A Park and Plan A

I ran over to the slide like a little kid and climbed up stairs that my feet were obviously too big for. Upon reaching the top, I was greeted with girlish squeeing and maniacal hand gestures.

"You touched him!" Megan said, slapping me on the knee when I sat down next to them.

"Yeah on accident. We almost died!" I exclaimed.

"He didn't look upset or anything. Would this be considered a successful phase one then?" Yuritzy asked.

"Honestly, it would have been hilarious if I was watching from somewhere else, but I wasn't. I was in the line of fire. Shit is real, Man," I said with mock seriousness.

"Well I think we may have a real chance at this. I used to have him in Physics last year and he's a really nice guy. Almost too nice if you know what I mean, eh? Eh? Do you? Do you know what I mean, Xander?" Megan said with wagging eyebrows.

Yuritzy laughed and it seemed as if they had been best friends for years, but I think today was their first real conversation. Speaking of first conversations…

"I think that was the first time I've talked to him. It's really weird meeting a person that you have…intentions for," I said. I felt suddenly criminal.

What if he found out and he was hurt by this stupid game? What if I was hurt by this stupid game? What if he was secretly super homophobic and he and his friends tied me up and threw basketballs at me? Wait why would they? I'm not gay. Yeah I'm safe. Just your average neighborhood gaydar; no homoerotic tendencies here!

"Anyway, give me your cell phones," Megan said holding out a hand to each of us. "I'll give you my number and we can keep each other updated. I need to go take my little sister to gymnastics. Psh, that overachiever," she finished.

She entered her number into both phones and gave them back. Yuritzy and I shared an awkward look and smile before also swapping phones. In reality I knew Yuritzy better than I knew Megan, but I think after knowing someone for so long with such little interaction it's kind of more uncomfortable than a stranger.

I smiled politely at her.

"Okay peeps. I will text you both tonight with a PLAN. Oh my god, I am so looking forward to these next few days," Megan said, waving us goodbye.

She slid down the slide and landed running to her car in the parking lot.

I looked up to see Seth leaving the bathroom with that easy stride and I looked away feeling dread at "these next few days."

"Is this weird?" Yuritzy asked the unnecessary question.

"Hell yeah," I laughed out, slightly more at ease since she felt it too.

"I know we barely talk, but mission aside, I would really like to become better friends with you," she said as a more of a question than a statement.

"Yeah me too," I said. I held out my hand to her and she took it instinctively and we shook hands.

"It's nice to meet you Yuritzy Santiago," I said.

"Very nice to meet you Xander Richland," she replied.

We laughed and chatted idly about teachers we had and people we knew. We shot lazy glances in Seth's general direction, but the essence of the hunt had been lost on me since Megan wasn't there to rile us up. She was definitely the spirit of this newfound group, though it was hard to hide my impressed smile when Seth dodged out of the way of an opposing team member and made a three-pointer.

Yuritzy quietly applauded for him from afar and we laughed.

"So, want a ride home?" I asked out of politeness. I may throw out some sailor words and street slang now and then, but I was still a nice guy.

"Oh yeah, that'd be great thanks," she said.

We shuffled to my car and I drove all of four blocks to her house and waved her off.

Driving back to my house with a faint smile (yes I admit, I was intrigued), I wondered how I had gotten into this.

When I parked in front of my house I got out and looked at my filthy car. I imagined Megan scrubbing it with a toothbrush for what I was going to have to do for her. I felt a deep and delighted (and slightly crazy) laughter well up inside of me.

My cell phone buzzed from its place inside my pocket hours later. I was entranced with the cooking show I was watching so when I finally looked at my phone I was surprised and then despairing to see it was a text from Megan.

I flipped it open and read the long message she no doubt sent to both Yuritzy and me.

'Hey guys! This is Megan! Your best friend in the world :D Guess what? I have devised a plan SO brilliant even I am at a loss for words. I have this friend who is friends with him. So we are going to eat lunch together tomorrow and my friend will casually invite him. You guys come, too! Room 602 And Xander…you know what you must do!'

Apparently if you send text in a picture message you can send a shit load of characters in one message. Huh. Learn something new every day. Maybe we should just get smartphones and be a part of the future. Nah.

After wasting time on that train of thought, I frowned. What a horrible thing to say to someone!

It's like planning for a murder. 'You know what you must do!' How foreboding.

I replied, 'Woah my mind is blown by how brilliant you are. Fine then, see you at lunch'.

I pressed send and looked up to see a lame commercial. I turned the TV off and stared into the room's darkness.

"What the fuck did I get myself into?"

(Next Day)

Lunch finally came around, creeping like a snail to some distant lawn. I had a nervous clenching in my stomach. Or was it excitement? Having a mission to fulfill is always thrilling when one's investigative skills are being tested. I held my tray of items from the student store. Chips, pizza, and water. Goodbye irretrievable five dollar bill. You will be missed.

I had mentioned to my usual lunch friends that I'd be eating in room 602 with some girls from math and they of course assumed I was trying to get with one of them, so they had proudly dismissed me.

Now I stood in front of the looming door wondering if I was early or late and which one would be better.

"Oh, hey again. You eat in here, too?" said a familiar smooth voice.

I looked over to see Seth with a similar assortment of food and staring at me with an eyebrow raised.

"Oh yeah, man. My bad I was kind of zoning out," I said. I felt like I was acting natural. Was I? Has he seen through me? Does he know my plot? Despite these thoughts I still opened the door for him and let him go in before me. My eyes fell lazily and automatically and before I could stop them, they began to focus on his jean clad ass.

I'm pretty sure I might have broken something from the speed I snapped my neck up with, but maybe no one would notice the pained expression that I'm sure was spread across my face.

"Thanks," he said with a smile.

I gave him what probably looked like a forced smile and said "No problem," but I felt like I had already been defeated on day two.

"Hey Xander!" Megan said, waving a hand at me from a desk on the far side of the room. The teacher wasn't around and it was just the girls and us three guys. I don't know if I'm ready. It's too soon.

"Hey guys," I said, sitting in the desk in front of Yuritzy

"Your name's Xander? That's pretty badass," Seth said, sitting in front of his friend who he did some form of handshake greeting with.

"Thanks. My middle name is John after my grandpa, though. I guess they put too much creative energy into Xander," I said. That was funny right? That's something funny to say to someone you hardly know…right?

He laughed. Success.

"So yeah, Kyle this is Xander, Xander this is Kyle..Kyle, Yuritzy…Yuritzy, Seth…Seth Xander…and I'm Megan. Now we all know each other!" Megan said.

"Whooo," the Kyle guy gave a weak cheer and stuffed some pizza in his mouth.

"Nice to meet you guys," I said. So far I had no reason to regret that statement.

"Kyle, did you bring your cards?" Megan asked him.

"Um, do you even have to ask?" Kyle said, reaching into his pocket with his free hand and pulling out a deck of cards.

"Oh my gosh, this deck has kept us entertained for years," Megan said, pulling the cards out instantly and shuffling them like a pro. Her boyfriend came in a few minutes later and she waved him over and introduced him as he set their food down.

We played President and BS and even a few rounds of Slap Jack where I made a point to pay particular attention to avoiding Seth's hand. As he went to slap a jack, however, I somehow managed to land my hand sandwiched between his and Megan's and the bitch had her hand on top. She held my hand down onto his for an agonizing second longer than necessary, not to mention the lingering sting from her slapping the shit out of my hand.

The girls shared a knowing look when I finally snatched my hand away from his, avoiding his eyes.

The bell rang before I had a chance to do anything else and Megan let out a sound of disappointment as everyone began to gather their things.

All the comfort I had built up during lunch was gone and I was a nervous wreck again worrying about being an invasive creep. Before I had a chance to back out from anything, though, Seth was already across the room.

"Shit I gotta go. Gotta go. Nice to me you guys. Later, Kyle," he said coolly with a nod to Kyle who had started chatting with Dave, Megan's boyfriend. I guess that's how she knew Kyle. Damn them all.

"So…no progress, but we must pace ourselves. It's only day two," Megan said quietly after she and Yuritzy and closed in on me.

"I think it went well," said Yuritzy. "At least now it won't be creepy if he catches us spying on him. Just go up and say hi 'cause you're bros now." She laughed as if it were all that simple.

"Such good bros we are. Besties. I don't even know his last name," I said.

The three of us headed to the door and it turned out Kyle and Dave actually had this class next, so they stayed.

"It's Jones. I have a dance club meeting after school today, ya'll. You guys gonna recon on your own or what?" Megan said.

Dread filled my stomach and I pulled an exaggerated face of defeat. "Do we have to?" I asked Yuritzy.

"Yes. For science. Also, for homework. I know I'm going to need help on the math assignment and you need help on your stalking skills. Yesterday was terrible," Yuritzy said with mock professionalism.

"Fine, but I expect cookies on my desk on Friday morning. You're lucky I don't have a social life on school nights," I said. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I wondered what was even going to come of this. Seth seemed like a pretty cool guy, and I didn't want to make an ass of myself. Well…even more of one.

Fuck it. Free shit, man. Free shit.


I realized that Kyle was one of the guys that played basketball with Seth after school. I still felt awkward, so I tried to make a beeline for the toys when they weren't looking.

Yuritzy was waiting for me by the slide. I was still wondering when little kids would show up and start climbing all over us. We started our homework and were halfway done before a question came to mind.

"Who did Seth date in Freshman year?" I asked.

"Umm…shit. I don't know her name, but Megan was saying something about this girl that transferred out. Like, whatever happened between them was so bad that she had to change schools."

"Damn. Well no wonder he hasn't dated anyone since. It was probably traumatic. If someone left school because of me I'd feel like there was something ridiculously wrong with me," I said.

She had her pencil in her mouth and flipped through the mathbook.

"Well, whatever it was, you will know before I do. Then you will tell us about it. And it will be magnificent," she said with the pencil still in her mouth.

I thought about that for a second.

"How close do I have to get to this guy? I'm not trying to learn his whole backstory, I was just gonna find an answer to your question," I said. I looked at what Yuritzy had started writing and began to copy it.

"If you were gay, would you just tell some random person you kind of talked to once in a while or would you tell a good friend who already knows your life? You guys gotta start a bromance. Wait…do you have friends?" she said.

I rolled my eyes.

"I'm not a social outcast. Of course I have friends. I ditched them at lunch for you guys and your "master plan". Oh…wait…do you have friends?" I asked. I realized that I may have just accidentally called her a social outcast if she actually didn't.

"Yes! Just like in-school friends, though. I sometimes have sleepovers, but I mostly hang out with my cousins outside of school. I had a best friend, but her family moved away last year. Sad face," she said wiping away an imaginary tear.

"That sucks. Pretty much the same for me, except I don't really have a best friend. Just guys I've been in school with nice elementary. Some of them have grown up to be assholes so I am doing a lot less hanging out outside of school. I guess that means we should hang out more then," I said. I gave her an easy smile. Such a charmer.

She laughed and nodded before looking over at Seth and his friends as they slowed to a stop. It had been an hour since they started playing and I was surprised they had this much energy at the end of a school day. Apparently not all of them did, because one guy kind of just dropped the ball and let his arms and legs go limp. He yelled, "I'm through!" and just laid on the ground. The guys laughed and the ball bounced and rolled away from the court.

Right to the play area.

The sandbox halted the ball's rolling, but before I knew what had come over me, I was sliding down the slide and heading toward the ball at the end of it.

I picked it up and threw it a little lamely back to the guys and one of them caught it with a nod. Seth saw me and held up a hand in silent thanks then turned back to his friends. I stood there dumbly for a while before I realized that I was being creepy again and ran back to a wide-eyed Yuritzy.

"Damn, son. That was pretty ballsy of you. Get it? Ballsy."

"Shutup. You want a ride home? I need to go do chores before my mom gets off work," I said attempting to dismiss the slight burning of my face as she laughed at me. She nodded and I took her home for the second time.

I got home and automatically checked my email as usual. One of my friends had sent me something and I was cautious about opening it as the title read "U and UR lunch gfs". It was Austin, and Austin was one of those guys I still ate with at lunch, but didn't care for because he was kind of a piece of shit nowadays. I opened it despite my better judgement.

It was porn. Of course. Some gif of two girls and a guy getting it on and as if alarms went off and 'PORN ALERT. PORN ALERT' sounded throughout the house, my mother knocked on the door. I didn't even know she was home.

"Yeah?" I asked as suddenly my hands forgot how to work and I couldn't close the message properly. I just shut off my monitor and rushed to the door as she opened it.

"Hey…what…? Why are you blocking the door?" she asked with mom voice in full force.

"I'm not! What's up?"

"Why isn't the trash taken out? Also, tomorrow I need your help with the garage. I want all that shit out by Friday. Okay?" she said as if it were a question. It was a demand and I said "okay" before she gave my room a once-over and let me shut the door.

I guess that means no secret missions after school until next week. Oh darn.

A/N: So it was pointed out that "Hispanic" Handwriting is silly, but I'm sorry, I grew up in SoCal and went to school with a LOT of Hispanic people and most of the girls have the same loopy, pretty handwriting that I've only seen Hispanic girls use. It may sound ridiculous, but a lot of races have similar handwriting styles if you take the time to look. Asian people have a tendency to write smaller and Hispanic girls write big and curvy. SO THERE. And this story is focusing particularly more on race because that's just the mindset of a lot of YOUNG PEOPLE. THEY ARE IN HIGH SCHOOL. It's not a prejudice thing, it's an awareness of the differences around them and an ignorance or lack of intimate exposure. Doesn't mean it's bad if you point out that someone is a different race than you.

TL;DR: Thanks for your feedback and reviews, but I'm gonna write it how I write it and I hope you all enjoyed chapter two and look forward to more! Revieeew, please!