Rocky dug into his bag, sighing in relief as he finally relinquished responsibility of the homework that had gotten him into this whole mess. Behind him, Colt flipped through his English book, his eyes wide, and flipped through it again before turning his bag upside down.
“Erm, Mrs. E? Can I have a pass to go to my locker? I forgot my homework…”
The sound of Rocky’s laughter followed him all the way back down stairs.
“Why did I let you talk me into taking AP Calc?” Colt hissed at Rocky an hour later as they glumly accepted the papers for Mr. Eagle’s dreaded pop quiz. “Quick, gimme your lucky pencil!”
Rocky chuckled under his breath. “I’ll help you with Calc, you help me with History, same as last semester. And we didn’t have a choice – AP classes were the only thing that dad would accept in lieu of you being sent to military school!”
Mr. Eagle shot them a warning glare over his wire rimmed glasses for talking. Colt still kicked his brother’s chair for the military school comment before they turned their attention to their work; they both knew their dad had only been half serious, and their mom wouldn’t have let him send Colt away anyway.
Third period was Chemistry – thankfully not Advanced Placement – and then it was finally time to escape to lunch. Lunch was a chance to catch up with all of their friends, who over the years had merged and overlapped with the common bond of being teammates for the summer baseball league the year before.
“C’mon Rocky – baseball try outs are next week and we need a left fielder. Jose’s deserting us for soccer.” Ethan said, tossing a wadded-up wrapper at the other boy.
Jose batted it away easily with a grin. “Sorry. It’s in my blood, more than American baseball.” He said wryly. “I think my family would disown me if I tried to do another year in baseball.”
Rocky laughed. “No thanks!” he said. “I had my fill of playing against Darren Jerkins and his goon squad last summer. The guy is a dirty player. No way am I gonna knowingly associate with that as a teammate.”
“Aww, D’s not that bad.” Mark protested, earning sardonic looks from both Douglas brothers.
“The guy has held a grudge since me n’ Rocky-“
“Rocky and I – “
“ – kicked his ass in basketball at recess when we were in sixth grade. And also for losing to us in the championships last summer.”
“That was over a year ago!” Mark protested. “He’s cool now, I swear! Here, look. Hey, Big D!” he called across the courtyard. “C’mere a sec, would ya?”
Rocky and Colt rolled their eyes at each other and stood up with identical exasperated sighs, as Ethan scolded Mark. They knew better than to give Jerkins any slight psychological or physical advantage that sitting and being trapped by the table benches would give him.
“Colt, you promised. No fighting.” Rocky warned under his breath.
“It’s not fighting if he throws the first punch. It’s self-defense.” His brother retorted, watching the older teen and Emily saunter over.
“Hey Mark. Why are you sitting over here with these losers? Come sit with the real men.” Darren wasted no time with the opening shot, his beady eyes narrowed on Rocky as Emily tittered next to him.