She’s back! said one voice in my head, excited.
Shut up! It’s not like she’s interested in you. said another, probably a more realistic one.
That didn’t matter to me. She. Was. Back. She. Was. Back. Shewasback.
And she wasn’t a cute little doe eyed girl any more.
That girl? That girl was a was less girl, more woman. Needless to say, Delilah grew up a lot in the past year. She wasn't skin and bones and tiny anymore. She was all legs and curves and whoa.
And apparently I wasn't the only one noticing.
Bryan was talking with his hands animatedly, as per usual, and I had just been absentmindedly been staring over his shoulder at that beautiful girl, not really paying attention to him at all. Also as usual.
That is, until he made the suggestive hand signal that some girl had curves.
“Va-va-VOOM. When did that happen?” He said, subtly glancing over his shoulder, following my gaze. His eyes ran over her bare legs as she lent over, trying to talk to the teacher. “I swear those were not there when I dated her. Now I really wish I would have tapped that...”
I kicked him in the shin under the table. Hard.
“What the hell was that for? Just stating the truth.” He yelped from the impact.
“Don't talk about her like that. She's not a piece of meat, you know. She's a girl – there's a mind connected to that body.” I glared at him, not wanting her to overhear as she walked back to the table next to ours.
“Damn, there are some days where I wish she was...” He continued to eye her up and down, this time a little more than completely obvious about it.
“Wish I was what? A piece of meat? Sorry, babe. No dice.” She said, walking over to us. Her smile couldn't have been more evil if she was getting a kick out of someone's death. “Hello, boys. Long time, no see, James. Glad to fix that. How ya be, sweet thang?” She asked before settling on to Bryan's lap and jokingly wrapping her arms around his neck. Or, at least, I was hoping she was joking.
And then she winked at me.
What. The. Fuck.
“I'm fine, Delilah.” I replied and my voice cracked, making me want to kill myself. Worst timing possible. “And I know. It hasn't been the same with out you. But that's what you get for leaving us last year.”
She mumbled something in agreement, but the smile got wiped from her face in two seconds flat. Her expression and her body language were just blank, like a clean canvas. Absolutely nothing there. She dropped her arms from Bryan's neck and stood back up, walking back to her seat.
“What did I say?” I asked, confused because of her seemingly irrational reaction.
“I don't know, but I'm mad at you for it.” Bryan crossed his arms and glared off at nothing in particular, a perfect imitation of a sulking toddler after his mom refused to buy him a chocolate bar.
“It's not like you were going to get laid by her anyway. Stop scowling. Seriously, what did I say? I didn't want her to go away... I am such an idiot.” I dug the heel of my hand into my forehead and the very front of my hair, trying to soothe the pressure that was starting there.
“No shit, Sherlock. You're just now figuring this out?” He rolled his eyes at me and continued to scowl.
“No, I've known this. But this is the first time I've gotten a reaction like that to it. Whatever I said was bad, apparently. I was just trying to make conversation.”
“Again, no shit, Sherlock. She doesn't just walk away like that unless you piss her off or make her sad. Mostly the make her sad. Because Delilah is a fucking feisty bitch when she wants to be. Which is why I steer clear of her for the most part any more. She's dangerous with that temper of hers. I'm surprised she hasn't clawed some girl's eyes out yet.”
I glanced at the girl, one table over. A black tank top and regular blue denim cut off shorts with fraying hems and cowgirl boots were practically the furthest possible outfit from someone who is considered dangerous. Possibly someone feisty, though. Bryan wouldn't lie about that part.
She looked up and saw me staring at her and smiled at me, just for a brief moment. Something about that soft little smile was sad. Like she was in pain. It touched her lips and no where else. And before I could return it, she turned back to the notebook and pencil in her lap.
At that moment, I could tell that it wasn’t me causing what ever it was that caused her to walk away, what caused that hurt in her eyes.
But I also wanted to help.
It continued like that for the entire rest of the week. We’d be in math class and she would come over to see Bryan and I and say a few words. After smiling and laughing with us for a few minutes, she’d go back to her seat and stare into that damned little notebook. Every once and a while, she would look up and see me staring at her. On some days, she would give me her usual wide grin, one that made it look like she was genuinely smiling, laughing to herself. Others, she’d give me that same sad smile, that one that made me want to know everything.
Even without that damn smile I wanted to know any thing and every thing.
And Bryan seemed like he was going to kill me because of all of my questions.
“What are you, effing Gibbs? This is video games, not an interrogation.” He said on Friday, after a school day where I received a particularly sad smile.
“Bryan, I just want to know! You know her! You dated her for two years!” I threw my controller on the table, giving up on even trying to win this stupid war game.
“I don’t know that girl! Not that girl with the legs and the ass and all of that! She’s different now. I know about as much about her as you do. I never understood that twisted mind to begin with, pre-hormones.”
“How is her mind twisted? She seems perfectly normal to me!” Except for when it seems like she’s trying to share her deepest secrets with me via eye contact. I mentally edited.
“James, I’m going to be straight with you here, okay? No sparing your feelings. The girl is a hot mess. Half of the time she doesn’t know what’s fiction and what’s real life, with how often her nose is stuck in a book or she’s scribbling away in that notebook of hers. Don’t even bother.”
“Bryan, just give me this one answer.”
“No, I do not know the square root of pi.”
“Because there isn’t one. That’s not the answer I’m looking for, though. Does she have a boyfriend?”
“From what Vi has said, no. Something fell apart last year when she wasn’t here and she hasn’t dated since. Some guy from another school or something…?”
Crap. Well, my chances just went out the window with a suicide bomber scream. “Oh, okay. I didn’t know if she did or not. She looks kind of like she would… Do you think this guy is still in the picture?” I asked, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice. Desperation is not appealing, and I knew Bryan wouldn't let me hear the end of it if there was even the slightest hint of it in my voice.
“James...” He groaned, also tossing aside his controller and then cradling his head in his hands.
“Don't go getting yourself mixed up with her. I already told you she's a hot mess. That girl loves her mind games, that much I can still tell you. Causing some one else to have some sort of strong emotion not only is what she does best, but she gets a kick out of it. Look at me, James.” He said, staring at me with his eyes like onyx that I knew I should probably trust. “She. Is. Screwed. Up.”
“Probably because nobody understands her.” I defended her, though he probably knew better than I did.
“James, just listen to me.”
“No. I just want you to answer this one stupid question. Is that guy from where ever the hell still in the picture?”
“No, man, he's not.” Bryan said, practically yelling out of exasperation.
“Okay, then. If he's out, I'm trying to get in. And you're helping me.” I said decisively, confidently. More confident and sure than I actually was.
“No way. I am in no way helping you with this. No.” He stood up and walked towards the door.
“Bryan. She needs somebody. That much I can tell with my own damn eyes. Maybe she wouldn't be so screwed up if people actually stuck around for her. I'm doing this whether I have your help or not. I just hope that you, as my best friend, will realize what a jackass you're being to both me and her if you don't help me.”
“You're an idiot.”
“I'll take that as your consent.”
“Damn straight, bro.”