Author's Note: Wow. I wrote this last night, but I was too sleep deprived to type it up for you guys. This has to be my faster update ever. I think the story will be wrapping up in a few chapters.

Thanks to SirScott for reviewing the last chapter.

---stars and stripes---

Chapter Sixteen: BFFs

"Hey," Danny greeted the group as he sat down on the glass in between Iris and Raven. Andrea and Pearl were on the other side of Raven whispering intently.

He leaned over and attempted to kiss Iris on the cheek. Iris brushed him away. "Danny, I have to talk to you about something," she said quietly.

Andrea and Pearl looked up sharply. Raven looked down at the glass and started pulling it up.

"Oh, no, you don't—" Andrea interrupted Pearl's protest with a well-placed punch to her arm.

He sighed. "Okay. Let's go for a walk." Once they jogged out of earshot, he asked with a sorrowful expression, "It's because you're not attracted to me, isn't it?"

"No. That's the problem," she groaned.

"What? You don't want to date a guy you're attracted to?"

"No. Dating you is like being a backstabber. She had first dibs."

"First dibs? What? I can be "dibbed" on? Wait. Who is this 'she'?"

"Gosh, darn it, Ladder! You would think after living and breathing around a girl dominated scene you would have 'womaned' up enough to get what I'm saying without me drawing a map."

"Jeez. I'm just asking for some answers, not a map," he said, feeling like he should be scratching his head like characters do on television when they are thinking very hard. He was definitely thinking incredibly hard.

She glared at him and stomped off. He watched her, shrugged, and lifted his hand to his head, hoping it would help him. Raven walked over.

"You confused?" she asked while offering him a piece of gum.

"Yes."

"Well, I think your hope of a romantic relationship with Iris is over?"

"Yeah, well, I suppose there is other fish in the sea . . ." He paused. "Do you think it's about her sister? Like Andrea had a crush on me so it's against some girl code for Iris to date me?"

Raven laughed and glanced over where Andrea and Pearl were arguing. "I think her interest lies elsewhere."

"She's a supermodel. Heck, where was I going with that one? Hmm. Who is it?"

"Can't be Pearl."

"But the only other girl who knows me and that's friends with Iris is---KATIE! Holy Holly. But I—We—" He barked out a laugh.

"You liked Katie before you like Iris," Raven stated with a nod.

"Why didn't she tell me?"

"She didn't want to risk her friendship with you probably and she probably didn't realize you liked her."

"Oh, that makes sense." Danny looked date her. "Where have you been the past sixteen years of my life? If you had been around, I might have passed Girls 101."

Raven laughed. "I was a loner, I guess."

"Well, don't 'lone' out on us again. You're officially part of this crazy group."

---holy holly---

Iris finally plunked down after walking a while. She felt bad about yelling at Danny and like she could cry. She missed Katie. If that girl hadn't decided to try to leave her, she wouldn't have this situation to deal with.

She hugged her knees to her chest. "Are you okay?" Noah asked.

"No."

"What's wrong?"

"My best friend committed. BFF means 'Best Friend Forever'. That doesn't mean she can opt out because she thought life got too hard. Life isn't a magazine subscription."

"You're right." Noah slid down beside her. "Why did she kill herself?"

"Because people are assholes."

"How?"

"Bullying. They would tease her about her weight, the way she dressed, and her sexual orientation. They teased me, too. I always knew it affected her, but I never realized how much. If I would have, I would have done something. I mean, I thought reporting it would make it worse, you know?"

"Yeah, I know."

"What am I supposed to do? It feels like I have a big gapping hole in my heart. We were like sisters. I feel so awful when I remember she's not here, so I try to forget about her. Then it all comes rushing back."

"Maybe you should fill that hole with something." Noah offered.

"A project? But what about?"

"Suicide prevention?"

"No, a step ahead of that—bullying."

"How?"

"We need our evil masterminds for that."

"Evil masterminds?"

"Danny, Pearl, and Andrea, of course."

---evil masterminds---

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed reading. Do you agree with me that this story can wrap up in a few more chapters?