Sara and Robert:

Unrest

A/N: Well, this is my first short story. This first chapter is very, very long. I had intended it to be just a one chapter thing, but I have a feeling that this will be much longer. There will also be little entries from the point of views of the two main characters every now and then. I hope you enjoy this.

Sara turned over and pushed her arms in to the air. She reached over and hit the snooze button on her alarm clock. Her eyes flickered to the LED screen and saw that it was six-thirty. She let out a groan and flopped back over to face the wall. The dream she had been awoken from still floated lazily in her mind and she smiled as she snuggled with her stuffed iguana. She had been in a horse-drawn carriage in a gorgeous floor length gown. It was a deep burgundy, strapless ball gown. The bodice was covered by silver rhinestones that decorated the neckline and created a sort of hourglass that connected with the bottom of the bodice that connected to the skirt. The rhinestones were accompanied by a floral design that was delicate in the top part of the bodice near her chest. She had a white fur stole around her shoulders, keeping her warm. But there was an arm around her shoulders, which pulled her close to a warm body. She smiled and looked up, and the boy had smiled back at her. She snuggled in to his side and he wrapped his other arm around her, resting his forehead on hers. But then she had woken up and wasn't quite ready to leave the afterglow of the dream.

After snoozing three more times, she decided to roll out of bed. Much to her dismay, her mother had turned the heat down another two degrees to save money on the bills. A person wouldn't think that two degrees mattered that much, but right then Sara wished she had that fur stole from her dream. Then again, she wouldn't have minded having the boy from her dream there to snuggle with either. She giggled softly and shook her head to try and clear that idea away. She stood and stretched again, tensing her legs to wake up the muscles. She made the short trip to her bathroom, careful not to wake her still sleeping parents. Her father would be getting up soon, but she didn't expect to see her mother moving till just before Sara was out the door.

The water was hot and glided over her skin easily and gently. She rolled her head and let the jets relax her muscles and wake her up. She squeezed her soap, Dark Kiss from Bath and Body Works, on to her scrubby and began to wash herself. She let her eyes close as she moved the scrub over her arms. She imagined that the scrub was the soft fingertips gliding over her skin. She felt goosebumps rise on her arms, quickly soothed by the water from the shower. She moved the scrub over her collarbone and leaned in to the arms that wrapped around her from behind. Twitching up slightly, her lips formed a small smile. The embrace was warm and strong and more comforting than any hot shower. But eventually she had to open her eyes and the arms melted away and were carried down the drain alongside the soap suds.

Her mirror was fogged when she opened the door to her bathroom. She had two rooms for her bathroom. One room was the vanity with two sinks and there was a door that led to a little side room that had the shower and toilet. It was a cute little room, the walls painted a gentle crème. There was a canvas sign that said "DREAM" in purple letters with green and purple butterflies faded underneath the word. Around the sign on the wall were stick-on butterflies flying away up the wall. Sara reached forward and wiped her mirror with her towel and smiled. She stuck out her tongue at her reflection. She puffed up her cheeks and crossed her eyes, pulling her ears out. She blinked at herself in the mirror, and then broke down in to little giggles, covering her mouth, still trying not to wake her parents.

When she had dried her hair and styled it properly, she returned to her room. She kicked a pile of dirty clothes out of the way so she could open her door. With a glance at her clock, which flashed ten till seven, she moved to her closet. She had to step over a few more piles of things to get to her closet. She didn't know what she was going to wear. She didn't really feel like doing anything too fancy, since it was just Thursday. But she also didn't want to go to school in sweatpants. So she stood in front of her closet and stared at the clothes on the hangers before her for what seemed like forever. Finally she decided on a light teal sweater and a pair of dark jeans. She pulled on the jeans and rolled up the bottoms. She pulled on some black knee-highs and then put on a pair of her favorite boots. They were little boots that came to her ankle. They zipped up the side and had a small, inch heel that was thick. She wore them as often as she could. They had a satin look to the black and had silver studs on the folded cuff.

Sara was in the kitchen by seven pouring herself a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. She used the last of the milk just as her father wandered in to the living room.

"Good morning," he said, his voice still gruff from sleep. Sara looked up and smiled at him.

"Good morning," she replied. She grabbed a spoon as he went to the back porch for a smoke. She frowned slightly. He had quit smoking for a while, but then they had moved and it had been really stressful. So now he was smoking again and Sara realized just how much the smell of smoke made her sick. It hadn't bothered her before because it had just always been there. But now, with it having been absent from her life, she noticed it even more. However, she knew it wasn't something she could pressure her father in to doing, so she just tried not to be around whenever he would come back inside from his smoking breaks.

She finished her cereal and rinsed out the bowl to put it in the dishwasher. Her father came back inside just as she was heading down the stairs. She grabbed her keys off the table that was by the front door. She went outside and unlocked her car. His name was Shia and she had gotten him right around the beginning of the year when she got her license in April. She turned the key in the ignition and waited for the engine to roll over so he could start warming up. With a successful start, even though she never doubted her faithful Shia, she trotted up the front steps back in to the house. It was five past seven now and her mother was just starting to stir. Sara heard the morning news on in her mother's room which meant that the woman was beginning to wake up. Sara grabbed her black cotton poncho and threw it over her shoulder. The air was beginning to get cool in the late November and soon it would become frost season as December rolled around. Slinging her backpack over her shoulder, she started to head out of the house.

"See ya," she called to her father as she went down the steps.

"Bye, drive safe," he said down to her from the kitchen table. She smirked as she put on her shoes while she sat on the bottom step.

"I will," she said in a sing-song voice. Then she stood and left, grabbing her mother's keys.

Sara put her backpack in the back seat of her car. There was a nip in the air, making Sara pull her poncho tighter around her shoulders. She wished she had a hat. Where had she put her lumberjack hat, as her mother so loved to call it, she wondered. But no matter, she simply wouldn't be a hatter. With a quick turn of the keys, she started her mother's silver van to warm up. Then she walked back over to Shia and climbed inside. The car was low, but she felt it was cozy that way. She felt more connected to Shia and loved it. Fiddling with the radio controls, she changed the song to one of her favorites on the CD that was in the player. It was "Break Your Heart" by Taio Cruz. She smiled and nodded her head along to the beat. With a click of a button, she put Shia in to reverse to back out of the driveway.

As she was backing up, she reached up to play with the necklace on her collar bone. Her chest tightened and she quickly put the break on and put Shia back in to park. She pulled her door open and hurried up the steps. Barely stopping to open the door, she pushed up the stairs. Her father shot her a strange look from the table, but just continued to sip his coffee. She flipped the light on in her bathroom and looked down at the counter between the sinks. She let out a small breath. Her fingers ghosted over the sterling silver chain and lifted the necklace from the counter. How could she forget it? She held the small basketball in her hand and rolled it between her thumb and palm. A gentle look settled in her eyes and her lips stretched to a small smile. She unclipped it and then closed the clasp again behind her neck. She looked up at the mirror and reached up. Her forefinger gently moved over the little basketball and she couldn't help but to smile. It was her good luck charm and reminded her of what she was working towards every day, or rather who.

This time she was out the door for good, getting in to her car and starting the song over. The drive to school was always a time for reflection for Sara. She would think of what homework she had gotten done, what she still needed to do, when she would have time to do it, and then she also had to think of if she was doing anything after school or not. She had recently started to tutor middle school students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but she had become lazy and also started skipping. But she also disliked children so it was better than when she had tutored fifth and sixth graders. She knew that she needed the hours for the program she was in, but she still had her entire senior year to get those hours. Plus, if she was going to be a Freshman Mentor, she would get the fifty hours she needed in less than a quarter of the school year.

There were a few cars on the road, but even less on the road that connected to the high school. She coasted down the road, staying on her breaks slightly to keep herself from careening over the edge of the hill the school sat atop of. Cars dotted the parking lot as Sara turned in. She pulled down the aisle and slowly turned in to her parking spot. She put the car in to park and pushed on her emergency brake.

The air had turned even colder as she had driven to school. She pulled her poncho tighter around her shoulders as she stepped out of Shia. Her backpack felt heavier as she grabbed it from her back seat. It jacked up on her shoulders and pulled her poncho up and revealed her arms to the cold. Again, goosebumps spread across her skin. She closed her doors and quickly locked the car so she could hurry to the warmth of the school.

It was almost seven thirty when she pushed the double doors to the band room open. Kids had already appeared and were congregating in the room. Some chairs had already been set up and Sara glanced over. Her section partner, Robert, had set up their chairs and stands. A small smile graced her lips as she turned in to the locker room hallway. Her friends Matilda, Stacey, and Shawn were sitting in the hallway. Matilda and Shawn had been dating for a couple of months now after an awkward break-up from their first relationship the previous year. But now they were as happy as clams and didn't seem to be anywhere near a split any time soon. It was Shawn on the outside, Matilda next to him holding his hand, and then Stacey on the farthest inside. Stacey looked up at Sara and smiled.

"Good morning, PAWL," she greeted. Sara smiled back at Stacey. PAWL stood for "Pirate and Wizard Lovers" since they were both fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter franchises.

"Morning," Sara said back as she put her poncho over her locker in the hallway. A shiver tore through her body as she became used to the temperature of the room. Which was strange, since she usually was much warmer inside than outside in the coming winter months.

"It must be an ill omen," she whispered, rubbing her upper arms.

Matilda looked up, "What did you say?"

Sara shook her head, "No, it's nothing." She turned and put her back pack down. She sat down next to her back pack and the group started to chat. They talked about the dance that was coming up. Saturday was the school's Winter Formal dance. Stacey talked about her dress that made her look like a goddess and Matilda shrugged and said that her dress was cute and flowy.

"What colour is it again?" Shawn asked, looking at Matilda.

"White," Sara answered as she looked up from her biology homework she had forgotten to do.

His eyebrows tightened on his forehead, "I thought you said it was grey,"

"It is, but in the picture on my phone it looks white," Matilda answered quickly so as to calm her slowly freaking out boyfriend.

He let out a breath, "Oh, I thought I had the wrong colour of vest." Matilda smiled softly and shook her head at him.

Sara stared at the couple. She thought that at any moment the two would begin to Eskimo kiss, nuzzling close together and making little chirruping noises. Gag me with a spoon, she thought. They were cute and perfect for each other, but sometimes their happiness really made Sara queasy. But it was mainly all from jealousy.

She had never had too much luck in the romance department. Her very first boyfriend was a boy she had had a crush on since she was in first grade. They had ridden the same bus for their entire lives and their likes were very similar. They would connect their Gameboys in the mornings and all play Mario Bros together, screaming and squealing each time someone won or was hit by a turtle that would creep by. His name was Tommy. He was three years older. In second grade she had confessed to the fifth grade Tommy. He had looked at her strangely and gotten off the bus and then acted like it had never happened during the afternoon ride. When she had been a freshman in high school, they'd started to become a little closer.

One week he has asked what she would say if he were to ask her out. She didn't say anything because it was Friday and they were almost to his stop. She stared at him and didn't say anything. What if he was just joking and she laid her heart out to him? She wasn't young anymore and cruel jokes like that really hurt her heart. So she didn't answer him and he got off the bus. She was thrown in to a deep thought about the entire situation for the entire weekend. She couldn't enjoy any of her weekend activities because her mind had been wrapped up by Tommy.

Monday morning rolled around and so did the morning bus ride. Sara got on and she sat back in the farthest back double seat; the seat she and Tommy would share. She practically held her breath as the bus crunched the gravel of the gravel road that led to Tommy's house. When he got on the bus, she looked up. But his dark brown eyes were looking right past her. He walked by her and sat in the single seat one row back and on the other side of the bus. Sara had felt like she was going to be sick. What had happened?

The entire week, Tommy ignored her or was bitter and mean towards her when she would say anything to her. Wednesday of the next week, she had had enough. She, Tommy, and another senior friend of theirs, Antoine, were on the bus waiting to leave the high school.

"Did you two have a falling out?" Antoine asked, glancing nervously from Tommy and Sara. Tommy didn't say anything.

Sara scoffed, "You could say that. He's just throwing a hissy fit because I couldn't tell if he was serious or joking when he asked me out," She shot a glare at Tommy and he blinked at her incredulously.

"You didn't think I was serious?" He asked, his voice becoming soft. Sara was quiet for a moment, and then looked down.

"It wouldn't be the first time someone had joked with me like that before," she said gently.

"Oh," he murmured. No one said anything for a moment, and then Tommy looked back at Sara, "Would you like to go out with me?" She regarded him with weary eyes.

A smile slowly spread across her face, "Yeah. I'd like that. I'd like that a lot." She said. His lips quirked up in to a smile as well and he slid over on the seat, holding his arm over the back of the seat and nodding his head towards the empty spot. She quickly joined him and he put his arm over her shoulders as she snuggled against his chest.

"Took you long enough," she whispered.

He chuckled, "Sorry, and thanks for waiting," he whispered against her hair.

That had all happened on a Wednesday. The next morning they sat together and slept leaning against the other. It was the warmest Sara had been in a very long time. They walked inside the school building together and held hands. Sara was so nervous that it had been her palm that was sweaty and clammy and not Tommy's. He teased her about it and she hit him on the arm. Monday the next week he walked her to the band room. They stood outside the doors and were awkward for a moment.

"Well, I'll see you later," he said. She bit her lip and then got on her tippy toes, pressing her lips to his for a moment.

"Bye," she said, then scurried in to the band room. One of her senior friends, Meghan, had come in right behind her and let out a little wolf whistle.

"Ow, ow, Mojo! Gettin' some!" She said. Sara turned bright red and smiled despite herself.

"That was my first kiss," she admitted. Meghan looked at her with her mouth hanging open.

"Really? No way! Congratulations!"

However, no matter how much Sara liked her relationship with Tommy, he was a senior and would be leaving school in 29 days. She knew that eventually it would have to end. So one day she just told him that she didn't know what to do with him and that they should just go back to being friends. She couldn't tell if he was really hurt or not, but it made the rest of the year spiral downwards for both of them. He started to act like a jerk to her again and it was the worst last three weeks of school Sara had ever experienced. Now she was back to her old routine with hopeless romances and oversensitive interpretations of what boys did or said.

"So are you guys ready for Winter Formal on Saturday?" Asked Matilda, her voice bringing Sara out of her silent reverie.

Stefani nodded, "Yeah, but I still need to go buy some shoes. "

"Are either of you planning on coming over to my house to get ready?" Sara asked, looking at both Matilda and Stefani.

"I'm still not sure," Stefani replied.

"Me neither. I think I'm going to get ready with Joana." Matilda offered. Sara nodded.

"Yeah, I had a feeling you would be. I think that Justine is going to be getting ready at my house too. I'm not sure though, I think she still has to get work off."

"So, Sara, have you heard anything from John?" Matilda asked with her voice growing softer. Sara let out a breath, seeming to deflate a little and Matilda frowned. "Still nothing?"

"No, he hasn't been online for the last couple of nights. As far as I know he still has a game on Saturday." Matilda and Stefani looked at each other. They knew how much that Sara really needed this night with John. They'd watched their young friend fuss and cry over her last crush. It had all happened around the same time last year. It was in fact the Winter Formal dance that made Sara's illusion come crashing down around her. But it was something that no one wanted to bring up. In all honesty, she'd just begun to get over what had happened last year with her date to Winter Formal.

"So I guess all I can really do is just go and have fun, right?" Sara offered up a laugh that sounded too forced and she just looked away. Her eyes turned towards the entrance of the hallway and saw Robert, paused as if listening. Then, just as quickly as she saw him, he was walking away towards the other side of the band room. She made a face, her eyebrows drawing inwards.

"What's wrong?" Matilda asked, making Sara turn her attention back to her friends who were all looking at her. At first her blue eyes blinked at them, and then she shook her head.

"Nothing, but I think I'm going to go and set up. The five minute bell is about to ring anyway," with that she stood up to leave her friends to get ready for all of their classes. Shawn would walk Matilda to the door of the band room so she could go down to their technical center to take her nursing classes and he would run off to do something that had to do with bettering himself so he could get in to MIT. Stefani had to pull out her clarinet and get her chair and stand set up because everyone in her section were too busy setting out their own things to do it for another section mate.

Sara put together her bassoon and made sure her reed had been soaking. She sat down at her seat, noticing the seat next to her was still empty. The minute bell ran and Keith, the first chair oboe player sat down next to her. Yet the chair to her right was still empty. This was strange because Robert was usually in the ensemble before Sara was. Finally, just a few seconds before the tardy bell rang, Robert sat down next to her. She glanced at him, but he was looking elsewhere. Another sigh escaped Sara's lips and she turned to her head to look at their band director, Mr. Bowen.

The class went by without a hitch, Mr. Bowen being his usual eccentric self. However, one thing was wrong: Robert didn't say a word to Sara. This really unnerved her. Usually, even if they didn't exchange any verbal words, they would at least glance at each other or share a look. Most of the time, they would just chuckle after they did something silly or strange within the music. This was a little comfort that Sara didn't realize was something she depended on to make her day so much better. The absence of this interaction with her section mate really threw Sara for a loop.

Lunch rolled around slowly. Sara sat down last; Audrey, Joseph, Tammi, Ashley, Joana, Matilda, and Justine were all seated around the table. Joana looked up and frowned at Sara.

"What's up? Usually you're the first one to say anything once you sit down," she inquired. Sara blinked and looked at her friend since second grade.

"No, I guess I'm just sort of tired," Sara mumbled. Joana gave her a disbelieving look.

"How long have we been friends?" Sara shrugged and Joana let out a little huff," Exactly. You still think that you can fool me?" This made Sara smile a little and she shook her head.

"Sorry, it's just," she paused to look for the right words, "I'm not really sure. Things with John are all weird and now Robert hasn't talked to me in days. I think he heard us talking about Winter Formal this morning."

Matilda spoke up, "Yeah, I noticed that he was hanging around." She thought for a moment," Now that I think about it," she began, "He looked like he wanted to ask a question."

Sara frowned, "What? Why would he need to talk to any of us?"

"I don't know. Do I look like Swami?" Matilda said shortly.

"Actually," Sara began, but was quickly cut off by a swift smack to the arm. The girls laughed and everything seemed to be normal for a while again.

Joana started up again, not willing to let it go, "So is it something with Robert?"

"It's always something with Robert," Justine added, awarding her with a glare from Sara.

Sara sighed, "I guess. It's just," she paused again, "This morning he didn't talk to me."

"Does he usually talk to you?" Audrey asked.

"Well, not like you're probably thinking. It's a little hard to explain. Usually we'll at least glance at each other and share a look. But this morning it was like the other person didn't even exist."

"That is strange," Matilda frowned and Joana agreed with a nod. Sara lifted her shoulder in a noncommittal way and shook her head.

"I dun know, I'm sure it will work out," Sara breathed. The lunch bell rang and everyone rose from the table.

The rest of the day went by pretty quickly. Sara got confused in her Spanish class and nearly fell asleep in her History class. Then it was finally the last hour of the day; IB Math SL. Sara hated math and was always struggling to get a good grade in the class. Now that they were doing Trigonometry, she and her two friends Caitlyn and Kyle— to her right and in front of her respectively—would do little study groups they called "Trig Parties." During these parties, they would get their homework for the day done before class was even let out.

Sara came in a little before the minute bell rang for the class. She grabbed her attendance card and handed it to the teacher, Mrs. McKinley. Then she went and sat down at her desk. She looked up as she pulled out her notebook and saw Robert coming in to the class. Their eyes met briefly, but then he looked away. He grabbed his attendance card and handed it to Mrs. McKinley before going to take his seat. One of the girls in the row, Aspen, looked up at Robert.

"Is that a black eye?" She asked, a look of shock taking place on her face, "Did you get into a fight?"

Robert chuckled, putting his back pack on the ground near his seat, "No. It's from practice," he let out another little chortle, "I don't think my girlfriend will like it very much."

Sara felt her chest tighten. Had he just said girlfriend? She resisted the urge to turn around and face him, seeing as he was a few seats back from her.

"Sara," Caitlyn called, "Sara?" Sara turned her head and stared at Caitlyn. Her blue eyes were unfocused and didn't really seem to take anything in.

"Hm?" She finally murmured.

Caitlyn frowned, "You look pale, are you feeling well?" Sara was still for another moment, then reached down and pulled her Trigonometry book on to the desk top.

"Yeah, I'm fine, it's nothing," she whispered as all of the inspiration to do her math drained from her body.

The next morning everything seemed to go by in a haze. She woke up before her alarm clock went off and drug on some clothes. The winter had become even harsher as she had slept and the world had turned grey. The drive to school was quiet and she couldn't find the heart to blast "Break Your Heart" through Shia's speakers. It was Thursday and the dance was in two days.

Sara had asked a boy she had had a crush on since freshman year to the Winter Formal that year. They'd had Art together and that's where she had gotten to know him. His name was John and he was one boy that could make her smile just by the thought of him. It wasn't too often that such pure joy could be coaxed out of her on any occasion. Sara had asked him over their social networking site they used and he'd said yes. However, the next week he had discovered that he had a basketball game on the same day as Winter Formal and it was an away, all-day tournament. It had broken her heart. She had so been looking forward to going with him.

Sara grabbed her flash drive from her purse and started her way across the band room. She ended up walking behind Robert as he went to put his bassoon on his chair.

"Oh," she said, getting his attention, "I've been meaning to say thanks for setting our stuff up the last few days."

"It's not that big of a deal, "he paused, "So what are you and John doing tomorrow?" he asked.

Sara blinked, "What do you mean?"

"Our game got moved to Sunday." He set his bassoon down on the chair and turned to look at her. She quickly glanced down and covered her face with her hand to try and hide her stupid grin.

"Oh, I haven't talked to him lately. But I might see him in the library," she said, realizing too late that her words were coming out quickly and she was smiling again. She looked back up at Robert, "Sorry, I'll talk to you later." Then she turned and left the band room. She tried not to burst in to a run, but it was obvious that she was hurrying. What she didn't notice were the pair of light blue eyes that followed her all the way out of the room and the deep sigh that escaped the lips of their owner as he turned and went to sit with his stuff to wait for class to start.

Sara got up to the library and looked around. Lo and behold, John was sitting at a computer. She felt her heart jump up in to her throat and found it difficult to breathe for a moment. Hurriedly collecting her cool again, she moved to a computer on the opposite side of the library. She pulled open her biology lab that she had to print and stared at it. She formatted a few things, and found herself glancing up at John every now and then. She shook herself out once as she went and grabbed her lab report off of the printer. She walked to the back of the library passed all of the computers and went to the tables. Kyle, Brendan, Adriana, and Victoria were standing in the back and standing around a table near one of the book ends. Victoria looked up first and smiled at Sara.

"Good morning," she greeted. Sara nodded back. She moved to Victoria's right which was Kyle's left. Victoria glanced down at the sheaves of paper in her hand.

"What's that?" she asked.

Sara glanced down, as if forgetting what she had in her hands, "Oh, it's my IB Biology lab report that's due today. Look at it; it's beautiful." She said as she handed the papers over to Victoria.

"You stapled it wrong," she teased which awarded her a sharp look followed by a punch in the arm. Victoria laughed and looked it over, "I'm so glad that I didn't do IB. I would die,"

Sara let out a short laugh, "I wish I was dead," she paused for a moment, "So Robert told me that their basketball game was moved to Sunday."

Victoria glanced up at Sara then over to the computer that John was sitting at, "So has he said anything to you yet?"

"No," Sara shook her head, "I don't know what to say. Do I just walk up and say "So, heard that you're not busy on Saturday, you thinkin' about going with me to the dance again?" I mean, like honestly? You can't just start a conversation like that," she sighed.

With a snort of a laugh, Victoria handed the lab report back to Sara, "I think if you just start talking to him it will all come spilling out, I bet." Sara stared at Victoria for another minute before glancing down at her paper.

"I dun know, maybe. I'll think about it." She mumbled. The five minute bell rang and she let out a harsh breath. She had to get back to band, but she really wanted to talk to John. After saying good bye to Victoria and Kyle, she walked down the middle of the computers and smiled at John.

"Good morning John," she murmured as she passed him. He didn't even glance up at her, but she did hear a soft good morning come from his direction. She felt her shoulders sag. Why did she have to be so socially awkward? She hated having such a weakness, especially when it came to dealing with John or any of her crushes for that matter.

The trek back to the band room seemed to take forever and her lab report weighed heavy in Sara's hands. She had wanted to talk with John so badly that her tongue had swelled up in her mouth and refused to let her speak. Her will to speak was like a spoilt child; sometimes behaving extravagantly and other times stomping it's foot on the ground and holding its breath until it turned blue. Today was a day where her speech decided to hold its breath. There were some days where she wished she could just walk up to a guy she liked—like John—and pull him down to her level and plant a big wet one on his lips. But, alas, that was merely a fantasy that she—and the rest of the world—knew would never happen.

Eventually, Sara was back in the band room. The air had become stuffy, heated by the mass of bodies that was the band students. Sara felt like she was suffocating; like the air was too thick for her lungs to breathe in. When she had assembled her bassoon and sat down in her chair, she finally felt as if she could breathe. Being a stationary object in the world gave her a sort of perverse calm. It meant that even if she didn't continue to be mobile, the world would go on without her. It made her realize that she didn't have to work to make the world turn and that it was okay for her to be normal.

"Is everything okay?" Asked a voice to her right. Sara looked up and saw that Robert was taking his seat. He adjusted his seat strap before he settled in to his chair. After becoming comfortable in his chair, he turned his light blue eyes on her. A shiver travelled down her spine and something forced her to look away.

"Yeah, everything's fine," she answered as the noises of the band began to start up around them. She could still feel his eyes on her, but she just tried to ignore it. She didn't want to see her failures reflected at her in his eyes.

"Okay," he mumbled as he pulled out his music from his music folder. Sara felt like she was going to be sick for the entire hour. She couldn't focus on the music and missed her solo in the march they had. She was scolded by Mr. Bowen and never really quite recovered. She was off pitch and missed her entrances often. But in all honesty, she didn't really care. She knew that high school romances weren't really worth all of the pain and torment that high schoolers seemed to impose on themselves.

She returned home and everything was just so cold. Why was the heat down so freaking low? She knew that because her dad hadn't made 1,500$ last year, he didn't qualify for unemployment. However that made any sense, was completely beyond her. A person who did not make a certain amount of money doesn't qualify to receive money to help them live. Even if the entire fact of unemployment benefits is to make sure that even if a person does not have a job, they would be able to meet minimum requirements of life. But whatever, that was something Sara didn't want to think about.

She turned on her computer and stared at the screen as she opened their social networking site. The chat bar on the side showed a few people online, but no one she wanted to talk to. A sigh escaped her lips when she saw that the dot by John's name was grey—offline. Well she didn't have anything else to do, and she didn't feel like doing her homework at that moment so she opened a chat program she had downloaded on her computer. It was called Pesterchum, based off a chat program used in a webcomic by Andrew Hussie that she read online. She noticed that about the same number of people were online on her Pesterchum as on her social networking site. A gentle smirk ghosted over her lips as she saw that the name carcinoGeneticist was white—online. She opened a window and began to pester him.

cruelCaricature (CC) has begun pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) at 16:28.

CC: hey

CG: OH FUCKING GREAT. THIS IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED ON THIS GLORIOUS DAY OF ALL DAYS. HERE COMES THE HOPELESS NOOKSNIFFER OF A ROMANTIC, ONCE AGAIN NEEDING MY UNYEILDING ADVICE ON HER FAILING QUADRANTS.

CG: THIS WILL BE THE CONVERSATIONAL EQUIVALENT OF US WHISTLING THROUGH OUR SNORT BARRELS WHILE TOUCHING EACH OTHER INAPPROPRIATELY.

CC: yeah, I missed you too karkles

CG: I TOLD YOU TO STOP CALLING ME THAT.

CG: IT DOESN'T GET YOU ANY FUCKING CLOSER TO GETTING HELP ON YOUR STUPID HUMAN MATING RITUALS WHICH ARE RIDICULOUS AND SERVE NO PURPOSE.

CC: right right I know I know. It's stupid how we only have one quadrant; yes yes I've heard it all before

CC: but could you make knock off the fuckassery for a while? I've got some serious confusion all up in my think-pan right now

CG: OH SHIT THIS JUST GOT REAL. DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THAT MY EXPERT ADVICE ON EVERYTHING IS ON THE SAME LEVEL AS SOME OF EGBERT'S OBESSION OF THAT STUPID HUMAN ACTOR HE IS ALWAYS RAVING ABOUT?

CC: hey, nic cage is a good actor. I happen to enjoy watching Con Air. Sure, not like John does, but it's still something to pass the time with.

CG: SO IS TORTURE. BUT YOU DO NOT SEE ME LEAVING MY HIVE TO HAVE MYSELF TORTURED IN ORDER TO "PASS THE TIME."

CG: IT HAS ALSO BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION THAT YOU ARE SPENDING MORE TIME THAN FUCKING NECESSARY FRYING YOUR THINK-PAN OVER SOME BULGELICKING, NOOKMUNCHING WRIGGLER.

CG: I HAVE DECIDED THAT YOU DO NOT EVEN MAKE THE RANK OF EGBERT'S DERP. YOU ARE A LEVEL OF YOUR OWN BELOW EVEN THAT OF STRIDER'S WEAK IRONY.

CC: aww you really do care

CG: YOU DIDN'T EVEN LISTEN TO A FUCKING THING I JUST SAID DID YOU.

CC: how did you know?

CG: YOU ARE SO FULL OF SHIT. I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT I EVEN WASTE MY TIME ON YOUR HUMAN ANTICS.

CG: DO YOU JUST SIT AROUND AND THINK TO YOURSELF "HOW AM I GOING TO BOTHER KARKAT TODAY? I THINK I MAY JUST BE HOPELESS WHEN IT COMES TO BULGELICKING HUMAN BOYS?"

CG: WELL I'M GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING THAT MAY JUST KNOCK YOUR THINK-PAN RIGHT OUT OF THAT TINY HEAD OF YOURS. I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING SHIT WHAT YOU NEED.

CC: it's about my john and Robert

CG: WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED NOW? I HAVE OTHER THINGS I HAVE TO DO WITH MY LIFE SO HURRY UP.

CC: well…I'm not really sure. I mean…I know that I told you how john said he would go with me to the dance?

CG: WHAT THE FUCK ABOUT IT?

CC: well…then we learned that he had a basketball game and wouldn't be able to make it.

CG: SO YOU HAVE FOUND YOURSELF WALLOWING IN YOUR OWN SELF PITY AND HAVE NOW COME TO TRY AND FIND COMFORTING WORDS BY THE LIKES OF ME.

CC: no that's not it. I mean…I don't know…

CC: lately Robert's been acting really strange

CC: and I heard him say that he had a girlfriend yesterday.

CC: I mean I think I heard him say it.

CG: SO YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT YOU'RE ALL TWISTED INSIDE BECAUSE OF YOUR FUCKING BAD-AS EGBERT'S-MOVIES HEARING?

CC: I think so..

CC: yes

CC: maybe..

CG: …

CG: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

CG: THERE IS NO WAY IN ALL OF ALTERNIA THAT THE DERP OF A HUMAN YOU HAVE DESCRIBED TO ME AS ROBERT COULD EVER GET HIMSELF A MATESPRIT

CG: OR KISMESIS

CG: OR ANYTHING WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT.

CG: YOU ARE THE ONLY HUMAN ON THE ENTIRE PLANET THAT WOULD EVER AND WILL EVER HAVE ANY FLUSHED FEELINGS FOR THAT BULGESTAIN.

CC: jee thanks. Luv you too

CC: but I just don't know what to do anymore

CC: I'm really confused

CC: and tired

CC: and I could really use my moirail right about now

CG: YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I PLATONICALLY WANT TO PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE RIGHT NOW.

CG: IT'S OBVIOUS THAT YOU WOULD BE UNABLE TO FUNCTION WITHOUT ME.

CG: IF YOU REALLY FEEL LIKE YOU'RE LOSING YOUR ALREADY SLIPPERY GRASP ON REALITY THEN WHY DON'T YOU JUST FUCKING GRAB ON TO SOMETHING ELSE?

CG: IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TO JUST KEEP GOING ABOUT LIKE A GRUB JUST OUT OF THE CAVES.

CG: I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE HOW MORONIC YOU ARE. ONE WOULD THINK THAT THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH FUCKASSERY THAT A PERSON CAN PRODUCE. BUT YOU, MY SAD SAD EXCUSE OF A MOIRAIL, HAVE COMPLETELY SURPASSED THAT LEVEL AND HAVE CREATED AN ENTIRELY NEW TIER OF ASSERY OF THE FUCK.

CC: wow that actually was quite inspirational.

CC: thanks karkles

cruelCaricature (CC) has ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) at 16:43.

carcinoGeneticist (CG) has begun pestering cruelCaricature (CC) at 16:43.

CG: I TOLD YOU TO STOP FUCKING CALLING ME THAT!

carcinoGeneticist (CG) has ceased pestering cruelCaricature (CC) at 16:44.

Sara sat back and closed her computer. She always felt better after talking to her friend. He called himself Karkat and typed like a character from the webcomic they both read. He was her favorite character from the comic and it was nice to actually feel like she was talking to the troll himself. Even if it was a person just roleplaying as Karkat, it was still cool. They had become moirails, or best friends, a few months after she had first started pestering him. She had found him through another of her blogging sites where everyone gave out their chumhandles to people who wanted to role play or just chat.

She looked up at the clock and it was five o'clock. Her mother would be home within the half-hour. Sara stood up and stretched by pushing her arms up in to the air. It was up to her to make dinner for the night. She went in to the kitchen and opened the pantry. She had all the spices in the world to use and a varying number of vegetables. She pulled her phone from her pocket and opened her mPesterchum.

cruelCaricature (CC) has begun pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) at 17:01.

CC: what should I make for dinner?

CG: ARE YOU REALLY BOTHERING ME BECAUSE YOU CAN'T DECIDE WHAT TO SHOVE DOWN YOUR PROTEIN SHUTE?

CG: HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT SETTING YOURSELF ON FIRE JUST SO I WOULDN'T FUCKING HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOU?

CC: curry it is.

CC: want me to send you some?

CG: HOW THE FUCK WOULD THAT EVEN WORK?

CC: just thought I'd see if you wanted any.

CG: NO I DON'T' WANT ANY OF YOUR FUCKING HUMAN FOOD. IT'S THE MOST DISGUSTING THING IN ALL OF CREATION NEXT TO TAVROS' STUPID RAPS.

CC: hey, tavros tries really hard to make those work!

CG: WELL THEY STILL SUCK MAJOR ASS.

CC: whatever,

CC: you're just jealous because you can't throw down any ill beats like dave and tavros can

CG: LIKE I WOULD EVER BE JEALOUS OF THOSE TWO NOOKSTAINS!

CG: THERE ARE SO MANY BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH A PERSONS MISERABLE EXISTANCE.

CC: right right

CC: don't worry

CC: everyone knows that the poetry we've seen is actually yours

CC: we understand that you have a sensitive side

CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

CG: I WOULD NEVER WASTE MY TIME BY WRITING DOWN STUPID THINGS THAT MAKE FUCKING TEENAGE EARTH GIRLS SWOON.

CC: whatever you say

CC: karkles

cruelCaricature (CC) has ceased pestering carcinoGeneticist (CG) at 17:15.

carcinoGeneticist (CG) has begun pestering cruelCaricature (CC) at 17:16.

CG: I HATE YOU SO MUCH.

carcinoGeneticist (CG) has ceased pestering cruelCaricature (CC) at 17:16.

Sara smiled at her phone and began to get the spices and vegetables she would need for curry.

The next day at lunch, Sara mentioned how Robert kept asking about John. Matilda looked up from her lunch and squinted at Sara.

"Guys don't just ask about other guys. I think it's a little strange that Robert keeps asking about what you and John are doing," she said. Sara gave Matilda an exasperated look.

"Please don't start that again. I really don't think I could handle Robert liking me right now,"

Matilda shrugged, "I'm just saying that it's weird."

"I'll just deal with it after Winter Formal," Sara mumbled, pushing the peaches on her plate around with a spoon.

Winter formal went off without a hitch. Well, there were a few hitches. Maybe if you could call them hitches. Sara had sort of expected John to show up and surprise her with a cheesy line from a bad romance movie. She had imagined the first slow song would come on and she would be sitting in the corner. Then he would come up and hold his hand out to her.

"Nobody puts my baby in a corner," he would say, his voice becoming deep and very Patrick Swayze-like. Then he would sweep her off her feet in a wonderful and blissful dance montage. They would fall in love; go to court warming together; go to prom. He would be the king and they would dance in front of everyone to see. Then they would grow old, have a good long-distance relationship as she went off to become a famous writer and he went on to be a physicist. Then he would take her somewhere and propose to her with a ring that he would have gotten from his grandmother but it would still be beautiful with its vintage look. He would nearly drop it because his hands would be shaking so badly. They would both laugh nervously but she would say yes and they would marry and have nine children. Well, give or take a few children.

However, John didn't show up at the dance. There was no dirty dancing montage for Sara as she stood awkwardly along the wall of the dancefloor. She had had a back-up plan, but he didn't show up either. Robert had been her back-up plan.

Last year they had gone to Formal together and it had been fun. That is, until he decided that he didn't really feel like getting any closer to her than they already were. He had taken his jacket at some point during the night and Sara had thought she heard him tell someone that he had because he was done dancing. Now, because Sara was the crazy insecure high school girl, she thought that it was because she had done something wrong. This threw her in to a flurry of worry and depression, thinking she wouldn't be able to dance with Robert anymore. Somehow, he had noticed her sitting down where they had left their shoes. He walked over to where she was sitting and told her to stand up. She looked down, rubbing her bare forearms.

"What's wrong?" he asked, leaning down so that he wouldn't have to yell for her to hear him. She shook her head and didn't say anything for a minute. He reached down and put his finger under her chin in order to lift her face so she would look him in the eye. She gazed in to those cool blue depths for what seemed like eternity; his eyes would always pull her in and almost never let her go.

She mumbled something and he raised his eyebrows in question. How could he have heard her? He leaned down again and her breath tickled his ear.

"I just don't want to mess this up," she whispered, her voice wavering with uncertainty. When she leaned back and looked up at him—he was giving her an unreadable expression. Since they had been section mates for nearly six months, Sara had become pretty good at reading him. But every now and then he would give her a look that she couldn't decipher. Now was one of those times.

A slow song began to drift over the loudspeakers and Sara recognized it as "Fall for You" by Secondhand Serenade. The next thing she knew his hand was outstretched towards her, asking her for a dance. She looked at the hand, her face becoming perturbed. Her lower lip inverted slightly as she bit the inside of her lip and shook her head. He let out a breath and a small smile tugged at the corners of his lips. He waved his hand at her again.

"The best thing about tonight is we're not fighting," he began to sing. Sara's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. Was he really about to serenade her in front of all those people with one of the most romantic songs in the world? Did he finally know how she felt about him? Her face finally broke and she smiled softly as she placed her hand in his and he led her to the dance floor. He continued to sing as he put his arms on her waist and she on his shoulders. While he didn't have the singing voice of an angel, Sara didn't care at that point. She saw her friends—Matilda and Joanna—watching them with stupid grins on their faces as they danced with their dates as well. It's not as if that was the first slow dance of the evening, but it just felt like so much more.

During the next slow dance after the jacket fiasco they had danced closer together— the awkward dance where the girl drapes her arms over his shoulders and rests her head on the guy's shoulder as they sway gently to the music. It took all that Sara had to make that giant leap forward. That had been amazing and Sara had been shoved in to an explosion of bliss and hope as the fast music began again. She knew her face was flushed and she was pretty sure it wasn't from the humid air of the common's area where they had their dance.

Her heart was a fluttering mess by the time the next slow song rolled around. Everyone found their dance partner; the kids who were there alone retreated to the back walls; and Sara met back up with Robert. He put his hands on her waist like normal and she put her arms on his shoulders. After about five seconds, she began to go back to the awkward arms-over-shoulder-head-on-chest dance. But his hands on her waist held her away from him. She glanced up sharply, trying not to let her confusion or fear show on her face.

"I'm not comfortable with this," he said. Sara blinked up at him and then nodded numbly, a smile moving to her lips.

"Right, sorry." Then they continued to dance. Once the song ended, Sara hurried to the bathroom where she went on to spend the rest of the night bawling her eyes out. Out of all her friends, she would have never thought she would be the one that would have needed the waterproof mascara. Too bad she hadn't used any. She had been crushed for weeks and she and Robert didn't talk for at least two months. It was the worst and Sara still couldn't shake her feelings for Robert even after the whole ordeal was done.

But now she had John and things seemed to be getting much better for her. Yet, she still found herself alone and date-less at Winter Formal. Nevertheless, she had fun and enjoyed her time at the dance that year.

Monday seemed sort of unreal. It was like she was still dreaming. But she got ready and sat down and got her music up in the right order. Their concert was on Tuesday. Robert sat down next to her.

The first words that came out of his mouth were, "You know John was really sick on Saturday, right?" Sara blinked at him, failing to hide her surprise.

"Yeah, I know," she said with a shrug. She hadn't and now she felt awful for even thinking that John would find some excuse to not come to the dance. But, one thing didn't quite make any sense to her. Why was Robert so concerned about her knowing just why John hadn't come to formal? Sara thought back to her conversation with Matilda at lunch the other day. There was no way that Robert was starting to like her, was there? She shook her head to herself, trying to get rid of those thoughts. She couldn't do that; she couldn't do that to John. She already felt like she had used John to get over her feelings for Robert. But now if Robert decided to like her, she couldn't just dump John on the side of the road. She would just have to figure something out. She let out a sigh that made Robert glance sideways at her. He opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Mr. Bowen starting class. All that Sara knew was that her heart was full of unrest.