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|Michael walked down the hall slowly, peering into each classroom as he went. With each passing room, the look of concern on his face deepened into disappointment. His brow furrowed, and cluching Art's sketchbook in one hand, he had the look of a man on a mission. He wanted to talk to Art, but he'd been quite obviously avoiding him for the last few days. And when he'd actually been able to talk to him, Art wouldn't look him in the eye, and exited the conversation as quickly as possible. Classes had ended, and he thought he might take a different approach; knowing Arthur usually stayed after classes for awhile. Nearing the computer lab, he peeked in. No one but Art's friend Alex. Wait a minute, there's an idea....
Alex didn't realize he was no longer alone until it was too late as Michael sat down next to him. "Hey...."
Looking up startled, Alex gave him a quick appraisal over the rims of his glasses, "Do I know you...?"
Michael put a hand out to shake. "Name's Michael. You're Alex, right?"
Alex accepted it, finding his friendly manner disarming. What a looker! "Yeah, that's me. What can I do for ya?"
"Well, I was wondering if you could tell me where to find Arty...."
Alex's expression blanked, "Arty'....?"
Michael stopped, holding up the sketchbook. "Yeah, the guy this belongs to."
Alex froze at the familair sight of Arthur's beloved sketchbook. He'd never known anyone to get away with calling Arthur "Arty". As a sudden realization dawned on Alex, he froze, feeling suddenly trapped. "Wait a minute. 'Michael'....? As in 'Michaelangelo'....?"
Michael felt a bit dirty doing this without Art's knowledge. But he had questions that needed answers. "I prefer 'Michael'. Anyway, I need to return this to him, and I.....really need to talk to him."
Alex thought for a moment before answering. It had been a number of days since Art had come into the Computer Lab on the verge of a breakdown over some new guy he'd met. He'd been freaking out because he'd had to indirectly reveal his crush to the guy. Now the pieces fit. This was the guy. He decided to approach the situation tactfully. "Well, I can give it ti him for ya."
Michael withdrew, catching the subtle shift in Alex's manner. Apparently, Alex knew something. "No, I'd really rather return it myself. I just need to know where I might be able to find him. This may sound crazy, but I think he's been avoiding me."
Yeah, that sounded like Alex after doing something so boneheaded. He seemed to mean well. And Art was obviously quite taken with Michael. It was easy to see why. Well, maybe a calculated risk. "Well, I won't tell you exactly where to find him, since I obviously don't know what's going on. And I'm sure you're not gonna tell me....."
Realizing Alex wanted to help while still protecting his friend, Michael spoke up reassuringly, "Seriously, man. All I wanna do is talk to him."
Alex looked sidelong at Michael. Damn if this kid wasn't the hottest guy he'd ever laid eyes on. "Well.....he lives four blocks from the school, on one of the main drags. And he has to walk in a straight line North to get there from the school. That's all I'm gonna tell ya."
Michael looked at him for a moment, meeting Alex's hard gaze to see if he was lying. Finally, he smiled, an expression that illuminaated the room, "Thanks. I should be able to take it from there." With that, he headed for the door.
Just as he reached the door, Alex called to him over his shoulder, "Michael. You didn't get any information from me, got it?"
Alex smiled as he turned back to the computer monitor, "Happy hunting." And with that, Michael was gone. Alex concidered the situation. Of course, Art would eventually figure Alex's part in this out. He just hoped he hadn't made a mistake.
Outside the main door at the Northernmost face of the school, Michael stood contemplating his options. One, two, three main streets all running North from the school. He picked one and headed in that direction, sketvhbook in hand....
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