I jogged to keep up with Justin's long strides as he stomped through the brush behind Kennedy. A massive tree root gripped my foot and I stumbled, falling to my knees. I cried out, feeling a warm trickle of blood down my leg.
Justin lifted me up as if I weighed nothing. "You're fine."
He was right. With his arm molded to my waist, I felt better than ever.
The sliver of a moon ducked behind the clouds. I could only make out the rocks and sticks right in front of me. I grasped the back of his jacket. He reached around, unhooked my hand, and twined his fingers through mine. His thumb nestled in the crook of my palm.
I closed my eyes, allowing him to lead me. I imagined it was the middle of the afternoon and we were walking down the street together. Like normal friends, hanging out.
We emerged in front of a window at the back of the school.
The glass was new—the window company's sticker still on the pane.
Justin let go of my hand, and the night air swarmed in to take its place, harsh and cold. As I was considering how a hand could feel so lonely, Justin punched his foot through the window. I winced at the explosion of shattering glass, then stared at him. I'd never imagined that we'd actually have to break into the school. With all the hundreds of windows around, I figured there had to be at least one that was open. He hadn't even bothered to check before he'd sent his foot through it.
Justin reached into his jacket and pulled out a pair of cotton gloves from his pocket. He slipped them on and rooted through his other pocket for a bunch of latex gloves. "Make sure you don't touch anything unless you have these on," he instructed, giving each of us a pair. "They'll check for prints."
I stared at the pads on my fingers, tough from nine years of viola practice. Justin thought the police were going to be involved? But of course they were, now that there was a broken window. I imagined them dusting the window frame, searching for clues.
The gloves were a size too big, but I struggled to slip my sweaty hands inside the rubber. Oh God, why had he broken the window? There was no going back now.
Justin kicked at the remaining shards of glass until the rim was clean. Then he rapped on the wooden frame. "Hello? Anyone home?" He turned to me. "After you," he said, as if he were holding the door open at a fancy restaurant.
"No way," I protested. "After you."
"No problem." He swung his legs through the opening and dropped from view. A moment later, he called, "All clear!"
One by one, we shimmied onto the basement floor, glass crunching under our feet. I swept the cobwebs off my jeans.
"This is so cool!" Nora gushed, sidling up to Justin.
Zoe laughed. "We're a bunch of lunatics."
We lined up single-file and moved toward a light that fanned out from under a closed door.
"Wait, what if someone's there?" I whispered.
It can't be the police, I told myself. Not yet. But it could be a janitor. Or a teacher.
"Don't worry, Ariana," Richie assured me. "They always leave the lights on in the storage room. We have to cut through here to reach the stairwell, and then we'll be right outside the gym."
"How come you guys know so much about breaking into the school?" Zoe asked.
"I like to be prepared," Justin said. "We don't want to stumble around in the dark all night trying to find the gym."
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The League > jariana (COMPLETED)Fanfiction
Dear Ariana, You have been chosen to join the League. A secret meeting will be held at Stafford Pond, fourth picnic table on the right at 10:00, Wednesday night. Come alone. Make sure nobody follows you, or you won't hear from us again. -J.