David intended to meet up with the book club directly after practice and after another awkward locker room experience with people who he didn't think were ever going to warm up to him at that point. As far as a first day of school had gone, it hadn't been a rousing success. The coach seemed to be pleased with his kicking ability though, and at least that was one good thing. He was on his way to meet his new friends when he was accosted by a girl he didn't know on his way back to the bleachers where they were waiting for him.
"Hi," she said, introducing herself. "I'm Jodi." She held out a hand and when he reached out she took his in a firm solid grip, shaking once with purpose before freeing him.
"Hi," he said. "I'm David. You call me Dave."
"I was going to anyway," she said with a grin, displaying rows of perfectly placed white teeth. "So, I've been wanting to meet the person who shut down Cecil Loams all day long. See if the man lives up to the legend, y'know?"
"It's not that big of a deal," he muttered, looking down at his feet. It couldn't be helped. He knew in that moment that he was forever going to be known as the guy who humiliated the top dog in his class on the very first day of school. He was already infamous, and he wondered how he could ever top himself.
"I'm surprised he's not around trying to kick your ass actually," Jodi said. She eyed him curiously and took a walk around him to survey the full spectrum of his awkward teenage physique. He felt self conscious knowing was probably never going to be a lineman no matter how much he was going to fill out in the coming years.
"Nope," David replied. "We figured it out."
"Wait, what?" Jodi came to a stop and looked him in the eye. "Figured what out?"
"Just how to fix it without having to fight," Dave said.
"With Cecil?" Jodi said. "Cecil Loams? We're talking about the same Cecil, right?"
"I think so," David replied. "Do you have a lot of Cecil's running around here? I don't know, where I come from people have names like Alex and John."
"How?" She said.
"I'm going to buy him a new shirt." David shrugged. "End of story. It's not really very exciting."
"That's …" She frowned at him, attempting to organize her thoughts into the proper words. "That's all like, mature and responsible of you."
"I guess," David said. "It's how I was raised. Sorry."
"Don't be sorry!" Jodi laughed. "I'm just used to testosterone fueled rage fits from those guys. By those guys, I mean Cecil. I don't want you to get the wrong impression. We're not all horrible people."
"I try to reserve my testosterone fueled rage fits for things that aren't stupid," David said. "You know, like Alien invasions, or the zombie apocalypse. The Rapture. You know. The big stuff."
Jodi laughed again. "I like you, Dave." She said. She was about to continue the conversation to see if she could get to know the new guy a little bit more, but she was suddenly distracted by Miles exiting to the hallway from the locker room a few feet behind David. He stopped cold in his spot having caught her eye as well, and he seemed rooted there like a deer in headlights.
"Oh, hey," she said to David, her voice a little bit louder than it had been the moment before. She knew it was a petty attempt at revenge, but she couldn't stop herself before the words were out of her mouth.
"Do you think you'd like to go catch a movie with me sometime?"
"A movie?" David replied. He knew he sounded like an idiot, but he wanted to make sure his eager first impression was the right impression.
"Yes," she replied. "They have this really neat old movie theatre downtown. They fixed it all up and show old movies, and once a month they do this thing where they have dinner service. It's all fancy like, they have a menu and servers and everything. I've been meaning to go, but I haven't found anybody who will take me yet."
She stared pointed over David's shoulder at Miles when she said the last sentence, but David didn't seem to notice that her attention was not completely fixed on him. He was too confused. He'd been having such a terrible day that he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.
"Are you asking me out on a date?" he said. "Or just as a friend? Because I don't want to get the wrong idea."
"You are a gentleman," she said, laying a hand on his arm. "Thank you for not assuming. You know what they say about assuming?"
"Uh, yeah," David replied.
"Great," she relied. "Consider this my official date declaration. If you want to. No pressure."
"That sounds like fun," David said with a smile. "I mean, more fun than the way my friend Cinjun described it. I thought it was just boring old movies."
"Old movies aren't boring," Jodi admonished him. "I'll make you a convert. You'll never want to see another explody blockbuster again."
"Okay, we'll see," David replied.
"Cool," Jodi replied. "Well. I have to check and see when the dinner and a movie is, but I'll catch up with you tomorrow, alright?"
"Sounds like a plan!" David grinned at her.
Just when he was beginning to think that things were going to go his way, Miles made his presence known by stalking up to him and grabbing his shoulder, pushing him around so that they were facing each other.
"What the hell, man?" Miles said.
"Huh?" David frowned and desperately resisted the urge to push back after all his big talk about suppressing his rages. Jodi had gasped and taken a step away, but was still carefully observing their interaction.
"Jodi?" Miles turned his attention to his neighbor. He gestured up and down at David as if he couldn't believe she was actually speaking to him let alone asking him out for dinner and a movie.
"You are correct, Miles," she replied, narrowing her eyes and pursing her lips sourly at him. "That is the name on my birth certificate. Congratulations."
"But, him …" Miles said, and she interrupted before he could finish his thoughts, hands on her hips, and a disapproving layer to her voice.
"Me Jodi, Him David," she replied, pointing first at her chest then and David's.
"But what about me?" Miles said, the irrational jealousy he was feeling bubbling to the surface in the form of a plaintive whine that he knew made him sound like a brat.
"Your name is Miles," David offered helpfully.
"Oh, my god, shut the fuck up!" Miles howled. "You're not a part of this conversation, so why don't you just run away?"
David glanced from Jodi to Miles and made up his mind that he wasn't going to leave them alone unless Jodi said it was okay.
"I think I'm going to stay right here," he said. "If you don't mind."
"I do mind," Miles said to him then turned toward Jodi. "I need to talk to you," he said. "Alone."
Jodi contemplated his request for moment before she nodded consent.
"It's okay, Dave," she said. "I'll talk to you tomorrow. Okay?"
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yeah," she replied. "I've known Miles since we were kids. I'll be okay."
"I don't trust him," David said.
"Do you want me to kick your ass, or what?" Miles said. "You're just really asking for it, Witten."
"Miles," Jodi said in a warning tone. "Please don't. Go, on David."
"Okay," he said. "But only because my dad's waiting to pick me up." He backed down the hallway, keeping an eye on Miles and Jodi until he had to disappear around the corner toward the front of the building.
"What was that?" Miles asked as soon as he'd gone.
"I asked Dave out on a date," Jodi replied. "I don't think it's any of your business."
"None of my - None of -" Miles sputtered. "What are you talking about? You kissed me. Remember that? You kissed me."
"Yeah, I kissed you," Jodi replied. She placed her hands on her hips and stuck her chin out defiantly. "I didn't marry you, Miles."
"But yourself right on out of here," she replied. "You haven't spoken to me since it happened! What am I supposed to think? Am I supposed to read your mind and wait for you forever, or what? My psychic abilities aren't that honed yet."
"Come on, Jodi," he whined. "You know I like you."
"No I don't."
"We've been friends forever," he said. "Doesn't that mean anything?"
"Ugh," she said, rolling her eyes. "No. Not really. I don't owe you anything, and clearly you weren't interested, so I don't get what the problem is. You need to stop being an asshole now."
"I was interested," Miles insisted. He hadn't been, but David Witten's sudden entrance into the equation somehow made him feel differently. They guy was already insulting the game of golf by attempting to play, assaulting his friends with pasta, and attempting to replace him as the Junior Varsity football team's kicker. He wasn't going to steal his girlfriend too. The fact that Jodi wasn't actually his girlfriend didn't do anything to dissuade his jealously.
"No," Jodi said. "You weren't. I know you golden boys think you can have anything you want, but I am a real life person, and real life people don't work that way. We aren't waiting around to be served up on a silver platter whenever you decide you need an ego boost."
"No," she interrupted him, narrowing her eyes and preparing to hit him right where it would hurt the most. "You better get your head straight, Miles, before you end up like your dear old daddy."
"That was not fair," Miles said.
"How is that not fair?" she asked.
"You say we think we can have everything we want, but you're up there hanging out with those cheerleader bit…"
Jodi interrupted him before he could get the word out.
"You're turning into one of them," she said. "I used to like hanging out with you. I used to think you were cool. Cecil is finally rubbing off on you after all these years, isn't he? I was hoping it was going to be the other way around and we could all — you know bake a cake full of rainbows."
"I think you're going to need Eli to bake a cake full of rainbows," he said.
"Ugh," Jodi said. "I really hope you're just having a shitty day, Miles, because you're just digging it in deeper. Not only do you not get my movie references anymore, but what did Eli ever do to you that you guys have to make fun of him and target him for your little lunchroom bullshit. God, you probably corner him every morning and shake him down for the change in his pockets. Seriously. You're lame."
"And your friends haven't done the same thing to Frizz?" he said. "Why do you think Victoria doesn't hang out with you anymore? Don't be a hypocrite."
"I'm leaving now," Jodi said. "Don't follow me." She turned heel and left Miles standing there in the hallway. Once she had disappeared into the distance, Miles realized how badly he'd been behaving. He cursed at himself, and he cursed David Witten. If it wasn't for him everything would still be perfect. He wouldn't have to worry about football, and he would have had time to deal with his feelings for Jodi on his own without anybody swooping in and sweeping her off her feet in the meantime. It wasn't fair, Miles thought. He had worked hard, and David was just stepping in to take everything he thought was his.