Act 1: Chapter 4, Part 4

Posted on June 11, 2017

In Which Angie's Also Annoyed

Angie. First Day of School. After Sixth Period.

When the bell rang, Angie looked brightly at Aubrey and said, “I’ve got P.E. next. What about you?”

Aubrey had been in the process of putting her hood back up, and now she froze halfway through, regarding Angie with a blank, if slightly wary expression. After a moment, she said, “Enchanting One,” and finished pulling up the hood.

“Hey, cool,” Angie said smiling. “I have that first period! My mom’s an enchanter, I think I probably got it handled. If you need any help I’d be happy to see what I can do.”

It was hard to tell in the shadow of the hood, but a corner of Aubrey’s mouth might have turned upward. “I’m pretty good at enchanting too. I think I’ll be okay.” She stood and hoisted up her bag. She was taller than Angie, maybe not quite as tall as Chris, but close.  She wore a long, loose, multilayered black skirt that hid the shape of her lower half pretty effectively.

“Well, we can still talk shop, probably,” Angie said, glancing down at her own shorts and tank top, following. “So what’s with the hood, and the long sleeves? Seems a little hot for the weather.”

The other girl glanced over her shoulder at Angie, slowed for a moment as she stepped out into the hall. She wasn’t still smiling. Aubrey said, “Look, Angie, you seem nice. I’m not… not really good at, um, people, though. That’s what’s with the hood. If you wear a hood up and keep your head down, the people around here take the hint. Usually.”

Angie nodded, a little disappointed. “And you want me to take the hint. Okay. I gotcha. Um. Have a good enchanting class I guess.”

The corner of Aubrey’s mouth curled up again. “Thanks. See you tomorrow, I suppose.”

“Seems likely,” Angie said, giving her one last smile before the other girl was off skulking through the halls and crowds of other students. Angie watched her for a couple of seconds, then headed toward the stairs and down.

She hit the bottom of the stairs just as Katie Kay and Nisha Twiggs were walking by, heading toward the exit to the building; a glance to her right, the direction they’d been coming from, showed her Evan and Ryan standing near the door to their Nihongo class talking. The boys both looked a little annoyed, at least to Angie; others probably wouldn’t have been able to tell.

Katie paused on seeing Angie, giving her a wide, if slightly forced seeming smile. “Angie!” she said. “How are you?”

Angie blinked. “Katie,” she said in reply. “You are aware that it’s been two and a half years or so since you’ve said a single word to me, right?”

Nisha laughed out loud at that, surprising Angie, as the smile on Katie’s face got a little more forced. “That’s what your friend Evan just told her,” Nisha said, an amused smile on her face. “You guys sure don’t beat around the bush, do you?”

Angie didn’t really know Nisha, but figured that was probably going to change if Megan didn’t get cold feet about this whole reconciliation thing. “Well, it’s the sort of thing a person notices,” she said.

“No, I get that,” Nisha replied. “I was just amused by you both taking the same tack.”

“Nisha, is this helping at all?” Katie asked through her teeth.

“I doubt it’s hurting, Kay,” Nisha replied, borderline smirking. “Doesn’t seem like your approach has helped any.”

“They agreed not to bad mouth me,” Katie said, waving in the direction of Evan and Ryan, who at this point were watching the exchange from down the hall.

“They didn’t seem to want to, though,” Nisha pointed out. “How about you, McMillan?”

“If this is about me not saying bad things about Katie around Megan and Chris,” Angie replied, “That would require that Katie not give me anything bad to tell them. I’m not going to dig up shit you did in elementary school though, if that’s what you’re worried about. It’s not like you and Lauren made a point of shitting on me in middle school; you just stole my best friend and pretended I didn’t exist. Megan knows about that already.”

Nisha frowns. “You speak as if Megan had no agency in what happened. Whatever you opinion of Lauren and Katie, they’re not witches. They couldn’t have forced Megan to make that decision without her agreeing. My understanding is that you’re the one who’s a witch.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Angie, not bothering to fake a pleasant tone. “I just talk to birds and the occasional pixie. Of course Megan could have just kept talking to me, but then she would have faced whatever punishments Lauren might have dreamed up for not staying in line, if she didn’t just end up joining us in exile. Regardless, it wouldn’t have been a thing if Lauren hadn’t decided I wasn’t good enough to be friends with you people.”

“You’re not,” Katie said, looking like she was trying not to sneer as she said it and failing.

Nisha gave her a look. “Kay, you gotta learn to stop while you’re ahead,” she said. “She’s being pretty reasonable about this, all things considered; you were saying she was going to be way angrier, which I wouldn’t have blamed her for. If you can just be nice to her and those other kids, you don’t have anything to worry about.” She looked back at Angie. “Nice talking to you, McMillan. I suppose I’ll probably see you around now that we have a friend in common.”

Angie raised an eyebrow. “No push back on the assertion that Lauren would have punished Megan for talking to us? I thought you were supposed to be Lauren’s enforcer.”

Nisha shrugged. “I don’t like people fucking with my friends, but there’s no point in denying that Lauren has strong feelings about who is and is not worthy of socializing with. Anyway, we need to get going. We have PE next and we’ve wasted too much time talking to you people already.” She started walking towards the exit of the building.

“Crap,” Angie replied. “Us too.”

“Great,” Katie said with annoyance as she followed Nisha.

“Kay,” Nisha said before she was out of earshot, “What part of ‘don’t be shitty to her and she won’t tell Megan about you being shitty to her’ don’t you understand?”

A moment later the boys had joined her. “Sorry,” Evan said. “I wasn’t sure if you wanted us to interrupt, and I know Katie didn’t, because she’d just talked to us.”

“It’s fine,” Angie said. “We have PE with them next, turns out,” she continued, directing the statement at Ryan. “We better get going.”

“Oh, that should be fun,” Ryan said, making a face. “Catch you after school, Evan.”

“Sure,” Evan said. “I’m back in the Science building, so I can walk with you like two thirds of the way there.”

“Fair enough,” Ryan said, and started walking. Angie and Evan followed.

“How’d you not realize that?” Evan asked, giving Ryan a dubious look.

“I’ve like got shit on my mind right now, Evan,” Ryan said, frowning back, as they pushed through the doors onto the campus. “You guys should have taken my bet. Things are going to get super Flames of Love up in here. Megan better lock him down if she wants him.”

“Right,” Angie said, giving this statement the eye roll it deserved. “I do not think that’s actually going to be applicable to a regular high school that is not a weird dating game.”

“You never know,” Ryan replied, but thankfully did not pursue the subject further. Instead he said, “Regardless, Katie wants to make a play, despite knowing about our birthdays. I don’t know how she thinks she has a chance against Megan.”

“Katie’s greedy,” Angie said. “Always wants more.”

“You think Megan likes Chris, huh?” Evan said, not sounding thrilled.

“Come on, dude, you saw what she was like at lunch. Evan, this is a great opportunity for you,” Ryan said, thankfully keeping his voice to a reasonable level as they passed slash merged with the stream of students walking with purpose around campus. “I don’t know why you don’t seem happier. We got a new party member, and he’s one who you could form an actual hunting party with, no waiting required. And he seems fun to hang with, besides.”

“A great opportunity to get endlessly asked about him, you mean,” Evan said, his tone morose. “Fuck, it’s already started, and we have one more period. Let alone the weeks and months of school ahead of us.”

“Oh, cheer up, Evan,” Angie said, clapping him on the back. He seemed tense. “We’re going to be dealing with Lauren and her party regardless if we want to be friends with Megan, so it’s not like you wouldn’t be dealing with stuff like this anyway.”

“I guess,” Evan said dubiously. “But we don’t really need to be pleasant with Lauren Co LLC. We already know they don’t like us. I have to be polite to other people.”

Angie said, “I think Beth still likes us. She keeps smiling at me.”

“I mean, you don’t,” Ryan said more or less at the same time, replying to Evan. “You just have to accept that people will think you’re a jerk.”

“Well,” Evan said, “Unlike you, I don’t really see any reason to be mean to people I don’t know deserve it. Beth, for instance, who also stopped talking to us for three years and has not apologized like Megan has. And is also not Megan. But other people I need to be pleasant with, which is hard when I don’t know anything really about Chris and that’s all they care about.”

“He told us a fucking hunting story, man,” Ryan said. “We know he’s a scion of the Providence Gramyres, we know he’s from the city-state of Raleigh, we know both his parents are Light Bearers, we know he has a sister named Cat who is also a Light Bearer, and we know he made the trip by train. That’ll be plenty of gossip for anyone who asks.” They had reached the fork in the path, north of the tower, where they needed to part ways.

“That’s my point though,” Evan said as they paused to listen to him. “I do not like being talked to just and only because people want to know about him. I think that sucks.”

“If you think what they’re doing sucks, just be mean!” Ryan said. “Fuck man, I don’t know what to tell you. You want the world to change, but worlds don’t change on command.” He paused. “Unless you can do magic, then they kinda do. But I don’t think there’s any magic that can change humankind’s fundamental nature. Anyway, we’re going to be late as shit if we don’t get a move on.”

“Bleh. Okay. See you after,” Evan said, and went striding down the path, moving much faster without having to keep pace with Ryan and Angie.

“You were uncharacteristically quiet just now,” Ryan said as they started walking again. “Seemed like you would have had advice for him. You usually do.”

“You fucking talked over me,” Angie said, cross. “If you wanted to take the fucking lead, who was I to argue?”

Ryan winced. “Sorry?” he said, in a higher pitched voice than normal.

“You should be,” she said. She couldn’t stay that angry at him though, and flashed him a smile. He smiled back, and they went to face PE together.