Mai had done it again. She bit back a frustrated scream. She was so sick of feeling bad. She knew she shouldn't, but she wished someone would come and make her forget all about Gwen and how Mai had hurt her. But not this time. Noah didn't come out of nowhere with an exciting invitation and Kat didn't call her with a crazy idea. She was all alone, standing in the parking lot. Mechanically, she began walking to her car. Once she reached her vehicle, she sat behind the wheel with her keys in the ignition. Mai had blocked any thoughts from disturbing the silence of her mind, but she felt that if she moved in anyway the silence would dissipate. So she sat staring out the windshield.
"Hey." Someone's muffled voice called from the other side of the window.
Mai turned her head and was horrified to see Sloan outside her door. He motioned for her to roll her window down and, getting the feeling he wouldn't leave otherwise, she obliged.
"What are you doing?" He asked bluntly, "You've been sitting here for 15 minutes."
"I'm fine." She replied.
Worry set into his features, "That wasn't the question."
"Oh." Mai didn't have anything else to say.
"Anyway," he cleared his throat, "Since you don't seem to be doing anything, would you mind helping me out?"
"Huh?" Of course, Mai thought, he wants something from me. That's why came over here.
She didn't know what she had expected. Some part of her had thought that Sloan was concerned because they were friends. Not like she was so desperate to call Sloan her friend, but it was better than always fighting with him.
"My car won't start." He explained, "I don't think it's the battery because I just had it checked out."
"Okay." Mai wondered how this involved her.
"But the thing is, I have to go to work now." He continued, "It's close, but if I walked I would be late. So late they would fire me on the spot."
"Seeing as you have a car," he was obviously not used to asking for favors, "Can you give me a ride?"
Mai enjoyed watching him shift uncomfortably so she didn't give him an answer right away.
"Get in." She finally said.
"So." Sloan broke the silence as they waited at a red light.
"Yeah." Mai supplied. Having Sloan in the car was more awkward than she had expected. Sensing he felt burdened to speak, she asked, "How are you going to get back from your job?"
"Tod." He replied simply, "He works there, too."
"Oh." And then they lapsed into silence again. Mai hit the gas as the light went green.
"Turn left up here." He told her.
"Here?" She put her turn signal on.
More silence. Mai pretended she was intensely involved with driving, looking out the windshield and rear view mirror alternately.
"I saw Noah's present." He stated suddenly.
"Oh?" Mai didn't know what he was getting at.
"Yeah. I can't help thinking that you think I'm some kind of music retard."
She snorted, "Where would I get that idea?"
"Okay, I understand how you would get that impression," he sounded defensive, "but you didn't have to go so easy on me."
"What are you referring to?"
"Those CDs were full of easy listening."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Then what do you have in there right now?" He motioned to her CD player. Without waiting for a reply, he turned it on and French filled the car.
"What is this?" He asked, surprised.
"Do you know what she's saying?"
"Of course." Mai turned the CD off.
"Interesting." He thought for a second, "So why didn't you include this on my CDs?"
"Yelle?" She asked incredulously, "For someone like you?"
"Someone like me..." He almost sounded offended, "You think I'm the kind of person who listens to Dido and Barry Manilow?"
"Are you really offended because of this?"
"Yeah, I am."
"Well, it's not like you're easy to read. I honestly had no idea where to start. In the end, I just put random things in a play list and burned it."
"Wow, it's good to know you put so much thought into it." Sloan definitely sounded offended now.
"What do you want me to say?" Mai couldn't believe he was so immature, "Can you say you know me any better?"
That shut him up. They sat in silence again.
"Turn right here." Sloan ordered quietly. She turned into a large complex of buildings. They all looked the same. He said, "It's the one on the far right."
Mai inspected the building as she pulled into a space. The sign above the building read 'Webster's Glasses Repair'.
"You work in a glasses shop." She tried to keep the shock out of her voice.
"Yeah," he looked up at the building, "Feel free to stop by if you lose your glasses again. We do more than just repairs, despite what the sign may suggest."
For minute Mai was put off by his friendliness. Dealing with Sloan was impossible, much less understanding the guy.
"You're home late." Mai's mom commented as she came into the kitchen.
"I had to drop a friend off. He had car trouble."
"Oh, I see." Mai could hear the wheels turning in her mother's head.
"He's just a friend, mom."
"I didn't say anything." Her mom replied but Mai knew what she was thinking. She almost laughed at the idea of her and Sloan being together. It was almost unfathomable how anyone could sustain a relationship with him. Yet, he had such a close group of friends. She had never really thought of it before, but it seemed strange. What kind of connection did they have, anyway?
"Is something wrong?" Her mom asked.
"No, nothing." Mai shook her head.
"I haven't seen Gwen in a while." She prodded, "Everything okay?"
"Yeah," Mai gave her best fake smile, "Things are just a bit crazy with school work and all that. Plus, she has to work."
"Okay." Her mom let the subject drop. Mai felt bad lying to her, but telling her the truth would be even worse. It would involve a lengthy and emotional conversation about why she and Gwen were growing apart. It wasn't as if they weren't friends anymore. This was just a minor bump, Mai was sure. The sooner she smoothed things out, the better. She still didn't know what she was going to say, but Mai resolved to talk to Gwen tomorrow. She promised herself she wouldn't chicken out, even if she ended up telling her everything.