"I really don't want to go."
"Coraline Beatrice Jones." Mrs. Jones narrowed her eyes, lips pursed. "Enough with the arguing. This is a difficult time for everyone. Go."
She scowled. "What? You don't even" –
"C'mon, kiddo. Everyone needs a friend." Mr. Jones placed a hand on his daughter's shoulder, causing her to grit her teeth.
Coraline made her way through the thick sea of people, bumping her way towards the exit sign like a small fish, without any hint of an apology. Sure, she had been complaining the entire time but her parents positively did not understand. They never understood anything but especially not this.
Then again perhaps funerals were a difficult thing to fully process.
The spring air hit the young girl's face as she swung open the church's large metal back door. It seemed rather conflicting to have a funeral on such a lovely blue sky day. Shouldn't the heavens be mourning such a significant loss? Yet, the trees were in bloom, bees buzzing around from flower to flower as a lawnmower droned a few blocks away. God had a cruel sense of humor.
She found him balancing on the edge of the fountain, tie loose and shirt untucked. At first Coraline simply watched him: arms stretched out, long legs crisscrossing around the rim as the wind blew, making his frizzy hair actually frizzier.
She raised a pierced eyebrow. "What're you doing?"
Wybie barely flinched. What, did he know she was coming? "What does it look like I'm doing?"
"Being a space cadet."
"Huh." He wobbled. "A whole lot of nothing you know. I'm playing Around the World."
Coraline placed her hands on her hips and squinted her eyes. "Ah. I'm still going to go with space cadet."
"...Who's there?" she took a few steps forward, hugging her narrow waist as a stronger gust of wind puffed, rumpling the dark dress. For a moment, four seconds to be exact, the young girl almost forgot she was still at a funeral. She missed moments like these. They almost seemed to be dwindling. It was strange how Wybie could make Coraline feel – make her forget anything.
"A broken pencil."
"A broken pencil who?"
"Never mind." Wybie tilted his head. "It's pointless."
She snorted. "And here I thought we were seventeen and not say, oh I dunno, ten."
"Huh? A lot of times people who keep emphasizing the importance of aging are likely to be the most childish. It's all, like, psychological." Wybie dipped the tip of his black loafers into the cool water.
"Oh, so we're getting all psychological then? Okay. So what do you make of when a boy is playing Around the World during a funeral service?"
"Easy. He just doesn't like funerals."
Coraline huffed and shook her head. He was even more odd than she remembered.
Wybie suddenly halted his steps and reached out a hand. "Come on. You gonna stand there and judge me or would you rather care to join me?"
"Pfft. Dingbat forever, huh?"
So Coraline grabbed his hands, allowing him to pull her up on the edge of the ramshackle fountain. However, she was suddenly close to his face, their hands still joined, and for a moment – just a mere moment – the two teenagers simply stared. He had grown taller, shoulders broader, but lanky as usual. Her freckles were lighter, buttoned-nose longer, but rough as usual. Things had changed, people had left, and while their friendship may have waned, something was still there. Something that caused them to remain like that for a few moments more.
"Jonesy." His fingers absentmindedly rubbed against her knuckles. "Can we…can we not talk? Like not say anything for a bit."
Coraline nodded, unsure that she could possibly say anything of value if she even wanted to. Abruptly, Wybie let go and spun around, directing his attention to his scuffed shoes as he once again began balancing himself on the edge. So, for the next thirteen minutes and eight seconds, the young adults played Around the World on the water fountain in silence until the church doors opened yet once again.
"Beautiful service! Just beautiful." Mr. Bobinsky sniffed and wiped his eyes as he stepped out trailing behind the Jones's. "Makes me miss my babushka."
Mr. Jones patted their neighbor's back as his wife simply raised an eyebrow at the sight of her daughter and old friend. "Coraline?"
She glanced at Wybie for a split second. He seemed to have curled into himself more, back hunched as he teeter on the edge. "I think I'm going to stay out here for a bit longer."
Because Grandma Lovat would have wanted it that way.
A/N: I swear there are happier moments on the way. Also, thanks so much for the follows, favorites, and reviews! I will poke this story with a stick a little longer.