― twenty-six: kiss me

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[ CHAPTER 26 : KISS ME :kiss me out of the bearded barley. nightly, beside the green, green grass. swing, swing, swing the spinning step. you'll wear those shoes and i will wear that dress. oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight. lead me out on the moonlit floor. lift your open hand, strike up the band, and make the fireflies dance silver moon's sparkling. so kiss me.]

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          LEO FINALLY MANAGES TO shimmy a window open, and in his excitement, tumbles inside without a second warning. Parker and Nico stood there in surprise as he fell face first inside with his legs dangling in the air. Then crash, boom, smack. He toppled over something, or onto something, and crash landed into silence. "Jesus, of course, out of every window open it's the fucking science department." Leo shouts, his body popping up in front of the window, barely a scratch on him. He shoots a grin at Parker, but she can only shake her head as her arms come to rub at her freezing cold arms.

          "Come on," Nico tugs at her sleeve as he nods toward the window. Parker glances at it, feeling off about it all. This may be a silent do-gooder town but that's no reason to say 'nothing bad will happen if we leave a window open or two'. What if this is what the Audience wants? What if they want her to do what she thinks she should be doing? What if it's all wrong? What if she ends up getting Leo or Nico hurt? Worse, what if she gets them killed? "Parker?"

          Her eyes direct toward Nico again, a look of puzzlement flashing over her features as she studies his face. "I'm alright." Nico doesn't look convinced and ends up sighing as he watches her haul her upper body to balance on the edge of the window ledge. Leo instantly moves to grab at her forearms, using his strength to pull her halfway into the room before placing his hands on her waist and bringing her fully inside the warmth of the classroom.

          "Welcome, beautiful." The boy winks at her.

          Parker half-heartedly smiles at him, "You're annoying." His hand, from beside her, reaches up and pats the top of her soaked head―not even regretting it when he pulls his hand back to find it wet. Neither of them seem to notice Nico's presence until he slams the window shut, jolting Parker away from Leo with a start.

          "We should split up." Nico says, looking at Parker―ignoring Leo.

          "Yeah," Leo asks, unimpressed. "In what way?"

          Nico side eyes him, and Leo almost falters at the hidden look the boy sends him. Parker tries to get a better look at him, but he changes his facial features the minute he feels her gazing at him. Nonchalantly, he shrugs, "I'll go find Parker and I some clothes to change into. You help her get what she needs," He moves around them, sending the girl a small fleeting smile. Two steps away from the door, hand reaching for the handle, he stops. Over his shoulder, he looks at the both of them. First Parker, no longer smiling, and then at Leo. "There are cameras everywhere, keep your head down and out of view so it doesn't catch you."

          Nico exits, head down with his hands in the pockets of his drenched jeans. Parker frowns. She doesn't know why, but her heart feels solemn at him leaving her with Leo. She didn't want him to go. She wanted him to go with her. Somehow, Nico knows how to keep her emotions in check even when she feels like she's overwhelmed and on the brink of insanity. Leo's great too, but she's not sure he can handle her the way Nico can. Nico's been through things, things she understands, but Leo? He's innocent, and wouldn't even grasp the situation if she spelled it out to him.

          "Let's go." Leo grabs for her, his arm circling her shoulders bring her into his chest. She keeps her head down and her fingers play with the fringe edge of the sweater as the teenage boy slowly drags them out of the science classroom to the empty white hall. It's so empty that it sends a chill down her spine. School hallways should never be empty, it's haunting. She wouldn't be surprised if a ghost poked its head around the corner to scream 'boo' at her. It's that eerie.

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