A/N- A quick note on most of my minutemen fanfics: they can stand alone for the most part, but they all basically tie in with each other. You can read "Torn" by itself, but you might want to read "Different" first. Thanks for reading any of it and tell me what you think! :)

Torn

Stephanie walked quietly into the cafeteria and over to the pop machine. She looked around, but only a few other students were in the large room. Then she noticed Zeke sitting alone where he usually sat with Virgil and Charlie. She turned back to the pop machine without thinking much about him, but she suddenly remembered something Virgil had said when he called her a week ago. They had been talking about Zeke.

"I think life's hitting him harder than us."

Looking back at Zeke, Stephanie realized that she hadn't seen him in school a single all last week, and that she hadn't noticed, or cared, until just then. He was just staring off into space, looking really thoughtful, and also a little more tired than usual.

Suddenly Stephanie felt guilty. This was one of Virgil's best friends and she had never actually met him. Forgetting about the pop she had been about to get, she started walking toward Zeke.

"Stephanie!" Derek waved at her from across the room. Half-heartedly returning his wave she walked over to him.

"Hey Derek."

"What's wrong, Steph?"

"Nothing."

"You don't seem very happy."

Stephanie shrugged. "I'm fine."

"Ok. Hey, I'm gonna go talk to some of the guys, ok?"

"Yeah, Derek." As he walked away Stephanie sighed. Derek seemed so self-absorbed these days. At least, more than usual.

She looked over at Zeke again. He was just sitting there, absentmindedly fiddling with a fork. Even though he was a really unapproachable guy, she felt like she should talk to him. Taking a deep breath she headed for his table.

"Hi."

He jumped a little bit, then looked up at her with surprise. "Stephanie?"

She smiled, hoping she looked friendly. She was actually really nervous. "You're Zeke, right?"

"Uh, yeah."

"I'm Stephanie, but I guess you already knew that." She looked down at Zeke, feeling embarrassed. She stood there a little awkwardly, not sure of what to say. He was silently looking up at her through his dark hair.

"Well," she continued, "I just noticed that you were gone last week so I thought I'd say that it's nice to have you back. Plus I thought I should finally introduce myself for real since I never have. Virgil talks about you a lot, so I just thought I'd say hi." She smiled again, then turned to leave.

"So what does Virgil say about me?"

Stephanie turned back to Zeke with a small smile. He was looking down at his fork again, but at least he had said something. That was all Stephanie needed.

"Well, he says that you're really into interpretive dance," she said slowly, walking back to the table. Zeke looked up at her with a small hint of a confused smile. She laughed. "Mind if I sit down?"

Zeke shrugged. "Be my guest."

Stephanie pulled out a chair at the small table and sat down. "Honestly? Virgil's told me that you're a really cool guy. He's made me want to meet you."

"Well, now what do you think?" Zeke asked, looking over at Stephanie again.

She looked back at Zeke. "I think it might take some time to figure out, but I'm pretty sure he's right."

Zeke looked like he was about to say something, but a sudden voice interrupted.

"Steph, what are you doing?"

"Oh, hey Derek." Inwardly she groaned. She could already tell that Derek was annoyed.

"Come on Steph, let's go sit down," Derek said, glancing at Zeke. Stephanie stood up slowly.

"See you later, Zeke," she said kindly. Zeke nodded.

"Stephanie, what were you doing?!" Derek exclaimed as they started to walk. He was looking at her like she was out of her mind.

"I was just introducing myself."

"Why?"

"He's Virgil's friend and I wanted to meet him."

"Don't take this the wrong way, Stephanie, but you're one of the most popular girls in school. You don't need to be meeting guys like him."

"His name is Zeke, and what do you mean guys like him?"

"You know, guys like him. Zack, or whatever his name is. Loners, outcasts, whatever you want to call them."

They were sitting at their usual table now and she looked over at Derek in disbelief. "He's Virgil's friend, Derek!"

"Steph, who cares?"

"I do." She shook her head sadly. "I thought you did, too."

"Look, Virgil's a good guy and all, but c'mon, he's a total dork."

"What happened to you, Derek?" Stephanie asked quietly. Everyone else was starting to sit down at their table, so the two became quiet.