AN: I do not own.


There's no point trying to avoid mud on the way home. It smears up his sneakers to lick the cuff of his pants. Jonathan exhales once, quietly, and rolls his shoulders. He'll need to change socks when he gets home.

Somebody approaches. What starts as a glance back stops him short.

Sherry, clutching her umbrella with one hand and a bag over the other, still waves as she hurries to meet him.

"Hey!"

Her boots squelch. There are pink hearts on them to match the polo, and even with a sweater she looks cold. Skirt probably wasn't a good idea. Jonathan avoids her thighs as he peers under his hood, becoming conscious of water on his glasses that he wishes he could wipe clean.

She's beside him now, grin stretched breathless. Straight as Sherry keeps her hair it is starting to frizz, and she brushes a few strands off her face before speaking. "You left in a hurry today."

He struggles for a moment with the possibility of explaining himself, how his best hope was not to be noticed, to watch girls with their roses and boys with their notes and it's not anything he needs but the possibility of someone pointing out all the ways he is unsatisfying he is unequipped he is unworthy he needs to be unseen today and—

"Not really." He thinks he should smirk like he'd said something clever, but analyzes the state of his shoelaces instead. "You stayed a while."

He hears the laugh as it sneaks past her teeth. "Not really," says Sherry, and he never knows what to do when she teases him, can only watch when she puts her hand on his elbow. "I had to stuff a fucking bear in my locker. Think someone should give me an award for making it."

"Congratulations," he says. It sounds drier than intended.

Her lips and eyebrows lift, as if answering a challenge. "Why thank you, Jonathan Crane. It's good to know someone appreciates what I put up with." He snorts, and she chuckles. "I do have something though."

"What do you mean?"

She fumbles with her purse, rifling through makeup and electronics and whatever else she carries until removing a single, white envelope. He sees his name.

"Here." She holds it out to him. She expects him to take it. The card is in his hand. This must be a mistake.

"I didn't get you anything," he hears himself say, numbly. Her handwriting is loose. Careless. She's looking at him. She's smiling.

"I didn't expect you to.' Sherry stands on tiptoe. Her mouth presses, for a moment, into his cheek.