Note: I worry a bit that I made Jakey a tad OOC in here (he's more amiable and New Moon-esque than he ought to be), but I'm very excited about this oneshot, which I absolutely scrawled away no-problem when the lovely Forestwater mentioned the brilliant idea of Mike and Jacob bonding to me. How could this not be written, I ask you?!

Disclaimer: Scarlet does not own any of the Twilight series. Which is a fact she is very amused by.

Jilted Gentlemen

I know him.

Their eyes had locked, this single thought linking them in a way neither had intended nor wanted. One stood in a Ralph Lauren polo, the other in a worn old T-shirt, and both let the names register as the memories played in their minds.

"Mike Newton," the first stated.

"Jacob Black," Mike finished.

It had been in a theater before, but, Mike laughed to himself, where were they now, but in the same line for a Friday night film? An uncomfortable feeling lodged in his throat as Mike attempted to stare past this hulking beast of a man to see the showtimes: eight o'clock, eight-thirty, nine-fifteen. "So." Mike cleared his throat. "Came alone today, huh?"

Jacob snorted, the barb expected. "Don't see anyone holding your hand either, Newton."

Bella prefers clammy palms.

Before, of course, neither had been empty-handed. Instead of a fistful of cash, there had been a pulse beating in Jacob's hand, in Mike's. A girl's smile had bridged the animosity between them; now, the compactness of a line squished them close. A little too close, Mike thought to himself as he wrinkled his nose—had this kid run all the way here or what?

"Look, for your information, I could go here with a girl if I wanted to," Mike retorted. "I just wanted to come alone, alright?"

"Sure. Like you would be here all by yourself if she'd said yes."

"I didn't say it was her," the senior replied through gritted teeth.

"You didn't need to."

Who the hell, Mike wanted to know, gave this almost-a-stranger the right to judge him like this? The line shuffled forward, and Mike's loafers scuffed against the ground, enveloped in Jacob Black's shadow. Glancing down he noticed, with some surprise, that his rival hadn't worn any shoes at all—not even socks. "How are you supposed to get in the theater like that?" he exclaimed aloud.

Jake looked down and let out a little groan, mumbling, "Crap, I forgot," under his breath. He shuffled the bag on his shoulder to the side, and fished through it before bringing out a sorry pair of sneakers and pulling them on his beaten and bruised feet. Mike blinked.

"You carry your shoes around?"

"You care enough to ask?" Jacob rolled his eyes. "I like to run barefoot. Why do you run around in that preppy stuff, then?"

Mike snorted. "Well, excuse me if we don't all want to look like Tarzan."

Jacob grinned. "You're missing out. Tarzan was ripped." As if to show-off ("He's got to be showing off," Mike muttered under his breath), Jake stretched his arms, showing off muscles Mike knew he'd never have no matter how many weights he pulled.

"Tarzan wasn't on steroids," the senior remarked dryly.

Jacob raised an eyebrow. "You think I'm on steroids?"

Oddly enough, it sort of made sense; a sophomore who randomly spouts six-pack abs, gets an incredible summer growth spurt, and can run to the theater barefoot would, hypothetically, be on some sort of drug. Or, Jake thought wryly to himself, be a werewolf.

"Well, the way I figure, what's life without a little risk-taking?" Smug with his cryptic reply, Jacob grinned. "I mean, just look at you, Newton. What's the worst you've done—watch a horror flick? No, wait—you were the barfing the whole time. How could I forget?"

Mike's hands tightened into fists. "Oh, shut up already."

"So I take it you're not here to see Buckets of Blood, then," the werewolf replied cheekily. "Don't worry; I'm sure you could use a popcorn tub about as well as a paper bag." A red flush settled over the shorter boy's features, and Jacob inwardly celebrated; it made no sense, the werewolf knew, but arguing with Mike was incredibly more fun than fighting with that bloodsucker of Bella's. Mike smelled better; he was easier to anger and annoy; most importantly, he was in the exact same boat as Jacob was.

Which, Jake ought to know, wasn't a fun place to be.

"I won a pair of tickets to the movies off a radio show, if you really want to know," Mike said curtly. "And I figured I'd use them before they expired."

"Dateless?"

Mike rolled his eyes. "Obviously. So what's your excuse?"

"I wanted to see a movie. Obviously." Jacob knitted his eyebrows together in thought, then added, "So what movie are you going to see, anyway? Horror aside."

In answer, the boy shrugged. Glancing at his watch—how long was this line, anyway?—he managed, "I don't know, whatever's out. Maybe that sport movie, the one with that guy…you know…from that one movie."

"Really? I was looking at that other one…the one with that one girl and that guy…breaking out of the jail—"

"Yeah, that looked good. The previews were intense."

"Lots of action."

"Got a good review."

They nodded absentmindedly, each pretending that maybe they weren't agreeing on something, because—well, crap, that would be the apocalypse, wouldn't it? Silence descended between them, and the line moved forward once again, minutes away from the counter. Mike's gaze bored into his back for a moment longer, then finally he blurted out, "What happened to your motorcycle?"

Jacob froze, turning about slowly. "What the hell are you talking about? Wait—nothing happened to my bike, did it? Damn! I knew I shouldn't have left it with the old man."

"That's not it," Mike insisted, with a little less sound. "I saw you with it that one day when you picked up Bel—her. I just assumed something happened to it, you running all the way here and all."

Jacob appraised Mike thoughtfully, his fingers thumbing through a fan of dollars as the counter approached. He wasn't that bad of a kid, despite what Bella had said. Kind of observant, actually—more than Bella had been, that's for sure. Jake had to give him credit for that. "Just wanted exercise," he responded. "And to save gas. You know, going green or whatever."

The senior highly doubted that this easy-going La Push punk gave a crap about global warming, but figured to keep it to himself. After all, fifteen minutes had passed, and they'd actually managed to keep their heads intact. Mike didn't exactly want to push the next five any more than he had to; with Jacob's freakishly strong arms, Mike could wind up the filling stuffed in a Fig Newton bar.

"Going green is cool." Mike nodded.

The lady at the counter paused in her monotone welcome just long enough to wink at Jacob before asking in a deep, husky voice what movie he planned to see today: Two Tickets to Love, perhaps?

In a flat, uninterested tone, Jacob bought his ticket for the thriller-of-the-moment, and Mike stood before the counter only to hear a tiny groan that sounded like, "…God, I need better pick-up lines…" before being asked, "What movie do you want to see, kid?"

For crying out loud, he was at least 5"11, and he didn't look that young! Did he?

Mike had fully intended to lose Jake at the refreshment table, but no, there he was: carrying a tub of popcorn large enough to crawl into. "What?" Jacob snapped at his questioning stare. "I get hungry."

That Jacob, Mike decided silently, is the weirdest kid I have ever met—weirder than Cullen, even. No wonder Bella dropped him.

It was that cheerful thought that propelled Mike to offer to help carry the popcorn (not that Jacob needed help) and to buy him a drink as well. Jacob, of course, protested, and Mike, of course, didn't care.

That Mike, Jacob decided silently, is the bossiest kid I have ever met—bossier than Cullen, even. No wonder Bella dropped him.

And with that encouraging sentiment in mind, Jacob gladly agreed to share his popcorn and to even buy some candy to split between them—Sour Patch Kids, to be exact. Because, after all, weren't they bitter kids, all things considered?

The theater was dark, and Mike felt his way forward, following Jacob's unwavering step with a twinge of envy. Figured that he had to be clumsier than both Edward and the La Push kid, didn't it? What was worse, the woman at the front would have fawned over Edward even more than she did over Jacob—and what did Mike get? "What movie do you want to see, kid?" I must have some pretty crappy karma, Mike thought to himself with a groan.

"Can you see from here?" Jacob inquired, and Mike shrugged vaguely, sitting himself down in the back. It was pretty packed—more than Jacob had expected, even with that line out front. If Bella were here, he'd be holding her hand now, asking her which commercial she thought was stupidest, or if she thought the movie would end in a wedding.

He glanced thoughtfully at Mike, then snorted. Yeah, right.

"Look at the row in front of us," Mike whispered, and the werewolf stared at a couple engaged in intense snogging—a word he had picked up from Harry Potter and couldn't help but snicker at—as their arms groped each other, no holds barred.

"Well, if that doesn't make me feel pathetic, nothing else will," Jacob announced with a sigh.

"Don't be so sure," Mike retorted, and as the light on the screen flickered, their silhouettes were made clear: one an Adonis sculptured in white marble, the other a Disney Belle with soft chestnut locks. Immediately their heads snapped upwards, cheeks hot. The girl blinked at them, a deer caught in headlights, as Edward cursed under his breath.

"I paid good money to see you making out with that bastard?!" Jacob hollered, and Mike covered his ears, stunned that this weird-and-annoying-yet-mellow punk was losing his temper. "Why don't you just take my freaking popcorn and stuff it down my throat instead?"

Kicking the seat in front of him, the werewolf stomped out, Bella's protests small and tiny in the shadow of his rage. "That could have been worse," Bella mumbled to herself.

"Don't be so sure," Edward replied, Mike already standing.

"Okay, first of all," Mike instructed them stiffly, "when you make out, at least do it in the back of the theater so the rest of us don't gag. What are you, Edward, some sort of amateur?" He kicked the seat in front of him, just as Jacob had, for good measure ("Ow! Would you stop kicking me, please! Children these days…") and picked up the discarded popcorn, the sodas, and the candy before starting out, the idea of dumping the drinks on Edward fleeting through his mind before being discarded as immature.

In a strange way, Mike felt obligated to see Jacob, if only as a fellow sufferer and casualty. So when outside, instead of stomping off to his truck, the senior approached the fuming silhouette by the doorway, Jake's dark eyes livid.

"That bastard," Jacob snarled, all easiness gone. "That pale-faced bastard."

"He's a jerk," Mike agreed with a sigh.

"Bella deserves better," Jacob continued. His arms wrapped about himself almost defensively, murmuring, "Why she'd choose a creep like that, I'll never know. He's just—in there—I—"

Words breaking off, Jacob held his head in shame, groaning. "You wanted it to be you," Mike finished. You wanted to hold her like that--you wanted her to be yours, and not that Cullen freak's to hold. "I know. It's not fair."

Awkwardly, Mike patted Jacob on the back: a man's sign of comfort. Once upon a time, in a school hallway, Mike had been just like this, hadn't he? Tyler, Eric, Ben—they'd all moved on, found bigger fish in the sea. "Just find a new girl, Newton," they'd snapped at him when he'd whine about Edward Cullen. "Bella Swan is only interesting for, what, five minutes? Besides, she's got Cullen. Move on." They hadn't understood. Now, at least, that was all the boy could do for Jacob.

And maybe, somehow, Jacob Black understood that.

"Damn, we're just a couple of pining idiots, aren't we?" he grinned, trying—valiantly—to shake off his anger. "One girl shouldn't have that kind of power on any guy; it's unfair to any male with half a brain. I mean, what the hell, we'll move on eventually, won't we?"

"Hell yes," Mike agreed, laughing. Who knows when, though? Who knows, who knows, who knows. "Someday."

The denial firmly established between them, they glanced down at the popcorn, drinks, and candy while deep in thought. "Hey," Mike began again, clearing his throat, "you know, if you don't want to run back to La Push, I don't mind giving you a lift. But I warn you—my air conditioning busted up last week. Can't find any good mechanics, unfortunately."

"Really?" A devious smile split across Jacob's lips as he put his arm around his new friend. "Mike, if your night is still open, I wouldn't be so sure about that."


End Note: Shut up, I know: Jake is way too happy and reasonable for his angsty self, but I don't caaaaaare. I love funny!Jake, I do. Anyway, I suppose this could be a pairing fic if you so chose to interpret it, but I love Mike x Jess (Messica!) too much to see this as more than friendship fun. And I guess this ending makes angsty!Jake nonexistant, which makes the ending AU. Unintentionally. Um, yeah. So, that's pretty much it. Hope you enjoyed. :)