"I'm going to the mall after school." You told Melanie, as you met up with her in front of her locker.
"Ohshi- yeah! You need clothes, right? I'm coming, too, then!" She replied.
"I...erm..." You weren't quite sure as to how to phrase this. "I'm going with...Antonio...and Francis..."
Melanie froze, and turned towards you, slowly. "Antonio? F-Francis?"
You nodded quickly, and gulped. You'd known that Melanie had this unnatural crush on Francis, something which was rather...unexplainable to you, but, nonetheless, you respected her feelings.
"You're...ditching me for them?" She exclaimed, looking at you with wide eyes.
"It's n-not that!" You protested. "You can come along, too!"
"Are...are you sure?"
A grin spread across your face. "I think Francis should know about this really hot chick I know, that has the hots for him."
Melanie blushed, as she bit her lip nervously, and nodded quickly.
As to their word, Francis and Antonio really were waiting at the back gate. You heard Melanie gulp audibly behind you, and you were tempted to give her hand a reassuring squeeze, but...decided against it.
"Yo, guys. Melanie here's gonna be coming with us, okay?"
"I see you've already met a lot of people." Francis commented, making Antonio raise his eybrows.
"She's just a friend." You smiled. "She was my cousin's best friend, so they've invited me for dinner tonight. I'll be going with her, after."
Francis just said "Hmm", and Antonio smiled benignly at Melanie. "So...Melanie, was it? My name is Antonio!" He offered his hand, which she shook gingerly.
"Why aren't we leaving?" I asked.
"Oh, we're just waiting for someone else." Francis quickly replied.
"Yeah, Gilbert's gonna be here, soon." Antonio looked up to me, interrupting his pleasant chatter with Melanie.
My eyes widened, as I looked from Antonio, to Francis. "Not Gilbert...Beilschmidt, eh?"
"Oh, you know him already?" Antonio laughed. "You really have met quite a few people, haven't you?"
"I...well, I don't think 'knowing' would be the best w-"
"Oi, what're YOU doing here?"
You turned around, seeing Gilbert standing there, a more than displeased expression on his face.
"Oh, Gil! This is Alexander, but I think you guys know each other, right?" Antonio...friendly as ever.
"Know each other, my ass!" He exclaimed, rolling his eyes. "We could've known each other better if Ludwig hadn't shown up!"
Francis spoke. "Oh, so the canteen scuffle was with you..."
That strange feeling of your stomach flopping returned, and you tried you hardest to ignore it. Raising your hands up in defence, you chuckled. "I didn't mean any offence, bro. I think we should start over again...don't you?"
Gilbert stood there, arms folded across his chest, and stared at you, for quite a while, with a slight frown on his face. Everyone else was silent, waiting for his reaction.
"You're that girl [Name]'s cousin, right? Where's she?" He asked, abruptly.
"[Name]..." Your mind raced wildly, trying to think of the story you'd told earlier. "...she's g-gone to look after my mum, who's sick. Yeah."
"So, why're you here?"
You laughed sheepishly. "I...erm, well...school troubles, let's say."
Gilbert just nodded, and started walking.
"H-Hey! Where're you going?" Antonio called, from behind you. You looked at Gilbert, wide-eyed. What had I said?
"Aren't you guys coming?" he called from behind, making everyone rush to catch up to him.
You let go of your breath, which you had been unconsciously holding on to.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
During most of the 15 minute walk there, you talked to Melanie. Ahead of you were Gilbert and Antonio, chatting as well, and Francis lagged just behind you and Melanie.
You'd noticed Francis' change in mood, since you'd brought Melanie over. It was also hard to not notice the baleful glares he'd give you at times, or the faraway looks he'd direct towards Melanie.
As the group entered through the door, into the mall, you heard Melanie say she wanted to visit the shoe store. You nodded, and Gilbert and Francis said something about getting some ice-cream.
"Francis! You're the best dressed out of everyone! Help me buy some clothes!" You exclaimed loudly, and before he could reply, dragged him off down an aisle.
"Wait, Francis is the best dressed? What's wrong with the way I dress?" Antonio pouted, as he looked down at what he was wearing.
"That one's a strange one..." Gilbert muttered.
Antonio laughed. "That's only because he stood up to you, you know."
" No...it's not that. It's...I feel like I've seen him somewhere."
"You're seriously losing your mind, Gilbert!" Antonio laughed. "And poor Alexander gets all the blame, because you're in a bad mood!"
Gilbert laughed. "It's not...that."
"Last one to the ice-cream has to pay for the others'." Antonio exclaimed, and with that dashed towards the ice-cream store. Gathering his wits about, Gilbert soon followed, looking around for a quicker way to the store.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
"As nice as that compliment is, there is no need for you to manhandle me over to here, Alexander." Francis spoke in a flat voice, his accent seemingly missing for a moment.
"Dude," you rolled your eyes. "Don't think I didn't notice."
"Notice?" Francis raised an eyebrow.
You smiled. "Oh, cman! The looks you were giving me and Melanie!"
"So you two ar-"
"No, no!" You exclaimed, holding up your hands. "I really DID mean friends! But...if you really want to get her attention, try actually acknowledging her presence. Take an interest in her. I've known her for quite a while now."
"You...think that it'd work?"
"I'm definite!" You replied, confidently.
Francis smiled, after a moment. "So, I can't keep my reputation of being from the country of l'amour any longer, can I?"
"Oh, no. I wouldn't want to steal your thunder." You laughed. "But...I really do need to buy some stuff..."
"Is this a secret hobby of Alexander's? Shopping?"
"Just when I don't have any clothes!"
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Two hours, and hands filled with bags, later, you met the rest in the centre of the mall. When Melanie had come looking for you, you'd sent her off with Francis. She'd seemed a bit bewildered at first, but went off eventually.
"Man, what took you so long?" Antonio asked, as you approached the group.
"I needed stuff, dude!"
"You're worse than my ex!" He laughed. "She only took about an hour!"
You rolled your eyes. "And you're gonna hold this against me forever?"
Melanie cleared her throat, getting everyone's attention. "Erm...Alex, we kinda have to leave now."
"Oh, we do?" You frowned. "Oh, well! It was awesome meeting you guys! See you tomorrow!" You called.
"Yeah," Melanie added softly.
"Don't forget, chérie." Francis said to Melanie, blowing her a kiss, and making her blush. You looked at Melanie, wide-eyed.
"¡Adiós amigo!" Antonio called.
Gilbert just mumbled something under his breath.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
"What was that?" I muttered to Melanie, as we left.
"What was what?" She asked.
"What was that with Francis?"
"Oh, he asked me out on a date." She giggled.
"That was...quick" I muttered.
"Yeah..." She smiled. "But...I think I'd give it a chance."
"Good. 'Cause I'd beat the crap out of him if he cheated on you or tried anything on you."
Melanie burst out laughing. "Then Gilbert would hate you more than he already does!"
I grimaced. "Oh, so even you noticed."
"Well, I wouldn't call it hate...but he kinda seems wary of you."
"That's because my awesomeness is too much to handle!" You exclaimed, flexing some muscles.
"Does that superiority complex come with the testosterone?" She laughed. "Oh, but [Name]...d-didn't you have a crush on Gilbert?"
"Yeah..." you replied warily.
"So...are you straight?"
"Am I WHAT?"
"Well...do you like guys, or girls?"
You opened your mouth to say something, but paused. "...you know what, Melanie? I only like this guy...but as my real self. When I'm being...Alexander, I don't like guys, but I don't quite like girls either."
From the corner of my eye, You could see Melanie grinning. "...this guy? Are we only talking about one guy?"
"I-I didn't say THAT!"
"Wait, wait...let me get this straight. [Name] likes Gilbert, right? So...you like Gilbert!"
"Shut up." You growled, but Melanie just kept on laughing.