Chapter 5:

The First Step


After lunch, Rayner attended his Economics class for 6th period. Nothing eventful happened on the first day of school, so Rayner didn't take much note of anything that went on other than whatever his teacher said that related to the class and this year's material. Before Rayner knew it, 6th period had ended.

All the while, Rayner was racking his brain on how to interact with Blake from now on. He decided to try and initiate conversations if he ever found the chance to.

As luck would have it, Rayner got his chance to start a chat with Blake as 7th period was about to begin. Rayner walked into the classroom for Study Hall and saw Blake talking to the teacher, Mr. Brian, by his desk.

Rayner wondered what the best way to approach her would be. Should I yell her name from over here? No, that might gather too much attention. I'll just walk up to her and say hi.

Rayner walked up behind Blake and said, "Hey there, Blake," but spoke rather quietly.

Blake didn't seem to hear him. Mr. Brian noticed Rayner behind her but before he could say something, Rayner put his hand on Blake’s shoulder. Blake got startled by that, so she jumped and screamed slightly before turning around.

"Rayner!" Blake yelled. "You scared me half to death. Just say hi next time."

"I'm sorry," said Rayner. "I tried to say hi to you but you didn't hear me. I figured I could get your attention by tapping you on the shoulder..."

Blake saw Rayner’s face, riddled with regret, so she felt bad for scolding him. "Oh, don't worry about it. I'm not mad, Rayner. Come here." Blake then raised her hand up over Rayner's head to give him a head pat. 

Rayner stood there silently as Blake patted his head for a bit. "What is this for?"

"I'm giving you head pats. It's meant to soothe you. Is it working?" She looked at Rayner with a warm smile.

"I suppose... It's a bit embarrassing though."

"Okay, I'll stop. Let's sit down together, Rayner. There are no assigned seats this class."

"Alright, sure."

"Yay, you didn't argue with me this time." Blake was full of energy now. Rayner could hardly believe that she actually cried earlier.

"I intend to keep my promise to you," stated Rayner.

"I appreciate it. I'll make sure to hold you to that promise."

Rayner chuckled and said, "Wouldn't have it any other way."

As they went to find seats together, they noticed Rebecca sitting in a desk that was near a back corner of the classroom.

Blake quickly walked over near her and said, "Hello again, Rebecca."

Rebecca looked up at Blake while pushing up on her glasses and replied with, "Ah, yes. I see we share this class as well." 

"Uh-huh. Rayner's here too."

"I noticed. Speaking of which, I see how close the two of you are now. You two were sharing a very affectionate moment together."

"Oh," Rayner said, slightly shocked. "Y-you saw that?"

"Well duh. You guys were standing at the front of the classroom. Everyone could see you guys."

Rayner got flustered and looked around the classroom to see how many other students were there at the moment. He saw Ken and Ari sitting a few rows away waving at him, gleefully. Rayner waved back at them, nervously.

Rebecca looked over at who she saw Rayner waving at. "Kenneth and Arianna," she said, aloud. She looked back at Rayner and asked, "You're friends with them too? You've got quite a crew now, huh?"

"No, not at all," stated Rayner. "I've barely acquainted myself with them."

Ari picked up her bag and told Ken to come along so that they can sit near Rayner. Rayner was now seated with Blake directly to his right, Rebecca to his back right, Ari to his left, and Ken to his back left.

"Nice to see you again, Rayner," said Ari, warmly.

"Yeah, how's it going, buddy?" Ken added.

"I'm doing good, I think," Rayner replied.

Blake looked at Rayner and said, "Hey, you didn't tell me these two were your friends."

"No, I uh-"

"Yeah," Ken said, interrupting Rayner. "Ari and I sat next to him third period and we hit it off. We were hoping to chat with him some more."

Blake puffed her cheeks and glared at Rayner. "Hmph," she went. "It seems like you befriended them so easily, Rayner. You kept pushing me away, though." She crossed her arms and then shifted her gaze off in another direction.

Rayner didn't know how to react to this situation. He was trying to tell everyone that he didn't know Ken and Ari that well yet but Ken interrupted him and made it sound like he was already close friends with them.

"Wait, no," Rayner said, nervously. "Blake, I um... I'm not sure what to say but this is just uh..."

Blake then turned back around and winked at Rayner. "Just kidding," she said, playfully. "Did you think I was really mad at you?"

"Um, yes..."

Blake then giggled and said, "You're fun to tease, Rayner. You're reactions just make me want to tease you some more. I'll hold myself back for now, though."

"O-okay..." Rayner now felt worried after hearing Blake say that. 

After some more small talk, class began and Mr. Brian announced the meaning of their seventh period Study Hall class. Seniors at this high school are given non essential classes for seventh period in case they have a part-time job or something else that requires them to leave school early. Mr. Brian also explained that while there are no lessons for this class, he would like the students to either work on assignments for other classes or to just simply stay quiet enough so that they don't bother the students around them. However, since no one really had any work to do on the first day of school, Mr. Brian let everyone mingle freely.

Throughout class, Rayner would find himself engaged in conversation with Blake, Ken, and Ari. For a while, Ken happened to be talking to everyone the most until Rebecca finally jumped into their chat with a remark.

"You're as energetic as ever, Kenneth," commented Rebecca, abruptly. 

"Oh," said Ken, surprised. "I didn't know that you knew my name."

"Oh, please." Rebecca gave out a sigh. "We've shared classes in the past. Of course I know your name. I remember my classmates names if I see them enough. Especially when you and Arianna talk as much as you guys do in class."

"I guess that's fair..."

Arianna started laughing and said, "Yeah, we can't argue against that, Rebecca."

Blake then joined in on the conversation and said, "I noticed that Arianna and Kenneth get along really well with each other. Are you guys dating or something?"

Both Ken and Ari went, "Hm?" They looked at each other for a second and shared the same disgusted look on their faces. "Ew, no way!"

"I've known Ari for too long," said Ken. "It'd be weird to have romantic feelings for her."

"Yeah," agreed Ari. "And ever since we were little I've always considered Ken a family member. He's more like my little brother."

Ken looked back at Ari with a disgruntled look on his face and said, "Hey, I was agreeing with you until you said little brother."

"I mean, my birthday is before yours. So that would technically make me your big sister."

"I really don't want to think about this..."

"Hey, are you comparing me to your actual older sister right now?"

"I'm trying not to but it's hard when you go around saying stuff like that!"

"Hey now, you sound like that's a bad thing! You're sister's amazing Ken."

"To you, maybe! It's a different story when it comes to me!"

"Oh, you have an older sister?" Rayner asked, suddenly. For some reason, he felt obligated to jump in. Rebecca subtly passed a glance at him because she was surprised that he actually joined the conversation.

Ken looked at Rayner and went, "Hm? Oh, yeah. She's a few years older than me and graduated from this high school."

"Where is she now, if you don't mind me asking?"

"She still lives at home with me and our parents. She has a job to help support us though."

"Oh, she sounds like a nice person."

"Nice? No way! She's constantly nagging me everyday over a thing or two. Even when I'm not at fault!

"Is that right?" Rayner then gave out a sigh of sorrow. "It feels like it's been forever since I've seen some of my family members..."

"Oh..." Ken realized that they were on a topic that Rayner was sensitive about. "Sorry, Rayner. I didn't mean to remind you about..."

"It's okay, I don't mind. It's not your fault. I'm the one at fault for what happened in the past."

Rayner and Ken exchanged awkward glances as neither of the two knew what to say anymore.

Ari then clasped her hands together and said, "Alright. Sounds like it's time to change the subject. Let's talk about you, Blake."

As Ari brought her up, Blake looked back at everyone and said, "Oh, me? Alright, what would you like to know?"

"I heard that you're new in town. How are you liking it so far?"

Blake thought about it for a moment and then replied with, "Hm, I've been having fun so far. I've met and talked to so many nice people already."

"Okay, I see. How about your thoughts on the town. I know we're not exactly in the biggest or even the most interesting place out there."

"It's quiet," Blake said, simply. "But I think I'll like the quiet. I find it more relaxing than a loud environment. Maybe that's why I was drawn in by Rayner. His quiet and reserved personality just kind of put me at ease when I first saw him."

"Huh?" Rayner uttered as he got a little flustered. "Are you kidding around again?"

Blake didn't say anything but rested her chin against her hands on her desk and happily smiled at him with her eyes closed. Blake's smug yet cute face was enough to make Rayner's face go red.

"Oh my, are we getting some romantic vibes going on here?" Ari winked at Blake as she said that.

"I'm just teasing Rayner again," stated Blake.

"I thought so..." said Rayner, sadly.

"I was honest about what I said though. The moment I saw you, I knew there was something different about you. Something that gave me a sense of solace and made me want to get to know you better."

"I'm not sure how to feel about this..."

"Hm, do you think I'm messing with you again?"

"No, I believe you this time. You've said weird things like that before. I just don't know how you can just throw out those kinds of lines like it's nothing. It's like you're saying lines out of a motivational book or something..."

"Is that what you think? Well, you would be right to assume that I've read books of that sort. I actually enjoy them a lot. They kind of changed my life around in a way..."

Rayner noticed Blake's tone of voice darken as she said that last sentence. However, he decided not to bring it up. Instead, he said, "You should give me some recommendations. I'm a pretty avid reader myself."

Blake then smiled at Rayner and said, "Sure thing! I'd love to talk about what kind of books you read and see if we have similar interests."

"Oh, we're talking about books now?" Ken asked, harshly. "Yeah, I'm out. Sorry but books just aren't my thing."

"Don't be a dick!" Ari yelled. "Manga isn't the only thing people read, you know!"

"I read manga and other types of comics too," stated Rayner.

"Well, now you got me back in," said Ken, energetically. "Which comics are you reading at the moment, Rayner?"

Ari sighed and went, "Ugh, I can't believe you..."

As conversations passed between this group of students(minus Rebecca, who mainly just listened in), the final class period of the day seemed to fly by quickly. Classes ended with the final bell and the students in class were relieved that they could go home now. Rebecca quickly walked out of class as it ended while ignoring Blake, who had wished her a goodbye for the day. Ken and Ari told Rayner and Blake that they'd see them tomorrow and walked out of class together.

As Blake grabbed her bag, she stood before Rayner and said, "Hey, wanna walk together for a bit? Let's leave school together until we go our separate ways."

Rayner, who would normally say no to an offer like this, remembered his promise to Blake and said, "Sure. I always walk home, what's your plan?"

"I'm walking as well."

"Ah, then let's see how far we get before we have to go down different streets."

"Yeah, sounds great. I hope we don't have to split up too soon." The two then got up from their seats and began to walk out of class together.