There were days when Dani really didn't get why she kept hanging around with Charlie. Okay, those days consisted of pretty much every Monday through Sunday week in the calendar year, but when you're seven and live practically in the next school district from everyone else in your class, you have to take what you can get.
At least, that's what her mother had told her. After the third time Charlie's mom had called, asking about suspicious bruises to the shin region.
"Why are we just sitting here?"
It was a nice day out. The sun was shining and it wasn't hot enough out for them to have to go inside for the afternoon siesta. They could have been riding bikes down to the reservoir or trying to find snakes in Charlie's back yard. But no, that's what would be happening if she had normal friends with normal interests. Instead, there they were. Bikes leaned against a retaining wall - which they were both sitting on - staring at that stupid Roman kid's house from across the street.
She'd been fidgeting in her shorts for the last ten minutes. They'd been there for fifteen.
"Because we agreed that the only way we'd know how he was convincing those older kids to do what he wants would be to have a stakeout. We agreed to this back at your house, Dani."
Dani scowled and crossed her arms over her chest. What she couldn't say is that she'd thought it an entirely stupid idea at the time, but Mama was making those worried looks at the front door that totally meant Dad was coming home, and probably not in the best of moods. Her Dad never came home during the day, especially in summer, so even though it had been a really, really stupid plan she'd gone along with it.
She also needed to remember to ask Charlie to invite her over for dinner again.
"Yeah, yeah. But it's not like we can hear anything from all the way over here. And even if we could, it's not like he'd just start randomly talking about why those stupid eighth graders are scared of him."
Next to her, Charlie blinked. She smirked at him. He might be ten, but that IN NO WAY meant he was smarter than her. At all.
"What? You might be ten, but that doesn't make you smarter than me."
Slightly depressed, Charlie dropped his head, conceding the point. "I wish we had some of those big microphone sensing things like they have on Law and Order."
Dani nodded because that would be really cool. "We still wouldn't have a way to get him to talk about what he's got on those kids, even if we had the equipment. We might have to wait here for hours until he said something. That would be really boring."
"Yeah." Charlie sighed and scratched the back of one sunburned ear. "But it would have been something to do."
"Not really." Dani shrugged. "Hey, wanna go beat up Ted and see if his mom will buy us ice cream?"
"I'm not going to go beat up Ted. He's one of my best friends."
Dani snorted and leaned over to pick her bike up off the pavement. "Whatever. Wanna go watch me beat up Ted then ask his mom for ice cream?"
"How about we just go find Ted and ask his mom to give us ice cream?" Charlie had his bike up and off the all by this point. He swung a leg over and waited for Dani to sort out her basket. She'd cut the brightly colored streamers off the handles ages ago and done her best with the white whicker basket with a daisy on the front affixed to the handle bars. Unfortunately, her skill with a box cutter hadn't been very good and now, every time she tried to get on her bike, she had to adjust the handles so that she was holding on to the basket. Otherwise, it'd drop onto the wheel and make a really loud flicky-noise.
"Eh, whatever works."
The two friends left a cloud of dust in their wake, never seeing the curtain from the house they'd been watching twitch.