See chapter one for disclaimers

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- To my dear darling Gem. The overwhelming love I feel for you cannot be described in mere words. I offer you my heart in hope that our souls will be joined forever. I dream of you and know that our love will overcome any obstacle. I'm yours forever, thank you for being my guiding star.

- And all my love and heartfelt thanks to Spin....the night sky still awaits and I WILL be collecting that nice cool beer one of these days. And how could I ever forget the delicious Magical Merlin, the corrupt Courageous Courtie and Jamie the Sock Fiend? I love all you guys that write in and encourage me, you're the greatest! <VBG>

Chapter 9

"She did it again!" May cried in excited glee, her hair floating around her face gracefully, just like the nasal blondes featuring in the Loreal adverts attested to - and she was worth it, in her opinion anyway! There was obviously no need to elaborate upon who 'she' was.... Ever since Raven had dramatically disappeared into the dark night, leaving a shroud of uncertainty and disruption in her wake, 'she' had been, as per usual, the most frequently discussed topic.

"What did she do this time?" Nate questioned, breaking out of his usual self imposed silence, intrigued by his dippy friend's erratic excitement. May flopped into a hard-backed seat besides Donny, immediately seizing his hand to hold and fondle.

Nicky simply stared at her undesirable plate of food, pretending to have little interest in this particular conversation. Raven, Raven, Raven! Urgggh! She could feel both Brad and Maria's gaze centred inquisitively on her slumped form, just waiting for her to react to this new gossip that had surfaced about the elusive brunette. Ohhh Raven.....Nicky closed her eyes and held them tightly shut as she dropped her head down and rested her forehead against the cool table top. An image of the beautiful brunette offering to help pick up her discarded library books re-surfaced, causing Nicky to shiver in response.

"Hey babe," Brad said, leaning towards his quivering girl and wrapping a beefy arm around her slender shoulders. "Are you cold or something?"

Nicky squeezed her eyes tightly closed, desperately trying to recall the blissful image of the dark-haired girl, but Brad's concerned interruption had dispersed the mistily remembered mirage from the chaotic depths of her mind.

Sighing heavily, Nicky slowly opened her lovely green eyes and gazed reassuringly at her boyfriend. He was only concerned about her after-all..and he did love her.... "I'm fine Brad..." She whispered softly, turning her body away from him and pointedly avoiding eye contact. Nicky tilted her head sideways so that she could secretly listen into Donny and May's conversation.

"Just so long as you're Ok Nicky..." Brad muttered, stiffly removing his arm from around his girl's tense shoulders. Sighing, he returned his attention to his fellow 'in-crowd,' who were being to converse rather animatedly.

"Well, all we heard was Miss. Keeny scream at Raven to get the fuck out her classroom!" May giggled hysterically and Donny grinned in approval as he filched food from his girl's plate, shoving as many fries as he could into the gaping hole that was his mouth.

Maria wrinkled her brow in consternation.....Why the hell would Ms.Keeny react like that? "What did Raven do wrong this time?" She asked in a somewhat cautious manner, glancing at the strangely silent Nicky, who seemed to be thoroughly engrossed in constructing a mural of mashed potato upon her plate. The blonde held an apparent disregard for the current topic of discussion, but Maria could sense her concealed interest. Squinting her eyes, she watched Nicky more closely, observing the subtle lines of stress and worry that were etched across the little blonde's pretty features. Hmmm, looks can be deceiving though, Maria thought snidely, recognising the unhappiness in Nicky's slumped stance.

May looked around the table, ensuring that she had everyone's attention before announcing, "No one knows, but Raven stormed out of the classroom and never looked back once! It was great! And Phil was nearly crying again! Ha, ha!...."

Brad scoffed and threw his napkin down in disgust. "Well goddamn, that was really exciting May!" he grumbled, expecting something more.... elaborate in way of explanation. He had hoped that there would be some negative gossip concerning Nicky's 'friend' and her latest fiasco. He recalled all-too-clearly the long discussion he and Nicky had had after the incident concerning Raven and her whore of a mother. He had driven out to Vanite Point in his car, positively sure that Nicky was finally going to let him have 'some' at this local make-out joint, but he had only received the cold shoulder! Jeez, you'd think she would be grateful for being seen driving around with me in my new convertible, but did she thank me? NO! She just went on and on about that amazon freak, RAVEN! Just what is the deal between those two? Brad found it impossible to fathom Nicky's bizarre behaviour. Sure, his little blonde had apologised for her uncharacteristic actions, but she stubbornly refused to admit that she had gone way too far in her bid to protect the trashy girl. The fact that she couldn't or wouldn't explain why she repeatedly put trailer trash like Raven before her socially elite friends was even more frustrating. Just what does she see in that loser and why the fuck would she want to be friends with such a freak in the first place?

"Hey, Nicky!" Maria called, watching as a guarded expression enveloped the usually open countenance of the head cheerleader. "Did you ever find out why the hell Raven took off after we had been having such an interesting chat?"

Donny, May and even Stacey chuckled at the suddenly flummoxed look on Nicky's pretty face. Maria watched with avid interest as her bubbly friend tensed her shoulders and shot a lethal look in her direction. Just what the hell is it with her and that Raven...Jesus, you'd think that she was her best friend or something the way she's so damn protective over tall, dark and moody!

Nicky huffed in annoyance and pushed her plate aside. Silently standing up, she clenched her fists together, willing herself not to react to Maria's taunts. Her fellow cheerleaders knew fine well that Raven had continuously rebuffed her attempts at making amends. The brunette just wasn't interested....BUT she will be by the time I'm finished with her! Nicky thought determinedly, her resolve strengthening as her stubborn streak kicked in with a vengeance. She obviously doesn't know me that well if she thinks I'm that easy to get rid of!

Nicky nearly collapsed back into her seat as she recalled Raven coldly pushing her aside as she strode purposefully down the hall way. Why the hell is she taking it out on me? Nicky wondered desperately as she grabbed her back pack, pulling the straps over one shoulder.

"I'm outta here.." Nicky mumbled....she needed to be alone...with her thoughts.

Brad reached out quickly, grabbing hold of Nicky's delicate wrist. "Where the hell are you going now?" he demanded, screwing his face up in annoyance. Didn't she realise that she was making an utter fool of him? He glanced over at May who was currently fawning over Donny like he was the most important thing on this earth. THAT is how she should be treating me! He watched on with envy as May spoon-fed her man his desert of creamed rice.

"I don't know where I'm going Brad......" Nicky enunciated, prising his fingers from her tender wrist. Who the hell did he think he was, demanding to know every single thing that she did now-a-days? She was getting thoroughly fed up of his macho act. "I just need some homework..." Way to go Nicky! She chided herself as she hastily made her escape out of the crowded cafeteria. Think they'll even realise that no homework has been set yet? Apparently not. She made her escape with a minimum amount of complaint from her friends, who watched silently as the epitome of their 'in' crowd stomped away, looking as though she had the weight of the world to carry on her slender shoulders.

Brad gazed after Nicky in complete confusion, and unable to prevent her from disappearing, he bit his lip with irritation at the feeling of powerlessness that ensued. Nicky wasn't appreciating him any more! She didn't do anything special for him, didn't treat him as though he was a king or something! "Ummmph!" He snorted in anger, taking his frustrations out on the table top with a curled up fist. Suddenly he felt a small, smooth hand envelope his own and his heart soared for a single moment. He lifted his head up and grinned happily, Nicky.....

"Maria?" He said in confusion, watching as the brunette stroked his bulky hand in comfort. "What are you...?"

Maria reluctantly removed her hand from the star footballer's, but connected her sly brown eyes with his for a single flirtatious moment. "You just looked like you needed to have someone pay you the attention you obviously deserve Brad." The ultra slim girl stood up and picked up her tray, ready to make her departure. "Just remember that..." She paused and ran her tongue over her lips, tasting the strawberry lip-gloss that she was wearing, "I'll be there for you, whenever you want or need me...." With that Maria strode confidently out of the Cafeteria, dumping her tray on the way, positively sure that the guy she had been after for years was finally paying her some attention. Brad never saw the predatory grin that graced Maria's cool features as she sashayed her way out of the room. You better watch out Nicky... He's gonna be mine in EVERY single way.



Nicky stomped into the deserted library and threw her study books and shoulder bag down on to a small wooden desk in disgust. I hate life! She thought miserably, slumping in her chair and gazing morosely at the leather bound books that this room comprised of. They stared bleakly back at her, offering no answers to the questions that she so desperately sought.

Nicky slowly stood up and hypnotically walked towards a small section of the room, standing on the old linoleum floor, she knelt down, unconsciously mimicking her movements from the previous week when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder.

"What on earth.." She stood up abruptly in surprise and lost her balance, falling into the arms of a tall figure....unfortunately, this person was as lanky as he was tall, so Nicky's momentary elation evaporated like flimsy mist on a dewy morning. "Oh, hi Phil.."

Phil disengaged himself from the beautiful cheerleader, desperately trying to halt the blush that spread over his lean features. "Erm, hey there Nicky.." he said, rather pleased with himself for resisting the urge to stutter or stumble over his words like an infatuated freak...yet. Gulping, he stepped back to give the obviously brooding girl some personal space. "I saw you standing here and I wondered..."

Nicky glanced up and for the first time noticed the uncomfortable agitation on the boy's face, recognising it mainly because it matched her own " You wondered?"

Phil cleared his throat and motioned for Nicky to follow him to the other side of the shelves, away from prying ears. " Have...I-I mea...Raven..h-has...oh dammit!" Phil stared down at the floor in defeat. Huh, so much for smooth and suave. "I just want my best friend back Nicky! I miss Rae, she's the only good friend I've ever had, the only one that actually sees me as a somebody, instead of the dorky loser that I've always been thought of as."

Nicky bit her lip and let a quaking smile bravely light up her face. "I know what you mean about missing her Phil...." She said softly, wishing in vain that the person who seemed to be a key component of both her and Phil's happiness would walk through the library doors right now, dressed in her usual leather and denim apparel, flashing that beautiful confident grin that Nicky had come to love. Nicky held her compassionate arms open for the trembling Phil, who immediately sought comfort in her warm embrace.

"I j-just want Rae to know that I'm s-sorry...." Phil stuttered, abject misery consuming him. He felt hot tears of anguish roll down his reddened cheeks. Suddenly he jumped out of Nicky's caring arms and gazed at her solemnly with his mud brown eyes." Have you spoken with her? Talked to her? Said anything? Has she said anything to you...?"

Nicky could only try and understand what Phil was going through. The boy had been an outcast all of his life. His perpetual role of the 'geek' dictated a social life of vindictive mockery and loneliness...To go from one extreme, from having no-one, to suddenly having a best friend like Raven only to lose that friendship in one foul swoop must be devastating to say the least for poor Phil.

Nicky shook her head and regarded Phil with bright green eyes filled with infinite compassion and understanding.....I know that I haven't really gotten to know Raven as well as I want, not for my lack of trying though....but I know that I'm supposed to.....we're supposed

"Oh, I don't know!" Nicky cried in frustration, chewing on her lip to the point that it started to bleed. She took Phil's trembling hands in her own. "I tried to speak with reason with her, but she would have none of it...She's just so goddamn stubborn sometimes that it makes me want to...urggh!"

Phil watched as the multitude of confused emotions passed over the cheerleader's pretty features and a grin slowly enveloped his countenance. "She is stubborn, isn't she?" Phil said, a hint of pride in his tone at the mulish actions of his friend.

He watched as Nicky's green gaze locked with his. He smiled once more at the searching look he discovered there, shining so brightly in the emerald depths of Nicky's expressive eyes. Those eyes told a unique story that no words could ever possibly describe, a story that he had only glimpsed briefly once before in a pair of blazing sapphire orbs.

This thought warmed Phil to no increasingly confident smile replaced the unsure vulnerability that had existed there only minutes before. Whether these two girls know it, Phil thought happily suddenly feeling older and wiser, fate will inevitably draw their souls together and of course, once they give into their desires, trouble is bound to follow as it always does, nipping on their heels....but one thing's for damn sure, Phil mused silently as he watched the range of deep emotions drift over Nicky's expressive face once more, I'm going to be there, for BOTH of them when trouble comes knocking, I promise I'll always be there. With that silent vow declared, Phil motioned for Nicky's attention and once he'd successfully grasped it he grinned with a new found confidence.

"Did you ever hear the REAL story of how Mr. Penkez acquired a protractor up his ass?" Phil shuffled over and watched as Nicky smiled softly at this line of discussion, tilting her head to the side in concentration and her nose delicately crinkling, awaiting for the story to continue.

That's all I can do, Nicky thought reflectively, is wait for my, she glanced at Phil and thought of his dark haired best friend who captivated her every waking moment, no- OUR story to unfold.....


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