She came to school early as always, and he was always there waiting for her. No one else would be in the hallway, not for another twenty minutes anyway. She had her backpack slung over her shoulder, with her lunch in her left hand. She had brought a chocolate bar today as a snack.

Walking down the hallway, she spotted him in his usual spot, slouched on the ground in front of his locker with his head leaning against it. It looked like he was having a short nap this morning. At the sound of her footsteps, one of his eyelids cracked open to peer at her, as if expecting to see someone else walking towards him. Her locker was right beside his, and she stopped at it to open her lock while dropping her lunch bag into his lap.

"Late night?"

He opened his eyes and tilted his head to look up at her. Good thing she wasn't wearing a skirt today.

"Early morning," he replied, and then moved his head to its original position against the locker.

She glanced at him while she emptied out her books from her bag and arranged them neatly in her locker. She found a few scraps of paper in her locker and threw them away in the garbage bin situated right across the hall from their lockers. Glancing at him a second time, deftly fished her lunch bag out of his lap and stuffed it into her locker. She then closed, but didn't lock her locker and sat herself down on the floor beside him while angling herself so that she was facing him. She took the opportunity to observe him. His face didn't seem any different, but then again, she wasn't very good as being observant when she wanted to.

As if sensing her eyes on him, without opening his eyes he mumbled, "Stop it."

She rolled her eyes. "I'll stop when you stop being quiet."

He didn't respond, and as a result, she kept staring at him broodingly. He wasn't in school yesterday, or the day before that. She fully expected him to skip school today as well, but deep inside she had harbored a deep hope that he would show up for school; though she knew better than to rely on his presence to cheer her up. Somehow though, when she had thought that she was becoming independent, he appeared again, acting as if nothing had happened and all the resistance that she had built against him would shatter.

They were friends. They had gotten a lot closer in the past 2 years. She had always looked down upon those who had pined for his attention, and kept a safe distance from him when they were around, promising herself that she would never act like she needed his attention to survive through to the next day. Yet, a couple years later and she was acting just like them. The only difference was that he and she actually had a relationship.

They were friends.

She didn't know why she was suddenly so concerned about their relationship. She wasn't sure whether she wanted it to grow into something more, or just remain the way it was. She had never experienced anything like it before.

And she didn't like it.

She wanted it to go away. She wanted to be the carefree person she was before. Not caring too much about anyone or anything. She didn't want to be plagued with thoughts of him night and day. She couldn't focus on the more important things in life - like her school work. She needed to focus on her school work more.

Maybe if she just buried these feelings they would go away. But what if she was crushing on him?

Oh, god.

She hoped not. He didn't feel the same about her. She knew that, for sure. They were too close now to have something jump in and ruin it all. Besides, she would leave that to the summer when they lost touch, while he visited his family and she stayed at home volunteering at local fairs and whatnot. They would see each other again in September and they would still be friends, but the relationship that they had maintained before the holidays would be broken and lost. They would not be able to bond like they used to. Come to think of it, it was kind of senseless maintaining a relationship like this in the first place.

But whatever. What's done is done. It would make no sense mucking things up now.

It was at that point that she noticed that he was staring back at her. Slightly startled, she raised her eyebrow at him, as if asking 'what?'

"What're you think about? Whatever it was, you were pretty preoccupied with it."

Without moving, she asked, "Why weren't you at school?"

"Sick."

"Oh. You feeling better?"

"Yea." He raised his eyebrow, wordlessly letting her know that he knew that there was more to her thoughts than what she was voicing.

Damn him and his observational skills, she thought.

Once again, she rolled her eyes and reached up into her locker to get the chocolate she had brought to snack on later. She broke it in half, and offered him one piece. He silently took the chocolate, but just as he was about to place it in his mouth, she said, "To our friendship," and raised her chocolate in a mock cheer.

He lowered the chocolate and raised his eyebrow before mimicking her actions and mumbling "For being friends".

Just Friends.