Chapter 3: All In Time
Miles cornered him during P.E. It was not totally unexpected, Marco admitted to himself, though how the lanky teenager managed to be sitting next to him for stretches when Marco had been trying to avoid him was something he would never understand.
Marco very pointedly ignored him.
"You know, Allie's been asking about you." Miles knew where to hit, as underhanded as it was using Allie to get a response out of him, Marco couldn't ignore anything where his queen was concerned.
Almost definitely against his better judgment, Marco turned his dark eyes on the other boy. "Asking about what?"
Grinning at his success, Miles reached to touch his toes, but his flexibility failed him. His arms stopped just past his knees and refused to go farther.
The gym teacher, a pudgy man in his mid-forties named Mr. Gunnal stopped behind them and sighed at the nerd's back.
Trying to regain some of his lost dignity, the boy straightened from his stretch as Marco completed touching his toes, and deigned to answer the question asked. "She thought you were glaring at her in history and asked if you might really not like us."
Marco straightened, quickly enough that his elbow banged into his knee. "What?" This was not something he had been prepared to hear.
She still thought he might be evil? Might explain why she was so distant towards him when he rescued her from Mr. Moore. She hadn't said anything after that. And he might have been a little brusque-he didn't want to chance it that a member of the Order might see him- but he had been late for his next class, with a teacher that didn't tolerate tardies, and she still hadn't said anything.
"She thinks you're mad at her," Miles continued, standing to try his stretches with gravities help. "I know you're not. I saw that you would never let anything hurt her. I'm getting better at this Merlin thing." Miles laughed at the look on his companion's face as he let his arms dangle. "I know a lot more than I seem too."
Marco stared, until Mr. Gunnal loudly blew his whistle at him. He stood as well, and started on lunges. Who would have guessed that the only one who knew anything more than they had three days before would be Miles. "But you still do that whole head thing," he stuttered, trying to make sense of what he had learned. Three days ago Miles had not even wanted to get any of his prophetic visions because of the pain it caused him. Marco had seen him almost double over in European History that day as he received a vision. What could have changed?
Three short blasts on Mr. Gunnal's worn out whistle signaled the end of stretching and the beginning of running time.
Miles stood up straight, and pressed his palms to his head to combat the dizziness of blood rushing away from his brain. "When I'm trying to see something or find something out, it doesn't hurt anymore."
Jogging in place, to continue his conversation, Marco grimaced. This was not good for his secrets. "What do you know about me," he asked worriedly. If all his work to keep no one from finding out about his secrets were a waste because of this boy, it would not be a good thing.
Miles and Allie were best friends.
King Arthur and Merlin.
If Miles knew Marco's secret, then he would tell Allie. Which would ruin Marco.
As Miles finally started slowly jogging, he smiled at Marco devilishly, if Miles could ever be devilish. It was more as if he was trying to smile evilly, but it just looked liked he was grinning. Not even a proper smirk.
"I know how much you like her," he said with unusual emotion in his voice. Marco sighed.
There it went.
Miles smiled that weird trying-to-be-evil smile again. "And I'll never tell here. That's your deal."
When Marco looked at the other boy, Miles quickly ducked his head. Baffled, he continued staring.
He had always thought Miles a tattletale, a teacher's pet. Preppy and high-strung. The kind of guy who talked back to the bully because he thought he was superior.
Yet here he was, with more information swimming in his head than Marco could even imagine, and yet he wasn't acting at all like he was better than him.
Miles was being friendly and offering advice. Maybe this was what Allie saw in him. For the first time, Marco had a small idea of what Miles was like around Allie.
Allie had a way of looking at people and seeing them. She made friends based on their best personality traits, not looks, popularity, or money like many of the girls at Avalon. She would see the best in people, and like Miles, those things that Allie saw began to shine through to make them better people.
The more Marco thought about it, the more in awe he was of her. He smiled at the thought. That was his queen. That was his Allie.
A snap of Miles' fingers brought Marco from his thoughts.
"Careful," Marco was told. "I could tell you were thinking about her." Miles lowered his fingers as he examined the boy in front of him carefully. "You got this slightly goofy smile and your eyes sorta glazed over."
Marco shook his head, and ran a hand through his hair, mussing the style. Why was this so hard for him? It shouldn't be this hard. He shouldn't like her this much. It was bad for him to like her this much.
Again Miles snapped his fingers. "Stop it," he ordered.
Marco gave him a sheepish look and rubbed a hand down the goosebumps on his arm. "I don't know if I can. It just happens."
Miles gave him a look that said very clearly that he was a hopeless case and he should be very grateful that Miles was going out of his way to help the poor, defenseless, lovesick, pathetic person that he was.
Marco laughed a little. More at the look, which seemed extremely out of place on Miles' face than at the fact that he was lovesick.
Miles shoved him.
For some reason, Marco liked the gangly boy, at least, this new incarnation of him. He had disliked Miles for the last two years, but now. Yeah, he liked him, this new Merlin, Allie's friend side of him.
He was pinched.
He remembered something then. Parts of the old stories of King Arthur. Merlin had not only been King Arthur's advisor and confidante, he had been a confidante to all the Knights of the Round Table. Merlin had walked unstopped through castle and keep conversing with everyone. In some versions, he was the local priest, receiving confessions. In others, a walking magician, who was called on to heal ailments and sores.
He had been one of King Arthur's dearest companions, but he hadn't only been the King's.
The whistle blast feet from them made both Marco and Miles cringe and turn. Red-faced Mr. Gunnal panted behind them, obviously very angry that they had not continued running. He yelled at them both to get their butts back into action and chased them to it with more high pitched squeals from his whistle.
The two exchanged a last look, and they started to run.
Standing in the locker room doorway, with his backpack slung over one shoulder as he waited for the bell to ring and release him, Marco was surprised at the hand on his shoulder.
He turned to face Miles.
"We weren't done talking," the boy said, feigning anger at being ignored.
"What else do we have to discuss." Marco was ready to put the whole thing behind him. The more he talked about everything, the more people could overhear. Talking about it in the middle of gym class was one of the worst decisions he had ever made.
Miles leaned closer, probably sensing Marco's unease.
"Allie still thinks you're mad at her," he said simply. Marco stiffened. "I can tell her that you're not, but she's willful, and if she gets an idea in her head, she needs to see it disproved."
Marco turned. Yet again with the Allie weakness, but this was a problem that could not be ignored. He needed to be able to stay close to her to protect her, but if she thought he was still evil, she wouldn't let him stay near.
"What can I do?" Marco hoped that his personal feelings, the ones that kept him from thinking logically about anything relating to Allie, didn't show in his eyes.
Miles grinned. "Allie needs a friend. Will is her boyfriend. She made a few friends on the track team, but they're not enough. Be her friend. She's looking for someone to trust with her secrets, and she doesn't hold grudges. If you're kind, and you don't hurt her, you'll be close to her. Maybe even closer than she is to Will."
Marco gritted his teeth at Will's name. Petty jealousy was not good for him, he knew, but his step brother was dating His Allie. Petty jealousy was unavoidable.
"Are you going to be sitting with us at lunch?" Miles asked as the bell rang.
Shaking his head, Marco escaped into the quickly filling hall. "I'm eating with a couple of my other friends. Maybe some other time."
The other boy nodded, and gave a friendly wave a he separated to go meet Allie as she came out of English.
Marco made his way to the cafeteria, bought himself a piece of pizza and made his way to the corner where he and his friends usually hung out while they ate. It was mere feet away from the table that the football players usually sat at, a table that now included Allie and Miles, as well as Will, Lance, Jen, Clark Justin, Levi Armstrong, Annabeth Sanchez and Courtney Reese.
It was a perfect spot for watching out for his step-brother. And now for Allie.
DanI-ay (her real name was Danielle, but she had searched for ages for a unique nickname) greeted him warmly, by stealing his lunch. Marco didn't really mind. DanI-ay had black dyed hair and a tongue piercing. She was also extremely good at math and had a list of exes a mile and a half long. She now exclusively dated college boys, said they were more 'fun.' But she was harmless, a little scary-looking, but harmless.
Now she slung an arm over his neck and led him back to the group, as she one-handedly rolled up the pizza and took a large bite.
"Where've you been, Campbell?" Todd punched him in greeting. "We went out mail-hitting. Got a few good ones." Todd could have played football, if he wasn't against all things school-related. "You disappeared for an entire weekend!"
"It's not that long, dude." Marco felt extremely welcomed, but there was still a feeling that he didn't belong there.
"So what's up with you." DanI-ay leaned against Todd, her long term boy-toy. "We heard about you and the Alley-girl. And you and Will making all brother-loving."
He backed up a step. Attacked. "What do you mean?"
"Don't try to play coy with me, Goody-Two-Shoes, Jesse saw you and the Nerdy-Boy-Wonder playing all nice-nice in gym. What's wrong with you?"
Marco backed up another step.
"We made a promise a year ago that every time we saw that punk, we'd give him a piece to remember us by. Do you remember that? Or did Alley-girl take away all your spirit." DanI-ay put a black-gloved hand on her hip and jabbed a finger into Marco's chest with the other hand. "You're outta the group, Man-my-Man. One undertaking would have been fine, but this is six in the last three days."
He tried to stutter out a response. Nothing came out, nothing was useful against DanI-ay's wrath.
"You can stay here. Lean all broody against the wall and watch over Alley-girl, but we're leaving."
The black-haired girl led the way, and Todd, Jesse, Rickto, and Lizza followed her to an opposite corner.
He couldn't honestly say that it hurt very much to watch them leave.
Almost instinctively he turned to look at Allie's table. She looked over at him, and their eyes met, and she motioned with him to come over.
Miles was right, he thought, she is very forgiving. He slowly walked over and settled between Miles and Levi. It was the best seat in the circumstances. Allie was on Miles' other side, her hand loosely interlocked with Will's.
Another stab of petty jealousy coursed through him, but he forced it down and smiled up at the girl. His Allie. His Queen.
She smiled radiantly back at him.
And then something unexpected happened. The world started to dissolve, but it didn't. It came back into focus, and the cafeteria was gone, sitting around a round table were the knights of Allie's-Arthur's court. Stately and controlled Jen, sitting with her hands folded lightly in her lap, her hair entwined into a braid.
Lance stood with a hand on her shoulder, a purple and gold jerkin worn over his armor.
Will also wore his armor, with a red cape flowing over his chair behind him.
Miles was in his Merlin robe, and most of the others wore armor with cloaks or jerkins.
Allie, Allie's image kept flickering in his eyes, one second she wore crown and armor, the next, a medieval styled gown. In any case, she was lovely. Her golden hair flowed over her shoulders, and Excalibur hung in a scabbard at her waist.
Marco looked at his own clothing and was startled to find, that alone out of the knights, he wore no armor. He wore dark brown leather breeches, and a black shirt, over the shirt he wore a dark red and grey tunic and a dark red cloak over that. A sword was belted around his waist, and a key shown on a chain around his neck. But no armor, anywhere.
Allie stood, and unsheathed her sword, holding it out to the center of the table in a sort of salute. One by one the knights, and Marco, followed suit. This was their queen.
But Marco was no knight. He wore no armor, nor shield. Not even a coat of arms embroidered on his tunic. For the first time, Marco was scared that he didn't belong in Allie's world, but as the world again became fuzzy, as it dissolved back into reality he heard a couplet in his mind:
All things will be known
When the Queen takes her throne.