Jerk? Of Course You Are (Revised)

Ch 1 : It Can't Get Any Worse

There I was, standing in the cafeteria, ogling unashamedly at the hottest guy in school. The one, the only, Zaidie Jones. My disbelieving eyes watched him make his way towards me, slow motion style; the whole bright light acting as a halo, seductive head flick, with angel like voices singing praises in the background. He stopped right in front of me, rewarding me with a flawless wink of a sexy eye. I could feel my knees buckle so violently that I was struggling to stand up straight. This, right here, had to be the standout of my entire seventeen years of living. I gazed fondly into those hazel eyes and felt myself falling, losing all sense of gravity. This had to be heaven, or at least, the closest thing to it. He opened his mouth, wanting to speak to me; and I waited to hear that voice that made my heart race and rendered me helpless…but he seemed to be choking, gagging on thin air and all I could do was stare at that beautiful specimen…and then Zaidie's face was becoming slowly pixelated, getting harder for me to keep in focus…

Voices from afar drifted toward me, distant and echoing, "Shush, you'll wake her…"

Another deeper voice joined in, "I don't know about this."

"Don't be such a wuss."

"Well, then it's your funeral."

I could feel myself coming to my senses and my eyelids, heavy as they were, slowly lifted in time to bring two electric blue irises into view. For the split of a second they seemed to be apologetic and then I could feel myself become airborne, flying and then falling, down, down, down...and I braced myself even before I hit the surface. SPLASH!

Cold, freezing cold water engulfed me and I couldn't for the life of me get any kind of treading motion to accelerate. I was sinking, drowning actually, but my mind was still trying to wake up, so I wasn't in full panic mode just yet. And then, boom! A million and one thoughts shot through my head at lightning speed: like how I was going to kill my oldest brother, was I going to live to be able to do that, and how could I not be panicking at a crucial time like this, I mean, hello, drowning here! And the only logical explanation for the water, or mass of water as it was a large ocean like capacity, had to be the pool situated in the back yard. And then it made me curse my luck that we even had a pool for brothers to pull cruel tricks like this on their young, seemingly innocent, unsuspecting sisters.

Then fight mode finally came to my rescue, giving me that final adrenaline rush to propel me upward, towards the light of day and that fresh air my lungs were aching for. I was so close to the surface but I still felt decades away, my legs kicking frantically but getting nowhere fast. And then a saving grace; a large hand shot through the water and clasped around my wrist, and I was ascending gradually toward a long-awaited breath of life.

When I surfaced, I was spluttering, half wailing and fully angry; ready to kill someone. This had to be classed as attempted murder, surely. At the very least.

"Jesamae, for someone who's talented at soccer, your legs sure let you down just now."

I glared up at the obnoxious teenager, who was in hysterics, doubled over and fighting to keep control of his laughter. Oh, would he have a real reason to be doubled over soon enough. Those gonads of his had a target on them now! Dick head number one, guffawing his lungs out, that was my thick headed, egocentric brother, Braythe. And dick head number two, who had just supposedly saved my life, was none other than Nikkye Hellings, dickhead number one's best buddy. Together they were quite the pair…of morons.

I pulled my wrist free of Nikkye's grip and clung onto the pool's edge, shivering, "What the hell, idiots?" My voice reached banshee decibel, "You know, between the two of you, sometimes I wonder if there's even half a brain cell that works!"

"Well, after that prolonged swim under water," Braythe spluttered out between giggles, "and all that lack of oxygen to your brain, are you sure you even have half a brain cell left?"

I shot daggers at my oaf of a big brother. And this guy was considered a catch? This guy, this deadbeat, was a popular jock who teachers adored, girls wanted to date and other guys just wanted to be friends with. Life was sad.

I gritted my teeth, "Let's just say the half a brain cell I have is telling me to kick both of your arses." I tried and failed to pull myself out of the pool, my wet pyjamas acting as weights and my muscles going on strike. "Once I actually get out of this damned pool."

Nikkye's green eyes were guilt ridden and he was the first to crack, "Look, I was against this plan from the start."

Braythe's good humour subsided, probably feeling that stab in the back, "Hey, what the hell man? What happened to bros before hoes?"

"Did you just call me a hoe?" I gaped at Braythe.

"No," my brother shook his head, realising the mistake too late, "it's just a saying."

"And here's another saying," I bit back, "a good brother is a dead brother."

Nikk was genuinely puzzled, "I think you mean spider," and the sad part was he was trying to be helpful, "You know, a good spider is a dead spider…"

"No," I ogled at him, "it's definitely brother."

"No," Nikk protested, "It's actually spider."

I tried really hard not to face palm. I mean, these two scored top marks in all their classes, and yet I swear they were missing some important wiring in their upstairs apartments. I could bash their heads together and it would echo for days.

I could have cried if I weren't so furious!

Braythe eyed me suspiciously, "Why isn't she talking?"

Nikk waved a hand in front of my face, but I kept that vacant stare, thinking of ways in which I could kill them and get away with murder. But when you've watched so many crime shows on television and nine times out of ten the culprit is caught out, you begin to have doubts about your own genius ideas. Realistically, the odds were low. So, all I could resort to was cursing their existence.

Nikk's face loomed in front of my own, a frown forming along his brows, "I don't think I can hear her breathing," he turned his head to the side and listened, "we may have just killed her."

Braythe strode over and bent down, his own eyes giving me the once over, "No, she's just super pissed."

"But her lips are blue!" Nikkye observed, "Is that normal?"

"Under the circumstances," Braythe deduced stupidly, "I'd say so, yeah."

My whole body had been engulfed by numbness. I was so freaking cold that I couldn't even feel anything; it's like my body had fallen asleep and gone into hibernation. But my brain was still functioning and I'd come up with a plan of sorts. Someone was going to pay, it just depended on who the weaker one was. My money was on Nikkye, he'd already showed his guilty hand.

I made a point to look into Nikkye's emerald eyes, and quietened my voice, making it shake more than necessary, "Can you help me out?" I reached a hand up toward him, begging him to take the bait, "Please?" I whimpered, almost retching at how pathetic I sounded.

Nikk hesitated, looking over his shoulder at Braythe, and deciding he had his own mind and could actually think for himself…sometimes…he smiled at me kindly, "Ok," he gave in and grabbed hold of my hands, "you're going to have to help me here."

"Of course," I said, smiling politely back, "your chivalry won't go unrewarded."

"Ready?" He asked, getting his stance right, "One, two…"

"Three!" I finished for him and yanked down hard, watching that balance he'd worked so hard on, fail him.

His mouth formed an 'O' and I ducked out of harm's way as he toppled in head first, joining me for an involuntary morning swim. He popped up seconds later, shooting water out of his mouth, fountain style. He glared at me, wading water like he'd been a fish in his former life.

"What the hell, Jesamae?" He spluttered, looking perturbed and flustered, "I was helping you!"

I graced him with an evil grin, feeling elated, "You did help me," I cooed sweetly, "and now I feel so much better."

His gaze flickered downwards, panic registering in those gorgeous green eyes of his, "My shoes!" He wailed, like a child whose ice-cream stack had lost its first tier, "And I only just got them last week."

I rolled my eyes, "They're shoes…they'll dry."

Braythe, who'd been watching us in awe, took a decidedly brave step forward, coming to his best friend's defense, "That was cold."

"That was karma." I corrected, "And it's coming for you too, don't think this makes us even."

Braythe had the audacity to gape at me, me, like I was the one who'd lost my head this morning, "What did I do?"

And because he deserved it for being so damn irritating, I splashed him. I made a wave and used my water bending skills, per se, and got him good. It felt so empowering that I did it again, before he had time to react from the first blow. Take that, and that, you…weasel!

There was a light chuckle from Nikkye and before I knew it, he had joined in and was helping me. His waves were bigger and it only took one of his large splashes to drench Braythe from head to toe.

Braythe was just about to explode with anger, when his outburst was shut down by the loud booming of another, "What is going on here?"

All our heads turned in the direction of the newcomer, striding toward us with gusto and a very displeased scowl forming along his brow line. Kenai's face was livid and we could all tell by that one look, we were in trouble.

"Nothing," Braythe quickly answered, shrugging noncommittedly, "just having a laugh."

Kenai stopped in his tracks, folding his arms authoritatively and raising an eyebrow in question, "Just having a laugh, swimming in the non-heated pool on a six-degree morning?"

"And what?" Braythe shuffled his feet, "that can't be funny?"

My youngest brother honed in on my oldest, sapphire eyes accusatory, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realise trying to catch a cold is so amusing to you."

"They tried to kill me!" I pointed at the two buffoons I had for company, "You think I just decided it would be a good idea to take a morning dip in my favourite pyjamas?"

"Hey," Braythe turned on me, "it's not my fault you can't wake up to your own alarm. If you stopped hitting snooze, this wouldn't have happened."

"Well, it's not my fault that you can't just shove me awake like any normal person would have done."

"It's not my fault you're an aggressive morning person who likes to hit and kick when being woken!"

My hands were itching to throttle Braythe's neck, "It's not my fault that your basketball practices are at an ungodly hour of the morning and that you're the only one with a car and a license."

Braythe pulled a face at me, throwing his hands in the air aggressively, "And it's not my damn fault that you refuse to travel on the school bus like other normal students do every God damned day."

I opened my mouth to retort, but Kenai got there first, "And it's not my fault that you," he pointed at Braythe, "can't act your age," the finger moved to point at me, "you can't take responsibility for yourself, and you," he pointed at Nikkye and frowned. "Actually, what are you doing here?"

Nikkye blinked stupidly, "Um, I'm getting a lift to school, like I do every morning…"

"Right," Kenai blinked back, not caring, "well if you're all so keen to get to school in time for practice, just a heads up, we probably should have left, like," he checked his watch, "five minutes ago."

Braythe shot me a dirty look, "Happy? You've made us late."

I shook my head incredulously, "Your stupid prank made you late, this is so not on me."

"If you'd just got out of bed when your first alarm went off…" Braythe started.

Kenai was quick to nip the new argument in the bud, "Time's a ticking, people."

Braythe humphed childishly, "I'm all saturated."

"News flash, we all are!"

Kenai's voice flared again, "Today, please."

Braythe threw his hands up in frustration and stomped off, muttering incessantly under his breath the whole way. I studied the angry teen as he retreated, realising not for the first time, that we were pretty much the same person. Our tempers were short and when the fire was stoked, we raged out of control. The only person able to diffuse us was Kenai, the calming force between Braythe's and my many combustions.

Kenai's sapphires took hold of my attention, "Jesamae, are you trying to get sick on purpose?"

I brandished my head from side to side, "No."

"Then you need to get out of the pool." He urged.

I shot a glance at Nikkye and we both heeded Kenai's warning.


I was up in my room, frantically trying to get dressed, do something with my hair so it didn't resemble a bird's nest and spraying myself with some perfume to try and mask the chlorine smell. I was failing at all three. Jeans and a tee would have to do, a quick tszuj of my hair and spritz of the closest scent I could find discarded on my bedroom floor. I did the once over in the mirror and deemed myself mildly presentable.

There was a light array of tapping on my bedroom door and I bid the visitor to enter. Wisps of white hair made themselves visible, before the smiling face on Nan poked out from behind the open door.

"Can I come in, dear?"

"Of course, Nanny!" I gushed, trying to scoop mounds of clothing and litter from my floor into my arms and shove it all under the bed.

"Just thought I'd let you know," Nan said, stepping into the pigsty called my bedroom, "that Braythe's been honking that horn for God knows how long, and I think he's wanting you to hurry up."

And as if on cue, a loud beep harassed our eardrums, and like all the times it had sounded within the last five minutes, I ignored it.

"It's ok, Nan, I'm almost done."

The aging lady gave me a kind, knowing head nod, "Kenai told me about the swim you had this morning…"

Kenai was a traitor, "It wasn't a swim, it was attempted murder." I explained.

"Still," Nan seemed oblivious, "it's not the best way to irk your brother. Driving you to school is a favour he doesn't necessarily have to extend to anyone."

"I know Nan, he's a stand-up bloke." I stated only half sarcastically.

Nan gave me a pointed look, one that I almost cringed under. She was the matriarch of the family and we all respected her fiercely. She'd taken the three of us under her wing and she'd never once complained or made any of us feel as though we were a burden. She was our guardian angel, our mother's mother, and when mother dearest had done a disappearing act on us when I was only five, Nan had stepped up and taken on the role of parent.

"He's not going to wait all day," Nan warned, a hand resting on her hip.

There was a sound of loud footfalls making their way up the staircase and my door flew open seconds later, merely missing Nan in the process. The old lady grabbed at her heart and swung around to face the newcomer. It was Kenai, biting on an apple and crunching loudly, making an entrance.

"Car," Kenai gulped down a mouthful, "now."

Nan turned on her youngest grandson, both hands now at her hips, "Excuse me, Jesamae?" She prompted him to follow her lead.

He flashed his pearly whites guiltily, "Excuse me, Jesamae," he took another bite of the rounded fruit, "Braythe said to get your arse…"

"Kenai, language!" Nan scolded, flicking a dainty hand towards his head as if to smack him, "Did I not teach you any manners?"

Kenai was having trouble refraining from giving an eye roll, "Braythe said to get your butt in the car, now."

"Bottom," Nan corrected, and then turned back to me, "well then Jesamae dear, that's your cue to leave."

Another honk of the horn grabbed all our attention and Kenai raised his eyebrows in an attempt to get me to hurry the hell up. I quickly grabbed my schoolbag and fled, giving nan a quick peck on the cheek before following Kenai down the stairs. He chucked me an apple, to which I was unable to catch, because I'm as uncoordinated as they come. It hit me on the head and rolled down the stairs, where Kenai picked it back up and handed it to me upon my arrival on the landing.

"Breakfast," he explained, "that's all you'll have time to eat."

"Thanks," I huffed, pulling my backpack strap over one shoulder.

He ruffled my hair and I glared at him, "Just be nice when you get in the car, he's in one of his moods."

"He's always in a mood."

"You're always in a mood," he pointed out, smiling at me to lessen the blow, "so, you know, you can show a little empathy."

I swatted at his arm, "Sure, take his side."

He shrugged, "Only because I don't want to get the bus to school. And I'm sure you're of the same mind?"

I huffed heavily, "Fine, I'll be nice."

"And apologise for taking your sweet time."

"Yes, sir!" I saluted him.

Kenai and myself had just closed the front door behind us when we were beset upon by the incessant honking of Braythe's car horn. This time though, he didn't release the pressure until we'd both jumped into the car and barricaded ourselves in. My oldest brother revved the engine and we screeched backwards, out of the driveway, to be blasted up the backside by another car horn. Braythe rolled down his window, flipped the driver the bird, and gunned the accelerator, propelling us forward so violently that I'm sure the seatbelts choked every passenger in the car.

"Took your time!" Braythe leered at me in his rearview mirror, those electric blue eyes flashing with voltaic energy.

I decided to take Kenai's well-meaning advice and be genteel, "I'm…sorry." There, I said it.

It was harder than I thought, but I felt strangely relieved. Kenai was smirking at me from his seat across the way, knowing how much I hated to be the first to utter an apology. Mostly because I'm a stubborn mule and he never fails to remind me of my short comings when I need a good talking down to. And not to be biased or pick favourites, but I tend to listen to Kenai because, well, he's not Braythe…

Braythe squinted at my reflection, "Wait…what did you say?"

I gritted my teeth and formed it into a pleasant enough smile, "I said, sorry."

"Oh," Braythe dragged out the one syllable, "because sorry is going to make everything better."

"Well," I shrugged, "it should."

His grip on the steering wheel tightened and his knuckles turned white, "Sorry isn't going to get me back in the good books with coach. I'm late for training and I'm the bloody captain. I'll be doing laps for days!"

"Plus, my shoes." Nikkye piped In, turning in his chair to throw daggers at me.

"Plus, Nikk's shoes!" Braythe reiterated, "You 'll be buying him a new pair."

I rolled my eyes, "They'll dry."

"They'll dry," Nikkye repeated, "and they'll smell."

"Then wash them in non-chlorine laced water."

"Just get him a new pair." Braythe sped up, seeing our lovely school in the near distance.

"Don't bother," Nikk cut in, "I can get a new pair myself."

My head was spinning from the lectures flying at me from all angles and the contradicting pieces of information Braythe and Nikk were spurting from their mouths. Boys and their egos…you just couldn't win. I decided that not responding was probably the best way to diffuse the tension, so I opted to stare out the window and drown out the white noise.

It worked for a while, until Braythe's angry voice boomed heatedly, "Are you even listening, Jesamae?"

But Kenai, my calm and collected brother, came to my rescue, "She's been listening!" Which was a huge lie, but I wasn't going to call him out on it, "The whole world's been listening."

"Don't be a smart arse." Braythe warned, before turning into Laxon High's student parking lot.

"She said she was sorry," Kenai kept his voice even, "just leave it at that."

Braythe parked the car firmly, jolting us to a standstill, "That's right, take her side."

"Well, two against one isn't very fair." Kenai swung his door open and motioned for me to follow suit.

My oldest brother jumped from the car in a fury, "Whatever, you can both find your own way home after school today." And he slammed the door shut.

Kenai tried to soothe, "Braythe…it's one practice and you bit her head off. Over one practice."

"And my shoes." Nikk echoed, like we hadn't heard him all the previous times.

This actually got Kenai riled and he turned to snap uncharacteristically at the green-eyed teen, "Enough with the shoes, we get it."

Braythe rolled his eyes skyward and motioned for Nikkye to follow him, "Don't worry about it man, Ken's a brick wall. You won't get through to him."

Nikkye obeyed his friend, flicking a disconcerting last look in our direction, before sprinting off towards the stadium. I glowered at their retreating backs, knowing all too well that by recess they'd pretend like nothing happened and that we didn't fight over something stupid before school even started.

"You know, Braythe will have forgotten he's even mad at you by the time first brake comes around," Kenai was trying to lift my spirits, like the sensitive brother I knew him to be.

"I know." I replied, because I did know.

Braythe was the worst at keeping a grudge. He could rant and rave for hours and storm out for five minutes, only to come back all chipper and renewed. And what made me even more livid was the fact that he'd be oblivious as to why you were now in a bad mood that you couldn't shake off as easily as he had. And that grudge that I ended up holding onto could last for days!

We traipsed in the opposite direction, toward locker rooms and homeroom quarters. Kenai was quiet and contemplative, and I studied him wondering, not for the first time, how he kept so collected and level headed.

Kenai threw his belongings into his locker and grabbed out a football, turning to me and raising the spherical object triumphantly, "I'm gonna go kick the footy for a bit, wanna join?"

"Sure," I said as I attempted to remember my locker combination, and failed, "I'll just be a minute."

"I'll meet you out there," Kenai nodded towards an exit that backed onto a stretch of grass.

I tugged firmly down on the lock and it didn't budge, "Won't be too long."

He was gone and I was left cursing these stupid combination locks that not only blocked trespassers or thieves from entering your locker, but also barred the owner when her mind wasn't ticking so smoothly. My fingers fumbled clumsily with numbers and the dial, getting it to spring open prematurely. I pulled at it viciously and contemplated just putting the darned thing in the bin. I'd just been able to swing my bag into my now open locker when I heard my name being called out from across the locker room.

"Hey, Jess!"

I flinched at the nickname and knew straight away who had said it. I whipped around to face a typically pretty, platinum blonde and her two minions. Krystal Bell was leading the pack, all legs and boobs and from what I could gather, no brains. The no brains part was mostly because she'd had the biggest crush on Braythe since the start of year seven. She thought she was sex on legs and that Braythe was God's gift to women, which apparently, made them the perfect match. That bucket for my involuntary gag reflexes would be much needed right about now.

I sent her an obliging smile, "Good morning, Krystal."

She flounced over to me, stopping just outside my personal bubble, "It is a good morning!" She breathed in through her nostrils and then exhaled loudly from her mouth, "And it's going to set the tone for the rest of the day. I can just feel it."

I kept that fake smile of mine fully stretched, "Oh, yes?" Because my morning had given me completely different vibes.

"Of course, silly!" Her perfectly manicured hand clawed its way through my bubble and it popped, as she gave my shoulder a friendly nudge, "Don't you just love Mondays?" I opened my mouth to respond, but apparently, it was a rhetorical question, "It's the start to a whole new week, which means basketball training!"

"Yes," I planned on getting her on her way, and fast, "Braythe and Nikkye are already in the gym."

The three girls gave each other twittering looks and Krystal's green eyes brightened with anticipation, "Well then, we should get going. Nice talking to you, Jess, you're an absolute gem."

The plastic threesome were about to depart when Kenai came marching through the door he'd disappeared behind, looking like he'd lost something. His sapphire orbs searched the room, roaming over Krystal and her squad and finally settling on me.

He raised his eyebrows, "So, you coming out, or what?"

Krystal was the first to react, "You're Kenai, right?" And then her eyes slid to me, "It's uncanny how much he looks like Braythe."

Kenai strutted over, bouncing the football between his two hands, "That's me."

She eyed her clones, "Now that's some killer gene pool, am I right?"

The two numbskulls nodded their heads in agreement and chirped their answers.

Krystal thrust a hand toward Kenai, "I'm Krystal Bell," she introduced herself, "you know my sister, Felicity?"

Kenai nodded good-humouredly, "Yeah, I think she's in my Calculus class."

"Well," she purred and dropped his hand, "I'll tell her to keep an eye out for you."

Kenai tried not to look so awkward and failed, "Oh," his eyes pleaded with me to help him out, "that's…great…"

"So," I butted in, "Braythe and his basketball training should be well under way by now…"

Krystal shrieked, "Of course, we should get a move on."

She clicked her fingers and her two cronies marched along behind her. They moved as one, walking down the corridor and turning a corner disappearing from sight.

Kenai turned to give me a pointed look, "You're friends with them?"

"No," I glared at him and his awful deduction skills, "I can't stand them."

He shrugged nonchalantly, "Ok," he passed me the football and I only just caught it, "C'mon, we've still got forty-five minutes to kill before first bell."


It was lunchtime and I was sitting in the cafeteria stuffing my face like a wild boar, whilst surrounded by the members of the jock posse who mostly ignored my animalistic tendencies, because they knew how little I cared about being lady like. Braythe was at one end of the table, listening to nonsense stories and then retelling them in a slightly different way, all ears eager for his spin on things. Nikkye, his right-hand man, laughed when expected and echoed the gritty bits for those who hadn't heard it the first time around.

"So, Arlena Peddle," Braythe's voice carried easily over the chatter in the cafeteria, as always, "I mean she's pretty easy, right? Like how many of you have been with her?"

Nikkye chuckled, "Hey Meddo, how was she? From what I hear, you had her last."

"Fuck off, Hellings! I've got standards." Ben Meddleston sent Nikkye a nasty glare, "I wouldn't touch her with a ten-foot pole."

Nikkye shrugged casually, "Oh, you've touched her, but I don't think the pole was that long, mate. Keep dreaming."

"So, what Meddo," Lyndon Perry cut in, "you're too good, is that it?"

Ben quirked an eyebrow, "Have I hit a nerve, Pez? Not my fault you poke everything with ovaries."

Mitchell Cleese whooped like an idiot, "Oh, oh, buuuurrrrn!"

Lindsay Tomlinson tossed her long brown locks over her shoulder testily, "That's not funny, she's a really nice person."

"Linds, Linds," Braythe raised both his hands in a peaceful gesture, "we're not saying she isn't."

"The opposite, in fact." Nikkye chimed in.

"She's the nicest," Lyndon wiggled his eyebrows.

All the boys agreed. I rolled my eyes at their pigheadedness. This, I'd had to put up with this for far too long. I was sitting here, amongst the jocks and the pretty airheads, because the only friend I had acquired during my whole school life was now in a relationship; and by the looks of things, it was getting serious. His name was Zane Chance, although everyone knew him as Channa. He'd dated plenty of girls for very shallow reasons, but this time it was different. This time she, otherwise known as Emmalynn Langshaw, was all he could bloody think about! He'd lost his independence and his beard all in one day. And it was all because of her.

So, sue me for wanting to appear as though I wasn't a complete loner and tagging along with the jocks of Laxon High. Although, the longer I sat here listening to these brainless twats, the more I warmed to the thought of sitting at a table by myself, away from idiotic gossip and openly sexist remarks.

My ears perked up at the new voice that pierced through the garish banter, "Hey, what's all the noise about?"

I looked up to find Channa smiling at the whole group, his golden eyes sparkling like they always did. I'd always seen him as dorky and shy, but apparently that's totally hot right now. And Emmalynn, who was always glued to his side like a parasite, was openly glaring at me because her number one hate was having to share her boyfriend with anyone. Most of all me, the best friend and in her mind, biggest competitor. That in itself was laughable, because Channa and myself were completely platonic. End of discussion.

"Arlene," Meddo answered in between bouts of giggles, "and how much we all respect her."

Lindsay slammed her hand on the table dramatically, "She's the cheerleading captain, and we," she pointed at three other girls sitting around the table, "do respect her."

"Here, here," Braythe cooed, "all in favour of Arlene's flexibility, raise your hands!"

I ogled at my brother, "Have you no common decency? She's a person, with feelings." Or at least, I think she is. Heck I wouldn't know, I'm not friends with cheerleaders.

"You say person," Tamsyn Duke, a pretty redhead who hardly ever spoke, put in her two cents, "I say bike. Sorry Linds, but the girl's a bitch."

Lindsay rolled her eyes, "Well yeah, she's a bitch. But she's always been nice to me."

"And," Lyndon roared lion like, "she's never not been nice to me."

All the boys cracked up with laughter, high fiving the biggest douche of them all: Pez the Man. I think I spewed a little in my mouth.

I was pleasantly distracted by Channa tapping me lightly on the shoulder, "Scoot so I can sit."

I shoved over and he squeezed in next to me, with Emmalynn half on his lap because there just wasn't enough room.

"So," I turned my full attention to my best friend, "where did you get to?"

Emmalynn answered for him, "I had some research to do in the library and he accompanied me." Her brown eyes settled on him adoringly and I had the urge to vomit for real this time, and project it.

"That's…lovely!" I gushed, in need of a better word. Like disgusting, that fit the bill.

"Hey," Channa's face lit up, "you want to come to the movies with Em and me tonight?"

Emmalynn's face was shadowed by storm clouds, "Zane," she whined, "I thought it was just going to be the two of us?"

"Well, yeah," the boy blushed guiltily, "but it's only the movies."

I cringed for him because that was a typical, senseless guy thing to say.

"Only the movies?" She looked at him pointedly, "Only the movies, like I'm only your girlfriend?" She shot up out of her seat like she'd been pricked in the arse by a cactus, "Newsflash!" a finger pointed at me accusingly, "she's only your friend."

Channa frowned, "Babe, c'mon…you're overreacting."

The cafeteria had quietened down a little, so eager ears could eaves drop on the new juicy bit of high school drama that was unfolding. Sometimes I hated the student body for being so nosey; could no one have a heated argument in public without it being a spectacle. I mean, really.

"Am I?" Emmalynn screeched, "Because I feel like you only want to spend time with her! Every time we do something, she tags along. I know she's your friend, but I'm your girlfriend." Those brown eyes of hers shot daggers in my direction, "And I don't want to be with you if you're going to choose her over me all the time."

"That's not what is happening here." Channa's voice was firm and he was genuinely confused.

"No, you're right, what's going on here…" Emmalynn swallowed hard, "what's going on here, Zane, is that…I love you."

The cafeteria was dead silent by now. And I was trying my hardest to find a fault in her raw statement. She was a performer after all, being a part of all school productions ever since her first year at Laxon. But even as far as acting went, she was never this good. And it dawned on me that her feelings were genuine. She was in love with my best friend.

When the silence was too much for her she prompted Zane softly, talking in a whisper, "Do you not…love me too?"

Channa answered all too quickly, "Of course I love you, Em."

And I guess he didn't even comprehend his own feelings up until he'd uttered those words that he thought she wanted to hear. When he blurted them out it was a casual thing, but the weight of them hit like a tonne of bricks. And I saw the change in his eyes, a realisation that had only just hit him square in the face.

He loved her like a blind idiot, and all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around her neck and throttle her. This was going to be one huge shit storm.