Disclaimer: Don't own them, am making no money.
A/N: Takes place sometime after 'Wave Goodbye'. Conner/Trent slash (eventually). In this chapter, the boys meet for the first time.
The boy who came and sat next to him in math looked vaguely familiar, but Conner didn't have a clue what his name might be, or even where he recognised him from. The boy noticed his stare, and gave a slight smile. "The teacher said I should sit here…"
For some reason, Miss Sills felt Conner would do better without the distraction of his friends about him, and had scattered them to all four corners of the classroom. He had no idea what had made her come to that conclusion, though he did have to admit that since being moved he was spending much less time in detention.
Which meant that until now, he'd been sitting on his own. "Sorry, I don't know your name..."
The boy shrugged. "I just moved here." So why did Conner recognise him? "Trent. Trent Fernandez."
Nope. He still didn't have the slightest idea how he knew Trent. "I'm Conner McKnight."
"The soccer player."
Obviously someone had filled him in on the 'who's who' of the school already. "Yeah. You know, this sounds weird, but do I recognise you from somewhere?"
Trent's smile grew into a grin. "I work at Hayley's. I've seen you in there."
Unexpectedly, Conner blushed. He quickly looked away, feeling startled. Why was he blushing? So he went to Hayley's. It might not be the coolest place ever, but if Trent worked there he couldn't care. He bit the inside of his cheek, wishing he could be one of the people who blushed in a subtle, barely-noticeable way. And it would be easier to top if Trent didn't grin at him like that. "I don't go in there that often," he said, staring at his textbook.
"I've seen you in there quite a bit," said Trent. "With Kira and…Ethan? No offence, but you guys seem like a weird combination."
"We're not!" They were extremely weird, but that didn't mean new-boy had to say it like that. Conner wasn't exactly sure how Trent had said it, but he still felt offended. And at least it made Trent stop grinning.
"Hey, I don't care," said Trent. "I didn't mean anything, it just seems like…you guys don't have much in common."
"Well, we do." Not anything he could tell Trent, or something that anyone could know about – but that didn't mean Trent should assume stuff like that! For all he knew, Conner, Kira and Ethan were childhood friends. Or next-door neighbours. Or…something else that gave them a deep connection. Conner couldn't think what.
Trent shrugged, obviously giving up on Conner as someone who was snappy and irritable. "Sorry," he said, flicking through his textbook.
At the front of the room, Miss Sills cleared her throat, so Conner didn't get a chance to reply.
Half an hour later, Conner felt so desperate to talk that he'd probably welcome Mesagog if the monster wanted to start up a conversation.
Hell, even if Mesagog wanted a fight, it would be better than this.
But he had to wait for Trent to speak first. Otherwise it would be like…giving up or something. Giving up what, he didn't know, but he felt sure he'd be giving up something.
Eventually, Trent spoke up. Unfortunately, he wanted help with one of the math questions.
"Man, question nine is hard. You finished it yet?"
Conner looked down at his work. He'd gotten stuck on question two, given up, and spent the last twenty minutes doodling soccer balls in the margins. "Um…no. What is it?"
"8x minus 2x squared plus four minus x minus ten equals zero."
Conner blinked and tried to look intelligent. "Oh."
Trent shrugged. "Well, I guess it doesn't matter. So, how long have you played soccer for?"
It took Conner a moment to catch up with the subject change, but at least they weren't talking about math anymore… "Pretty much all my life. My parents thought my brother and I spent too much time together, so they sent him to karate and me to soccer."
"Twin brother. Eric. He's…he goes to a different school." Where they learnt to kick people in one hundred different ways.
"Oh. I wish I had a brother." Trent looked lonelier than his casual voice suggested, and Conner had to fight the urge to put an arm round his shoulders. What was he thinking? He barely knew the guy!
Trent looked back at his work. Conner struggled to think of a way to keep the conversation going. "Um…why do you wish you had a brother?" Okay, stupid question award goes to… "I sometimes wished I was an only child," he said, though he hadn't. He and Eric had always wanted to spend more time together, not less.
Until Eric went off to his stupid Ninja school, of course.
"My parents died a few years back, so I guess it would be nice to have someone I could really call family."
Now it was Conner's turn to look back at his work, feeling a bigger jerk than ever. How insensitive had he sounded? And what was he supposed to say now? "I'm sorry." That sounded lame, but at least not completely idiotic.
Trent smiled again, though this time it looked less amused, more bitter. "That's okay. My adopted father is really…great. He's really great. He wants the best for me."
To Conner, that didn't sound like the best of relationships. He tried to avoid conversations about what was best for him. They normally ended in extra work of some kind, or him having to give up something he enjoyed. "So, he must be really glad you work at Hayley's, right? My parents are always on at me to get a job." As if he had time for one.
Trent looked a little amused again. "Not exactly. But look, are you going to be there tonight?"
Unless something strange and ugly that needed fighting appeared. "Probably. After soccer practise."
"We'll see each other there then."
Conner nodded, agreeing, and trying not to think about why that statement sounded like it meant more than he thought. What else could it mean?
He sneaked another look at Trent, and remembered that grin.
He was being silly. He'd be at Hayley's with Ethan and Kira, and they'd all see Trent, and it would be completely normal. There was nothing strange about it.
Nothing at all.
"Conner? Are you looking for anyone?"
Kira gave him one of her overly-patient looks. "Are you looking for anyone?"
No. He wasn't. He was watching Trent. Not because he wanted to watch Trent or anything, just because…
Well, he wasn't sure why he'd been watching Trent. He just had. It wasn't weird. Trent had said that he would see Conner at Hayley's. By that, he probably meant he would come talk to Conner. So Conner needed to watch Trent to see when Trent would come talk to them. There was nothing strange about that. Nothing at all.
Also, he wanted a drink. And Trent worked here as the waiter. So, again, it was normal for Conner to be watching Trent.
He realised someone was snapping their fingers in front of his face. "Hello?" called Kira. "Earth to Planet Conner? Anyone in?"
Conner glared at her, and was about to give a really witty retort when Trent finally arrived at their table. "Anything I can get you guys?"
"Just an apple juice," said Kira, smiling at Trent in a way Conner found extremely annoying.
"Smoothie of the Day," said Ethan.
"Anything for you?" Trent looked at Conner.
Conner froze. Kira rolled her eyes, waving a hand. "Conner. What drink do you want?"
Ethan broke into giggles, and Kira didn't look that far behind. "Ignore him," she told Trent, flashing that smile again. "It's a miracle he's survived this long, honestly. He'll just have another apple juice."
Trent grinned and wrote it down, heading back to the bar.
Conner scowled after him, feeling more annoyed than usual with his two best friends. Normally, when they said stuff like that he didn't get bothered – if he did, he'd spend all his time bothered – but this was different. And not because it was in front of Trent. It just was.
Kira was perceptive enough to notice. Ethan had already gone back to his computer game, ignoring both of them. "Conner?" asked Kira. "What's wrong?"
"Hey, chill, alright? I was just teasing you."
"Yeah, I know, but…"
He paused, struggling to come up with a believable reason. "I'm just…stressed."
"About what? Everything's going kind of well at the minute. We've got Dr. O back, and he's a…a you-know again. What's there to be stressed about?"
"I don't know!"
"Well, get over it. Oh, thanks Trent."
Trent gave Kira and Ethan their drinks first, Conner noted sulkily.
Kira noticed the beeping first, tugging Conner's sleeve to get his attention. "Um, I forgot, I have to go do something," she said to Trent. "Conner, will you give me a ride?"
"Sure," he said, gathering his stuff.
Ethan clicked his laptop closed. "I better go too."
Trent looked confused. "Aren't you even going to finish your drinks?"
"We don't want them," Conner snapped, feeling a little happier at Trent's look of surprise. "We're leaving."
And Trent could think what he wanted about that.