"Jefferson!"

He stops and turns to see a guy named Mike who has to be no taller than five seven, since he barely reaches his chin, and looks scrawny in a pair of dark, baggy jeans, an oversized, black, Malcolm X t-shirt, and black and white high top sneakers. He really stands out in a crowd full of students rushing to make it to their fifth period classes and teachers trying to move things along smoothly with his placid skin and shoulder length, yellow hair. When he finally reaches him, he's out of breath. The poor boy is so out of shape it makes no sense, and Jefferson almost feels bad for him.

"Hey," he says while trying to catch his breath, "I've been looking for you all day. Where you been?"

Jefferson tells him bluntly, "In class," then turns around and heads for his locker to get his things for Trigonometry with him following in suit.

"Well, I know that. It's just; I haven't been seeing you in the cafeteria lately."

"That's because I haven't been in there," Jefferson's tone is dismissive, but the smaller guy doesn't take the hint. He continues to follow him and attempt to have a conversation with him.

Everyone knows Jefferson's in a crabby mood, and no one bothers to try and talk to him except for his friends and some of the teachers. Apparently no one gave the poor kid the memo that he, especially, is the last person he wants talking to him. When he gets to his locker, he opens it and tosses his Literature and American Government books inside then retrieves his Trigonometry book. He grimaces when he notices that Mike is standing right there with a distressed look on his face. Annoyed, he slams the locker shut and heads off to class trying his best to ignore him, but he stays on his tail.

"C'mon man, why are you acting like such a little bitch?"

Jefferson grinds his teeth, irritated that this punk, of all people, is calling him a bitch, "Mike, if you don't get the fuck away from me…"

"What the hell did I do to make you act like this towards me?"

Oh, you know what you've done?

Jefferson walks to his class in silence while Mike continues to talk.

"You know, you're not the only one who's affected by this. Avery is my best friend, hell, I love that girl. She's like the twin sister I thought I never had."

The twin sister you thought you never had?

"I already feel bad enough as is. I don't need you making me feel worse. I mean, we've gone from being friends to you hating my guts."

Just when he's a couple of feet away from the classroom, he stops dead in his tracks, turns to face him, and glares at him with wintry eyes. Mike gulps loudly and fear appears in his sky blue eyes as he's staring up at the intimidating jock. Jefferson tightens his grip on the book and wants to smack him in the face with it. What part of "leave me the fuck alone" did this kid not get?

"Get this through your head, you little bastard!" he hissed, "We were never friends. Avery is my friend. Shit, I've known her before she even met your ugly, white ass. The only reason why I even bothered to talk to you was because of her. She wanted me to be nice to you, so I did it to make her happy. If it wasn't for her I probably would've beat your ass a long time ago. So fuck off, freak!"

Mike gasps as the words slurred out of his mouth. His tone was frosty and the serious expression on his face tells him that he isn't playing. Those words, they sting. And they sting him hard. He blinks a few times in an attempt to fight back the tears that are threatening their way through. Sadly, his attempt at masking his pain to appear tougher doesn't work, and Jefferson feels like shit for making him cry. He knows he should take back what he said and apologize, but he doesn't. Deep down, he didn't mean any of it. Mike is a cool guy and admittedly he was skeptical about hanging around him, but that was before he got a chance to really get to know him. Still, he can't help but feel anger towards him. He knows what happened to Avery isn't his fault, but he can't help but be mad at him.

Mike sniffs and wipes the tears away with his wrist. He understands that he's hurting, but that doesn't give him the right to take his frustrations out on the wrong people. Jefferson feels a heavy blow in his gut and wanted to kick himself for what he just done. Since when is it okay to lash out on those who are trying to help you get through this ordeal?

As he turns to go into his class before the late bell rings, Mike's final words to him, strikes him, "You know what man? Fine, I'll be a freak. Call me whatever you want. It's still not going to make you feel better. When was the last time you've seen Avery, huh? Oh yeah, that's right. You haven't seen her since she's been laid up in the hospital. I go there every weekend and all you've done is mope. You can't even grow some balls like a real man would and go see her. What kind of a friend are you?"

Several months ago…

Jefferson leans his back against the lockers panting heavily. It's the third time in a row the coach has made the entire team run extra laps after practice. Running thirty laps across the field is nothing to him; it's running thirty extra laps after dodging and getting hit by the other teammates for over two hours is what wiped him out. Not to mention the fact that the coach has admitted it himself to "working the hell out of the star running back."

He's held the position of starting running back since his sophomore year and worked hard to keep it. His senior year is crucial since college recruiters who attend the games will be there to see him play. His football career is pretty much all he has to getting him into a decent school without having his father pay for it. The only school he'll ever pay to send him to is Tennessee University, and that's not too far from where he lives now. His parents want different things for him; his mother wants him to learn skills and obtain a degree while his father wants him to get drafted into the NFL. He figures he'll do both. By the time he's finished playing pro football, he'll be young enough to start a new career.

He slides down to the floor and rests his head against the bottom locker and closes his eyes. Suddenly, a burst of laughter breaks him out of his thoughts.

"Yo!"

He looks up and sees one of his best friends, Henry, standing over him, "Damn! I see you're out of it."

Jefferson took a deep, heavy breath before wiping the sweat from his forehead and standing up. He feels like he'd been hit by a ton of bricks and muscles in every part of his body throbbed from the soreness. Henry's the star quarterback and been worked just as hard, if not more, as he had been.

Jefferson snorted, "Yeah, well it ain't like you held up any better."

He examines him from head to toe and notices that not only has his under armor been ripped and his eye nearly gauged out, but he has a busted knee cap and he's sweating down to his drawers.

Henry frowned and smacked him upside the head with his towel, "Shit, I'm not wheezing though."

"True."

"So, what do you have planned for later on tonight?" he asks before gulping down the rest of his Gatorade.

"Shit, I don't know. Probably gonna see what Avery's doing."

The mere mentioning of her name causes Henry to go into frenzy. He instantly goes from feeling like he went through a paper shredder to being on cloud nine.

"Ah, so what's my little African princess been up to?" he asks dreamily.

Jefferson rolls his eye and throws his sweaty practice uniform into a locker and pulls out his book bag then closes it, "African? Last time I checked she was born right here in Nashville."

"Whatever, man. So what's the little cutie been up to lately?"

"Well last week, the school symphony had a recital. She played the violin, first chair."

Henry looks at him for a moment, scratches the back of his head, and says awkwardly, "Yeah…see…um…music recitals really aren't my thing."

Jefferson throws his book bag over his shoulder then bends over to tie his shoe, "What about plays? You know, she had the lead in the school musical earlier this semester, and your ass didn't show up." Once he stands up, he gives him a sly grin before going for the kill, "But Jake was there."

"The fuck?"

The look on his face is priceless and Jefferson can't help but chuckle. The way his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as his face turned crimson red. Laughing at his friend's expense is definitely something he didn't enjoy doing on a regular basis, just occasionally.

Jake is their other best friend and pretty much him and Henry see eye to eye on everything except Avery. Pretty much everyone in the entire school knows those two have had a crush on her since middle school, and she's the only reason why they'll get into a fight with one another. Sadly for them both, she never gives them the time of day; though she is on friendlier terms with Jake than she is with Henry because they're both in the National Honor Society and Beta Club.

"That low life bastard thinks he's slick. He's just trying to get in good with my girl so he can steal her from me."

Jefferson rolls his eyes then heads for the locker room exit, "Well technically she isn't your girl. Never was, probably never will be."

Henry scoffs and winces from the pain in his ribs. Being tackled by a three hundred pound lineman wasn't fun at all, and Jefferson is starting to feel the burn in his triceps.

"Before it's over with, she will be mine. I ain't goin' out like no bitch. But for real though, put in a good word for me. Hook a brotha up."

Jefferson sighs at his implication that Avery is something that can be owned when in fact she isn't. She's had at least three steady boyfriends and goes out on dates all the time. If she's really interested in either of them, he's sure they'd know about it. Avery isn't the type of girl who keeps her crushes a secret, though she is hard to get.

The halls are quiet since it's after school and the only people who were there besides the janitors are the students and teachers who stayed behind for club meetings.

"Well, you can start by dumping that fake ass ghetto accent. That'll instantly get you slapped in a heartbeat by any girl."

Henry waved him off, "Alright man. Well, tell her I said hey, okay?"

"Okay, I'll tell her."

"Alright man, peace out," he throws up a peace sign then goes in the opposite direction towards the doors.

Jefferson laughs at his lame attempt at coolness then goes to look for his best female friend. Sure enough, his first hunch is correct. He finds her in the music room playing an acoustic guitar. He stands at the threshold and watches as she plays Over the Hills and Far Away with her eyes closed. He doesn't see how she can play any instrument with her eyes closed, but that's what she does even while performing in front of an audience. He figures it's a way for her to overcome stage fright, but Avery has never been shy or easily intimidated. Not as far as he knows.

After practice, he'll always find her in the music room, by herself, playing a different instrument. Yesterday was the flute and the day before that was the saxophone. She really is a musical genius with the voice of an angel; she really is too good to be playing in a school orchestra. State symphony is more on her level, and as far as choirs go, she's better off going solo.

He can honestly see why she's the object of so many guys' affection. The way her chocolate wavy, curls tumbles down her shoulders illuminating her soft, café au lait skin which emphasizes her slanted, hazel eyes. She has the longest; curliest lashes he's ever seen on anyone and what really makes her desirable are her pouted lips that are plump and luscious. She couldn't be a model because of her short stature and her desire to not become one, but she definitely has a body to envy. She's toned with curves in all the right places. Years of pilates and yoga really paid off.

It's so cute how she becomes so engrossed in her music that she doesn't realize she's garnered an audience of one person. A sly grin appears on his face as he creeps his ways into the room. He tries his best to prevent himself from laughing as he gets closer and closer to her and grabs her by underneath her armpits causing her to shriek frantically as she abruptly stops playing.

With fear stricken eyes, she turns around and sees him snickering, "Damn, I scared the piss out of you didn't it?"

Her face slightly turns red as she puffs up her cheeks in anger. That makes him laugh even harder. She's so cute when she puts on her angry face.

"Don't ever do that again," she says in a threatening tone.

He laughs so hard his stomach starts to hurt. It's so hard taking her seriously especially since she was cute as a button and sounded like a cartoon character. She glares at him annoyed that he finds her annoyance so amusing. She known the bastard for over ten years, and he still treats her like she's as harmless as a fly. So what if she was just below average height and sounded like Minnie Mouse? She's still no one to mess with. He may be a six foot four, weigh a hundred and sixty pounds of muscle jock, and a stud at that. She can still kick his ass.

"You know what? I'm just gonna let that slide," she sits the guitar down beside her stool, "So I see the coach made ya'll do extra again, huh?"

He blows a breath of air then takes a seat in the couch beside the window, "Yeah, we got a big game Friday. The scouts from Notre Dame are gonna be there."

"Oh really," she puts the guitar back in its case, "that's nice."

He notices the distressed look in her eyes and becomes worried. He didn't realize the dark circles underneath her eyes until now. There was a large scar underneath her left eye that looked kind of like a right side up crescent moon, but it doesn't deter from her beauty.

"Are you okay?" he asks, his voice filled with concern, "You look…tired."

"Well that's because I am tired. Mr. Garvis gave me hell today," she tells him while bending over to get her book bag from underneath the stein weigh piano in the middle of the room.

The sight of her ample bottom caused his member to twitch. Henry and Jake think he's a fool for maintaining a strictly platonic relationship with her, but he just doesn't picture her as being his girlfriend. She's not his type. It's not that he doesn't find black girls attractive nor has a problem with them, he just doesn't date them. In fairness, Avery isn't black, just a fourth black. Her father was a Creole of color and her mother was half African American and half Native American. Those were just her biological family's roots. Her adoptive family is Caucasian, he doesn't know their ethnicity.

"Why was that?" he asks when she sits down beside him on the couch and rests her head on his shoulder. He wraps his arm around her small body and holds her tight.

"Eeeww! You're all sweaty and musty. You stank," she pushes him away from him.

"Hey," he says sounding offended, "I just ran sixty laps and was tackled over…over…shit, I was tackled way too many times today. So yeah, I'm gonna stank."

She giggles and his heart skips a beat. He's usually the first to comment on how hot she is, and they flirt all the time. But they are just friends, nothing more and nothing less.

"Well then," she unclips her car keys from the belt loop on her khakis and stands up, "I guess I need to get you home so you can rest."

"Yes please, because I am tired as hell," when he gets on his feet, he towers over the girl.

They really do look odd together since he's so tall and she's short. The top of her head reaches his chest and he's used to dating girls who at least reach his shoulders. But oddly enough, a lot of people, including his mom, think they'd make an awesome couple. He's in between girlfriends, and last time he checked, she's talking to someone on the basketball team. Now that he thinks about it, he's never seen her with a white boy, so she might not be into them herself.

As their walking toward the door, she stops when she feels her phone vibrating in her back pocket. She takes it out and sees she's gotten a text message.

"Oh, Mike's waiting for us outside by my car," she tells him while sending a reply message.

"Can't wait to get to your boy toy, I see," he teases.

She scowls and punches him in the gut. His stomach was hard as rock so she shook her hand to ease the slight pain. He does feel the hit though. She has a heavy hand and can pack a mean punch.

"Don't play with me," she warns, "you know I don't swing that way."

"What way?"

As their exiting the room and heading down the hall she tells him, "I don't do white boys."

That pretty much sums it up.