Marie-Ange and I were joined by James as soon as we got out of class.
Together we walked out the tall gothic building and across the courtyard where Grégoire and one of his friends were sitting. James had his earphones in and was bobbing his head to the music as we walked. Grégoire’s friend was a carefree-looking black guy—he looked friendly, to say the least. He waved at us once he saw up walk over to them while Grégoire concentrated on his phone.
“You got yourself a new buddy there, Jim?”
James blinked and took his earphone out, looking at his friends inquiringly.
“New. Friend.” The guy repeated, pointing up to me “Mr. Freckles, here.”
“Oh!” James said, rolling the wire of his earphones around his phone “Yeah, uh, this is—“ he stared at me “Shit I forgot your name.”
“David.” I said.
James nodded “Yeah, uh this is David. Gatsby, Greg—Greg?”
Greg wasn’t among us right now, he was checking his text messages.
‘Gatsby’ laughed and nudged him in the shoulder, only to get a groan from him. Greg looked up to me and gave me an acknowledging nod before he went back to look at his phone
I quirked a brow and looked at the black guy, slightly puzzled “Don’t tell me your parents seriously called you Gatsby.” I said although that was the most natural reaction one would have in front of a name like that.
He stopped his laughing immediately and got up from the bench, glaring up at me “Yeah, you got a problem with that?” he said, dead serious.
I went pale. Holy crap, did I offend him? I offended him. Dammit, me and my big mouth—
Then Gatsby started laughing. It was a genuine, hearty laugh, as he grabbed me by the shoulders, pushed me down and gave me a noogie.
“I’m just messing with you, Freckles.” He said, chuckling as he let me go. “My real name’s James.” He told me, holding out his hand for me to shake. I shook it warily. Jesus, that asshole gave me a fright.
“That’s why we call him Gatsby. To avoid confusion.” Added James.
“It’s better than ‘black James’ versus ‘redhead James’. Everybody calls me Gatsby, so you go ahead and do that.”
“Sure—Why ‘Gatsby’, though?” I asked.
“My folks are loaded.” Gatsby replied “That and the fact that whenever we wanna throw a party, we always do it at my place.”
I nodded and shoved my hands in my pockets.
“Oh and this is Greg.” Gatsby said, taking the guy next to him by the shoulders with one arm, his free hand presenting the guy to me like a fresh piece of meat “From his full name, ‘Grégoire de la Fagottière’.” He added theatrically, putting on a mock French accent.
“Shut the fuck up ‘black James’.” Greg said in a heavily accented voice, pushing his friend away. He then looked back up to me “It’s just Grégoire… David, right?” he asked, running a hand through his thick, wavy black hair before he held it out for me to shake. I did as he expected me to do and grinned at him.
“Thanks, by the way.” he told me.
“Sitting with Angie. “ he said, motioning to his sister “I didn’t want cuntbag Parkinson anywhere near her.”
“I’m right here.” commented Marie-Ange .
Grégoire’s blue eyes looked up to his sister, then back to me as he chewed on the inside of his cheek. Was he the kind of guy who was super protective of his siblings? Perhaps.
I decided that I should not mess with Greg, as that beefcake would probably bash my head in, should I harm his darling sister.
Speaking of which, I started wondering.
“So, uh, which one of you two is the oldest?”
“Technically, I am.” Said Greg with a raised hand.
“We’re twins.” added Marie-Ange “But since he was out first, he decided that he was the big brother.”
I nodded understandingly at that. I noticed how harsh the twins’ accent was as they spoke. They were rather rough on the ‘r’s and often mispronounced the ‘th’ sound. It was rather endearing, actually.
“Okay. So… On another note, what are you guys waiting for?” I asked, making a circular motion with my finger.
“We’re missing someone.” Said James before he looked back to Gatsby.
“Ah, yes, Grégoire’s little protégé.”
”Gatsby, come on, he’s been with us for three years, let it go already. He’s been on the team since then and he’s a good player, give the guy a chance.”
“I’m just saying that’d he’d be better if he were in defense.”
They then argued for a moment until said ‘protégé’ walked in the circle of friends. He had the same body-type as the other guys and long curly blond hair that reached his shoulders.
“Hi guys…” he said softly.
“Connor, my friend!” exclaimed Gatsby with a grin as he got up and wrapped an arm around him.
“Sorry I’m late, Mr. Lewinsky held me back.”
Gatsby nodded and clapped his hands together.
“Let’s go, then!”
After that we all walked out of school and through the streets, arriving at a park. We walked through it and got to a bus stop where we waited for a few minutes before hopping on the bus that led us to the stadium.
When we got there, we all stepped out of the bus and headed towards the stadium together. James, Gatsby, Grégoire and the blond guy headed off to the changing rooms. Meanwhile, the chubby girl and I walked over to the bleachers.
“I hope I’m not bothering you guys.” I told her, hands in my pockets. The girl shrugged and smiled at me.
“It’s an occasion to meet someone new.” She told me, looking up to me with her bright blue eyes “… Daniel, right?”
“David.” I corrected her.
“Sorry, I’m terrible with names.”
“Aren’t we all?” I asked, trying to lighten up the mood “I mean, I wouldn’t be able to pronounce your name right anyway, even if I remember it.”
“Well, why don’t you try? Marie-Ange.”
“No, no, try it like this—Marie.”
“Ownj. Maree-Onj.Is this any good?”
She made a so-so motion with her hand “Not really. You’ll get the hang of it.”
“It’s pretty when you say it, though. I like it.” I said bluntly, nonchalantly.
The girl looked away at that, rubbing her arm “It’s an old name though. I don’t like it. I don’t know why our mother didn’t give me a normal name.”
“At least it isn’t bland. God knows how many guys are called David on this Earth.” I said with a sniff, looking out to the pitch.
“Are you Jewish?”
“Nah, good old protestant. At least my parents are. I’m, uh, I don’t even know.” I replied, shrugging.
I kept my eyes on the pitch, waiting for the training to start. This was getting awkward. I was never excellent with girls; reason why I always expected them to start the conversation.
Angie just sighed and crossed her legs, fiddling with a strand of her hair a little awkwardly before she turned back to look at me “You’re new aren’t you? I didn't see you before yestarday. I’d remember it if I saw you before.”
I blinked at that “Uh, you would?”
She nodded “You have a face that’s easy to remember, I suppose.”
“Because of the freckles?”
“Uh-huh.” She said with a giggle “I like freckles. I wish I had some.”
“You don’t, trust me.”
She shrugged and looked back at the pitch where the boys were now running in their uniform, doing laps around the stadium.
Then there was an awkward silence that we both tried to break at the same time.
“Oh—Go ahead.” She told me.
“No, no, you.”
“Okay, er… Well. I was wondering where you were before you came to Saint Tom’s.”
“I was in America. My Dad’s job brought us back here this summer.” I told her as I told many other people the day before.
When I looked back to the pitch, the coach was yelling orders at the boys in blue and white, telling them to get into position for training. I then looked around at the other groups of people who were in the bleachers; middle-aged men and groups of teenagers with a beer can in one hand and their phone in the other.
Marie-Ange’s voice came to burst my thought bubble as sweetly as possible when the spoke up, breaking the silence.
“Say, David, where do you live?”
“In a red-brick house on Fenwick Street. Why do you ask?”
“Really? Greg and I live on that street.” she said with a small smile “Which number?”
“15, if my memory’s correct. Why, where do you live?”
“We live across from your house.”
“Oh, okay.” I said with a nod “So I’ll walk you back home?”
“Sure, I don’t think Greg would mind.” She said, smiling.
“Right.” I replied with a nod.
When training was over, we walked home together. Marie-Ange was holding onto her brother’s arm and Grégoire was between us, as if he were setting up a barrier between the plump girl and me.
We had stopped by the newsagents, though Grégoire stayed outside.
“This is where I get my cigarettes.” he explained “I don’t want the cashier to see me wearing a uniform or else I’ll never be able to get them in this store again.”
With a shrug, Marie-Ange and I left Grégoire behind and entered the newsagents, walking around. Mum had given me about ten pounds to spend in case I went out after school. Marie-Ange was in the candy aisle, looking through the colourful packets of various sweets and chocolates before she picked out a packet of chocolate buttons and waited for me by the drinks dispenser.
I looked through the press corner and finally picked up the latest edition of the Avengers before I joined Marie-Ange and picked two bottles of coke from the dispenser, handing one to the short girl.
“It’s on me.” I said with a grin before we walked over to the cash desk and paid for our goods.
When we got out, Grégoire was just around the corner, taking a drag on a cigarette as he waited for us to get out. I watched the way he smoked, how his thin lips kept the cancer stick in place while he inhaled the sweet nicotine. Then, with two fingers, he took the cigarette out of his mouth and exhaled the toxic fumes.
“Do you want a drag?” he asked me, his voice raspier than usual, probably due to the fact that he had just been smoking. I politely reclined his offer, holding a hand up in defence.
“I, uh, I don’t smoke.”
“Good. Never start. It’ll ruin your life.” He told me, though ironically he took a last drag from his cigarette before he threw it away and stepped on it. He then looked back up at me before he leaned to the side to have a look at Marie-Ange who was quietly nibbling on her chocolate buttons behind me.
“Why are you hiding behind him, Angie?” asked Grégoire, almost teasingly.
“He’s so tall, I thought he’d block out your smoke.” She told him with a grin before she looked back up at me “Sorry ‘bout that… But seriously, how tall are you?”
I thought for a second. Yeah, I was tall, I knew that, but I never really took the time to measure myself. Grégoire was an average height, Marie-Ange was positively tiny, and I was a freaking giraffe.
“I’m guessing about 6 foot tall?” I replied, scratching the back of my head. I wasn’t bothered about telling them me height, it was pretty obvious that I was tall, after all.
“Do you play basketball?” Grégoire asked me as he adjusted the strap of his schoolbag.
“Nah, I don’t really play sports, to be honest.” I admitted.
Greg shrugged “Shame, you’re built for it, though, and the town’s team could use another player.”
“I’m… Not interested, Greg, sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologise.” He told me “I don’t want to force you into doing sports, I know that not everybody likes it as much as I do.” He said as his sister grabbed his arm again and we started walking towards our street.
On the way home we chattered idly about all and nothing at once. I found out that the twins enjoyed Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, that Greg loved the same video games that I did, even though he didn't always take the time to play them., and that Marie-Ange really loved anime in general.
Talking to them after we revealed our interests to each other was a breeze after that; we even stayed to talk on the corner of our street to debate on whether or not Draco Malfoy was an actual cuntbag or not. Marie-Ange gave us the 'he's so misunderstood and he suffers way too much' speech while Grégoire told her that he would have been an excellent Death-Eater had he not been so much of a pussy.
I looked at the time on my phone, then looked back up, announcing to the twins that I had to go. So we walked down the street and parted ways. I felt a bit giddy for some reason, but it was a nice feeling, a feeling like I’d be able to fit in. Maybe the twins would let me be friends with them, since we got along quite well and had so many things in common. James and Gatsby seemed to like me already, why wouldn’t Grégoire and Marie-Ange?
The twins were interesting, after all, I didn’t see who wouldn’t be attracted to them, they had this thing around them that just dragged you in. At least that’s how I felt; dragged in.