Tartlet: When Gwen Met Stanley

I slid onto the bench next to the cute blond boy and peered down at his book. He was so absorbed in its contents he didn’t seem to notice. I gave him a few seconds before clearing my throat. When that didn’t work, I elbowed him lightly.
“Hey.”
He looked up, his forehead creasing ever so slightly in a frown. “Yes?”
“I’m Gwen. What’re you reading?”
“It’s a biography. On Chester A. Arthur?” He made it a question and I got the feeling he wasn’t sure I’d know who our twenty-first president had been.
“Is it any good?”
The boy’s brow furrowed a little deeper and I felt a nervous twinge in his emotions. It made me smile, not because I was happy he was uncomfortable but because we were in high school. I had been able to feel the emotions of others for as long as I could remember and his were a welcome respite from the torrential outpouring of feelings from everyone else our age.
“It… is. Did you need it?”
“I don’t think so. What’s your name? I already told you mine.”
“Oh.” He straightened, embarrassment joining the confusion as he folded the book closed over his index finger and reached his right hand over toward me. “I’m Stanley.”
I snorted as I shook his hand, expecting him to give me the real answer. When I dropped his hand and he just continued to watch me and wonder, I jolted.
“Oh that’s really your name,” I said. He looked marginally hurt, though I hadn’t meant it rudely. Squinting as if I was considering great art, I leaned away, pursed my lips. “Yeah, you look like a Stanley. I like your vest.”
I reached out and rubbed his shoulder quickly to feel the fabric.  He frowned, sighed and I got the feeling I wasn’t making the impression I meant to. Unfortunately, that wasn’t uncommon for me.
“No, I really do. It looks good on you. It looks handmade, too.”
Stan’s emotions shifted slightly, a wriggle of pride sneaking in. “My grandmother made it.”
“It’s real soft.” I grinned, leaning back against the wall of the library. “So what’ve you learned about Chester?”
Stan watched me silently for a few seconds before a smile crept up on his lips, taking them by surprise.
 “You really want to know?”
“I wanna hang here with you for awhile. I figure I might as well learn something while I do.”
Stan’s cheeks went pink and, while I wouldn’t have thought it possible, his spine went even straighter. He was quiet for a few moments before his face lit up with flustered joy. Sitting this close, it felt like being overtaken by purring tribbles. I snorted out a giggle and we stared awkwardly at each other for a few moments before he started telling me about the book.

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