Chapter 3:

Second Thoughts


Rayner and Blake made their way into the science building together for their second period class. Rayner let Blake walk ahead of him and told her that he would wait a minute before walking in. He still didn't want Blake to be seen with him.

Blake looked back at Rayner and gave him a displeased look. "I don't think so," She said. She then grabbed Rayner's wrist and dragged him along with her. "We're going to class together. I'm not ditching you, alright?"

"Okay, okay," Rayner said, reluctantly. "Could you please let go of my wrist though?"

Blake paused before speaking up again. "Do you promise to walk into class with me?"

"Yes... You're going to argue with me otherwise, right?"

Blake nodded in response.

Rayner sighed and said, "Then lead the way, Blake."

"Okay." Blake smiled at him and let go of his wrist finally as she walked into the classroom with Rayner following right behind her.

As the other students noticed that Rayner was here, they began to whisper to each other nervously.

"Rayner, why does everyone seem so scared of you?" Blake asked him, subtly. She leaned in close to him as she quietly asked him that question.

"It's a bit of a story to explain. Long story short is that I did something violent one day a few years back and people have been avoiding me ever since."

"Hm..." Blake looked at him with a level of disbelief. "But you don't seem like that kind of person. I find it hard to believe that you did something violent."

"I wasn't in the best mindset at the time of the incident..."

Blake noticed a look of anguish on Rayner's face as he talked about this. "Okay, I'll let it go for now," she said. "But please feel free to talk to me about it anytime whenever you're comfortable enough to, okay?"

"Thank you, Blake. You're the first person that's been this kind to me at school. It's nice to finally have someone like you."

The bell then rang, indicating the start of class. Ms. Burch, the science teacher, then told the students to look around the desks in the room until they find one with a piece of paper with their name on it. Those papers designated each students seats for this class. Rayner was seated at the front of the row to the right side of the room while Blake's seat was in the very back of a center row. Blake commented that it was a bummer that they sat so far away from each other in this class before walking over to her seat.

As Rayner sat down, he thought back to his conversation with Blake as they walked into class. Why did I say those things to her? Rayner asked himself, feeling flustered. She probably thinks I'm a total weirdo. She definitely knows that I'm a loner now... She's probably glad that she doesn't have to sit next to me.

Ms. Burch then started class with introductions as she passed out worksheets for the students to work on. The worksheets consisted of simple questions about the students to give her a sense of her students' hobbies, likes, and dislikes. She said it was a way for her to get to know the students better. The students worked on it for about twenty minutes before Ms. Burch passed out another worksheet to the students. This time it was a quick partner assignment. She asked the students to find a partner to work on this sheet with.

As the students began getting into pairs, Rayner quietly sat down and stared at the worksheet before him. Instead of finding a partner, he was set on working by himself. Suddenly, someone walked up behind Rayner and tapped him on his shoulder. As Rayner looked up, he saw Blake standing beside him.

"I thought you could use a partner," Blake said, as Rayner looked up at her. "Plus, we're seniors. I'm pretty sure most if not everyone else here has a friend or at least someone else they can tolerate to partner up with. Being the new kid around the block, the person I'm most acquainted with right now is you."

"Understandable," confirmed Rayner. "I'm less of a stranger to you than everyone else, I guess..."

"That's an interesting way of putting it," Blake stated. "And here I thought we were starting to become friends..."

"Sorry," said Rayner, feeling a little guilty.

Blake giggled and said, "I'm kidding. Let's get to work, Rayner."

The other students who saw them began whispering to each other again and looked at the pair of Rayner and Blake suspiciously. Rayner was nervous about it but Blake told him to ignore them because it doesn't matter what they think.

After finishing the assignment, Blake asked Rayner about where the classroom buildings are again. "Where's Mr. Reyes' Economics class, Rayner? That's my next class."

Rayner told her the directions to get to her next class from the math and science building.

"Alright, thanks. What's your next class, Rayner?"

"Oh, I have Art class next."

"Ah, so we'll be parting ways after this."

"Next period, yeah. But if I remember correctly, we share fourth period together. You have English with Mr. Miller, right?"

"Let me check." Blake pulled out her schedule and looked for her fourth class. "Yeah, you're right. So I'll see you again in English class, Rayner?"


"Sweet, I'll see you then at least."

As second period ended, Blake said bye to Rayner and walked out of class before him. Rayner then stood up form his seat and paused there as he noticed himself smiling. Hm, am I actually feeling good about this? Rayner thought.

At that moment, Rayner felt something impact against him from behind. His smile faded as he then had a look of surprise on his face. He turned around and saw a boy that stumbled backwards in response to the impact.

The student that bumped into Rayner then said, "Ow! What the hell was that?" This student was a boy with red hair, yellow eyes behind a pair of glasses, and tan skin. He wore a gray T-shirt, green cargo pants, and black shoes. The boy noticed Rayner looking back at him and immediately froze up.

"Is there a problem?" Rayner asked, with a deadpan expression.

"K-Kingsman!? No, not at all, dude! I'm sorry! I wasn't looking at where I was going." He then ran off to his next class, leaving Rayner standing by himself.

"I'm sorry too..." Rayner said to himself, since the other student had already ran off. Rayner looked at where he was standing and noticed that he was blocking the way to the exit. "I probably shouldn't have stopped right here to think, huh?"

As Rayner made his way to his Art class, he saw that the boy that accidentally bumped into him earlier also had this class. Not only that, but they were assigned to the same work table as well. This art classroom was divided into six tables that separated the students into groups of three to five. Rayner shared a table with the boy from earlier as well as a girl. Rayner sat at the side of the table across from those two.

The female student had medium length green hair and green eyes. She was wearing a white blouse, blue jeans, and white heels.

As class proceeded, Rayner wanted to pretend like nothing happened earlier. However, he noticed that the other two students would look at him wearily every so often.

"Alright, let's talk about this," Rayner said. Rayner just wanted to clear things up, but spoke in an awkward tone. The other two students found themselves intimidated by Rayner’s tone of voice.

"You really did it this time, Ken," the girl said to the redheaded boy.

"Right," he agreed. "Well I messed with the demon, so now I gotta deal with the consequences, right?"

"Don't just accept your fate so easily! Clutch at whatever luck that hasn't abandoned you and let it save your skin!"

"What are you guys talking about?" Rayner asked, puzzled. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for blocking you off earlier."

"Oh, you don't want to beat me up, Kingsman?"

"No, of course not. I don't want to hurt anyone! I don't even know your name..."

"Oh, that's a relief." He took a sigh of relief and slouched in his chair. he looked over to the girl next to him and said, "Alright, Ari. I get to live another day." He then sat back upright and looked at Rayner. "The name is Kenneth Bailon, by the way. Call me Ken though, if you don't mind."

"Oh, okay. I'm Rayner Kingsman, but I guess you knew that already. So... Ken, right?"

"Yep yep. Just Ken."

"In that case, can you just call me Rayner? I'd prefer to be called by my first name."

"Oh, alright dude. No prob. Everyone calls you Kingsman so I figured I should do the same. But if you prefer Rayner, I'll go with that."

"Thank you." Rayner then looked to the girl at the table. He wanted to ask for her name but he felt too shy to ask her. The girl figured what he was going to say and introduced herself to Rayner.

"I'm Ariana Valenzuela," she said. "But like Ken here, I also go by a nickname. I like to be called, Ari."

"Ari? I'll try to remember that."

Ken and Ari looked at each other for a moment and then smiled. "Maybe he's not as scary as everyone says," Ken said to Ari.

"I'm getting that vibe as well," she replied. "In that case, what kind of person are you, Rayner? How would you describe yourself?" Ari looked at Rayner while leaning over the table.

"Oh me?" Rayner questioned. "I'm nobody special..."

"Yeah right. If you were no one special, you wouldn't have the reputation you have. Nobodies are people like me and Ken. Nobody talks about nerdy people like us." Ari then giggled to herself.

"Hey,  don't call me a nerd," Ken retorted.

"No use denying it. We are nerds after all. We watch anime, read manga, and play a lot of games. Living the dream. Better to be a nerd than a bully in my opinion. Speaking of bullies, you were saying that people were messing with you in your homeroom class, right Ken?"

"Hm? Oh, right. Yeah, there were some guys that were messing around and poking fun at me in my first class."

"Ugh, you can't catch a break, Ken. Every year there's either someone or some group that messes with you. It pisses me off!"

"Just let it go, Ari. I don't give a damn about what they say about me or around me. I don't have to worry about seeing them in my personal life after school anyway."

"You never stand up for yourself, Ken!" Ari was getting upset while talking about this matter with Ken.

"I don't think this is such a big deal that I need to stand up for myself. It's not like they're trying to physically hurt me. They're just making fun of me because they have nothing better to do."

"Well, they better watch out if they ever try messing with you when I'm around!"

"Don't do anything stupid, Ari."

"What do you mean? I'm just gonna give them a piece of my mind is all."

Throughout the whole class period, Ken and Ari would continue to have conversations. The only time they would pause would be when the art teacher would speak out loud to the class.

It was nearing the end of class and Rayner noticed that Ari and Ken were still chatting it up. 

These two are interesting, Rayner thought. I feel like I could've been friends with them if I met with them sooner. Oh well, it’s probably for the better that we never got to know each other.

As everyone packed up their belongings, Ari turned to Rayner, who was facing both her and Ken. "What's up, Rayner? Did we talk about anything that caught your interest?"

Rayner then uttered out a comment. "You two seem close," he said, stoic as ever.

"Hm? Well yeah, Ken and I are childhood friends after all."

"Oh, really? I'm not really close to any of my friends from that long ago. Actually, I just don't have friends anymore..."

"Yikes," Ken reacted, loudly. "You alright, my guy?"

Ari looked at Rayner with a sorrowful look on her face. "Now that's really sad, Rayner. I had no idea you were so lonely."

"Lonely?" Rayner questioned. "I don't think that's the case."

"But you said you don't have any friends."

"Well to be fair, I don't really put in a lot of effort to talk to people. Honestly, I'm surprised that I actually started speaking with you guys... I didn’t mean that in a bad way. Please don't misunderstand me..." Rayner looked nervous as he wasn't sure if he got his point across properly without sounding rude.

"You're good, Rayner," assured Ari. "Just relax. Do you by chance have problems dealing with social anxiety?"

"Anxiety? I don't think that's the case necessarily. I'm just the type of person who doesn't really say much unless someone else talks to me first."

"Don't you ever have things that you want to say though?" Ken asked. "What do you do then?"

"Well, I'll either say it or simply just keep it to myself," replied Rayner.

"You should just speak up, man."

"But... no, nevermind. Forget I said anything." Rayner stopped himself from saying what he was about to say for some reason.

"No, don't just back out of the conversation now. Just spit it out."

"It might come out as rude, though. And I don't want be rude to you."

"I can take it. I'd rather just hear you say what you were going to say than pretend like nothing happened."

Rayner took a deep breath and said, "Okay then... I just wanted to say that you're suggesting that I speak up for myself when Ari told you earlier to speak up for yourself against bullies. It's pretty contradicting if you ask me."

Rayner was prepared to face Ken’s displeasure after that remark. He lowered his eyes and flinched instinctively. Unexpectedly, he then heard a burst of laughter as Ari was laughing at Rayner’s comment.

As Ari laughed aloud, Ken gave out a nervous laugh.

"You got me there," stated Ken. "Anyways, you can hold up a conversation pretty well, Rayner. Until the moment you decide to try and back out of it."

At that moment, the bell rang.

"Ah damn," said Ken. "It was fun chatting with you, dude. Hey, what class do you have next?"

"Oh, its um... English," replied Rayner.

"Damn, I have Government next."

"And I have math next," Ari added. "Looks like we'll be saying our goodbyes for now, Rayner. You should come and talk to us some more later."

"Oh, I don't know about that," said Rayner, shyly. "I don't want to bother you two and interrupt your guys' fun."

"As if. Ken and I see each other everyday. Talking to you would be a nice change of pace."

"Agreed," said Ken. "I could use a break from Ari every now and then."

"What does that mean?" Ari retorted. "If you don't want me around, you can just tell me!" She puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms dramatically. 

"I'm joking. C'mon, you know I'm just messing with you."

Ari then winked and said, "Did I convince you otherwise?"

"Nope. I caught on to your acting. I know your ticks when you try to lie. I was just playing along."

"You guys sure are something," Rayner commented. The three of them then split ways to make it to their next classes.

Those two are pretty cool, Rayner thought. If they'll have me, I look forward to speaking with them some more. For now, let's just get through with the rest of this day.