When you walked into your math class a few mornings later, you saw that there were a crowd of kids standing in the front of the room, murmuring quiet things to each other and some of them carrying slightly confused looks on their faces. Since you had constantly spent so much of this class focused directly on your homework, most of the faces that your eyes came across were unfamiliar to you. Well, all except one.
As soon as you saw Arthur standing near the front and a bit off to the side of the rest of the kids in your math class, your gaze instantly brightened and a tiny smile came to your face. You walked over and paused when you were only a few feet away from him.
“Hey,” you said a bit softly, and at the sound of your voice, Arthur looked up and shifted his gaze to the side to look at you. “What's going on?”
He continued to stare at you for a second longer before he moved his gaze back in front of him. “Our teacher is giving us different seats for the new unit.”
“Oh,” you said with a bit of disappointment as you dropped your gaze down to the ground and a tiny pout made its way to your face. This wasn't uncommon for you, since your teachers sometimes gave you new seats whenever the class finished a unit, but this thought also made you a bit discouraged. You had been sitting in that same seat in the very back of the room in math class ever since the beginning of the school year, and now it was well into November. You loved the back—it always gave you an excuse to do your homework without the teacher spotting you.
You instantly lifted your gaze a bit surprisingly as soon as you heard the sudden sound of the door opening and the teacher entering the room. Your heart pounded with anxiety as she stood in front of the group of kids and explained some general things before she took out a piece of paper with something scribbled on it and began to seat kids in their new places, one by one.
Please don’t put me in the front, please don’t put me in the front...you repeated over and over in your head as you mentally crossed your fingers and prayed that you wouldn’t have gotten a seat in the row you dreaded the most.
“Arthur,” the teacher said as she walked over to a desk in the very first row, right in the middle, and tapped her finger on its surface. “You’ll be sitting here.”
You instantly shifted your head to the side so that you were able to look at Arthur as he obediently walked over to his new seat, sat down, and began to unpack some of the things that he carried in his backpack. Of course he doesn’t mind sitting in the back, you thought a bit bitterly. He doesn’t have homework that he needs to finish in the previous class before the one where it has to be turned in.
“_____.” As soon as your name was heard, you instantly lifted your head to look up at the teacher, your heart racing in anxiety. You watched with fretful eyes as she walked over to the desk next to Arthur’s right and tapped her finger on it. “You’ll be sitting here in the front, next to Arthur.”
No! At that, you instantly froze in shock, feeling a cold chill run through your body as your eyes slightly widened and your mouth dropped open only the slightest amount. You continued to stand there, frozen in place, staring at the teacher with that same look of shock and disbelief.
“_____,” the teacher said impatiently, once again tapping her finger loudly against the surface of the desk after a few moments of complete silence. “I said you’ll be sitting here.”
You seemed to have finally gotten your senses back, and you clenched your fists as a look of panic crossed your face. “I-I can't sit in the front!” you gasped, the discouragement and refusal evident in your voice.
“And why is that so?” the teacher said, raising her voice slightly.
“B-Because...because I—” Oh, no. How were you supposed to tell her that you didn’t want to sit in the front only because it meant that you wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to do any of your unfinished homework from the previous night? Your gaze shifted over to Arthur and met his confused one for a brief second before you pointed a finger at him and looked back up at your teacher. “Because I can't get along with him!”
Stupid. That was a stupid thing to say. A stupid excuse. And it wasn't even true. The very least you had done was hurt a part of Arthur’s feelings just by saying that.
And by looking at the shocked, slightly pained expression on his face for a brief second before snapping your gaze back up to the teacher, you realized that your assumption had been right.
“That is nonsense, _____,” the teacher said through gritted teeth. “I told you to sit next to Arthur, and you are going to do so without complaining. Now go before you waste any more of our class time.”
You were still silent, staring up at the teacher in shock, until you heard a giggle and the voice of a girl who was standing a few feet to the side of you among a group of other girls. “What's wrong, _____?” she asked in mock concern, a hint of a snicker in her voice. “Are you too embarrassed to sit next to your boyfriend?”
At the sound of that, all of your disappointment and shock was replaced by burning anger as you whipped around to stare directly into the eyes of the girl, who was covering her mouth with her hand as she giggled, staring at you with an amused look. “Of course I'm not!” you yelled before you turned back around and half-stomped, half-marched over to your new seat next to Arthur and let your backpack fall on the floor next to you.
You let out a huff as you threw yourself down in your seat and crossed your arms, looking down at the table with a prominent pout on your face as you tried to ignore the snickers of the other kids in the room at the girl’s comment and your sudden burst of anger. A few moments passed until the teacher once again resumed assigning the rest of the still standing students their new seats, and you took this as an opportunity to turn your head to the side to look over at Arthur.
You found that he was looking down at his desk with a bit of that slightly stricken expression remaining on his face, and you leaned slightly towards him. “Hey, sorry about what I said,” you murmured quietly, causing him to lift his gaze from the desk and shift it over to look at you. “I just want you to know that I didn’t mean any of—”
“I know,” Arthur interrupted as he raised his hand out towards you, causing you to look at him with a bit of confusion at this sudden gesture. “The real reason you didn’t want to sit in the front was because then you won't have the opportunity to do your homework, right?”
You nodded before you frowned and once again shifted your gaze in front of you, slouching back in your seat a little bit as you once again crossed your arms. “I was really hoping that she wouldn’t put me in the front. But I guess I jinxed it and now I won't be able to do any of my unfinished work in this class.”
“Well, maybe this will give you the opportunity to actually focus,” Arthur said a bit optimistically as he continued to keep his gaze fixed on you. “Maybe you’ll actually be able to understand the concepts and find it a bit easier to do your homework.”
You scoffed and rolled your eyes. “Like that’ll ever happen. It’s practically impossible for me to actually focus in school.”
“Well, I'm going to make sure you do.” Arthur’s gaze turned serious and the tone in his voice became hard and firm. “Now that I'm sitting right next to you, I’ll constantly be watching to make sure you're paying attention.”
“And if I don’t?” you asked a bit challengingly as you turned your head to look at him. “What are you going to do then?”
“Well, I'm sure it would be easier to focus on what's being taught than have me interrupt you from your daydreaming constantly,” Arthur said.
How did I know that something like this was going to happen as soon as the teacher told me to sit next to Arthur...? you thought with a mental groan as you let out a slightly aggravated sigh.
You couldn't wait until the unit was over.
Just as you had predicted, Arthur had kept a watchful eye on you throughout the rest of the math class. It annoyed you to no end to actually have to pay attention to what the teacher was talking about, and the need to do your homework almost distracted you from what you were actually supposed to be doing. But somehow, you survived the class, which seemed to be about five times longer than usual.
As soon as the bell rang, you quickly packed your things and hurried out of the room, eager to get to your next class and finally get away from Arthur. Another distraction that had presented itself to you in Math was that the presence of him so close to you—even though he was an average distance away from you—disturbed you, and you had to cope with it for over half an hour. You had no idea how you were going to manage sitting next to him every single day for the rest of the math unit.
As soon as you left the room and proceeded walking down the hallway, you were about to break into a run before you felt a hand place itself firmly on your shoulder, instantly causing you to freeze.
“What do you want?” you asked a bit irritably as you turned around to look at Arthur, who was staring at you with a serious expression on his face. Clearly he wanted to speak to you about something important, but did it really have to be now right after you just sat next to him for over half an hour and were trying not to arrive late to your next class? “Isn't it enough for you to have to sit next to me for over 30 minutes?”
Arthur shook his head. “That’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. I need to ask you something important.” Well, figures.
“Okay, but make it quick,” you said briskly before you felt a chill run down your spine. “And can you get your hand off my shoulder? You’re making me uncomfortable.”
“Oh, sorry,” Arthur said before he dropped his hand down to his side and eyed you intently up and down before he finally asked, “_____, do you understand the material that’s being taught in math class?”
You groaned. “Does it look like after months of being unfocused in class, I would actually understand after getting a bunch of unfamiliar stuff thrown at me and being behind everyone else by like...a lot?”
Arthur frowned, and you were able to detect concern in his eyes. “I think it would be best if we meet after school in the library and I could help you understand everything that we’re learning about now and what we have learned about before in this class. It would make it a lot easier for you to focus in class and to understand your math homework.”
“Why can't we just meet up in the morning?” you asked with a bit of exhaustion. “That’s what we do all the time.”
Arthur shook his head. “I don’t want to meet with you in the morning anymore because you would be terribly exhausted and unfocused than you would be in the afternoon. Besides, if you do your homework after school with my help, you would be able to go to bed early and actually get a decent amount of sleep.”
You sighed before you turned your back towards him, already prepared to go to your next class. “Look, I have to think about it. I can't make any sudden decisions like this when I have other things to think about right now.”
“_____, what you should really be thinking about is how to make your life easier,” Arthur said to you. “Let’s just try meeting up after school and see what happens. If everything goes along well, we’ll continue to do this and eventually your life will get much simpler. Alright?”
You were silent for a few moments, actually considering his idea, before you finally replied. “Okay...I guess. But don’t be surprised if I don’t show up at the library after school like you wanted, okay?”
“Fine,” Arthur said with a slight bit of disappointment in his voice, but you ignored it. Instead, you proceeded to head towards your next class before he could've made you any later than you already were.
You stood next to the door to the library, a bit of uncertainty swirling inside you. It was long past dismissal, and the hallways that were once packed with kids as they headed out the doors were now empty, except for the occasional after-school groups or teachers. Right now, the hallway that you stood in was completely empty. You looked up at the clock, which read 3:15, and growled at your nervousness. You just wanted to turn around and head home, but if you did, what would happen to your homework? You pretty much knew the answer to that. You would've gotten started on it after your dinner and stood up until 1 in the morning until you got at least half of it done, gotten four hours of sleep, and waken up early and gone to school just to make an attempt to finish it before school officially started.
But if you walked inside the library and let Arthur help you with your homework, wouldn’t it have been easier for you just to go home after everything was finished and get a decent amount of sleep for the first time in years?
The sudden thought made a burst of excitement surge through you, and before you could've had any second thoughts, you took a step forward and opened the door to the library. It took less than a second for you to find Arthur sitting at the table where the both of you usually sat, tapping his fingers against it as his gaze wandered to several places around the room. You figured that he had gotten here as soon as school ended and had been sitting here waiting for you for quite some time.
At the sound of the door opening, Arthur turned his head around so that he was able to look up at you, and as soon as the both of your gazes met, he let out a tiny smile before he stood up and walked over to you.
“There you are, _____,” he said as soon as he paused a few feet away from you. “I figured you wouldn’t be coming.”
You shrugged as if you couldn't care less. “Well, it doesn’t hurt to give this method a try, I guess.”
Arthur nodded before he drifted his gaze off to the main library desk, where a woman was sitting behind it. You let your gaze follow over to where he was looking at before he looked back at you and asked quietly, “Should we move...somewhere else?”
You nodded as you looked back at him. “It’ll be better when we’re alone.”
Arthur nodded before he cleared his throat and turned around to retrieve his things, which were on the floor next to the chair where he had been sitting, and you quietly walked behind him. “Follow me,” he said as he took his stuff and began walking off in one direction.
You had no choice but to follow and continued to remain quiet as Arthur led you through several stacks of books. Finally, he paused once the both of you reached one corner in the far back of the library, away from anybody else that might've been in the large room. The place looked a bit deserted, but you didn’t seem to mind, only except for—
“Where are we going to sit?” you asked a bit confusingly as you paused next to him.
Arthur walked towards the wall and sat down, pressing his back against it and looking up at you expectantly. “We can sit on the floor.”
“Are you kidding me?” Your voice was slightly high with disbelief. “There is no way that I'm going to sit on a dusty floor that probably hasn’t been cleaned in—”
“Then would you rather go back to the front of the room where the woman behind the desk can hear our entire conversation?” Arthur challenged as he looked up at you with a prominent frown on his face.
You were silent for a few moments before you finally let out a sigh and walked over to him. “No, I guess not.” You pressed your back against the wall before you slid down until you were in a sitting position on the floor, trying not to shudder at the thought of all the dust you seemed to be sitting on.
You hoped this would end soon so you could get out of here.