**This chapter is updated as of 2/11/13!

Chapter One:

It was first period— Advanced Calculus—and since Mr. Howard had yet to enter his classroom for the morning, his students had quickly become rowdy. Macon Jarrett was too over-stimulated by the noise to attempt to put his head down to sleep, and he had no desire to participate in the heated game of Would You Rather…? his classmates were playing (they were currently arguing about which teacher they would least like to bang). Instead, he reached into his backpack, pulled out a creamy white envelope, and carefully smoothed down the sheet of paper he had already read at least twenty times since yesterday afternoon:

Dear Mr. Macon S. Jarrett:

Congratulations, we are please to inform you that you have been accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, for the class entering in the fall of 2007. In extending this invitation, we recognize your exceptional achievements throughout your secondary school years and we also express our confidence in your continued success during your stay with us at our University. We look forward to having you enroll with the entering first-year class. Please complete the enclosed forms and return them to the address listed below by July 12thin order to confirm your enrollment.

Sincerely,

Ansel T. Hubbard
Dean of Admission

Macon grinned happily, still in disbelief that all his years of hard work had finally paid off. As a starting varsity lacrosse player, student council vice-president, and a National Merit Scholar, he had spent most of high school working to attend his dream school. This letter was a testament to all of those bruises and all-nighters.

Suddenly, the paper was snatched roughly out of his hands. The imposing linebacker of the football team jeered down at him, his face made even uglier by the unpleasant expression.

"So I see our star attacker has finally been accepted into college."

"Jake, my dad was going to get that framed," Macon said wearily, trying to snatch the letter back.

Jake Carlson was fun to party with— his older brother who attended the local community college was always good for a beer run— but more often than not, he was just an annoying dumbass.

"Macon S. Jarrett," Edward Varner read from over Jake's shoulder. "What does the S. stand for anyway?"

"If I told you, I would have to kill you," Macon replied, only half joking.

"Dude," Brett Tommey, interrupted. "You can't ask Jarrett about his middle name. It's like an unspoken law."

"Why not?"

"I hate it," Macon cut in. "It's embarrassing."

"So you just don't tell anyone?" Edward asked.

"Only Wilson knows," Macon said, finally managing to recapture the page from Jake's hands. Now it was all crumpled, and he frowned as he tried to smooth it out again. "And he won't tell anyone either, so don't bother asking."

"Why would you tell Reddington and not us?" Jake demanded indignantly.

"Because I haven't known you guys since I was like three years old."

"I swear, you two are just like girls sometimes." Brett mocked.

"Best friends forever!" he added in a high pitched voice.

Macon laughed and flipped a piece of his shaggy brown hair out of his eyes. "We can both still smoke you at football, and soccer, and obviously lacrosse, and probably even baseball," he boasted, "if we had the time in our busy schedules to try."

"Hey now," Edward protested. "You know I would have been the quarterback of the football team this year if I hadn't gotten that stress fracture."

"Yeah," Brett joked, "Aren't you getting a little high and mighty Jarrett? You've had that lacrosse stick up your butt for a while now, are you sure you even remember what a soccer ball looks like? You know it's the one with the white and black diamonds on it, right?"

It seemed likely that Brett would make All-State this year as a sweeper. Macon had played soccer with Brett throughout middle school and into his freshman year when he had discovered how much more he liked the intense and often violent atmosphere of lacrosse. He had always enjoyed soccer, but the two sports were both in the spring season, and he didn't regret the choice he had made.

"Ha ha Tommey, very funny," Macon responded, pulling his friend into a headlock.

"Settle down boys," Mr. Howard chided, finally entering the room. "Let's cease talking about soccer baskets or whatever it is you students find so engaging and resume talk about the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus."

The class groaned collectively.


A torturous hour later, the bell rang, and Macon jumped out of his seat.

"I'll catch up with you guys at lunch. I need to get my Humanities book out of my locker or Mrs. Stevenson will stick me with another detention for sure."

"That would be like your seventh this month," Jake joked. "Senioritis is hitting you pretty hard Jarrett."

"No," Macon complained. "She just has it out for me. She's been like this ever since I broke up with her daughter last year."

"You managed to score Tiffany Stevenson and you broke up with her?" Jake asked incredulously. "Dude, what is wrong with you? She is a nine out of ten; the whole team thinks so."

"She was so clingy, I couldn't stand it. She always got mad if I wanted to hang out with Wilson or order in and watch a game instead of going out to dinner."

"But she was hot as hell and older too," Jake whined. "Please tell me you at least slept with her."

Macon hadn't. He had yet to go "all the way" with any girl, not that he would admit that to anyone other than Wilson. It wasn't for lack of opportunity; he just never felt comfortable with the idea of having a one night stand and none of his relationships had lasted long enough for it to be appropriate. Macon knew better than to admit this to Jake, though. Last time Macon had refused a hookup, and Jake had found out, he'd been the subject of incessant mocking in the locker room for weeks. Stuart Vonner had delightedly informed the cheerleading team that Macon was just "ashamed of his package" and had made out with the same girl in front of Macon the following week.

"I don't kiss and tell," he said, aiming for cryptic.

Jake, of course, took this exactly the way Macon had intended him to. He shot Macon a sly grin over his shoulder as he started walking down the hall to Weightlifting. "That's my boy."


"Twenty-six, thirty four,… seven?" Macon muttered questioningly to himself, as he tried, unsuccessfully, to open his locker for the fifth time.

"Hey Macon," Calloway Jenkins, a pretty blonde, called out to him, as she walked by.

"Hey Calloway," he said. "Hello ladies," he addressed another group of junior girls standing down the hall. They giggled and waved.

"Now that you're in college, shouldn't you be looking at older girls?" a deep voice sounded behind him.

Macon didn't even need to turn around to see who it was.

"Wilson, man, I can't believe you ditched me last night. We've been planning to open our letters together for almost ten years now."

"Sorry, you know I had to drive the boat out to the lake now that the weather has gotten better," Wilson apologized. "I thought you wanted to finally go out on the water this weekend. Besides, unlike you, I have yet to receive mine. They probably took one look at my SAT score and threw away my application."

"Modesty doesn't suit you," Macon told him. "You scored 60 points higher than me. Your letter is probably waiting for you already at home."

He tried spinning his lock in the opposite direction this time. "Come on!" he growled.

"Having trouble?" Wilson asked, noticing the difficulty he was having.

"No," Macon lied. He tried hitting the corner of the locker to see if he could get it to pop open, and then quickly regretted his decision as daggers of pain shot through his hand. "Don't laugh at me Reddington, this lock is a bitch."

"No it's not," Wilson chuckled. "Move over."

He pushed Macon aside and a few seconds later the door swung open.

"How the hell did you do that?" Macon asked jealously.

"You were using my combination." Wilson responded. "Yours is thirteen, seventeen, two,"

Macon ran his hands through his hair sheepishly. "Oh yeah. See if I'm this stupid and I got into Berkeley, you definitely will."

"If I do get my letter today, you'll come over and open it with me won't you?" Wilson asked.

"Of course," Macon said, dropping his heaving Calculus book into his locker, and retrieving his equally dense Humanities book. "I'm not a horrible friend like you are."

He zipped it into his backpack, and they started walking down the hall together. Other than Calculus and third period, they had all of their classes together. In fact, they'd had most of their classes together since the first grade.

Wilson shot him an indignant look. "Yeah, a horrible friend who just saved your ass. Mrs. Stevenson would've had your head on a platter if you hadn't brought your book to class again."

"I know, Jake already pointed that out to me this morning." Macon groaned. "Right after he practically ripped my admission letter trying to figure out my middle name."

Wilson came to such a sudden halt that Macon almost crashed into him. He steadied himself by latching onto Wilson's white oxford. A few freshmen stepped around them, but didn't protest the fact that the two of them were taking up most of the hall.

"You didn't tell him, did you?" Wilson asked him, intensely.

"Don't be an idiot, you're the only person who'll ever know. I mean, besides my parents obviously. And you had better not tell him either."

"I'll be able to control the urge if the opportunity arises." Wilson retorted dryly, but his serious expression had enveloped by a wide smile. "I haven't forgotten our blood oath: if one of us ever reveals the secret, our friendship is over."

Macon looked around him, suddenly conscious of how quiet the hall had become. His curse was muffled by the sound of the alarm bell. He swore in frustration.

"So much for not getting detention with Stevenson!"

"Don't give up so easily, Jarrett." Wilson shook his blond hair, which was only slightly shorter than Macon's. His blue eyes shined with mischief as he walked towards their classroom and turned the door handle. "Take notes, you might learn something."

"Whatever Will. You're just going to be signing up with me."

Wilson only smirked at him before stepping inside.

"Mrs. Stevenson, you are looking very nice today," he drawled in what Macon thought was a pathetic attempt at sounding suave.

"Mr. Reddington, Mr. Jarrett, you are late," she said firmly.

Her hair was in a tight bun and her tortoiseshell glasses glinted in the bright lights of the classroom. Macon didn't think Wilson stood much of a chance getting them out of trouble this time. Mrs. Stevenson didn't put up with any tomfoolery in her classroom.

Wilson continued in the same obnoxious voice. "You see, I was walking down the hall, and I spotted poor Macon here, just helpless to open his locker. What am I supposed to do, just leave him there to hang? You know I can't resist helping charity cases."

The entire class started laughing. Macon glared at his friend. Mrs. Stevenson looked a little too pleased to hear Macon being insulted, but her bony frame still stood in the way of their seats.

Wilson gave her his biggest smile, his white, perfectly straight teeth showing, and continued: "Did you do something with your hair Mrs. Stevenson? Because, I'm telling you, you look at least ten years younger today."

Come to think of it, Wilson had kept them out jail that one time sophomore year… Macon could only barely keep from grinning, remembering that night. He supposed in retrospect that a high school teacher was a lot easier for Wilson to soothe than that angry cop had been.

"That smooth talking isn't going to work on me, Wilson. I need an excuse from a teacher or I'll be forced to give you detention," Mrs. Stevenson insisted. Her face had softened though and she smiled at him, seemingly oblivious to Macon standing next to him.

Macon groaned inwardly. All Wilson had to do was smile, or flex, or breathe and all the girls swooned. Teachers apparently were also not immune to his charm.

After only a few more minutes of shameless flirtation, the two of them were safely in their seats. Mrs. Stevenson was droning on and on about something called the "Baroque" period in art but Macon was only halfway listening. It was almost impossible to care about his last few months of high school now that he had Berkeley locked down.

"Gianlorenzo Bernini is the most well known sculptor of the seventeenth century," She was saying. "He is most famous for his 'David' and his sculptural group 'Saint Theresa in Ecstasy'"

As she spoke, images from a projector flashed on the screen behind her. Macon sat up a little more attentively. After a quick check to make sure that none of his teammates were listening—they weren't; Jake was drooling on his arm and Eustace was staring out the window—he started scribbling notes. These sculptures were actually… pretty cool. He felt like a loser thinking it, but David looked intense—ready to fight— and he remembered reading about the sculpture of Saint Theresa in that book Angels and Demons when it came out.

The Baroque style was characterized by grandeur, tension, and movement, he copied dutifully.

"Macon," Wilson whispered after a few minutes without any effort to be surreptitious about it.

Macon ignored him.

"Macon," Wilson tried again, a little louder.

Finally, Macon felt a sharp jab to the ribs from a pencil.

"What?" he hissed, not bothering to turn around. He had only barely escaped one detention today. Doing anything else to call attention to his self would practically be begging to stay after.

"You're not still all pissy that I called you a 'charity case,' are you?"

"No," Macon replied, subtly shaking his head too, in case Wilson couldn't hear him.

"I was just kidding. I was trying to get you out of detention."

"I know, thanks."

Macon was still trying to pay attention to the lecture. He hadn't realized that he'd cut his friend off until he heard a loud and exaggerated sigh behind him. His insides writhed with guilt. Quickly he turned around and held up his fist for their trademark handshake.

"Shake and bake," he said, sotto voce.

Wilson grinned and punched his fist softly. "Shake and bake."

Macon smiled and surreptitiously returned to his note taking, glad to have escaped notice by Mrs. Stevenson.