29) 'My Friend Is Stalking Me With A Horse Mask And It's Terrifying' And...

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29) 'My Friend Is Stalking Me With A Horse Mask And It's Terrifying' And Other Problems That Shouldn't Happen With Martin Out Of The Picture But There You Go


One thing Benjamin did not anticipate was the fact that they had to clean the couch in the theater room. Other than that, it was... pretty normal. Somehow. He'd always thought one got an extra-good sense of smell or supernatural hearing after this kind of thing, but in a way, it kind of hadn't really been a thing.

Someone had already bought the turkey. As with every other year, they'd probably hire someone to cook it.

A lot of someones talked about it at school. Benjamin didn't. He didn't talk at all. Unfortunately, good things did not compensate for the bad. Positive and negative might annihilate each other in some ways, but when it came to people, balance didn't exist. Negative always seemed to be just a little bit stronger.

He clung to Thijmen.

"Bennie?"

"I'll leave you alone later I promise I mean it's not like I'll annoy you or anything I think do I—no? Oh, okay. But, uh, if I'm with you all the time I won't talk to anyone else and..."

People watched. He clung to Thijmen and other guys watched, and it was slightly embarrassing for him, but only for him. To Thijmen, the staring seemed to have the same effect as rain falling when under a roof. It wasn't that much of a novelty. Benjamin had seen it happen before, once or twice. Boys held hands. They sat too close to each other, had that incriminating tilt to their shoulders. He hadn't cared then, so why should it be any different for anyone else?

Okay. Okay okay okay okay okay okay enough okays he closed his eyes, took a breath, counted to three point fourteen (would have remembered yesterday in vivid details to cheer himself up were it not for the possible, unfortunate side-effects), said, "I think I'm ready," because he was (not).

He was not ready.

He had no friends.

Pi was there, alone. Heston played on his DS. Martin pretended to be texting. Messiah was nowhere to be seen. This was quite a situation considering he'd been the closest encounter Benjamin had had to the squad within the past few days, but he'd managed. Thijmen and he had specifically agreed to not talk a lot at school lest Benjamin chicken up. Given this meant either talking to them or spending lunch alone, there was only one possible course of action.

He was a Man now (was he a man now?).

First option: Pi. Pi seemed reasonable unless he was angry, which meant he was reasonable about, give or take, thirty percent of the time. Benjamin waited until they were in close vicinity—during Algebra, that is—to attack. In fact, he sat diagonal to him, one seat behind him to the right. From the corners of his eyes, he caught Heston squinting/glaring at them. "P—" he began, then cleared his throat, "P-Pi?"

There was a teacher. There was a teacher giving class, but he didn't care because in the end it didn't even matter.

Pi either didn't listen to him or ignored him. Benjamin was already chickening out.

"P-P-Pi?"

"Are you birdkin or something?" asked the guy next to him.

"Your mom is a bird."

"Fuck off, loser."

He was attracting negative attention. If he kept attracting it, Thijmen would most probably notice, and he'd most probably come and defend him and, while that did sound tempting, it wouldn't help his case. At this rate, he'd have to... touch... Pi's shoulder. And talk to him directly. But he would. He was Strong.

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