Rayner made his way into his English class and found out where he was seated. As he walked over to his desk, he noticed that he was seated next to a female student that he knew but rarely ever talked to by the name, Rebecca Maryland.
Rebecca had long black hair that was braided into twin tails in the back. Her braids flowed down to her mid back level. She had freckled light skin and deep blue eyes that hid behind the tint of her oval glasses. She was wearing a white button up shirt with a ribbon around her collar and a blue vest over her top. She wore a long black skirt that covered most of her legs as well as white socks and brown loafers.
Rebecca had a reputation of being called 'The Ice Queen.' The reason for her nickname was because she's never friendly with anyone and whenever somebody would get close enough to interact with her, she'd stare daggers at them.
Rayner thought to himself as he went to sit down. I'm next to Rebecca in this class? I'm not sure how to feel about that; she's kind of scary. But at least she's not known to be a trouble maker. That's a bit of a relief...
Rayner looked at Rebecca as he sat down and noticed that she was facing at him for quite some time. She was fiddling with her glasses and constantly moving them up and down.
Rayner decided to say something to her, despite how much he wanted to avoid Rebecca, who intimidated him.
"What's the matter?" Rayner plainly asked. His voice came out less considerate than he wanted it to sound. "Do you have a problem, Rebecca?" Rayner knew that he was going to be misunderstood but couldn't help his tone of voice or diction.
"Oh, so the monster decided to speak," Rebecca commented, coldly. She continued to fidget with her glasses. "I bet this is one of the few times I'll hear your voice this year. Don't mind me, I was just thinking to myself while you happened to be in my direct visage."
As she looked up at Rayner, the glare of her glasses faded and Rayner saw her icy gaze make eye contact with him. He felt a chill down his spine and decided to drop out of this conversation.
"Okay then..." Rayner said, awkwardly. The two of them averted their gazes from each other. Rayner began to look up at the ceiling while Rebecca then faced downwards towards her desk.
Rayner’s attention shifted as he saw Blake start to walk into class. He smiled and debated on if he should greet her or not.
He decided to walk on over and greet her after going through an internal struggle in his mind. Before he could finish standing up, he noticed that Blake then tripped as she stepped further into the classroom. Rayner was too far at the time to help her out. However, another student that was nearby quickly shifted over towards Blake and helped her.
This student was a boy even taller than Rayner. His hair was short, curly, and black. He had brown skin and brown eyes that conveyed a lot of confidence. He dressed in a black formal suit with dress shoes.
The tall student had moved over to Blake's side where she could reach for his arm and rebalance herself.
"Phew," went Blake, relieved. She then turned to her savior and thanked him for assisting her.
"Not a problem," replied the male student. "Am I imagining things, or are you a new face here at school?"
"You would be correct in thinking that I'm new here. My name is Blake Goswin and my family just moved into town."
"I'm Will Danver. Feel free to call me Will, it's not a nickname or anything."
"Alright then, Will. It’s nice to meet you"
The two of them went to find their assigned seats and found out where they would be seated. Will’s seat was right behind Rayner’s while Blake's was directly behind Will’s.
As they went to their seats, Blake saw Rayner and greeted him. "Nice to see you again, Rayner," she said.
"L-likewise..." Rayner replied, a bit awkwardly.
"You two know each other?" Rebecca asked from her seat. She sounded like she was surprised by this discovery.
"Oh hey, I sat next to you in our last class," Blake commented, as she saw Rebecca next to Rayner. "You're Rebecca Maryland, right?"
"Oh, you remembered my name," stated Rebecca. "What. An. Honor." Rebecca spoke in a sarcastic tone as she continued to adjust her glasses every time she spoke.
"I just felt like you were someone I could get along with," commented Blake.
"Hmph. I don't know how you came to that conclusion, but I'm afraid to inform you that you will be disappointed. I don't make friends. I doubt I ever will."
Will interrupted the conversation at this point and said, "Rebecca’s like that with everyone. You should just let her be and find other people to talk to." He then ushered Blake over to her seat. Will gave Rayner an inquisitive glance as he passed him by.
Rayner was curious about what Will’s gaze was for but decided to let it go for now.
As class carried on, Will would occasionally speak with Blake, who was behind him.
"So, Blake, you said that your family just moved in, right?" Will asked.
"Yes, I did," confirmed Blake. "We got here yesterday and had the last of our belongings brought to us this morning."
"I wonder how long you'll be around then."
"What do you mean?"
"It's just that this town isn't much. Not many people who come to Sproutling Town stay. Everyone who lives here is either here because they were born here or because they couldn't make it in the big city. Even then, people who do live here try to get the hell out of here as soon as possible."
"Well, I’ll be here for quite a while," stated Blake. "My family decided that this town was a good place for us to live in and I'm in no rush to leave the house currently."
"Is that so? Well if you're here to stay then I guess we're the lucky ones. Not only did we get a new face around town. The new girl seems to have a great personality and is cute to boot."
"Oh, please," said Blake, bashfully. "I'm not looking for flattery, Will. Although, having a couple of friends would be nice."
"Well then, if you have positions open, are you willing to accept me?"
"Hmm, let me check my applicants first," Blake said, jokingly. After a brief pause, she continued. "Hm, I'll tell you what, Will. So far, things are looking in your favor."
"Awesome, when's the next interview?" Will and Blake continued to joke around and chat for a while. They gave off a sense of compatibility.
Meanwhile, Rayner had a feeling that Blake would stop talking to him now that she met with Will. Rayner knew that Will was the captain of the school's basketball team and also a very popular student. That feeling sank in some more, when a few students that sat in front of him began gossiping.
"Will is putting the moves on the new girl," said one of the students.
"Well duh," said the student they were speaking with. "She’s pretty cute and Will is a very charming person. I wouldn't be surprised if they started dating."
Rayner jumped slightly as he heard them mention dating. He began thinking that Blake would stop talking to him if she got really close to Will. Before he could get too absorbed in his thoughts, however, he felt a tap against his right elbow.
As he looked to his right, Rayner saw Rebecca trying to get his attention. He wasn't sure what she wanted but saw her pointing downard.
"Did you need something?" Rayner asked.
"Are you really that daft!?" Rebecca replied, angrily. "Look underneath your desk. I dropped my eraser."
Rayner looked down and saw her eraser down near his shoe. "Oh, let me get that for you." He picked it up and then reached over to hand it back to Rebecca.
As he was reaching over towards her desk, Rebecca tried to start up a conversation with Rayner.
"Hey," she said, "you're acting odd today."
Rayner looked at her with a confused look on his face before replying. "You're a bit talkative today, aren't you?" His eyes then widened at how rude he thought he sounded after he said that.
"You have a problem with it? Ugh, I'm not trying to nag you." Rebecca wasn't fidgeting with her glasses at this moment and looked at Rayner with a solemn expression. "I just wanted to point that out that you seemed weird to me..."
"Right," Rayner said, awkwardly. Man, I have no idea how to continue this conversation. Rebecca is someone I definitely can't figure out.
"So, how did you and Blake start talking with each other?"
"Oh, um... It just kind of happened in homeroom. She just kind of kept talking to me and I guess I just felt comfortable enough to keep up a conversation with her. I offered to help find her next classes and she's been keeping up small talk with me ever since whenever she sees me."
"Well look who made himself a friend for once."
"A friend? No, I don't think I've gotten that far with anyone. Plus, she'd probably be better off making friends with other people..."
Both Rayner and Rebecca subtly looked back at Blake and Will, who were talking to one another.
"If you say so," said Rebecca. "To me, it sounds like you're just making an excuse not to make friends." Rebecca then turned away from Rayner and began to mind her own business.
Rayner then looked down at his desk, sorrowfully. He wondered whether or not Rebecca was right about him. Regardless, he decided to let Blake hangout with other people because he didn't want his reputation to ruin her relationships with the other students at school.
As class ended, the students began leaving the classroom for lunch. Rayner packed his bags and stood up to leave class. He felt like it was rude not to say bye to Blake but knew that if he did, she might want to follow him around.
"Oh, you're going to spend your lunch alone again," commented Rebecca, who saw him walk towards the exit.
"That shouldn't be surprising," Rayner stated.
"You're right. Monsters are probably better off by themselves."
Rayner looked back at Rebecca for a moment without saying a word. His face gave off a shameful yet understanding expression.
"I was mainly referring to myself," Rebecca added. "I don't actually think you a monster. At least not compared to me. The Ice Queen is feared because of her actions. The monster was born because of supposed rumors."
Rayner opened up his mouth to speak bit didn't really know what to say.
"You should go," suggested Rebecca. "If you want to be by yourself, you should go before Blake finds you. I think she's almost done chatting with Will."
Rayner paused for a moment before uttering, "Right..."
As Blake saw Rayner leave, she quickly turned to Will and said, "Oh, hey, I gotta go now. I'll talk to you later."
"Wait up," said Will. "You can hangout with me and my friends during lunch."
"I'm honored, but I kinda wanted to hangout with Rayner today. I'm still trying to get to know him."
Will’s expression dimmed as Blake mentioned Rayner’s name. "Let me give you a word of advice. If you want to get closer to Kingsman, don't."
Blake looked back at him with a serious look on her face. "So, that's how it is. You're just like everybody else when it comes to Rayner, aren't you, Will?"
"Hey, don't get me mixed up with everyone else. Personally, I have nothing against Kingsman. But if you start hanging around him, people will talk."
"Let them say things. I don't care what they'll say about me just because I hangout with Rayner."
"Alright fine. I'm not going to argue with you. Just know that if you end up getting some bad street cred, I tried to warn you."
"I appreciate it, Will. And I understand that you're looking out for me. So, please understand that I genuinely want to befriend Rayner. After all, everyone could use a friend."
"That's fair. I'll see you later, Blake."
"Bye for now, Will."
Will then left the classroom as Blake began to follow suit.
Rebecca who was nearby, overheard their conversation. She walked over to Blake and said, "Hey, Blake."
Blake turned to her side and noticed who called out to her. "Oh, Rebecca," Blake said as she saw her. "I didn't know you were still here."
"I like to be the last person to leave class," Rebecca stated. "And I happened to overhear your chat with Mr. Jock."
"Oh, you mean Will?"
"Yeah. And by the sound of your conversation, it sounds like you want to find Rayner."
"Indeed. I just hope I can find him."
"Well luckily for you, I've known Rayner long enough to know where he tends to lurk during lunchtime."
"Yeah, he always lurks in secluded places. Like near shaded areas abundant with trees. Or behind the corner of the gymnasium building. Places like that. He hides in spots where it would be rare to run into him."
"Oh, I see. But how do you know this about him, Rebecca?"
"Well, since I'm also a lone wolf, I tend to remember where other lone wolves like to hangout so that I don't pick the same hiding spot as them. Plus, I'm just extremely perceptive." Rebecca smirked and adjusted her glasses upwards.
"Oh, okay." Blake looked a little puzzled by this conversation. Blake then smiled back at Rebecca and said, "Thank you, Rebecca. Now I know where to look for Rayner."
"Don't mention it. Really, do not mention it no matter what. Now let's get out of here already."
"Right. One more thing, Rebecca."
"Do you have another question for me?"
"No, but I just wanted to say something real fast. Currently, I'm working on getting Rayner to open up to me. But I'm also going to get you to open up to me some more."
"Let’s talk again later, Rebecca." Blake waved goodbye to Rebecca and hastily walked away to find Rayner.
As Rebecca left the classroom, she thought about the conversations he had just had with Blake.
How does Blake say things like that to people? She talks about getting complete strangers like me and Rayner to open up to her... As if it were that easy. I can't understand that girl yet. Well, I'll probably get a radar on her thought process eventually.
Back with Rayner, he ended up slumping against a wall just like Rebecca had predicted. He let himself slide down until he was left sitting down on the ground with his back against the wall. He spent his time pondering about the day thus far and how he would proceed from this point forward.
Phew, a break from socializing. Now for the next hour I can just sit back and relax.
Rayner looked up at the sky for a moment with nothing much on his mind. His smile subsided as the images of his classmates ran through his mind. His face began to look slightly perplexed. He thought of his first conversations with Blake as well as with Ken and Ari.
Blake is really nice. I wish her the best school year. Ken and Ari seemed really friendly. Their banter will be fun to listen to in Art class.
He then thought about Rebecca and Will from his last class.
Rebecca was talking to me a lot today. I wonder why that is. The only time we ever talked in the past was when we were paired up for group work in class. Even then, we barely exchanged words with each other. Then there's Will. I don't think I've ever seen him up close until now. As far as I can tell he seems dependable. I guess thats why he's so popular.
His expression then dimmed slightly. His lips frowned and his eyes drooped a bit.
I shouldn't try to associate with anyone though. Since I'm known as a monster, anyone I hangout with will probably be talked about in a bad way too. I'll just do what I always do. Keep my mouth shut and keep a blank expression while I listen to everyone around me live their lives. I find solace in other people's joy, so I don't need to seek happiness for myself.
He then thought about the dream he had last night.
After that incident, I don't deserve to be happy anymore. I definitely deserve the title of 'monster' that's for sure.
Rayner then lifted his knees up and let his head sink into them with his arms wrapped around his legs.
A few moments later, Blake had finally found Rayner as he was in his fetal position.
With an exhausted voice, Blake said to Rayner, "I finaly... huff... found you... haaaa..." Blake backed into the wall right beside Rayner and slowly let herself fall to the ground. She sat there by Rayner’s side and kept breathing in and out, fatigued.
Rayner, looked to his side and stared back at his exhausted classmate with a confused look on his face.
"What are you doing here?" Rayner asked.
Blake finally regulated her breathing as she responded. "Looking for you, of course! You ran off without me and I had to run around campus just to find you curled up into a ball."
"You didn't have to come find me. I'm always alone during lunch."
"Yeah, I've heard. From now on, I want to change that."
"How come? I'm perfectly fine being by myself."
"You're being awfully adamant about this. Instead of asking your friend why they went to find you, you should just be glad that they want to see you."
"Friend? Blake, you see me as a friend?"
"Yeah. Why wouldn't I?"
"Sorry, It's just that I can hardly remember what having friends is like." Rayner began to slightly smile again.
Blake looked back at Rayner with a puzzled look on her face. "You seem pretty happy despite saying something so sad. It's like you want to be alone or something."
"Well... I can't really argue against that. I've been alone throughout high school. It's just normal for me at this point."
"That's such a lonely life... I don't know how you can live that way."
"I think I managed to to just fine. You don't need to worry about me. I'm content with myself so don't feel like you need to come and talk to me."
"You're making me very upset, Rayner." Blake’s tone of voice suddenly changed. Her tone changed from bubbly to sullen. "You keep trying to push me away from you. And I think I know why." Blake got up off of the ground and stood up before Rayner. She looked him right in the eyes with a serious look.
Rayner was nervous as Blake spoke to him. He wasn't sure where this conversation was going but simply said, "D-do you?"
"You're right about your reputation. I won't pretend like I didn't hear a bunch of rumors about you."
Rayner gulped in response as he continued to listen to Blake.
"I've heard people say that you're a monster who had beaten up your parents half to death. Then, they say that you chased your father out of the house. There are other variations of rumors but that's the gist if what I've heard. And whenever I ask someone about you, they begin to start shaking in their boots and try to change the subject."
Rayner was speechless. He really wanted to speak up, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't utter a word.
"Of course, everyone tells me not to associate with you, but I can’t just do that. You've been nothing but nice to me all day, so I can't just believe that you're the 'monster' that everyone says you are."
Blake began to slowly fall to her knees as her voice shakily came out.
"Plus, I knew someone who was shunned by their peers the way you are right now. He was someone I knew very well... That's why I want to be there for you, Rayner! Even if you're okay with the way things are now, I'm not! So please, just let me be by your side. I'm going to beg if I need to..."
Rayner noticed as tears slowly began to trickle down from Blake’s eyes. Rayner wasn't sure how to react at all. Nobody had ever opened up to him like that before. He felt guilty, but also felt like he needed to change something within himself at that moment.
Rayner went over to Blake and helped her stand up properly. "I'm sorry, Blake," he said. "I'm the worst for making you remember something so sad and cry like that. I feel like a jerk..."
Blake wiped her face and said, "Yeah..."
"But from now on... I'll try to forget about how my reputation might affect you. And I'll even... hang out with you every now and then." Rayner couldn't believe what he was saying. The idea of spending time with a friend was a foreign concept to him.
Blake looked up at Rayner with teary eyes and said, "Promise me that you'll talk to me everyday. And that if I want to see you when you're free that you'll let me."
"Alright, alright. I promise." Is this the so-called puppy dog face? It's hard to argue with her when she's like that...
"You mean it?"
"Yes, I swear it. Can you please stop crying now?"
"Okay..." Blake wiped her face and took a deep breath to calm herself down. She slowly formed a smile on her face and said, "Well, I think lunch break is almost over. What are your next classes?"
"I have History next period and then I close the day in a Study Hall period with Mr. Brian as my teacher."
"Oh, I'll miss you next period but I'll see you again right after. Let's talk again later, Rayner." Blake was back to her energetic self again.
Rayner said his farewell to Blake for now as he began to walk towards his next class. He felt nervous about the promise he made to Blake. He had no idea what would be in store for him after today. However, he couldn’t deny that he felt truly happy about finally letting someone get this close to him after all this time.