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Title: Rabbit Holes
Summary: Another with the boys.  Jim brings up Ben and Coke's friendship.  Approval is not forthcoming.
Word Count: 646



Jim was waiting in the library, all haughty nonchalance, watching people flick rubber bands at librarians and swots.  Everything in his demeaner stated that, while this may be amusing, he was far above doing such pointless things.  The redhead boy finally arrived, and Jim shuffled his books.  Ben had kept him waiting.  Ben slapped his books down.

"If your 'mates' hadn't been playing keep away with some girl's stupid Squiggle pen I wouldn't be late.  Questions eleven, thirteen and twenty-eight, was it?"  Ben gazed at him, hand hovering over his book, ready to open to the correct page.

"So you agree it was a stupid pen, then."  Jim had crossed arms and was leaning back in his chair.  Ben rolled his eyes and flopped his hands down.

"Don't be a dick.  Why on earth would you care about some eighth-grader's stationary?"

"I don't."

"See?  Now hurry up, some people do actually have to do things to earn a living."  Ben pulled Jim's homework closer to him and tugged a pen out from under his beanie. Jim pulled the pen away and stared at him.

"What on earth are you doing with the new freak?" Jim pulled Ben's beanie off, closed his books.  Ben sighed and shot him a pained look.

"Well really, I mean, you're always around him, and I know you're not popular, but at least you're not totally a freak.  Weird, yes, but not freakish."  Jim sounded completely earnest, Ben knew he would.  He rubbed a hand through his hair and muttered.

"You may have failed to notice, but he's the one following me around.  I don't know why.  And he's not a freak, he's just-"

"Ben, he's bald, and he wears lippy, and Ashleigh- you know Ashleigh?- she swears she saw him at the chemist buying blue eyeliner."  Jim squinted at Ben, Ben glared back.  He slammed a hand on his books, always a warning he was about to pack up.

"He's nice.  Besides, I don't believe you about Ashleigh.  What'd Ashleigh be doing in the chemist?"

Jim opened his mouth, no doubt to give the long, dull story about why the daughter of the Mayor would be in the town chemist.

"No, look, James.  I don't care why Ashleigh was at the chemist, I don't care that you think he's weird, I don't care that you don't want me to be friends with him.  He's nice.  Besides, it's him following me around not the other way."  Ben paused, hand still on his book.  Jim ignored it.

"It's not just me that thinks he's a freak- well, I don't think it, he is one- but that doesn't matter.  Everyone else thinks he's a freak too.  Even the teachers do!  Only you don't."

"That's because everyone else is stupid."

Jim shoved his finger in Ben's face, a facsimile of a point.

"See!  That's why you're only weird, not a freak!  You only think that, you don't say it!  He does, and now you did!  Mate, if you keep going this way you're going to be a social pariah.  All for some bald kid who can't keep his opinions to himself."

Ben started shoving his books in his bag.

"He's not the only one, the only difference is his opinions aren't everyone else's opinions."

Jim stared at him, evaluating.  He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

"I just don't want you to give up your social life for some kid you feel sorry for.  Look, don't go, I really do need your help."'

Ben starting to unpack again.

"I know, yea?  But I do like him.  He's nice.  And funny.  And he doesn't mind if I'm quiet." Ben looked over Jim.  "You know, you'd like him too."

Jim looked disbelieving but opened his book to the right page.

"It's question twenty-nine, not twenty-eight."

Ben flicked some more pages.

"Yea.  And thanks, anyway."


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Javiia Faey Evelyn

August 2011

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