Chapter Thirteen

The following week, Abby was actual happy to go to school. She just wanted to be near Nigel. Lately, she always wanted to near her boyfriend.

Nigel seemed just as happy to see her everyday as she was to see him. They were so happy to see each other that it took Kuki and Wally to tell them that everyone in their group wasn't as happy as they were.

"Haven't you noticed Hoagie?" the Japanese girl asked.

"No, why, what's wrong with Hoagie," Abby asked as she leaned against her locker.

"He's been really depressed all day," Kuki told.

Abby looked over at the tall boy and say that he didn't look so tall. He was hunched over and looked kind of pale.

"Whatever it is," Abby said. "It's making him act strangely, I've never seen him look so depressed or so quiet."

Kuki nodded her agreement.

Nigel frowned.

"I wonder what's got his panties in a knot," Wally said.

"We're gonna have to ask him," Abby said.

"Yes," Nigel agreed. "But not now. We wait until lunch.

And for some reason, like it was always this way, everyone agreed.

When lunchtime came, the group sat together silently. They weren't sure of what to say. They didn't know what to ask Hoagie about his sudden sadness.

"Really," Abby said to him. "What's wrong?"

Hoagie was silent.

"C'mon," Wally proded. "You can tell us."

"whatever it is we will understand Kuki added gently.

Hoagie continued to say nothing. He just stared at his food, pushing it around his plate.

"It was Nigel who noticed something was off with their group.

"Hoagie," He asked cautiously. "Where's Stephanie?"

The others paused. Stephanie was missing.

"Hoagie," Kuki said kindly. "Did something happen?"

Abby placed a comforting hand on the tall boy's shoulder.

Hoagie flinched at her touch, but said nothing. He didn't even look at them. He rose from his seat, picked up his tray and deposited his foood in the trash. He walked out of the cafeteria.

"Well, that was rude," Wally had the nerve to say. "He could have at least said he didn't want to talk about it."

"Let it go," Abby ordered him sharply.

"But," Wally said.

"He will tell us when he's ready," Nigel said firmly.

"But," Wally continued to press.

"Wallabee," Kuki practically shouted.

"Alright," Wally grumbled with a pout.

At the end of the day, Wally, Nigel, Kuki, and Abby stood outside of school at Kuki's car. They were planning their weekend, when Hoagie walked up to them and sighed heavily.

"What's wrong, Hoagie?" Kuki asked again.

"Stephanie broke up with me," Hoagie answered this time sadly.

"I knew it," Wally said almost triumphantly.

Everyone glared at him. Kuki smacked his arm.

"It's okay," Hoagie asid. He stared down at the ground.

"Why?" Kuki asked.

"She said that I was too popular," Hoagie said with choked cry.

Wally looked ashamed and sorry for his friend at the same time. Nigel, Abby, and Kuki looked confused and worried.

Kuki walked up to Hoagie and hugged him.

"It will be oaky," she said. "You are a good looking guy. You'll have a new girl in no time."

"Yeah," Abby said placing a reassuring hand on Hoagie's shoulder. "I know a lot of girls who would be happy to date you."

Wally and Nigel glared at the,. Abby and Kuki noticed.

"Not us," Abby said quickly.

"No, not us," Kuki backed. "We're happy with the guys we have."

"Yeah," Abby said.

What seemed like the first time that day, Hoagie's eyes left the florr and looked up at his male friends. They were staring at him with unbridled jealousy and he could not help himself. He wriggled out of the girls' grasps and approached Nigel and Wally. He placed one hand on Nigel's right shoulder and the other on Wally's left shoulder and began to laugh, hard.

"You should see your faces," he said.

Wally and Nigel stared at each other and began to laugh. The girls joined in and they all knew Hoagie would be okay.