"Sounds like you discussed this with your partner," Ryan commented drily.
Wally just raised his eyebrows and waited.
"Fine. We can do the other one," Monica said. "The comic book. You like to draw, right?"
Ryan shrugged. Pretty much only Monica knew that, because she'd been in his room. But did she need to tell everyone else in the world about it?
"What do you think, Wally?" Monica asked.
"I was thinking the psychological assessment paper sounded interesting," Wally said. "I've been developing some theories that Holden has bipolar disorder..."
"Maybe we could make that a theme in the comic book," Monica pushed. "Come on, Ryan, please." She dropped her voice. "I don't know if I can work with him by myself. He's creepy."
"No he isn't." Ryan's hand curled into a fist against his thigh. He turned to Wally. "Do you mind working in a group of four?"
Wally looked conflicted. He glanced over at Jacky, who sat doodling angrily. "Do you think we could do the research paper as a four-person group?" he asked.
"Maybe. We can ask Mr. Dugan."
"I guess," Wally said finally, looking at Monica.
"Great!" Monica didn't even bother going back over to where Jacky was sitting. "Hey! Jacky!"
At the sound of that name, Andrew glared daggers at Monica.
"Come on. We're gonna work with Ryan and Wally." Monica wasn't even looking at him. She was already pulling out her notebook and getting all comfy with her new group.
Andrew slammed his notebook shut, scraped his chair back, and went through the process of slinging his messenger bag over his head and stacking his books neatly so he could scoop them up with one arm. When he made his way over to the three of them, he stood there, glowering, until Ryan jumped up and grabbed an empty desk and dragged it over. "Sorry," Ryan said several times throughout the process. Andrew dumped his books on the surface and slumped into the chair.
It was only after he sat down that he felt bad about glaring at Ryan. None of this was Ryan's fault.
As Monica tried to force the group into shape, hindered not only by Andrew and Ryan, but also by Wally, who was campaigning hard for the research paper – "I'm much better at scholarly work" – Andrew tried to figure out what exactly he could do here. Monica had assigned Ryan to drawing the comic book, and after some debate with Wally, she had taken on the responsibility of writing it, because she was the "most creative" in the group.
"Maybe you can pick out the important quotes for me to put into it," Monica suggested to Wally.
"Guess that leaves me for the important task of coloring the thing," Andrew said abruptly.
Ryan shifted, and his foot nudged Andrew's. When Andrew looked up, though, Ryan wasn't making eye contact, so he figured Ryan wasn't doing it on purpose.
"Yes! That would be great!" Monica said, not getting the sarcasm. "Once Wally and I get the words all figured out, we'll pass it along to you and Ryan. Or... I don't know, maybe us three should meet up at my house to figure it out?"
Andrew glared at her.
"Uh, if this is a group project," said Ryan, looking briefly at Andrew, "maybe the whole group should meet. All four of us." Ryan's foot tapped his again. This time, when he looked up, they made eye contact. Ryan looked back down at his notebook right away.
Andrew didn't especially care if they all met up, not when Monica had just made it very clear that she didn't want him at her house. Glancing around at each of them, Wally looked like he wished he were part of any one of the other groups.
"Fine." Monica flicked her hair back, annoyed. "You guys free on Sunday afternoon?"
They were, and armed with Monica's address and phone number, Andrew found that he wasn't totally dreading it. Ryan was going to be there, and somehow that made him feel a lot better about it.
Author's Note: End of Chapter 6! As you can tell, these chapters would be super long if I didn't break them up...
Raise your hand if you feel bad for Wally...
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Waiting RoomTeen Fiction
Everyone at school knows Andrew Jackson Jennings. Lost an arm in a car accident. Openly gay. Future school shooter. Everyone at school knows Ryan Sullivan. Football captain. Nice guy. Future valedictorian. When Andrew ends up in therapy after writin...