Almost a month had passed since the conversation Newt had with Jessica. Newt was somewhat content with his girlfriend, and was learning to accept her flaws. Despite the fact that their dates were pretty quiet and no longer as frequent, it was nice to have someone who truly cared about them, and that's what really mattered. Even Meena and Cory thought he was at least a little weird. So did everyone in the school. Of course, Candy Smiles was definitely the weirdest, but Newt was definitely up there. Everyone knew he got terrible grades. Come to think of it, that was probably how Jessica felt all the time. Maybe that was one of the main reasons they clicked so well. Yes, Newt decided, he was just fine with his relationship with Jessica. He still thought about Lilly, and he did miss her, but not enough to change his mind, not at all. He still couldn't hurt Jessica like that, even if she firmly insisted that she was fine with it. He wasn't that kind of person.
Lilly also thought about Newt. It was hard for anyone to have a crush on someone who liked someone else, or had a girlfriend. But when she talked with Meena the next day, her spirits were lifted greatly.
"Hey, Meena, what's up? Or rather, what's wrong?" Lilly said, noticing her new friend's long face at lunch the next day.
Meena considered telling Lilly what went down with Newt and Jessica. On one hand, as Newt's friend, it was not the best idea to blab his personal love life to other people. But on the other hand, Lilly was, in a way, a part of this problem, as she was pretty much the cause of the whole thing. No, that was a harsh way of putting it. But Lilly definitely deserved to know what was going on.
Meena told her the entire story from the beginning. "So, you remember Newt's girlfriend Jessica, don't you?" Meena began.
"How could I forget?" Lilly said, with a touch of sadness in her voice.
"Well, he wanted to dump her for you, but didn't because Jessica was desperate for him. She's miserable without him. And Newt was about to end it when she told him that, so he decided not to let her go. But then he told me he was unhappy, and I told Jessica how he was feeling. Jessica spoke to Newt, telling him it was okay if he dumped her, no matter how unhappy she would be, but Newt insisted he would keep her, but he's still not 100 happy with his choice, even though he's in denial. It just kind of hurts to see your friend so unhappy. It really does."
"Hey, I know that feeling," Lilly said. "Cheer up. He'll be fine."
Meena sighed. She had done a lot of that in the past couple of months. "Well, do you have any ideas?" she asked after a while.
"Maybe Newt hasn't cracked yet because he doesn't remember what it's like with me," Lilly said after thinking a couple moments. "Maybe if he spends some time with me, he'll be able to make a valid comparison. He can't make a comparison right now because he doesn't clearly remember what hanging with me is like. If he remembers, he might change his mind, you see what I'm saying?" Meena nodded.
"So all we have to do is find a way to get you two together!" Meena brightened.
"Exactly!" Lilly said.
"So, um, how do we really do that? There are a lot of things to figure out. I mean, for one thing, how will you even get together? Newt and Jessica go out, like, every weekend, and they always sit together at lunch."
Lilly put her head in her hands. Jessica came to join them just then. "Hey guys! Is it okay if I sit here?" Meena nodded.
Jessica was just about to ask what was wrong when her cell phone rang. She answered it. "Hey, Mom. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow at lunch? Okay, thanks." Meena gave Lilly a look that clearly meant, "There's our answer."
The next day at lunch, Lilly sat next to Newt without even asking if she could. Newt knew exactly what was going on. It was obvious that Meena and Lilly were trying to set him up and get him to admit he was unhappy. He would have told her off, but he was kind of happy to see her, so he let her stay.
"Hi, Lilly! Great to see you again," Newt exclaimed.
"What exactly are you eating there?" Lilly asked, referring to the school lunch Newt bought.
He studied it. "The menu says tuna casserole, but I don't believe it."
Lilly smiled. "The horrors of school lunches," and then added, "Whoo! I am the evil tuna casserole! If you don't eat me, you will die! If you eat me, you will also die. Your choice." That made Newt crack up. He felt like he hadn't laughed in years.
Lilly beamed. "All my other friends would roll their eyes at that."
"Mine too," Newt agreed. "Sometimes people just don't appreciate silliness like we do."
"I hear you."
"So, um, what are you eating?" Newt asked, looking at the lump of food on Lilly's plate.
"Oh, some of mom's home cooking. It looks like meat loaf." Lilly wrinkled her nose, and Newt made a gagging sound.
"School lunches are way better than home lunches," Lilly added.
Newt pointed to his tray. "Allow me to disagree. Have you ever tried a school lunch here?"
"Actually, I did once. Then again, it was pizza…" They both smiled.
"Here, take a bite," Newt urged. He grabbed Lilly's fork, shoved it in the casserole, and managed to force it into her stubborn, closed, mouth. She spit it out the second it touched her tongue, accidentally spraying it all over Newt.
While Newt's mouth was still open from shock, Lilly thrust a forkful of meat loaf into his mouth, and he repeated the spraying process.
Lilly giggled. "Sorry for spraying you and shoving food into your mouth."
Newt smiled. "Same here. But you have a point-home lunches can be pretty disgusting."
"Well, maybe it depends on who cooks it, and what the food is. School lunches are disgusting no matter what."
"Well, except for that pizza," Newt added.
"Point taken," Lilly said in agreement. "Pizza is good no matter where it's from."
Suddenly Newt got into a sneezing fit. While he recovered, Lilly turned around and gave Meena a thumbs-up. Meena returned it.
"Sorry," Newt said when he finished. "Allergies."
Lilly nodded. "I understand. I hate everything about spring, especially the allergies."
"At least I'm not allergic to food. It's nice being able to eat whatever I want. What about you?"
"Oh, I'm allergic to bananas and peanuts. I'm deathly allergic to peanuts."
"Really? That's a shame. I love bananas." Newt said sympathetically.
"Hey, Newt, will you remember me tomorrow?" Lilly asked. She thought she could lighten things up with a joke.
"Um, yeah." Newt said.
"What about next week?"
"In a month?"
"In a year?"
Newt was getting exasperated. "Yes, already! Why do you ask?"
"Knock-knock," Lilly said.
"See? You already forgot me!" Newt laughed. He literally could not remember the last time he heard a joke.
"Hey, Lilly, did you hear about the dying guy named Al who-" Newt began.
"Wanted a city named after him?" Lilly finished for him. "Yeah, I do, but you can tell me anyway."
"Alright, so there's this guy named Al, right? He was lying on his death bead, and his best friend was standing next to him. So Al said, 'Before I die, promise me one thing. Promise me they'll have a city named after me.' And his friend said, 'Okay, Al.' And Al asked, 'Will it be pretty?' His friend said, 'Absolutely, Al.' And Al asked, 'Will lots of people come to it?' His friend said, 'You can count on it, Al!' By then Al was very weak, and he knew that his next words would be his last, so he said, 'And you promise it will be named after me?' His friend replied, 'You betcha, Mr. Buquerque.'" Lilly laughed out of pity.
Newt hadn't had that much fun in ages. When the bell rang, Newt was glad Meena tried to set him up. When he went on his date with Jessica later that night, he knew he would make a full comparison, and then he would truly make his final decision.
"Hi, Jessica!" Newt said. He was meeting her for dinner and a movie. He was glad they were eating first. That way he could use the movie to think.
"So sorry we have to go to Burger King tonight," Newt said. "But it's my turn to pay, and I spent my allowance on video games." Jessica rolled her eyes. Lilly would understand, Newt thought.
He wondered if she was any playful. He tried shoving the burger into Jessica's mouth playfully. She spit it out and screamed. "Newt, what are you thinking?"
"I was thinking…I don't know what I was thinking." At that moment, they hated each other, but then a guy from their school and his friend walked past, and their feelings for each other changed instantly.
"Hey, Joe, there's the freaky kid from my science class I was telling you about. The one that skipped all those grades?"
"Oh, and that guy next to her is in my math class," said the boy named Joe. "I swear, he hasn't gotten one problem right all year. Talk about a total dunce! Why does he even hang with her? I bet he can't understand a single word she says!"
"Um, like we can't hear you from over there," Jessica said haughtily.
"Of course, genius! That's the point. And I thought you were the smart one!" The two friends walked away laughing hysterically.
"What jerks! How can people be so mean?" Newt said. All of a sudden, they loved each other again, because they needed each other. Newt sighed. He couldn't even make himself hate her. But then there was his date with Lilly at lunch…
"Newt, I think it's time for us to let go." Jessica said calmly.
Newt sighed. "Look, I wish I could let go as much as you do, no offense, but you heard those guys! Are you sure you'll be able to live without me?"
"Yes, I'm sure," Jessica said sincerely. "And none taken," she added.
"I'm sorry. Just give me a little time to think, okay? Just one more day, that's all I ask."
"Fine. Just promise me you'll give me a final verdict by lunch tomorrow."
"You can count on it!" Newt said confidently. He would not break that promise.
By the time he had finished his math homework, Newt had made his final decision. His absolute, positive, sure, final decision was-no. He would not let go of Jessica. Not just because she needed him anymore. He needed her, too. They were the smartest and…not smartest in the entire school. Jessica had no friends, and Newt had two friends who thought he was kind of weird. He had a sense of belonging with Jessica. He wasn't willing to let her go. Plus, he was pretty sure Lilly was still sort of mad at him for technically cheating on her. And Meena had also told him that Lilly disliked the fact that he wasn't a romantic person. (And he sure wouldn't deny that.) It couldn't have worked out with Lilly anyway. There was no way he would ever change his mind at that point.
But as he was about to put his homework away, something caught his eye. And seeing that little thing on his desk was surely enough to change his mind.
A/N: There, that was a long chapter. So, any guesses as to what was on his desk?