There’s this ease between Spencer and Madison that fascinates me. I always wonder if they were friends prior to the glee club.

October 2014. A house party in Lima, Ohio.

           “How about that one?” Brett said, nodding to one small brunette in the knot of Cheerios. “Madison McCarthy.”

           Spencer recognised Madison, but only vaguely. She was a freshman, one of the newest cheerleaders on the squad. He had seen her around school before, and she was pretty enough- she had bright green eyes and a lithe, athletic figure- but she didn’t make him feel things the way he was supposed to.

           The way everyone else did.

           “Dude.” he said, with false enthusiasm, and they bumped fists. “I am so in there.”

           Word had it that Brett threw this party after the first football game of the season every year, but Spencer was only in his second year of high school, only just on the team, and this was the first time he’d been invited. Privately, he thought there was a reason he’d never been before, but he said nothing out loud. The alcohol made his throat burn, and the pounding music was making him breathless, but he could say so. He was supposed to be here. He was on the football team. He was supposed to be here, and he was supposed to like it.

           He downed the rest of his cup because he thought it might help.

           It just burned some more.

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Contemplative gesture in the Pines family