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Little Monster

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It was barely autumn, but it had started to get uncomfortably cold at night and the metal bleachers at the lacrosse field were even colder. Despite the temperature, I was bound and determined to watch practice. It was one of the last practices of preseason and Scott's last day as assistant coach. I was sitting on the bleachers by myself, my brother's lacrosse hoodie pulled tight around my body as an extra layer of protection from the cold. Liam, however, was not in sight. The rest of the team had already started running drills, but my brother was not with them.

A text from Mason confirmed that he was still moping in the locker room. I told him to get Liam out there quickly because from where I was seated, it looked like Finstock was already on the brink of an aneurysm.

I cringed when I saw my friend Nolan get slammed for the second time already by Diaz but clapped supportively. "It's okay, Nolan! You've got this!"

He offered me a small wave when he got up and I smiled at him.

Coach Finstock yelled at him a second later. "Holloway! Grab a new stick and get in goal!"

Nolan hated playing goalie, it was something he'd admitted to me junior year while we were talking in our history class.

He took his spot in goal and the team started playing again. Liam was still not out there and Diaz was taking over the field. He was better than he'd been the year before and I was actually impressed.

I heard Finstock make a comment about making Diaz captain if Liam didn't show up soon so I quickly texted Mason to tell him.

Diaz was making his way down the field with the ball, rapidly approaching the net where Nolan stood nervously. He took the shot and a second before the ball could make it into the net, Liam appeared out of nowhere. He did an admittedly impressive flip before catching the ball and taking off towards the opposite end of the field.

I hopped up and clapped excitedly. "Way to go, Li!"

Things were looking good until Diaz started coming towards Liam, diving low and flipping him over his back. Liam landed hard on the ground and I cringed. When he didn't get up right away Scott blew his whistle and ran towards him.

I knew something must have been wrong, so I abandoned my seat and ran onto the field, weaving between the players who were standing there looking at Liam. I knelt next to him and Scott to see that Liam's eyes were glowing gold and he was growling lowly.

"Li, are you okay? You're not hurt, are you?" I asked, putting one hand on top of the heavy pads on his shoulders.

He shook his head, but I could still hear growls rumbling through his chest.

"Hey, look at me." I said, grabbing the face mask of his helmet and forcing him to face me. "You need to calm down. Take a deep breath."

He followed my instructions and I watched his eyes flicker back to their normal shade of blue, the same color or my own eyes.

Scott stood up suddenly, pulling the two of us to our feet as well.

I noticed everyone staring at something and I looked over to see a wolf standing on the field, barely fifteen feet away from all of us. There was still-wet blood on the side of its neck and it growled, baring its teeth.

Liam immediately pushed me behind him and I found myself nervously gripping the back of his jersey.

"Everyone back." Scott said cautiously.

Most of the team followed his instructions and took a few slow steps backwards. But Nolan was standing still, seeming unable to move. His eyes were trained intensely on the wolf.

"Nolan…" Scott said but he still didn't respond.

I walked towards him, brushing off Liam's hand when he tried to stop me. My fingertips brushed the skin of Nolan's forearm. "Hey, Nolan, it's okay. Just back up a little bit, okay? Just come towards me."

His feet moved hesitantly, and he almost stumbled back towards me.

I held onto his arm, my fingers gently stroking the skin there to keep him calm.

Scott took a small step forward and I knew what he was doing. No one could see it but he flashed his eyes; a second later the wolf turned around and walked back into the woods.

I moved towards my twin brother. "Liam, what's going on? Was that a wolf? Or a wolf?"

He shook his head. "I don't know."

"We need to go find out." Scott said, looking at Liam before turning his attention to me. "You need to stay here."

I folded my arms across my chest. "Absolutely not. The two of you aren't running off into the dark woods after a potentially murderous werewolf by yourselves."

"Lauren, please. Just stay here and make sure everyone leaves just in case it comes back." Scott pleaded.

I sighed but gave in. "Fine. Text me and let me know what you find out. And please, please be careful."

"We always are." Liam said before following Scott off the field and into the woods where the wolf had disappeared just seconds before.

Due to the appearance of a wild and potentially dangerous animal, Finstock had called practice to an end early and the boys were all making their way back towards the school and into the locker room.

I grabbed my bag from where I'd left it on the bleachers and followed them into the warm building and leaned against the wall across from the locker room door and waited to make sure everyone left.

Within 20 minutes, most of the guys were gone. Even Finstock had already left for the night but by my count, there was still one person lingering inside the locker room.

I waited 10 more minutes before deciding to investigate. I pushed the door open a few inches and made sure to announce my presence. "Hello?"

There was no response, but I knew someone still had to be in there.

"Hello?" I tried again, walking into the room and shutting the door behind me.

No one spoke but I heard a quiet sniffle come from the opposite side of the room. I walked around a few sets of lockers and saw Nolan sitting against the wall near the showers. He was already changed back into his normal clothes, but he was sitting on the floor with knees pulled close to his chest and his head in his hands.

"Nolan?" I asked, and his head snapped up. There were tear tracks on his cheeks.

"Lauren?"

I dropped my bag and rushed over, kneeling beside him. "Hey, what's going on? Why are you upset?"

He shook his head and wiped a hand over his face. "Nothing. I'm fine."

I sighed. "It's okay, you can tell me."

He just shook his head again.

I reached out to rest my hand on his shoulder. "Was it the wolf? I know you were in the library last year when… Everything happened."

"Lauren, really, you don't have to worry about me." He said.

"Of course I do."

"Why?" He asked almost coldly.

My eyebrows furrowed for a second before relaxing. "Because you're my friend."

His expression softened. "Sorry. I'm just a little freaked out."

I nodded. "It's okay. I understand."

He wiped his hand across his face again, the remaining tears disappearing.

"I know what might make you feel better." I said.

His blue eyes met mine. "Yeah?"

I nodded. "Let's go to that diner downtown and get something to eat. Carbs will help take the edge off, I promise."

He smiled widely. "That sounds great."

I returned the smile and stood up, offering him a hand and helping pull him to his feet. "I swear, they've got the best hot chocolate in Beacon Hills. Come on, I'll drive."

Nolan grabbed his bag from the floor and followed me out of the locker room and towards the parking lot.

"You seem really calm." He noted. "Considering what just happened."

I looked up at him, a small smile on my lips. "Yeah, there's not a lot that scares me anymore."

"Not even a wolf?" He asked.

I wanted to laugh but I didn't. "I mean, it's scary, I guess. But no one got hurt so there's no reason to freak out, right?"

We had made it to my car, which seemed to look more and more beat up every single time I saw it. Nolan had stopped a few feet back, looking conflicted.

"What's wrong?" I asked, taking a step towards him.

He shook his head and smiled. "Nothing. I'm sure you're right. It's just an isolated incident, no big deal."

I could tell the smile was fake by the way his upper lip had twitched but I pretended to go along with it. "See, everything's fine."

We got into the car and I jammed the key into the ignition and turned it. The engine sputtered but didn't turn over. I groaned before letting go, running a hand through my hair which was a mess from being outside in the wind. "Just give her a minute. She has a hard time sometimes… Most of the time."

Nolan chuckled quietly.

"God, it's like the Jeep all over again." I muttered, not thinking he would hear me.

"Did you have a Jeep before?" He asked.

I shook my head and laughed a little. "No, not me. Stiles did, though. It didn't even run on gas, I don't think. It ran on hopes and dreams. Not to mention that it's held together by several rolls of industrial strength duct tape."

He smiled as I turned the key again. This time, the engine turned over and roared to life.

"So, you excited for senior year?" I asked, putting the car in drive and pulling out of the parking lot.

"More nervous than excited." He admitted. "But I guess I'm excited to just be done with high school."

"Tell me about it. I just want to get the hell out of Beacon Hills, get all of my undergrad work done, and take the MCAT." I said.

I noticed a small look of surprise on his face. "MCAT? You want to go to med school?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I want to be a surgeon like my dad. I know it's going to take a while but that's fine. I love learning, I just can't deal with all of the drama here."

There was a lot more to it than I could admit to Nolan, but I certainly wasn't lying to him. However, telling him that "drama" meant supernatural creatures trying to kill me and my friends was not an option.

"I don't blame you for wanting to leave." He said, fiddling with a loose string on his sleeve. "Beacon Hills is kind of crazy."

I knew that the beast showing up at the lacrosse game the year before was still bothering him, and with good reason. Nolan, like a lot of other students, had taken shelter in the library when the beast appeared. Physically, he was unharmed; but I knew there had been some psychological damage done. He'd always been anxious, I noticed it the moment I met him, but things had only seemed to get worse after the incident.

My fingers gripped the steering wheel tightly as I felt the almost overwhelming desire to tell him everything, to give him answers as to what the hell had actually happened to him. But I knew how dangerous it could be if he knew about everything. I knew what kind of target that could paint on his back and I didn't want that. I didn't want him to feel even half as scared as I did all the time.

"Lauren?"

I blinked once and looked over at him. "Sorry, what?"

"The light is green." He said.

I looked back to the traffic light in front of me, no longer glowing red. I nodded and pressed my foot to the gas. "Sorry, I was just thinking about something."

"About what?" He asked.

"Just school stuff." The lie rolled off my tongue with ease. I didn't even think, my mouth just moved of its own accord. "My schedule for this year is pretty packed. Between AP classes and extracurriculars, I'm not going to have a lot of free time."

"Are you still going to be coming to games and practices?" His tone was hopeful. "It's kind of nice having you there. At least I know I've got one person cheering for me."

I smiled. "Yeah, of course. I haven't missed one yet, have I?"

"I know that I don't always play and I'm probably not even going to make first line but it's just… It's nice knowing that you're there."

I looked away from the road to glance over at him. "Come on, you can totally make first line this year."

He arched an eyebrow at me. "Really? I got my ass handed to me tonight."

"So you need a little work. Listen, you're too nice. That's your biggest problem. Being nice is great until you're out on the field. Just take whatever anger you have and put it to good use. I know you have the skills because I've seen you run drills. It's not until the scrimmage when you get messed up."

"I don't have that much anger." He said.

I rolled my eyes jokingly. "You've got to be kidding me. You're a teenage boy, Nolan. Aren't all teenage boy supposed to be seething with rage?"

"No, I don't think that's healthy."

I laughed. "As a person who is often seething with rage, I feel attacked."

"You?" He questioned. "Seething with rage? What are you even talking about? I know you complain a lot but I've never seen you get angry about anything."

"Because you're not an asshole and you've never given me anything to be that angry about. But believe me, deep down, I am full of hellfire."

"Is it because you're short? It's usually the short girls who are the angriest." He teased.

I smacked his arm. "Oh my god, never mind. You are an asshole. And I will have you know that I am 5'3 and I know for a fact that I am four inches taller than Lainey Harris."

"Lainey Harris is 13 years old. She's only a sophomore because she skipped like three grades. So, is that all you've got? Being taller than a 13 year old? You're 17." Nolan laughed.

I pulled into the parking lot of the diner and found a spot between two minivans. "Are we going to go drink hot chocolate or are you going to further make fun of my stature?"

He laughed as we got out of the car.

I followed him inside. There weren't many people so we took an empty booth by the front window.

A waitress appeared to greet us and ask what we wanted to drink.

"Two hot chocolates." I said immediately.

She disappeared a moment later and Nolan smiled at me from across the table. "Thanks for this, by the way."

"It's no problem. You seemed pretty shaken up and I figure this is the least I could do."

He nodded. "Yeah, that was kind of intense earlier."

"Especially after what happened before." I blurted out.

His eyes widened, and I realized I'd made a mistake.

"Shit, I'm sorry. That was really not cool for me to bring that up. I already brought it up earlier and now this." I ran a hand through my hair. "Really, I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "No, don't apologize. It's okay, really. I just… I'm surprised. Most people don't bring it up because they're worried that I'm going to break down or something. It's actually nice for someone to not treat me like I'm weak."

"You're not weak at all, Nolan. Not by a long shot. I mean, obviously it's something worth being upset over but you seem to be doing okay, all things considered."

"I just don't know how you do it." He said, picking up a sugar packet from the basket at the end of the table and fiddling with it.

"Do what?"

The corner of his mouth turned up in the hint of a smirk. "Everything. All of this. You were there that night. You saw that thing too. You… You looked it in the face and you didn't run away like everyone else did. You stared right at it. And you walk around every single day like it's fine, like nothing ever even happened. It's like you don't even realize you could've died."

His words hit me hard and I leaned against the back of my seat, folding my hands in my lap. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say.

"And you know just as well as I do that it wasn't just a wolf. It wasn't just some animal attack." He said, resting his elbows on the edge of the table and leaning in my direction.

My eyes went wide and I was happy he wasn't looking at me in that moment. He knew it wasn't an animal and he was suspicious, maybe even of me. And that was a problem.

"I don't know what I saw that night, Nolan. It had to be some animal… Some crazy, mutated bear or something. It wasn't human. What else could it be?" I said.

Nolan looked back at me, his blue eyes scanning my face.

I could tell there was something on his mind, something he desperately wanted to say.

But he didn't.

The waitress strolled back up to our table, setting down two mugs of hot chocolate before wandering off again.

I picked mine up, curling my fingers around the warm mug. I could see steam wafting from the top so I knew it was too hot to drink but the heat made my hands feel better.

"Are you sure it was just an animal?" He asked.

I looked up from my mug to meet his eyes. I wanted to tell him the truth, he deserved to know. But I just nodded my head. "Yeah, Nolan. I promise. What I saw was an animal."

He leaned back, his own hands wrapping around his mug. "I'm sure you're right."

I don't think he noticed the way his voice trembled when he said that. He didn't believe me, at least not entirely. And he didn't know that I knew that.

I took a sip of my hot chocolate, ignoring the way it burned my mouth. "It's okay to be scared, Nolan. Just don't let it control your life."

He nodded, his blue eyes focused on his drink, as if he were expecting a mug full of chocolate to answer all of his questions.

"What is it?" I asked and his head snapped up, almost surprised by my question.

"N-Nothing. Tomorrow's the first day of senior year. I guess I'm just nervous."

He was lying. And he still didn't know that I knew it.

"That's not the only thing you're anxious about. Tell me."

He shook his head and reached into his pocket, pulling out $10 and dropping it on the table. "Really, I'm fine. I just… I need to get home."

"Okay, I'll give you a ride." I said, standing up at the same time he did.

He shook his head. "Don't worry about it. I'll uh… I'll see you tomorrow."

Nolan all but ran out the door and flopped back down in my seat. I reached for my hot chocolate but realized my appetite had vanished.

I walked outside, pulling my jacket tighter around me and looking for Nolan. He was getting into the car with Gabe, another guy from the lacrosse team, one of the only people I ever saw Nolan spend time with, and someone I'd talked to a few times at parties.

When I got into my car, I realized Nolan had left his bag. I grabbed my phone and sent him a text about it before driving home.

When I got inside, the house was quiet. Mom was already in bed and dad had another late shift at the hospital. I walked upstairs to see if Liam was in his room but there was no sign of him.

I knew he was with Scott so I tried not to worry. But after what happened with Nolan, I was feeling a bit shaken. Something was off, not just with him but in general.

Ignoring the feeling, I changed into pajamas before crawling into bed.

Liam never woke me up so I didn't know when he'd finally gotten home but when I walked downstairs, he was sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal.

"So what happened last night?" I asked, opening the fridge to look for food.

"We found bodies." He said casually.

"Human?" I asked.

"Wolves."

I nodded. "Werewolves or just wolves?"

"Not sure yet." He stood up to put his bowl in the sink and I closed the fridge.

"You ready for today? Did you pick your classes?" I asked, leaning against the counter.

He nodded. "Did you?"

"I picked mine weeks ago. You're the one who saves everything for the last minute."

"Have you heard anything about the new guidance counselor?" He asked.

I shook my head. "Not much. I know there have been some kids meeting with her throughout the summer."

"About what?"

I folded my arms across my chest. "The Beast. They were all in the library when it happened. I found out because of Nolan. I guess he sees her like once a week."

"I didn't know he was even there." Liam admitted.

I nodded. "It really scared him, Li. And I'm worried; Not just about Nolan, about everything. What if people are suspicious? I'm pretty sure everyone there is smart enough to know it wasn't an animal."

"Just calm down. We've been dealing with this long enough, we know how to handle it." He said.

I took a deep breath. "You're right. We have other bullshit to deal with today. So I'm going to go get dressed and we're going to senior registration and we're going to be normal high school students for once."

Liam offered me a smile. "That's the spirit, sort of."

I rolled my eyes and gave him a light shove. "Very funny. Get dressed, I want to leave in twenty."

My phone chimed as I made my way back to my bedroom and I checked it, expecting to see that Nolan had finally texted me back but it was just my dad, wishing me good luck for the first day of senior year.

I placed my phone on my desk while I got dressed and was just pulling my sweater over my head when there was a knock on my door.

"Come in!"

The door opened and Liam stepped inside, leaning against the wall. "Ready?"

I nodded. "I think so."

He tossed me my adidas backpack that was laying on the floor by the door and I slung it over my shoulder before following him downstairs.

I drove that morning and since Nolan's bag was still in my car, I'd had to field a bunch of questions about it from Liam.

"Listen, we went to get food. It's not like I went on a date with him. He's my friend, Liam." I said, glancing away from the road to shoot him a look.

"Why didn't you tell me?" He asked.

I rolled my eyes. "I wasn't aware that I had to tell you everything I do, Li. Last time I checked, you're my brother, not my dad."

"I still need to know where you are. What if something happens to you? How can I find you if I don't know where you went?" He asked.

My hands gripped the steering wheel tightly. "Okay, I get it. I understand. But what you have to understand is that I am capable of taking care of myself. You can't just baby me all the time."

"I know that. I know you can take care of yourself. But what you have to understand is that there are things out there that you can't protect yourself from. What am I supposed to do if something happens to you? What's the pack supposed to do?"

"You say that like I'm some crucial member of the pack. I'm hardly a True Alpha. I'm not even a werewolf. I can't predict death, I'm not strong, I don't… I don't even have a bat!" I almost laughed.

I pulled into the school parking lot, found an empty space, and put the car in park.

"Lauren, stop. Just because you can't…"

I cut him off. "Can we do this later? Please?"

Liam groaned and thumped his head against the back of the seat. "Fine."

I turned the car off and grabbed my backpack and Nolan's bag before getting out of the car.

"I'm sorry, Li. I'm just stressing out right now so if we could handle this later that would be great. I just want to meet with the guidance counselor and get it over with." I said, running a hand through my hair.

He nodded. "Yeah, I'm sorry too. I just worry about you a lot."

"I know." I said, staring at the ground as we made our way towards the building. "I know you're just looking out for me."

When we got inside, most of the seniors were already lined up in front of the guidance counselor's office.

"I'm not just going to stand around so I'm going to find Nolan to give his bag back and I'll meet up with you after, okay?" I said.

Liam gave me a wave as I took off the down the hallway.

Nolan was standing in front of his locker, typing a text on his phone.

"Good to see it still works." I said.

"What?" He asked.

"Your phone. It's good to see it still works. Thanks for texting me back."

I dropped his bag at his feet before turning on my heel and walking back in the direction I'd come from.

When I found Liam again, Mason and Corey had joined him in line and they were all talking about what classes they'd selected on the registration sheets.

"What's wrong?" Liam asked as soon as I walked up.

"Nothing. Why?"

"You smell terrible." He said.

I glared at him. "Excuse me?"

He shrugged. "Chemosignals. You smell like you're pissed off. And it's not a good smell."

I rolled my eyes. "I'm fine. Mostly just annoyed. Don't worry about it."

I leaned against a random locker as we waited for the line to move forward.

It took what felt like hours but the line slowly dwindled down. Liam, Corey, and Mason too their turns before I did.

It wasn't until they'd all gone until when I realized Nolan had gotten into line right behind me.

"Hey, Ren?" He asked timidly.

I turned to face him. "Yeah?"

"I'm sorry I didn't text you. And I'm sorry I ditched you last night. It's just… I've been really anxious lately and I've been acting like a jerk because of it."

I stretched onto my toes and wrapped my arms around his neck. "It's okay, Nolan. I can't stay mad at you, anyway."

His arms wrapped around my waist and gave me a light squeeze. "I'm still sorry."

I pulled away but smiled up at him. "I know. But you're my friend. So, I guess, if you're feeling like this and you need to take it out on someone, you can take it out on me. I can handle it."

The door opened and I heard a voice call out for the next person to come in.

"That's me." I said. "See you later, okay?"

I walked into the office, closed the door behind me, and took a seat.

"Lauren Dunbar?"

I nodded. "Yes."

"It's nice to meet you. I'm Miss Monroe and I'll be your new guidance counselor." She smiled at me.

I smiled back. "Nice to meet you."

I reached into my backpack to pull out my registration sheet.

"So, Miss Dunbar, what are your plans after graduation? What colleges are you looking at?" She asked as I laid my paper on her desk.

"Harvard Med, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford Med are my top three picks. Beyond that, Duke, UCSF, and Yale." I explained.

"Aiming high, I see."

"Not too high though, right?" I asked.

She laughed lightly. "With your grades, I doubt anything would be too high. I do have one concern though."

I shifted in my chair, feeling my heart rate pick up. "What would that be?"

"Your attendance." She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her desk. "Your record shows that you missed 49 days last year."

I looked down at my lap. "I know my attendance has been bad the past couple of years but I plan on doing a lot better this year."

"Do you mind if I ask the reason your attendance record got so bad so quickly?" She asked.

I almost laughed. "I was really stressed and it caused me to get sick a lot. I, uh, I did therapy for a while though and now it's not as bad."

Miss Monroe nodded once. "I'm happy to hear that. Now, about your test scores; I see that you've already taken the ACT."

"Yeah, I did it in the spring." I said.

"Is there a reason you decided to take the ACT instead of the SAT?" She asked.

"I planned on taking both, actually. I figured it would just provide another score for schools to take a look at whenever I apply." I explained.

She smiled. "And have you started any SAT prep yet?"

"I took a practice exam over the summer. I got a 2290. I've already checked each school's SAT, ACT, and GPA requirements online. My scores are high enough for all six of the schools I'm considering. Not to mention, I have all of my extracurriculars."

She picked up my registration sheet and looked over the classes I'd selected. "AP bio, AP anatomy, AP chem, trig, English, Latin, and gym. Perfect choices, Miss Dunbar. What branch of medicine are looking to go into?"

"Surgery and emergency medicine." I explained. "I was thinking maybe working in a trauma unit or something."

Monroe laid my paper back down on the desk. "Well, it appears you've got everything planned out. You barely seem to need my help."

I laughed. "I don't usually need much help with anything anymore. I've had to deal with a lot these past couple of years."

"Like what?"

I shook my head. "Nothing I'm big on talking about. It's just a lot of drama."

"I know what it's like living here in Beacon Hills. We've all been through a lot, things that aren't easily explained." She said.

I realized then that the tone of her voice, the pitch, hadn't changed once in the entire time I'd been in her office. And that was unusual. But the meaning behind her words had my head spinning. She knew things. "What do you mean?"

"You were in the library last year, weren't you? You saw it, the animal attack."

I nodded. "Yeah. I saw the animal."

"What do you think it was?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. It was dark. I thought it was a bear or something."

"Are you sure about that?" She asked.

I noticed her eyes narrow slightly and I squared my shoulders. "It's not my job to know what kind of animal it was. It was just my job to get out of there, and that's what I did."

Monroe's smile barely looked fake. "I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, Miss Dunbar. Thank you for coming in. You can take your registration sheet to the front office to turn in and they'll have your schedule made soon."

I stood up and grabbed the paper from her desk before walking out.

Nolan stepped inside and shut the door as I made my way down the hall to where Liam, Corey, and Mason were all standing.

"I don't trust her." I said immediately.

Liam's eyebrows raised. "You just met her?"

"Yeah, I know. And she was already asking me about what happened in the library last year. She knows it wasn't an animal attack so she starts asking me what I think it was. I can't tell if she's smart or a complete idiot. Either way, I don't like her. Didn't she ask you guys anything weird?"

Liam shook his head. "No, not really."

"Yeah, actually. She was talking about how things have happened that don't come with easy explanation and that anything we talk about in her office is confidential. I really don't think she was just talking about my schedule." Mason said.

"She made you kind of uncomfortable, didn't she? Not enough that you immediately want to run in the other direction but just enough that you don't want to be in a closed room with her?" I asked.

Mason laughed but nodded. "Yeah, a lot like that. She definitely knows more than she should."

The sounds of footsteps drawing closer to where we were standing brought the conversation to a close. I turned to see Gabe walking towards us, his eyes focused on me.

"Hey, can I talk to you for a second?" He asked. "Privately."

Liam shot me a look but I just shook my head before turning back to Gabe. "Yeah, of course."

I followed Gabe to the opposite end of the hallway where he leaned against the wall. "What did you and Nolan talk about last night before I picked him up?"

"I'm fine, how are you?" I snapped. "And why are mine and Nolan's conversations any of your business?"

"He was upset after he left you at the diner. I want to make sure that's not going to happen again. He's not just your friend, he's mine too."

I rolled my eyes and folded my arms across my chest. "I was talking about the library. I didn't mean to upset him. If anything, I was trying to help."

"By upsetting him?"

"I tried telling him that he doesn't have to let fear control his life. I was trying to tell him that it was just some freak animal attack and he doesn't have to be terrified that's it going to happen again. He was upset to begin with, okay? After what happened at lacrosse practice, he was really freaked out. I told him we should go get some hot chocolate to help him relax. I thought talking about it might make him feel a little bit better." I explained.

Gabe rolled his eyes and looked away before his eyes flickered back to mine. "Well, clearly you fucked up."

"Yeah, clearly I did. But at least I fucking tried, Gabe. At least my idea of helping him cope is something healthy. You just try dragging him along to parties that he's uncomfortable going to. That's not the kind of person he is. He's not as social as you and I are. Shit, just take him to a movie or something; a comedy, he hates horror films."

He shook his head, glaring down at me. "Do you think you're special just because you know that about him?"

I shrugged. "Not really. But I suppose you think you're special, running around like you have some monopoly over being his friend."

"You should watch your attitude." He warned.

I laughed and began to walk away before I called over my shoulder to him.

"Threaten me again and I'll beat you to death with your own lacrosse stick."