A/N: Thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate reviews and constructive criticism. Character pictures are on my profile :) This story actually happened, to a much smaller degree...

Valentine Wars

"And a very happy Valentine's Day to all our listeners…"

I groaned, shutting off the radio as I pulled into Chaucer High's parking lot. February 14 had to be the worst day of the year. It was either "I'm-officially-allowed-to-drip-all-over-my-sweetheart-day" or "Look at me! I'm single! day." Seriously, it was either PDA in the middle of the halls or hold up a sign that advertises your single-ness. And either way, it sucked.

My name is Abbey Walsh, and I absolutely, positively hate Valentine's Day.

It had been a personal tradition of mine to make February 14 the most miserable day possible, going back to the good old days in lower school, when the teachers had us make personalized Valentines for everyone in the class. I hadn't meant for mine to be ugly originally—but try telling an artistically challenged seven-year-old to cut out, decorate, and think of witty messages to go on twenty five paper hearts. By the time I got around to writing the notes on the severely lopsided hearts, I was in a terrible mood. I'd written things like "don't ask her" and "you smell weird." And to a seven-year-old, that was pretty funny.

I pulled into a parking space behind a four-foot snow pile, checking my reflection in the rearview mirror. My dark hair hung flat around my face, refusing to stay neatly tucked behind my ears—nope, nothing had changed since I checked the mirror before I left. It was just a nervous habit.

Sighing, I pulled my snow boots out of the trunk; the sidewalks still hadn't been cleared completely from the previous week's blizzards, and it was impossible to drive while wearing those clunkers. As I leaned against the bumper and laced up my boots, I watched a boy and girl get out of the car next to me. The boy opened the door for the girl and swooped down on her with a passionate kiss before she was even halfway out.

"I love you," he proclaimed breathlessly.

"I love you, too!" she gushed, staring into his eyes.

Yeah, right. He didn't love her, and she didn't love him. They were quite mistaken—there was no such thing as high school love—my brother Will had taught me that much. "There's love, there's lust, and there's infatuation," he'd say. "And the teenage mind is only capable of the second two."

Will had proved himself right—when he'd still lived at home before college, he'd have a different girl over every week. My parents hadn't minded ("It's normal for teenage boys!" they'd say), the girls hadn't minded, and Will certainly hadn't minded. So that led me to the conclusion that no, there was no such thing as real love in high school. It was a "you-get-what-you-get" type situation.

Am I bitter? No, not at all. I'd had my fair share of "infatuations," and only… oh… zero of them had gone my way. Maybe I just went for the wrong type of guy—the type that everyone else was going after. So of course nothing ever went my way.

I locked my car, plodding through the slush and losing myself in the crowd that was pushing its way through the school doors, buzzing with excitement. I kept my hands in my sweatshirt pocket and pushed through the door—why did everyone always decide to get to school ten minutes before class?—and trudged down the busy hall to the bench that my friends and I had taken over in the beginning of the year. As juniors, it was a rite of passage to take over the hallway, and we were no exception. I dropped my bag, stretched my back, and let out a loud yawn.

"Abbey!" My best friend Molly greeted me with a wave. I tried to keep my eye-roll to a minimum as I waved back—Molly was all decked out in pink and red, complete with sparkly bracelets and a shiny ribbon in her sleek blonde hair. She'd only overdone it a little this time—at least it wasn't as embarrassing as her outfit last year. Let's just say that one involved a hot pink tank top that read "Kiss me—I'm single!" "What's wrong? You're dressed like someone died or something!" Molly frowned.

I looked down at myself—I was wearing black pants and a gray and white striped top. Yeah, pretty much the farthest away from red and pink that I could get. "It's Valentine's Day, Molly," I said with a sneer, motioning with my hands for her to remember that it wasn't exactly my favorite day of the year.

Her mouth made a silent "O" with realization, and then she let out a shrill laugh. "I forgot."

"Hey Abbey! Molly!" I glanced over my shoulder to see who had been calling our names. Our friend Kelly was standing behind us, shifting her weight from foot to foot, and repeatedly tucking her thin brown hair behind her ear. "Have you seen him?"

"Seen who?" Molly and I chorused.

"Andrew!" Kelly fidgeted with a small bag of candy hearts. "I wanted to give him these." She strained her neck to try and see over the crowd, but she was so short it didn't help much. Kelly could easily pass for a freshman.

"Who's Andrew?" I whispered to Molly when Kelly had turned back to watching the crowd.

"No idea," she whispered back and shrugged. "Maybe her lab partner? The one she always talks about?"

"Abbey!" I heard a shrill call from behind me, and I spun around to see Olivia Lee, a senior from my hockey team, towering above the crowd, striding towards me. She flicked her silky chestnut hair behind her back and ran the last few steps, poking me in the stomach. "Hey girl, you better watch out later!" Her wide almond eyes danced with excitement.

"What?" I asked, bewildered.

"Cobra Chords!" Olivia called over her shoulder as she turned to continue down the hall. I groaned, and she turned around. The Cobra Chords were Chaucer High's boys' acapella group, who had permission to miss all their classes on Valentine's Day to deliver Singing Valentines to the unfortunate recipients during class. It was quite possibly the most embarrassing tradition at this school.

"Remind me never to come to school on Valentine's Day again…" I let my head fall back and stared at the ceiling for a second.

Olivia laughed. "I can't believe you were actually serious when you said you hated Valentine's Day!"

"It's just stupid!" I complained.

"Well you are going to have the best Valentine's Day of your life, Abbey," Olivia proclaimed, poking me on the shoulder before dashing away.

"What?" I asked, bewildered, but she was already giggling with another friend and walking in the opposite direction, disappearing down the hall.

"You're friends with her?" Molly whispered in awe.

"Hockey." I shrugged, and she nodded. The girls' ice hockey team was pretty small, so we were all fairly close. "Ugh," I groaned. "She's getting me a Singing Valentine."

Molly broke out into peals of laughter. "I can't wait to see that!"

"Shut up!" I stuck my tongue out at Molly and searched through my backpack until I found my wallet, motioning that I'd be back in a second. I dashed to the end of the hallway as fast as I could, knocking into a gaggle of sophomore girls on my way. "Sorry!" I panted and skidded to a stop in front of the Cobra Chords' table.

"Abbey Walsh, how can I help you this fine morning?" It was none other than Noah Peterson, my most recent "infatuation." We'd sat next to each other in Health, cracked jokes on just about every sexual innuendo we heard, and I'd gotten to know him pretty well. Oh yeah—and I heard he'd been crushing on Olivia Lee since the beginning of the year. Nothing was ever just plain easy, was it?

I rolled my eyes. This was not a fine morning, but I wasn't going to get into the specifics with Noah. My whole not-believing-in-love thing would probably end up being a huge turnoff anyway.

I sighed and opened my wallet. "I need to buy a Singing Valentine."

Noah pushed his dark blond bangs out of his eyes, so they stuck out in front of his face. That boy really needed a haircut. But it was cute. "Oooh, who's the lucky man?"

I rolled my eyes again. "Yeah, right. It's for Olivia Lee."

"I didn't know you guys were friends," he said, smirking.

I sucked in a breath—from the glint in his dark eyes, I could tell he was thinking about her. "Well, apparently she sent me one. So it's only fair I send her one too, right?"

Noah passed me a badly cut paper heart for me to fill out.

From: Abbey Walsh

To: Olivia Lee


"Who should I send to her?" I asked innocently, leaning on the table.

"I will, if you want," Noah offered. Of course he wanted to sing to her. I scanned the list of song choices and picked the most embarrassing one.

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Message: I hate you. A lot.

"Have fun with this one." I smirked, dropped a dollar on the table, and left for English class. No less than ten minutes after we had opened our books, there was a knock on the door, and the Cobra Chords filed into class, all in matching navy blazers, khaki pants, and bright red ties. Noah came in last, fidgeting with his blazer pockets and avoiding my gaze. I groaned. I could feel everyone in the class sit up a bit straighter and fiddle with various items on their tables.

"Make it quick," Miss Ridge sighed, leaning back at her desk, but barely able to conceal her excitement.

Alex Sanders, a redheaded senior, stepped to the front of the group. "This one's for Amy Cohen." He walked down the aisle and handed the terrified girl her paper heart, the rest of the Cobra Chords trailing him. Amy peeked at the note and groaned—it was probably just a friend aiming to embarrass her. I suppressed a laugh. This was my favorite part of the day.

The boys hummed for a few seconds, and then Alex burst out into a lively rendition of "It's Gotta Be You" by the Backstreet Boys, complete with beat-boxing. Classic.

"Baby it's the way you make me kinda get me go crazy never wanna stop… it's gotta be you, uh huh, uh huh…"

Amy Cohen's face was reddening by the moment—Alex Sanders was now leaning on her desk, crooning into her ear—and at this rate, her face was probably going to start turning purple soon. After two or three verses and a chorus, Alex stood back and took a bow. Amy breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The class was silent, all eyes on the Cobra Chords, as, Noah stepped out from behind another boy, pulling a paper heart from his blazer pocket. Crap. I felt my blood pulsing through my head as he shuffled over to my desk.

"You were right," he muttered and handed me the badly-cut heart.

From: Olivia Lee

To: Abbey Walsh

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Toxic – Britney Spears

Message: I told you that you were in for a surprise…a good surprise, am I right?

Crap. Had Noah read the note? He laughed as my eyes narrowed—it looked like he had. I was going to kill that girl after class. And if Noah was smart enough, he'd know from the note that I liked him. Wow, could this day get any worse?

Noah cleared his throat and the rest of the boys began a screeching backup. I choked on a laugh as Noah began to sing in a falsetto voice.

"With a taste of your lips, I'm on a ride… you're toxic, I'm slipping under… with a taste of a poison paradise, I'm addicted to you, don't you know that you're toxic?"

My heart thudded and I sat on my hands. Could this get any more awkward? Noah wasn't leaning on my desk or anything like Alex Sanders had done to Amy, but he was making very suggestive hand motions, to the delight of the rest of the class. Where was I supposed to look? I couldn't look him in the eye—the guy I liked who didn't like me back was singing to me, after all. If I let myself get lost in the music, who knew what I would blurt out. So I settled for fixing my eyes on his blazer lapel—close enough to his face that it looked like I was at least paying attention. My face burned. It was a terrible feeling, everyone staring at you.

When the song was over, Noah did a little bow and muttered, "So are you gonna kill her or what?" At least he understood my feelings about Valentine's Day—Noah and I had talked about this a few days ago.

"Oh, more than that…" I answered, taking a ragged breath to stop my heart racing.

"Well, you could always embarrass her even more…" Noah dangled another paper heart in front of my face. Right. He just wanted an excuse to sing to her again.

I sighed. I was such a good person, putting his wants before mine. Too good.

From: Abbey Walsh

To: Olivia Lee

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: I Don't Want to Miss A Thing - Aerosmith

Message: I guess it's war!

I couldn't concentrate for the rest of English. Valentine's Day was always miserable, but this was way beyond miserable—it was torture. It was torture watching Noah's eyes light up as I laid out my plan to start a Singing Valentine war. It was torture walking out of English and seeing him deliver my song to Olivia in the middle of the hallway, kneeling down in front of her like she was a goddess. And it was torture, sitting in my AP Calc class full of seniors, when the Cobra Chords interrupted class again.

"I didn't know I'd be signing on to such a full-time job!" Noah muttered jokingly as he handed me my second paper heart of the day. I groaned, feeling the heated stares from all the seniors and few fellow juniors in the room.

From: Olivia Lee

To: Abbey Walsh

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Change the World – Eric Clapton

Message: Just keeps getting better, doesn't it? Have fun with this one :P

I was actually going to murder that girl when I saw her next. Could she be any more obvious? Well, this was certainly the last time I was going to tell her anything important.

Grumbling, I turned to face Noah and the rest of the Cobra Chords as they began humming the opening notes and snapping their fingers. Noah stepped to the front and took his hands out of his pockets as he began to sing.

"…And I can cha-a-ange the world, I will be the sunlight in your universe. You would think my love is really something good, baby if I could cha-a-a-ange the world…"

Noah paced in circle around my desk as he sang, occasionally leaning onto my table, and even taking my hand once. I nearly jumped, and I stared into his eyes, but they were so hard to read. He just kept on singing, smiling slightly, and bowed as he finished the song.

"Thanks," I whispered as he slipped me another heart-shaped form. "You really don't have to do this anymore. I can write someone else on here."

"No, I want to," Noah muttered, smiling. Of course he did. I sighed and scanned the list to choose my next song. Too bad they didn't have any "you suck for being so obvious" or "we're in a giant love triangle and you don't even know it" songs. So I settled with one of Olivia's personal favorites.

From: Abbey Walsh

To: Olivia Lee

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: All I Ever Wanted - Basshunter

Message: You're going down. I WILL win this war of love!

"Try to make it at least a little embarrassing when you give it to her, okay?" I pleaded halfheartedly when I slipped Noah the note and my dollar.

Noah smirked. "I've got you covered."

I was useless the rest of the morning. Twice, the teachers called me out on not paying attention. Frankly, I'm surprised only two of my teachers noticed that my mental state was far from being in class. I just couldn't believe I was actually helping Noah get closer to Olivia, who didn't even like him—she had her eye on the boys' hockey goalie, but still—who wouldn't turn down Noah Petersen, especially with a voice like his? That boy could sing, that was for sure. This was only his first year in Cobra Chords—Noah had refused to join the previous two years because he hated singing in public. I had pretended to side with him, but secretly, I was glad he had joined—because now I'd get to hear that voice. I hummed "Change the World" to myself as I packed up my bag and stuffed it in my locker, pulling out my lunch and pushed through the crowded hallway to sit next to Molly and Kelly on our bench.

"Did you find… um… Andrew?" I asked Kelly politely.

"No." she glowered. "He's sick, apparently." She put air quotes around the word "sick." I wanted to laugh—another poor soul who loved Valentine's Day just as much as I did—but Kelly didn't look so happy.

"That sucks, I'm sorry."

"Yeah." She shrugged. "Well, now I have a whole bag of these. Want to help?" She gestured to her bag of candy hearts, and I eagerly took a handful. Just as I stuffed two handfuls into my mouth, I heard a familiar hush run down the hall as the blazer-clad Cobra Chords strode towards us.

"Hide me!" I moaned, pushing my face into Molly's shoulder. "Everyone's staring!"

"How do you know it's for you?" she asked, bewildered.

"Oh, trust me." I rolled my eyes. "Olivia's been sending me songs all morning."

Sure enough, Noah smirked as he sauntered over to my bench, motioning for Kelly and Molly to move over. They got up without a word, joining the little crowd that had gathered to watch. "No…" I moaned again.

"What, are you sick of me?" Noah asked, pretending to be hurt. I glared at him as he handed me my card.

"You couldn't wait until I was in class, at least?" I hissed.

He shrugged. "We're busy." I unfolded the paper heart.

From: Olivia Lee

To: Abbey Walsh

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden

Message: So it's a war of love, is it? I see how it is… you just said you hate me. So I guess I win.

I sighed as the boys began with a chorus of hums. I was finally getting the routine down—and I wasn't nearly as awkward as I had been for the first two songs. I knew that keeping my eyes fixed on Noah's sticking-up hair was the best way to go—that way I wasn't randomly staring off into space, but I wasn't awkwardly watching his mouth move, either.

"I'll be your dream, I'll be your wish, I'll be your fantasy…"

I tried my hardest to forget about everyone watching us as Noah stepped closer to me, putting his hand on my shoulder.

"I want to stand with you on a mountain; I want to bathe with you in the sea. I want to lay like this forever, until the sky falls down on me…"

He reached out and brushed my cheek, moved my hair from where it had been hanging around my face, and flipped it over my back. My breath hitched—he was so close, he was signing the sappiest love song I'd ever heard, and… he was finished.

"Wow," I muttered, mostly out of embarrassment and the need to fill up the air between us. "That was good."

Noah smiled, pleased by the compliment. Looks wasn't regretting his decision to join Cobra Chords after all. "Want this?" he asked, handing me another heart. I nodded and filled out the form.

From: Abbey Walsh

To: Olivia Lee

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Always On My Mind – Elvis Presley

Message: You're always on my mind, babe. Just sayin'.

Noah chuckled as he read the note and gave me a two-finger wave.

"What was that about?" Kelly whispered as the Cobra Chords went to go traumatize some poor sophomore down the hall.

"Apparently, the battle is still raging…" I declared, taking a bite of my sandwich. Noah had put on quite a show there, with the whole hair flip thing. It was probably because he had double the audience in the middle of the hall than he had in the classroom.

When the bell rang for the end of lunch, all I wanted to do was glue my butt to that bench and never have to get up. I didn't think I could handle another song—not with everyone staring at me, Noah trying to liven up his singing with awkward hand motions, or another hint from Olivia about me liking Noah. Maybe I'd just go to the bathroom… for the entire class.

I set my books down in Spanish and waited a whole five seconds for class to start. No sooner had we cracked open our textbooks to review the previous night's homework, the Cobra Chords burst in.

"We're in the middle of class!" Señora Hernandez barked. She would take the interruption personally. But Alex Sanders caught the door.

"We only have one song. It'll be quick, I promise," he said smoothly, and Señora Hernandez gave in.

Crap. Of course that one song was me. Noah dropped two hearts on my desk as he cleared his throat. Wait… two? I blanched. Who else would want to make my life miserable?

From: Olivia Lee

To: Abbey Walsh

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Maybe I'm Amazed – Paul McCartney

Message: Let's hope we settle this war soon. I'm running out of cash. Is this the best Valentine's Day yet, or what?

From: Noah Petersen

To: Abbey Walsh

Singer: Noah Petersen

Song: Maybe I'm Amazed – Paul McCartney

Message: I thought I'd get in on this too… since I've basically been fueling your little war all morning…

The entire class turned to stare at me. And yes, even though it was the fourth time today, I still felt the heat rise to my face as the Cobra Chords started with a harmony of "oooohs." Noah stepped toward me, moving placing my books on the floor, and hopping up onto my desk.

"Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time. Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you…"

Well, this was awkward. He was sitting on my desk, and I had to strain my neck so I wouldn't be staring at his butt. He seemed to realize this, because he turned the other way, one foot dangling off the desk by my left shoulder, and I scooted my chair back a few inches to give him (and myself) a little more room.

"Baby I'm a man, maybe I'm a lonely man who's in the middle of something that he doesn't really understand…"

He brushed my hair from my face again, just like he had in the hall. All of the sudden, I felt as awkward as I had the first time he'd sang to me that morning. He was sitting so close, touching my hair, obviously trying to make me uncomfortable—because I'm sure it was funny to watch. And boy, was it working. I sat on my hands so I wouldn't feel the need to pick my fingernails or do something else embarrassing.

Noah stared into my eyes, and this time I couldn't dare look away. His hand shook slightly as his hand brushed my cheek.

"Baby I'm a man, and maybe you're the only woman who could ever help me, baby won't you help me understand…"

Noah never finished the song, because after that line, he leaned down until his head was level with mine and placed a soft kiss on my lips. I gasped, and he pulled away.

"S-sorry," he stuttered, obviously not anticipating that reaction.

"No," I breathed with a wild grin on my face.

Señora Hernandez stood up and began to usher the Cobra Chords out of class, but I couldn't help myself. "I'm going to the bathroom," I muttered, and dashed outside without waiting for a response. "Wait! Noah!" I called, and tripped over a binder someone had left on the floor, sending me crashing into the locker next to me. Noah spun around.

"Are you okay?"

"Just…the usual," I murmured and wrapped my arms around his neck. "Thanks," I muttered for the fifth time that day. He snaked his arms around my waist and kissed me softly again. Well, I had waited long enough, thanks—I had no idea how this had even come about, but now was certainly not the time to ask questions. I kissed him back, deeper, and for that moment I didn't care that we were in the middle of the school hallway. I didn't care that we were pressed up against a locker, that class was still in session, and that the rest of the Cobra Chords had stopped dead to watch us. It was just me and Noah, in our own little world, enjoying the side effects of Valentine's Day.

I was still pretty sure I didn't believe in high school love, but if anything came close, this would be it. Maybe this day wasn't so terrible after all.

A/N: Again, thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts. And I'll return reviews!