Peak

Layla is pretty much terrified when one of the most popular guys in school is sat next to her in English Lit. Somehow, she gets over it. But once you step into someone's world, you can't step out, no matter what.

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1. In the beginning I thought

"Layla, you sit over there, that desk on the right."

I hoisted my bag further up my shoulder and walked over to the table she pointed out, placing my stuff down on the side nearest the wall. Looking around, I shot a sympathetic smile at my friend Pheobe, who was stuck next to the freaky girl who picked her nose. The teacher continued to call out names as I unpacked my things: a homework diary, a small collection of stationary and the blank book that had been handed to me on my way in. 

"Allo, next to Layla," she called, and my head jerked up. Backpack slung carelessly over one shoulder and a definite shuffle in his step, he walked over to the seat next to me and sank down into it, dropping his bag on the desk. 

I'd been stuck with the same people for the last 4 years, and although this was the last, I still pretty much knew who everyone was. And out of all of them, he would probably have been one of my last choices to sit next to in class.

"'Sup?" he asked, slinging an arm over the back of my chair and shuffling closer with a mocking grin. My cheeks burning, I weakly pushed it off and opened my workbook. "What, you don't like me?" he teased, once more shuffling his seat closer, so that we were practically pressed against each other, no matter how closely I leaned against the wall.

Voice weak, I replied, "Just, like, go away, please."

"God, no need to be rude." With a sniff, he moved his chair back and pulled a chewed pen from his pocket. Body tense, I watched Miss write her name on the board and introduce our unit of work. But I jerked at a sharp jab into my arm, looking around to see Allo grinning at me, a friend of his laughing behind us. He poked me again, though I turned back to the board. And again.

"What?" I whispered.

"You like Kloaked?"

That threw me.

I looked to see their logo drawn on the back of my hand, remembering that I'd gotten bored in History. "Oh, um, yeah," I choked. 

"Fucking awesome, right?"

"Yeah." Feeling I needed a more substantial answer, I asked, "What's your favourite song?"

"Probably Holding Hands Of Glass, the guitar on that one is sick. You?"

"Um, Love is not Life?"

"Yeah, that one's fucking ace, definitely."

It was slightly awing to know that I had something in common with one of the most popular and twattish guys in school, and that I could actually have a conversation with him where he wouldn't mock me.

As I opened my mouth to ask something else, a stern voice from the front of the classroom interrupted me. "Layla and Allo, if you have something to share, then tell the whole class." Sixty eyes swivelled towards us.

"Sorry," I muttered, bringing my eyes back down to my notes.

***

A day later, I walked into class to find him already sprawled on his seat, swivelled round to talk to the guy behind him. Awkwardly, I stood there, waiting for him to move as he continued talking. I self-consciously coughed a little, and he looked up. "Oh, right, sorry," he said, moving in so that I could get past. 

Assuming that he'd keep talking, I set my stuff down and looked to the front. But to my surprise he was looking expectantly at me, smiling genuinely. "How was your yesterday?"

I giggled, and kicked myself for it. "Um, fine. Didn't really do anything. Did you?"

"Went out with a couple of mates, pretty cool." With a quick glance at the teacher, who was setting up her laptop, he shoved an earbud into my ear, where something was playing. I froze for a moment, sizing up the music. "You ever listened to Crystal Carousel?" I shook my head, pressing it into my ear to hear it better. "This is them, they're from the 80s, but they're seriously good."

"They are," I breathed, absorbed in the music. "What's this called?"

"Um," he pulled out his phone, checking the screen. "Shelter Shock."

"I'll buy it when I get back."

Leaning closer as the class quietened down, he asked, "What about Olive Graves?"

"God yeah," I replied. "Throne?"

"Never heard of them."

My confidence surprised me, as I turned away from the board, so that we were both leaning in towards each other. "I've got it on my phone, I'll show you." Shrugging, he passed me the earbud lead and I plugged it into my phone, suddenly scared as I selected a song, waiting for his reaction. Allo was still for a moment, then began tapping his foot.

"I'll download that when I get home," he smiled, as sparks flooded through my veins.

I kept my phone on shuffle, an earbud in each of our ears, silent for a moment.

"You know what she's going on about?" he asked, nodding his head at the teacher, who was mouthing something whilst pointing at the board, but the music drowned out her words.

"Nope, but I was going to fail English anyway."

***

After class I ran up behind Floss, smiling as she saw me. "Hey, how was Spanish?" I asked.

"We were doing tenses. Who knows or cares about tenses?" she replied with a groan, pushing her glasses up her nose, which they were already sliding off. "How was English?"

"Great, actually. I was talking to Allo, I'm next to him."

"Allo? Why were you talking to him?"

I opened the door to the library, leading us to a table. It was where we usually hung out, not to do homework or study, it was just warm in there. Our group wasn't the geekiest in there, but it certainly didn't raise our reputation within our year. "I don't even know. He just likes similar music to me, so we just talked about that."

"You mean all that weird indie crap? Allo likes that?"

"Apparently," I laughed.

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