Chapter One-Runaway

"Hello?" Cory asked as he picked up the phone to the Baxter Residence. "No, she's not here…I don't know where she is…yes, I'll call you…all right, bye." He hung up the phone and returned to the kitchen and said, "You know I can't keep lying to her."

"I know, but you can't tell her that she's staying at my place, she'd flip," Newt responded as Cory sat down.

"You must really care about her a lot," Cory said as he stared at Newt in surprise. He's never seen Newt so serious about anything, except for the guitar and their band.

"I do," he agreed with a nod. "Which is why her mom can't know that she's staying over. You know how her mom reacts around us, she hates us. She would hates us even more if she found out what I was doing. Look, I just can't let her stay there. Not with them having a bad relationship, it might drive her to cutting again."

"Good point…"

"So will you help me, dude?"

"Of course, what're friends for?"

"Sweet!" They turned their attention to Mack who was leaning against the doorway. A sad look was on her face as she shifted her weight from foot to foot.

"I didn't mean to be a problem for you guys," Mack said as she walked into the kitchen.

"You're not," Newt said as he stood and pulled her into a hug. "I want to do this for you. I want to make sure you're ok."

"Yeah, don't worry about it. We got your back," Cory added as he also stood and placed a hand on her shoulder.

Mack smiled at them. About two months ago she wouldn't think that she would be interacting with them at all. But they pushed and shoved their way into her life by caring about her that she couldn't just turn them away.

About two months ago Mack moved to DC with her mother, Melanie, because of a cutting problem her mother thought would go away if they moved. While she was there she met and became fast friends with Rebel Samuels. Then she formed a weird friendship with Jason Stickler. She ended up being friends with Cory Baxter, Meena Paroom, and Newt Livingston because, once Meena stopped hating her, they all pried their way into her life. Eventually Newt's care towards her won her over and she ended up falling for him, although she frequently denied it when Rebel teased her about it. She finally realized how much she cared about him and how much he cared about her when she was sent to the hospital for loosing too much blood and was in a coma and he stayed by her side the entire time.

"Do you want anything while you're here?" Cory asked.

"Nah, I'm good," Mack responded as she shook her head.

"My parents are probably wondering where we are anyway," Newt said as he looked at his watch.

"All right. Band practice tomorrow at your place," Cory said as they bumped fists before Newt lead her out of the door. Once the door closed he rushed over to his cell phone and pushed a button on his speed dial.

Over at the Paroom residence Meena rushed out of her bathroom and landed on her bed, bouncing a couple of seconds, before grabbing her ringing phone. "Meena here."

"Hey Meena, it's Cory," he said as he walked into the living room and sat down on the couch.

"Hey Cory, what's up?"

"Mack's mom keeps calling here. I can't keep lying to her. She's going to find out where Mack is eventually. And that'll just make things worse."

"I know, she keeps calling here too. All I told her was that Mack was safe so she shouldn't be too frantic about the whole thing," Meena responded as a concerned look crossed her face. "Actually, I'm more worried about Newt."

"Newt?" Cory repeated. "Why?"

"Because he doesn't realize how much trouble he could get in by hiding Mack at his place." Meena sighed and added, "I'm also worried because he really likes her and he knows she likes him but he can't even ask her to be his official girlfriend, I mean, they aren't officially going out yet."

"I see what you mean." Cory stayed silent before he snapped his fingers. "I got it! We can set them up!"

"Don't you think they'd realize we're setting them up?" Meena asked in confusion.

"No, because this plan is foolproof."

"Yeah, just like all of your other plans," Meena agreed with a giggle. Cory couldn't keep the smile from forming on his face. He loved to listen to listen to her laugh or just listen to her talk. He loved to see the sparkle in her eyes when she's excited about something or when she has a good idea. Just being around her makes his day a whole lot better. He sighed softly to himself. There was no way that Meena would ever like him like that, that's what he always thought so he never bothered to try and tell her his feelings for her. She only seems him as a friend, nothing more, but nothing less. "Cory? Are you still there?"

"Yeah…I'm just listening to your voice," he responded in a dreamy-like voice. His eyes flew open as he added, "Because…it sounds…different on the phone! Yeah, kinda like Darth Vader. All raspy…that's not what I meant! I mean…I gotta go, bye!" Cory quickly hung up the phone, stared at it, and groaned inwardly as he covered his face with his hands.

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"So you'll be staying in here," Newt said as he opened the door to the guest room. "The remote works for the tv, fan, and stereo. But you don't want to play it too loudly or my parents would yell at you…and they can yell louder than any music you play off of that. Trust me." He paused and added, "I hope this is all right for you."

"It's fine Newt, thanks," Mack said as she walked over to the bed and put her backpack down on it. "You really didn't have to do this for me."

"I said it before, I wanted to. I couldn't just leave you and your mom to kill each other," Newt said as he shook his head. "Everyone would miss you…especially me." A blush formed on Mack's cheeks as she avoided his gaze but walked over and hugged him. "Goodnight," he said before he leaned towards her. She quickly turned her head so he kissed her cheek. A confused look was in his eyes but he smiled a little before closing the door to her room.

"Goodnight Newt," Mack muttered before she climbed into her bed and fell into a light sleep.