“Why are you here, Lucas?” She said stiffly.
“Because even though you chose to back off–and lie–about your feelings towards me in order to ‘always be able to talk to me’, there’s been nothing but radio silence since we got back to school. Friends talk and real friends listen, Riley. And right now, it’s time for you to truly hear me.”
She went completely still for a long moment, closing her eyes. When she opened them, they were resigned and sad. “Okay Lucas.” She said quietly, moving to sit on the bench. “I’m listening.”
He moved to sit next to her, careful to keep himself between her and the exit. “Why did you lie to me? And Maya is no longer a factor, barrier, or excuse between us Riley, so let’s just leave her out completely. This is between you and me.”
“There isn’t a ‘you and me’ though.”
“And whose fault is that?” he snapped, frustrated beyond belief. “You have been doing everything you can to shove obstacles between us for nearly the past six months now. Charlie Gardner. Maya. Even Farkle! Come on, Riley,” he added irritably when she looked confused. “I know it’s not a coincidence that last semester you and I were lab partners, and since we got back from Texas, you’ve been paired off with Farkle and I got stuck with Maya.”
The holidays were over, and it was on to the second half of the year which meant mid-terms in history, science, and English. Lucas and Riley had a friendly competition over grades, and both were tied for second in their class for overall ranking. Science was the one class that was neutral territory. Riley, obviously, had the edge in history, while Harper usually set the girls up for opposite (usually wrong) answers, leaving Lucas or Farkle to speak up with the correct response in English.
The only problem with science was the fact that Lucas had lost at rock/paper/scissors with Riley, and was therefore forced to endure having Maya as a partner. The blonde was already grumpy that she couldn’t take art as yet another elective, but instead had to suffer through ballet with Zay. She had even less interest and patience for math and sciences, and loudly and repeatedly made that known to everyone in the vicinity. Every. Single. Day.
“We need to talk.”
Lucas closed his locker and turned to see Riley standing there. His welcoming smile quickly dimmed as he noticed her expression.
“Last time you said that, you lied to my face, and then proceeded to needlessly rearrange all of our lives.” He said coolly.
She winced. “Okay yeah, I deserved that, but this isn’t about us. It’s about Maya.”
He rolled his eyes, slinging his bag over his shoulder. “As always. You know Riley, some day we’re going to have a conversation again that has nothing whatsoever to do with Maya.” He relented a bit at her woebegone expression. “But what are you solving for her this time?’
She bit her lip at his bitter resigned tone, but forged ahead. “It’s about science. We’ve got midterms coming up, and that usually means a project or experiment.” She began. “Zay is paired off with Sarah, for his own safety. I refuse to inflict Maya on the rest of the class. I know we agreed to switch partners after the holidays, but–”