Friday, January 18, 2008

Skylar Hansen was walking down a hallway of Crescenta Valley High School's main building, checking out some of the ladies he was passing by with subtle glances, before he was suddenly cornered by one of those ladies he would otherwise be ogling: Samara Pearse, who opened her arms in front of him to block his pathway and then maneuvered him back towards a wall between a row of lockers and a classroom door, effectively trapping him.

"Hi," Skylar said, as his eyes tried to focus on her face and not on her chest or the rest of her impeccable figure, tastefully concealed under a white blouse and blue jeans.

"Who else did he send the pictures to, Skylar?" the attractive blonde demanded.

"I don't get a nickname?"

This question was answered with only a glare from those limey green eyes.

"Okay."

"I'm only going to ask you this one more time," Samara said with a growl, her arms pressed still against the wall, blocking his passage in either direction. "And then this is going to get physical, and not in the sexy way. Skylar, who else did Jimmy send the pictures to?"

Skylar stuttered for a moment, noticing the other students walking by giving him and the one holding him hostage funny looks. "Um…" he began, "…I have no idea what you're talking about."

Upon hearing this response, Samara's eyes seemed to burst into flame. He'd never seen this girl, who was angry with something more often than not, in such a rage, and he would have backed away further, but the wall behind him prevented him from taking such action. Skylar giggled uncomfortably, and then Samara subverted his expectations of a slap in the face, a kick in the groin, or some combination thereof by releasing him from the prison she'd created with her body. Now it was his turn to make a funny look, which he did seconds later as he stepped out into what felt like freer air, even though it was the same air from before.

"I know it's not your fault," she grumbled, folding her arms together and glancing away from Skylar.

"So, you're not going to hurt me?" Skylar asked. "Good," he sighed, "I'm hungry. I'm glad it's lunchtime. I need some lunch. You want to have some lunch?"

"Congratulations, asshole, you've seen me naked."

The fact that Samara was actually discussing the content of the pictures he knew nothing about immediately brought Skylar back on topic, and they made eye contact as she spoke.

"That doesn't mean we're dating."

"But you and Jimmy…"

"Are not dating either. I was drunk and distraught over my late sister's would-be twentieth birthday, and he was a charmer with gigantic plans to overcompensate for a tiny penis."

"Really?" Skylar said, raising an eyebrow. "It's tiny?"

"Ignoring the fact that you seem awfully interested in the actual size of your best friend's junk, yes, Skylar, it's the smallest set of male genitalia possible on a human being."

"Wow."

"You have my permission to alert this to the press."

"But what about his permission, Samara?"

"I think you're missing the point here."

"Reporting the news takes precedence over ethics?"

Samara shook her head. "No: two can play at this game."

"What game?"

"Still got that photo on your phone?"

"Hell yeah!" Skylar said, reaching into his pocket to pull out the device, before he was promptly slapped across the face. "Jesus Christ!" he gasped as he began rubbing his cheek to soothe the pain. "You tricked me!" he said, pointing an accusing finger at Samara, who rolled her eyes.

"You lied to me," she replied, putting her arms on either side of him and trapping him against the wall a second time. "Now, tell me who else Jimmy sent the pictures to."

"I don't know!" he shrugged.

"Then find out."

"How?"

"Go to him. Ask. And then report back to me."

"Why don't you just ask him yourself?"

"The only time I'd ever willingly approach that man again would be to kill him. Unfortunately, right now that's still a work in progress, which leaves you, the middleman, to handle this."

"Is there any sort of…reward, by any chance, if I do this?"

"Yeah, knowing your conscience is on the side of good."

"I'm not really feeling motivated."

"You have the picture Jimmy sent, you fucking pervert, and that's all you're ever going to get. Now see to it that my request is done."


"Jimmy, I have something important to tell you."

Claire Zielinski's words did what she'd intended them to do, catching her boyfriend's attention as he walked over to join she and her friends for lunch. The dark-haired boy turned to the green-eyed brunette he'd been dating for nearly a year now, then looked to her best friend Holly Snow, a blue-eyed half-Australian with chocolate brown hair; Holly's boyfriend Kent Thomas, a tall, slender boy with an affinity for birds, as reflected through the wildlife painted on his t-shirts; and Kent's best friend (and only freshman among this group of sophomores) Thomas Fraser, obviously hoping for some kind of clue as to what Claire was about to say on their faces. He wasn't going to get it, because he probably couldn't predict the words about to come out of Claire's mouth.

"Okay, what?" Jimmy said. "Hey, wait a minute, where's Rusty?"

"That's not important right now," Claire nodded as she put her hands on Jimmy's shoulders, giving him the cue to pull her in closer, something he was quite happy to do knowing her childhood admirer wasn't here to give him competitions for her affections. "Do you want to know what is?" she said as their faces neared one another to kiss. "I love you."

Jimmy's eyes opened wide with surprise, and then they kissed. "Now, there's three words I never thought I was going to hear from you," he said once his lips were free again.

"I realized it yesterday when you were gone," she smiled. "Where were you, anyway?"

"I told you over the phone, I was sick."

"Well, you missed Holly's dance performance."

"And I'm sorry about that, but I can't help it if bacteria suddenly decide to make me their next breeding ground."

Claire jumped out of Jimmy's arms suddenly.

"Ew," Holly said quietly, her Australian accent managing to shine through even with a single syllable.

"I probably shouldn't have phrased it like that," Jimmy said, biting his lip and nodding in agreement with the others.

"You brushed your teeth this morning, right?" Tom asked him.

"Of course I did, Tom. So, if you don't mind me asking, where's Rusty gone to?"

"He crossed a line," Claire said, "so we decided to kick him out for a little while."

"What line did he cross?"

"He thought it was within his rights to tell me if I loved you or not. He was wrong."

"I see."

"I can't believe we only have two weeks until finals," Kent said, his sudden subject change throwing everyone else off. "Sorry about that, guys," he added when he saw the looks on their faces he'd produced with this reminder. "I was just trying to keep the conversation going. I promise, I was going to segue into the fact that the winter formal is that weekend."

"Yeah, the winter formal is that weekend," Holly said. "I can't wait to see you all dressed up in a tux."

"And you in a dress," he smiled back at her, prompting a kiss to match Jimmy and Claire's from earlier. After that, Kent turned to his bespectacled friend and asked, "Tom, is Oriel coming?"

Tom nodded. "You bet."

"We're all looking forward to meeting her," Claire said.

"A long-distance relationship can only stay long-distance for so…long," Holly said.

"Thanks," Tom said. "But it's not going to be all fun. There's business to be discussed when she gets here, too."

"Business?" Jimmy asked.

"The Kristen problem."

"Who's Kristen?"

"Oriel's friend?" Claire said, somewhat annoyed to be answering this exact same question for him a second time. "The bass player in their band? The slut?"

"Oh, her," Jimmy said. "What's the problem?"

"What do you think?" Tom replied.


Two hours later, not long after the clock had struck three, Jimmy's walk out of his sixth period classroom to meet up with the girlfriend who now loved him back one more time before heading home was cut short when Skylar showed up to walk alongside him. Despite their longstanding friendship, it was an awkward circumstance to be in, partly because of Skylar's physical closeness and partly due to the compromising position they'd both seen Samara in, albeit only one of them firsthand. Still, if the conversation that followed were about anything else besides the blackmail Jimmy had shared with Skylar, it would have been easy to believe that something was wrong with the world. "Hi, Skylar," Jimmy said simply.

"Hi, Jimmy," Skylar said, resisting the temptation to excitedly talk about the pictures he'd been sent. "So, um, Samara came up to me this morning, and…"

"I know what happened," Jimmy said. "We have to give her the credit of knowing I'd send that shit to you."

"All right. Well, she wants to know if you sent them to, you know, anyone else."

"Wow, I never thought I'd see the day where Samara wouldn't be man enough to ask a question like that herself."

"Oh, she's man enough," Skylar said. "Believe me. It's just a matter of restraining herself from killing you instead. So who else did you send them to, Jimmy?"

"Is she going to the dance with Cameron?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"It was one of the conditions of our agreement."

"Why would you want to set her up with someone else?" Skylar said. "Especially after you just had her? …You dog!"

Jimmy smiled at the compliment, and then proceeded to explain: "I told you I was doing some matchmaking. I need to have some good results for my résumé, don't I?"

"I guess, but that kind of result isn't genuine, it's forged!"

"I think you're missing the point here, Skylar. Just, do me a favor, make sure she goes with him to the dance, okay?"

"Okay."

"By the way, thanks for not bringing up Claire through all this."

Skylar sighed. "I might've been too distracted by the sight of Samara's nipples to care. But…I can't believe you cheated on her, man."

"Relax. It wasn't even the first time."

"You mean this wasn't the first time?" Skylar gasped.

"No," Jimmy smirked. "Remember Faith, my old friend from Nebraska?" Skylar nodded, and Jimmy's smile grew wider as his friend gaped at him in shock. He opened his arms as if to bask his body in Skylar's awe and reverence. It felt good. "You do realize you're to keep this between us, right?" Again, Skylar nodded in understanding. "I feel kind of bad, me getting all this sweet ass, and you, still a virgin. Anyone you want to take to the dance?"

Skylar just shrugged. "No one in particular. I guess anyone sufficiently hot will do."

"That's all you're looking for? Hotness?" Jimmy sighed. "That's pretty shallow, man, but I'd be a hypocrite if I said you didn't have the right idea."

"Think you can play matchmaker for me?"

"I can try."