A/N
Moonfirespam23: There's a difference between capital letters and italicized words based on level of intensity and volume. Lowercase italicized letters are more intense than, but not usually as loud as capital letters. I felt that the particular situation required caps.

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6
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ELLIOT

I'm really worried about Gianna. She didn't come to school today. Dolas took notice of that, too.

"Hey, where's that stupid black whore?" he asked when he entered biology with me. "The one that's always really quiet and gets high grades."

"She's not much of a whore if she's smart, you know," I growled under my breath. I knew he was talking about Gianna.

Dolas scoffed as we sat down. To me, quietly, he murmured, "Are you shittin' me? She's not smart. She probably sleeps with the teacher to get those grades."

My lip curled back into a snarl and I hissed, "She's not a whore, you bastard."

He raised an eyebrow, amused. "You a nigger-lover now?"

My fist slammed into his face and I ran out of the room past the teacher, who yelled at me to come back, totally confused.

Punching Dolas really felt good. I don't know what's been getting into him. Ever since the schools started mixing, he's been acting like a real ass. And how dare he call Gianna a whore! He had no right to. But my words denying his aren't entirely confirmed in my book. While I am very confident that she isn't, I don't really know for sure.

Hating this pinch of doubt that Dolas implanted inside me, I had nothing to do but cling to my fragile faith in Gianna and leave the school.

-

I'm back home, and so is my mom. She's home sick from work. I make her some homemade chicken noodle soup and rip open a new sleeve of Saltine crackers from the box and give it to her.

"Aww, thank you, my son," she murmurs with a smile. "You're too good to me."

I sit on the couch across from her and I'm quiet for a moment while she eats. Then, finally, I say, "Aren't you going to ask why I'm home?"

She shrugs. "I suppose. Why are you home, boy?"

Most guys don't have the relationship I have with my mom with theirs. And I've never met another guy who talked to his mother the way I do. I can spill my guts to her and I'll seek her for advice. So, that's what I do—I tell her all about Gianna and Dolas and everything that happened.

"Ah, I knew the day would come when my baby fell in love for the first time." Mom smiles.

"What do you think I should do?"

"Well, firstly, Elliot, you have to talk to her. She's not psychic; she won't know you like her if you don't make it clear. Try asking her on a date. Bring her flowers and chocolate. Leave love notes in her locker. Girls eat that stuff up."

I laugh. "That'll be harder than you think, Mom. I can barely look at her without getting all flustered and tongue-tied. How can I ever ask her out?"

"Just do it," she replies simply. "Be a man."

She starts laughing, and so do I.

I go over it in my head while I head back to school. Tomorrow, I'll go up to her, ask if she'd like to have dinner with me sometime. There, that's not hard. Or, wait, maybe I should tape a flower to her locker with a note. Yeah, I'll do that.

Jeez, I'm a coward.