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Noah frowns at his desk, his new teacher, and the boring black Trapper Keeper that his mom made him buy instead of the one with the red car on it. His mom kept insisting that first grade would be ‘so much fun!’ and ‘wasn’t he glad to leave kindergarten?’ His dad just patted him on the back a lot and talked about the sports they’d learn in P.E.

So far, Noah isn’t sure that first grade lives up to their expectations. His mom and dad are always talking about ‘expectations’ and how he needs to ‘meet expectations’ and do a lot of stuff different. Noah folds his arms across his chest and glares at the empty seat next to him. He doesn’t even have someone sitting at his table yet! The other nametag says F-i-n-n in that ridiculous fake handwriting typing. Where is this ‘Finn’? And does he have an actual fin?

His new teacher is talking to some skinny kid who’s been crying since he got into the classroom a few minutes ago. Then his teacher points at Noah, and Noah’s frown gets deeper. What did his mom and dad say to his teacher? It’s not fair. He’s not even been in the classroom long enough to break the pencil sharpener like he did last year or write all over Suzy Pepper’s backpack like he did his first time through kindergarten.

His teacher walks that crying kid over to Noah’s table. “Noah, this is Finn!” His teacher smiles at him like she’s doing them a big favor or something. “He’s going to sit at your table.”

“Do you have a fin?”

The other kid just looks at him like he’s really confused. “No. I don’t habv one of those.”

“Oh.” Noah sighs. “That su–stinks.” His mom would be proud of him, he remembered not to ‘talk like his dad’ at school.

Finn shrugs and sits in the seat with the ‘Finn’ nametag. “I’m Finn. Finn Hudson.”

“It says I’m Noah, but you should call me Puck. That’s my superhero name.”

Finn looks confused again. “I don’t habv a superhero name. I’m just Finn Hudson.”

“Have you seen X-Men?”

“No, my mom says it’ll gibv me nightmares, because of the fighting,” Finn says. “But I watch Power Rangers. It has fighting, too.”

“I watch that! But I can’t do any of the fighting. I’ve tried.”

“I can do the chops. I’ll show you how in P.E., ok?” Finn grins at Noah, and Noah can see a big gap between his front teeth.

“Okay. Hey, I have a loose tooth. Wanna see?”

“Yeah, cool! Does it wiggle?” Finn peers into Noah’s mouth while Noah wiggles his tooth with his tongue. “Oh, gross! That’s awesome!”

“I know! The girl over there screamed when I showed it to her earlier!” Noah grins.

“Girls are so dumb,” Finn says. “Except for my mom. She’s a girl, but she’s not dumb.”

“Girls are kinda gross,” Noah agrees. “That other one squeals too much, too.”

“Yeah, they are gross,” Finn says, nodding his head. “Really gross. I’m glad I don’t habv to sit with them.”

“Yeah, me too.” Noah frowns. “You think this teacher will threaten to make us sit with the girls? My teacher last year kept telling me that. ‘Noah Puckerman, if you don’t sit down, you’re going to come sit up here next to McKenzie!’”

“Ew!” Finn grimaces. “I don’t want to sit by the girls. I like sitting here. You’re cool.”

“Want to play Power Rangers soccer at recess?”

“Yeah, that sound cool.”

“Why were you crying before?”

Finn makes a face and his cheeks turn red. “I don’t like going to school.”

“It’s kinda boring,” Noah says, “but I’m tired of my mom’s crafts.”

“I like being home with my mom. My mom is cool,” Finn says.

“My mom is always home.”

“My mom works at the hockspital.”

“Why do you talk like that?”

“Like what?” Finn looks confused. “My mom says I just need my grownup teeth.”

“Hockspital. That’s kinda funny.” Noah shrugs. “Are your baby teeth loose yet?”

Finn shakes his head. “I’m a late bloomer. Anyway, your name is Puck and that’s funny.”

“Nuh-uh. It’s cool. My dad says it’s–oh, I’m not supposed to say that here. It’s really cool.”

“I still think it’s kind of weird,” Finn says, scrunching up his eyebrows. “But I don’t habv a dad, so maybe they like that kind of stuff. I dunno.”

“You don’t?” Noah frowns. “How do you not have a dad? Did he leave like Mr. Jacobs?”

“The army lost him and so now my mom habvs his ashes in a jar,” Finn says. “Is Mr. Jacobs in a jar?”

“No, he left Mrs. Jacobs and her baby and moved to Indianapolis.”

“Oh. No, mine’s just in a jar.”

“That stinks.” Noah shrugs. “Does your mom talk about sports with you?”

“Kinda. Sometimes she watches football with me. We watch the Browns and she makes me cheese dip,” Finn says. “And sometimes she sits in my dad’s chair and holds his jar and cries while I eat my cheese dip.”

“Weird. I watch the Bears ‘cause they’re awesome.”

Finn shrugs. “You wanna play Power Rangers football at recess instead?”

“Sure. I’ll be the Red Ranger.”

“Cool. I’ll be the White Ranger, because he’s the awesomest,” Finn says, pointing at his shirt. “See? I habv some of his pencils, too.”

“My mom won’t buy stuff with ‘characters’ on it,” Noah says, frowning again. “I had to get yellow pencils and a plain black Trapper Keeper.”

Finn looks like someone just offered him chocolate. “Hey! I habv six of them! I’ll gibv you three and I’ll habv three, and then we can be best friends, ok?”

Noah grins. “Okay!”