Day 3—Meeting the Friends
The second time they noticed each other was the next day.
Leonard was attempting to hide from the part of the student body that was especially rabid. He had found a corner of the school courtyard that was hidden behind a semicircle of trees and was hiding there for lunch. He knew that Sara didn’t have this lunch, Theo was serving detention, and Henna had probably found a way to the roof to meditate in the warm sunlight that had broken out from the morning clouds. He didn’t expect that others had already staked their claim on the secluded corner.
“Damn!” A curvy brunette and a short girl with wildly curly black hair rounded pushed their way into the corner. “We claimed that spot in our freshman year!” the short one exclaimed.
“Oh.” he flashed a winning smile at them. “D’you think you could find somewhere else for today? I’m kind of avoiding most of the student body.”
“That won’t work on me,” the short girl sighed. “I don’t even like your type of music.”
“Oh,” Leonard remarked blandly. He really couldn’t say anything about this.
“Nikki!” the curvy brunette turned to give the boy Leonard had seen yesterday a friendly hug. He noticed that he was still wearing that stupid silver headband, though he had tied his hair back into a little ponytail that looked much longer than his hair would have let it been.
“Lunch,” he said, stopping the girl from touching him by holding up a cup of Instant Noodles. She tsk’d.
“You’ll kill yourself eating those,” she scolded. Nikki rolled his eyes.
“Whatever, mom. Why are we standing here?”
“Because that ass won’t move himself out of our spot,” the short one said, shooting Leonard a glare.
“Oh.” Nikki frowned. “I—you look familiar. Have we met?” He prodded the contents of his cup with a plastic fork.
“Uh, sort of.” Leonard held out his hand. “I’m Leonard.”
“I’m holding cup noodles.”
Leonard retracted his hand. “Okay then.” He tried not to frown in the awkward silence, which was soon broken by the arrival of another person, a tall, reed-like redhead.
“Hey! Hey! You guys—wait, why are we all standing in the middle of the trees?” He pushed his glasses farther up his nose.
“We’re trying to get this guy to move,” Nikki explained matter-of-factly, calming eating his noodles. The curvy brunette had somehow procured a bag of chips and was sharing it with the short girl.
“Oh.” The redhead looked at the only person that was sitting in their little gathering. “You’re Leonard Astor, lead of ARMOUR, which launched in 2009.”
“And I have no idea who you are, except that you must be a KMO master.”
“Yes. Yes I am. I’m Garrick. Garrick Wing. That’s Sadie”—the brunette waved at Leonard—“Rachel”—the short one—“and Nikki, which is short for Nikolas.” So the sarcastic one was Nikolas.
“Oh! I remember now!” Nikolas moved to sit down next to Leonard so that he could eat more comfortably. “You’re in my P.E. class!”
“Oh yeah. I have first too!”
“Yay, P.E. buddies!” the short one—Rachel—exclaimed. “Now will you please get out?”
“And if I don’t want to?”
“Oh, come on! Don’t be immature!”
“Well, it’s not like we can make him leave, Rachel,” Nikolas stated calmly. He was now walking away, empty cup in hand. “Just leave him be and eat something.” Rachel huffed angrily.
“Fine.” Sadie took her by the arm and left saying, “Come with me to get a bagel.”
Then Leonard was left alone with Garrick, who had seated himself comfortably against a tree and was now tucking into a sandwich with the enthusiasm of a fat man. He was intrigued by this group of people. They didn’t even blink when the boy beside him had essentially spouted his credentials. Nikolas didn’t even seem to care.