Mt. Plains High School, home of the Foresters, lunchtime. Just imagine that the gym to the left of the school is half destroyed.
Kellen: *pitifully* I'm sorry, Nina. If I had known she was gonna do stuff like this, I'd've, I don't know, I'd've...
Nina tried to smile back despite hating his always-sorry reaction.
Nina: Kellen, don't worry about it. It's like I've been telling you, it's not your fault about what crazy does. It's like, working out nicely anyways. I'm not sitting here by myself anymore, and I'm not forced to sit with Tory and them out of obligation. Trust me, it's better this way.
Kellen still looked unhappy, and he stole a quick glance at Kana before giving Freddie a look that said he hoped his friend would pick up the coversation.
Freddie: Apparently this morning, she had some kind of a fight with Anne and Beau. She even pushed Anne over. I don't think they're gonna be friends anymore. I can't believe Beau's over there sitting with her now.
The four exchanged looks in an effort to avoid getting caught looking over at Cassie. There was another moment of glum silence before Kana broke it, hoping to lighten the mood.
Kana: So like, apparently Tsukino's spreading rumors about Cassie and Chrystal hanging out. She said that they're not as cute as you and Erisa were, but they look like a happy couple.
Nina: She did not say that! You lie! You're a liar!
Kana: Hehehe, you know I wish I could make that up, but it's totally true, Sempai. Might be why there's no one dumping milk on your head right now.
Nina: *sheepishly* I'm trying to like, keep a low profile.
Freddie: Is it really true you went out with that volleyball player?
Freddie's eyes sparkling with wonder behind his glasses.
Nina: *sighs, rolls eyes* I don't know if I'd've called it 'going out,' but...
Freddie: *oblivious to Nina's reaction* Man, that is so hot, that volleyball player is so hot.
Nina: It wasn't like that, Freddie. She's one of my closest friends. It wasn't like that.
Freddie: Wow... And Kellen, don't you even dare even think about saying anything about what I just said in front of Anne.
He lived in mortal fear of his girlfriend, and was constantly walking on eggshells around her. She seemed to have a hair trigger and the smallest perceived slights had the potential to turn into a major fight. So Freddie was rightfully scared of her hearing about this particuar conversation.
Kellen: *big smile* Wow, Freddie, I don't know how you two haven't broken up by now, all the arguments you've had. Don't worry though, I won't tell.
Kana: Wow, is she that scary?
Kellen: Heh heh. Like you wouldn't believe.
Freddie: *defensively* She's nice to me sometimes.
Kana: Hahahaha, sometimes?? Look, I'm gonna give you some advice, some like, super-secret insider information. Dump her and make zero effort to contact her, even if you get lonely or feel bad. If she loves you and values your friendship, she'll eventually go after you, which is a win if you can somehow manage to use your nuts and keep standing up for yourself around her. If she never comes back then you're still better off because you're no longer being abused by a [expletive] and dumping that kind of a girl should be a confidence booster to get yourself a better girlfriend if, as with before, you can find and use your nuts.
Freddie: Dump her? Dump Anne? Right now? After what happened this morning?
Freddie's mind was full of the white-hot heat of fear at the thought.
Kana: Hahahaha, no, not now! Do it, I don't know, do if the next time she picks a fight, oo oo, I know! Be like, “You're mad about such a tiny little thing like this? I can't keep being yelled at over little things like this! I'm not gonna feel bad about something so insignificant!” And then just turn and walk away, don't look back and don't sulk, be like a cowboy walking off into the sunset, oh, that's a sexy image!”
Nina: Hehehe, jeez, Kana, if I didn't know any better I'd think you're totally, like, getting off on this!
Kana: Hahaha, shut up, Nina, keep your gross imagination to yourself! Look at Freddie, do you think he deserves to be abused by that girl? If it's who I think it is, she's not even close to being hot enough to act like that. Freddie, if you take any advice of mine at all, just take this: girls don't wanna be with guys they can't respect, who we can push around and make do whatever we want. Well, maybe some girls do, but they're [expletive] and you don't wanna have anything to do with them anyways! Now, that doesn't mean you can become like, an abusive jerk yourself, because that's not cool, either, but, you know...
Freddie: So you think Anne abuses me?
Kana: *grave nod*
Freddie: *at Kellen* Do you think so, too?
Kellen: Dude, she picks on all of us, I just figured it was her thing. But thinking about what Kana just said, I think she might have a point.
Kana: Just remember, boys, this is not a license to go off acting like popped-collar, frosty-haired jerks!
Nina: Hehe, honestly, could you see either of these two acting like that?
Nina giggled with her, then watched in surprise as Kana's eyes linger *ever* so slightly on Kellen before looking back at Nina and responding.
Kana: Honestly, besides Tory or Kenji, I don't think there's anyone who can pull that look off.
Kellen: But- *touches high, stiff collar of uniform jacket innocently* All our collars are always popped.
Kana: Hahaha, I wasn't talking about your gakuran!
Freddie and Kellen shrugged at each other in feigned confusion and earned another giggle from Kana. Nina smiled at them warmly, and they finished their lunch inside a little bubble of pleasantness in the tense atmosphere of the unusually quiet lunchroom.