A week went by, then two, and Nina and the Six had settled into a happy routine. Studying after school was now no longer done exclusively at Dan-O's, but on a rotation between all their houses. Nina kept her head down in lunch, and since she appeared more withdrawn to the student body this year, was left alone, and actually seemed to lose her in-crowd status that her looks had previously granted her. She didn't care, it wasn't all that important. What was important was that she was re-prioritizing her life. She was starting to think about college, she was focusing more on her grades, and she was having fun with her friends. A lot of times on the weekends, Dan-O and Momo would double date with Taro and Kari. Erisa and Nina tended to avoid that situation, being the single girls as well as hearing lesbian jokes all night from the two couples. Things started to change again in the third week of school...
Patrick: Nina, hello.
Nina turned to find a very handsome boy standing behind her in the lunchroom before the final bell rang.
Nina: He looks kinda familiar... *hesitantly* Do I know you?
Patrick: Oh, right, I guess it's been a while. Patrick, remember? Mr. Charming?
As if to hammer the point home, he flashed his most charming smile and it dawned on Nina.
Nina: Oooh, right, from the beach. *looks around* You go to Mt. Plains? I thought you were an East Bank or Darryl student.
Patrick: Hahah, yeah, I thought the same thing about you. Much easier to risk yourself talking to a girl you'll probably never see again. If I'da known that you were a student here I may never have talked to you.
Nina: Heh, well, yeah, I guess so. I've never seen you around before...
Patrick: *shrugs* Oh, well, I've been around. I'm not the most socially active person in this school. With so many other students, it really can't be that shocking we've never run into each other.
Nina: Really? I suppose not... *suspicious look* Something inside me doesn't especially trust him... Could just be I'm hungry. Let's find out what he wants. So...
Patrick: So, I noticed that Tory isn't here so I thought it'd be safe if I came over to see how you were doing.
Nina: Haha, right, I guess if you have this lunch hour you must have seen what happened on the first day.
Patrick: *laughs, touches Nina's shoulder* Yeah, you were the talk of the school for a few days. Although a girl as nice to look at as you has to be used to that sort of attention.
Nina: Hehe, thanks. Um, usually I eat alone...
Patrick: Oh, I understand. If you want, I can let you come talk to me later.
Nina: Ah, well, you can eat here if you want. I haven't really talked to anyone but my friends in a while, so a fresh face today might be good for me.
Patrick: Wow, thanks. I feel so honored.
He sat down across from her and they talked about their classes, he complained a little about his lunch, she complained about having to carry her lunchbox around with her, and ultimately, they made plans to go out on Friday night.
Patrick: *sly smile* Well, I won't call it a date.
Nina: Haha, well, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with that, but you know, a girl's gotta move forward eventually. Maybe if I invite my friends, we could all hang out. It'd be more casual, and they'd like you a lot.
Patrick: Oh, well, I was hoping we could get to know each other a bit better before we take that step.
Nina: Oh, um, okay, that's fine too. Where should we go?
Patrick: Let's go to MPC Station and eat at one of the nicer restaurants there. I'll even let you choose.
Nina: Wow, that's so nice of you. Send me a text and we'll figure out the rest of the details.
Lunch ended and they parted for the rest of the day. Nina was feeling a bit better about herself, and Patrick watched her closely as she left ahead of him...