Punch isn't flammable

"I really don't enter to go. You know how I get in crowds."

"Tough," the man replied.

"You really are a jerk sometimes. You know that, right?"

"Cole," the man said as he reached to the teen.

He pulled him onto the the couch and put his arm around him. Cole jumped, still nervous and not used to physical affection. Growing up in am abusive home, it's easy to get jumpy when people reach for you. But Cole quickly settles; Roger had been nothing hut kind and swore he would never hurt the boy.

"We've been over this. The best way to get ahead of this is to work on being out in public," Roger said.

"But Roger," Cole started to complain, then reigned it in. "I can see the glances. No one wants to talk to me. They think I'm a freak." Cole points to his dark black skin and light hair.

"This is all in your head. You're just nervous and looking for a scapegoat." Roger was about to start 'shrinking,' as Cole called it; he was a social worker and child psychologist after all. But he too reigned it in in order to move the conversation forward, rather than turning it into a lecture. "Anyways, I'm sure there are some cute girls there who would love to meet you. They're probably just shy as well."

"Oh my god." Cole was starting to blush. 'The talk' was always bad enough for a 14 year old, but Roger was always so blunt and snappy about it, like Cole was talking with a close friend about it. "You are the worst," he joked.

"So I'll drop you off at 7?"

-----

Cole kept to the side of the dance. Roger had a point, but the whole affair was still pretty nerve wracking. The boy kept to the refreshments table. "Unless the punch got spiked, it's probably not flammable," he joked to himself earlier.

And while he did like some of the tunes, he was starting to have enough of the dance. He was nervous, lonely, and believed that he was the school pariah. If something didn't happen soon, he wasn't sure if he would take off or try and light a fire underneath the party.

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