Title: Jacks 2
Author: Lewis Spiel
Word count: 607
Llyr raised a hand in greeting. “Yo.”
“Hey.” Adrian sat up and nodded at him. “Private lessons now? I see you’re hardly slacking off on your training programme.”
“You know him?” Helena queried, throwing Adrian a curious look. “How?”
“Morning cleaning duty.”
“We all know how that works,” sniggered Sam.
Adrian flicked a crumpled piece of notebook paper in his direction. “Helena, Sam, and I all have several hours of free time at this time of the day. You can study if you’d like. I’m proposing a Cops and Robbers game in the hallway.”
Llyr had already set down his bag on a nearby desk and begun rifling through it. “I’ll study. Cops and Robbers sounds great, but....”
Helena snorted and flopped herself into a chair next to Llyr’s. “I told you so, Adrian. No one else likes to go gallivanting in the school hallways in this day and age.”
“Whatever.” By now Adrian had opened his laptop again and opened the Internet browser home page. There was something about a shooting at the local supermarket on the most recent news, but nothing else of note besides. He supposed that there was nothing else he could expect from a town of hicks.
His expression was unreadable as always, but his lack of response was answer enough.
“I’m right, aren’t I.” Adrian shoved his chair back and stood. “You’re letting go of it even though it’s partly your fault? I see how it is now.”
“Do you, really? Have you asked Helena?”
“How could you even say that? After what you did-”
“-are you guys going to give up on this one?” Llyr was standing over Adrian’s shoulder, blinking confusedly at the half-finished crossword puzzle. “Looks like a pain.”
“A pain in the ass, all right.” Sam grumbled. “What’s another word for ‘water nymph?’ I’ll bet that half these answers are made up.”
Adrian rolled his eyes. “Let’s try another one. Uh, ‘one who eats babies.’”
“There’s a word for that?”
“What about... brephophagist.”
“Are you sure you didn’t make that one up just now?”
“Oh, hey. It fits. Lucky guess, Llyr?”
“Wonder of wonders.”
“Haha, yea, probably.”
“Try this one, then. ‘A device for cleaning chimneys.'"
"That's so inane-"
The three others stared at Llyr in amazement.
"A real nerd, that's what you are. Shall we have you do my homework, now?" Helena nudged his shoulder gaily.
Llyr shrugged helplessly. "Dumb luck. Not sure if I can help, but I'll try."
Adrian watched as Sam and Helena crowded around Llyr's desk, all but pestering him with questions. Somehow he didn't feel too enthusiastic about finishing the crossword anymore.
"Llyr's so nice," Helena gushed. "And smart. He's just transferred to this school, and yet he knew every single answer to each of the questions on my homework today!"
"Yea." She sighed dreamily and elbowed Adrian in the side. "Is that all you have to say? Maybe you should get some lessons from him, Adrian. It'd do wonders for your attitude."
"I'm fine, I don't need any help." Adrian's brow furrowed as he peered down the lunch line. "Looks like they've run out of fries. Where's Sam, anyhow?"
"He's having Llyr critique his script."
Adrian paused and turned to shoot her a curious (not hurt) glance. "We could've done that."
"Yea, but he wanted a little more outside opinion, you know? We might add Llyr into the script. It'd be nice if we had more people in the skit."
The line of people shuffled forward a couple of steps, and Adrian cut off the conversation, utterly engrossed in picking out the second best lunch set.