Echoes of Power
Parts 11 – 15
The two friends entered the cafeteria about twenty minutes later after having deposited the books that they didn’t need in their lockers. Damn, those things were heavy! Thought Alexandre as he massaged his shoulder while waiting in line to get their food. The cafeteria was almost deserted, only one or two handful of people were sitting at the large wooden tables. Most of the students that had arrived in the cafeteria were still waiting in line to fill their platters. Alexandre and Bryan got in line, taking advantage of the number of people before them to choose their meals without rushing.
“I’m so hungry I could eat the platter!” Exclaimed Bryan as they finally sat down at a table near the window which gave them a good view over most of the courtyard where many students were walking.
“Yeah, me too, I could even eat my books!” Replied Alexandre with a nod and a large smile.
He started eating his boiled eggs, dipping them in mayonnaise from time to time, and to a bite out of a loaf of bread.
“It’s really cool here.” Suddenly commented the dark-haired teen as he looked outside towards the other buildings.
“Seeing anything you like?” Asked the light-haired teen with a smirk.
“Huh?” Asked Bryan, turning to look at his friend after a few seconds of silence.
“I said : finding potential new preys?” Said Alexandre, his smirk getting bigger as his friend seemed to understand.
“Might you be accusing me of being a heartless Don Juan?” Questionned Bryan with a falsely hurt expression as he put his hand over his chest.
“Yes I do, my friend.” Replied Alexandre before pointing at his friend with his fork, still holding part of his egg. “I’d even add this : j’accuse!” He exclaimed in a false French accent before gobbling down the rest of the egg.
“How dare you!” Exclaimed Bryan in a loud voice as he tried his best to sound genuinely indignant.
This earned them a few looks from the other students around them. The both of them took great care in not looking around and feigning not to even notice other life forms who’s attention they could have caught. They enjoyed playing this little game from time to time, instantly synchronizing to put on a show for their unaware audience. Bryan had enjoyed this game since long before he had met Alexandre and he had somehow managed to pull his best friend into playing with him over the years.
The key to the trick was exaggerating everything as much as possible without giving any sign that it was an act. The dark-haired teenager had managed the art of looking around him through his peripheral vision to see the results of their little game, all this without anyone noticing.
“But seriously, can you deny being even a little attracted to these beautiful women out there?” Asked Alexandre as he waved towards the window and the courtyard outside, trying to suppress his laughter.
“I must admit that I cannot deny this fact.” Replied the tan young man as he ate a piece of his rib steak, having sat back down. “And despite the fact that there are indeed a number of girls that I find very attractive I must tell you this, my friend: I am looking for something more than just a fling. I would like to find someone who really makes me feel different this time, not just a onetime thing…”.
Alexandre looked at his friend in silence for a moment before speaking again. Bryan didn’t seem to be joking, which was surprising for this kind of topic. The dark-haired teen really seemed to be genuine in his comment.
“Wow. Who are you sir? What have you done with my best friend?!” He exclaimed, not bothering to hide his surprised look. “Would you suddenly have become a hopeless romantic? You the mass seducer, the James Bond of high school students? What in the heavens changed your mind?”
“Somewhat of an illumination I might say.”
“Yes, exactly, an illumination.” Said Alexandre’s tanned friend, repeating himself on purpose.
“Will you explain yourself or not?!” Exclaimed Alexandre, getting slightly irritated by the provocation.
“I said no. You can whistle for it, I won’t tell you.”
“Ugh… Very well then…” Sighed Alexandre. “As you wish.”
“As I wish indeed if you please!” Exclaimed Bryan with a small provoking smile before changing the subject. “Speaking of which, what do you have to say for your defense on that matter?” He asked with a smirk.
Alexandre immediately understood what he was referring to and he sighed again, letting go of his best friend’s strange reaction for the moment and agreeing to become the topic of discussion.
“Yeah, well I was coming to that!” He exclaimed as he smiled too.
He knew Bryan was referring to the message he had mistakenly sent to him a few days before as he was trying to contact a cute girl he had met a few days before at a party.
“Her name is Chloe, she’s a very nice and very cute first year college student I met at the party I talked to you about the other day.” He started as he tried to remember what he had told his friend about it.
“Yeah, the one that ‘wasn’t bad’, I remember!” Exclaimed Bryan with a scoff. “May I just remind you that while you were out partying, Mr. Unappreciative, I, on the other hand, had to spend the whole week-end helping my parents to set the dojo up for the new year!”
“Yeah, yeah… It was cool, okay?” Replied Alexandre with a smile before continuing. “Anyway, she’s a first year at Sevanne apparently, we talked quite a bit during the party and I was thinking of asking her out sometime soon to tell you everything.” He explained, feeling his cheeks heat up ever so slightly as he thought back to the party.
“Good idea, but please, try to be a bit ingenious at least. Movies are not as romantic as you think… Plus the weather will surely be good so you might want to take advantage of that.” Said Bryan as he finished his portion of salad.
“I will.” Agreed Alexandre with a nod as he downed his glass of water in one go.
“And tell me all about it after!” Added the tall dark-haired teen as he pointed a loosely threatening finger towards his friend.
“Yeah, I will…” Said Alexandre with yet another sigh as he complied to his friend’s terms.
“Or before, now that I think of it, so that I may come and ruin one of your dates!” Added Bryan with a smirk as he stood up, following Alexandre’s motion as his best friend stood up and walked towards the counter near the exit before depositing his platter on it and passing through the door.
“Okay, okay! I’ll tell you what’s going on!” Exclaimed the dark-haired teenager as his friend made yet another remark about his strange attitude.
They were both waiting in front of the room where they would have the first of their afternoon classes a few minutes later. Bryan was leaning against the wall near the door and Alexandre was sitting opposite to him, his back to the wall. They were alone in the long hallway and could therefore talk without restraint. After quickly passing by the reception desk to complete the papers for his school pass Alexandre had joined his friend near the second building, they had walked around the school grounds the most part of the hour that remained before classes started again.
Then they had decided to go to their classroom and patiently wait for the bell to ring. Bryan had been continuously asking his friend about the party and the girl named Chloe that the light-haired teen had met, he seemed to be having a lot of fun with his little game. That until his best friend started retaliating with allusions to his strange comment in the cafeteria. Finally, after numerous comments on the subject the well-built martial artist gave up any appearance of resistance.
“Damn it man! I may have 12 years of martial arts behind me you always manage to find a weakness…” Commented Bryan with a sigh as he saw a smirk appear on his best friend’s face.
“Mind over matter Bryan, mind over matter…” Simply replied Alexandre, not bothering to hide his satisfaction and his large smirk.
“Yeah, whatever. So, anyway, I’ve been thinking lately… You know, about these kinds of things and I realized that I wasn’t very happy with how I did things until now.” Started Bryan as he seemed to search for the right words.
“Okay…” Said Alexandre as he waited for his friend to keep going. “But you can’t expect me to believe that just thinking your seductive tendencies over made you change that much. You really looked serious at lunch…” He said, almost adding that it was really rare on this kind of subject.
“Yeah, I know, but something made me rethink things…” Said Bryan, looking at his friend from time to time as if he was hesitating on what to say.
“Alright, then tell me: what could have made you change your mind like this? Not a few weeks ago you were ready to run after any girl on your path, what’s different now?” Asked the light-haired teen, unable to wait much longer.
“Well… You’re gonna think I’m crazy or plain stupid…” Commented Bryan, unsure.
“Shoot!” Exclaimed Alexandre, he was starting to get annoyed by his friend’s attitude.
“Well… It’s because of a dream…” Finally admitted the dark-haired teen.
Alexandre looked at him, brows furrowed and his eyes looking for any sign that his friend was joking, making a fool of him, that he would burst into laughter at any instant and make fun of his best friend’s gullible attitude, but he saw nothing. Bryan seemed as serious as he could be.
“Okay…” Simply responded Alexandre, waiting for his friend to explain himself.
“I know it might seem strange but I swear it’s the truth, scout’s honor!” Exclaimed Bryan as he raised his right hand in the air and made the rebellion sign from the Hunger Games. “Let me explain.” He added before going silent as he thought about the best way to start explaining himself.
“I’ve had this dream about two weeks ago where I met a cute girl and I fell completely in love with her, she was gorgeous and funny and… Well I can’t really explain it but it was like I was meeting the perfect girl and we immediately hit if off.” The dark-haired teenager paused to look at his friend before resuming. “I’m not really in love with that girl you know, I don’t even think I could remember what she looked like or what her voice sounded like… But what I could remember when I woke up the morning after was the feeling that I had experienced in my sleep.”
He paused once more and looked outside. Alexandre noticed a strange look on his face, almost like melancholy.
“The worst part of it all was that it had felt so real that during the next three days I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I slowly realized that I was regretting her, a girl I had met in a dream and that had faded away the next day. I missed the feeling of being with her… You might think I’m crazy but it really feels strange, it’s something I still have a bit of trouble forgetting…”
Alexandre stayed silent a long moment after his friend had stopped talking, studying the dark-haired teen’s face and trying to understand what he was thinking and feeling. His friend had rarely acted like this, the fact that he had managed to remain serious all along the conversation meant that he really was serious about this, however strange it did seem.
“Okay.” He finally said as his best friend looked at him with expectant eyes. “I really don’t know what that means and I can’t really understand why but it seems that over the course of the past few weeks you’ve turned into one of those hopeless romantics…” He commented with a smirk.
Bryan smiled too before stretching his arms and legs.
“It might just be a phase, a melancholic period I’m going through because of puberty, I don’t know. Perhaps you’ll even catch me eating Ice Cream while I’m watching romantic comedies on day…” He said with a smirk. “I really bothers me in a strange way, it’s not disagreeable but it’s a bit like if I was sad without any reason…”
“Yeah, well I hope it would come down to me having to clean up your mess and having to force you to get out of your room and to stop watching Twilight because that would be too much for me…” Commented Alexandre with a scoff as he too stretched his sore muscles.
“I’m sure it’ll get better man, don’t get bummed by it, you’ll find your one true love!” Exclaimed Alexandre, his smirk reappearing on his face.
“Yeah sure!” Scoffed Bryan, straightening up as the bell rang out to signal the beginning of the afternoon classes.
“I swear I won’t make fun of you if you do the same for me.” Replied Alexandre as his best friend asked him for the tenth to not make fun of what he had told him before the classes resumed.
“Sorry man but you know how I am, can’t promise you that…” Said the dark-haired teenager with a smirk.
Alexandre studied him in silence for a moment as they walked towards the main gate of the school and couldn’t suppress the small smirk that appeared on his face too. He indeed knew that his friend would tease him endlessly about it if he could and that he would never be able to make him stop. But he didn’t have to make him completely stop, he could perhaps make him not mock him too often.
“Well then,” He started slowly as he carefully chose his words. “I swear that I won’t make fun of you too often if you agree to do the same. You can still tease me about her but ruining our date is out of the question, alright?”
Bryan seemed to think about it for a moment, his smile momentarily disappearing as he pondered the offer.
“Okay!” He simply replied after a couple of seconds.
The well-built teenager unlocked the chain that was keeping his bike in place and then proceeded to walk towards the school gate, following his friend. They both followed the main road for a few minutes, talking about a new game Alexandre had started a while back and which he was trying to make his best friend try. A revolutionary mmorpg that was way more immersive than anything that had ever been done before and to which the light-haired teen was hooked. Sadly his best friend wasn’t that much into video games and, until now, had refused to try it at all.
“Aw come on man! It would be so much fun to play it together!” Implored Alexandre as he made is best ‘puppy eyes’ impression.
“You know I’m not really into it… Plus I don’t have the time right now with school and my training. I’m not saying no, but not now…” Replied Bryan with a sigh, he had already declined his friend’s offer a number of times and he knew he would have to accept it one day or another.
“Okay, well your loss for now!” Exclaimed his best friend with a smile as they stopped at a cross-road near the shopping district.
“See you later man!” Exclaimed Bryan as he took a right while his friend continued forward.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow!” Exclaimed Alexandre as he saw the dark-haired teen disappear along the street in a matter of seconds and waving at him without turning around.
He smiled and chuckle lightly before walking along the pedestrian crossing in the direction of his house. The light-haired teen thought about his first day of school as his legs subconsciously led him where he wanted and smiled as he realized it had gone pretty well. No sports today, no late arrival either and I managed to retrieve my books and my id card, I’d say this is almost a perfect day! But, obviously, if everything seemed to go well something always had to ruin everything. And that something was the slight wave of pain he felt in his head as he was passing by the large brick warehouses near the end of the shopping district.