"I can't believe you!" came the cry which could be heard over even the din of the art room conversations. Mango looked up distractedly from his work, only to see that the accusation was being aimed at him. He looked around, confused, before pointing at himself.
"Who, me?" The girl, Jesse, glared at him and put her hand on her hip, pursing her lips. Belatedly, Mango thought she looked rather like a nursery rhyme librarian- all she needed to complete the look was a shapeless black dress and horn rimmed glasses to wear on a chain around her neck. He giggled slightly. He would have to look for a pair to give to her for her birthday. He could just see her enraged face now. He giggled again, a little louder.
Coming out of his reveries, he looked up. Oops, he wouldn't have to wait for her birthday, he could actually see her enraged face now. At this very moment. It was just as funny as it was in his head, and he grinned at her, shaking his head. He still had no idea what she was on about, and he was about to tell her so, but she beat him to it.
"Don't you even laugh at me, mister, I am deadly serious." He cocked his head to the side and crinkled his eyebrows, which earned him another glare. "Don't play games with me, I'm not in the mood. How could you do such a thing?!"
Still looking at her angry face sideways, he was starting to get miffed with her lack of explanation and overabundance of self confidence. "Look, Jesse, I have no idea what you're on about. Leave me alone and go back to your uppity painting" he interrupted, and his response was swallowed by silence. Every face in the room was turned towards the arguing pair, (except for the teacher's, as she was plugged in to her overly new, sleek MP3 player and happily working on her painting of a pug dressed in a top hat and bow tie), as though the little argument was the only thing happening. But other things were happening, and Mango giggled a little at the thought of what they would notice when their attention was wrenched from he and Jesse. Ink and acrylics were drying, and John had his arm in the Cadmium Red oil paint, which was sure to be a nightmare when it was everywhere least expected in the coming weeks, but no-one seemed to notice, too engrossed they were in what was likely to be the sole entertainment of their day- perhaps even of their week.
Jesse disregarded his defense, and kept glaring at him as though he was the scum of the entire universe, which was probably something green and fuzzy that lurked under the poor nerd of the sophomore class's bed, multiplying until finally, on the day of their high school graduation, it would rise up and take over the world. Just like that.
"You are so wasteful! You don't care how much these supplies cost, you don't care about what nice supplies these are, what high quality supplies they are, hell, you probably don't even care how much extra Ms. Munk pays for us to be able to use such high quality supplies, you just throw them away! It's absolutely disgusting, I don't know how you live with yourself. You probably have some high end apartment in the middle of the city with guards at the gates to keep all the rabble out, don't you? Filthy rich boy!"
Mango's jaw dropped, and he righted his head to look at her head on. He couldn't believe her! What made her think-..! Mango's face hardened, and he turned around to his piece, blowing off some scattered eraser shavings and placing it on top of his pile of other drawings he did for fun in his spare time. Then, picking up the stack, he hurriedly left the room before his astonishment could get the best of him, and before he reacted by doing something incredibly stupid that he'd regret later, like throwing his ink well in her face, or stuffing her locker with some smelly french cheese or another.
How could she accuse him of something like that? He more than anyone knew not to waste, and the value of even the smallest amount of anything at all- be it art supplies, food, or even affection. Where did she get the nerve- suddenly he was rudely jerked from his rant as he ran into a warm body and all of his papers went flying into the air as he tried to brace himself for a fall which didn't come.
Unclenching his teeth and opening his eyes, he took in the man who had so promptly caught him and pulled him up from his face's untimely near encounter with the linoleum floor. He was slightly recognizable as a teacher in the building, but held no personal connection to the man. They encountered each other in the halls occasionally, as teachers and students were wont to do, but Mango held no delusions that the beautiful man had ever noticed him as they passed. There was nothing so distinguishing to a teacher about a student not their own with the same brown hair and eyes as any other. Besides an obnoxiously girlish demeanor and a few limp wrist-ed tendencies, there was nothing distinguishing about Mango at all.
This teacher, though. Mango could feel his cheeks heating at the very thought of this teacher- he was such a school girl sometimes. This teacher had silky blonde hair and warm blue eyes that were only brightened more by a matching smile. At this close proximity, Mango could see the fine dusting of tiny freckles across the older man's nose and delicately structured high cheekbones, and it made the man even more adorable in Mango's eyes.
The aforementioned teacher still had a hand clutching at Mango's arm, and Mango noted that their bodies were so close as to be touching. There was a look of true concern on the older man's face, and he voiced his concern as he gazed at the disheveled Mango.
"Hey, kid, are you alright? I didn't manage to elbow you, did I? That would have been awful, I'm always being told my elbows are as bony as hell." Mango looked up at eyes so sincere it almost hurt, and found himself having to look away.
"I'm fine." he muttered, jerking his arm out of the man's grasp, then cursed himself for sounding every bit the sulking teenager he was. There wasn't any need to take out the feelings Jesse's ignorance of the new kid had caused on the man.
He ignored the kindhearted attempts to help gather up his art, huffing another "no really, I'm fine" to get the man out of his hair. Even then, the teacher didn't go far, and stood, arms crossed, watching Mango collect himself. Honestly, it was making Mango fidget to have such a put together and beautiful man watch him, and he worried the man would see his art and think him strange. Not that he hadn't already ruined his first real impression by running headlong into an innocent bystander.
He jumped when a gentle voice broke the silence which had settled on the hall. "So where were you in such a rush to go in the middle of a class period?" He seemed slightly amused by it all, but also a little bit worried.
Oh, that. Mango kept looking at his papers as he realigned them. "Home" he muttered, keeping his gaze steadily down.
"In the middle, nay, even at the very beginning of the school day? First period is only just about three quarters over."
Mango glared at him for using common sense against him, and tried to come up with a good explanation. Having found none, he firmly stated "I'm going home, thank you" before breaking into a dead run out of the building, though he kept his eyes trained on the space in front of him, so as to avoid another chance encounter.
Once outside the school grounds, his slight panic dissipated into a sort of giddiness, and his run slowed to a happy skip down the sidewalk. Finally he was out, free from the stupid people who thought they knew everything about him, who in fact knew nothing at all.
Slowing his pace again to a walk, he took in his surroundings. Even though he was a mere three or four blocks from school, the change in scenery was vast. The school building was strictly industrial looking, and even with the dead grass and scraggly tree out front, the concrete walk, chain link fence, and concrete building looked more like a penitentiary for seasoned killers than an academic setting to enrich young minds. Mango pulled a face thinking about it.
However, walk a few blocks after taking a right out of school grounds, and one found oneself at the edge of the city park. It wasn't very big, nothing in this town was, and it was rather square, limiting creativity with layout, but it was beautiful.
Brick pathways fed into a patio around a little fountain which was shaded by trees of all sorts, making it seem secluded from the rest of the world, the dappled light reflecting off the water in little shimmery patches. It was one of Mango's favorite pastimes to sit on a bench under the sole weeping willow (his favorite tree) and sketch the people going about their business or just trying to leave the hustle and the bustle behind for a moment in the shade. He liked the challenge posed by the most serene content faces, and came to the fountain whenever he wasn't busy, or when he was skipping school, as he was today. He had found that unlike some of the stores in town, while he sat by the fountain no one approached him to ask why he wasn't in school.
Which was what he decided he would do today in the time before he was supposed to be home, so that his mom wouldn't ask any questions about why he was home early, and he wouldn't have to explain, or lie to her.
Settling in to the bench was soothing. He placed his little stack of work beside him, and took his green messenger bag off his shoulder, letting it slump at his feet. He grabbed his clipboard and a mechanical pencil, then looked around to find a subject to claim as his own. He laughed rather maniacally; they wouldn't know what had hit them.
There- just across the fountain was a perfect person for his mood. Sitting so that only his legs were obscured by the Greek looking sculpture in the center of the fountain was a man who vaguely reminded
Mango of someone, but he put that aside for another time in order to study the man's appearance. His face was slightly angular, and stubble showed on his chin in the shaded light. His dark, dark hair was styled in a professional, but not stuck up, style, and it was covered slightly by a grey and blue striped beanie. His clothes were nice, but not fancy: an unbuttoned black overshirt on top of a white shirt and tailored jeans. But the best part of the man wasn't his looks or his clothes, it was his expression. He was leaning against the back of the bench with hands behind his head, eyes closed, with a blissful smile on his face. He looked perfectly content, and Mango wanted to capture it on a page.
He just hoped the man would stay still long enough to have his expression captured by a stranger.
Hours later, Mango realised his wish had been granted as he looked down at his sketch and found it fully completed, the beautiful man lounging contentedly on the page in front of him, the object of his intense concentration having not moved an inch. He smiled, pleased with himself, and packed up his things, deciding to maybe sit in a coffee shop for the hour or so left of school.
He knew just the place, and still grinning to himself, he headed over to Joe's. The name always made him shake his head, but Joe couldn't help that his parents had given him a stereotypical coffee name- they couldn't have known he would be in the coffee business. And if they had, well, that was just cruel.
The little bells above the door jingled as he entered, and approached the counter.
"Oh, no. No. You're not getting any coffee, man. Sorry but I'm not going to deal with that again. Once was enough" the bartender shuddered.
"Way to greet a friend" Mango pouted at Alec, who just smirked from behind the counter, and looked Mango up and down.
"How about a hot chocolate. You look like you could use a hot chocolate. Yep, you're having a hot cocoa. On me.. No, not like that" he added when he saw Mango's patented lewd look, and he licked his lips a little nervously.
"I have break in ten minutes, I'll join you then, okay? Here's your cocoa. Don't make too much trouble before I get there, now." He winked and shooed Mango off to his corner table, returning to his job.