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Let there be gossip!

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Puma had his crinkled up paper bag full of lunch that Konnan had made him in his hand, easily squeezing through the crowds of people since he was shorter and just plain smaller than everybody else around him. After walking through a literal sea of students, he finally made it into the cafeteria.

He slowly walked around the perimeter of the large room, eyes scanning every table for his new, long haired friend- if you could even call him that yet. They hadn't spoken since their first meeting the previous day.

He kept searching for Johnny, even having to get on the tips of his toes to see past some of the taller kids' heads. "Hey, Puma!" he heard a familiar voice shout. That wasn't an angry tone of voice he heard, right? That was Johnny still wanting him to sit with him?...right? The long haired boy got up from his seat to walk toward Puma, placing a hand on his back and guiding him over to his table full of friends. He felt like running and hiding under a nice, bug infested rock, but instead stayed put.

"Puma, these are my friends I told you about yesterday. This is Taya, PJ, Jack, Drago- because he's apparently a dragon?.. And this here is who we like to call Star!" a Latino girl with blond hair waved to him, smiling sweetly.

"Hey, everyone." Puma signed using his hands. Everyone seemed to look a little - a lot- confused, so Johnny stepped in to translate for them.

"Uh- He said 'hey, everyone'."

He got a chorus of hi's and hello's thrown his way, all just as cheery as the last. "C'mon Poom, you can sit next to me so we can talk behind people's backs." Puma smiled widely, accepting the seat beside his new buddy.

"So, why do you wear that mask?" Jack asked as he bit into a stale French fry. Johnny sent him a look, and that got the other kid feeling all defensive. "What? All I did was ask a question!"

"Well, it's not a very nice one to ask, Jack." Johnny sighed, glancing to his left to check and see if Puma was alright. He looked to be fine, maybe a little nervous. "I mean, would you ask Pentagon whyhewears face paint to school everyday?"

"I have, actually. And he usually just gets all up in my face and shouts that he has 'zero fear' in Spanish and threatens to brake my arm if I ever ask him again. But I haven't gotten anything broken yet, so..." Jack replied, leaning back in his chair and smirking. PJ, -who was sitting to his left-, fist-bumped him and muttered a 'that's awesome, bro'.

"I guess he can afford to threaten to break kids' arms because his daddy is a teacher at the school." Taya muttered, arms crossed in annoyance.

"Yeah, that and he's just plain creepy." said Jack.

"Uh, nowhere near as creepy as his other dad, who dresses like a vampire covered in blood every Halloween!" Johnny shuddered at the memory or Ian -or 'Vampiro'- handing out candy with Pentagon Jr. by his side, the kid saying weird stuff in Spanish and making what Johnny assumed was 'gang signs' with his hands.

"Oh god, Ian is soo creepy! And not in some sorta child-predator way, but like, in the 'I want to steal your soul' type of way." said Taya.

Star, who had been decidedly silent up until now, finally spoke a few words. "I don't eh like Ian. He eh chas-ed me around teh block lest Halloween."

"Sí." said Drago.

Puma tapped Johnny on the shoulder and, using his hands, asked him what everybody was going on about and why some crazy kid went around school threatening to brake arms. And since Johnny was polite, he explained everything with his hands, all of his attention focused on Puma. It was almost too much for the younger boy to handle. All this attention on him was a lot- even if it was only coming from one person.

"And his dad Ian isn't all that.. sane, either. He likes to scare the crap outta everyone on Halloween." Johnny spoke aloud this time. "And speaking of Halloween, you should hang with us! It's only, like, what? A couple months from now?"

"Sí." Drago replied.

Johnny laughed and looked back to Puma. "Will you say yes?" he signed, awaiting his reply and looking hopeful.

"I have to ask, but I'd say it's okay. Yes.

"Sweet!" Johnny said aloud, wrapping an arm around his new friend's shoulder and pulling him close for a quick half-hug. "We're gonna have so much fun together, you and me."
Puma smiled, appreciating the human contact. The only hugs he ever got were from his adoptive father Konnan. It was nice to have another person to hug. And let me tell you, Johnny gave reallygood hugs.

"Dude, is that milk?" PJ said, gesturing to the small carton in Puma's hand.

"Chocolate." he signed.

"Heh, you get that PJ? It's chocolate milk." Johnny looked to Puma again. "Your dad pack that lunch for you?" he spoke aloud.

Puma nodded, eyes downcast. He had a boring ol' PB&J sandwich, and a small carton of chocolate milk being his only real treat. It was sweet of Konnan to care enough to go out and buy chocolate milk for his son rather than the generic, regular flavored kind.

"It's cute." Johnny sighed once Puma lifted his gaze from the table.

"Thanks... I think." Puma signed back, smiling confusedly before biting into his sandwich.

The bell eventually rang and Puma and Johnny had to part ways, the latter having to go off to class with his friends- but not before saying goodbye to his new friend.

"See you tomorrow, Poom!" Johnny signed, causing the shorter boy to laugh at his newly assigned nick-name.

"Bye, J!" Puma replied using his hands. He again, just like yesterday, watched his new friend weave his way through the crowd of kids, long hair flowing in the wind he created by running to catch up with his friends.

---

Puma had arrived home at the usual time, opening the front door and dropping his yellow backpack on the floor as soon as he made it inside.

"Aye, Puma!" his adoptive father Konnan called out, entering the room shortly after. "How was your day, hijo? See your friend again?"

Puma nodded enthusiastically, excitedly using his hands to tell him how amazing his day had been. "We had lunch together, and I met all his friends. And he's older than me, and he wants to have me at his table again tomorrow, and he gave me a nickname-"

Konnan cut him off. "Wait- he gave you a nickname?

"Yeah..."

"Mm." his father hummed to himself. "So, what's your nick-name?"

"Poom"

"Heh, cute." Konnan smiled, walking toward his adoptive son to crouch down and place a hand on his shoulder. "Ready'da go to the park, Poom? he laughed, watching as Puma squinted up at him and nodded slowly.
Got it. Don't call Puma by his, uh, nick-name. It's special to him.

Puma and Konnan headed out to the park with the idea of practicing his gymnastics-type moves in mind.

"Looking forward to seeing your new friend at school tomorrow?" Konnan asked Puma as he pulled the sheets up to his sons chin.

The kid nodded tiredly, though he still seemed pretty darn excited at the idea of seeing his friend again. From what Konnan's heard, Johnny is a very nice and respectful, young boy. And he hoped to be meeting him sometime soon. Maybe they could have a sleepover or something? Whatever, all that matters is Puma is happy and has friends who care about him and are nice to him.

"Good night, hijo." he leaned down to press a soft, quick kiss to Puma's un-masked forehead.

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