Eeny, Meeny, Jake.

School was chaotic, and after the weekend almost every senior had, had, they either welcomed school or despised it. Jake strolled the halls, shaking in the legs after his ordeal. Being grounded didn't help his situation, for he had to find out what had happened that night of the party.

He had to start with Alex, but they hadn't spoke much after the weekend. Jake knew he couldn't face anybody, unless he had to and after pondering the situation. He thought it best to get it out of the way, and find the answers he so desperately sought. Yet even he feared what it could mean, and his raging hangover didn't help. As a boy, he thought the only quirks to senior year manhood, was spontaneous morning erections, study groups, tests and a little porn in between. Or at least, that was the nerd in him speaking all manner of crap.

Finding Alex wasn't hard, especially during morning times. She'd gather at her locker, with her closest friends and chat before first period—like a ritual of sorts. Jake paused for a moment as he turned the corner, and spotted Alex, Kelsey and Karl—strange guy from the restaurant and party. Jake narrowed his eyes, forehead creased in confusion as he watched them all converse. Just a second after he'd decided to skip, Alex spotted him like it was clockwork. The most horrible timing in the world, dubbed by Jake.

"Jake!" Alex called from her locker, capturing everyone's attention around her.

Kelsey waved at Jake from beside Karl, who eyed Jake with some margin of curiosity that didn't go unnoticed. Jake sighed inwardly, then straightened his composure and sauntered over to them with a plastered on grin. Dreading the idea of joining the cliche world of pre-calculus chatter, snacking and erogenous acts in dark corners. The bane of his existence, or rather just or bane of many that could obliterate his sanity.

"Hey, guys." Jake greeted, fist-bumping Kelsey then assaulted by one of Alex's choking hugs. Out of his comfort zone, but strong enough to keep up appearances till it was done.

A crack of ease filled Jake's dark thoughts, wrought by the guilt of his childish antics the past weekend. However, it did feel good to know that his friends were not the type to judge him. Except for Karl, who always had a skeptic eye in Jake's direction.

Karl nudged Kelsey with an elbow to capture his attention. "I'm gonna get to class." Karl announced and Alex shifted her gaze in his direction.

"Leaving so soon, Karl? You haven't even met Jake yet." Alex announced with a smile and Karl chuckled nervously.

"We uhh-, we've met." Jake announced and Karl peered at him for a second, a hint of commiseration in his blue eyes.

"See you guys around." Karl assured them, but Jake had grown a little suspicious of him just wanting to leave so suddenly. "Jake," he said this time, in a silvery voice that made Jake's cheeks burn.

"Mhm," Jake nodded back, mentally slapping himself for just mumbling like he did. Alex shot him a puzzled glance, that said she knew something was up but she wasn't sure when to get him to speak.

"I heard that your dad busted in at the party yesterday. That's gotta suck." Kelsey remarked somberly and Jake shrugged with a nervous grin.

"He thinks I'm slacking off cuz it's senior year and the finals are coming up." Jake rolled his eyes, and Alex groaned knowing better than that.

Jake had his eye on the ball, and he may have lost control one night but that didn't mean he was to be judged. He was a human being, and a kind, gentle-hearted young man, with intelligence like gold and a winning personality.

"I'll talk to him." Alex promised and Jake pursed his lips, frowning as he thought about it.

Finally, he shook his head and Alex frowned marginally. "It's fine, he's my dad and, he just wants what's best for me." Jake shrugged dismissively and Kelsey nodded.

"This is why I respect you, Jake." Kelsey said, pushing away from the locker and slinging his backpack over his shoulder.

"I'm lost." Jake frowned, and Kelsey grinned at him.

"You're a nerd, but you're not the whiny kind." Kelsey winked, Alex laughed and Jake just chuckled as they watched Kelsey stroll away.

Alex turned to Jake, folding her hands across her chest as she settled into concerned-friend mode. Jake knew that look very well, so the moment he spotted it, he groaned in angst. He had hoped that his first hangover didn't show on his face, but his eyes were puffy and dark. After throwing up a few times during breakfast, he gave up on trying to keep anything down which left him weak and already over it.

"You sure drank heavy." Alex said and Jake rose an eyebrow at her, but cane to a staunching realization.

"You think I went overboard, now you're concerned about me going on a bender?" Jake asked and Alex sighed, still eyeing him. "Alex, I didn't tell you about my mother so you could use it to judge me." Jake pointed out and Alex frowned, but decided against arguing.

"What were you doing there so late, Jake?" Alex asked and Jake peered at her, confused and wholly beguiled by her tone.

"At the Party?" Jake asked, and Alex nodded then leaned against the locker. "I don't know, Alex, I had too much to drink and ended up in some weird room. Guess when I didn't go home, my Dad went looking for me." Jake said dismissively, and Alex watched him for a second before giving up on prying too much. She knew he would talk to her eventually, but she knew she had every right to be a good friend.

"You're lucky he didn't send a search party." Alex mused and Jake chuckled, feeling the release of the tension that had inadvertently fell on his shoulders.

"You know my dad." Jake said with a shrug, as he stepped back. "Crap." Jake cursed as he bumped into someone's chest.

"Watch it there, buddy." Xander's voice brushed Jake's ear and he swiveled around swiftly, gulping as he peered up at the tall, built football player.

"Xander," Alex chirped, rushing over to throw her arms around his shoulders.

"Babe." Xander breathed, then they kissed briefly, forcing Jake to look away as his cheeks warmed slightly.

"I thought you had practice before class." Alex stated as Xander released his hold on her.

"I did, but I actually came to find Jake." He said and Jake's eyes widened for a second.

"Me?" Jake asked and Xander grinned, nodding at him.

"I spoke to Coach, and he says a story in the School newspaper could get more students to support the games since we have Finals in a few weeks." Xander explained and Jake peered at him for a second, as if dumbfounded.

"The uhh, paper, yeah." Jake nodded swiftly, clearing his throat awkwardly and both Alex and Xander exchanged odd looks.

"How about we meet later on this week?" Xander suggested and Jake nodded, reddening under his intense gaze.

"S-sure, that-that sounds good." Jake finally managed to gather his scattered wits.

"I'll see you guys later." Xander said, placing a gentle kiss on Alex's cheek before turning to leave.

Alex turned to Jake, her eyebrow raised. "Are you Ok?" She queried and Jake nodded, peering after Xander with narrowed eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine, Alex." He assured her and before she could reply, the bell rang loudly and Alex peered up at the ceiling for a short moment then back at Jake.

"Better get to class." Jake announced, then hurried off as he felt her scrutiny piercing holes through his skull.


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