The pizza in the cafeteria never looked desirable, but when compared to the other things available in the lunch line Leana found that it was the most edible choice of them all. She frowned a bit as she looked around the loud, crowded place upon emerging from the line. There was no way she was finding a table in here. With Rebecca and Janie tucked away in class right now, it wasn’t like there was anyone who would consciously save a seat for her. She made only one scan before she shook her head and made her way out of the cafeteria, heading toward a little secluded section of the hallways that few students occupied in this period.

“Yo, Keane!”

Somehow, that wasn’t the most comforting voice to hear. She paused a step and looked over her shoulder, seeing Andrew Wilson jogging toward her with a hefty slice of pizza of his own on a place. “Where you headed, Keane?”

“The media hallway.”

“Mind if I tag along?”

She had the sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t exactly going to listen if she told him no. “No, go for it. I’m sure I’ll appreciate the company.”

“Sweet.” He gave her a little smile as he walked past her, leaving Leana to jog a few steps to keep up. When she caught up she realized that music was blaring from the headphones around his neck, something that apparently had a lot of screaming in it. She wasn’t exactly surprised. They walked in silence, something that was neither awkward nor comfortable, before the both of them settled down in the hallway, Leana against the wall and Andrew balanced easily on the thick block that served as the bottom of a banister for the nearby three stairs. “So guess what I found.”

“Mmm?” Leana blinked, still staring down at her pizza as she carefully picked off the pieces of greasy sausage.

“Heads up.” His MP3 player landed against her stomach, barely missing the pizza, and the headphones clattered to the floor. “Damn it, Keane,” Andrew said with a chuckle as she scowled up at him and went to putting the headphones to rights. “When I tell you ‘heads up,’ that ain’t just for my health.”

“Most people give me more than a millisecond to react, you know. What am I looking at?”

“Just put ‘em on and press play.”

She frowned at him again, entirely conscious of the teasing tone on his words, but put the headphones on and investigated the MP3 player before she found the proper button. What surrounded her made her eyes widen a bit, and she looked up at him. “This is-”

“Shh,” He pressed his index finger to his lips, quirking a brow even as he smirked at her. “Just listen.”

Leana blinked and tilted her head back, immediately becoming lost in the faint licks of Chopin. She knew the piece well. It was one of her favorites, actually, one of his nocturnes. But only a few measures in, she heard the faint clicking of drumsticks together and felt her fingers immediately clutch against her legs to brace herself for what she could imagine might be coming. Instead of the explosion she expected, however, there was only a rock vibe that came from the electric guitar and the bass that entered in as well. No screaming. In fact, when the singer entered into the song with a faint vocalization, she found she rather liked his tone.

“What is this?” she murmured, looking up at Andrew again as she wrinkled her forehead.

“A Summer Serenade. Thought you might like ‘em.” He took a hearty bite of his pizza, looking altogether far too satisfied with himself.

She shook her head, tugging the headphones off as the song surged into the first chorus. “Why’d you make me listen to it?”

Andrew blinked and shrugged, leaning forward for her to toss his MP3 player back to him. “I’unno, thought you might dig ‘em. Heard ‘em on the radio and thought about that stuff you’ve got in your car, you know?” He chuckled as he slid it into his backpack with such a sense of care that it looked as if he’d birthed the thing himself. “Ain’t no reason you should think anything but that classical stuff’s the devil.”

“I don’t!” Leana crossed her arms over her chest with a frown, but when Andrew merely grinned at her again she had the feeling that she didn’t appear very intimidating at all. “I like loads of other music!”

“Right.” His feet began to tap against the wall he sat on in a faint marching beat, every few moments throwing in a touch of syncopation. “So did you like it or not?”

Even though she still felt a little stung, she shrugged and went back to her pizza. “Guess so.”

“You guess so.”

Did he want a dissertation from her on her feelings or something? “They made a nice countermelody to it. Sounded like they knew what they were doing, and I guess Chopin’s not rolling in his grave or anything.”

“Cool.” Andrew crossed his legs one over the other loosely as he sat back a bit on the wall, looking down the hallway. He seemed antsy. Leana supposed she wasn’t surprised. She’d always entertained thoughts about her classmates, and his happened to be that he had some sort of attention deficit disorder or something. “Guess that Chopin guy was kind of cool or whatever. Besides, it’s pretty sweet to hear some guys who ain’t afraid to try something new.”


“Yeah. Some guys who don’t just do whatever they’re told to.”

Leana flicked her eyes up to look at Andrew’s face, but he was still staring down the hall, taking a gigantic bite of his pizza in the process. The jolt she’d felt in her stomach froze in an instant, leaving with her a vaguely unsatisfied sense of nausea. Eating didn’t sound too desirable anymore. She pushed the pizza away from her and wrapped her arms around her legs. “…Andrew, does it sound weird if I ask you why you’re having lunch with me?”

“A little.” He looked back at her and smirked, setting the pizza down and brushing the crumbs free from his hands before he reached up and smoothed his hair out of his face. “Is it really that important?”

No, she thought, looking away from him again and biting her bottom lip. It’s not actually the question I really want to ask anyway. She pressed her chin down against her knees before she shrugged gently. “Just curious.”

“Pfft, didn’t know I needed a reason.” She took solace in the fact that there was amusement in his tone, and not the cruel kind that sounded like he was about to laugh at her because he thought she was crazy either. She wasn’t really expecting it when he slid off of the wall and sat against it instead, the tips of his thick skater shoes pressing lightly into her own ballerina slippers, but a glance back at his face told her that he was still entirely comfortable about the situation. “Look, Keane, I notice when things change around here, and you’ve gotten a hell of a lot quieter than you’ve ever been.” She looked down toward the floor, but he tilted his head down as well, following her gaze until she looked back up at him. “Is it so weird that I notice shit?”

“Sounds kind of creepy, yeah.” But even though she regretted the words as soon as she said them, Andrew didn’t look offended. Instead he chuckled and looked off to the side, shaking his head a little bit before he gathered his hair up and slid a black ponytail holder around it from his wrist.

“I’m smarter than people think I am, and the classes here are fuckin’ boring.” He curled his long legs up to his chest as well, though he merely rested his forearms against his kneecaps languidly. “I can tell you anything you wanna know about anyone we got class with because that’s what I pay attention to instead. Ain’t nothing creepy about it.” A door opened nearby and they both looked at it, watching the student head down the hall toward the bathroom. Leana caught sight of the nearby wall clock in the process and saw that they only had a few minutes left before class started again.

She found herself both relieved and frustrated. Was she uncomfortable that this guy, someone who didn’t know anything about her, was figuring out stuff that none of her best friends had even noticed yet? Did she want to hear more? “Whatever. Lunch is almost over.” She got up and grabbed her stuff in a hurry, but paused when she noticed Andrew hadn’t moved. He was just sitting there watching her. “…I’m fine. Seriously. You don’t have to worry about it, okay?”

Andrew shrugged, still staying quite contently where he was. “I ain’t worried about you. You got a good head on your shoulders when you use it.”

She made a face at him before she grabbed both of their plates. “You skipping class or something?”

“Don’t got the patience for math today. See you around, Keane.”

“You too, Andrew.”

As she walked down the hallway to their math class, she found her head spinning all over again, making her feel like she needed to sit down and cry for a few hours. There was no way she was going to retain anything she learned today.