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One Term

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Jay woke up early as his homemade alarm went off. He stretched and rubbed his eyes with his palms. He sighed as his brain started ticking. He thought 'i wonder what possibilities today holds'. He noticed how sarcastic he sounds in his head but shrugged it off. He got up and went to the bathroom. After emptying his bladder he stood in front of the mirror and stared at his reflection for a bit. He rubbed his chin and checked for any signs for facial hair but found none. 'What a disappointment' he thought. He brushed his teeth and went to his closet to find his sweatsuit to go for a morning walk. Not that he's into sports or anything, he just thought he'd break the routine because 'why not? I'm bored' , but he didn't know how this is going to change his perspective of his life as it is.

Jay Walker lived with his parents in their Junk yard. Both of his parents are brilliant engineers. They used to be so busy fixing vehicles back in the day. But as they grew older their love for parts took over them so they bought the junk yard. Luckily they had enough money to spend for the rest of their lives when they decided its time for retirement. And they had a pretty smart kid to look after and teach. So in order to keep him insight and be in full awareness of what he learns they decided to try homeschool. Because besides playing with parts all day and making whatever they needed in everyday life... What else is there to do, right?.

Jay walked out of his room scratching his neck. The sweatshirt is a bit itchy but he would take itch over boredom any day. He saw his mom going through the fridge looking for something. "Morning, Ma" he managed to pull and his voice sounded empty. "Good morning, Honey" she said without looking at him. She closed the fridge with her elbow, maple syrup and eggs in her hands. She looked at him and her eyes widened. "Oh! Going for a walk? " she asked enthusiastically. Jay nodded silently. "OK then. BUT-" Jay sighed. He knew what was coming. His mother was always overprotective of him. He couldn't blame her though. He interrupted her saying what he knew she's going to say. "Don't talk to strangers. You can go to the park and around it but never too far. Stay away from shady boulevards and don't go near the river. I'm not a kid anymore ,MA . I can handle myself. Otherwise all those self defense lessons have been a waste of time" . No, he couldn't knock people unconscious , No, he's not that strong or violent and No, he wasn't THAT muscular. But he had nice built biceps and even nicer legs. He was fast. He could throw couple punches and a few kicks and then run for his life and that would've been a scene.

His mom, Edna, looked at him proudly "That's my son" she said as she walked towards him. She hugged him tight and printed a kiss on his forehead . "Ma!" Jay whined and wiped the lipstick off. He was heading to the door when she called after him. "what do you feel like eating later? " . "pancakes would be nice" Jay responded as he walked out. He went by his father's working shack. He noticed a 'Mechanic working Do not disturb' sign on the door. "Maybe it's another vacuum cleaner" Jay thought. "it'd be easier if you just bought one, Pa" . He chuckled at the thought and moved to the gate.

He pulled his earphones out of his pocket and put them in his ears. His mix started playing and he couldn't help that he skipped a few steps as his steps synced with the beat. God he loved that feeling. The freedom, the wind, the smells. Everything was fine. He was walking towards the central park when he saw them, four guys at his age standing at the bus stop. Clearly waiting for the school bus. He stopped and watched them. They looked nice in hoodies and jackets. Those Jeans with ripped knees looked agreeable for some reason. Maybe he'll try cutting one of his and see how it looks on him. Two of them were talking and the subject looked interesting by the looks on their face. Another one looked tired. He must've gone to bed late last night. The last one was scrolling through his phone. He suddenly showed the screen to his friends. They laughed hysterically. He flipped the phone and told them to come closer. They must be taking a selfie. Jay walked towards them steadily, cautious not to get their attention just to over hear them. All he managed to get from them as they were getting on the bus was "This term is going to be great" "shut up. I wanna go back to bed" "cheer up, dude" .

He resumed his walk towards the park. He was walking by the lake and decided to go over the bridge. Breaking the rules was fun. Adrenaline rushed through his blood. 'I'm such a bad boy' he thought and chuckled. He stopped in the middle and looked At the water beneath him. Out of no where, his imagination went wild. He was seeing himself laughing with the guys from before. He was daydreaming about how life would be if he went to school. From what he saw on TV, he imagined it would be a series of troubles lead by teenage arrogance and raging hormones. But it would be fun to go through it with people who he'd feel comfortable to be an idiot around. He was woken from those images by his phone buzzing. His mother texted him to come back so that's the end of his freedom for a while.

At home his mother was rehearsing today's physics class when he entered. And his father was indeed testing his newly homemade vacuum cleaner. His mother saw him and walked towards the kitchen to get him his still warm pancakes. She put them in front of him and added the maple syrup. Jay ate in silence, too wrapped up in his thoughts. Edna noticed it so she tried "JJ? you're awfully quiet... Something wrong ?" Jay shook his head slowly. Edna tried again "something interesting happened on your walk? " Jay didn't know whether he should tell her or not. Maybe she'll understand how he feels. Maybe this won't go south. Maybe just maybe. " I saw some guys my age waiting for the school bus" . Edna rubbed her right cheekbone "Ah yes. The new term starts today". Jay wasn't shocked. Of course she knew that. "And...? " Edna prompted . "...and now im wondering how it would be if i had friends my age" Jay explained. Edna raised her eyebrow "really? " Jay stuffed his mouth so he wouldn't answer . Just in that moment, Jay's father, Edward, popped up. Edna immediately turned to him and told him to sit with them. "What's cookin' ?" Edward asked curiously. Edna pointed at Jay's head "Jay's brain apparently" Jay felt their attention on him. So much pressure. He felt cornered and he hated that feeling. There's no way to get out of this so he might as well get it over with. "I think i want to go to highschool" he blurts. He slammed his eyes shut and waited . When he heard nothing he opened his eyes. He saw a mixture of his dad's deep thinking face and horror. "Just one term. Then things can go back to normal" he adds. Their faces soften at that. After a brief moment, Edward cleared his throat. 'Here it comes' Jay thought cynically. "You are aware that they'll be too much distractions right?" Jay looked up in shock "what?". Edna spoke calmly " It won't be like studying at home. The teachers will be different ,you may not like their methods, or maybe you just won't be relaxed in a room with that many people". "You'll be self aware of your actions all the time. You won't be able to be yourself at all. And fear of judgement will take over you. Teenagers can and will be brutal. Are you willing to go over all of this? " Jay was caught off guard . He didn't think about all of that " I... " . Edward spoke again "I'll tell you what. Take the day off. Think this through and let us know when you're ready. No pressure here, Son. We'll respect your decision" .

Jay went to the bathroom to shower. He had thoughts in his mind. And what place is better to think than under the shower?. He slowly removed his clothes and stepped inside. He stood under the water for what seemed like ages. His parent made valid points. And they seemed prepared for this. Did they rehearse this behind his back? Was he not trustworthy? No that can't be. They gave him a choice. It was his decision after all .what about the 'distractions' as they called them. Will he really become a victim? What if he got popular? And didn't get enough time to study?. "yeah right" he told himself. He'll do some research online . Yeah that will help for sure .

He read ALOT of articles. Teen anxiety, social interactions, gaining friends, my experience as a the new kid at class, etc. He noticed alot of common points. Mainly "Be yourself" and "self confidence" . Those hadn't been a problem for him before. But this is a new situation with other people. Strangers with different backgrounds and life experience. Not his parents or the guy from the supermarket- wait a sec! The guy from the supermarket! Yes he didn't know him that well or to be fair at all but he had interacted with him before. He should try and hold a conversation with him. Then he'll decide. It's also a chance to ride his bike. He misses driving Arcee. It's been a while.

So he went to his mother and asked if they needed something from the supermarket. Meat was the answer. Maybe Edna was going to make her stake. God he loved it. It's taste, it's smell and all the feelings his mother put in it. "love is the secret ingredient" was her words. But he knew better than that. It's the black pepper in the sauce. He unchained Arcee slowly. "Hi sweetheart. I missed you" he said as he mounted the bike. "Let's go for a spin shall we? " and he drove off. Its not like the supermarket is that far but why not take another road than the usual? Maybe he'll see other people his age.

As he drove, he forgot about watching people and lost himself to the driving. He wasn't a pro or anything. He just lived the moment and that by itself was something else. 10 minutes of bliss and he found himself at the parking lot of his destination. He went in and said hi to the cashier, Turner. Turner was friendly enough to say hi back so Jay smiled at him and went for the fridges. He look at the meat carefully and found the perfect piece. He found one that looked fresh and big. Clearly whatever creature that was chopped into this was well fed and taken care of. He took it to Turner and here this was the test. 'Try not to be awkward' Jay thought to himself.

"Hi again" said Jay nervously. "Hi again" Turner mimicked smirking "How are you?" Jay gained some confidence and pulled a genuine smile "I'm good. How you doin'?" . Turner chuckled a bit "Man, i don't want to chew your ears off in a rant" he scanned the meat and put it it in a groceries bag "Let's just say my job sucks. And every now and then comes someone nice and makes my day" Jay blushed at that. "That'll be 25 bucks Mr...? " "Jay" .Jay pulled out 30 bucks and handed it over then took the bag and started walking towards the door when Turner called for him "Jay! You forgot your change" . Jay turned on his heels and look at him in the eye "I know" and winked then resumed his way. Turner was left speechless and blushing.

On the ride home Jay was so proud of himself. Ha actually made someone's day. And he did it smoothly. If he could hold that power in school, everything's going to be fine. All the stress and anxiety was worth it. And the glee after it was priceless. He made his mind. He wants to go for it. It's going to be a good experience.

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Jay went home. His mother has been waiting by the window the whole time . 'She worries too much' Jay thought. He decided to play it cool for now and reveal his decision later. He entered the house and played innocent "Ma I'm back" he said, as if he didn't see her at the window. 'why not mess around for a sec? ' he thought to himself. He handed her the bag and stood in front of her. He lifted his hands up to appear like a cross. "Full scan" he said sarcastically as he turned 360 degrees in slow motion, doing a scanning noise with his mouth. Edna snorted at that and hugged him tight. "See? Perfectly a 100% fine" . She hit him gently in the forehead. "Don't mock me for being worried about you" . Jay let out his pent up laughter. Moments like these are what he lived for. He told his mother that they can go back to the scheduled classes for the day. She arched an eyebrow at him but didn't decline. And so the physics class started. He did his best to focus and put everything else in the back of his head. For now at least .
Jay felt tired when Edna finally said they're done. Exhausted even. He want straight to bed and fell asleep immediately. He had this weird dream where he was tied up to a pendulum. It kept swinging back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And alot of "calculate the speed of the pendulum if... " were thrown at him. He couldn't do the math. He was too sick to think. He felt vomit going up his Esophagus and puked. Out of no where, a giant red F fell on top of him, breaking the pendulum and waking him up. He looked around and found himself in his bed. He took a deep breath to calm down. "That's it! " he muttered "No more physics before bed" he got up and went to the kitchen. A glass of water seemed like a good idea in his head. But when he tried to drink, he felt sick so he put it away. "MA! " he yelled. "I'm passing lunch" . Edna basically ran into the kitchen "why? " she looked at him with a worried expression "Honey you're pale. Are you ok? " she started feeling his forehead "Hmm. No fever" . Jay's stomach relaxed for a bit "I'm ok, Ma. Really. Just had a bad dream about that pendulum " he rolled his eyes at the thought. "now i can't stomach anything" . Edna felt his cheek and neck "Go outside. Walk around. Fresh air will be good for you" . And so he did and he felt good to be out and about.
Later at dinner , he pushed his plate away after he finished. His parents looked at him in anticipation. They knew what was coming. The decision!. Jay opened his mouth to speak then closed it. Then did the same thing again. Edward's eyebrow rose up In concern. "just say it JJ. No need for introductions ". Jay looked at his father thankfully. " I want to go. I know how risky it is and I'll do my best to overcome the problems that might ,um , Will face me. I promise my education will be a priority and i won't neglect my studies." That's it. It's out. He shut his eyes and took a deep breath waiting for their reaction. "We support you" said Edna calmly. Edward voice came slow and confident "I've already enrolled you in the nearest highschool. How do you feel about Destiny High? " " i feel good. So good" Jay said and initiated a group hug.
The next day Edward drove to the highschool in his car. Jay had insisted on following him driving Arcee. He can't go to his first day at school with his father hovering around him. Like how embarrassing is that ? Anyway, it was a 15 minutes drive because Edward drove slowly. Jay swore he could make it to eight or seven if he went as fast as he wanted. But safety is a must. If he had an accident going or returning to school he can kiss it goodbye. Edna would never allow him out of her sight again .
Edward stopped before they got inside the school grounds. He pulled over and got out of the car. Jay stopped by his side but didn't get off the bike. Edward spoke to give him the final instructions. "When you get there look for an adult and ask for Principal Wu's office. I informed him about your situation" he used airqoutes for some reason "He'll know how to make things work for you. Good luck JJ. We're proud of you" he pats Jay's shoulder and gets back in the car. Jay can't help the anxiety wave that hit him after his father left. He shook his head and drove into the school property. Parking the bike was easy . No one seemed to pay attention to him then. So he made his way inside.
He walked in the corridor slowly, looking around and eyeing everything. So this is how it looks like from the inside. He wasn't sure he looked nice or not in other people's perspective. They kept staring at him as he walked. In his mind a white T-shirt and blue jeans looked nice. He even made a cut where the knees are supposed to be to make it like how the guys from the bus stop had it . Of course, his mother made him wear a jacket. Good thing it matched colors with his pants. He understood something! They weren't staring at him because he dressed funny. They were staring because he's the new kid. The articles were right . He shrugged it off and started to look around for any teacher. He ran into a woman, Misako, the history and economics teacher as it turned out. She lead him to the principal's office.
"You must be Jay. I was expecting you" said the old Principal as Jay entered. "Take a seat" and Jay did as he was told. "I am Principal Wu. I think you've figured that much" he chuckled to himself . " Your father came to me and cleared your background. I informed all the teacher about you so they'll take care of you. I know you don't want any special treatment and want to live it to the fullest BUT you must understand this is how we, eh, " he scratched his forehead " what do you kids say these days? Yes! This is how we "Roll". If it gets too hard you can always come to me or Misako we're ready to help you at any time. Anyway i know you like challenge so here's the first one" Wu hands Jay two pieces of paper. Jay looked at them curiously. One was a map and the other was a time table. "Your lockers number is on the time table. Off you go. And good luck" he hears so he stood up and got out silently. He looks at the paper. 408 it said so he looked for the locker. When he found it the lock was opened so he looked inside. Another piece of paper was taped on the inside. It said '3rights 2 lefts 2rights'. Oh! that's the combination! He looks at thw classes schedule. English class, room 17. He look at the map to locate that room. When he found it he folded the map and the time table neatly and put them in hus pocket then took his literature book from his bag and locked the bag in his new locker. Heading to class was smooth. The corridor was empty. Why was it empty? He was late! The class started and he's late! Great 'cuz that's what he needed. A stern talking to from the first class on his first day. Wait wait wait a sec... This is school! There's no stern talking to! They have punishments.
Jay knocked on the classroom door and slowly walked in. He was so nervous he could swear people can smell it on him. All the eyes landed on him, because sure let's stab the new kid with our eyes. The teacher, Mr Chen glared at him "Ah yes, the new kid. Let's give it up for Lightning here " and he started clapping slowly and the others clapped with him just to get it over with. Chen spoke again "You know why Lightning? 'cuz you distracted all the other students with your appearance. Which is also ironic, why ? You're slow! The class started 10 minutes ago. Where have you been? ". Jay opened his mouth to speak but Chen made the buzzer noise. " I don't care. Everyone , this is Jay Johnathan Walker". No one bothered looking at him. They seemed too wrapped up in their books to care.'Yay. Hard workers' Jay thought sarcastically. "Go sit there in that empty seat by the window". When he got there and sat, he saw the truth. Behind the books they hid their phones. Texting and playing games Right beneath the teacher's nose. 'THIS i can believe' Jay thought 'hard workers' he rolled his eyes.
As the class ended Jay came out with three conclusion. Chen was always overdramatic and nobody care about what he says. So he might as well not care too. And being invisible is better than being the corridor's show and tell. Luckily Misako's history class was next. She was a nice lady. And she delivered the knowledge in a fascinating way. Jay enjoyed the class and wished Chen would be more like Misako. For some weird reason, they had 3 classes before lunch break. The next class was chemistry. Mr Klous was something else. He looked shady. With his dark clothing and his pony tail. He talked in almost whispers and hated Jay instantly. 'Great' Jay thought 'i have my own Professor Snape'. Luckily he was good at chemistry so most damage has been avoided.
Lunch was ... Well... Boring to be fair. He stood in line carrying the trey. And after all that waiting what did he get? Flavourless mashed potatoes, and apple and a number of blueberries. He looked around. Most of the tables were fulled. He noticed that every certain group or coterie had their own table. He saw that brunette from class sitting in an all girls table. The most muscular guys sat together. They're probably the football team or whatever . The other tables were just random people sitting together he guessed they're friends . He stood there for a minute and thought. 'maybe not' so took the apple and the berries. He returned the trey and walked towards the parking lot. 'yeah. Lunch with Arcee is way better than sitting alone'.
Physics was taught by Mr Gravis. Not an interesting teacher but he'll do. Math and biology were taught by Neuro. He was so keen almost like he knew what you're thinking . His classes are going to be eventful . They didn't have gym class that day so Jay didn't meet the coach .
At the end of the day, he decided not to go home directly. He drove around the city and checked out new places he could go to with his friends when he gets some. He marked a Pizza place called Morakami's. It seemed decent so he'll definitely go there at some point. He went by "Ramen Taku" but he wasn't into spicy stuff so he passed. Eventually he saw a Starbucks and felt like getting coffee now so he went in. Inside was warm and comfy and people seemed to enjoy the quiet conversations. 'This will be a regular stop every now and then' Jay thought. He went to order. The prices were reasonable so he'll be around alot. A latte was his order but he took a minute eyeing the guy at the counter. He was someone from school! They took history together! Maybe he can try the Turner thing with him.' No. Not today' he thought. He ordered to go and left.
The drive home was fast. Jay barely drove. He kept thinking about how the day went. Something was clear though. He should lower his expectations. He won't fit in on the first day. And for sure he didn't make any friends either. So when he got home ,he didn't know if he was tired or frustrated. He went straight to bed and to his luck , Edward was out and Edna was off sight so he slept right away. Later he woke up to the smell of something being cooked. He got up and went to check it out. Edna greeted him with a hug "meatloaf evening " she pinched his cheek "here's my school boy" . "Ma! " Jay whined but hugged her back. "how was your day?" asked Edna curiously. Jay sat and grunted. "Somewhat boring. Some events were interesting but boring in general " Edna ruffled his hair as she walked towards the fridge . "I want all the details over dinner but now go take a bath". Jay stood up "yes Ma " and went to his room to fetch something to wear then headed to the bathroom .
Dinner? More like listening to the Radio. Jay kept blabbing about his day with all the juicy details for what felt about forever. His parents were interested though. They wanted to know it all. Of course they had some reservations and buts, but there was nothing they could do at this point. So they just listened. After he finally shut up they assured him that it's just the first day and the future is in his hands to make it better , that persevering is the key.
After dinner he went to his room to start studying . What they had today wasn't hard, but he cant risk breaking his promise. So he sat on his desk and opened his calculus and got sucked into the numbers. After that he went over and memorized the history lesson. He even wrote an essay about it. Not to be a "teacher's pet" or get extra credit. Just to push himself a bit. He must get good grades for Misako's sake. Students tend to sleep in her class and that must be frustrating for her. Maybe if she saw how serious he is she'll be delighted. He gave the essay to his mother to look at it. She said it was good so that's that. As time went on ,he finished for the day. It was late so he went to bed. He had to wake up early tomorrow.
The next day he asked his mother to make him a sandwich for lunch. He didn't want to depend on chances. The timetable said he had gym class today. 'Super' he thought sarcastically. A class he can't excel . Of course he was in a relatively good physical shape but, there was ALOT of muscular guys in his class. There won't be much of a match. 'Whatever' he thought and packed his sweatpants and a black T-shirt for that. The drive to school was uneventful. And so the second day begins.
He made his way to the boys lockers room and changed to his sweatpants. He headed to the field humming. All the possibilities going through his head. Maybe they'll play dodge ball. Two teams of teenagers throwing balls at each other's faces. He was glad that he didn't need glasses. They'd break in an instant in that barbaric none sense. But then again, if they did play dodge ball, who would take the new kid to their team? They didn't know if he would be helpful or a burden. What if he was a burden? What if he made his team lose? They'd hate him for sure. Gaining enemies is the exact opposite of his goal. Maybe he's thinking too much. Maybe they will play basketball or soccer or something else. Not everyone knew how to play those kinds of games. There's gonna be other beginners for sure.
The coach, Lee, had other plans for them, Lucky Jay. Lee made them run around the field half the time, which was no problem for Jay. He used to go running a few months ago 4 times a week . That was the only time he had to be alone with his thoughts. Sure he slowed down and turned it into jogging and twice a week but he can't be that rusty, right?. Indeed he was a bit rusty but he could keep up the others, thank god.
Lee made them play catch with balls of every shape, color and size. Apparently he was being nice "It's the first week, i won't be killing you today" was his words when someone asked him why was he being soft on them. Suddenly, the coach faced Jay and yelled in the distance "New kid! Catch" and threw a football towards him. Jay saw it flying over his head so he ran after it as fast as he could. He caught it by the tips of his fingers before it hit the ground. Jay jogged back and returned the ball to Lee. Lee looked at him impressed. "you should try out for the football team. You'd make a good receiver" Jay was caught off guard. He never thought about it before. Joining a sports team and maybe play against other schools. He'd make friends along the way for sure. But wait! What if he broke a leg or foot or a hand or shoulder in a game? What if he broke his neck! Ok this was far likely to happen. But what if he broke a limb? He'll be locked in his room for the rest of his life. His mother will never let him out of the house. He has to get out of this situation safely. "I'll think about it" was all he managed to get out. Lee nodded and went to yell at someone else . 'Good save' Jay thought.
The rest of the day was merely uneventful. He ate his sandwich on Arcee while Going through the books to get an early idea of what today's classes might be,, which is going to be a habit from now on. Boring classes and trips to and from his locker. He was surprised that he could get to the classrooms without the map. Being invisible to the others made it easy to go into class. No distractions . It's just him and the teachers now.
Two weeks later they had the first test. Straight A's were so easy since he did nothing but study all day. His parents were so proud , Edna made stake that day. He went to the library every day and checked out every book with an interesting title. He had fun doing that. But after the test results, he got bored. And he didn't want to admit it but he felt lonely.

Chapter Text

The new semester started and Cole haven't solved his problem yet. He thought that by this time, he would have worked on in and be done with it but there he is . No progress at all and all he has accomplished was giving himself a terrible headache. "I'm back" came his roommate's voice. Cole got up looked up from the book in in front of him and cracked his neck. "How did it go? " Cole asked tiredly. "Terrible" the younger teen replied. Cole looked at him curiously "How come?" . "You'd think after all I've done and been through too prove that I'm not a child anymore, he'd stop treating me like a 5 years old kid but NO. All the time he was like 'Lloyd don't do that. Lloyd you shouldn't talk like that. No Lloyd . Lloyd you are the heir of Garmadon industries and i expect you to act like it' . What did he expect after sending me to that godforsaken school?". Cole nodded, knowing what Lloyd mean. "Of course I'd grow up rebellious!" Lloyd wanted to go on with his rant but Cole interrupted him with a pat on the back. "OK calm down , deep breath" and Lloyd did so. "How about we go out for ice cream?" Cole suggested, knowing how that sound in this particular situation. He earned a death glare from Lloyd. Cole laughed out loud and ruffled Lloyd's hair. "Sorry, Green bean. I couldn't resist. Hey i tell you what, I'll convince Hot mess to join us for Pizza. I know he won't say no to that". Lloyd looked at him skeptical. "You do that. I'll call a cab which is the ONLY thing I'm paying for " and walk to his room to change into something more comfortable. Cole sighed. Poor Lloyd . His father always gave him a hard time every time he saw him. And his mother left after his birth. The fact that Lloyd's still holding up gives Cole hope, that someday he'll overcome his own problems.
They came back stuffed. Cole could still taste the pepperoni and cheddar on his mouth. Lloyd went directly to his room and flopped on the bed, falling asleep instantly. Cole thought he'd try again with that book from earlier so he sat on the couch and opened the book. The letters wouldn't stop moving. They danced before his eyes. He rubbed his eyes and squinted ,but as usual nothing changed. They were running around in circles. He slammed the book shut. "I can't do this right now. Im too tired" he mumbled to himself and walked to his room. He changed into his pyjama pants and sat on the bed and rubbed his face. "Today's not the day" he said to himself. He put his head on the pillow. And drifted off into dreamless sleep.
The next day he got up early. Brushed his teeth and did his morning routine. A hundred push ups and fifty squats. He finished and showered. His shampoo and conditioner bottles felt lighter than he expected. "LLOYD!" he yelled from the bathroom. He walked out with a towel around his hips and went to Lloyd's room. "Get up you burglar" he shook Lloyd who got up daunted. "What what! Where's the fire?! " Lloyd screamed panicking . "You used my stuff again!" Cole practically growled. Lloyd looked at him in the eye "that's it? I was woken up by an earthquake just because i used you conditioner?! " he didn't wait for a response. He picked up a pillow and threw it at Cole who dodged it effortlessly. "Seriously Lloyd. We have one rule in this apartment and it is YOU staying away from my hair stuff." Lloyd threw another pillow at him "get out" . "Get up. Its a school day" Cole grunted and headed to his room to get dressed.
Cole stayed quiet all the way to the bus stop. 'This is going to be a bad day' he thought. They parted when Lloyd's bus arrived. 10 minutes later his bus came. He got on and sat on the first empty seat by the window. He kept thinking about the tests and how bad the results are going to be. Coach Lee is going to chew his ears off. "You don't push yourself hard enough. Try harder. Aren't you tired of this? It shouldn't be a problem for someone your age " and all that crap. He was pulled out of his thoughts when someone driving a motorcycle passed by his window. He must've been in a hurry. He drove by the bus in an instant. Cole sighed. He had bigger problems to think about. Five minutes later the bus stopped by the school and they got off.
He went to his locker and got rid of his backpack. He didn't feel like looking at books at all that day. He went straight to the biology classroom. He thought he'll be the first one in class but he was wrong. There was someone sitting in the second row , the new guy from a couple weeks before. He had his earphones on so didn't notice Cole's arrival . Cole walked passed him and sat behind him. He recognized the blue jacket. He was the guy on the motorcycle. 'Weird' Cole thought. Why was this guy in a hurry? 'Maybe he's a nerd' Cole chuckled. He shouldn't judge people based on stereotype. He himself was a jock with studying problems. He put his head down and waited till the class started. The bell rang and a load of people walked in. Neuro, the biology teacher walked around and passed papers. "You didn't study hard. Yes its only the first month but this test was easy. I expect higher grades next time ,which will be 2 weeks from today. You have been warned." Said Neuro frustrating. Cole got a F naturally. Uh well. He did his best. The rest of the pre lunch classes were the same. F's all over the place. Frustration built inside Cole.
He didn't feel like eating so he decided to walk around the school property. He walked aimlessly and found himself in the middle of the parking lot. He looked around and noticed the new guy, Lightning, as the English teacher called him. He remembered that one time in gym class, he saw him running after a flying football and he was fast. Maybe he deserved the nickname. Cole kept walking casually but continued to stare at Lightning. He was reading a book while eating a sandwich with his earphones plugged. He looked relaxed and content. Obviously he did good on those tests. Cole felt envious so he walked towards the football field. He needed to get the frustration out.
He had a free period after lunch so he lost himself to practice. He ran into the dummies and punched them. He did push ups over and over. He threw balls and ran after them. To anyone who looked, he'd seem berserk. But luckily no one was there but him. He felt better and decided one more throw and he's done. He threw it so high and looked to see where will it fall. Suddenly out of no where, Lightning appeared. He was walking around reading that book, not paying attention to where he's going and the ball was flying towards him. "Hey!" Cole called "Look out" but it was too late. The ball hit him in the nose and he fell down on his back.
Cole grabbed a towel ran towards the wounded guy as fast as he could. Lightning was knocked out and his nose was bleeding. Cole knelt by his side and held the towel against his nose carefully, not blocking the air from him. The bleeding stopped eventually so he sat there providing shade over the other guy's head. Lightning woke up 10 minutes later.
Lightning grunted in pain. He opened his eyes and looked up at Cole. "Hey, champ" Cole said "how are you feeling? " . "My nose hurts and i have a terrible headache. What happened? " Lightning managed. " I knocked you out with this" Cole said and lifted the ball into the other guy's eyesight "Sorry about that by the way. Can you stand up? " He said as was getting up. "I'll manage" Lightning sat up. "Here" Cole under his shoulder and pulled him up "Let's go to the nurse". "NO! not the nurse no. The lockers room" Lightning plead. "You sure?" Cole arched an eyebrow. "Yes". So Cole walked them to the lockers. He made Lightning sit on a bench and got a fresh wet towel and wiped the whatever amount of blood from the other guy's face. Lightning stayed still and kept his eyes closed, but did flinch when he touched his nose. "I should get you some ice" Cole said nervously. "It's fine. I'll live" was the other guy's answer. "What were you doing on the field anyway?" Cole asked. " I was reading. What were you doing? " "Training. Really you should watch where you're going... " Cole paused "sorry i didn't catch your name". Lightning smiled at that " I didn't catch your ball" . A chuckle escaped from Cole. "I'm Jay. Walker" he offered his hand. Cole shook his had "Cole Brookstone" .The bell rang ending the free period. Clous will kill them if they were late. "Can you walk on your own? I don't mind giving you a lift" "I'll manage" . They walked towards their lockers which were surprisingly facing each other. The trip to the class was silent and the class was uneventful.
Cole walked Jay to the rest of the classes too. Guilt was eating him alive. Jay refused going to the nurse so he needed to keep an eye on him. Why was he 'reading' at the field anyway At the end of the day he walked him to the parking lot. The question kept buzzing in his head and at some point on the walk from the last classroom and the parking he blurted it out. Jay just smiled nervously "I didn't have anything to do". Cole looked at him confused "Don't you have, i don't know, an assignment to do? Or some other egghead to hang out with? ". Jay chuckled "Actually you're the only one who talked to me at all" . They were standing beside Jay's bike now. Cole was shocked. "I... " he must try and fix this "Im really sorry about the whole knocking you out thing" he scratched his head. Jay shook his head "it's fine. Really. If anything you made my day" . Cole thought quickly "How about i make your weekend? We can go for pizza. I know the best restaurant and the chef is a personal friend of mine..." he paused "if you're not busy that is" . "Sure! Im free" Jay grinned. Cole looked at the bike, impressed "Sweet ride". Jay nodded proudly "I call her Arcee". "Are you sure you're OK to drive?" Cole asked anxiously. Jay nodded and got on. He put on his helmet. He looked up at Cole "Just one question". "Shoot" Cole responded. "Why were you training? I mean i get it, you gotta stay in shape and keep up with the team and all that jazz. But why then? On the free period i mean". Cole rubbed his chin "Honestly, i was having a bad day and wanted to blow some steam". Jay was silent for a moment, putting it together in his mind then he spoke "Trouble studying?" of course egghead figured it out. But he was kind enough not to bring the grades up so he's cool. Cole nodded . Jay spoke confidently "How about i tutor you after classes ?" . Cole looked down, embarrassed. "I... I don't know... I don't want to cause you trouble... More than i already have.." . Jay shook his head "It's ok, man you don't have to answer now. Go home, sleep on it. If yes I'll gladly do it. Its not like i had anything better to do than help my new friend". "Being knocked out and almost getting your nose broken is a weird way to initiate a friendship, don't you think?" Cole chuckled. Jay laughed "I couldn't agree more" he started the engine "See you around ,man" and he drove off.
Cole walked towards the bus and got in. He kept thinking about Jay's offer. Jay seemed nice . And add smart to that. He stated clearly that he had nothing better to do. Plus he had a lack of friends. Maybe his help would be good for both of them. Jay considered him a friend so maybe he could return the favor by actually being a good friend. Maybe he would take him to meet his other friends later. One thing was for sure. He owed him for this. And if this goes well, no, when it goes well, he'll have better grades and some time to think about the future . He was torn away from his thoughts by the bus driver calling his name. The bus reached his stop. He got off and walked towards his building.
Walking up the stairs, Cole remembered Lloyd's violation of his hair belongings. He felt pissed off. That kid is going to get it for sure. He unlocked the door and walked in. The apartment looked messy as usual. But then again, Two teenagers lived there and both were too busy with their teen angst too clean. He decided its time to clean up. He put his backpack in his room and got the broom. He swept around the apartment. His cleaning skills could be better but they can manage with what he had right now. He finished sweeping when Lloyd came in. "Good. You're back" Cole stated the obvious. Lloyd gave him a look that said "And? " . Cole pointed at the mop "Get to work" . "Why? " Lloyd whined. " One ; we live in a mess. Two ; this is your punishment. You know what you did". Lloyd glared at him . "Move" was all cole said before going in the bathroom. Before closing the door he paused. "You better be done before I am". And he closed the door. He intended to take a loong bubble bath to give Lloyd enough time to clean. And he did so. When he got out, the floor looked clean so he shrugged and went to his room. He fell asleep and had dreams about A's and scholarships

Chapter Text

When Jay got home, he ran towards the mirror in his closet door. He had to check how his nose looked. He couldn't meet his parents wounded. They'd overreact and forbid him from leaving his room for good. It looked reddish and a bit swollen. How is he going to run away with this?. "Honey" came Edna's voice from the hallway outside his room. Jay swallowed hard. He had to think fast. She walked in on him "Jay? What's wrong? You didn't hug me when you came back" . He just looked at her in silence. "Oh my god!" there it is. She ran towards and cupped his face "What happened to your nose? Did someone hit you? Is someone bullying you i swear to god-" "Ma, please" Jay interrupted "I just ran into a wall while i was read-walking" . She looked at him skeptical then huffed in his face "How many times i told you not to do that?. There you have it" she pointed at his nose "You almost broke your nose ". Jay sighed relieved. She bought it but he shouldn't push his luck so he changed the subject "I made a friend" . "Oh, happy day! Edward!" she called. Edward came running with a fire extinguisher "Where's the fire?!" . "There's no fire" Edna laughed "Your son made a friend". Edward sighed in frustration "That's very good JJ. tell us all about it at dinner. And please Edna don't yell like that again. I'm too old for this. I could've got a heart attack" .
Later they were eating. Jay told the story of how he met Cole. Of course he had to change some details so his parents don't freak out so he did. He told them that he and Cole were the only people left in class. Cole was busy with something he didn't notice when he was walking out. He ran into the wall by the door. His nose started bleeding and Cole offered him a tissue. They walked and talked until they reached the bike and that's how they became friends. He emphasised on how Cole needed help studying so he'll be tutoring him after classes. His parents believed him so that went well. After dinner took pain killers for his nose and headache and went to his room to start his night revising. As the pain killers kicked in, he felt so relieved that he dozed off on his desk. The next thing he knew was his alarm going off next morning.
He woke up tired and his back ached from sleeping on the desk. Coffee was a must that day. He asked Edna to make it for him while he's in the shower. After the shower he felt the tension in his back going away and the coffee tasted good. The ride to school was slow. He didn't want to rush. After he arrived he went to his locker and Cole was waiting for him by it. He walked slowly towards his new friend thinking 'here i go'. Cole greeted him with a warm smile "Hey, man" they shook hands "How's your nose? " . "Still functional" Jay responded "Still feeling guilty, huh? ". Cole laughed nervously. "I thought about your offer" Cole started. "And...?" Jay waited. " Well.... There's this thing you should know" Cole looked embarrassed. Jay waited silently. "I have reading and writing difficulty" Cole finally spoke. Jay stared at him confused. If that's for real, if Cole is dyslexic, how did he go through the education system so far? And how did he pass the finals every year?. It was like Cole read his mind "I went through 3rd grade three times and go to summer school almost every year. The years that i didn't" he whispered "i cheated on the finals" . That clears it up. He didn't judge him at all. He offered to help Cole. So what he's dyslexic? He must rise up for the challenge. "OK" Jay finally spoke ""I'll figure something out" .Cole grinned "You still in? ". Jay nodded and they walked to class.
The classes went well for Jay. None of the teachers seemed to dislike him anymore. Obviously the straight A's had something to do with that. But Cole on the other had was a target for most teachers. Only coach Lee treated him well. And seeing that, Jay was more determined on helping as much as possible. Of course, Cole had other friends to hang out with during the school day which didn't bother Jay at all. He saw him laughing and nudging the guy Jay saw at Starbucks. And he talked alot with his teammates. For what it's worth those sights were a delight. Jay hoped that someday he'll be a part of that. But for now he had other stuff to do so he went to the library and did research on dyslexia online. He found alot of methods on how to deal with it. He wrote them on a paper. If those worked with Cole, they'll be half way through.
Later that day, Jay was on his way to Arcee. Cole was waiting for him by the bike. "I didn't see you at lunch break" Cole started "I came here looking and you weren't here. Where were you?" . That was unexpected. They've been friends for what, 24 hours? and Cole wants him to be in his eyesight all day. "I was at the library" Jay explained "Doing some research" . Cole frowned "What on earth was it about? What is worth skipping a meal?" . "Your 'Thing' " Jay said "I read all about dyslexia and how to deal with it. The methods are various and easy to perform. And the statistics were promising. You won't believe how many people-" "Ok Ok stop" Cole shushed him. He was flustered and looked uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, Motormouth. All the nerd talk and how fast you said it- ugh" . Jay read on an article how big words confused dyslexics so he put his hand on Cole's shoulder. "It's ok, Cole. I understand". Cole looked at him in shame "Sorry" . Jay shook his head "Don't be". They stood like that for a minute ,just staring at each other. Then Jay cleared his throat and started again "Anyway, it'll take a while, BUT it will help. And soon enough, we'll start the real studying. How does that sound?" He smiled softly. Cole lowered his gaze "i hope you're right". "I'll tell you what" Jay started "From tomorrow on you'll meet me after school at the lockers room. I'll give you a ride back when we finish". Cole chuckled "Sounds like a date" . Jay's face went red "What? No! I meant to- that was- what?". Cole laughed hard and Jay's face went redder and redder. "Relax, Motormouth" Cole finally caught his breath "I know what you meant. I'll see you then" and walked to the bus which was waiting for the last kid to come. Jay felt funny. He finally got that it was a joke. Friendships included mocking and teasing. Jokes were indicators for harmony and being at ease around each other. He got on Arcee and drove home, smiling all the way.
The next day was boring. Teachers yapping and students whining. Nothing was interesting. Until the time has come. The boys met at the lockers room as planned. Jay was waiting on the bench going through a book when Cole arrived. Jay look up from his book and smiled as he saw excitement on his friend's face. "How was your day?" Jay spoke. "I almost got detention. Chen needs to chill out" Cole laughed "How was yours? " . "Nothing worth mentioning" Jay shrugged. Cole sat by Jay's side. "Shall we begin?" Jay asked and Cole nodded. "We'll work on your reading skills first" he went through his bag and got a children's reading book "We'll start simple" he handed it to Cole. Cole looked at him confused then started laughing "Alright alright. Joke's over. But really what are we going to do? " Jay looked at him with an expressionless face. "Oh!" all the amusement on Cole's face disappeared "you're serious". "Yup" Jay said popping the P. "But this book has more pictures than words" Cole whined. "Exactly" Jay started "One : those are distractions so you don't get a headache. Two : You should be able to link the pictures and how the words look in your mind and retain them. This is an essential skill you have to master ". The articles were specific. Cole looked shocked at how important this was. Then he got serious "Ok" he said. And they started. Some words were so difficult to read. But the pictures helped alot. From time to time Cole moaned in frustration. But jay kept encouraging him and assuring him that he's doing great. A couple of hours later, Cole was about to collapse and Jay sensed it so they stopped. Cole was so tired, Jay took some of his weight as they walked towards the motorcycle. It was a long trip for Jay. Cole was huge and heavy. Cole kept rubbing his eyes as they walked. Who knew that reading could be so difficult and tiring for some people? Jay wondered. Jay got on Arcee and Cole did so behind him. He held onto Jay as they moved. Cole held a little to tight when they did turns. Not that he was scared, but being half blind because his eyes hurt and his vision was blurry on a moving two wheeled vehicle wasn't exactly relaxing. Jay didn't blame him so he slowed down. Cole gave directions and Jay followed silently. After a scary trip they reached his building. Cole got off the bike and pulled his backpack on the ground. He looked so tired. "Can you make it to your apartment?" Jay asked in concern."Yes" Cole tried to pull off the Jock attitude. Jay saw through that and got under Cole's arm. He took the weight he could lift and they headed upstairs. The apartment was on the second floor. The trip was exhausting. When they finally reached the floor Cole lifted himself up and opened the door "you could come in" he offered. "Wish i could but I'm late. My parents are going to kill me" Jay excused. "You should go straight to bed" He ordered. Cole chuckled "that was my plan". Jay nodded "Take care. I'll see you tomorrow" And left. As he went down he heard the door closing. For the first session , Cole did better than what he thought he would. He hoped that it was good enough. When he got home he got on his own books. School wont wait until Cole's problem is solved so he had to keep up with it. That was one long night for Jay.
The next three days were practically the same. Boring classes and pushing Cole through the children book then lifting him up his building's stairs. By the third day they fell into the routine. The forth day, Friday ,had something new . Jay brought a coloring kit and a big sketch book. Cole looked at him confused "what's up?" . "Oh we're gonna try writing today. Simple words like the usual." Cole nodded and didn't argue. Jay gave him that neutral look that meant he's serious. He held the green pencil and looked at the blank paper in front of him. "There's no rules" Jay spoke calmly "Any size, any shape any color as well. No need to be nervous. Just try your best. You know i won't judge, right ?". Cole sighed "so much pressure". "Ok I'll be two benches away reading something. You'll have privacy. How does that sound?"."OK" Cole nodded. Jay got up "listen, i don't expect anything, like at all.Dont get me wrong, It's not that i don't believe in you or anything. It's just my way of dealing with future stuff. So no pressure ok? You have all the time and space. Fill it if you want. Ill get another one ,no big deal. So-" Cole made a face that said 'ok i get it shut up, Motormouth' so he walked away, opened his chemistry book and started reading. Studying felt wired when he was around Cole. He felt... Powerful if that was a way to put it. Like Cole almost passes out from headache when he tries to do that. Jay did it so naturally. After what seemed like an hour and a half he felt wrong reading in front of Cole. So he looked up at Cole who was staring at him back. They held gaze for a moment then broke it when both of them looked down again. Jay pulled out his phone and plugged in his earphones. He returned to his first position as if he never moved but he didn't read. He listened to music to pass the time. 45 minutes later Cole said he was tired so that was that for the day.
Later, they stood in the hall between the apartments in Cole's floor. "You should come in. Its Friday, man. You can hang out here for a bit. Im sure your parents wont mind." Cole insisted. "Jay hesitated "I don't know, man" he looked at his watch agitated "I could get in trouble for this" . "No ,Jay. Im not taking excuses. It's time you learn to go over the edge. You have to break some rules every now and then. Being so obedient isn't healhy. Come on I'll introduce you to my friends" He opened the door, grabbed Jay's hand and pulled him inside. "Guys? I'm back" Cole stated. Jay wreaked with anxiety and nervousness. New people who are Cole's friends and probably roommates. The first impression was important but he didn't have time to set it up in his mind. He was so not ready for this. Two heads rose up from the couch and looked at him. The guy from Starbucks and history class, and a bleach blond that looked like he was 13 or something. "Oh! You finally brought your mysterious date home" said Starbucks guy with a smirk. Jay's face went crimson red. "Wait a minute. I know him! Well not really, he's a regular customer at Starbucks". The blond stared in silence. Its like he doesn't want to be involved in the situation. "Oh so you've sort of met?" Cole said. "This is Jay Walker my new friend and my tutor" Cole looked at Jay "Motormouth, this guy is Kai Smith," Kai made a peace sign "who we like to call Hotmess. He lives across the hall. And the oh-so-quiet blond over there is my roommate ,Lloyd Garmadon. He's in middle school and won't be so quiet when you get to know him" Lloyd arched an eyebrow at Cole but turned back to the tv to resume his paused video game. Jay looked at the console "Oh my god is that a Borg-box?!" Jay practically yelled and went to sit by Lloyd. "You have no idea how badly i wanted to see one up close. Can you teach me how to operate it? And maybe how to play?" Lloyd shrugged "sure". "Lloyd made a friend" came Kai's voice "Anyway, you're back so i don't have to babysit anymore. My shift is about to start so... Ill see you later. And Jay?" Jay looked around to see who called him then focused on Kai "it was nice to finally officially meet You" Jay nodded "Same to you". Kai left the apartment. Cole spoke "I'm taking a shower then a nap. Make yourself at home, Jay' and headed to what appears to be his room. Jay was left to hang out with a 13 years old. But it wasn't that bad. Later he discovered that Lloyd collected the "Elemental Ninjas" and "Star Lord" comic books which were fun to read. At some point Jay got attached to those comics. He decided that he was going to collect them too. This Lloyd kid was fun to be around. So this is how he made a new friend, showing an interest in something that the other cared about. They're going to be good friends.
It was dark outside. Jay felt the itch his conscience made about being late at the back of his head. So he got up and went for the door Cole disappeared behind. He knocked on the door but there was no answer. He quietly opened the door and snuck his head inside. Cole was asleep on his stomach with only a towel around his waist. Jay walked in slowly and nudged Cole tenderly. "Cole? Buddy? " cole groaned "I'm heading out". Cole looked around and then at Jay in confusion "What?" he said rubbing his eyes. "It's late. I gotta go back home now" Jay said. Cole took a moment to wrap his head around what's going on. "We're still on for tomorrow right? The pizza thing i mean" Cole asked. "Sure thing. And bring the others too if you want. It'll be more fun and i want to get to know them better. " Said Jay enthusiastically. "Ok" cole said simply. "OK you can resume your nap now" Jay patted Cole's shoulder. Cole laid back and closed his eyes "I'll see you tomorrow at Morakami's". "Until then" Jay said and headed out. His parents are gonna Shriek when they know he made two more friends. And shriek they did, later that night.

Chapter Text

It's been a month since Jay met Cole's friends. They grew very fond of him shortly. Jay came to hang out every Friday and all of them went to random restaurants on Saturday night. Jay's parents were so supportive. They even told him to invite them over but Jay always declined. There was no way in hell he'll give them the opportunity to embarrass him in front of his new friends. Not yet at least. Meanwhile Cole was doing well. He can now read and write small and simple words easily. Jay told him to keep the books they used through that stage if he wanted and so he did. The next stage was more difficult. Cole was going to go through it alone. Of course Jay would be there for moral support but he was not to help. Cole was given some small story books for children with cassettes. He was to read them alone at first and then try to keep up with the cassettes. It was easier said than done.
One day, Jay was reading in his room when his father came to his room looking excited. "Guess what i got us" Edward said enthusiastically. Jay looked up from his book "An actual vacuum cleaner? ". "No, and I'm offended by your tone" Edward retorted "Guess again". "A new car? " Jay assumed. "Come on, JJ .be realistic" Edward laughed. "I give up" Jay shrugged. Edward pulled out two pieces of paper with a smirk. "Oh. My. God. Those can't be ..." Jay was surprised. Not in a million years he thought this moment will come. "Tickets to the next Borg IT convention" Edward finished nodding. They both screeched in union. Jay ran and hugged his dad too tight. Edward tried to bear the pressure for a while then asked Jay to loosen up and give him his freedom back. They sat on the bed and started planning for the day. "It's a 3 days convention next week but we'll go for only one" Edward explained "We're going on Saturday". But that meant Jay wouldn't go for Takos with the guys. Will they be mad at him for missing their weekly tradition? Will they treat him differently after choosing the convention over them? Will they stop being friends with him for this?. He kept over thinking and his father noticed. "Jay are you ok? You're not as hyped as i thought you'd be" . Jay explained what was going in his head. "You're thinking too much" Edward started "Just bring it up when you see them tomorrow. I'm sure they'll just shrug it off. Its not a big deal if you wanted a weekend on your own. But if you can't help but worry think this, If they're truly your friends they'll be happy because you're happy". Jay up at his father "Thanks Pa. This helped a lot" and they hugged.
The next day, Friday, things went as usual. Cole was reading his book with headphones on while Jay and Lloyd were reading Elemental Ninjas comics and Kai was on his phone smile at a text that he got. Jay raised his head and observed the sight. All of his friends content and happy with him. He wondered if this will go on. His cynical mind drove some horrible thoughts. His face went pale at those thoughts. At some point Cole must've raised his head and looked at him because he was waving at him. "Huh?" Jay said. "I said let's try that Thai restaurant tomorrow. What do you think? " Cole asked. "Actually about that... " Jay started "I'm not gonna be able to be there" ." What?" Lloyd said. "Why? " Kai asked. "Are you sick? You look pale" . Cole got up from where he was sitting and walked up to Jay. He put his hand on Jay's forehead. "No it's not that" Jay said nervously "I'm going to an IT convention with my dad" He sighed. "Oh" all the others said in union. "OK then" Lloyd said and got back to his comic. "Have fun" Kai said and he fiddled with his phone. "You had me worried for a moment there, Jay" Cole said, his face had frustrated expression. "I'm sorry" Jay said looking down. "Hey" Cole patted Jay's shoulder "make the most of it OK?" he smiled softly. Jay looked up and looked at him in the eye "OK" he managed. Cole held gaze for a moment but Jay broke it quickly. Cole walked away and returned to his headphones but looked stressed so he hid his face behind the book. 'That went well' Jay thought. Well better than what he had in his mind.
The next day, the drive to Borg Tower was full of debates. Both Jay and Edward were extra hyped. They made bets on what they'll see. Jay had hopes that he'll finally have have high intelligent conversations with other people than his parents. They got off his father's car when they got to the destination. They got into Borg Tower and Jay wished he had 3 other sets of eyes. He couldn't decide where to look. Everything was bright and neat. Its either titanium or chrome. He and Edward walked around and looked at all the inventions. Then separated so each one can go freely around. Jay found himself walking through the macha-aisle. Something called 'Tomorrow's Engine' caught his attention so he went over. A guy with white hair talked fancily about it from behind the counter. There was a 3D diagram floating in front of him. "Tomorrow's engine is designed for the future's flying car. It works on solar energy so it's no danger to the environment. As soon as flying cars are available, the global warming issue will be mostly solved " And he kept talking. Jay found the idea fascinating. So he stayed till the end of the presentation. A Girl with a ponytail and glasses stayed too. It looked like it was the last presentation for the white haired guy. Once he finished a silver haired girl in blue clothing and a ponytail showed up. It was obvious that they were dating. They hugged warmly. They were about to leave when Jay finally spoke. "Great job on that presentation Mr... " "Zane Julien. But call me Zane" Zane put out his hand and Jay shook it warmly". "May i add and say it was inspiring to the most" the dark haired ponytail spoke. "I couldn't look away for the life of me". Jay looked at her. He got the feeling that she was familiar. Where did he see her before? At restaurant? No. At the coffee shop! Yes he had seen her there but she didn't look like that. He started picturing her without the glasses and in different hairstyles. Then it hit him. She was in his class. They took physics together, along with other subjects but he only remembered her from physics because she had a grade higher than him. Nya Smith! Could she be Kai's sister? Now that he had that thought he can see the resemblance. Jay was cut out of his thoughts by Zane's girlfriend introducing herself. "Pixal Borg. Don't freak out. I'm here for work ok? " she smiled. "It's nice to meet you guys" Jay spoke "Im Jay and this is Nya". Nya looked at him skeptical "How do you know me again?" . "I take physics at Destiny High too. Also I've seen you a couple of times at Starbucks where your brother worked. I'm also a friend of his. Don't get me wrong I'm not stalking you. Im Just observant". Nya blinked at him shocked but got over it quickly "YOU are Motormouth Jay" she stated "i see why that nickname stuck around". Zane and Pixal laughed at that. Jay couldn't help but blush, embarrassment was killing him. "Hey we're on a break" Zane started "We're going for coffee. Come with us" Pixal nodded approving. "Really? Jay asked. "We dont want to pry" Nya said. "we insist" Pixal said. So Jay and Nya tagged along. The time with those three was nice. Alot of "Nerd talk" happened. They got to know each other. Zane was a bright man of 23 but it didn't show on him. He worked for Borg Industries. And obviously he ran into Pixal there. Pixal was Cyrus Borg's daughter but she didn't want to be famous for that. She wanted to rise on her own as the next Borg inventor. Nya on the other hand had a funny story to tell. She was the queen bee in school. She played dumb and bitchy at school but at home she was a nerd in the shadows. Jay was impressed at how good she pulled it off. He told his story too. Being homeschool and all that jazz. He told them that he's trying school for only this semester. They asked how was it till now and he told them it was interesting. Jay's phone buzzed. Edward texted him that it was time to leave. MY how time flies when you're enjoining yourself. They agreed on meeting again for coffee next Saturday.
Next Saturday, Jay went to the coffee shop as planned. Zane and the others were already seated. Nya waved at him from her seat. He waved back and walked to join them. He sat by Nya's side facing Zane. They had splendid time rambling about random stuff and giving opinions on them. Time flew again and Jay's phone buzzed. He had set an alarm so he would go to Cole's apartment in time for the weekly squad dinner. "Hey guys" he started "I'm really sorry about this but i really have to go. Something came up and i can't bail. I had the most fun since the Con" . "It's fine, Jay" Zane said. "We had fun too" Pixal added. "Your thing can't possibly be near my place, can it? " Nya asked. Obviously she picked up what's going on. "It's in my way. Why? Need a lift?". Nya nodded and stood up. "So... Same time next week? " Jay asked. Zane nodded "Until we meet again my friends" . Jay and Nya got out and got on Arcee. Jay refrained from speaking to Arcee in Nya's presence. The last thing he needed was to look like a fool in front of a smart girl. Nya held on tight. It almost felt like she was afraid to fall off so Jay drove slowly and carefully. They arrived to the destination and got off the bike. They walked up the stairs and to the hall between the apartments silently. By the door Nya spoke "See you" and got into her and Kai's apartment. Jay just nodded and knocked on the door to the other apartment. Lloyd opened the door with a grumpy expression. "Finally" Lloyd said "We're starving". "Well hello to you too" Jay couldn't help the sarcasm as he got in. Kai was on his phone and Cole was sitting on the couch . "Hi" Jay greeted. Cole just looked at him for a second then looked away. What was that about?. "Dude were were you?!" Kai spoke. "Sorry i had a thing" Jay put his hands up surrendering. So where to? " . "Garfield's " came Cole's voice. "aw" Jay whined "but you know i don't like Mexican food. It's too hot for me". Cole just got up and walked passes Jay. He went downstairs directly. Kai walked behind him in silence. Jay walked out and waited for Lloyd to lock up the door. "Hey what's wrong with cole? " Jay asked. Lloyd hesitated then answered . "Dont worry about it. he gets cranky when he's hungry" . That was a weird explanation but Jay did as he was told. They got down stairs and got in Kai's car as usual. Kai and Lloyd in the front and Jay and Cole on the back. Cole was quiet all the time. Jay noticed but shrugged it off. Lloyd wont lie to him.
That month, school was interesting. Why? Because Jay got to spend more time with Nya. And after school, the eggheads too. They went to the museum after school, they attended scientific colloquies and some mechanic seminars. Nya kept inviting Jay to sit with her and her friends at lunch but always declined politely. That would mess up her secret identity and ruin the dynamics of her life. Sometimes she showed up by his bike at lunch. They ate together and talked ALOT. Cole on the other hand was awfully quiet. He seemed distant from all of them to be fair . Jay thought that maybe he should bail on this weekend with the eggheads and try to talk to him but when Zane brought up the aquarium that thought disappeared. That meant that this week was the first week he was going to miss the weekly squad dinner.

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'Ok so Jay was spending the day with his father. Big deal, right? ' Cole thought. 'it's not the end of the world'. Him and the others can use a dinner without Motormouth. He was always loud and sarcastic and made jokes that weren't funny and sometimes offensive. This is going to be a good break. But as time showed, it wasn't. They missed his rambling and sarcasm. Cole missed him badly. They spent dinner eating in silence, which was the oddest thing that evening. They never ate silently. Sure Lloyd tried to level up to fill Jay's place but he didn't do well. He didn't know how to crack jokes spontaneously nor how to be sarcastic. The kid was pure. 'Get a hold of yourself' Cole told himself. He spent the next day, Sunday, writing. All day he didn't get off his desk.

The next day in school, Cole didn't see Jay before class. Jay came late and got his ear chewed by Chen. Cole smiled at that. Some things never change. During class, a girl passed Jay a note. That was new. Curiosity took over Cole. He decided to check it out. After class he acted like he was was writing on his paper when the girl walked up to Jay. Cole threw his ears between them. "Hi Jay" the girl spoke. "Hi yourself. what's up? " Jay asked. "Nothing much. you?" she said casually. "Meh" Jay replied. "So i..." she started whispering. Cole couldn't hear a thing. Jay was nodding at whatever she was saying. Jay whispered back. He ruffled through his bag and got a notebook. He wrote something that she was telling him. Was it her phone number? That can't be it ,can it?. Jay and the girl walked out leaving Cole drowning in his thoughts. Who was this girl and why did she look familiar?.

The next day, Cole was walking to Jay's spot during lunch break when he saw something unexpected. Jay was sitting by his bike WITH the girl from yesterday. Like seriously what's going on? There was a book in front of them so that was a relief. Apparently Jay was tutoring her , considering she didn't want to be seen hanging out with him. Cole decided to leave them be. The day after was another story. He came to the parking lot to seek Jay but didn't find him. Where could Motormouth go to skip lunch? The library. He walked there slowly. It's weird because he's never been to the library before. He went in and asked the librarian whether Jay was there or not. She addressed him to a corner in the back where Jay goes to do research on the computers. He walked there quietly. For all he knew, he should be quiet at the library. What he saw there made his stomach drop. Jay was there ,with that girl. Ok OK there's no need to panic so what they were doing an assignment together ? Jay was a nerd. Of course he would do assignment with people. Cole turned on his heels and walked out. He tried to shrug it off but he couldn't. Why couldn't he just drop it? Why was he feeling so bad? Jay is a nice guy. He deserved all the friends he could get. Cole must give him space so he can widen his circle. By the end of the day he was getting on the bus when he saw the girl getting on Kai's car. Kai drove off fast. Now Cole knew why she looked so familiar. She was Kai's sister. She had a part time job somewhere too. That's why she was rarely around ,just like her brother. Cole decided to leave it alone now. He won't bring it up for the others. If Jay was d- d- . He couldn't even say the word in his mind. Why couldn't he? 'That's not the point right now' he shrugged it off. The point was it was Jay's business to go out with who ever he wanted. Even if it was Kai's sister.

The week passed and Jay kept hanging with Nya. Cole kept calm. He didn't say anything about it to the others. In fact he didn't say anything at all. He felt frustrated all day every day. He stayed in his room all the time. When Saturday finally came Cole breathed again. It was the day he knew Jay wouldn't miss. So he got out of his room and played video games with Lloyd just to pass time but Jay didn't show up at noon as usual. Kai showed up in his regular time at 3. He asked where Jay was. They didn't know where he was but waited for him anyway. It was going to be rude if they went out without him. Cole felt like he's had enough distraction and went to stand by the window. "You are such a wife material" Kai laughed and Lloyd giggled. Cole just glared at them and went back to the window. After a long while, Lloyd joined him too. It was 5 when Jay showed up. The girl, Nya was clung on his back on the bike. Seriously? They're back from a date? On Saturday? It was supposed to be the guys night out. Cole felt so betrayed. Apparently that showed on his face because he felt a hand on his shoulder. Lloyd looked at him softly. A look that said 'I'm sorry' and 'It's gonna be ok just hang in there'. Cole just walked to the couch and sat. He couldn't help it, feeling pissed and sad that is. Jay knocked on the door and Lloyd opened it. Jay acted as if he didn't come from a date. He asked where was this week's target and Cole got the idea of revenge "Garfield's" he said. He knew how much Jay hated Mexican food. And indeed Jay whined about it. Cole decided to ignore him for the rest of the night. He ate silently and didn't say anything all the time. He didn't pay attention to the conversations at all. They went back home and Jay drove his bike away. Cole went directly to his room and flopped on his bed. He didn't sleep. He just laid there feeling miserable. Lloyd came in to his room later. "Hey, man" Lloyd spoke "how are you holding up?" Cole didn't answer. "You can always talk to me. You know that right?" Lloyd asked "I'm here for you". Cole lifted his head and looked at him "Thanks ,Lloyd. I really appreciate it". Lloyd nodded and walked out. Cole kept trying to sleep for hours until he finally succeeded.

The 'incident' happened again next Saturday. Jay showed up late with Nya behind him on the back. Cole played quiet again and things went as smoothly as the could. He didn't want to cause trouble. The week went event less. Next week went exactly the same. Cole's frustration was rising up to dangerous levels. And he almost talked but he buried it at the last minute. It hit Cole hard when Jay didn't show up at all the next Saturday. He decided it was time to face Jay .


Kai got a text from Skylor that she has seen Nya hanging out with two dudes and a girl ,alot of times. Skylor suspected that Nya was dating one of the guys, a redhead that always wore a blue jacket and talked alot. Those description fit Jay perfectly. He decided to talk to Jay about it at school. He waited by Jay's closet on Monday morning. Jay showed up late as he usually did every Monday. The corridor was empty so that helped. "Hey Kai" Jay started "Skipp class?" he smirked. "Jay, " Kai looked Jay in the eyes, dead serious " I'm going to ask you four questions and i want you to answer them by only yes and no OK? No rambling and don't think about lying to me". Jay looked at him confused "Ok?" he said in hesitation. Kai took a deep breath and started talking "I was told that my sister was seen with a certain redhead in a blue jacket in various places around the city. Is that guy you?". "yes" was the answer. "Ok. Are you dating my sister? ". "No" was the answer. "Do you by any chance have feelings for her? Are you intend to date her at some point?" . "God no! We just share an interest in mechanics". Kai looked at him skeptical "and what if she has any sorts of feelings for you?". Jay looked him in the eye "I assure ypu she doesn't. But if she does, i promise not to hurt her when i let her down". Kai narrowed his eyes "OK. We're cool for now" and that's that. It was Nya's turn for interrogation. Kai went to class behind Jay and texted Nya to meet him by his locker during lunch. When she showed up she looked worried. "Who died? " she asked. "No one" he answered. "what's going on then? " she looked more worried. "Are you dating Jay?" he said. Nya Gave him a look that said 'That's it? That's the big deal?' . "So? " he insisted. Nya laughed hysterically. "What?" Kai asked. Nya took a moment to wipe her tears. "Oh i love it when you're naïve". Kai looked at her confused "huh?" . Nya tried to speak calmly but giggled every now and then " Jay and i are not dating. We are going out WITH a couple from Borg Industries JUST as friends. And for the sake of science only. All that and add to your info about your friend that he doesn't swing for girls" . "What? Jay isn't straight? " That explained alot. Nya spoke again "Nope. He's as straight as your grades" she laughed. "Hey!" Kai responded "that was uncalled for" . She walked away laughing. Now that he had the info that his sister was away from harm he decided that Jay's love life isn't his business and he'll leave him be.


Cole was waiting for Jay by the bike at the end of the day. Jay and Nya showed up ,obviously having a debate. Nya saw Cole and excused herself. Jay walked up to Cole "Hey man" he said cheerfully. Cole couldn't stand it, how can he act so innocent?. "Jay... " Cole started "what's going on?". Jay looked at him confused "what do you mean?". Cole took a deep breath then talked " You show up late every Saturday, you skip lunch and you always seem to be around Nya. You failed to show up at all the other day". "Oh.. " Jay said "that... " he looked down at his feet. Cole couldn't stand the silence so he spoke again. "It's so quiet at the apartment without you. Even Lloyd doesn't make any sound anymore. We miss you, Jay. I miss you". Jay raised his eyes and looked at him at that. Cole walked up to him and invaded his personal space "i really want us to be like before again" . Jay moved forward and hugged Cole. "I'm sorry i neglected you... You guys. I promise I'll make it up to you" Jay muttered. Cole hugged back like his life depends on it. After a while the broke it. Jay got on Arcee and patted on the seat behind "hop on". Cole chuckled. He felt the happiness climbing on his body. He got on and held on to Jay. Jay drove off.
Jay stopped the bike in a foreign part of the city. Cole didn't recognize any place. They got off and Cole followed Jay to a park. Jay walked in silence so Cole kept calm. This must be a special place for Jay. Jay stood by the mini bridge over the lake and handed Cole a somewhat sort of biscuits. He whistled and waited. A yapping sound hit Cole's ears and a German shepherd puppy came running towards Jay. Jay got on his knees and played with it. "Make a sound. And show him you've got the snack" Jay said. So Cole got on his knees too and opened his hand showing the biscuit. He made a funny sound and the puppy took noticed his presence. It ran at Cole and sniffed said snack. It ate it and licked Cole's hand. "Awww he likes you" came Jay's voice. Cole looked at him confused "what is going on? " . "I found him last week" jay started to explain " I couldn't adopt him cuz my parents wouldn't allow it. Still i look him a couple of times. I come here to feed him every day". Cole nodded. "He's so cute" Cole stated. "Can you adopt him? " Jay asked "i can't trust anyone with him" . "I don't know, Jay... ". "Please? You said it was quiet at the apartment. This will be good for you...AND Lloyd for that matter". Cole rolled it in his mind. The puppy was a responsibility. It needed alot and will be alot of work for sure. But on the other hand Jay trusted HIM with his little friend. Maybe he should keep the puppy. "Ok" he said after a while. Jay's face was filled with happiness and what a sight it was. Cole could stare at him for hours like that. But he didn't get the chance, the puppy pulled his shoes and Jay laughed hard. "You know..." Jay said "this makes a good excuse to come and hang out every day" he winked. Oh! Cole never thought of it lake that. This puppy was a sort of a blessing. "Come on, Rocky" he put the puppy in his backpack "let's take you home". They walked out of the park and got on the bike. The drive to the apartment was filled with yapping and laughter.

Chapter Text

It's been a month since Cole adopted Rocky and the dog couldn't be happier. Even Lloyd likes the him. They took Rocky to the dog park every week. They played Frisbee and Rocky was a very good catcher. They took him to the restaurant that allowed dogs in too. They decided to take him to the vet every 3 weeks. For a 3 months old puppy, he looked in good shape and he had a very promising future with these guys.
For a while life seemed peaceful and event less. Jay drove Cole to the apartment every day after school. They played with Rocky, hung out with Kai, practiced a little football and to Jay's surprise while he played video games, Cole did sketches around the apartment. He showed some of his works to the others. Awesome sketches for Rocky, obviously. And some random things he feels like drawing. He refused to show some others. He practically blushed when asked about them. BUT all that disappear when Jay's calender showed that there was only one month to the finals. He freaked out over all the time he wasted. And of course an anxious Jay was a rambling Jay. He started to chew Cole's ears off about the finals. Cole shrugged it off for a week but gave up eventually. Jay convinced him to study with him. So they spent alot of time in Cole's room, Jay tutoring and Cole well... paying as much attention as he could. Cole couldn't help spacing out every now and then. Sometimes he caught himself staring into Jay's eyes, sometimes staring at his lips and sometimes else where. Luckily for him, Jay was so wrapped up in the studying he never noticed him so he never got scolded. One thing was sure. Cole felt content around a rambling Jay.
Two weeks to the finals and Jay snapped. He disappeared for three days. On the forth day he showed up with a huge pile of flashcards."These" Jay gave them to cole "should give you a B, minimum. Memorize them by heart!". Cole just couldn't help the worried look on his face "You OK there? ". "Honestly... No. There's only ten days left to the finals and i still haven't finished memorizing the courses. If i don't get good grades, my parents are going to kill me. Or worse. They'll say they've warned me of the distractions. I had promised to get straight A's. If i don't -" he was cut off by Cole's finger pressed against his lips. "Jay" Cole put his hands on his shoulders "Deep breath". And so Jay did. "Now listen" Cole started "You, my friend are one of the greatest mind in school. Hell, you are the smartest person i know. I tell you what, stay at home and do your memorizing thing". "But you-" Jay tried to argue but Cole cut him off ."I'll be fine with the flashcards. Really. I swear I'll be fine" Cole swore. Jay shook his head "No. I can't - you can't - it's not going to work- it's won't -". "Hey hey hey. Look at me" Cole said softly and cupped Jay's face and Jay did as told "do you trust me? " Jay nodded "then trust that I'll study hard OK?". Jay stayed silent staring in his eyes. "OK? " Cole repeated. Jay blinked and then nodded. Cole walked Jay out of the apartment and downstairs to the parking lot. Jay got on Arcee, put his helmet on and started the engine but didn't go. Cole put his hand on Jay's shoulder. "Drive safe OK?" he squeezed abit and let go. Jay looked him hesitated. "See you in ten days" Cole stated. Jay finally drove off. He drove slowly and that was unusual. He liked going fast. He felt more alive when he went over speed limits. But now his head was too busy worrying in all different directions. Will he do well? Will Cole do well? Will the semester end well?.
Said ten days went like a cheetah chasing a prey. Jay indeed did his best to memorize all the courses. He almost literally ate the books. He left his desk 6 times a day. Four times to the bathroom ,one time to stretch his legs and one time to go tp bed. Otherwise, everything he needed was ready and available in his room. Edna got him his meals and drinks to his desk. Busy schedule for the bright brain. When he went to bed, he found himself thinking how Cole was doing. Did he study enough? Did he go through the flashcards? Did he get enough rest? Did he take pills for the headaches?.
The exams week was stressful. Jay met Nya right after every exam to do a check up on the answers. Sometimes, Jay became depressed because she's indeed smarter than him but get over it quickly. He and the other guys meet at the parking lot and drive to the Starbucks to refill the energy tank. They discuss the day's exam for a bit and separate shortly after. This became a routine. Soon enough, they finished the exams and had a week till the reports turn up. They decided to sleep in for the first two days and go on a road trip for the rest of the week. Of course, convincing Jay's parents was hard. Took him an hour of blabbing and assuring them he wont drink anything or do something unforgivable. After another hour he finally convinced his father to let him take the RV.
On the promised day, he drove Rusty, The RV to Cole's building. He stopped outside and honked for them to get down. They showed up wearing backpacks. They whined about how old the RV looked like and the probability of breakdowns in the middle of the road. Jay laughed and told them to get in. They got in and almost drooled at what they saw. From the outside, it looked like it was dragged from a junk yard, which was ironically true. But from the inside, everything was modified. Edward spent some serious time and talent on it. If it didn't look homemade they could've swore it was a brand new thing because that's how it worked.
They had only four days so, close towns and a forest was all they could do. They visited historical places and tourist traps in general. Rocky had a blast running around the forest. He barked at every creature that came into his sight. But barked louder at the river. "He must be remembering the lake where i found him" Jay said. At night, Jay collapsed on his bed bed and fell asleep immediately. Cole walked in and sat on the floor facing a sleeping Jay. He studied Jay's sleepy face as it was the most interesting thing in the world. Lloyd came in yawning and saw Cole on the floor. "Am i interrupting?" Lloyd said with a smirk. Cole shushed him and whispered "He'll wake up" . "Relax" Lloyd chuckled "after all that running after your race dog, i don't think he'll wake up before ten hours at least". Cole just nodded and continued to stare. "Hey" Lloyd said before he sat by his side "Are you planning on telling him soon?". "Tell who what?" Cole's face went crimson. Lloyd just arched an eyebrow at him. "I don't know" Cole answered "Whatever this is... It might ruin our friendship". "You don't know that" Lloyd said "maybe he has feelings for you too" . Cole chuckled "Right. He used to meet Kai's sister right after all the exams". Lloyd scratched his temple "Maybe they were just being their smart selves, Going over the answers and whatnot". "Maybe" Cole shrugged. Lloyd got up and went to his bed. Cole sat there for a while. He didn't know what to think. He didn't know time was not on his side.
They went back home a day before the results. Everyone went to bed but didn't sleep. Anxiety ate the all night. The next day , Kai, Jay and Cole gathered around the board. They decided that Kai should read their names and overalls . "Alright, my overall is B" and others congratulated him. "Jay's overall is A+ , naturally" Kai smirked. Jay breathed relieved "and Cole?" he asked. Kai looked up again "Cole's overall is... Oh my god!". Cole's face went chalk pale. "What! " him and Jay said in union. Kai looked at them with a big grin "B+". Cole and Jay immediately hugged. They squeezed each other tightly. "I'm so proud of you" Jay said. "All thanks to you" Cole replied. Kai cleared his throat and they separated awkwardly. "Let's get out of here" said Kai pushing them towards the exit door. When they walked outside , Nya, Zane and Pixal were waiting for them. "Congratulations, Jay" Zane spoke "Nya told us about your grades" . For the first time Jay's two friends groups met. Jay mentally punched himself to get a hold of himself. "Thanks" he practically whispered. Then he cleared his throat and spoke to Kai and Cole "Guys, meet the eggheads. Zane julien, Pixal Borg and... Well you know...Nya". He switched to the other group "These are my friends Cole Brookstone and Kai Smith". They all greeted each other. "Here's an idea" Jay spoke "Why don't we go to Morakami's and celebrate?". All he heard was an approving humming so they got on their rides and took off. Nya and Zane in Pixal's car. Cole behind Jay on Arcee and Kai went to grab Lloyd from his school in his car. They met there after 15 minutes ,sat together and hit it off. They told stories of how they met. Cole was silent in the beginning but was interested in how Jay and Nya's relationship started but as the story ended he figured that they don't even see each other in that way so his mood lightened. He told the story of how he almost broke Jay's nose and everyone laughed. After all finished, Zane cleared his throat and his features turned serious. Everyone went silent. He spoke calmly "Jay, do you have any plans this summer? ". "Not at all" Jay answered ,"why? ". "I have volunteered to go to the south pole to help with a research". "you're not asking me to go there with you right?" Jay asked nervously. "God no! " Zane laughed "I'm here to offer you an internship at Borg Industries through the summer. Nya already accepted the offer". Kai and Jay gave her a look and she nodded. "You're bright, Jay" Pixal spoke "I saw potential in you and i wish that this internship is a chance for you to develop more skills and earn some experience" . Jay couldn't hide the excitement showing on his face "Yes! I'm in for sure! I mean i don't know what my parents will say but I'm all for this". Zane's phone buzzed and he looked through it. He and Pixal were summoned at Borg Tower "You have my number. Inform me when you're available". They excused themselves and left. "You should go home" came Cole's voice. "But i want to hang out more" Jay whined. "Jay..." Cole said softly "This is important. The sooner you tell your parents the better". How ironic was that, coming from him. He was lying to his father about what he was going to be when he grows up. His father wanted him to become a Royal Blacksmith just like him. He on the other hand didn't know what he wanted to be. All he knew was he didn't want to be a blacksmith. He told his father that he just wanted to graduate and then he'll go back to his village and do the family business. For whatever fate has for him, Jay had a different destiny so he didn't want him to suffer from the same choices. "I'll go back with Kai" Cole offered "you go home and tell them" . Jay looked at him he was his hero. He nodded and got up "let's get this over with" . He walked out and left on his bike. "Good job" came Nya's voice whispering in Cole's ear. "Huh?" cole said. "You're a good guy, Brookstone. He'll figure it out eventually but for now have patience OK? " she smiled softly at him. She's a good friend. He just nodded. But something felt off.

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"Ma! Pa!" Jay yelled the moment he go inside the junk yard gate. He felt hyperactive. He had great news that he must share with them. He ran towards the house and got in. "Straight A's y'all" . Edna threw away the sweater she was knitting and ran towards Jay. "My brilliant son!" she almost cried "I'm so proud". Jay hugged back "Don't cry, Ma" . "I can't help it" Edna wept "I'm so proud of you" . Edward stood in the background waiting for his turn to hug his son "Edna please". Edna wiped her tears and let go of Jay. "Congratulations, JJ" Edward and Jay hugged tightly. "Thanks Pa" Jay managed. "Not that I'm surprised, this is what i expect from you, my boy" they grinned. "I made your favorite cake" Edna exclaimed. Jay bit his lips to stop the 'Yay' that almost escaped.
Later they are eating the cake and Jay was telling them how his day went, but kept the internship offer to himself waiting for the right time to drop the bomb. And to his luck his father started the summer discussion. "So" Edward started "Now that the experience is over and with fabulous results, what are you going to do? Resume education in Destiny High or return to your ol' school aka us? ". Edna looked at Jay concerned "Remember that we support your decision whatever it is" . "Actually about that" Jay started "For the time being I've been offered an internship". His parents looked at each other "where? " they said in union. "Borg industries" he said. There it is. Now wait for the reaction. "A- a- are you considering it? " Edna stuttered. "Well- " Jay tried. "Of course he's considering it" Edward interrupted with excitement "It's Borg industries.! And it's a great opportunity for your son" he said facing his wife. He turned and faced Jay "I knew you were destined for great things". "Honey please hush" Edna shushed her husband "Let Jay speak". Ed nodded. "Well" Jay took a deep breath "I want to go for it. Just for the experience. For all i know it will help me with my resume in the future. And as Pa said, It's Borg industries for crying out loud" . "But-" Edna was about to retort but Jay interrupt her. "Ma wait. I will go but the old deal remains. If I can't handle the stress I'll quit immediately. Happy Ma? ". Edna pressed her lips "But you're so young, Jay". "So?" Jay asked "My friends Kai and Nya have part time jobs to pay for school. Nya was offered the same internship as me. And I'm positive she's going to take it. And I'm sure Kai is getting a full time job for the summer. Please let me do this" . "Fine" she finally said. "So" Ed said "Any other information we should know about this internship? " . "I'll call Zane to inquest". He got up and walked outside. Zane picked up his phone after two buzzes. Jay got all the info he needed then hung up. He walked in on his parents in the middle of an argument but they stopped when they saw him. "Well" Jay started "I get to work as an assistant Undersecretary besides the regular intern tasks and duties which are all in the 20th floor of Borg tower. They have a building across the street where inters stay at night for the length of the internship period. They put interns in pairs so I'll have a roommate . They will provide us with all life requirements and luxuries. I'll have the weekend off just like school so I'll be spending them here with you" . "A- a- and " Edna stuttered again "When are you leaving? " . "Tomorrow noon" Jay explained "I'll start the day after" . "Oh!" she said in sudden enthusiast "We must start packing" and she ran to Jay's room. Ed on the other hand stood there admiring his son's decision "My boy grew up" . Jay sighed and followed his mother to help pack.
The next day Jay took his father's beetle car and drove to the apartment to say goodbye to his friends. They welcomed him warmly. Of course the didn't miss the chance to mock him about the car. Jay only chuckled when that happened. "You know" Jay said scratching his elbow "I'm going to miss this. Mockery included". "We're going to miss YOU" Cole said "jokes and puns included" good save he thought to himself. Kai and Lloyd shared a look. "You guys know this isn't permanent, right?" Lloyd said. "Yeah. You'll be back by the weekend" Kai added. "Still" Jay said "It's going to be a long week". The other three came at him suddenly, knocking him down to the ground in a group hug. "Ah! Get off" Jay yelped "you're too heavy i can't breath! " . They laughed but got off eventually. "I better get going" Jay inhaled. They walked downstairs with him and hugged him again but one by one this time. While they hugged, Cole whispered "Be careful" in Jay's ear. Jay nodded in the larger man's embrace. Cole released Jay after a bit. Jay got into the car and drove off slowly. From his rear view mirror he could see a sad looking Cole waving bye.
Jay found his destination easily. The intern dorm was visible from a distance. He got off the car, unloaded his bag and went inside. He remembered that Zane gave him a room number ,21. He looked around searching for it. He found it and knock the door. It was open so he entered. There was a guy inside smoking by the window. "Hi. I'm Jay. Guess you're my roommate". "Ash" the guy exclaimed. "Let's make some ground rules" Ash said blowing smoke out "The bed by the window is mine. And obviously the closet next to it. I'm not here to make friends so if you can mind your own business I'll appreciate it. Whoever wakes up first uses the bathroom first. Don't bother me and i won't bother you. We'll get along well" Ash finished. Jay sat on his so called bed and rolled the 'rules' in his head. "add to those rules no smoking in the room or the bathroom" he snarked. Ash looked at him challenging. Jay gazed back with more challenge in his eyes. Ash nodded eventually "Fair enough" he said and walked outside to finish his cigarette. "Great" Jay sighed. A jerk for a roommate. Good thing he made a strong first impression or this internship would have gone south from the begging. He started to unpack. Once he finished he went straight to bed.
The next day Jay woke up early and found Ash still sleeping. Good he thought to himself. He took out his finest clothes and went to the bathroom. He walked out to find Ash mysteriously gone. "whatever" he said. Not his business. He walked out of the dorm walked around the Premises. His alarm went off indicating that it was time to head to Borg Tower. He crossed the street and walked inside the tower. He saw the elevator at the end of the Hall so he walked towards it. "Hey, Stranger" he heard a familiar, friendly voice from behind him. "Hi Nya" he said not looking back. She quickened her pace to walk beside him. "What sort of roommate did you get? " He asked her. "Tox is.... Unique" she said "I don't want to get on her bad side though. How's yours? " . "He's a jerk, honestly" he said. They got in the elevator and Jay pressed the button to the 20th floor. When they got off they walked in on a wide space with a quiet large number of people sitting on the floor. They weren't the first to arrive but not the last to come. A little while later Cyrus Borg showed up to talk to them. "Hello everyone" Cyrus started "For a while now, I've been wanting to recruit some new minds to my team. And as you all know i can't go out and look for them myself". They understood what he meant, being on a wheel chair would make it difficult and time consuming. "So i asked my most trusted associates do so. And here you all are. Men and women from all ages. I'm expecting big things from you. Impress me and you'll be rewarded". He pointed at a counter by the library "There you'll find forms with your names and what will your tasks be" . He clapped his hands once "Let's go. Chop chop". They walked walked to said counter and looked for the forms. Jay found his form and looked at it. "Ok. Here i go" .

Back at the apartment things were going slow and boring. Cole was lying in his bed, going through his sketch book while Rocky was sleeping on top of him when he heard knocking on the door. He gently placed Rocky on the bed and got up. He put the sketchbook on his desk and walked out of the room. He opened the door. The history teacher Mrs Misako was on the other side. "Hello Mr Brookstone" she said. "Mrs Misako!" he couldn't hide his surprise. "what are you doing here? " he exclaimed. "Can we not do this at the door? " she plead. "Oh! Sorry. How rude of me" he stepped aside allowing her in. "Please excuse the mess. We weren't expecting visitors" he chuckled nervously. "I don't mind" she smiled and sat on the couch. Cole dragged a chair and sat facing her "so..." . "Oh yes. I was informed that my son lives here". "Oh my god. You're Lloyd's mother?! " . "Yes" she said simply. "and I'd like to meet him if that's on the table". Cole looked at her carefully. She sounds content but looks nervous. "Hey if you want to meet him i can't stop you. I'm not his Guardian I'm just his older roommate. But I'll ask for one thing" He paused. "anything!" she said. "Don't push him. He has it rough as it is" . "Of course!" she said excited. Cole got off the chair and walked to Lloyd's room's door. He knocked quietly. "Hey champ? Can you come out for a minute?". He heard a groan from the other side. "Some one is here to see you" Cole managed. Heavy steps walked towards the door then it opened. Lloyd had messy bed hair and he looked tired. "What's up?" he said and his voice was choked. "OK, go wash your face, brush your teeth and fix that mess of a hairstyle you have on your head" Cole demanded nervously. Lloyd turned around and shut the door behind him. 10 minutes later he came out clean, Obviously took a shower while he was at it. "Again, " he said "what's up?" . Cole chuckled. "There is someone here to see you". "Ok" Lloyd said simply. "Don't freak out ok? " Cole said putting his hand between Lloyd's shoulder blades walking him to the mysterious visitor. "Lloyd, I'd like you to meet Mrs Misako, my history teacher" Cole said introducing. "Hi" Lloyd said lifting his hand to shake said woman's hand. "Who happens to be..." Cole interrupted. "Your mother" Misako finished. Lloyd's hand dropped by his side. He looked at her in shock. Then looked at Cole for a moment. He expression changed to poker face. "Haha. Nice joke but I'm not falling for this". "There's no prank here ,Lloyd" Misako said "I am indeed your mother". Cole walked to his room quietly. This is family business. He shouldn't be there. He locked the door and sat on his bed. Even through the door, he heard Lloyd yell "what do you want ,huh? You disappear for like what 13 years? And just show up out of nowhere?". Misako defended herself . "And the thought of taking me with you didn't pop in your mind at all?! " Lloyd yelled again. Misako said something that made Lloyd calm down a bit. They talked quietly for a while. Cole decided that it was safe to walk outside and join them now. Apparently, Misako was leaving when cole walked out. She waited for him by the door and Lloyd was in his room. "I'll take it didn't go well" Cole said. "That's one way to put it in" Misako chuckled. Lloyd's mother showed up a couple of days after. From what Cole understood, Lloyd will spend the rest of the summer with her 'to get to know each other more'. Cool.Good for them. He still had Rocky.But still he couldn't hold a conversation with the dog. So he decided to keep himself busy so he wont think about how lonely he feels. The next day he took Rocky for the longest walk they could do, To the school football field. He worked out alot. He even played catch with the football. When it got too hot to stay they got on the bus and returned home. Cole thought he should give rocky a bath and so he did. When he was done with that he saw that the apartment could use a little cleaning. So he tidied it up and cleaned around. He took a shower next. And it was late enough for him to go to bed. He slept deeply that night. He repeated the same routine for the next three days. Sure it kept him in shape but he couldn't help feeling lonely.
Sunday morning was remarkable. Cole had just finished his shower and was getting dressed for the walk with Rocky when he heard knocking on the door. Who could it be? He wasn't expecting anyone. He opened the door and couldn't believe his eyes, Jay was on the other side. "Hey" Said Jay. Cole froze for a few seconds. When he got back to reality, he pulled Jay close and hugged him. Jay was obviously caught off guard. He didn't hug back immediately. But did eventually. Cole felt it was time to break it so he stepped back. "Warm welcome" Jay said walking inside "I like what you did with the apartment" he said looking around. Cole felt his heart melting. He missed having someone around. He missed having JAY around. "What are you doing here?" he asked chuckling. Jay sat on the couch and stretched "Hanging out. What are you doing here?" he asked playfully. "I was going for a walk with Rocky" Cole managed. "Great! " Jay grinned "I can use a walk" he stood up and looked around "Where's Lloyd?" . "I'll tell you downstairs" Cole said before he whistled. Rocky came running when he heard it. The dog saw Jay and came at him pinning him back to the couch. He licked Jay's face none stop. Jay was struggling. He couldn't stop laughing or escape the dog pinning him down. "Help! " he giggled and Cole blasted a load of laughter. He grabbed the dog leash and pulled Rocky away .
They walked outside and towards the dog park in a comfortable silence. They got there shortly and unleashed an excited Shepard to run around happily. They found a bench and sat down watching Rocky sniffing another dog. Jay finally spoke "So how are you?"." I'm fine" Cole answered scratching his elbow. "Hmmm" Jay looked at him "And what have you been up to lately? " . "Mostly working out, staying in shape and all that jazz" Cole said. "What about Lloyd? " Jay sat up straight, knowing some serious news are going to hit him. And he wasn't disappointed, Cole told him the Story of Misako's showing up. Jay understood what's going on. Cole was alone and in agony. He felt that on him the second he saw him this morning. He knew those feelings too well. "And how are you holding up? " he asked. "What?" Cole looked at him confused. Jay wrapped his arm around Cole's shoulder and looked at him in the eyes "You can talk to me". Cole held his breath. He held gaze for afew seconds then looked down . He took a deep breath and sighed. "I'm fine...." he said but felt Jay's gaze on him and Jay's hand rubbing at his shoulder so he continue "but it gets a little too quiet all by myself at the apartment". "Lucky you, I'm here now" Jay said and stood up. He stood in front of Cole and held his hand in the middle of them waiting for Cole to take it. Cole looked up at him. What he saw was a little unrealistic. The sun behind Jay's head made it difficult to look at him. It looked like a scene frpm a movie. Someone sitting in the metaphorical dark in having a crisis and their savior comes to pull them into the light qnd away from their problems. He raised his hand slowly and took Jay's hand. Jay pulled him up with a grunt. Cole stood by his side with a hopeful look in his face. "And I'm growing to talk your ears off so you'll wish you're at that quiet place" Jay finished. Cole laughed hard and nudged him with his elbow. "ow" Jay said in pain and started rubbing the spot Cole nudged. Cole laughed harder and called for Rocky as they were leaving. Jay lead the way and Cole and Rocky followed. He kept talking about how his week went, not missing any details. Cole listened like his life depended on it. He knew that he'll miss all the rambling soon. Jay suddenly stopped by an animal shelter. "Hey, look! " he pointed at a 'Help Wanted' sign on the door. "You could get a job here" Jay said enthusiastically. Cole arched an eyebrow at him. "Come on! I see how you're so fond of Rocky. You can take care of other animals too. AND you'll get a few bucks out of it too" Jay blabbed. "I don't know, Jay" Cole said hesitating "It looks like alot of responsibility". "It will ease the loneliness a bit though. Trust me" they exchanged looks. "Fine" Cole said finally. "you won't regret this" Jay said and pulled him inside. They signed him up and he was hired immediately. His first shift starts tomorrow. They walked back to the apartment but Jay refused to go inside. " I gotta go to the dorm tonight. I've got work tomorrow" Jay whined. Cole chuckled and opened his arms offering a goodbye hug. Jay walked in between Cole's big arms and hugged him. Cole wrapped his arms around him in a warm hug. They kept it as long as possible, just breathing in each others scent. They finally broke it and Jay spoke "Until we meet again" . Cole just waved bye and whispered "I miss you already".

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Next weekend Jay was packing for his weekend at his parent's place when he got a call that said he has to stay for the weekend. He was frustrated as hell. Ash gave him a hard time as it is during the week. And all the work he has done was killing him. Plus he knew Cole is back at the apartment waiting for anyone to show up considering his current situation. He had to do something to help him from where he is. He got out and walked to the closest art store and bought a coloring kit and a sketchbook. Then to the closest supermarket and bought a bag of fancy dog food. He wrote a note saying 'Sorry i couldn't make it this week. Fill this up for me and be generous with dog treats Miss U ~ Motormouth' .He put them in a box and wrapped it with a gift wrapping he bought . He mailed them to Cole's address and went to bed. He had some serious work to do tomorrow.
It was Monday evening and Cole was coming back from the shelter with Rocky when he saw a box at his door. It was wrapped in a blue wrapping so he knew who the sender was. He picked it up and entered the apartment. Inside he opened it and picked up the note. He felt his heart melt. Jay had thought of him and missed him. These few words made his day. For what it's worth the gift was very thoughtful. He must fill the sketchbook soon. Jay will say he's too lazy if he didn't. He decided to take it with him to the park next time he walks Rocky. He'll have some sights to draw.
Thursday was a rough day for Jay. Cyrus kept giving him tasks none stop. He finally got back to the dorm at 7. He laid in bed and stretched his back. He napped peacefully for 30 minutes when his phone range. It was strange. Only his mother called him and this wasn't the time of the day for her call. He looked at the phone. He didn't recognize the number but he answered anyway. "Hello? " He said with a raw voice. "Is this Jay Walker? " said the girl on the other side. Her voice sounded familiar. "Yes who is this? " Jay managed. "I'm Dilara , from the animal shelter. I'm calling in regards of your friend Cole Brookstone" the caller said. She sounded worried. "Oh Hey you. What's going on? ". "Cole hasn't showed up in two days. He's not answering his apartment phone either. He doesn't have a cellphone so we contacted his emergency contact, You" Dilara said "Do you by any case have him by your side? " . "No" Jay exclaimed "But I'll look into it". "I hope he's ok" said Dilara before she hung up. So Cole is missing and no one knows where he is. Jay put on his jacket and walked to Borg Tower. He asked his supervisor to give him tomorrow off because of an emergency call. By a miraculous effort of begging he was released. He drove the beetle to Cole's apartment. Two hours of horrible thoughts going through his head. He almost crashed the car three times but finally made it in one piece.
Jay ran up the stairs nonstop. He stood at Cole's door but found it unlocked. He entered the apartment slowly and looked around. It was dark and dusty. It was cold enough to give him chills. Bottles of beer lying around everywhere. Was Cole drinking?. As he walked further into the apartment he heard a muffled crying sound coming from Cole's room. He walked in slowly and knocked on the door. "Cole? " he said quietly. The crying sound stopped. "Are you ok in there?" he asked but got no answer "can i come in? " he asked and waited. When he got no answer again he opened the door quietly and walked in. Cole was sitting on his chair with his face on the desk. Jay walked to him and put his hand on Cole's shoulder. "Hey" Jay whispered "what's wrong?" . "He's gone" Cole managed "i lost him" he looked up at Jay. Tears in his eyes like he was struggling to keep them from falling. He looked like he hasn't shaved in days. "Who is he? " Jay asked, worry started to take him. "Rocky" Cole said . Jay was on his knees facing Cole. "what happened? " he asked. "we were in the park and i was doodling in the sketchbook and lost track of time. When i looked up he was no where to be found. It's my fault he's gone i was irresponsible i was an idiot I-" Cole was pulled in a hug by Jay and he started crying again. "It's gonna be fine. I'm here now" Jay repeated in Cole's ear. "I looked for him you know" cole cried "i searched every where i ever took him to. But he wasn't there. Now he's alone out there in the cold. He must be starving". Jay shushed him "I'll help you look. We'll make fliers and look for him ok? ". Cole nodded. "Come on" Jay got up "Let's wash this... Off you". He pulled Cole on to his feet but Cole couldn't stand alone. He was too drunk to do so. So Jay pulled him on his back and walked him to the bathroom. He put the plastic stool under the shower. "Can you take off your clothes on your own? " Jay managed but cole didn't answer. Jay made him stand against the wall and took his T-shirt off. He threw it away and moved to his pants. He removed them and threw them by the T-shirt. He kept Cole's boxers on and pulled him to the plastic stool under the shower. He removed his own shirt and turned on the shower. Warm water sprayed them both. Jay grabbed a bar of soap and started washing Cole. A while later Jay felt that he did a pretty decent job so he turned off the water and pulled Cole out of the bathroom and made him sit on the chair from earlier . He grabbed a towel and started drying Cole's hair. He dried him nicely and moved to the rest of his body. Cole just sat there looking zoned out. Jay walked to the closet and grabbed a tank top and shorts for Cole and an oversized turtle neck and some random sweatpants for himself. He went to the bathroom and changed quickly and ran back to change for Cole. He helped Cole get in the tank top and quickly removed the wet boxers off of him. He lifted the shorts up quickly without looking. "Come on, Buddy" he stood up and pulled the larger guy with him "Let's get you to bed". Motormouth helped Cole to bed. He covered him up well and made sure he was comfortable. He wanted to walk away and sleep in the other room but Cole held his hand. "What is it, buddy? You need anything? Water? Something? " Jay asked softly. "Stay" sleepy Cole said "please". Jay looked at him confused. Where would he stay? There isn't another bed in this room. And to his surprise, Cole moved against the wall to give him space on his bed. 'Ok' Jay thought 'Didn't see that coming. It's a little weird and awkward but ok'. Another pull at his hand pulled him out of his thoughts. "Ok ok" He chuckled and crawled into the bed with Cole. Cole wrapped his arm around his shoulder and pulled him in "Thank you" he murmured. "It's fine" Jay said. "You're always there for me" Cole mumbled. "What are friends for? " Jay asked. "I'm in love with you" Cole muttered. "Go to sleep, Cole. You're so drunk you're talking none sense" Jay chuckled. Cole fell asleep immediately. Jay couldn't sleep for a while. He kept over thinking where the dog might have gone. He had some ideas on where to look. After a while he felt his body aching from tiredness and drifted off.

The next morning Jay woke up early as usual but he felt off. He was on his side and something was behind him. He slowly looked behind him and found that Cole was spooning him. Right. He remembered the night before and everything that happened. He slowly slipped out of Cole's embrace and went to the bathroom. He looked around for a new toothbrush and found one under the sink. He used it and made a mind note to buy Cole a replacement later. He went around the apartment and cleaned around. When he finished he walked in on Cole stretching lazily . "Sleep ok? " Jay asked. Cole nodded once obviously still in his dark place from yesterday. Jay pulled the chair into the bathroom quickly. "Come on" he said from the bathroom door "Big day today". Cole shambled towards the bathroom. He saw Jay pointing at the chair so he sat there. Jay pulled Cole's toothbrush and started brushing. After he finished he fetched a shaving razor. "OK let's work on your face" Jay said cheerfully. Cole looked up at him confused. "What? " Jay asked jokingly "I like the stubble on you but this is just not you" and he rubbed the shaving cream or whatever on Cole's face. He hoped that his zero knowledge of facial hair and how to deal with it wouldn't stand in his way as his chin was as hairless as a baby's. He worked carefully. Cole kept staring at him all the time. From eye contact to staring at his lips every now and then. Jay felt the hot gaze on him and his heart started pounding fast. He felt the blush crawling up his neck and to his cheeks so he focused on the job at his hands. After a while and with a miraculous effort he finished and he didn't cut Cole at all so he took it as a win. "Finally " Jay said "There's the Cole i know". Cole looked at the mirror in silence. "Come on" Jay said. He grabbed Cole's hand "We've got a K9 to find". They walked out of the apartment and downstairs hand in hand. The beetle was waiting for them and they got in and Jay drove off.
They went to the nearest library and made fliers with Rocky's picture from Jay's phone. Jay drove around town to all possible places Rocky might have been to. They searched all the parks and asked everyone if they've seen the missing K9. But there was no luck that day. They went back to the apartment and Cole couldn't be worse. He went straight to bed and Jay followed him. "We'll find him eventually" Jay sat by Cole's side on the bed. "What if we don't? " Cole asked. He looked devastated. "What if a car ran over him? What if someone took him for themselves? I might never see him again" tears started to form in his eyes. "Hey hey hey" Jay grabbed his hands tight "We will find him. We will. You just have to have hope. And leave the cynical thinking to me ,after all I'm a pro" . Cole chuckled at the last remark. He moved to give Jay space on the bed. Jay raised an eyebrow at him. Cole just looked at him with his sad brown eyes. "Don't look at me like that" Jay directed his face away "I can't say no to those brown eyes". He looked back at him and to his shock, Cole had found away to make them look bigger and sadder if that was even possible. "Fine!" Jay whined and reclined by his side. Cole smiled weakly and hugged him. They fell asleep quickly.
The next day they searched near all the restaurant they ever took Rocky to. They hanged fliers everywhere. But again with no luck. Jay drove to his parent's junk yard. He stopped by the gate. Cole looked around "Where are we? " . "This is my place" Jay replied. "I'm just going to say hi to my parents . You can wait in the car if you're not up to it" Jay offered . "Eh. What the hell" Cole shrugged. "You don't know them. They'll skin you alive, Just a heads up" Jay warned him and got out of the car. Cole got off and walked behind him "How bad can they be? ". Jay chuckled "You'll see".
Jay opened the front door and entered "Ma? Pa? I'm back" he called loudly . Cole stood outside waiting. Edna appeared from the kitchen "Oh my god, Jay!" she practically threw herself at him, what a hug. She stepped back to look at him "Look at you! You lost weight, there are dark circles around your eyes. What, they don't feed you at Borg Tower? I bet they're killing you with with task so you look this tired". Ed showed up "I was fixing the radio, what did i miss?". He saw Cole "and who's that? " he asked curiously. Edna noticed Cole for the first time and looked at Jay waiting for the introduction. "Ma, Pa," Jay started "This is Cole. My f-" "YOUR BOYFRIEND" Edna yelled and ran towards Cole. "Wait what?!" Jay said but it was too late. Edna had already wrapped herself around Cole in a hug. Cole's face pale but he gave her a genuine smile and hugged back "Hi Mrs walker" he chuckled. "Hey! We don't do formal talking here" she joked "We're practically family" . "ED!" she yelled "Come meet your son's boyfriend!". Ed came running. He shook Cole's hand "what a firm grip". "Look at his face! He's so cute" Edna exclaimed. "And those arms" Ed kept feeling Cole's biceps. Jay regretted letting Cole go out in a tank top. In fact, he regretted coming here at all. "Come in. We Must have you for dinner" Edna pulled Cole's hand and yanked him inside. When they walked by Jay, Cole mouthed 'Help' to him. Jay gave him an apologizing look as in he is beyond help right now. They were forced to sit at the table and eat while listening to Edna embarrass Jay with some of his childhood stories. Jay spent the time playing with his food and not looking at anyone. "So tell us about yourself" Edna said. "there is not much to say" Cole started "I play football at the school team, I'm living in an apartment with a younger roommate and Jay here tutors me". "An athlete, of course! And independent too. I like you very much" Ed said with excitement. "Tutors" Edna chuckled using air quotes. She and her husband shared a look then giggled. "No really" Cole added "I got the best grades in my life thanks to him". "Awww look at how Jay is blushing" Edna cooed. "Speaking of things on Jay," she added "I don't recall buying you this outfit" she pointed at his clothing. "Oh those are mine" came Cole's voice and they all looked at him. Jay mouthed 'Stop talking' but Cole continued anyway "He stayed over and didn't have anything to wear so i lend him some of my clothes" . Jay face palmed. "Stayed over, huh?" Ed remarked. "Did you sleep together? " Edna asked enthusiastically. "Ma!" Jay whined. "I hope you used protection" Edward added. "Pa! " Jay whined again. "How was it? " Edna asked seriously. "Oh my God" Jay got up and walked out of the house. "Was it something i said? " Edna asked obviously. "I lost my dog and i was in a bad shape" Cole explained "Jay showed up and kept me company. Now we're looking for it and he thought he'd come say hi". "Oh honey! " Edna exhaled. "We're so sorry" Edward added. They both hugged him warmly. "It's been nice to meet you guys" Cole managed "I better go after him though". They released him "Before you leave tell Jay we have a raccoon problem in the north side" said Edward. Cole walked out and waved goodbye. "Come back anytime!" Edna yelled in the distance. "We're thrilled to have you" Ed yelled too. He walked towards the gate until he found Jay sitting on a big piece of metal. "Hey" he said and Jay stood up glaring at him. "What is wrong with you?!" Jay hissed. "What? " Cole pretended to be innocent. "All that crap! What was that about?! " Jay practically spat the words. "Aww our first fight as a couple" Cole cooed. "Cole! Do you hear me laughing?" Jay was boiling. "Relax, Jay" Cole started "I saw that they thought that you and I are together and nothing we say was going to change their minds so i just rolled with it. If you can't beat 'em, join them". Jay sighed. "You're right" he started "They would've spent the evening teasing me 'why am i not dating such a great guy like you'. It might've gone worse" Jay shivered with chills. "So why aren't you? " Cole teased. "Stop that" Jay huffed. "No seriously. Why aren't you? " Cole asked seriously. "Can we focus on your lost dog please? " Jay exclaimed. "oh... " Cole looked down "before we leave, your father said he's got a raccoon on the north side". "Psh" Jay mocked "A raccoon. He has no idea what i have in there". It took him a moment to realize what he just said. "Of course!" he said and he ran north. Cole was left in the dark metaphorically and literally so he followed Jay. When they reached the north side Jay stopped to catch his breath. He really got rusty. Cole on the other hand stood there clueless "What was that about? " . "Remember when i gave you Rocky?" Jay managed, still out of breath. Cole nodded. "I told you i took him in for a few days then found him another place to stay" Jay explained. "Under the bridge at the park" Cole finished for him. Jay lifted his hand, put his fingers in his mouth and whistled. "You don't think.. ?" Cole asked. A crashing sound came to answer. A half grown German shepherd emerged from a junk pile and ran towards them. Jay stepped behind Cole so he won't be pinned down. The K9 jumped Cole and pinned him down to the ground. It licked the guy's face all over. Cole laughed and hugged Rocky tight. "I missed you so much" said Cole. They rolled over in the dirt. "Come on guys" Jay said cheerfully "let's get you home". They walked to the car and returned to the apartment. Jay refused to go inside "I'll let you guys catch up. Plus i have to go to work tomorrow so there's that". Cole hugged him tight. "Thanks ,Jay" his hands were on Jay's lower back so Jay felt weird but shrugged it off. "I got you" he said. When Cole released him he could swear he felt his lips brush on his cheek. He played dumb though. He got in the car and drove off.

Chapter Text

Ever since he got back to the dorm , Jay can't seem to focus. He keeps zoning out during presentations. He trips on his own feet . He even ran into a wall once. He couldn't do tasks like he used to. He keeps replaying the nights he spent with Cole in his head. What Cole said, confessed , what Cole did. How Cole looked when he slept. All the details came like he was watching movie going playing. He wondered what Cole was doing at the moment. What would have happened if he took a different course of action. This kept going for five days till something pulled him out of his thoughts.
Cyrus summoned Jay to his office at top floor. Jay was so nervous when he got the call. He walked to the elevator wreaking with anxiety. He walked to Cyrus' office feeling his knees are about to give up. Cyrus was looking through the window "Take a seat, Jay" . Jay did as he was told. Borg turned his chair around so he could face Jay. "What's going on, Jay? " Borg asked. "What?" Jay asked back. "I've read your file, Jay" Cyrus started "According to Zane, you've always been smart and determined. Through the three weeks you've been here I've been watching your progress. You've been an overachieving hyper focused fire ball" . "Jee I -" Jay tried but was cut off by Cyrus. "Let me finish" Cyrus said and Jay's mouth slammed shut. "As i was saying," Cyrus continued "Your progress was remarkable. Till now, ". Jay swallowed hard . "You got this emergency call and you disappeared for two days. And when you came back, you're as clumsy as a 5 years old. You don't pay attention, you miss due dates on assignments... Ugh" Borg sighed "Etcetera. Something happened in the two days you were gone and it's eating your brain. You can't stop thinking about it, yes? " .Jay nodded. "I know it's personal and I can't get evolved in it. So here's the deal" He leaned forward "You are released from your internship. You can come back and finish it when you're ready, or not. I'll still confirm it on your resume. I have a place for you for after when you graduate. A real job for your future self. But for now, go pack and solve your current problem" . "Mr Borg, I -" Jay tried again. "Go!" Cyrus said louder than Jay. "Stop wasting time. And good luck". Jay practically ran towards the elevator. He felt hyper active inside it. He kept bouncing until he got off. He tried to walk towards the dorm but kept skipping. He walked inside his room and shoved all his belongings into his bag. He dragged the bag out and threw it inside the beetle. For the next couple hours, he kept over thinking what he was doing and whether he was up for the consequences.
Cole called in sick that day. He wasn't sick he just wanted stay in bed for no reason. He was sitting on the couch scrolling aimlessly through the channels when he heard knocking on his door. On the other side Jay stood with a neutral expression on his face, which was weird because Jay always smiled. "Jay ? What are you doing here? " Cole asked "It's not Sunday". "Can I come in? " Jay asked with a bit sad tone. Now Cole started to worry. Jay always barged in when someone opened the door for him. This question had a serious thing behind it. "Of course". Cole let him in. Jay waled in slowly but didn't sit on the couch like he usually did. "Something's wrong" Cole stated "What happened? " . Jay looked lost and lowered his gaze to his shoes "I got fired" he managed. "What? " Cole exclaimed "Why? " . "Boss said my head wasn't in the job" Jay started "And he was Right. I can't focus on what I'm doing most of the time. I zone out, i day dream, i trip on my own feet and run into walls" he sighed. Cole didn't know what to do. He has never seen Jay so down before. "When did this start? What is causing this? " he asked. "The night I found you drunk. You said something that keeps going through my head all the time" Jay said so quietly it came as whispering . Cole face palmed. What could drunk him say that was so bad it cost Jay his internship? . "What did i say? " he held his breath. Jay took a but to gather his guts to say it. "You're in love with me" he blurted. Cole froze. His heartbeat rose up and his face went red. He pulled himself back together and walked towards Jay entering his personal space. "Jay I'm sorry" He managed "I never thought something drunk me said could make you lose your internship. I really am sorry" Jay looked down again. "That's not what's bothering me" ."What is it then? " Cole asked. "What's bothering me is how long was i oblivious to it" Jay replied. "What?" Cole lost track. "I mean yes I'm a flirt and I'm always teasing but how could i be so oblivious? I had feelings for you too but i didn't recognize them at all . How could i be so naïve and ignorant?" . "Hey hey" Cole is losing him "Look at me" He cupped Jay's face and lifted his chin up "Oblivious or not, I Love You" and kissed him. Jay took a moment then kissed back. It was soft and passionate and greedy. They kissed like there is no tomorrow. Cole put his hand on Jay's hips. Jay on the other hand kept pulling on Cole's collar. They finally broke it to breath and pressed their foreheads together. "I love you too" Jay whispered. Cole lifted him up and walked to his bedroom. He dropped him on the bed and jumped by his side. They made out for what seems like years. They felt content just like that. "So were together now" Cole whispered . "Well... Technically you haven't asked me out yet" Jay smirked. Cole pulled him on top of him "Will you go out with me? " he laughed. "Where to? " Jay said while playing with a strand of Cole's hair. "We can go see a movie. I know you like those space pirate thing movies" Cole suggested. "Only if we get to hold hands all the time" Jay tease. Cole laughed " I wouldn't have it any other way" . "Sounds perfect" Jay said and he kissed Cole again. ***
Later they got out of the theatre after the movie is over. "This is fun" said Jay "Let's do this again soon". "Well we have a whole week before school starts so i guess we will" Cole stated. Jay froze. "What? " Cole asked. "I don't know if I'm going back to school or not" Jay said. "Why?" asked Cole. "I made a deal with my parents that this will be for only one semester" Jay whined. "So? You passed. You can still go, Right? " Cole asked with hesitation . "I don't know" Jay said "It'll be a long convincing session to change their minds". "If it makes you feel any better I'll come with you. I'll try to Persuade your folks into it" . "You're the best" Jay said and pulled him into a kiss. "I know" Cole said after they separated. Whether they convinced the Walkers or not, being together was worth it. What a beginning for the new term.