The first thing that registered in my mind after the solid ground underneath my feet was the shrill sound of some kind of alarm. It was grating, echoing off the blank walls of the cafeteria and making my teeth buzz. I felt the dizzy sickness in my head; the one that came in waves after the warp.
If anyone noticed that a bright flash of light had just faded to reveal D.B. Hawkins and Indigo Hutchinson kissing in the middle cafeteria, they didn't say anything. A girl screamed. I heard the bottoms of sneakers and flip-flops pounding against the tile floors as the entire student body ran toward the double doors that led into the parking lot.
"Ow!" D.B. stumbled as a redheaded boy brushed past him in a panic, breaking our kiss. "Watch it!"
He moved in again, placing the very, very tips of his fingers against my jaw, but I moved my head to look over his shoulder. I saw Mikey first look suspiciously over his shoulder and then crane his neck to scan the growing crowd. D.B. tried to pull me in again, his hand hot and gentle on my arm.
"Daniel, hang on. Something's going on, I think Mikey-"
"I don't care, I don't care…"
"Just – Wait, hang on," I said, pushing on his chest and trying not to laugh. "Dan, something-"
"Daniel," he corrected, tucking his nose under my jaw and trying to get me to lift my head.
"Daniel. Something's going on."
"The fire alarm," he mumbled. "No big deal."
The P.A. system beeped on.
"[i]Attention students, this is not a drill.[/i]"
D.B.'s head shot up. He suddenly seemed aware of what was going on. Students continued to rush past us, attempting to cram themselves through the double doors at the end of the cafeteria. Some were panic stricken, dropping their lunches on the floor as they scattered like drunken bumblebees. Others were enjoying the hysteria, just happy for a few guaranteed minutes out of class.
"Oh, [i]shit[/i]," Daniel whispered. "I just… Oh, wow."
"I think Mikey pulled the alarm," I said, standing on my toes to try and find him. "I just saw him… Hey, where's Kim?"
"You know what I just did?" he asked me, speaking near my ear to be heard over the alarm. "I just travelled [i]right into the middle of the cafeteria![/i]"
"Wow," I breathed, more to myself than to him. "Wow. If Mikey did what I think he did…"
"Let's go," D.B. shouted above the noise, taking my hand. "We should find them."
I nodded and weaved my way through the crowd, connected to D.B. by our linked hands. We managed to get outside and into the crowded parking lot without being trampled and started calling for Kim and Mikey.
"Mike!" D.B. yelled. "Micheal!" He jumped, trying to see above the crowd. "Kim, where the hell are you? Kimberly Marcolini!"
"Mikey?" I shouted alongside him. "Mikey, can you hear me? Kim?"
"[i]What?[/i]" we suddenly heard somewhere to our left. Kim's blonde hair gradually became visible as she muscled her way through a group of basketball players, still in their uniforms. "Coming through. [i]Move,[/i] number twelve."
She disentangled herself from the boys and stood in front of us, breathing like she'd just run a mile. She paused, slowly scrutinizing D.B.'s face before her eyes flicked to me.
"You kissed him?"
"W-What?" I choked, turning a shade of red that would have given the answer away anyway.
"Well. Unless D.B. has taken to wearing tinted lip gloss?"
"Shit," D.B. said dryly, wiping his lips furiously on the back of his hand.
"Anyway, [i]that[/i] bit of unpleasantness later. Have you seen Mikey?"
"Yeah, a little while ago," I muttered, still blushing. "But I lost track of him."
"He saved your ass, D.B."
"I know. How did he-"
"No, you don't get to ask questions now. First we find Mikey, then you get to tell us what the [i]hell[/i] you were thinking."
D.B. nodded solemnly and I took his hand again, giving it a small squeeze as we maneuvered through the chaos.
We found Mikey toward the end of the parking lot, balancing on the edge of a curb. The way he looked and D.B. reminded me of the terms under which we had left. Mikey had just finished yelling at D.B. and Daniel had stormed off without resolving the matter. If we had come back in just enough time for Mikey to sprint to and pull the fire alarm, then it must have seemed like we were only gone for a few seconds. And so much had changed.
"I don't care," he said, still smoldering slightly. "It was instinct. I couldn't let you just… You know. You disappeared and I pulled the alarm. I figured everyone would be so distracted, they wouldn't notice you coming back."
"Thanks, man. You're a friend. I… I probably didn't deserve what you did."
Mikey nodded once, then glanced down at our clasped hands and nodded again.
"Smart move," I said quietly. "Really smart."
"Um, Mikey." D.B. was speaking again. "I'm sorry I… uh… ignored-"
"Oh, God," Mikey groaned, smiling a little bit. "Don't. This sounds like a horrible teen movie."
Kim made a gagging sound and Mikey snorted in laughter, jumping down from the curb to lean his head on her shoulder. The fire alarm was still blaring in the background and sirens sounded in the far distance. The fire department had apparently been called.
"Wait, one more cliché?" D.B. asked.
Mikey tapped his chin. "Uh. Yeah, okay. Go."
"I guess. Yes. Yeah, sure."
And, as if the mumbled words and shuffling feet were some sort of binding contract, everything was okay between the two boys. I could see it instantly in their eyes, like nothing had ever happened.
"Let's get out of here," Kim said suddenly. "They'll probably be looking for the idiot who pulled the fire alarm when they find out there's nothing burning."
"Blah, blah," Mikey said, rolling his eyes. "You got your car?"
"Yeah," D.B. replied. "Uh… Hey…"
He readjusted his hand in mine.
"I was thinking… How do you feel about the 60's?" He saw me blink heavily and cleared his throat. "I've got a box of vintage clothes in my car. What if we all, I don't know, saw The Beatles or something?"
"Sounds good," Kim answered, twirling a strand of her hair. "I call the white boots."
"No!" Mikey whined.
"Yes. I called them."
Mikey took off toward D.B.'s tragically beaten Sedan and Kim charged after him calling, "No! This is not a race! I [i]called[/i] them!"
It was almost bizarre. The alarm and sirens and the strangely warm day. Mikey running and Kim yelling and Daniel holding my hand.
Bizarre, but nice.
I had a feeling that was how my life was going to be from now on.
And I wasn't complaining.