Sorry today’s chapter is so short. The next one is extra-long to make up for it. Also, I wanted to let you all know I’m going to Disney World at the end of April to research an upcoming story! Be sure you’re following me on Twitter (@zillahwrites) for sneak peeks of that, plus lots of other fun stuff. I might even run a poll or two about what I should write next. 😀
Edit: Apparently WordPress doesn’t know the clock shifted. Sorry for the late post, everyone!
Working out the details of the plan with Quint was a great distraction from wondering too much about what Platt had emailed Seb. If the kid wasn’t mad, I could let it lie for now.
The other Top and I wrote back and forth a few times that night. I’d been worried he’d disapprove of what I had in mind, but he said, Yes, I do see the value in that, and even suggested some great ideas himself. My Brat was in good hands.
The next night after dinner, Myrick rapped on my door five minutes early. I opened it, looked him up and down, and asked, “Where’s the apple?”
He treated me to his trademark flat stare as he stepped past me into the room. JJ, hanging half off his rack trying to reach a bag of M&M’s on the desk below, said, “Hello, sir! You joining us for movie night, too?”
I shook my head at him from behind Myrick’s back and started to bring my finger to my lips, but not quick enough. With hardly a pause, Myrick said, “Remind me, who else is coming?” and JJ heedlessly replied, “Platypus.”
Jaw clenching, Myrick turned slowly to face me.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that,” I said. “I told you we were starting with a skills assessment. Just try to be friendly.”
“Is something wrong?” JJ asked. He squinted upside-down at us.
“Nah.” I grabbed the M&M’s and gave them to him before he fell off the rack.
“Thanks!” he said. “Want some?”
“Sure,” I said, cupping my hand so he could pour candy into it.
After a second, Myrick shrugged in a might-as-well way and held his hand out, too. JJ dumped M&M’s into my palm first. As he moved on to Myrick, I heard footsteps approaching. I looked over to the still-open door to see Platt appear.
What little color normally stays in his cheeks drained completely. His irises were bluer than blue against his pale skin, and very wide. More out of shock than fear, though, unless I was misjudging badly. Holding my breath, I waited to see how he and the older mid would interact.
Then Myrick realized he was being watched. Their eyes met, and it felt like electricity arched and sizzled from one to the other. The heat of it was blazing even from where I stood. Well, damn, I thought, fighting a smile. Get a room, you two.
No one said anything for several long seconds. Then Myrick nodded, brusquely. “Platt.”
Blood poured back into Platt’s face. “I… need to go. Sir.”
He took a step backwards into the passageway at the same time that Myrick stepped forward with a forceful, “No!”
Platt froze apart from blinking.
In a quieter voice, but no less brusque, Myrick said, “I was just leaving. Enjoy your movie,” and he strode out, making the kid almost stumble in his hurry to get out of his way.
“…What–?” JJ started.
“Give Platypus some M&M’s, J,” I interrupted. Without waiting for any sort of response, I followed in Myrick’s footsteps. The only difference was, I paused to clap Platt’s shoulder and push him firmly into the room before I rushed down the passageway.
I caught up to Myrick in seconds. “Hey! The hell was that?” I asked, not letting my tone hide the mild exasperation as I matched my quick pace to his. “If this is your idea of being friendly, we have a looooot of work ahead of us. I mean, you could’ve offered him an M&M or something.”
“Did you see him?” he demanded in an undertone. A tendon in his neck bulged. “He looked terrified of me!”
I rolled my eyes. “No, he looked like a kid with a massive crush.”
Myrick stopped dead and gave me a stare I can only describe as ‘dumbstruck.’ It sat very oddly on his face. “He did?”
“Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed all this time.”
Shaking his head, he said, “I saw how he is with Justine, but he doesn’t look at me the same way. I thought he would…need convincing.”
“Well, I’m not saying he won’t, but he’s a lot farther along than you seem to believe.”
“You really think so?”
He sounded like he didn’t quite dare hope. Poor guy. “Yeah!” I said, being extra-enthusiastic to show how confident I was. I punched his bicep, lightly. “So, c’mon, let’s go back and try this ‘friendly’ thing again.”
His gaze went over my head a moment, considering. Then he frowned. “Friendly with who? He’s leaving.”
I spun around. Platt’s hair shone from the other end of the passageway as he turned the corner out of sight. Shit. “Okay, this isn’t a big deal. I’ll go talk to him,” I said. Assuming he’ll let me. “Class dismissed for now.”
I pelted through the few mids lingering in the passageway. Platt didn’t so much as glance over when I skidded beside him.
“Kid, where’re you going? I thought we were gonna watch 101 Dalmatians.”
“What did Seb tell you?” he asked, almost hissing the name. “He promised me–”
“He didn’t tell me anything, I swear. He wouldn’t break that promise unless he thought you were in some kind of serious danger. You know that.” I wasn’t positive he did know that, actually, but it was true. And after a second, the half of his face I could see relaxed a little.
“Then why did you invite Myrick?”
Ah, so you have been talking about Myrick to Seb?
I kept that thought to myself and shrugged. “He’s a pretty cool guy. We’re allowed to hang out now. Why not?”
The kid frowned skeptically. I saw the gears turning in his head. He didn’t know I knew Myrick had been on that fateful cruise with him. My explanation was at least plausible, and if he pushed back against it, he’d be showing his hand even more than he already had. It gave him practically no choice but to say, “It surprised me, is all. I thought it was just going to be you, me and JJ.”
“Alright, well, Myrick had to go, so now it will be,” I said. “So come watch the movie with us? If we don’t start it soon, we’ll never finish before study period.”
“…Yeah, okay.” His head ducked. “Sorry I freaked.”
“No big,” I said, smiling. “Sorry I didn’t warn you. Let’s hug it out.”
He glanced both ways down the passageway and shook his head. “Not here.”
“In the room?”
Sighing, he said, “Sure.”
I took that as a victory, although he went poker-stiff when I did wrap my arms around him while JJ got the movie started on his computer.
That was close. Seb’s right, gotta be more careful how hard I’m pushing.