6 - Lab Partners

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I spent the night staring at my ceiling, my body tired but my mind racing. My parents had arrived home a little after midnight, trying to keep their voices down as they went passed my closed door. I heard their whispers drift in through the thin walls and couldn't help wonder if they even cared I was left alone in a house they called their own. A house that used to be full of chatter, welcoming music that came from Colton's room and a cherry pie smell in the air. Now it was just cold and empty. 

"She's asleep, Adeline." My father's voice sounded and I flipped myself over, laying on my stomach as I watched the numbers on my alarm clock change. "We shouldn't wake her."

I heard this conversation most nights, usually in the early hours of the morning. Tears pricked my eyes and I blinked them away, pulling the covers closer to my chest. The family hadn't always been like this, never distant. Things had changed, death did that to everyone. I was old enough to know that, I liked to think I was stronger enough to know I couldn't change it. My parents had lost a son and with that, they threw everything they had into their work. I had lost a brother and my parents. I didn't blame them, didn't hate them. They were human too and I knew deep down they loved me, they just didn't know how to show it, how to cope with it anymore. 

"Maybe, I could just--" My mother's voice whispered slowly and I knew they were both standing right outside my door, thinking I was fast asleep. I didn't move from my bed, didn't tell them I was awake. That I was always awake. 

"Just let her sleep," Stephen Parsons jumped in. He was always the one saying I needed rest, they didn't know the half of it. "Come on, we've got to be back at the labs early in the morning."

With that they left, their footsteps echoing down the hall until I was left alone. Left alone again.


***

In class the next day my head drummed with weariness. I had briefly fallen asleep around two o'clock in the morning. It was a restless sleep, one that had become familiar. My notebook was opened on my desk, my pen nested tightly in my hand. I could hear Mary Jane's little laugh sounding from behind me and I knew Harry was cracking some stupid joke. I sat quietly in my seat, my eyes drifting over to the empty desk right next to mine, which naturally belonged to Peter but he was late. Which was odd because he was never late for class, even Biology. 

"Hey," Gwen popped up beside me, her dark hair clipped back off her face with her signature headband. I jumped in my seat, the pen slipping from my fingertips. "Woah, you're jumpy." She commented as I let out a sigh, pushing my hair from my eyes. 

I hadn't seen Gwen since yesterday at the Science Hall since I had spent most of the afternoon with Cindy, making sure she was alright. "I just didn't sleep much."

I watched the concern flicker through her eyes quickly. "It's nothing, okay." I said before she could say a word about it. I was used to being watched by them both, always hovering to make sure I was alright. Gwen and Mary Jane meant well, I knew that. But as it got further into the year, the date was rushing closer and things grew darker. They always did when it reached the middle of October. 

Gwen gave a quick nod of her head, "Alright, sure." I glanced up at her briefly, knowing the dark days were coming for us all. "Flash is having a party this weekend, an afterparty for the game. I was thinking of going."

"Thinking about it?" I questioned. "Or are you already going and wanted us to tag along?"

She gave me a knowing grin. "Okay, you got me. I'm already going but I thought it might be fun. You've been so serious with studies and it might be nice to have a night off." 

I shifted in my seat, thinking about just how much work I had to finish off this weekend. There was a report for Ancient History due early next week and a new assignment for Chemistry. I also knew Ms. Riley was setting a new assignment today. I began to shake my head, "I don't know Gwen..." My eyes flicked towards the door, watching as Peter hurried into the class room, Ms. Riley on his heels. His glasses were gone, his hair more tousled than most days. He bumped passed my desk in a hurry, nearly knocking my whole desk over. My hands snapped out, steadying my desk as I stared across at him. He had barely grazed the corner of the wooden desk but it seemed as if he had pushed it with a whole heap of pent up force. 

Gwen didn't seem to notice, "Before you say no, just think about it." Before I could offer her a reply, she was gone by my side and slipping into her chair, not too far from Mary Jane. 

I turned my attention to Ms. Riley as she circled around the room, her hands on her hips. "Okay guys, we all know it's that time of the year. Partner work." There was a string of groans that rang out through the room and she only grinned. "I know, social interaction with your peers is such hard work." 

I was already turning to smile back at Mary Jane, we were always partners when it came to Biology. "But before you all choose your best friend, I've changed things up." 

I paused, twisting back to watch her. "You'll be matched up alphabetically," Ms. Riley went on. "So, people in rows two, four and six, turn to your left and greet your new lab partner for the rest of the year."

There was a hallow and sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing very well what was going on right now. I turned painfully and slowly, my eyes landing on Peter Parker who seemed just as shocked as I felt. I quickly raised my hand in the air, ready to protest. "Before anyone argues," Ms. Riley saw me. "These arrangements are not changeable. So, don't even bother trying to get out of it."

My hand fell down to my lap and I stared back across at Peter who offered me a quick forced smile. I slummed down in my chair, letting out a heavy sigh. With my bad luck, of course this would happen.







AUTHOR'S NOTE:

THEY ARE OFFICIALLY LAB PARTNERS. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED? Most likely all of you, it's super cliche and predicable but I love it. So, what did you all think? I'm really excited because it means more time covered with Flo and Pete, where they have to actually interact and work together. 

-tinkertaydust


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