“Your hair is good,” Fleance said one morning.
Ceasar, taken aback both with the statement itself and the fact that Fleance had apparently been hovering over his bed while he slept waiting to tell him, responded with little more than a confused grunt.
“It’s a compliment about your hair,” Fleance elaborated, “being good.”
“Oh.” Ceasar reached for his glasses. “Thanks. I like yours, too.”
“Your hips are slim and poor for child-bearing,” Fleance continued, “but many people prefer them that way.”
“Er, thanks,” Ceasar edged out from under the covers, a weary eye on Fleance, “I appreciate it.”
Fleance nodded and went to put on his uniform.
* * *
At lunch, the boy who had helped Ceasar look for Pebble one afternoon when he’d lost track of him on the beach plunked himself down in the seat opposite Ceasar. “Hey,” he said, “I like your hands.”
Ceasar frowned and held one out in front of him. “There’s nothing really special about them,” he said, wagging his fingers about.
“Nope, they’re definitely above average,” the boy argued. “The fingers are just the right length, and there’s never dirt under the nails.”
“Well, thanks, I do like to keep clean.”
“Your legs are also very nice,” the boy said, resting his head on the table. “Very shapely.”
Ceasar furrowed his eyebrows. “When have you ever seen my legs?”
“That’s not important,” the boy said. “Oh, yeah, and you always cut fruit up into just the right size. Very easy for hermit crabs to eat. Pebble is super-lucky to have you making his food for him.”
“Thanks,” Ceasar said, chewing on a chunk of asparagus and wondering if it would be appropriate to run away at this point in the conversation.
* * *
Ceasar sighed and let Teddy hang a “I molest little boys in the hallway at least thrice weekly, geez” sign around his neck.
“You ought to make someone supervise you on the way to class,” Cherokee suggested as he ushered Ceasar into the Hall of Shame. “It would save the rest of us some trouble.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Ceasar said, taking his usual spot at the far end of the row, “Sorry about that.”
“Oh! I almost forgot!” Cherokee grinned. “I like your glasses!”
“Really?” Ceasar pushed them up his nose. “I’ve been thinking about contacts, though.”
“No, no! They look good on you!” Cherokee insisted, “They suit your face!”
Ceasar smiled. “Well, thank you.”
“Oh, oh! Also, you’re good at math!” Cherokee added. “You know how x’s work and everything!”
Ceasar rolled his eyes and laughed. “Ah,” he said, “I see how it is.”
* * *
Ceasar stood in Ice’s doorway with his arms crossed. “I appreciate the concern,” he said, “but just a quick ‘Hey, you look nice today,’ from you would have been enough.”
Ice shrugged and sat back down. “You would have just thought I was being gay if I said it,” he said.
Ceasar shut the door behind him and sat on the bed next to Ice, resting his chin on Ice’s shoulder. “Was that tall guy dressed all in black with the curly hair one of the people you got in on this? I’ve never seen him before. He said he liked my thighs.”
Ice’s eyes went wide and he grabbed Ceasar’s arm. “You stay away from that guy,” he said, “He’s bad news.”
Ceasar nodded. “That’s what I figured. And are you the one who told Fleance to say my hips were too slim for child-bearing?”
“Naw, that was all him,” Ice said, “I like your skinny boy-hips.”
“Thanks,” Ceasar said, “I like yours, too.”