Chapter Twenty-ThreeMature

I prepared myself for awkwardness as I entered history. Part of me half-hoped Derek would've moved but nope, he was in his usual place. I avoided looking at him as I sat down behind him. A minute later Amber strolled in, openly sneered at Derek and then took the empty seat next to me.

“Ermm...what are you-”
“I prefer your company to assholes in front,” She answered before I could finish. Derek must've heard, but he gave no indication it bothered him. I snapped my mouth shut and just tried to concentrate on the class.
“Did you tell Zack about what happened this morning?” Amber half whispered. Though Derek probably still heard.
“I didn't see the point. I always knew some would react badly if they found out,” I replied. Trying to hide the slight spite in my voice.

“Sorry about that, if I'd known you and Zack were-”
“You would've what? So far Zack is being left alone, I can handle being shoved a little,” I interrupted her. I still don't understand her sudden change of heart. She and Zack don't appear especially close, and she was mad as hell when he turned up.
“You shouldn't have to though,” she said and I had to force myself not to laugh at her.
“If I recall you went out of your way to make my life impossible.”
“I made comments and teased a little, I never started throwing punches. Which you realise will happen unless we do something,” She pointed out.
“Fine, what do you suggest we do?” I replied curtly, doubting she had any real plan. She starred into thin air, struggling for an answer.
“Tell a teacher?” she suggested sheepishly. I didn't even dignify that with a response, just giving her a deadpan look before turning back to the board.

“It's not healthy to take everything on and keep secrets from Zack,” Amber said.
“I'll tell him, but only if I have too. He's probably got enough stress with being in a new school as it is,” I replied, “Besides. I've dealt with worse,” I finished. Amber gave me a questioning look but didn't ask. I thought I saw Derek's head turn away and realised he must've been listening.
“Like a friend turning out to be nothing but a bully,” I said, purposely speaking loud enough for Derek to hear. I thought I saw the hand that was taking notes twitch but other than that he didn't seem to care about what I said. Since we sat near the back in the furtherest corner from the entrance I waited for everyone else to filter out. Amber didn't, strutting and easily pushing through the crowd. I packed my things and stood to leave but someone was blocking my way.
“Go away Derek,” I said, closing my eyes and pushing past. I admit a small part of me flinched, thinking he'd try to stop me but he didn't.
“You're the one who messed up, not me,” he said.

“If you say so. And while I hate to sink to Amber's level, I have to wonder what Lewis would say if he knew the truth,” I replied, half turning to face him. A look somewhere between hurt and anger crossed his face.
“You wouldn't do that,” Derek said.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I thought my best friend would be a little more accepting of my choices,” I began, putting emphasis on “best friend”. “But I guess nobody's perfect, including myself. Now just do us both a favour and stay away from me,” I left rather than wait for his reply. What irritated me most about the conversation? He was right, I wouldn't tell Lewis something like that. I could easily pass the message onto Amber, I know she'd do it in an heartbeat. But I couldn't. I leaned against the wall ad released a slow breath, ignoring my brain for a few seconds. I should be happy today. I was going to be spending time with Zack. Ambers point from earlier came to mind at that thought. It was unfair of me to hide stuff, even if its not related to me and Zack, he deserves to know.
I walked into my next class, philosophy, hopefully better than last week. And joined Kim and Lilly, looked like Zack wasn't here.

I guess I shouldn't be that surprised that Amber joined our group. Seems Lewis has happily taken her place on the other side of the room.
“Am I still allowed here?” James asked from behind me. Most of us shrugged, including Amber and Lily, so he sat in his usual spot. Amber moved next to him so Zack could sit next to me. Which was a relief since her perfume was starting to give me a headache. How any guy finds that overpowering smell attractive phases me. Though it seemed the tension between Lily and Amber from earlier was still present. Mr Augustine walked in just before Zack who seemed happy to ignore James. At least there was no glares or yelling.
“Right, after what happened last week,” the teacher began, sending a pointed stare to Amber.
“You will research arguments for and against debate topics as homework. Someone hand out these textbooks and we'll start moving onto our new topic,” He finished. Someone near the front started handing them out and I turned to the told page. I preferred boring to stressful I guessed.

I tried not to glance at the clock too much as Mr Augustine droned on. If Zack was waiting impatiently for the day to end as well, he didn't show it.
“Let's go,” Zack said with a mischievous smile when the bell went and I wondered what he'd planned. I do remember saying to hang out, nothing special. I guess I should stop being surprised when I see the car and get in. At least it was a street away from school. Things would've been nice with just us but then the door was yanked opened.
“Move,” Amber commanded, flopping down with a sigh. I raised an eyebrow at Zack.
“Amber's parents are off somewhere, so she's with us for a few weeks,” Zack explained and I recalled something Amber had said in the sick room. Maybe the reason she and Zack acted more like siblings was because she'd spent more time with his family than her own.

The End

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