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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2. The Jacket

As we drove back to school, Zac and I drove in silence. Even his radio was quiet. I was unsure if he was mad at me, or if he just wanted to drive quietly. Usually, Zac's stereo was blaring some garble mouthed garbage that gave me headaches when I stepped out of his car. It reminded me that I had burned him a CD of songs that I found "acceptable" to listen to. He'd told me that he listened to it at least once a day. I recalled that I had heard it playing in his car on the way to the gas station. But now, the silence in his car was loud; almost deafening.

"So," I started, drawing out the only vowel in the word. "That boy, huh?"  When Zac didn't answer, and I noticed the hard line of his mouth tighten, I felt obliged to continue my phrase. "He was such a fruitcake." I assumed that he would laugh at that term. He and I both create our own language to say common words. I'd used "fruitcake" before, but the first time I did, Zac had laughed for a full four minutes. Every time he saw me for the rest of the day, he would laugh before he saw me, and before he said anything else. He wanted to start calling me "fruitcake" at some point, but I was strongly against it.

"Brett, your a fruitcake," Zac said, tightly. Both his frown and his glare hadn't flinched at all. "We're going to be late to school." I knew he could care less about being late to school, but I decided to play along and act like it was the reason.

"Is that what you're mad about?" I asked, knowing that it wasn't, letting the saturation color my voice. I just wasn't quite sure what he was mad about, though. It could've ranged through about anything, knowing the relationship he and I had. "Look, if it's about the One Direction reference-"

"It's not about One Direction," Zac said, sounding annoyed. "You totally ignored me while we were at the gas station." Is that what he was getting at? That I supposedly ignored him. I doubt giggling at his jokes and acknowledging his presence is hardly ignoring him. I'm pretty sure I referenced him at least twice.

"Zac, I was only talking to Liam," I said, sounding defensive, though I had no idea why I did. I didn't have to justify my actions to him. What I did was normal for me. Why was he being such a butt? Why was he so critical? He had no right to be angry at my actions. "Why are you so mad about that? I didn't ignore you?"

"Stop pulling on my sleeve," Zac said, irritably. "You're going to rip it." I stopped, realizing that I was indeed tugging on the sleeve of his Letterman's jacket unconsciously.

"No, I'm not," I said annoyed. "I doubt that I could ruin this." I gave his jacket another tug, while watching him flinch to my delight.

"You might rip off the patches," he said, "or take out the pins"

I yanked on it again, glaring at him. "Stop it!" he exclaimed extending his arm towards me. I shrank back against the window, whimpering, automatically.

"Keep your hands on the wheel," I said. "And keep your eyes on the road!"

"Stop ruining my jacket!" he roared back. I narrowed my eyes at him.

"This isn't about the jacket, is it?" I hissed.

"Well, I don't want you to ruin my jacket," He muttered back, his voice full of anger.

"What is it?" I asked, blatantly. "Why are you so mad that I was talking to Liam?" I looked at him intensely. He had to answer me. He knew that I would never let it go if he didn't. It was like our ongoing Asian/Italian food debate; it was ongoing, and we were both adamantly supporting our own arguments.

"It's not about the guy," he said, his voice sounding strained.

"Yes, it is!" I exclaimed. "You know it is! Why won't you admit it?" Zac then violently turned into the parking lot.

"We're here," he said, his voice submerged in acid. "Hurry up before you're late." He stormed out of his car, slamming the door loudly behind him. I quickly scrambled out of the car, slamming my door shut seconds before Zac locked his car, and hurrying so that I could catch up to him.

"Why won't you tell me what's wrong?" I asked him, almost running to keep up with his long-legged pace.

"I already did," Zac snapped back, quickening his pace. I scampered behind him, giving up after he got a good five yards ahead of me. I knew I wasn't going to catch up with him unless I sprinted alongside him, and I wasn't about to do that.

"You know, for such a supposedly manly guy, you're such a girl!" I called after him. I saw the tips of his ears turn an angry red. He quickened his pace again, slipping into the front doors before I could say anything more. I checked my phone for the time; the bell would ring in a minute and a half. I sighed and proceeded to sprinting the rest of the way to my first hour class.

I slid into my seat next to my friend Bryan moments before the bell rang. Bryan raised a brow at me, but I assumed it was because of my lateness. I gave him a forced smile, though I don't know why my smile was so forced. Probably because of the little argument Zac and I had had before school today. Funny, I hadn't thought it was a big deal before. Now it seemed like I couldn't get it out of my head. Compared to some of the other arguments Zac and I have had, this is high on the ridiculous scale, so I was trying to convince myself that it wasn't one that I should dwell on. Easier said than done.

"Did you just get a Letterman's jacket?" Brian asked me, tugging on the sleeve of my jacket. "And you've lettered in both football and wrestling..." he gave me a pointed look.

"Crap!" I exclaimed pulling on the front of the jacket to look at the patches. Sure enough, the patches for many sports and activities that I hadn't participated in before lined my arm, other than track. I had lettered in track. What made it even sweeter was that I knew that I didn't even own my own Letterman's jacket.

"So, do you want to tell me what jock you took that off, or are we going to have to do this the hard way?" Bryan smirked at me, letting go of the jacket. Bryan and I go way back, farther than Zac and me. To be fair though, I'd just met Zac last spring, so not even a year ago. (Which, by default means that the crush I, said, used to have on him? That crush is stronger than ever now, especially now since we're fighting over a cute guy that I just talked to. I should probably mention how psyched I was that he let me wear his jacket, and that he called me cute. I know. I'm a manipulative freak.) Bryan and I met back in grade school. We were in the same reading class, but not group, because I was much smarter. I proved my worth that I wasn't just the super smart new kid, but I was the fireball juvenile delinquent that people feared. We met outside the principles office, Bryan with a black eye, me with only my hair messed up. The boy I'd beat up was getting lectured in the office. Bryan had gotten elbowed in the eye playing football, and was headed to the nurses office (thought I should clear that up).

"It's Zac's"  I said. "I can't believe I forgot to give it back to him!"

"Is it his pride and joy?" Bryan said, although he had a very teasing tone in his voice.

"Actually, yes," I said, giving him a smirk. Bryan looked taken aback. "I don't even see him until lunch." I sighed. Now I had to talk to him. I was planning on sitting at a different table today because our fight today seemed more intense than our regular arguments over stupid little things like "Who deserved to be the MVP on the Heat last season?" (LeBron James, Totally) and "Which Hockey player is going to have a break out season?" (Sidney Crosby! Easy answer! The man missed a ton of hockey last year, there's no way he's giving up this season!). Although I kept telling myself that it was just another one of those arguments, I couldn't bring myself to believe it.

"You look kind of bummed out by that," Bryan noted. "Usually, you're ready to find him now to tell him that he's wrong about something."

"That's the thing," I said. "I'm trying to say that I'm right, but I don't know what I'm right about. We got in to a serious fight today," I confessed.

"Brett," Bryan said patiently. "The NFL Pro Bowl is not a serious argument."

"It's not that!" I admonished. "He's mad at me for some reason, and he won't tell me what I've done wrong!"

"Clearly not mad enough to take back his Letterman's jacket," Bryan muttered.

"More like he was too mad to take back his jacket," I muttered.

"Whatever your 'serious' argument is," he put serious in quotations with his fingers, "I don't think it's something you should dwell on until lunch."

"Thanks," I said, flatly. "That not what I've been trying to convince myself since I walked in here."

"Say what you want," Bryan said, ignoring my sarcasm. "You'll have plenty of distractions when the twins see you in that jacket." I groaned. Madi and Abby will be on my case for this! Or maybe I could- "And you're not putting that in any of the lockers you use because you'll lose it, and you're too much of a perfectionist to even allow that jacket to come back in less than perfect order." I groaned because he was right. The teacher called the class to attention to begin teaching. I'd deal with this later.

"And by the way, the NFC is so going to win," I said. "Putting Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Clay Matthews and Blair Walsh on one team is calling for serious rape-age of the AFC." Bryan just chuckled and shook his head at me.

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