Numero-freaking Nine

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"Hey," I hear, startling me. I nearly drop my books. "Judge Judy, I have a problem."

I cast a glare over my shoulder as Jax beams down at me.

Shaking my head, I set my English book in my locker. "I don't understand you."

"Don't you want to hear what my problem is?" Jax presses, stepping closer as I shut my locker and begin to walk down the hallway.

I smile sarcastically. "No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me anyway."

"Well number one is you didn't text me back," Jax says, putting a bit of a pouty face on. "Number two, Jessica texted me and apologized."

I find myself shaking my head once more. "Let me guess, you're back together."

"No," Jax says sheepishly. "I didn't text her back because I didn't know what to say."

"You could have said 'screw you' and 'we are never ever getting back together.'"

"No, because I don't like Taylor Swift."

I make a face, stopping in the middle of the hallway as he laughs at his own joke.

"Okay, no, but seriously. Is that what I should say?"

I shrug. "I don't know. She cheated on you, right? Couldn't keep her legs closed. I say she deserves it."

"Would you be saying the same thing if she were a guy?"

"Yes," I say, a bit irked by the question. "Cheaters don't deserve nice people or being in relationships. You're either loyal to someone or you're not. You can't do both."

Jax seems pleased, nodding. "Good. I hate double standards when it comes to girls verses boys." Then, "So I should tell her to screw herself? I shouldn't give her the time of day?"

I eyeball him. He looks like he's waiting for me to give him permission to get back with Jessica so he can rush across the school and be at her side for eternity.

I scoff a laugh.

"You are so tangled up in her." I readjust the books in my arms and walk, Jax on my heels.

"What? No."

"You're lying to yourself." I clear my throat. "But it's not like it matters to me. You do what you want, Jax. You're your own person. If you want to get back with her, then get back with her."

I exhale. Why do I feel worry for him? Did my heart and brain decide he was my friend and so they conspired against my want to make him leave me alone?

"But..." Jax stops, his eyes cloudy and his face riddled with anxiety. "I do'nt know... I don't know what else..."

I watch as this boy becomes lost for words, trying to knead out the conflicting emotions in his heart. Slowly, I can feel myself slipping off the ledge. If I want to get rid of him for good, hand him off to Jessica. That's the clear path. But if I hope for his happiness... like anyone with a heart should... I'd admit she's not what he needs.

I've slipped.

Exhaling, I march up to him, his eyes widening in surprise.

"Look. I don't know what your relationship was like, and I don't really care. I know that when you were at that party you were alone, smoking."

He scoffs, cutting me off. "It was only that one time. Thought it might calm me down."

Making a face, I continue. "And you didn't want to face the truth she was cheating, even though you knew. You look so sad when you talk about her. So whatever she did to make you think she deserves the world, I hope it's worth it when you go back to her."

"Who said I was going to go back to her?" Jax asks weakly.

I lift my eyebrows. "You look like you'll run to find her the moment you're given the okay."

Jax stares at me for a while as people head for lunch, thankfully not paying much attention to me.

He squints his eyes. "You don't know me, Kelly," he says, his voice filled with dark inflections. It takes me off-guard and I set my jaw, crossing my arms.

"Oh, really, Jax? Yes. Yeah, you're right! You're a complete stranger who hangs around me and forces me to be his friend."

He scoffs. "I'm also the dude that came to your rescue when your beloved Cason sold you out for popularity."

My blood boils. "You're also the one who said I was ugly because I was fat."

"I never said you were ugly," Jax snaps, his blue eyes piercing through me. "And I never called you fat as an insult. You are overweight. Not ugly."

My brain spirals, unsure of how to respond to that. This argument took a turn.

I grit my teeth.

"This isn't about me," I spit. "This is about you. You came to me with this problem and you needed help with it."

"I never asked for your advice."

I spread my hands wide and let them slap against my thighs in defeat. "Then I don't know why you told me in the first place. If you didn't want my help, why did you tell me your problem? If you wanted to be friends, why do you expect me to not try to help you?"

Jax's jaw flexes.

"I gotta go," Jax says, turning around and walking toward the cafeteria, leaving me alone in the hallway, the fire still raging within.

A sudden wave of exhaustion washes over me, the anger dissipating. I sit on the floor against the lockers and breathe, recapping what just happened. Things went from one to one-hundred real quick. I was just starting to get used to the idea of being his friend, and suddenly it blew up in my face. Just like that. I was being honest. I was trying to help. I couldn't let him just walk back into a situation that made him unhappy. What kind of person would I be if I did that? Doesn't matter if I'm actually his friend or not.

I groan, burying my face in my hands. Carla is waiting for me in the cafeteria. Seat in the back. Furthest away from the trash can.

But I'm not so hungry today.

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