"Look what we have here. Oi, Collin! Look, look! It's that kid!"

Deciding to watch Brecken practice that afternoon maybe wasn't the best idea, or at least, that was what I was beginning to think. It was a sunny, beautiful day and I sat in the shade against the brick wall of the building, facing the soccer field with homework spread out in front of me. The cafeteria and library were not suitable for studying due to the recent spotlight cast on me; and the bonus was I got to see the speck of Brecken's form in the distance.

When I heard the voice, I looked up, a little wary but they would probably never realize that. Two guys – one with sickeningly red hair and another who looked familiar as a member of the Soccer team. Both were seniors, and they eyed me with vicious smirks plastered over their faces.

Then Collin James rounded the corner and a sixth instinct came over. This wasn't going to be good.

"Haha, well so it is!" Collin said delightedly. He crouched beside me, taking in my homework with sharp, golden eyes. Then, dramatically, he turned his head to the soccer field and mocked surprise at seeing Brecken. When he turned back his smile was just as malicious as the guys standing behind him. "With the puppy dog eyes and everything, huh?"

I closed my book. "Well, I do love him," I said, unable to think of any explanation.

The three burst out laughing again, just like the day I had confessed, and I would be lying to say if their laughter didn't fucking hurt even this second time around; like knives, stabbing hot right into my gut.

"What's your name?" Collin asked, stretching out his legs and sitting beside me, totally uninvited.

I bit my lip, hesitating and granted a little bit nervous. This was Brecken's best friend. An asshole best friend, but still. "Gavin," I replied finally. Collin's hand prompted for a last name. "North."

"Related to Madden North?" the sandy-haired soccer team member cut across.

"Who?" Collin asked at the same time I nodded my head. But it was decidedly unimportant information because the sandy-haired guy kept quiet and Collin continued. "Anyway, Gavin. Tell us. What is it that you love about Brecken so much?"

The three snickered and I just stared at each of them individually, mentally taking in everything because it wasn't often I interacted with people and it was a natural habit to absorb what I could.

"You really are a freak," Collin said after a moment. "I asked you a question."

"You're asking me to explain to you what I love about Brecken Waters?" I asked, unsure. Did they really want to know? They were probably going to throw it back at me somehow but I guess I had nothing to hide.


How was I going to tell them that it had started out because he had given me the time of day? That he had simply looked in my direction and waved? I couldn't think of a way to word it, so I decided to leave that part out, instead counting off the numerous things that I had grown to know and love. "Well, he's funny, and good looking, and kind in a way that you really have to dig to find but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. He's lonely, and despite fitting in with you guys I think he's actually a much better person without influences – such as yours," I indicated Collin. "- but it makes him happy, and what I love most about Brecken is his smile." There was a sort of stunned silence before I continued. "Plus he has an amazing body, so you know, I love that too."

"Jesus, you really aren't bullshitting," Collin said. He ran a hand through his hair – golden blonde and reminding me a little too much of Madden.

But I didn't understand. "You thought I was lying?"

Collin shrugged. "I guess we all just thought you wanted to get it on with him." Then suddenly he turned to the other guys. "Get lost. I'll meet you back at the lockers," he instructed. Both immediately protested, but he just kicked out one of his legs and shooed them away. "I said get outta here!"

This was what had always confused me. The whole soccer team – Brecken included – treated Collin as some sort of God whose words they must obey. It was only as the two turned and left that it dawned on me he might have been the Captain of the team. Or just had magical influence.

When we were finally alone, Collin turned back to me. "Look. No one randomly goes up to someone and confesses love like you did."

"Yea I'm beginning to get that now." I was taking in everything about Collin. He sincerely looked amused, smiling crookedly and looking like he just couldn't believe me.

"I like you," he said finally, as if coming to a decision. "I might be crazy for saying this, but you and Brecken may not be so bad together." What the hell. I guess I had never bothered to look at Collin in any other light than the terrible, influencing best friend. But now sitting next to me and actually talking to me, he was giving off this sincere, kind vibe, and it really didn't suit him for all I knew. "You know Brecken right? His taste in girls?"

I frowned, heart throbbing as the visions of Brecken and his numerous girlfriends flashed before my eyes. Of course I knew the girls he dated. "Like Rebecca Singleton," I said, surmising everything in one answer. This girl was the absolute worst of the bunch. She was the biggest slut I had ever seen in my entire life and it wasn't hard to see the two of them randomly making out sometimes, or Brecken's hand digging into her thighs in the cafeteria. Ow ow ow. Despite how many times they were rumored to be at it again, Brecken always seemed to lose interest in her until the next time he seemed to want to fuck.

"Haha, yes. Brecken's opposite of me. I like 'em pretty tight and young – the good way y'know?" he said, as if he wasn't talking to someone who had never seen a vagina before.

"I guess…" I answered, unsure of whether it had been rhetorical.

"But he keeps going back to these girls that he can just fuck six ways to Sunday. Between you and me, I think he really hates it."

"Hates what?"

"The whole virgin game." I was not aware there was a game. "Gotta take it slow, and easy, and gently purr at them. Y'know, reassure them as you rip into them that they're going to be okay and then ultimately tearing every single shred of dignity away from them so that they remember you forever."

"I think you're the only one who plays that game," I commented. Collin just laughed, wrapping his arm around me and shaking me to and fro in what I'd take as a gesture of camaraderie.

"Exactly! So what I'm saying is, he's interested in the ones with experience. If you get him – and I'll help you, believe me – you need to be able to make him stay. Grab him by the dick and never let him go! Because he's going to try to run. He's going to erase you from his life the minute he can. That's what he does. You don't know him like I do. I bet, as soon as school is over, he's gonna be on the first flight outta here without a second glance back."

This information stung. A year. I had a year to get him to like me? Or else it was all over?

"So, you're saying I need to get experience?"

"Yes! Sleep around. Ever suck a dick before?" I shook my head, completely horrified but it didn't show so of course Collin didn't stop. "Well try it out. Get good at it. Loosen yourself up a bit and then trust me, the right time will come and you'll be ready for him. Stop pining, get a life, get some friends and it'll work. I have a feeling."

I couldn't believe what he was saying. And I couldn't believe that I trusted these words. It seemed like some solid advice from someone who didn't have any obligation whatsoever to give it.

As it all sunk in, he stood up, dusting grass and dirt from the backs of his legs. "Oh, and watch out okay? There's been some talk and – well not a lot of guys understand. Hell, I didn't until five minutes ago. I'll try doing what I can but…"

Watch out? But I didn't have time to ask any more questions because Collin James was already walking away – out of my life as quickly as he had come after turning everything upside down.

The words kept repeating. "Stop pining, get a life." I knew it, but how was I supposed to stomach even looking at another guy knowing they did not compare – at all – to Brecken? And most importantly, just how was I going to get anyone to notice me?

The decision was laughably easy. After a week of stirring in apathetic misery, I decided to take a chance on Collin's advice. What was the worst that happened? I got over Brecken? Well, wasn't that a good thing? This pain and longing – it would go away eventually. Hopefully. Besides, Collin seemed to think I had a chance, and I believed him when he said he would help me.

So I stood in front of the club roster and signed myself up for everything. And I mean everything. Even Christians in Action (although I was sure to get a few funny looks). When I'd finished signing my name on every sign-up sheet, I already felt better. Someone should strike my fancy. If at least one person… in each class…

I turned - all intentions of making my way down the hallway (and in my mind, walking like an accomplished badass) until I saw Brecken, leaning against a locker and chatting casually with some guy. It was an unexpected and painful blow, because I realized this was the closest I'd seen him since I'd confessed and suddenly I wanted to shrink – run away – die in a hole. Yet how could I look away from him? Once again I was captivated – those blue eyes, that fucking delicious smile - so I just stood by the posters staring and listening to the conversation. However I couldn't make out anything really, over the hustle of the student body around me.

"Excuse me."

I jumped, startled because I just wasn't used to being talked to.

The crisp voice belonged to Nick New, and he was holding a poster in one hand and indicating I was in the way with the other as he shooed me like a fly. I stepped to the side immediately, watching as he pinned the poster over half of the club sign-ups. Everyone knew who Nick was. He was one of the single most popular guys at our school so I didn't protest, simply stared as he did it. Then he stepped back to examine, stroking his chin in thought.

"Does it look crooked?" he asked, not at all bothered by the fact that he didn't know who I was and had never talked to me before.

The poster wasn't crooked to me so I shook my head as I read it. It was a band sign-up sheet, intricately decorated. Upon reading it, there was no information other than "JOIN MY BAND" and a series of dotted lines to sign up on. Most of the poster was taken up with intricate doodles and drawings, all looking like they came straight out of an art student's sketchbook.

By the time I had looked away, Nick had disappeared.

"What the hell," I said out loud, jotting my name down too. I played drums – had my whole life. Usually when kids are interested in banging around on pots and pans, most parents would try to stop them. My dad thought it was talent and the rest is history. Still, making noise all day was one of the only ways that helped me feel like I existed.

A/N: It's all coming together! Are you excited? I am.

So, please leave a review. If you don't, I will never know if you enjoyed the chapter and thus will not have any motivation to write another.

OKAY? I love you bye.