9 - Library Dates

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My class ran late and I stumbled into the quiet library a little deflated. It was nearly the weekend and I for once was thankful the school week was finally over. The week had dragged on long enough and all I wanted to do was sleep in past seven o'clock in the morning. But for now, I had to deal with Peter and our Biology assignment. I spotted his familiar mop of hair near the back of the library, almost hidden in the back corner. I hurried over, pulling out my Biology textbook and dropping into the spare seat opposite his own. "Sorry, I'm late." I said in a form of greeting. "I got stuck with Mrs. Martin and she never stops talking if you mention Shakespeare."

Peter slowly nodded, keeping his head firmly down. "I thought we could just focus on our assignment."

It was blunt, right to the point. I didn't blame him, not after him overhearing my conversation with the others yesterday. I shifted in my seat, trying my hardest not to apologies again. "Yeah, sure thing." I shoved forward my work booklet, already having started labelling the organs of a frog for the dissection in a few weeks. "I got bored in gym class and thought I might get a head start..."

My eyes drifted over to his own work booklet, the page filled with messy script. "Oh, you've already finished section one." I tried keeping the annoyance from my voice but it sneaked right on through anyway. I had only attempted a few exercises, not actually finishing off the whole damn section. I had been merely bored and thought it would be helpful to us both.

The pen in my hand was hitting the tabletop, a habit I had when my emotions were running thin. "I thought we were working on this together?" The question popped from my mouth before I could stop myself, sounding far too annoyed and angrier than I had intended.

Peter finally looked up. The first time he had even looked at me today. That's when I saw the purplish bruise forming near his eye. It looked fresh, a smear of red colouring up half his cheekbone too. "Oh my God."

"It's fine, it's nothing." Peter was already gushing out, his hand reaching up to try and cover the black eye he had most likely received only a few hours ago. I was already leaning forward, a force of habit when something needed mending. I had spent countless of afternoons mending Colton's own bruises and busted lips from fighting with other kids in his grade. He had a temper sometimes. My fingertips touched Peter's warm cheek, turning his face slightly to get a better glance at the damage. Peter winced, blowing out a sigh.

"It looks pretty bad," I commented slowly. "Was this Flash's handiwork?"

Peter didn't reply and I got the answer I had already suspected. I dropped my hand quickly when his eyes met my own, rather glassy. I pushed myself back into my chair, picking my pen back up to stop from touching his face again. "You shouldn't let him do that."

"I was helping another kid," Peter replied, his jaw clenched. "He was picking on him. I wasn't just going to stand around and let it happen. I stepped in and well..." He drifted off, we both knew what happened next, something that happened far too often.

My lips twisted into a rather sad smile. "You never could resist helping out the little guy, huh?"

Peter's eyes drifted up, meeting my own for another long moment. The moment felt too strange, too friendly. I cleared my throat, dropping my eyes back down to my booklet before he could reply. "We should focus on this."

"Right, yeah. I'm sorry I went ahead. I didn't think you would mind." His words were quiet and for once his eagerness to solve problems, to finish homework early and to beat me out for the top of the class didn't bug me. I felt bad for Peter today, with that bruise and my recent bitchiness, his day wasn't going so well.

I curled some hair behind my ear and shook my head. "Don't worry about it."

"Are you sure, because I could just start all over and we could redo it all together if you--" His words were sputtered out, a habit that brought a half smile to my lips, something that was growing less annoying to me.

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