"With ease," Kaz said.
"Go away," the Maroon said.
Kaz leaned towards him, just a bit. But the boy was on guard, and Kaz let out a surprised noise of pain as something struck him in the hip. He stumbled back, looking at the yo-yo dangling from the boy's hand.
"A yo-yo?" he said, rubbing his hip. "Alright, that's an unexpected weapon." He held up the I.D. he'd swiped before the yo-yo hit him. "Beckett Townsend."
"Hey," Beckett said angrily. "That's mine, asshole!"
Kaz still wasn't quite fast enough to dodge the yo-yo, but this time it only grazed his side. "Strong language for a little guy. The yo-yo thing is pretty cool, though. How'd you learn to use it as a weapon?"
"Leave me alone!" Beckett snapped, and this time he managed to land a hit on Kaz's chest.
Kaz winced and rubbed his chest. "Now that was just rude."
"It was a wider target. If I aimed for the center of your chest, there was a good chance I'd hit you even if you tried to move to the side," Beckett said, looking darkly pleased with himself.
"Smart," Kaz mumbled. "You're a smart guy."
"I am," Beckett agreed. "Now leave me alone already."
But Kaz didn't move. He watched Beckett carefully, watched the anger rise in Beckett's eyes and his hands tighten around the yo-yo.
This time, Kaz spun out of the way just before Beckett snapped his hand out to attack. Beckett seemed surprised as his yo-yo sailed harmlessly past Kaz.
"I'm also a pretty smart guy," Kaz said, stepping down on the yo-yo as it bounced against the ground. "I'm a quick learner."
Beckett tried to tug his yo-yo free of Kaz's foot. Kaz just grinned as he watched the frustration on Beckett's face.
"I've also been told I'm quite the pest," Kaz said. "I don't give up easily. And I'm not very good at leaving people alone."
"What do you want from me?" Beckett demanded, giving up his attempts to free his yo-yo.
"Just a conversation," Kaz said. "I also figured I should return your pens."
He tossed three pens on the table. Beckett stared at them in disbelief.
"But...But you never touched my backpack," Beckett said.
"Evidently, I did," Kaz said, gesturing to the pens. "You and I have unique talents, I guess."
"How did you do that?" Beckett said.
"A mild case of kleptomania. How'd you learn to use a yo-yo like that?" Kaz said.
"I practiced," Beckett said impatiently. "Give me my yo-yo back."
"Are you going to hit me with it again?" Kaz asked.
Kaz nearly laughed as Beckett actually thought it over. "Maybe. If you keep pissing me off."
"Fair enough." Kaz lifted his foot.
Beckett yanked the yo-yo back into his hand, curling his fingers around it. He couldn't help but be a little fascinated by Kaz.
He'd hit Kaz, yet Kaz didn't seem to have any intention of striking back. In fact, Kaz seemed impressed that Beckett was able to hit him. Kaz was curious, not hostile. It unsettled Beckett.
"You don't have to sit alone. You can come sit with me and my friends. I'm sure my friend Leo would love to see you whacking me with that yo-yo," Kaz said, gesturing at his table. "Pete's a little drugged up, so he'll forget your name constantly. Mika's got an anger that might even put yours to shame if you really get her going."
"I don't care about your friends," Beckett said, glaring at Kaz. "I want you to leave me alone."
Kaz dropped in the chair across from Beckett. "Do you? I thought we had a blooming friendship going. Speaking of, I should probably tell you my name since I know yours. I'm Kaz Warrick."
"I didn't ask," Beckett said.
"But knowledge is power," Kaz said. "Congratulations, now you're just a little more knowledgeable."
Beckett just glared at Kaz. Kaz was a smooth talker, Beckett would give him that. And he didn't talk down to Beckett despite being even older than Beckett's brother. He talked to Beckett like they were equals.
"Hey, so you can aim that yo-yo when you want to hit people?" Kaz said. "And you're pretty quick with it."
"And you can rob someone while you're talking to them," Beckett said.
"We'd be a fearsome team," Kaz said, that grin reappearing.
"We're not a team," Beckett said flatly.
Kaz glanced at Beckett's food on the floor. "I haven't gotten my lunch yet. Walk with me. You need a new tray anyways."
Beckett glared but stood up. The two went and got trays of food together. Beckett expected Kaz to go sit back with his friends, and was surprised when Kaz followed him back to his corner table.
"Pest," Kaz reminded as he sat back down across from Beckett. "Unless you're going to make me leave. Good luck without the yo-yo, though." He held it up.
Beckett threw his fork at Kaz's face. "Stop stealing my stuff, asshole!"
Kaz knocked the fork away and laughed, tossing Beckett the yo-yo. "It's a habit of mine. You'll get used to it."
Beckett caught his yo-yo and looked down at it. Was Kaz implying that they were going to spend more time together?
Beckett searched Kaz's face, but he saw none of the scorn or anger he was used to seeing when people looked at him. Kaz showed no intent of violence or bullying. He seemed genuinely curious about Beckett.
"If you keep robbing me, you'll get used to me hitting you with my yo-yo," he grumbled.
Kaz's grin grew, just a bit. He picked up on the silent acceptance of company.
There was no unshakable, brotherly bond between them. No infinite trust. No easy cooperation and teamwork.
But Kaz Warrick and Beckett Townsend had taken the first step towards those inevitable outcomes.