"All love that has not friendship for its base, is like a mansion built upon the sand."

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Chapter 1

It was with the tardy bell that Will dashed into his first period, the sprint from the cafeteria making his chest rise and fall quicker than usual.

"Glad you made it, Mr. Navin," Mrs. Beckley commented, although her tone contradicted her words. She had it in for him, half the time he was almost late and the other half of the time he was the first person in the class, alongside Nal.

He shuffled to his seat, and caught Nal's eye as he sat down in the desk next to her. An amused smile was visible as she shook her head, her shoulder-length black hair moving from side to side. The first period of the day was English and the only class he had with her. Unfortunately, he also had the class with Beckley.

The middle-aged woman took such a shine to Nal and barely acknowledged him; maybe it had to do with the fact that Nal always knew the answers. The teacher had her back towards the class, granting him a couple of minutes to look at Nal a little more closely. She had her head bent in concentration and a half finished math worksheet could be seen through the gaps of her hair. Her legs were crossed in the usual fashion and she sported her favored red converse.

A simple white and red blouse adorned her upper body; he had to grin at that, partly because of the use of their favorite color, red, and because of her comforting style. He had begun to rather enjoy these moments in the past couple of months, the moments where her attention was sparred and he actually got a minute to just look at her.

Her head turned to her right, his left, ever so slightly, but all the same she caught his eye through ribbons of ebony. Something quite like alarm shot through him, yet he could not let his gaze falter. He was caught looking at her, something he could never be ashamed of.

The fluttery feeling was there once again, in the pit of his stomach. Yet he rather liked it. She tucked a strand of her hair behind an ear and focused her attention on the white board upfront, a pink tinge visible on her facial features.

This was certainly a thing to ponder, but he didn't let his eyes linger too long. Will faced forward, because the last thing he needed was Beckley getting on his case, again. Her slightly nasal-y voice was carried throughout the room, but vanished from his hearing quickly. He could no longer help how his mind drifted back to Nal, so he usually accepted the image of her grinning face. He couldn't help it, she had grown on him.

Nal had snuck a glance at Will on more than one during the rest of class, but he seemed to be off in his own little world, again. She knew very well his grades were slipping, what with the increase of practice. Practice meant he was more tired than usual, which meant he was more likely to not pay attention in class. When their teacher called on him to answer a question, she whispered the answer, helping him. He looked at her somewhat strangely, as if still in his world. Fortunately, the bell chose to ring at the same time.

"You need to pay attention in class," she couldn't help chide, as they stepped out from the room and into the bustling hallway. As usual the halls were crowded with various students, so to stay by Will she had to walk closer to him.

A chattering group of girls glided towards the direction they were coming from, and she was almost knocked aside in the process. His hand had grasped her arm, which was warm and contrasting to her lighter complexion, to steady her balance. She tried, and failed, to suppress the shock of alarm at his simple touch.

The fact that he didn't let go as soon as possible did not go unnoticed, for how could it? They shuffled along the hallway, progressing to their different 2nd periods. They were in the same wing, just on different floors, so they usually walked together half the way.

"I know," he replied, his voice sounding distant. What had him so occupied? A new move he wanted to give a shot? Knowing Will and his passion, that was highly probable. This time she laid a hand on his arm, concern growing to overpower her usual hesitancy. His head shot to his left, her right, to look down at her, as if that had brought him back to the loud hallway.

"Will, are you okay?" She asked, repressing the tremor she felt at non-accidentally laying a hand on him. Her heartbeat was quickening, which she had tried not to show, that always happened when she laid even a finger on him. Most if the time, it was unwillingly, she had thought it best just not to show her feelings around him.

Yet, just like in English, something passed between them. But what exactly, she could not say. The smoldering of his brown eyes got her everytime, and it was even harder to repress the thoughts that invaded her mind. Did she really have to have feelings for him, even after all this time? Apparently, her heart thought so, but her head… not so much.

She had come to notice, with a heightening curiosity, that his gaze and he himself would linger when they got like this. And this wasn't how two friends acted around each other, she knew that much. Two friends didn't have such intensity when together, but they did.

His eyes would linger as she approached him in the hallways, at lunch, and he would occasionally look everywhere he could in a span of one minute. His gaze would sweep up and down, which two good friends didn't do. What was with that look? The look-at-me,-don't-look-anywhere-else stare.

"Nal!" A voice called, she, albeit slowly, turned away from Will to see Izz. He was waving in a funny manner that suggested she couldn't see him. The moment was disrupted, and Izz Drewing, all 5'3 of him, maneuvered toward her with an unusual grace. His hair was cut short, not allowing his formerly nappy style to emerge, and he always managed to look like he just woke up.

Big, mischievous charcoal eyes seemed to pop out from his face and his cheeks were their odd, yet normal (for Izz), shade of pink. Despite his timing, Nal put on a smile, which wasn't all a lie. Izz had this ability to make her smile with the confident, funny antics he spewed constantly.

"Hey, Nally, long time no see," He was a petite person, yet stood taller than her, she stood at an even 5 feet. His arms slid naturally around her, to give her a light hug. He pounded fists with Will, who did so a little hesitantly. "Willy, I didn't see you there. How's it going?"

"Hi, Izz," was the only response made. The two had known each other long before she had met either of them. She had been told the story of how they could not stand each other when they first met. A brief attempt at a friendship was made last year, but now they were simply quasi strangers. They only knew each other by the occasional nod and small talk.

Will's eyebrows were furrowed in a confusing expression, which meant discomfort or a non-understanding of something. It was through Izz that she came to meet and know Will Navin in the first place. And she was still good friends with both of them, to which she quite pleased to be.

Izz had somehow wedged himself between the two, Nal and Will. It wasn't that she was entirely annoyed with her friend's appearance, but it was irking. Of course, it always was, when someone intervened between her and-

She was pulled out of her thought to find an arm casually around her shoulders, a skinny, petite arm,

"So, I didn't understand math homework and I figured you could help me out," Izz was saying. He apparently thought nothing of his display of affection, Nal herself didn't think much of Izz' habit of showing affection this way. Despite their agreement, she knew Will wouldn't be very understanding. She knew he valued public displays of affection with an interesting regard, something only meant between two people romantically involved.

"What're you doing?" He asked, the crease between his eyebrows deepening in slight annoyance. He didn't like the way Izz put his arm around his girl. Wait, his girl? Since when had Nal become his girl? Izz looked up at him with that stupid gleam that was ever constant in his eyes,

"Oh, whatever do you mean?" A look of feigned realization crossed his features, "Oh, you mean my arm around your girl?" But before Will could say anything, he heard her voice,

"I'm not- We're just-" Izz withdrew his arm, and turned around, walking backwards to face both of them at the same time,

"Guys, chill, I know you're not together. I was just messing with Willy, for old time's sake," he waved goodbye and glided into his classroom, sniggering. It was times like this Will could not understand how he had ever thought of Izz Drewing as his friend. He felt angry, and directed his gaze to her.

As Izz left she once again turned her attention to him. His eyes were smoldering once more, except they held an angry flare. Why was he angry?

"Will, you know-"

"I don't want to hear it"

"There's nothing going on between him and me."

"If there was nothing, you would've shaken him off."


"I said I didn't want to hear it"

"He was just-"

"What, Nal? He was dangling you in front of me and you just…"

"He was just messing with you"


"Don't whatever me! Will, please-"

"I don't have to listen to you," his voice was cold, and the effect was worse than yelling, "We're not together, you said so yourself."

"Stop this, you're overreacting."

"I'm overreacting?" He now sounded bitterly amused, "You just denied what's between us, and I'm overreacting? Well, if that's what you think, I have nothing more to say, I'm leaving."

He gave an icy glare, and then stalked off as the minute bell rang. Nal barely had time to catch her breath; she could only stand there as students flew past her vision.