“Sydniiiiiiiiii – ”
The boy on the bottom bunk punched upward. “Don’t do that!”
“Don’t hit my bunk!” The top-bunk occupant took one hand off his reader and punched down on his mattress, for all the good that did. “And don’t do what?”
“Whati’s not a word!”
“Okay, what if I say Hikariiiiiiiiiiii?”
“That’s still makin’ fun of me!”
“Okay, I wooooon’t.”
“You still are!”
“You’re buggin’ me. What’d you want?”
“Can you put your headphones in? I’m tryin’ to do my homework ‘n’ all I can hear is your game.”
Sydni paused the game and hung his head over the side of the bed to look at his roommate. “You’re just now doin’ your homework? You were signed up to do that, like, two hours ago. You’re gonna get in trouble.”
“I was busy!”
“Yeah, busy playin’ Smash-Up in the living room. Pretty sure that doesn’t count. Dad’s gonna be pissed.”
Hikari frowned at him and pointedly went back to his work, jabbing his finger at the screen in annoyance. Sydni retreated to the top bunk and put his headphones in before going back to his game.
A few minutes later he hung his head over again. “Hey, tell ya what. Put your reader in safemode before you finish up, alright? If it’s offline when you try ‘n’ send your work in, it’ll save it, ‘n’ then when you take it outta safemode it’ll send it with a little note sayin’ there was a system delay. You can just say your reader fritzed on you, ‘n’ Dad Jawn never bothers checkin’ the full logs just for late homework, so you’ll be fine.”
“Does that really work?”
“It’s what I did the other night, ‘n’ I’m not grounded, am I?”
“Oh man, that’s genius, thanks.”
“No prob.” Sydni pulled back up into his own bunk and added, as an afterthought: “You owe me, though.”
“Owe you what?” Hikari asked suspiciously.
“I don’t tell on you for doin’ your homework late, ‘n’ you don’t tell on me for gettin’ home late tomorrow night, fair?”
“Why’re you gonna be late?”
“I got a date.”
“Yes way. Y’know that curly-haired girl from Spring Creek?”
“You’re going out with her?”
“Yup.” Smugness radiated outward from the top bunk like heat from the surface of the sun.
“That is so unfair.”
“What can I say, I’m just really hot ‘n’ she can’t resist me. Ow! What’d I say about hittin’ my bunk?”
Hikari punched upward one more time just for good measure. “Hey, how’re you gonna get back in if you’re late, anyway? Somebody’ll have to buzz you ‘n’ then the dads’ll find out anyway.”
“Oh, I got ways. Trust me.”
“If you say so…” There was evident doubt in Hikari’s voice, but, well, Sydni did have a way of getting away with things. “Alright, I won’t tell. See if she’s got a friend who’ll go out with me, though, okay? We could double next time.”
“Sure thing. And thanks.”
The next night Hikari sat in jealous silence in their room. At two hours past curfew, he decided that Sydni was obviously getting some from that girl, which was the least fair thing in the world, because he never got any.
At three hours past curfew, he fell asleep.
At six hours past curfew, he woke up to go to the bathroom and discovered that there was still no sign of Sydni. At that point, he decided that his roommate must have gotten arrested for being out late, which sucked, but probably served him right, what with it being so drastically unfair of him to get all the luck all the time.
At wake-up, Dad Pawl expressed surprise, concern, and anger in turn over not finding Sydni in bed. Hikari claimed to have been sound asleep all night as an excuse for not reporting his roommate missing, and then worried over his breakfast. If the dads didn’t know where he was then he wasn’t in holding…
Sydni, meanwhile, was sitting on a wall five blocks outside of the barricades, swinging his feet cheerfully and eating a purple poptart he’d warmed up himself. He did have a way of getting away with things.
Hopefully that girl from Spring Creek wouldn’t take it too hard when she didn’t get a second date.