Chapter Three
Word Count: 6,294

He wasn't altogether sure what he was supposed to do in the morning. Breakfast with his captain hadn't been as bad as he thought it was going to be. He was sure he was under a lot of pressure. John was just a tool. John wasn't the only tool the captain had in play, just the one that wasn't generally known about and accounted for a lot of time and expense. John had been as green as you could get and picked over a lot of officers that had experience to get the job done perhaps faster.

As John had mentioned on the phone yesterday, the past two plus years hadn't been fruitless. John had been responsible for a lot of good information being turned into the police, and a lot of good busts as a result of that information finding its way to the narcs and detectives. John had even been arrested a few times when he hadn't been able to escape being where the busts were happening. His captain always had someone to post his bail only after a few of the others busted had been let go first.

He missed the first class of the day and he stopped at the office once he got in to get his tardy slip from there.

"That's only the third time this month, Bender," Assistant Principal Vernon said. John shook his head slightly. The guy couldn't have been tucked away in his office when John got there, no. He had to be out here in the main office doing something and see John come in. God, John hated the guy because in actuality John could probably wipe the floor with him when it came to the things he knew. He had to play dumb, though, and he played the role well.

"What can I say? I bought a new alarm clock."

"I've got my eyes on you. It'd give me great pleasure to deny you your diploma in June."

John huffed to himself.

"Can I get to class then? So I don't miss more than I've already missed today. Wouldn't want to interfere with my quality educational experience, would you now?"

He found his way to her locker in plenty of time after stopping at his first.

"Hi," he said when he saw her.

"Hi," she said. She'd clearly been crying. A lot. So she'd heard sometime after the time she'd dropped him at his complex last evening. He hadn't directed her to his exact building. The last thing he needed was her showing up there unexpectedly. He imagined an announcement had been made during first period maybe. He wasn't here, so didn't know.

"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked.

"You haven't heard?"

"Heard what?" he asked.

"Were you sleeping last period?"

"No, I was late."

"Penny Franklin died Sunday morning."

"Wow. Penny. I saw her Saturday night, didn't I? At Stubby's party? She seemed okay."

"I know," she said, stepping toward him. The last thing he should have been doing was hugging her in the halls, but she seemed to need it. She liked him and what was more he liked her. He'd never had anyone to hug him when something was wrong and hadn't ever had anyone to hug. He knew what to do, though. He slid his arms around her. More than one person stared as they walked past. It wasn't every a day a guy like him got to touch Claire. "God, I can't believe it. I didn't think she did that stuff."

"Stuff?" John asked.

"It was an overdose they're saying."

"Oh," he said. "Man, that's rough."

"I just," she said, turning her head a little to rest it against his chest. "I'm not even sure how I'm going to go to class the rest of the day knowing. All day yesterday…"

"Claire," he whispered, sliding a fingertip to her chin and lifting her head a bit so she had to look at him. "You'll go to class as you have every other day. She was your friend, I get that, but you have to go on."

"She's been dead two days!"

"I know. That probably sounds callous, and I don't mean for it to. I wasn't friends with her so it's easy for me to say that. Do you have any idea where she'd get stuff like that?"

"A few," she whispered.

"Yeah?" he asked. The captain had ridden him hard that morning at breakfast about the drugs Penny had in her system since John had been at the party in question. John almost felt as though he'd needed lube and a shower by the time they were done. This was it, though, his opportunity right here. If Claire had any idea that she really liked him she might confide in him where she wouldn't a cop who questioned her.

"I don't know."

"You must have some idea."


"Have you talked to the police?"

"No," she said. "I just found out that she died and that wasn't my first thought."

"Understandable. Talk to them. If you know anything, I'll go with you if you want, sit with you even." He'd make sure they didn't try to question her into confessing things she had no business confessing.


"Yes. If there's someone giving out drugs that can kill someone, shouldn't they be stopped?"

"You're saying this?"

"I am. I don't deal with something I don't know. My stuff is good and pure when I sell hard shit. I don't real often, only when someone asks specifically. Otherwise, I stick with pot, which as far as I know no one's ever died from smoking."

"I know," she said, drawing away. She reached to wipe her tears and he stopped her.

"John. I have to. I must look a mess by now," she said, stopping from saying more when she realized that he was offering her his sleeve. She took the offer and wiped her eyes and cheeks along his sleeve. "Thank you."

"You going to be okay?"

"I don't know. It's just I'm not even eighteen and this is the fifth person in my class to die."

"Fifth?" He knew that, of course. Desirae and Samantha had been the reason John had been sent back to high school, but there'd been a couple of deaths before theirs. None newsworthy because their fathers weren't judges and mayors.

"Yeah. I mean, how does that even happen?"

"And you wonder if you should say something?"

"I'm not a snitch."

"Well, no, there's being a snitch and not wanting to see more of your friends die. If this is the fifth one, clearly there's a problem."

"I don't know," she said. "People would know."

He wasn't sure why that mattered, but evidently even when dealing with something like this status and image came into play.

"When's the funeral?" he asked.

"Friday. The wake is Thursday."

"Do you want me to go with you?"

"You'd do that?" She seemed pretty surprised by the offer. He was too, honestly, but it also seemed as though it'd be a good way to be seen by her crowd. Maybe he'd be able to read something on someone there, see someone who looked guilty or something.

"Sure," he said with a shrug. "Isn't that what boyfriends do?"

"I didn't realize you're my boyfriend."

He scoffed softly at that.

"Just stating the inevitable," he said with a shrug, grabbing her books from her. "Where are we going?"

"You're walking me to class, too?"

"Sure," he said.

"Wow. What happened to you between last night and this morning?"

"Nothing. You just found out your friend died. It's called being nice. And if you need to talk tonight or something, give me a call."

"I wouldn't want to wake you or your parents up."

"Don't worry about them. Really. You need me," he said. He opened one of the notebooks he held.

"Hey," she said as he tore out a piece of paper from it and grabbed a pencil from the spiral part of the notebook. He wrote his pager number on it. He noticed on the inside cover of the notebook she'd written his initials with a heart around them, which was probably why she reacted to his opening the notebook.

"That's my pager number. You need me, any time, you page me. Just type in your number and I'll call you back. No need to leave a message. I suck at retrieving them."

"You got one yesterday."

"I know when someone leaves me a message that they actually had something to say because anyone who knows me knows I don't check it unless I have to." His boss was the only one who did really. He always gave everyone else some lame excuse about having the pager to avoid having to use his parents' telephone to do anything illegal on. His captain reimbursed him for the cost of the pager, which was about the only perk John got out of this assignment.

"Oh," she said. "Thank you."

"Yeah," he said, closing the notebook. "So, where to?" he asked, glancing at the text book she'd had on top. "Chemistry, huh? You any good?"

"I am," she said.

"Yeah," he said. He had been, too, but he couldn't admit that to her. "Good for you."

"Are you?"

"Not so much," he said. This John Bender wasn't at any rate.

He walked her to the classroom, handing her the books then. She wasn't the only one surprised he was walking her to class. It wasn't just her friends watching them curiously either. He had friends, too.

"So," he whispered. "Do I kiss you now or just walk away?"

"I'm not sure," she said, seeming to realize whatever they did would be noticed and spread around school by the end of the period.

"Never done this before either?"

"No," she said.

He chuckled softly. "Well, what do you want me to do?"

"I don't want you to just walk away."

"Well, okay then, just say so," he said, leaning in to kiss her.

"Bender," Assistant Principal Vernon called from a couple of classrooms down. "Keep your hands to yourself and get to class."

He held up his hands in a defenseless pose, prolonging the kiss just a bit longer than necessary or probably proper in the school halls. He drew away then though. "My hands weren't even on her, Dick."

"Yeah, well, you don't need to have anything on her."

"Oh, but I do," he said. Multiple sets of eyes were on them now. There was no pretending this didn't just happen. "But I don't kiss and tell, so you'll have to fill in the blanks yourself."

"John," Claire said, looking a bit horrified at what he'd just said.

"Oh come on, none of your friends are going to believe that shit. They've seen us together once before. And if they do believe that shit, then they're not your friends."

"But still!"

"Where's the bad girl from Saturday, Princess? Back in her shell?"

"No! Just not here!"

"The whole school just saw me walk you to class. I think being discrete left the building five minutes ago."

"I suppose," she whispered. Maybe she hadn't been in the frame of mind to process what walking her to class would mean to everyone else. He wasn't sure what it meant to her, or to him for that matter, but he knew what other people would think and say.

"Meet you by your locker after school? I'll try and meet you for another class, but I don't have your schedule so if that's something you want you'll have to let me know."

"Okay and yes," she said, sounding exasperated.

"Now I'm going to touch her, Dick," he said, tucking some hair behind her ear. "See the difference? Hands. Mouth. Not even close to being the same thing. If you need me to tell you the difference…"


"You're out of Saturdays to give me, Dick."

"Get out of here and get to class."

"Yes, Sir," he said, waggling his eyebrows at Claire as he turned around then.

"And you, what are you doing getting mixed up with the likes of that hooligan?" Vernon asked Claire as John made his way down the hall toward his class. "If I had a notion to I'd let your dad know who you're spending your time with. I bet he'd have a thing or two to say about your choice in dates. Bum is too nice of a word to describe him."

No response. He glanced behind him to see Vernon standing there by himself, so she must have blown him off and gone to class.

"Good for you," he said.

Vernon was a dick. Bender enjoyed pushing his buttons because he'd recognized from the moment he set foot in this school what kind of guy he was. He was the kind of guy who made people hate school. Administrators like him should all be fired, but that wasn't the way the system worked. He'd reported on his actions to his captain more than once. Nothing would ever come of it, but John said his peace and made it known that Shermer High had an asshole as an assistant principal.

Not only was he an asshole, but there had to be kids who'd gone to school here who really were in the situation John presented to the student body. John's childhood hadn't been good, but he'd had a couple of teachers and counselors along the way to guide him onto the right path. Shermer didn't have any sort of system in place. He'd been labeled a thug about a month in (intentionally) and no one once had ever reached out to see what his situation was.

The rest of the week passed fairly calmly. They were certainly the focus of gossip in the halls, which John imagined was a better thing for people to focus on then Penny's death. He'd even eaten lunch with her yesterday and today.

Tonight he picked her up for the wake.

"Wow," she said when she saw his car.

"I, uh, told the old man I needed it for a wake. Even he seemed to be sympathetic or whatever the word is. Surprised me he was capable of feeling anything."

"Thank you. I could have picked you up, though," she said.

"You're upset and likely going to get more upset. I can drive."

He was a good observer and that's what he did at the wake, taking in people who were there and those who were absent that should have been there. He also took note of the people who stayed longest, scratching them off his list on principle.

"You have to be bored," Claire said a couple of hours into it.

He shrugged. "I'm fine. I'm here if you need me. Otherwise, you know," he said. He'd talked to a few people. Some people were customers of his and were surprised to see him here. Some were just people who were with their girlfriend or boyfriend like he was and didn't know who else to talk to. He was the only one from that group who actually went to Shermer, though.

His pager went off a couple of times, those couple of times it was Amy. He couldn't turn it off, though, because his captain knew he was here tonight.

"Your other woman?" Claire asked when he checked the pager the third time.

"Uh." Well, sort of that was the case, yes. He hadn't figured out what to do with her because he was still trying to figure out what to do with Claire. A lot depended on what was going to happen here in the next couple of months. He wasn't sure he should really pursue Claire knowing he could potentially be stuck a senior again next year. He wasn't sure she'd be too into that.


"No, wait, sorry, your question caught me off guard. You think I'd confess to something like that here and now? I've been with you every day and evening this week. That scream to you as someone seeing someone else?"

"I don't know."

He rolled his eyes. "People want to get ahold of me, Princess. It is what it is."

"Don't most of them know you're here?"

"Some not all. My friends don't really travel in the circles that would come here."

"I've seen you talking to a couple…"

"Sure, a couple people who are on the cusp, not totally in with your crowd."

"I'm sorry," she said softly, leaning her head against his shoulder.

"Hey, nothing to apologize for." Especially considering what she'd said struck a little too close to home. Regardless of what he was going to do with Claire the fact that he hadn't called Amy since Monday and wanted to be here for Claire this week as much as he could told him at the very least even if Claire wasn't who he should be with Amy certainly wasn't.

She breathed in and he slid an arm around her, drawing her closer.

"Want to get out of here?"

"Where to?"

"I don't know. Get something to eat? Go get some ice cream?"

"It's March."

"That it is."

"Sure," she said then.

"All right," he said.

He took her to a Denny's nearby.

"Can I ask you something?"

"You can," she said.

"You talked about not wanting to be a snitch on Tuesday."

"Yeah," she said.

"How about saving the next Penny's life."


"No, you said yourself she's the fifth one of your class to die. That's a lot, even for a class our size."

"I know."

"The last two before Penny were before I even got here our sophomore year."


"That means the two before them were even earlier."

"Yeah," she said. "I just don't know that I really know anything more than anyone else."

"What if I could arrange for you to talk to someone without going to the police station so that no one would possibly know you were talking to a police officer?"

"How could you…"

"Let's just say I can do that."

"I don't know, John."

"I think you should."


"Because if you know anything at all, you'd feel better about yourself. You'd feel like shit, too, especially after this conversation if someone shows up dead and you said nothing when I told you I could maybe get you to talk to someone discreetly."

"I just…"


"They're my friends, John."

"Yeah, so was the person in that casket we just got done seeing, Claire."

"Oh God," she said.

"I mean, maybe you don't know anything, but you said you might."

"Well, I know who sells the stuff…"

"Besides me."

"Like you said, you don't sell that stuff. I've never heard you mentioned as someone who can get it."


"No," she said.

"Huh," he said. He wasn't sure if that was good or bad. He didn't want to be linked with the stuff, but he sure hoped after all his work he was at least considered a possible supplier. Then, crack was nasty business. The powder he sold was top of the line cocaine. He'd never been approached about crack and wasn't sure his captain would let him sell it if he was. He was dealing with high school kids.

"I don't know, John."

"Hypothetically. I could get you to talk to someone away from the police station. Would you do it?"

"How could you even do it?"

"Don't worry about whether I can or can't do it. Answer the question. Would you do it?"

"John, I'm not even sure I know anything. I mean, what if I named names and they weren't the right names?"

"Would you name names who weren't selling something?"

"No," she said.

"Then what's the problem? They're dealing drugs."

"So do you," she whispered, glancing away from him then.

He sighed, taking a sip of his Coke to stop himself from telling her the truth. God, it really bothered him she'd see him like that. A drug dealer. Fuck. It was part of who he was and had built himself to be here at Shermer. He didn't have to be a dealer. He could've just been a user to try and get information. He probably wouldn't have gotten the information he'd gotten thus far just being a user, though.

"My shit doesn't kill people."

"That you know of."

"No, I do know. I have to make a living, you know? Unlike you, I don't have anything for me to do when I graduate."

"Are you going to graduate?"

He shrugged at that as the verdict was still out on that.

She looked at him again. "Why do you do that?"

"Do what?" he asked.

"Fail your classes?"

"I don't know. What kind of question is that?"

"I know you're not dumb."

"How do you know that?"

"I listen to you. Not at school. I know you put on an act there most of the time. When you're with me, though. You looked at my book the other day and knew it was Chemistry."

"It said Chemistry on the book," he said.

"Don't you want to graduate?"

"I don't know what I want to do yet."

"If you don't you can't do anything to get out of your parents' place."

There was that.

"I know," he said dryly. "I'll tell you what. You don't feel comfortable talking to someone. I get that. I mean, not really. Your friends are dead because of this shit. Clearly they don't care if their product is lethal."


"You write down some names, slip them into my locker, and I'll take them somewhere."


He shrugged. "Believe it or not, I don't like that shit on the street. It gives people like me who just want to help people feel good a bad name. I would have absolutely no problem turning someone in who helps someone get hooked on that shit. Or die from it."

"I had no idea she used it."

"It's easy at first to fake it, but it's addictive as hell. They say one try gets you hooked."

"Have you?"

"Yes," he admitted.

"Why aren't you addicted?"

Because he had a captain he had helped him detox from it. That had been last year and he'd spent a good portion of his summer between junior and senior years getting close to people he needed to rub elbows with. He liked to think, too, he wasn't using to use but as a means to an end, which he assumed had to make a difference in how dependent he'd get on it.

"I used it once and didn't like it," he admitted. "I smoke dope because I like what it does to me. I don't like what anything else does to me."

"Oh," she said.

He hoped that was a sufficient answer. He slid his hand to hers, settling it over hers.

"Sorry, I shouldn't push, I guess, but I also don't want to say nothing and two weeks from now it's not such a big deal to you."

"A big deal?"

"You know what I mean. I know you're not going forget your friend or anything, but you're a couple of months away from graduating. Prom. All of that stuff."

She shrugged.

"You're going to prom with the guy they're saying is going to be king to your queen?"

"Brent? No. I mean, we'll have to dance if we're both crowned."

"If," he said with a soft snort at that, rubbing a thumb along the back of her hand. "I could probably talk my dad into letting me have the car for that night if you wanted to go."

"Really?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said with a shrug. He had gone to prom his first go around in high school but had a miserable time. The girl he'd gone with asked him because the date she was supposed to go with bowed out at the last minute. He hadn't realized that was the reason at first. He hadn't had a terrible time, he supposed. He'd figured out what was up without making an ass out of himself in front of her and her friends. Knowing he was there as a second, convenient, choice hadn't endeared him to the night so many high school students seem to put stock in as a rite of passage into adulthood.

"You don't have to get your dad's car."

He rolled his eyes. "I'm not letting you drive us to a date like that."

"Speaking of," she said as he slid his hand away from hers to take a sip of his drink.


"No, dates. It seems to me we haven't had one yet."

"No," he agreed.

"Are we going to?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I was thinking about asking, then this all happened. It seemed a bad time to ask."

"Oh," she said.

There were quite a few reasons he shouldn't take her out, but they didn't seem to be forefront on his mind.

"Why don't you have a date for prom already?"

She shrugged. "There wasn't anyone I wanted to say yes to."

"So you were going to, what? Go by yourself?"

"I don't know. I have a friend from another school…"


"No, just a friend of the family I could have gone with. At least I like him."

"Oh," he said. It still didn't make much sense, but it sounded as if she was asked just didn't like who'd done the asking. "So, I meet your stringent guidelines for a prom date then?"

"I guess you do," she said.

"All right then."

"You do know you need a tux, right?"

"Yup," he said. "I'm fine with that."

"Why don't you have your own car?"


She shrugged, resting a fingertip over the top of her glass and running it along the rim there. "I don't know. I don't presume to know how much you make doing what you do, but can't you afford your own car?"

"Sure. And where would I keep it? If I kept it at the apartment my dad would wonder how I paid for it."

She nodded her head a little as if that hadn't occurred to her.

"I've been saving up. I'll get what I need when I get out."

"And if you don't graduate?"

"I can still move out. I'm eighteen. I could now, I suppose, but just haven't. There are apartments open in our complex."

"You'd want to live where they live?"

"No," he said. "But my parents live there because it's affordable."

"Oh, right."

He slid out of his seat then and moved next to her, putting his arm around her.

"I meant what I said on Tuesday, by the way. You call or page me anytime you need to talk."

"I know," she whispered. "You've got your own things…"

"Don't say that. If you want to talk to me, call or page me. I'm not always home, but calling works, too. Unless it's late then page me. I'll call you back."

"I don't want to interrupt you."

"Your friend just died, Claire. I don't know how good a friend she was to you, but I've got a set of pretty strong shoulders. Use them if you need to."

"Thanks," she whispered.

"Sure." He shrugged, leaning in a bit so he could kiss her.

He broke the kiss at the sound of his name. It wasn't Claire saying it because she was kissing him back and pretty nicely, considering it was their first real kiss in public like this. He didn't count the party at Stubby's house. They were in a bedroom alone when that kissing happened. The halls at school? They hadn't gotten to the point of this type of kiss there.

He turned and saw one of his more regular buyers.

"Hey," he paused, trying to think of her name. It was some religious name, but not obvious like Mary or Eve. Faith? No. What the fuck was her name? It shouldn't be that difficult. It wasn't like there was a huge amount of religious based names. Ah. "Grace. What's up?"

"Oh, nothing. I just was surprised to see you here," she said, glancing behind him at Claire sitting next to him no doubt. She was a year behind Claire, but being a student at Shermer knew her.

"We were just at Penny Franklin's wake," he said.

He hoped that would explain why they were here at almost ten o'clock at night. He didn't have a curfew, and doubted for something like tonight she had much of one either. She wasn't going to school tomorrow, he knew, along with about sixty to seventy percent of the senior class. John was one of the few in the burnout crowd who would be absent.

"Oh, right. That's so sad. Well, I was just surprised to see you here. Sorry to bother you."

"It's all right," he said.

He didn't make it a habit of frequenting places like this because when he was away from school he didn't really want to be surrounded by high school kids. He shook his head, tapping his fingers on the table as he thought over that train of thought and how idiotic it was that he was sitting here with one. Sitting here kissing one a minute ago.

She left then, glancing at them one more time before she left.

"A girlfriend?" Claire asked.

He scoffed. "No," he said.

"She seemed surprised you're here with me."

"Well, that's true for anyone who hasn't seen us together this week."

"I suppose," she said. "She's cute."

He shrugged. "I guess," he said. "I make it a habit not to get involved with people named things like Grace, Faith, Angel, and Chastity."


"Because they're usually not at all like those names convey they should be."

"You know this?"

"I've had some experience with it, yes."

"Huh," she said. "And John?"

He shrugged.

"I don't know what my parents were thinking when they named me. Not of the saint I'm pretty damned sure."

"I suppose not," she said.

"You okay?" he asked, realizing it probably was closing in on time to get her home.

"Yeah, thank you. You stayed all night. You didn't have to."

"I was your ride."

"I could've gotten a ride with someone else."

"I was fine."

"Bored you mean," she said.

"Mostly, but it was all right. I would've been bored at home, at least this way I got to see you."

"Smooth," she said.

"Right? That just came out, too."

She shook her head, leaning in to kiss him.

"I compliment you and I get kissed? I'll work on complimenting you way more frequently."

"Okay," she said, nipping her lower lip a bit as she drew away. He slid out from beside her and walked up to the counter to pay while she grabbed her purse. He offered her his hand before walking out.

"What are you doing?" he asked when she started to get out of the car once they were back at her house.

"Going inside," she said, sounding confused by the question.

"I'll get it," he said.

"John, I can…"

"Yeah, yeah. I'll be right there," he said, getting out and walking to her side to open her door for her.

"Thanks. I could have…"

"I know," he said.

"You're walking me to the door, too?"

"Yes," he said. It was late, dark, and she was upset even if she seemed fine right now. Her parents, judging by the lack of lights on in the house, were asleep or in a room he couldn't see from this side of the house. He wasn't going to just drop her off and leave.

"Thank you," she said, getting her keys from her purse.

"Sure," he said. He leaned down and kissed her again once she'd unlocked the door. "Good night. See you tomorrow. Do you want me to pick you up again?"

"Can you?"

"Yeah, I can if I need to," he said.

"Okay, sure."

"Okay. I mean it, if you need to talk, call or page me."

"I'll be fine."

"Just the same."

"Thanks," she said, leaning up to kiss him.

"I'll see you in the morning."

"Yeah," she said.

He waited to walk back to his car until he heard the door lock from the other side and the porch light shut off. They didn't live in an area where people really had to worry about burglaries, but they also lived in a nice neighborhood so anything was possible. He wasn't sure he'd choose to rob a lawyer's house, but not everyone would know who lived in every house.

He got home, got a beer from his fridge as he played his messages back with a sigh as he took a sip.

He picked up the phone and left a message for his captain. He wasn't going to press Claire on the issue of talking to someone, but he wondered if they could come up with something to make her feel comfortable talking.

He deleted the messages after he was done with the phone. There were none he cared about hearing again anyway. He slid his tie out from under his collar, setting it on the counter. He pushed it away from his beer, not wanting it to get stained because he'd have to wear it tomorrow. He had a couple of suits and ties, but it would look weird for him to show up in anything too nice so he'd wear this again.

His pager went off as he walked back to his bedroom with his beer. He'd watch TV in bed for a bit before crashing. He hadn't had a TV in his bedroom growing up. It was kind of nice to be able to doze off to it. Or bad, he supposed. It wasn't a habit he had every night or anything, but some nights he just didn't want the silence.

He glanced at his pager as he kicked off his shoes and closed his bedroom door.

"Yeah, I know," he said, rubbing his fingers under Chester's chin. "I was gone too long again today. It couldn't be helped, Buddy."

He changed for bed and grabbed the remote before settling on the bed with his beer and Chester curled up beside him. He'd shift and change positions several times, but for now he'd stick close to John after he'd been gone all day unexpectedly.

He glanced at his pager and the phone next to the bed with a sigh.

"She's going to be beyond pissed I didn't call her at all today," he said. Chester's only response was to knead the covers beneath his paws. Tomorrow was Friday and they'd yet to make any plans for the weekend. His fault, but she wasn't used to that from him because she knew his weekends were usually pretty free. Of course, this Saturday he had detention again so that was eight hours of his weekend shot. Well, hopefully he'd have time to actually investigate some things in the school this go around. He'd asked around in the office and no one else had detention Saturday this weekend but him.

Chester didn't care who was mad at John or anything of the sort. As long as he had food and John was around to give him attention. That's all he cared about.

The funeral wasn't awful, but then John been to a couple of policeman's funerals over the years and those went on for hours. So a regular funeral went by pretty fast. Somehow he ended up having dinner with her and her parents, which wasn't at all how he expected his day to turn out. He'd dropped her off, walking her to the door again, and her dad had opened the door cutting short any plan of kissing her good night.

His pager had been oddly quiet most of the day. His captain had excused him from school today and had left John a message that if he knew someone who knew something he needed to get her to talk. That wasn't sitting too well with John because he was pretty sure there was no way around her finding out who, and what, he really was.

Her parents left them alone after dinner for the most part. They probably figured after a funeral he wasn't going to make moves on their daughter. They figured right. She leaned against him as they watched something on TV. He doubted either of them paid it any attention, they just wanted the noise and didn't want to talk right now. He had no idea what to really say to her anyway. He'd never really had friends so it was foreign to him to feel that loss.

"Are you doing anything tomorrow?" she asked him by the door when it was time to go.

"Yeah, school," he said with a shrug.

"Oh, right, I almost forgot."

"I wish I could," he said.

"Well, after?"

"Nah, not that I know of."

"I could pick you up."

"Sure," he said. "You know where I'll be."

"Okay," she said. "Thank you again."

"Stop with the thanking me."

"You took the day off from school and went to the wake last night when I know you'd rather have done anything but."

"Maybe so. It was fine. I'm glad I could do it."

"I was surprised your dad let you miss school."

"He has his decent moments."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"Night, Princess, sleep well."

"You, too."

"Thank your parents for dinner again."

In truth he wasn't the world's greatest cook, so a home-cooked, square meal was a welcome treat. He enjoyed it more than she or her parents would probably ever understand.

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