?"
"Huh?" Trevor is taken aback by his attitude. It seems Ricky was unable to restore his façade.
"Can't you see I'm busy here?" Ricky continues to shout at him. "Come back when I'm done banging these two broads."
"Um… yeah… sure… what?" Trevor is completely shocked. "Is there something…? Um, ladies? Can I help you?" he can tell that Asia and Celia are in trouble now.
"You can help by getting lost!" Ricky clenches his fists while moving to tower above the annoying freshman.
"Sir, if you could just move back; you're making me very uncomfortable," Trevor responds sternly.
"What the hell is your problem?" Ricky can't comprehend why the short boy is not scared of him.
"I really thought you were someone respectable." Trevor shakes his head disappointedly.
"Quit talking down to your seniors!" Ricky is furious. "I'll rip your goddamn head off." He grabs the front of Trevor's shirt.
In less than a second, the freshman swings the bat from his shoulder, cracking it against the side of Ricky's head and knocking him to the floor. "I really did try to warn you, sir," his voice is calm and unnerving.
Ricky's eye twitches as he slides away from Trevor's feet before standing back up. "You've done it now," he growls while cracking his jaw.
"I'm impressed. Most people would have stayed down after that," Trevor mocks him.
"I'm going to kill you," Ricky threatens him.
"Do not take another step towards me." Trevor brings the bat up to rest on his shoulder again.
"This isn't over." Rickey reaches behind him and grabs Asia, bringing her between them like a shield.
"Now that's just pathetic; using a woman to cower behind," Trevor sighs.
"Shut up!" Ricky digs his fingernails into Asia's arms, making her squeal in pain.
"Come on, Ricky, let her go," Trevor offers him a chance. He shakes his head though. "Here we go then." Trevor shrugs while stepping towards the pair. He swings the bat above Asia's head, directly at Ricky's chin. The taller boy is able to lean back just far enough to avoid getting hit.
"Are you crazy?" Asia screams at Trevor. "You could've hit me."
"Don't worry about it, sugar," he brushes off her concerns. His second attempt is to hit one of Ricky's legs, which also fails, making a clanging sound as the bat hits the tiled floor.
"Will you quit it?" Asia begs him. "Stop screwing around!"
"I'm trying to help you, lady," Trevor assures her.
"Shut up; the both of you!" Ricky is only getting more agitated. Asia takes the opportunity to bite his arm. He growls while tossing her to the side, leaving himself wide open. Trevor brings the bat up from the floor, planting it in the senior's crotch painfully.
Ricky falls over on the floor, rolling around while wheezing too much to say anything. His rage shows in his face, now red as a tomato. He looks like he plans to kill Trevor as soon as he can stand again. Asia doesn't wait for him though. "Give me that." She grabs the bat from Trevor and raises it above her head.
"What the hell are you doing?" He tries to stops her as she brings it down, smashing Ricky's head between the bat and the floor. His eyes roll back into his head as he passes out. Blood starts to pour from his left ear, pooling around his head. "What have you done?" Trevor's eyes are wide in shock.
"I hate him," Asia whispers.
"Yeah, I can see that, but there weren't no reason to do that," he argues.
"I hate his guts. I can't stand the fact that he is alive. I want him dead," she starts to ramble.
"What did he do to you?" Trevor asks calmly. By now several other students have gathered in the hall. One of them runs to find a teacher while the rest stand perfectly still, stunned into silence.
The first adult to arrive is Mr. Thalmus. He is shaking his head disappointedly. "Kon, what happened here?" He quickly takes the bat away from Asia.
"I killed him," she whispers.
"He's not dead. Just tell me what happened."
"I did it." Trevor raises his hand.
"I don't need no stupid martyrs, just tell me the truth," Mr. Thalmus is losing his patience.
"He attacked us," Celia finally speaks up. "Trevor was just protecting us."
"And then?" Mr. Thalmus taps his foot.
"And then I hit him again," Asia admits. "Am I… in trouble?"
"Well?" Mr. Thalmus rubs the back of his neck.
"Andrew?" Ms. Register is the next adult to arrive.
"Oh thank god," Mr. Thalmus is extremely relieved. "Take over for me, please."
"What on earth happened?" she demands.
"The one on the ground attacked the girls. This one defended them and this one took matters into her own hands while he was down," he rattles off an explanation.
"Miss Kon?" Ms. Register looks at Asia with a pitying expression. "Come with me to the principal's office."
"And us?" Trevor points at himself and Celia.
"You as well. Andrew, call an ambulance for Mr. Landis," she instructs. Mr. Thalmus watches the three freshmen curiously as they follow Ms. Register down the hall. Once they are out of sight he pulls out his cell phone and dials the local hospital. He continues to shake his head at Ricky the entire time he is talking.
"You what?" Nala sits up in Asia's bed as soon as her friend finishes recounting her story to her.
"Like I said, I don't know what I was thinking," Asia moans.
"Are you in trouble? Are you going to jail?" Nala is extremely worried.
"I'm hoping it's not that serious. Ms. Register seemed to believe that Ricky attacked us first. Davis and Polanski are both backing me up. Ricky is in the hospital but he hasn't woken up. I had to make a statement to the police and they will be talking to all witnesses involved. Ricky's parents are pressuring them to bring charges against me but they are only listening to Ms. Register. I'm not even suspended as of yet."
Nala listens with her mouth hanging open until her friend is finished. "That is completely unbelievable. I get sick for one day and you go and try to kill another student. How on earth are you not in trouble?"
"First off, I wasn't thinking straight. I missed you all day. I got used to being alone before we met but I can't go back anymore. I'm going to beg Ms. Register to put us in the same homeroom again next year."
"Um, okay." Nala blushes. She had not realized how much Asia treasured their friendship. "But seriously, you can't go around hitting other people with metal bats."
"I really hate this guy. He's a total jerk for no reason. I lost everything because of him," Asia reminds her.
"This is the guy you had a crush on, right?" Nala confirms. "I'm assuming you're over him."
"Do you even need to ask? I'm not stupid. As soon as I realized he was nothing like my fantasies I forgot why I even liked him. The dent in his head is proof of that."
"Again, why?" Nala cringes. "It's been nearly a whole semester."
"It wasn't my intention," Asia whine. "Everything just kinda lined up that way. I didn't go looking for him, Davis brought him. I never planned to see him again."
"Seeing him was enough to make you try to kill him?" Nala pries.
"Well he wasn't even sorry. He was just as cruel as before, and then Polanski showed up with a bat and… I don't know. It was a sign. I couldn't let the chance slip by."
"I don't know what to say." Nala lowers her head. "I know I could never do something like that. I'm just a coward who lets people push me around."
"Nala!" Asia does not plan to let her friend start putting herself down again.
"I'm serious," Nala continues. "I didn't do anything when Mr. Thalmus dragged me into the geography room. I just let him."
"It's not just you." Asia hugs her. "I froze too. If Polanski hadn't come along I think I wouldn't have acted. You're only human, Nala. You're just like me."
Just then, Asia's phone starts to vibrate, signaling that a new message has been received. She flips it open for a moment before closing almost immediately. "Who was that?" Nala is curious.
"What, no one," Asia sputters nervously.
"Was that Maddie? Does he know what happened?"
"No, and I don't want him to know." Asia shakes her head. "Don't tell him anything."
"Why not? I'm sure he'll understand."
"I'm sure he doesn't want a violent girlfriend who beats up other boys," Asia whines.
"I hate to break it to you, but he already knows that you are violent. You hit him more than anyone else," Nala reminds her.
"Oh my god, you're right. I need to stop doing that or he'll really hate me," Asia starts to panic. Nala can't help but smile. She did not realize that her friend actually liked Madison this much. She had assumed Asia was simply forcing herself to get along with him out of desperation, as is her normal habit.
Asia jolts in her chair at the sound of her front door slamming. "Oh no, he's here," she moans.
"Who's here?" Nala sits up properly.
"Hey, babe, your mom let me in," Madison's voice travels through the door to the bedroom before he has even opened it.
Asia has turned around on her spinning office chair to face him with a forced smile. "Hey, sweetie, what's up?"
"Um, nothing…" Madison is disturbed by her polite behavior. "I missed you after school."
"Yeah, I wanted to get home to nurse Nala as soon as possible," Asia makes an excuse. "Did you bring Sean with you?"
"I couldn't keep him away," Madison laughs. "He's desperate to see his sickly princess." Nala's face turns bright red. She does not consider herself anything close to a princess. "He got caught up talking with your mom though," Madison informs them. "She keeps asking if he wants to come to the studio and model for her."
"Seriously?" Nala gasps. "She thinks he could be a model?"
"Don't take my mom too seriously." Asia rolls her eyes. "She was good at modeling in her time but now they just keep her on as a makeup artist out of respect. She can't do any shoots anymore and she doesn't know how to pick models in the slightest."
"I heard that," Ms. Hammer, Asia's mother, appears in the doorway behind Madison, dragging Sean by the arm. Asia's last name, Kon, comes from her father, who never married her mother. Asia has often complained about how awkward it is when people ask about her mother and whether or not she is adopted.
Apart from the bone structure of their faces, Ms. Hammer and Asia look nothing alike. Ms. Hammer's hair is constantly changing color as she dyes it every other week. She also consumes a mass of supplements to keep herself looking young and slender. Asia is naturally skinny, apart from a roundness in her cheeks.
"Are you really going to be a model, Sean?" Nala asks excitedly.
"I don't know. It sounds like hard work."
"But you'd be so good at it," Ms. Hammer coos. "I'll talk to the director tonight and see if we have any openings for young men. They are always looking for new talent so I'll have the answer soon."
"I didn't ask for that," Sean sighs. He is used to girls fawning over him and this feels no different to him. He can assume his audience will be young girls like Mina and Trina, something he does not care about in the slightest. The only advantage he can see is the sparkling look in Nala's eyes right now.
"I can't believe it; my boyfriend is going to be a model," she squeals.
"It's not decided yet," Asia tries to calm her.
"You're going to do it, right?" she is still focused on Sean. "It would be so cool to see you in a fashion magazine or something."
"Alright, alright, I'll think about it." He tries to hide his smile. She is the only girl he likes receiving attention from and it shows.
"My, Asia, you have some handsome friends." Ms. Hammer leans close to Madison to examine his face.
"Don't think you can sweet talk me." He backs away. "I'm not so easily swayed."
"Come on, Asia, tell your boyfriend you want him to be a model," Ms. Hammer urges her daughter.
"He's not… well, maybe he is," Asia has trouble classifying what she and Madison are. He looks slightly disappointed but hides it well with a smile. It is enough to know she is even having this much trouble considering it.
"Come on, tell him." Ms. Hammer bobs on her heels impatiently. "This is just what I need so the director will finally take me seriously."
"He said he doesn't want to," Asia mumbles. She does not plan to drag Madison into anything forcefully.
"When do I ever ask you for anything?" Ms. Hammer pretends to pout. "I spoil you, you know. I haven't even said anything about your fight at school."
"Fight?" Madison and Sean are both interested now. "What fight?"
"Oh, you haven't heard?" Ms. Hammer acts surprised. "Your girlfriend went and beat a boy over the head with a baseball bat. He's in critical condition."
"He is not. The doctors say he'll make a full recovery," Asia rushes to correct her mother.
"I always knew you were violent but…" Sean pretends to be shocked.
"Stop it," Asia whines.
"Who was this boy?" Madison glares at her. "Don't tell me it was Ricky."
"Of course it was Ricky," she shouts. "Who else would I want to kill with a bat?"
"No one said anything about killing." Nala squeezes her friend's arm to convey support.
"You know, I told you to stay away from him," Madison reminds her.
"Oh, like my daughter is going to listen to you," Ms. Hammer scoffs at him.
"It wasn't my fault; he came after me," Asia tries to explain.
"Why would he do that?" Madison does not believe her.
"It was Davis. She was trying to get under my skin."
"And did she?" Madison's eyes are dark and focused, scaring both Asia and Nala slightly.
"Of course it bothered me," Asia spouts. "Why else would I hit him with a baseball bat?"
"So you're still thinking about this Ricky guy," Madison is completely focused on his own distrust.
"What's your problem?" Nala interrupts. "She just put the guy in the hospital. I think it's safe to say she's not cheating on you or anything."
"Madison likes being the only person she hits. He's a real masochist," Sean tries to be funny.
"I would never hit you that hard," Asia tries to assure him. "I hit you because I'm shy or embarrassed. I hit him because I was mad and I wanted him to suffer."
"I think you're missing the point, sweetie." Ms. Hammer hugs her daughter. "I don't think he actually likes getting hit by you. I think he enjoys knowing he is important enough for you to even bother hitting him. He's mad because this Ricky person seems to be important enough to warrant your attention."
"Not in a good way," she squeals.
"I know, I get that," Madison has finally calmed down. "I'm just confused. I thought you were done with him."
"It's because of you," she spouts. "Davis brought him over because she saw me with you. I am done with him, that's the whole reason why this happened." Madison's expression changes as he accepts her statement. He leans down to hug Asia, forcing Ms. Hammer to let go quickly.
"Well, that's settled then." Ms. Hammer smiles while placing her hands on her hips. "Now how about you ask him to come model with his friend," she draws them back to her previous request.
"Mom!" Asia shouts at her.
"Just ask him," she begs.
"Not now," Asia refuses. "We're in the middle of something."
"I'll think about it," Madison gives in slightly.
"Thank you so much. Do you two have pictures I could show the director perhaps?"
"Get out of my room!" Asia is extremely annoyed by now.
"I have some on my phone." Nala flips open her silver cell phone. The background picture is one Corbin took of her under Sean's arm when they were still only pretending to date.
"You look so stiff, Peters," Madison laughs at her.
"Nah, this is no good. I need one without the plain girl there. She just ruins the whole mood," Ms. Hammer is rudely honest. Nala tries to keep a smile on her face as she searches her phone for a different picture but Asia has already had enough. She pushes her mother out of the room and slams the door.
When she returns to Nala's beside she is still searching for a better picture. "No… no… no… No good. I'm in all of these," she mutters. Even though she is still smiling tears are forming in her eyes.
"Nala, stop." Asia takes her phone away.
"I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I'm sorry for being so plain. I'm sorry for being your girlfriend. I know it's weird when we stand next to each other," she apologizes to Sean repeatedly. He stares down at his feet instead of responding.
"Nala, please." Asia hugs her.
"I have so many pictures of us together," Nala continues talking with a forced smile. "I like it when he holds me and touches my hair. I'm weird, aren't I? I know I can't possibly be a model's girlfriend. I just thought it might be nice."
"You are my girlfriend," Sean finally finds his voice. "There is nothing weird about it."
"I know." She nods. "I'm not going to give you up, not for anything. I don't care if we're never accepted; you're mine, right?"
"That's right." Sean sits down on the bed next to her.
Madison pulls Asia away so she is no longer between them. "Let's go watch some TV," he suggests. They leave the room quietly so their friends can talk in private. Asia is still worried about Nala but she is also proud. This is the first time she has heard her say something like that. Even though she still thinks she is not good enough for Sean she refuses to let anyone else have him. It is a great improvement from how she used to be.