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Detente

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He thinks she doesn't see him as she cuts across the quad, half her face buried in a brightly colored scarf that trails along behind her, but she knows he's there, leaning against the large oak. She continues on to her afterschool music class, passing the tree and ignoring him until something stops her.

"What do you want, Chris?"

He sort of rolls himself around the trunk, one hand gripping a cigarette. He looks at her, then down at the ground. "I was just wondering if I could ask you something," he mumbles.

She rolls her eyes and makes a show of checking her watch. "Just make it fast. I have music in twenty minutes and Mrs. Pullman will have my ass if I'm late again."

He smiles and starts to say something and briefly she remembers that he used to take the same class, until he decided music was for sissies and he would take up his afternoons with football and other manly pursuits. Then he closes his mouth and the memory skitters off and the moment is gone.

He drops the half-finished cigarette on the ground and grinds it out with his heel, blowing on his hands to warm them. She can see he's stalling and she considers just walking away, but she decides to wait him out, staring stonily at him.

Finally, his eyes lift. "Why do you hang around that fag?"

At that, she does walk away, back rigid with anger. Second later, she can hear his shoes crunching through the dead grass after her. "Daphne, wait!" She keeps walking until he passes her and spins around to block her path.

"Get. Out. Of. My. Way," she spits.

He raises his hands in surrender. "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it the way it sounded."

"How exactly did you mean it? And, anyway, what business is it of yours who I hang out with?" She's seething now, knowing she should be a little scared of Chris after Justin told her what had happened down at Woody's the other night, but she wasn't.

A strange look crosses his face and then it passes, being replaced with the usual arrogance he wore. "C'mon, Daphne, I know you got a thing for him. Isn't it hard knowing you're not gonna get any?"

She smirks. "What, jealous because I'm closer to him than you will ever be? Besides him jerking you off, that is."

Instantly, she knows it was the wrong thing to say. He steps close to her, using his bulk to try and intimidate her. "You better shut the fuck up about that. You got no idea what you're talking about. If I hear you say one more word, I'll---"

She doesn't back down. "You'll what? You'll beat the shit out of me? Out of Justin? Will you get your friends to do it because you're too much of a fucking coward to deal with it yourself? God, you make me sick! Justin jerked you off! And you liked it! And the only way you can deal with that is to try and make other people feel less than human. You want to know why I hang around with Justin? It's because he's kind and honest and he doesn't try to be anyone but who he is. That's why, you fucking asshole! Now get the hell out of my way!" She's screaming at him at the end, her rage making her pant with exertion.

Startled, his own anger deflates rapidly, taking the arrogance with it. He rubs the bridge of his nose. "Shit."

It's all he says and she glares, waiting for his oh-so-clever response, sure to come complete with the requisite "queer" or "fairy."

He surprises her. Muttering so low she has to lean forward to hear him, even though he's still standing so close she can feel the warmth of his breath on her face, he says, "I'm sorry."

She decides to torment him a bit. "What? I'm afraid I didn't catch that."

He raises his head and she almost recoils at the naked pain in his eyes. "I said I was sorry. I won't bother you again."

"And Justin."

"Him either."

She nods, content for now with this olive branch, and she's about to go when he grabs her arm and says something else, haltingly and blushing.

"I do like girls too, you know. It's not that I'm a fa---. I mean, I think you're hot and all."

She's beyond surprised that he's being so forthcoming but she just grins, the last of her anger dissipating. "Chris, that just means you're bi-- -wait, what did you say?" she gasps as his full words penetrate her brain.

He matches her grin and quickly, before she can move away, leans forward and kisses her. It's tentative and sweet and over before she can even respond to it. He releases her, grins again, and walks off, tossing a "See ya later, Daph." over his shoulder.

She touches her gloved fingers to her lips and watches him go.