Take Me Home

Brett Pennington wasn't a fan of Valentine's day. Every year it reminded her of her parents longing for a boy. To make things worse, her birthday was on Valentine's day. When she met One Direction, all that changed.

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4. Lunch with the Boys

I quietly followed Melissa and Jada into the lunchroom. They were talking with each other, trying to include me in their conversation, but they gave up after they saw that they were having no success.

"Well, we'll see you after lunch," Melissa said, giving me a sympathetic smile. I forced a smile there way and walked towards the table where Zac was sitting. Melissa and Jada don't sit with Zac and me. Zac and I sit at a table with all guys, a table full of jocks that aren't full of themselves. Although, if you ask me, Zac's pretty full of himself. He is really good at sports, and he knows it, but he's not a total dick like some people at our school who think that just because they're on one varsity team, their the shit. Honestly, I'm on two Varsity teams, Zac's on three, and I don't really see the big deal about it. Jada's sort of a jock (she plays soccer) but doesn't really know any of the people at the table Zac and I sit at, and she knows almost everyone at Melissa's table.

Zac was sitting alone, eating something that I had no idea what it was. I approached him, slowly shucking the jacket from my shoulders. I silently walked up to him and slid into the seat next to him.

"Hi," I said, quietly. I held out his jacket to him. He regarded the jacket, but then turned away.

"I knew it was missing." He said quietly. "What about it?" he asked. I could see that his jaw was clenched and tense.

"Don't you want it back?" I expected him to be livid! But now he's just a very eerie calm, and it's terrifying me. I can't tell if he's very mad at me, or if he's just messing around with me.

"So you didn't put it in your locker?" Zac asked. "At all?" He lifted the jacket and examined it.

"No," I shook my head like a child as I answered him. "I was afraid that it'd be ruined." Zac looked at me through the corner of his eye. He was silent for a moment, and then he laughed.

"How could you mess up a sturdy leather jacket?" he asked while chuckling. "I know that you can ruin many things, but I don't think that you could ruin a jacket."  He handed the jacket back to me. I slowly took it back, very confused. It didn't make sense to me at all.

"Don't you want your jacket?" I asked, cocking my head to the side in confusion. "I don't get it."

"I like the way it looks on you," Zac said, giving me a small smile. I felt heat rise up to my cheeks in spite of myself.

"You don't mean that," I said, lamely. My cheeks were burning and I couldn't even look up.

"You're right. He doesn't." I looked up, surprised, and saw our friend Eric standing above us, nose crinkled, and a look of disgust painting his face. With him was Steve, who just looked amused.

"Man," Zac said, shaking his head. "Screw both of you."

"You mean screw Brett?" Steve asked. I was going to ask what he meant by that, but then the look on Zac's face stopped me. He was glaring at Steve and Eric with a look of bloody murder. I momentarily feared for their lives as I gripped Zac's jacket in fear.

"So..." I said, awkwardly attempting to start a conversation. I was immediately cut off by the loudspeakers.

"Can Brett Pennington report to the office please?" the voice droned on the loudspeaker. I immediately tensed and froze. I was paralyzed with fear. What had I done? My mom or dad would text me first if they were taking me out of school. I quickly checked my phone to make sure I hadn't missed a text from them. I was hoping I had so that this whole situation would be put to rest, but to my dismay, there were no new messages sent to me from my parents.

"Brett..." Zac said, slowly. He was looking at me with a slightly worried and confused look on his face. "You look kinda pale. I'm sure it's nothing." I took a deep breathe. I wasn't sure he understood my fear of being in trouble again. I had a troubled past, and I used to be a regular in the principal, and this was the first year I hadn't gotten in any trouble.

"I hope it's nothing," I said quietly, rising from my seat. Zac caught my wrist (or rather, the sleeve of his jacket) and I gave him a surprised look.

"I know it's nothing," he said. sincerely looking me in the eye. He cracked a small grin. "They're probably giving you an award or something." I couldn't help but giggle at that. Zac let go of me, and I was on my way. I made eye contact with Melissa and Jada, who both looked worried, and gave them a shrug and a small grin.

I arrived to the office, probably way more stressed than I should be. I was wringing my hands, running through everything I'd done in the past week that I thought I hadn't been caught doing (don't ask. Just, don't.) and hoping that there was another Brett Pennington in the school. It wasn't a bad idea, I mean, I do have a male name. It could've been some dude with the same name as me that was caught doing something stupid in the girl's locker room, like some other senior was (not saying any names of course. I'll let your imaginations figure out what they want to). As I reached for the door, my phone rumbled. I scrabbled for it, finally grabbing hold of it with shaking fingers. I prayed that it was my mother, telling me that some relative fell down the stairs and I had to go see them in the hospital or something (I don't know! It's very possible! I'm stressed, so don't judge). To my dismay, it was an unknown number.

Is this Brett? The text read. I looked at it baffled. I was in a moment of crisis, and this text was not helping me. I felt the urge to throw my phone against the wall and scream, but I fought it. I just shoved my phone back in my pocket, gritted my teeth to keep from screaming and yanked the door of the office open. I stormed to the office desk, avoiding eye contact with everyone around me.

"Brett Pennington," I said, gruffly. My voice sounded weird, like I was very close to tears, or very close to screaming.

"There's someone waiting to pick you up," the woman behind the desk said, without looking up. She waved a hand to behind me and I turned. A male in sunglasses and a hat stood up and walked towards me. I stared at him, quizzically. He signed the paper that let me leave the school, and caught my elbow. I didn't protest, I was too confused to think otherwise.

"Where are we going?" I asked finally. The man was steering me outside of the school and towards the parking lot. I looked back and wondered why I hadn't grabbed my bag. Or even, why I hadn't said who the person was.

"Lunch," the man said. His voice was eerily familiar, and comforting. "I'll have you back in an hour or less."

"But I only get twenty minutes for lunch," I protested, looking back towards the building. I was very confused, and didn't know why I was willingly letting this man take me out for lunch. He ignored my statement, leading me deeper out into the parking lot. "Do I know you?" I asked him. When he hesitated, I took the opportunity to speak again. "Are you taking me to the back of the parking lot to ax murder me?" He chocked on laughter, before cocking his head towards me to see if I was serious.

"I'm not going to ax murder you," he said, and I noted an accent in his voice. We arrived at a big SUV and he opened the door for me. I climbed in the car (I know, not smart on my part, but come on! I was curious!) and he closed the door behind me. I patiently waited for him as he walked over to the other side of the car and climbed into the driver's seat.

"Who are you?" I asked again. He took off his sunglasses and looked at me. I looked into his familiar eyes. "You're Liam," I said, softly with surprise. "From the gas station. Which means..." I trailed of taking a severe breathe in. It sounded so ragged and ugly, I felt myself cringe at it.

"Surprise," Liam chuckled. "I admit, I was a tad put out when you said for my name, and even more confused when you made the One Direction analogy and didn't catch on." I buried my head in my hands.

"You probably think I'm an idiot!" I moaned into my hands.

"No, actually, I didn't mind," Liam said. "I was just happy that someone was treating me like a normal human being." He shrugged. "It's nice being normal and flirting with girls and having a normal conversation."

"You were flirting with me?" I asked, incredulously. I couldn't believe it. Liam Payne had been flirting with me, and I hadn't even caught on.

"Why, yes," Liam said, looking at me quizzically. "I assumed you knew. You're the one who gave me your number."

"I was just being cheeky!" I protested. "I do that to a ton of people!" I made sure that I said people and not guys, because I knew that I would sound like a slut otherwise. And (to be fair) it wasn't exactly a a lie either; I did give my number to random girls sometime too when I actually hit off with them (which is, consequently, not many. Not because I'm the weirdo who gets girls' numbers, but because I don't get on with many girls. I'm extremely content with my tiny group of girls).

"Maybe I can't put that on you," Liam amended. "It doesn't change the fact that you intrigue me." He'd been driving down the road as he spoke to me.

"So you're taking me out to lunch?" I clarified in disbelief.

"So that you can meet the rest of the boys," Liam said, grinning at me. I flushed; I was going to meet One Direction! Or, I was with some Liam lookalike psychopathic weirdo who enjoys tricking young girls into getting into his car. (Granted, Liam hadn't tricked me into doing anything and I voluntarily climbed into the car, and the lookalike would have to be pretty bloody fantastic).

"Like, where are we going?" I asked, curious. I was quite intrigued now. It never really dawned on me that Liam Payne wasn't going to axe murder me, but was going to bring me out to eat.

"Perkins," Liam said, simply, turning the wheel of the car, bringing us around a corner. I nodded, soberly, trying to hide my excitement. "You're excited, aren't you?" Liam said, giving me a knowing grin.

"Yes!" I almost shrieked. Liam laughed. "Well, can you blame me?" I asked. "I'm meeting the most popular boy band in the world!" Liam laughed again.

"We're not that famous," Liam imposed.

"Yes, you are," I singsonged. I lazily glanced out the window before looking back at Liam. "Tell me truthfully," I started, leaning towards him. "Am I just a pity project?"

"No!" Liam sounded appalled, as if he were offended that I even suggested that. "Of course not! I'd have to see you multiple times for that to happen." I giggled at that.

"Not necessarily," I drawled. "You could just see me get knocked over into a puddle right in front of you and felt bad for me." Liam laughed.

"Don't sell me short of anything," Liam said, candidly.

"So you're telling me that you wouldn't?" I asked, jokingly. Liam gave me a look.

"Now you're just being mean," Liam said. I shrugged.

"Maybe," I said, nonchalant. I looked out the window. We were already at Perkins. Liam climbed out of the car and came over to my side to help me out. "I can help myself out, thank you," I said, but I grinned at him anyways.

"I'm sorry," Liam said, embarrassed. "I was raised that way. It'd feel weird not to do it." I shook my head at him while I giggled.  He ushered me into the restaurant and straight to the host. We're looking for our party here," Liam said, chin up. "It's probably a rowdy table with four other guys sitting there." The host nodded understandingly.

"I know exactly where you're talking about," he said. "Follow me." He led us over to a large atrium openly lit by the natural light reflecting off the snow outside the restaurant.

"Liam!" A voice yelled. I bit my lip to contain my excitement. It was Louis. The other boys were also staring in our direction, looking pretty amused. "We've been waiting for you for aged!"

"Sorry lads," Liam said, not sounding very sorry at all. "I had someone to pick up." He ushered me forward with a hand to the small of my back. I jumped, not expecting it, looking up at Liam in surprise. He wasn't looking at me, so my surprise was pretty useless. "Boys, this is Brett." I gave them a shy smile.

"Is this the gas station girl?" Niall chirped in his Irish accent.

"The amusing lass that you keep talking about?" Louis asked. I raised my head indignantly before something clicked in my head. I looked up at Liam, surprised. Keep talking about? Liam talked about me? Liam, again, didn't look down at me. His cheeks were an embarrassed red.

"He raves nonstop about you," Harry said. I looked at him surprised. "Don't worry; I've got a sister, so I read your look," he teased.

"He's barely even met me," I objected.

"Maybe not," Zayn said, with a shrug. "Doesn't change the fact that he doesn't shut his mouth about you."

"You guys," Liam groaned. "I probably talked about her once or twice."

"Yes, once or twice every thirty minutes," Louis mumbled.

"Louis," Liam snapped. The other boys just laughed. Liam turned towards me. "Would you like to sit down?" he asked me, clearly desperate for a distraction.

"Sure," I said, grinning at him. I was very amused by the boys making fun of each other.  Liam pulled out a chair for me. I raised a brow at him as I settled down into my seat, but I didn't say anything. Liam quickly read my look and looked at me apologetically.

"Sorry," he apologized. "Like I said before, I was raised this way."

"I never said anything about it," I said, carelessly settling down into my seat.

"Order anything you'd like," Liam said, quickly sitting down next to me. "It's all on us!" Zayn leaned across to Harry and Louis.

"Look how excited this boy is," he commented as the other boys giggled.

"You guys!" Liam complained. "Stop it!"

"You're just a really easy target," Niall said with an impish grin. Liam turned back to me.

"Go ahead and order," he said to me, ignoring the boys.

"Pancakes," I announced. Somehow, the waitress appeared, pencil poised, and in fact writing down my order. "The service here is very effective," I commented. The rest of the boys ordered and the waitress left.

"So, Brett," Louis said, resting his elbows on the table. "Who's your boyfriend?" The question through me so off guard that I let out a small shriek in surprise.

"I don't have one?" I said, confused. "Why would you ask that?" Louis pointed to the Letterman's jacket that I'd even forgotten that I was wearing.

"Unless I'm mistaken, your name isn't Zac," Louis said, a-matter-of-factually.

"it could be my last name," I pointed out.

"Can't be," Louis said, raising his hands. "Liam said that your last name was Pennington." I looked at Liam surprised. "And I don't think you participated in football and wrestling."

"But how would he know that?" I asked out loud, looking at him confused. "How do you know that?"

"How else would I get you out of school?" Liam asked, looking down into his lap, clearly embarrassed.

"You haven't answered my question," I pointed out.

"Your school provided me the information," Liam said. "I just had to go to them and ask about a girl named Brett." He gave me an apologetic grin. "Not many of you guys there." I blushed.

"So, the question stands," Louis said with a shrug. "Do you have a boyfriend? Don't lie."

"The answer is still no," I said. "Your right; it's not mine. It's my friend's jacket. I got it from him this morning." I looked at Liam. "You saw me wearing it this morning." Liam nodded.

"I assumed he was your boyfriend," Liam confessed. "He was very protective of you, and seemed very angry when I was talking to you."

"I don't know why he was so protective," I admitted. "He's never acted that way before. He was really mad when we left. I don't understand; if he's not my boyfriend, why would he be so mad?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Louis said. "The boy's in love with you." I felt my cheeks burn. I noticed that Liam's cheeks were flushed.

"Impossible," I mumbled.

"What are you talking about?" Louis yelled. "I know that if I was that protective of a girl that I wasn't related to or wasn't dating, I'd like to be dating her!" Thankfully, the waitress chose that time to bring our food.

Unfortunately Louis refused to drop the topic. "The boy loves you, and you just don't want to accept it." he yelled.

"Lou, just drop it," Liam pleaded, sounding strained.

"But, why are you-?" but Louis cut off with his mouth wide open, his eyes slightly widening. "You-"

This time, Niall cut him off. "I don't know about you guys, but I am hungry." He laughed awkwardly, clearly trying to relieve the tension between the other boys.

"Yes," I said. "I am starving! This is my lunch time at school!"

"School," Harry looked wistful. "Believe it or not, but I actually miss school."

"Do you Harold?" Louis said, almost mockingly. "I'm just glad to be out of that hell."

"Louis!" Liam scolded.

"What?" Louis asked, clearly confused.

"Watch your mouth," Liam admonished. "We have a guest!"

"It's okay," I said quickly. "I swear all the time. It's a bad habit of mine, but it's hard to quit." I blushed. I was rambling. I needed to stop rambling. I quickly shoveled a nite of pancakes into my mouth. "Mmmm..." I said, lamely. "These are really good!"

"So Brett," Zayn said, quickly, attempting to avoid the awkward moment. "What do you do?"

"I play soccer and I'm on the track team," I said, grinning at them. I was internally cringing. Why couldn't I be something cute, like a cheerleader or something? It was bad enough that I had a boy's name, did I really have to live up to it?

"That's cool!" Harry said. "Liam loves running too! He was an alternate for the Olympics!" Liam looked embarrassed.

"Really?" I said, impressed.

"It's nothing really," he mumbled.

"Nothing?" I repeated. "It's the Olympics! It doesn't get any better than that!" Liam shrugged.

"Don't shrug at her!" Louis said. "She is right! That is a big deal!"

"But soccer," Niall said. "All of us boys play a little. Maybe we'll play a little after lunch." I bit my lip. I was so excited! I really wanted to play with them. I was ready to show them my skills. I'd been on Varsity since the seventh grade! But then reality set in.

"I can't!" I said, uncomfortably. "I have to o back to school." I looked at my wrist, as a habit, even though I didn't wear a watch. "In fact, I think I'm going to be late. Liam said he took me out of an hour of school."

"What, did you check the time on your wrist?" Louis asked, looking quite amused.

"It's a habit of mine," I chuckled, nervously, feeling stupid. "I don't know why I do it. I never wear a watch anyways." I chuckled again. "I always say that I'm checking my nonexistent watch."

"Swearing, nonexistent watches." Zayn looked at me. "Any other bad habits we should know about?" I shook my head at him bashfully. I was embarrassed! In just one lunch session, they'd found out some bad habits that took some of my friends months to figure out. Of course I had other bad habits! I wasn't about to go and share it with them!

"Like you said, you're going to be late anyways," Niall noted. "Why not do it anyways? You're going to be late either way." I bit my lip again. He had a point, and a good one at that, but did I really want to miss that much school?

"No," I said decisively. "They're going to call my parents and send them emails telling them that I skipped class if I stay past the time that you signed me out for." The boys all nodded.

"I'll drive you back," Liam said, raising himself from his chair. He glanced at me. "Are you done eating?" I nodded to him and got up from my chair.

"It was so nice meeting you guys," I said, smiling at them. "I'm super grateful that I got to meet you guys!"

"Oh, You'll be seeing us," Louis said. I stared at him, not quite understanding.

"I'm not sure what you mean..." I trailed off, confused by the statement.

"Just trust me," Louis said, grinning at me. I raised a brow but let it be.

"Don't you want a picture to show your friends?" Harry asked.

"Oh, yes!" I said, eagerly. I patted my pocket for my phone.

"We can use mine," Liam said, pulling his out. "I can just text you the photo." I nodded as Niall went off to fetch a waiter. "Just one of us two first," Liam said, handing his phone to Zayn. I noticed Louis raise a brow at him, but I didn't think much of it.

"Say cheese," Zayn joked as he help up the phone. I smiled at the camera, and saw the flash of the camera. I looked up at Liam.

"Can I get a copy of that one too?" I asked.

"Of course," Liam nodded to me as Niall returned with a waitress. "Now everybody in the picture," he said, as Zan handed Liam's phone to the waitress. The boys all crowded around me and I smiled at the camera. The flash went off again and I looked at the boys.

"I think it's hardly fair that Liam and I take a picture and I take none with anyone else," I protested.

"Don't worry," Louis said. "We'll have plenty of time for that,." I just nodded to him as if I knew what he was talking about.

"We'd better go before your time is over," Liam said, putting a hand on the small of my back directing me towards the door. I raised a hand and waved to the boys. They waved back to me before I turned back to the car with Liam. Liam paused at the bakery.

"Would you like something?" he asked, tentatively. I shook my head at him.

"I'm fine, thank you. I really just need to get back to class." Liam nodded firmly then took my hand and brought me out the door. I looked at my hand in his, confused. What was he doing? Why was he holding my hand. I didn't going to question it. I didn't want him to take it back. I thought I heard hooting behind us from where the boys were seated, but I wasn't sure, and I didn't want to be embarrassed if they were.

Liam led me outside from the door to his car. I looked up at the window at which we had a view of the parking lot while we ate and saw the boys pressed up against it. They were pointing at us wildly, giggling like little girls.

"Ignore them." I looked up at Liam. He had a cute flush on his cheeks, clearly showing his embarrassment. I grinned up at him before I looked back to the window. I saw Louis mouthing something, but I didn't know what he was saying, I just grinned at him, acting like I knew what he was saying, but hoping that he'd take the hint that I had no idea what he was saying.

Liam's phone dinged right as we buckled ourselves into our seats. It was facing up so I glanced at it.

"It's Louis," I said, looking back up to meet Liam's eyes.

"Ignore it," Liam said, starting the car. I glanced back behind us seeing the boys still in the window. I locked eyes with Louis who just looked at me mischievously.

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