"Anyway, now that we are here, can I ask you something?" Aarav asked.
"Sure, what is it?" Reyansh asked, giving him a questioning look.
"You see, I have been wondering why you're like this..." Aarav said.
"What do you mean?" Reyansh said, not really getting the question.
"I mean, like, you're always sad and stuff. You always look depressed, you don't talk to anyone, you always isolate yourself... Why? I mean, what's the deal with you?" Aarav asked matter of factly.
Reyansh gave him a quick smile and turned his attention away from Aarav.
"Well..." Aarav said, realizing Reyansh wasn't going to reply.
"It's nothing. I like to be alone. I am used to being alone." Reyansh said. Aarav could see a sad smile on his face.
Aarav thought that it was perhaps not the right time to have conversations like those with Reyansh considering what he had to go through that day. So he decided that he'll talk about it later, maybe after he gets to know Reyansh a bit more and if they get a bit closer than they were at the time. He decided to drop the topic for now.
"Well, okay then... Umm... Anyway, can I be your friend?" Aarav asked.
'Friend... He wants to be my friend?' Reyansh wondered. He was really surprised.
"A-ah, sure... W-why not... Sure, we can be friends, yeah. I mean, you were a god's gift today! Yeah." Reyansh said, giving a nervous smile. "Glad to be friends with you." Reyansh and Aarav shook hands. It was a day and moment to remember for both of them, especially Reyansh. Such a long time before someone asked him to be his friend. He felt a bit better.
"So... Tell me about yourself." Reyansh said.
"Well, like what?" Aarav asked.
"Hmm, like anything... Your hobbies, passion, life, ambition, goals... Anything." Reyansh said. He wasn't really interested in knowing about Aarav's life - he was, but not much. He was sure he lead a good life regardless, but as he didn't have anything else to talk about, he decided to go with this and to be honest, he was definitely a bit curious about someone who helped him that day.
"Well, my hobbies are... Umm, I like to play video games - I played a few games at a shop the other day and damn, it was really really fun. I also used to play Tekken games when I was a kid and that made my childhood really good. My parents, unfortunately, don't want me to waste my time on video games, so there's that. And my passion is playing cricket. I love playing cricket. But my parents don't want me to waste my time on that either. And I guess my ambition is to become a doctor." Aarav said.
Aarav really was great at Cricket though, that was sure. Reyansh himself had seen him play multiple times. His physique was really athletic as well.
"Nice, playing video games huh? Yeah, they are really fun, I guess. Would really love to play a video game myself one day." Reyansh replied, getting along with the conversation. He was glad the conversation wasn't awkward.
"Uhh, so your parents don't allow you to play them too?" Aarav asked curiously.
"More like, my parents can't afford." Reyansh corrected.
"Oh... I see..." Aarav said, not sure what to reply to that. "So now it's your turn. Tell me about your hobbies, passion, ambition, goals, and whatnot."
Oops, he didn't expect Aarav to ask him the similar question back. Damn.
"Uh, sure, I guess," Reyansh said, laughing to himself that Aarav wanted to know about a loser's ambition and goals. "My hobbies, umm, I like to sing and I want to learn to play guitar someday..." Reyansh said. Aarav was surprised. "I also like to cook. And my passion is writing, I guess. I love reading and writing." Reyansh tried.
"Really? What do you read?" Aarav asked.
"Mostly manga these days." Reyansh replied.
Aarav didn't know what a manga is and wasn't interested in asking about it either.
"Interesting." Aarav said. "Do you write?"
"Yeah, once in a while," Reyansh answered. "I don't really get time to do that much. I am always studying, you see."
'If he's always studying, why is he not able to pass the exams? That's weird.' Aarav thought.
Reyansh was nervous. Part of why he was nervous was because he seemed to have creative passion and hobbies for a loser like him. He wondered what Aarav was thinking.
He wished he could work on his passion but would a failure like him be able to do anything there too? He guessed no.
"Well, I guess I have to go now. I need to study. Need to pass the year anyhow." Reyansh said, getting up from the bench.
"Right." Aarav said, getting up.
Two days later, Dhairya was absent so it was the perfect opportunity for Reyansh to thank Rin.
"Hey Rin. Thank you so much for helping me the other day. It means a lot to me! I hope I can be of some help to you someday as well!" Reyansh said.
"It was not an obligation." Rin corrected him.
"Ah, of course not. But still." Reyansh tried.
"Don't worry about it. Happy to help you~" Rin said smilingly.
Reyansh wanted to ask her about her relationship with Dhairya and what happened later after he left but realized that he shouldn't. For one, it was their personal matter. He shouldn't try to interfere. Two, it might look weird to her. Three, and the biggest reason, he was just scared of having such personal talks. He still decided to ask her if she was doing fine though, no harm in doing that, right?
"A-are you okay?" Reyansh asked nervously
"Yeah, I am fine." Rin said. "Why do you ask?"
"Well..." Before Reyansh could continue, "oh, because of Dhairya... No, don't worry about it, I am fine..." Rin said nervously. Reyansh could see in her face that she was probably lying but didn't push the conversation.
"Glad to know." Reyansh said. "Well, see ya later then."
Two weeks later.
Aryan had stopped bullying Reyansh but it wasn't really surprising. It was probably more because of the coming exams than Aarav and Mr. Kashyap's warnings and threats.
Next day is their Physics exam, damn.
Reyansh is studying.
A knock on the door interrupted him trying hard to study.
"Yes?" Reyansh asked.
"Can I come in?" It was Reyansh's mom. "Uh, Yeah." Reyansh answered.
"Here." Mrs. Adani gave her son a cup of milk.
"Thanks." Reyansh accepted, putting the cup on a table right to him.
"No, drink it now!" Mrs. Adani said. "It would get cold otherwise."
"Alright, I guess." Reyansh said, slowly drinking the milk from his cup.
"So... How is the preparation?" Mrs. Adani asked.
"Hmm, it's a bit sugary. I prefer it without sugar." Reyansh said.
"I am asking about tomorrow's exam, dummy." Mrs. Adani said, facepalming.
Reyansh gave her a fearful look. "Oh... No, it's fine. It's going fine, yeah. Don't worry." Reyansh said, clearly lying.
'I really hate lying to my mom and I have no other choice but to do it... I am so sorry mom... What a fucked up life I am living...'
"Good. Well, all the best for tomorrow's exam. Goodnight~" Mrs. Adani said, leaving his room.
'I am still terrified of her.'
Next day, Reyansh went to the school earlier than usual.
As soon as he entered the class, he saw Aarav, Rin, and Arsh discussing something, most probably about the exam.
Reyansh tried to avoid them but Aarav noticed him. "Oh hey, here dude." Damn. Reyansh went to the group unwillingly. "How are you?" Aarav asked.
"Pretty fine, I guess," Reyansh replied nervously. He was already so nervous about the exam and Aarav had to ask him such questions...
"Hi, let me introduce myself. My name is Arsh Panjwani." Arsh introduced himself.
Arsh Panjwani was seemingly the funniest student in their class, at least as far as the other students were concerned. He was a bit chubby in appearance. Everyone used to laugh to his comedy except Reyansh. He always found him annoying.
"Dude, he knows who you are. We've been studying with each other for more than 10 years now." Rin remarked.
"Right. Sorry about that. Let me take my introduction back then. Hmm, my name is Arsh, you must have heard my name." He said, winking to Reyansh.
Aarav and Rin laughed but Reyansh was annoyed. It was his exam and Arsh was joking around, damn him!
'These guys are so cheerful. It's so annoying.' He thought.
"Anyway," Arsh said, snapping Reyansh out of his thoughts. "I was absent the other day but I heard about it all from Aarav and Rin. I am so glad. It seemed like Aryan is not going to bully you anymore, eh?" Arsh said like he cared so much about Reyansh.
'Yeah, where were you when he bullied me for three years?' Reyansh thought to himself.
Reyansh looked at Aryan and he seemed happy. He was talking with... Uh, who cares. Fortunately, though, Dhairya hadn't arrived in the classroom yet.
"Yeah... It would have been messed up otherwise." Reyansh said, giving a nervous smile.
"So anyway..." Now it was Aarav's turn to speak again. "Are you prepared for the exam, Reyansh?" Aarav asked. THAT type of questions were the ones Reyansh hated the most.
"I... Don't think so..." Reyansh said, going for the truth this time. No point in lying to them.
"Don't worry!" Rin exclaimed cheerfully. "You can count on me! I'll get you passing marks for sure!" Rin said enthusiastically.
She really can help him if she wishes to. Her role number was right next to his as they shared the same first letter of their respective names. This could be really fortunate for Reyansh. He never cheated before that day, because nobody was really willing to help him. He didn't understand one thing though - why Aarav and Rin suddenly started to help him. That was really weird and suspicious. Did they have some hidden agenda behind them helping Reyansh? For now, one can only think.
He realized he should concentrate on his exam rather than delving into such thoughts.
He might be able to pass the exam with her help.
"Alright, let's go to our respective classes assigned to us." Aarav said.
Before Reyansh left the class to go to the class assigned to him for the exams though, he felt a creepy gaze coming from his right side. When he turned to his right, he realized that it was Aryan. He was giving him a gaze from the corner of his eyes. It was really creepy!
'What was the meaning of that? Why did he give me such creepy gazes?' Reyansh thought as he left the class.
When Reyansh entered the class assigned to him, he realized that he was going to be sitting right to Madhuri in all of his exams.
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