2. Coffee Break

I tensed up as Benjamin put our desks together, handing me the paper. I didn't think he would actually put the desks together. Isn't he supposed to hate me?

"Let the interrogation begin," he smirked. Interrogation? What gave him that idea? I grabbed the paper from his hand and quickly began to write. 'How is it an interrogation?'

"Well, since you're my partner, I may as well get the truth out of you," he shrugged.

I couldn't help rolling my eyes. He just won't give up, will he?

Benjamin was well known in our grade, but not for the reasons you think. From his looks, you would think he was a bad boy with a troubled past. He was around six foot with noticeable muscles, short deep brown hair, and grey eyes. Under his right eye was a soft, straight scar. If that doesn't help with the bad boy façade, then the ripped jeans, wife beaters, and leather jackets he always wears should do the trick.

The weird thing is that he isn't a bad boy/gangster/druggy. He's actually just considered one of the normal people. Well, as far as normal goes. He kept to himself, only talked to his friends, and never got in deep trouble. If you talk to him, he'll respond, but will go back to ignoring you. Well… except for me. That's his only flaw with everyone. Ever since he had heard of me, he's believed I've been faking it. Honestly, I just think he hates disabled people in general.

"For once, can't you just believe me?" I asked on the sheet of paper. He read over my shoulder as I wrote.

"Nope," he smirked. I rolled my eyes and started doodling on the paper as Benjamin sat in silence. Neither of us said anything as the class continued their own mindless chatter.

About a minute before class ended, my curiosity got the better of me.

I quickly wrote down, "Why?"

It took him only a few seconds to get what I meant. "Because, I believe that if you're not physically hurt, then you must be faking it. People just don't wake up and find they're not able to speak." Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Bert glaring at Benjamin. He must have overheard that last comment.

"Don't say shit like that unless you know the facts," Bert warned. I looked over and gave him a small warning look. I knew I could take care of this. Bert gave back a worried look, asking if I was sure with his eyes. I smiled and gave a quick nod. During this silent conversation, Benjamin was looking back and forth between us like an idiot. He wasn't the only person that got freaked out like this, so Bert and I have come to ignore them.

Bert sighed in defeat and put his head back on his desk. Meanwhile, I started to write once more. "I didn't wake up mute, dumbass."

"Either way, I know you're faking it," he declared. "And I'm not going to give up."

"On what?" I wrote.

"I will make you speak by the end of this project," he smirked with confidence. By this point, I wanted to punch him, but me being me, I took a deep breath to calm down. Without looking at him, I wrote, "Like I haven't tried that before…"

I bolted out of my seat as the bell rang, leaving the note behind. I heard Bert follow after me, but I didn't slow down. Bert's on the football team, so he could definitely keep up with me.

I felt a hand on my shoulder when I reached the door that lead to the courtyard. That hand then guided me out the door, leading me in the direction of the cafeteria. With a soft voice, Bert asked, "You alright?"

"I'm good," I signed, not bothering to look up.

I heard him give a short grunt. "Man, that guy pisses me off. He shouldn't have said those things to you."

"I can understand why he said those things," I signed to Bert's surprise. "He just doesn't understand why my brain can't connect to my voice."

"Still doesn't give him the right to say that shit to you," He finished as we reached the cafeteria.

The cafeteria is in the back of building A, which held all of the offices of the high school. The room held three normal lunch lines, a salad bar, and long tables that could easily hold the population of the school. On sunny days like this, these tables were pretty much deserted. Everyone preferred to sit in the courtyard or in the hallways.

After getting my salad, I waited by the cashier of the second line for Bert. You know how everyone has a little habit they just can't seem to break, no matter how ridiculous the reason is? Well, Bert had the habit of always using the second lunch line. I had asked him about it around half way through freshmen year. Apparently it was his lucky line; three girls gave him their numbers on the first day freshmen year. Have I mentioned that Bert is a total flirt? You can take the guy away from the jocks, but you can't take the jock away from the guy.

I rolled my eyes as a sophomore gave him her number as he finished paying for his food. He gave her a polite smile before slinging an arm around my shoulders. I couldn't help but smile when the girl's expression went from goo-goo eyes at Bert, to death glare at me. I gave him a questioning look as we headed for the fountain. He simply shrugged, trying his best to hide his smirk.

When we reached the fountain, Matt was the only one we found waiting for us.

"Hey Matt, where is everyone?" Bert asked.

Matt shrugged as Bert and I sat on the fountain's edge with him. "I think they're stuck in line," he said before taking a large bite of his salad.

"No we ain't. We're right 'ere," Jay proclaimed as him, John, and Mel walked up to us.

"Kenny!" Mel squealed, giving her tray to John before she tackled me. Luckily, Bert caught us before we fell in the water. "Last period was, like, so boring! All he did was, like, read over the rules of the class. I don't even know, like, how he could make, like, so many rules."

I carefully set my tray down to answer. "Mr. Jones?"

"How'd you know?" she asked before stuffing a cheeseburger in her mouth. She may talk like a valley chick, but she didn't always act like one.

"Mr. Jones is my first teacher. I don't-" Bert grabbed my hands before I could finish my sentence.

"Eat first, talk later," he ordered.

"Oh, let her chit-chat, mother hen!" John laughed as Jay started clucking at Bert. Matt rolled his eyes when Bert got both John and Jay trapped in a head lock. Mel and I continued to talk as Matt tried to get Bert to stop suffocating the two.

The rest of the day continued on so easily, I had completely forgotten about my 'talk' with Ben. He wasn't in either of my last classes, but there were chances he would be in one of my classes tomorrow. I tried not to think too much of that.

To celebrate the end of the first school day, the group and I headed over to our favorite coffee shop, The Mocha Express. We discovered the place about a year after we all met. It's a family owned business were the workers can memorize your order only after they've seen you twice. The store owner, Mr. Michaels, has gotten to know all of us well. He even lets us call him Old Man, while his non family workers still call him by name.

The Mocha Express was just a ten minute walk from our school and a twenty minute walk from home. It sat at the corner of the road at the edge of the city. Although Bert, Jay, and I all had cars, we all prefer to walk. In fact, the little shop was the reason Mel never wears high heels to school.

As we entered the shop, Old Man's granddaughter, Clara, smiled at us from behind the counter.

"Well I'll be. I haven't seen you all together in a month! Where ya been?" she asked as Jay sat on the counter.

He took her hand and gave it a quick kiss. "My dear, have ya by chance been ta Rome?" he smiled, capturing a lock of her golden brown hair. He and Clara have always been good friends, pretending to flirt with one another. They meant no harm in it, but sometimes even we would question it.

Matt took this chance to grab onto Jay's collar and tug him away from her, blushing. "I'm sorry for his idiocy, Ms. Michaels."

Clara laughed as she got behind the register. "Matthew, how many times have I told you to call me Clara? I'm only 3 years older than you," she smiled. All of us knew of Matt's crush on Clara, even Clara knew! But the boy was just too shy. Poor thing, this just gave Jay all the more reason to flirt with her.

"Oh, he'll come around," John said with a smirk, handing her his debt card, "So, Clares, can you get us the usual, please?"

"Sure, why not?" she asked, swiping the card and giving it back to John, "But why can't you and Matthew call me by my name like the rest of your friends?"

Mel decided to cut in. "Matt's just polite and, like, John's just annoying," she explained, smacking John on the back of the head. John tried to protest to this, but Matt just pulled him back as well.

Bert and I just shook our heads during all of this. "Ok everyone, let's go to the table," Bert said as he started to push everyone toward our favorite table. It sat at the corner of the front window, allowing a slight privacy to the rest of the shop. He turned back to Clara, smiling politely. "Call us when the drinks are done."

"Sure thing, I just need to get some beans from the back," she shrugged.

"I'll miss ya, my sweet!" Jay called to her as she disappeared behind the doors that led to the back.

Matt glared at Jay as we all sat down. "I thought you were gay."

"Why? Interested?" Jay asked, showing off a pose.

Matt rolled his eyes, "Don't ask me. Talk to John about that."

We all laughed as John almost fell out of his chair. "WHAT?"

Jay smiled as he moved his chair closer to John. "Why, Johnny, ya should 'a told meh sooner," he smiled, leaning closer.

John leaned back in his chair, away from Jay. "Jason Andrew York, if you even touch me, I WILL castrate you."

Jay sighed as put his chair back. "Way to be a homophobic mood killer, Johnny boy."

"John, you know Jay is just teasing you, right?" I signed.

John put his head on the table, frustrated. John and Matt were the only two who couldn't fully understand sign language, so they usually couldn't talk to me unless Jay, Bert, or Mel was around. "Melanie… translate," he whined.

"She said, that like, Jay is only, like, messing with you. So, like, chill," she explained as she pulled out a nail file from her bag of wonders. I lightly shoved her shoulder, telling her to translate correctly. She cleared her throat, "Sorry, Kenny. She asked if you knew that Jay is just teasing you."

We all stared at Mel as Clara came with our drinks, all of which balance on one try in her hand. "Hey, why you guys staring at Melanie?" she asked as she started to pass each drink to the correct person.

Bert looked up at Clara before looking back at Mel. "She said an entire sentence without saying 'like'…"

Clara stopped right before she could give Mel her coffee, also surprised by the news. Mel looked around as if we had all gone mad and took her coffee from Clara's frozen hands. "What?" she asked, "I can, like, control it, like, when I want to." She leaned back in her chair, sipping her coffee as if nothing was out of the norm.

"Well, I'll be damn," Jay mused before taking a big gulp of his latte. Everyone looked around at each other before taking a drink of our own coffees, smiling.

"Like I haven't tried that before…"

I continued to stare at the note in my hand. That was all she wrote before storming out of the classroom. She didn't even check to see if I read it or not, she just left. What did she mean…?

"Dude!" I looked up as Gabe snapped his fingers in front of me. "Hey, man, are you ok?" he asked as we waited by his car. "You've been staring at that note all day. What's up with you?"

"Nothing," I mumbled, shoving the note in my jacket pocket. "Where the hell is Wes?" I asked, trying to get his attention off me.

It worked. "Hell, I don't know man! Knowing him, he's with that Heart girl," he complained.

"It's Jessica, dumbass" a high voice spat behind us. Gabe and I turned to said voice.

"Jess, please, don't be rude. They're your friends, too," Wes sighed as he walked up to Gabe. "And you," he smacked Gabe's head, "be nice to my cousin."

I laughed as I got in the passenger car door. "About time you two showed up. What took you?" I asked as they all got in the car.

"Jess lost her schedule, so we had to get another one from the office," Wes explained as Gabe drove out of the parking lot.

"Way to go, Heart," Gabe laughed.

"Shut up, Sunderland," Jess growled back.

"Stop bickering you two. Gabe, mind if I get a quick cup of coffee before we head to your house?" Wes asked.

"Only if you get me one," Gabe said as he altered his course to the nearest coffee shop.

"Sure," he smiled. "So, since I didn't see you two today, how was it?"

"Ben got a love note," Gabe smirked before I could say anything.

"What?" I asked, glaring at him.

"Ben, you didn't tell me you liked a girl," Jess pouted. "I could have hooked you up with her by now." While Jess and Gabe hated each other, she and I are actually very good friends.

"Jess, I don't like anyone. Gabe's just an idiot," I assured her. As if I could like her.

"But what does he mean you got a love note?" Wes asked, leaning forward.

"It's not a love note. I was just talking to someone through paper, ok?"

"Then why'd you keep the paper?" asked Gabe as he pulled over in front of a shop.

"Shut up," I mumbled as I got out of the car.

"Medium Americano!" Gabe shouted out as Wes and I headed for the door.

"Iced Mocha for me!" Jess called out as well.

"Iced Mocha? That stuff's nasty!" Oh jeez, another fight. Wes and I shook our heads as we walked in the shop.

"Benjamin." Shit, he used my full name. "Why are you getting so worked up about a paper? Why is it bugging you so much?"

I really would have told him, but when I saw the people behind him, I froze. Noticing that something caught my eye, Wes turned around, curious.

On the far side of the room, near the front by the window, was the very girl that had written on the very paper in my pocket. Wes, however, noticed something else.

"Bert, Matthew! Is that you?" He smiled as he walked over to the table. Although I didn't want to, I followed him.

The group turned, with Bert and Matt happy to see Wes. Bert, unfortunately, noticed me. "Wes, it's good to see you, but what the hell is he doing here?"

"Good to see you too, dipshit," I smirked back at him.

Wes put his arm in front of me. "Ben, behave," he ordered. What am I, a dog? "Bert, he's here because he's my friend. I would appreciate it if you respected that." I don't understand why Wes always speaks in such polite manner, it's not like he needs to impress anyone.

"As long as he keeps his mouth shut, I will," Bert said, stealing a quick glance at Kendra.

"Now why would I do that?" I asked, glancing at her as well. As usual, she looked like she was pretending I wasn't here.

"Ben," warned Wes. Well, since he didn't use my full name, I guess I would try to listen to him.

"Fine, what you want?" I asked, pointing to the front counter, "Black with extra Black?"

Wes rolled his eyes, but nodded anyways. I can stand the taste of straight coffee, but not what Wes likes. He likes it strong and hard, without anything (like sugar or crème) to dilute the strong, bitter taste.

After ordering the drinks, I quickly rushed out of the shop, heading straight for the car. I knew Wes would get the coffees when they were done, so why linger in there? When I returned to the passenger seat, Jess and Gabe hadn't registered the fact that I was even there. Nothing breaks their concentration when in the heat of battle.

I could see them through the window. Wes continued conversation with Bert and Matt as the others ignored them. It was easy to see that a story was being told by the short guy, flailing his arms this way and that. Those listening seemed to be amused, but you could tell they listened carefully to him. Even she was listening intently, smiling and signing questions to add on the tale.

This was the side of her I never bothered to see, but with reason. She knows well of my hate for fakers, so she would become silent, neutral every time I got near. Guess you can't do much when you refuse to talk. What a bore.

I hadn't realized I had been staring when I heard a car door close. "Gabe, I just bought you a coffee, so-"

"So be nice to your cousin. I know, I know," Gabe interrupted, snatching his coffee before speeding down the road once more.

"Did anything interesting happen in there, Benji?" Jess asked, poking the back of my head.

She said something else but my ears stopped at Benji. I twisted myself in the seat enough to see her eye to eye. "Don't you ever, call me Benji," I commanded in a low growl, glaring though her.

Even though the focus of my rage was Jessica, the whole car was filled with a tense atmosphere. Gabe even slowed the car down; knowing him getting a speeding ticket again would only aggravate me even further. No one dared to speak before my anger subsided, knowing they would end up with the aftershock of my anger towards Jessica. I know she didn't mean any harm, but just hearing that name would get me on end.

By the time I had calmed down, we had already arrived at Wes and Jess's home. They quickly said their goodbyes and thanks for the ride and coffee before walking into the house.

After pulling out of their driveway, Gabe retrieved the courage to speak once more. "It was a slip of the tongue," he softly stated, eyes focused on road.

I sighed, taking a sip of my creamed coffee. "I know," I admitted, "I didn't mean to scare them. I just… lost my temper."

Gabe gave me an understanding grin as he pulled into to the Sunderland residence. "Don't worry, I think they know you meant no harm, you big ol' puppy dog."

"What was that?" I halfheartedly glared, a small smile forming at the teasing name.

"Nothing," Gabe laughed, getting out of the car. "Let's hurry and get inside. Maybe we can convince mom to make stir-fry tonight!"

"Please, if she made that, she'd drown it in soy sauce again," I reminded him. Susan had the tendency to always add too much of one thing in everything she made.

"We'll make sure to watch her this time."

Yeah, I know. You waited seven months for this? Oh well, I'm busy.

I just started a new school system and finish moving in, so I'll try to get the next chapter up sometime before October. No promises.

Well, we now know a little bit more about Benny. I thought you deserved to know a bit because everyone seems to think he's a total ass. He can be, but not when he's with Gabe. So stop being rude to Ben! Sides, his a complicated character so WATCH OUT! In the next chapter, we'll learn a little secret from both him and Kendra :D

Keep leaving reviews! They make me kick into gear with the writing (typing). Much thanks to those you were nice enough to leave them, you guy's rock.

P.s. If you see an error in the text, please notify me so I can fix it.