Nikolas had realized long ago that the actual Homecoming Dance was a waste of time. The party before was much better, even if they had to stay sober because most of them were under eighteen.
Of course, it was only a waste of time if the decorations were indoors and made of papier mache and not taking advantage of the beautiful outdoor courtyard, cold night air be damned. Of course, that would only happen if Henna and Sadie were both not part of the school’s award-winning Horticulture group.
Before Homecoming, there were parents (plus a step-brother) and pictures and a dinner to go to. Anthony, Sadie’s date, attempted to order a round of beer for everyone before he was shot down: Nikolas and Rachel both claiming that they were too young to drink, Henna disapproving of drinking in general, and both Adelaide and Garrick claiming that they didn’t like the taste. Anthony shrugged, ordering himself a beer.
It was a quaint French restaurant that normally did not cater to large groups, but was an extremely popular choice for family gatherings and was quite prepared to handle a group of (perhaps) rowdy teenagers. The atmosphere was low key, very casual, and the high school students dressed for a night at a formal dance stuck out among the families who were eating dinner—something that they were quick to point out with a joke.
Henna in particular seemed fairy-like, with her willowy frame and flowing pale yellow frock, the front sections of her long dark blonde hair braided back and the rest let loose to flutter in the breeze.
“Mommy look! A princess!” a little girl had said. Her mother had shushed her and told her that it wasn’t polite to point at strangers, and had then been told promptly by her older daughter that they were not strangers but celebrities. And then she asked Leonard, Henna, Sara and Theo if they would all take a picture with her. Ever the gracious man, Leonard agreed, and Monty ended up taking a group photograph of them with the girl’s iPhone.
The food itself was an interesting affair, as the restaurant tended to serve in portions that were difficult for the average person to finish alone. Garrick and Henna ended up sharing a salad and a soup. Adelaide and Eric shared a basket of fish and chips, toying with their food like cats do with rats and spiders. Nikolas split a sandwich and an ice cream float with Monty, and Sara with Theo, though they opted out on the frozen treat—Sara claimed it was because she wanted to watch her figure, which caused Lenny to snort and reply that she just didn’t like pigging out in public. Marianne ordered chips and dip, and practically force fed Lenny some of her food, much to the hilarity of Rachel and Sadie, who split a salad between the two of them, their dates being able to eat much more than the average person as teenage boys.
The Homecoming Dance looked magical; the courtyard had been festooned with lights and flowers and was not as covered in crap and other muck as usual. The common area, which was essentially a lunch room, had also been bedecked in lights and lanterns and hot-house flowers that the Advanced Horticulture students had been cultivating since the beginning of the year, though the entire middle part was clear. A DJ blared fast-paced pop music from his set up against a wall. The entire decorating scheme revolved around a magical garden.
Nikolas whistled. “Wow, you guys did a good job this year,” he commented, drinking in the sight of the decorations. “If you get bored, you can leave the dance floor and go outside where it’s quiet.”
“Yeah,” Rachel agreed. “Usually the decorations are crap and we’re all stuck in noisy hell for four hours, trying not to get groped by the drunk guy next to you.”
“And guess what,” Monty said, wrapping his arms around Nikolas’ waist. “This year, there are plenty of places where we can go and have a little fun of our own.” His hands moved down to Nikolas’ hips.
“Whoa, there, tiger,” Sadie said. “The dance hasn’t even warmed up yet. Hey, where’s Adelaide and her date?”
“Oh, they left to get their picture taken before the rush,” Henna said dismissively. She wandered over to the flowers that decorated the arch that they had come in through. “I grew these flowers myself,” she said happily, stroking a leaf. Garrick watched her with slightly awestruck eyes.
Eventually, the dance did start picking up, but Nikolas didn’t stick around for long. He only stayed in long enough to say hi to Sue and her date and to see Han and Ricky come in, Han looking decidedly suave in a suit, Ricky looking uncomfortable.
“It’s because I’m wearing a tie instead of a bow tie,” he joked. Adelaide nodded sympathetically.
“At least when you’re a girl you don’t have to wear them,” she told him.
But none of that explains how Nikolas ended up sprawled on a bench in a more secluded spot in the courtyard with Monty on top, trying to work his vest and the shirt underneath it open. Thinking back, it probably went something like this:
One, as soon as the dance picked up and the chaperones weren’t looking, someone spiked the punch.
Two, Nikolas and Monty go dance with friends, even though the music sucks because the DJ had to make sure that it was PG-13.
Three, Monty gets thirsty and goes to get punch. He drinks a lot because the over-sweetened crap doesn’t do very much to slake his thirst. He ends up getting drunk and returns to Nikolas slightly tipsy.
Four, Nikolas finally decides he can’t handle the noise anymore and pulls Monty outside with him so that he isn’t alone. Monty decides that, because they are outside they are alone and decides to attack Nikolas when they reach a bench that is hopefully not in plain view of everyone outside.
And so Nikolas is now attempting to push a very drunk and very persistent Monty off of him because he really doesn’t feel like doing anything outside except tending to the rioting in his head that the dance music had given him. He’s just not that kind of person.
But when Monty is drunk, Monty is persistent and tries to keep taking advantage of his sexy French boyfriend, resulting in the boyfriend punching Monty in the jaw and walking away in a huff.
Monty is left with the silver headband that somehow fell off Nikolas’ head in their scuffle.