The wind blew Avery's hair around her face as she approached the school grounds. She would be late, to school, yet again. She dashed up the front steps noticing no one remained. She quickened her pace down the empty hall full of closed doors. Silently she cursed her little sister who was obviously incapable of doing anything herself. She spun her locker combination and grabbed her books blowing her dark hair out of her green eyes. Then she ran down the hall giving herself just a few short steps to compose herself before she swung open the classroom door.
All heads- excluding one- turned towards her.
"Late again, I see Miss Shardae," Mr. Darshel commented. Avery muttered an insincere apology, scanning the room for an empty seat. There was one left and it just happened to be in the back row. Avery was halfway to her seat before she was stopped.
"Just one moment," Mr. Darshel mumbled from his desk, which he was bent over writing. Avery could see his bald spot shinning. She hated him and had a sudden urge to throw something at his head. It was easily suppressed she didn't need to give him another reason to hate her also. The only thing he could ever yell at her for was her frequent tardiness. And he just jumped at the opportunity to ruin her morning. Mr. Darshel approached and handed her an after school detention.
She groaned.
Kids snickered.
Avery walked to the back and slumped into her seat. Well at least she wasn't in the front where Darshel could spit on her when he was talking. The teachers never bothered the back row students. Most of them were barely alive anyway, dead to the world and any teacher that dared disturb their peaceful slumber.
Avery opened her textbook to look busy and directed her attention to the clock on the wall to her left. Only ten more minutes of torture left to endure. Her eyes were abruptly drawn away from the clock to the young man sitting beside her. She had never paid him much attention before. His name was Leo.
Leo was the kind of guy you heard things about. Bad things, most of which were usually just gossip. But most people still didn't want to be the one to get caught looking at him. That didn't stop Avery she looked wherever her eyes took her. He wore a pair of faded blue jeans and simple black hoodie. His black hair swooped down to one side concealing his eyes. His eyes were directed to the textbook as he tapped his pencil out of boredom.
Leo, sensing he was being watched, directed his gaze to the girl beside him, the one that came in late. She quickly averted her eyes to the textbook open to the wrong page and rested her head on her right palm. After a few minutes of acting like she was paying attention, she stole a quick glance at Leo to find that he was obviously staring at her.
The rest of the morning was slow as usual. Avery got through her classes doing her homework during class lectures and lessons. She put the incident with Leo to the back of her mind; it certainly wasn't the highlight of her day. She avoided talking with her teachers and dodged the people in the hallway asking to take her picture for the yearbook. She just avoided everyone all together. It made things way easier.
As the lunch bell rang, Avery made her way down the hall that lead to the Caff doors. Avery walked through the throng of people socializing at the lunch tables on both sides of the cafeteria. The room was dim even as the far wall was completely made of glass. It was tinted though and she walked out of the air-conditioned building and into the beaming sunlight. She made her way past the round tables set up on the concrete and listened closely when the soft crunch of grass was beneath her. The few green trees stood proudly, sheltering those beneath from the harsh rays of the sun. Avery walked past all of that and sat beneath her tree. The one she visited every day. It technically wasn't her tree, but she liked to call it that. No one else used it. No one else really liked it. It was a sick tree; the school just hadn't gotten around to cutting it down yet. It was actually very pretty, the branches hung low as it bloomed pink blossoms one week out of the year, but the leaves that grew were red. Blood red. Most of the people at Dankert Heights High weren't superstitious but they just couldn't seem to ignore the rumors about that tree. People talked. They must have run out of people to talk about one day and decided to talk about the tree because every one kept their distance from the tree. Avery couldn't actually say for sure why the tree was feared; she never paid anyone much attention. To her the tree was beautifully perfect.
Avery sank down further, sitting with her back to the trunk and opened her book. She was aware of Nick Marlo standing before her before a word left his lips.
"What do you want?" She demanded coldly not taking her eyes form her book, not that she was reading it any longer. He made a sound that sounded as if he was deep in thought. Avery had always thought that sound was cute, now it was just aggravating. Sighing angrily, Avery slammed down her book. Nick was the last person she wanted to see. She would've even gone for seeing that Leo kid right now instead of seeing him. Not that she welcomed the sight of anybody. He stood only a few feet from her, far enough to be safe from the "evil tree." The thought of him actually being afraid of a tree almost made her smile but not quite. "I thought you were to cool to hang with me anymore," Avery accused. Still he didn't utter a word. Which annoyed her more, "If you came just to put me down, will you get on with it? I am just a bit busy at the moment." She looked directly at Nick who wore a smirk in a way that made Avery want to hit him. But the lunch bell rang before he got the chance. He walked calmly away. Her blood simmered.
Although she still had a detention to serve, the final bell still came as relief to her. She walked without hurry to the assigned detention room. The room was small and not very full. Only a handful of kids were present most of which were troublemaker middle-schoolers from the middle school next door. The attending teacher sat in the front of the room reading a novel. Avery checked in with her and sat in the back row corner under a broken light. She opened her notebook and wrote down a line of a poem her mind had conjured up in Geometry.
Avery was the only one in the class to notice Leo himself walk in through the open door. Leo looked towards the back and was surprised to see the girl from his first period sitting there and was shocked to see that she was looking directly at him. Leo walked down the isle and slid into the seat next to the mysterious girl. She became uninterested in him and went back to her writing. The teacher who was deeply engrossed in her novel didn't notice Leo lean over and drop a neatly folded piece of paper on Avery's notebook but Avery did.
You're in my seat. Avery wrote on the paper and sent it back to the sender. I didn't know anyone attended detention enough to have "a seat" Leo grinned at Avery who watched she couldn't help the unfamiliar smile that spread across her face. Still smiling Leo wrote and gave her back the piece of paper.
Ah, you can smile. I'm Leo Leo was anxious to know of the girl's name that had kept his attention all day long.

Yes, I can. I'm Avery.

Leo hadn't been expecting to hear that name. He hadn't heard that name in a long time.
Such a lovely name is it French?

Yes it is. Old French actually. After Leo read that a look Avery couldn't quite describe crossed his face as he wrote changing the subject.

Why are you so quiet?

Why are you always bad?

Leo thought a moment then wrote the forbidden down. He leaned over slightly to hand Avery the note. She reached for it and for the slightest moment her hand touched his. It lasted for only a split second and yet Avery felt as if her world had suddenly been flipped upside down. Her heart drummed in her ears and with trembling fingers she read.
It's easier to keep my secret. Avery never got the chance to reply because the teacher just decided to take a break from her book to take their note away. Leo smiled at her sympathetically when she handed them both a week of detention.
The rest of detention Leo stared at the clock and Avery pretended to be writing. She was actually thinking about his 'secret' she couldn't seem to get him out of her head no matter how hard she tried to concentrate on other things. She thought she maybe knew what his secret was but it was just out of her minds reach.
The teacher dismissed the class and Avery bolted for the door. She practically ran all the way to her locker. She just had to get home. Leo ran pursuing her down the deserted hallways. He found her just as she shut her locker, her things at her feet.
"Are you mad at me?" Leo asked Avery who stuffed books into her bag.
"No," she said slinging her bag over her shoulder. She tucked one side of her hair behind her ear. Then she added, "Do you care?"
"Yes I do," Leo said sincerely.
"Leo," Avery said turning, walking towards the nearest exit at the end of the hall, "You are this bad ass that hasn't made one single friend the whole month you have been here. Why bother with me? Everyone knows I don't want a friend. I am certainly someone you wouldn't hang with." She quickened her stride hoping that that would've gotten rid of him and she could forget about knowing his secret and anything about him, including the moment she had felt.
"Avery," Leo said gently," You choose your friends." Then he walked off in the opposite direction. She rolled her eyes, she told herself that she didn't have the time to gape over some guy, she had better things to do and she didn't need to be worrying about him or anyone else, for that matter. She told herself that she simply didn't care.