“Oh no.” Lucas held up his hands. “Riley, no. Make Farkle do it. She falls asleep every day, so he’ll have the freedom to work by himself. He likes that. Then you and I can be partners.”
She hesitated, still nibbling on her bottom lip. He took a step closer, playing on a hunch–and his instincts. “We haven’t been partners on an assignment for any class since the library assignment in seventh grade. It might be fun.” He murmured, watching her eyelashes flutter slightly and her eyes darken slightly as she looked up at him. She swayed forward slightly before catching herself, stumbling back a few steps.
“Of course, I would love to work with you Lucas, it’s just that, um, Farkle already made me promise to be his partner, and since you and Maya have been pairing off so well together in other things, I just wanted to make sure you were okay with staying as her science partner too.” She said too quickly, all bluster and bravado.
She was lying again through her pretty white teeth, but he let this one slide. For now.
The warning bell rang, letting her escape without getting an actual verbal confirmation of her assumptions. The girls had study hall, while he and Farkle had Trig with Mr. Clarke. Which meant that he had an hour to convince his best friend of the benefits of having Maya over Riley as a partner…for science and otherwise.
Luckily for Lucas, Farkle was delighted at the idea of having a silent partner. Somehow neither boy managed to mention the switch to Riley–until science class. Maya was at the far table, with Riley to her left, as per usual. Farkle, however, danced right past Riley to plop into the seat next to Maya.
“Hey partner.” Lucas said cheerfully, setting his books down.
“Hi–” She frowned. “What’s going on? I thought you were with Maya.”
“You assumed that I would just blindly agree.” he corrected. “But I talked to Farkle, and he’s fine with the switch. Look, he even brought Maya a pillow with a drool cup built in.” They both glanced at the blonde, already passed out.
“Riley, Farkle doesn’t have to work at this to get a good grade. I do.” He said quietly. “Which means that I need an active partner who also wants to do well, and is willing to work with me. “ He met her gaze, his own challenging. They both knew he was referring to much more than just their being lab partners. Their teacher came in before she could reply, loudly urging everyone to retrieve their equipment from the supply closet, and confirming over muffled groans that whomever they were sitting by was their new partner for the duration of the quarter; no exceptions or exchanges.
She managed a bright smile, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “I guess we’re stuck with each other then.” She escaped immediately after that to the supply closet, and the rest of the class was spent in silence, except when they had to exchange words to fill out the worksheet with their measurements and calculations.
Lucas had been disappointed, but filled with renewed determination. Backing off wasn’t the answer, despite Mrs. Matthew’s advice. He had to show Riley that he was truly in it for the long run, no matter what she tried to do to drive him away. Although why she was trying to do so was still an unsolved mystery that even her best friend hadn’t managed to pry out of her, though Maya had tried.