Chapter 2: A Plan to Pass
… … …
Time flows without pause and before they come to realize, a week passes by all too quickly without them knowing. The students slowly integrate themselves into groups and gradually become familiar with each other.
Whereas, Jackson’s primary intent was to gain the trust of Peter Parker and Harry Osborn.
Harry being the young master of the Osborn Industries has his own pride and would not allow himself to casually make friends. Jackson finds Harry’s character a bit too guarded but as for Peter, the only child of a well-to-do average family, one whose background was comparably different from Harry, Jackson thinks he’s easier to befriend.
Peter’s mind flows a deep sense of intellectualism. The same can be said for Jackson. For Peter, finding someone with like-minded thoughts, he quickly accepts Jackson’s presence as a friend.
It was due to Peter that Harry allowed himself to relax and slowly accept the presence of the biracial youth, Jackson into his small circle of friends. Though technically speaking, a small circle of friends can be said to be an understatement. After all, the only friend Harry considers a friend is Peter.
“Hey, Jackson! What is the matter with you?” Tom questions him with a hint of cold iciness in his tone.
As Jackson’s only childhood friend, he’d always believed the two would forever remain close, their bond so tight and unbreakable, but now, it seems different as if everything changed the moment Jackson’s high school youth began because his friend’s behavior has been nothing but weird over the past few days.
Moreover, he befriended the young master of Osborn Industries.
Tom finds this matter to be a bit unusual. Because you see, growing up, Jackson had a somewhat individualistic and independent character and his sudden change of character made Tom stumble.
But this did not really matter to Tom regarding Jackson’s recent change of character. What caused him to worry the most was the feeling of his friendship with Jackson slowly fading into the distance as he grows closer to Peter and Harry.
This is not a good sign, he thinks.
“Why? Is there something wrong?”
Tom breathes like he can’t get the word fast enough, unable to respond to Jackson’s inquiry.
As for Jackson, his head is brimming with a fog of uncertainty. He did not know how to approach Peter and Harry without causing the pair to grow suspicious.
Tom clears his throat. “Have you not noticed? These past few days… you seemed out of it. And most especially, you’ve deliberately gotten closer to Harry Osborn! Why? Do you wish to have a close relationship with the young master of Osborn Industries so you can get a good job in the future? This is not like you!”
Tom did not place much importance on Peter Parker. He’s only an average guy who’d lucked upon befriending Harry Osborn at a young age.
Besides, Jackson is no less inferior to Peter. Jackson has an intellectual mind, and so does Peter. Tom wouldn’t place Peter as his prime importance regarding the change in Jackson’s unusual behavior.
“Oh? Is that what you think?” Jackson raises his brows amusingly. “You think I’m reaching for the Osborn Industries by befriending Harry? Of course not!” He responds with a light chuckle upon hearing the reasoning of Tom’s complaint.
“Then what the hell are you doing?!” Tom asks helplessly. “The day after tomorrow is your birthday and you haven’t invited me. I was wondering if you forgot about me, your friend.”
“Of course not.” Jackson shakes his head. He’s growing nervous. The pressure of the impending time limit is nearing closer and he’s yet to accomplish his goal. “I simply haven’t figured out how I’m going to arrange this year’s birthday. It’s why I haven’t informed you yet.”
Jackson coughs. “Anyways, I’ve made friends with Peter and Harry. I think we should make friends. After all, we’re in high school now. It can’t only be just the two of us. We have to grow a little bit, Tom. This is what I think.”
Under Tom’s scrutiny and piercing gaze, Jackson pulls the “growing up” excuse card.
“Is that so?” Tom crosses his arm, somewhat skeptic.
“Of course!” Jackson nods his head vigorously. “And don’t worry! I’m inviting you to my birthday now. So… you don’t need to worry about me forgetting you. You’re my best friend, after all. And plus, you’re the first person I invited!”
“Well, okay. I believe you!” Under Jackson’s decent explanation, Tom would rather choose to place his faith in his friend.
Besides, how would he know the reason Jackson approached Peter and Harry is to utterly destroy their relationship as the system commands.
Soon after, Jackson goes back to his train of thought. He ponders over the matter regarding the healthy relationship between Peter and Harry and finally came to a conclusion.
Peter Parker and Harry Osborn’s close relationship can only be destroyed from within.
Jackson clasps his hand and smiles foolishly upon his sudden revelation and his eyes twinkle hard because things are going just as well. Peter thinks him a friend due to similar academic intellectualism and Harry also think him more of an acquaintance through Peter.
Besides Tom who thought his sudden change of character to be strange, no one notices. It is only normal wise people such as Jackson and Peter flock together. And Harry? Peter was just lucky.
“Come now, let’s go or we’ll be late.” Jackson instinctually pats Tom’s shoulder before quickening his pace.
Though Tom irritably fussed and complained his worries towards Jackson, it also gave him a wake-up call. The day after tomorrow would be his 16th birthday and he is confident in the matter of his family surely giving him a small birthday party.
Should I invite Peter and Harry? This might be an excellent opportunity, he thinks.
But when Jackson’s gaze lands on Tom, he wonders if Tom will start to fuss and complain.
Hmm, it should be okay. Jackson comforts himself with his big head (intellectual mind). It should be easy to fool Tom if ever he grows suspicious.
“Peter! Harry!” Jackson enters the classroom and sees his newfound friend. “Hey, guys.” Jackson smiles and waves his hand.
Tom who was behind Jackson inadvertently raises his hand and taps Jackson’s back. Tom points out that since Jackson wants to make more friend, he would no longer object to his wish nor would he interfere.
“Hey, Jackson! You’re a bit late. Have you had troubles facing me today due to your loss last night?” Harry’s lips curl into a smile, his hand making a gesture.
To Jackson’s dismay, he did not think he would be abused to the point of losing. He was very serious! “Of course not. I do not mind a little loss.” He tells them and he thinks sounds a little breathless. “The day after tomorrow is my birthday and I found myself staying up all night thinking about this matter.”
Translator’s Note:| They were playing online.
He’s thinking about the current matter at hand and he’d long resolved himself to invite Peter and Harry to his birthday, but he won’t say it flatly. No, he’ll lead them to come through Peter.
Peter’s mouth gapes. “What? Why did you not say it earlier or else I’d have time to prepare a gift.” He tells Jackson, rather disappointed that he’d not have the time. He didn’t know Jackson for long, but already this biracial youth harmonized with him; his personality strangely attuned to Peter’s which is why he placed Jackson as his good friend.
“Well, if you don’t have anything to prepare…” Jackson trails off. “Then you coming to my party will be the best gift.”
Jackson discreetly glances at Tom who stood next to him. His heart feels relieved when he did not say anything unsatisfactory. Jackson did not understand why the relation between friends is so strange. Sometimes you’ll meet a new friend, and somehow, you’re forced to choose between the two.
Do you pick your old friend? Or the new friend who you click with more?
Luckily for Jackson, he did not need to worry.
“Sure. Just tell us the time and address and we’ll be sure to come. Right, Harry?” Peter says.
“Right! Right! We will go!” Harry agrees.
The bell rings, signaling the first session of class about to begin.
Jackson believes his birthday would where he would set his plan in motion. A small step towards victory. He stares blankly at the textbook laying flat on the desk. He’s deep in thought and suddenly, the system appears.
“We made a good plan.”
“You’re not the one forced to accept the 50,000 reward points and I’m the one working hard!”
The system shrugs. “If you say so.” The system stays silent for a slight moment before speaking. “Say, don’t you think your birthday is missing something?”
“Why a beautiful girl. It only adds flavor to the birthday party.” The system answers with a bit of a laugh.
“Beautiful girl? But I don’t know any beautiful girl. Do you want me to invite a few unfamiliar faces in class?” Jackson grows helpless and discovers that this was indeed the case.
Though it’s only a small birthday gathering, the amount is truly too little. The only ones attending are Tom’s family, Peter, and Harry. The system is right. His birthday would be bland without a flavor to spice things up. Four bigs boys but no pretty girl.
“I have a good candidate. Hm, maybe I’ll help assist you.”
“Wait, what? Are you giving me advice? Is this too good to be true?” Jackson asks earnestly. He wonders what the system is thinking. To place a great deal of importance for this mission, why?
“I simply don’t like seeing such an ugly mood.” The system says casually. “Don’t you want to know who the girl is?”
“Who? Who is it?” If the system wishes to help Jackson, who was he to refuse?
“Her name is Gwen. Her class is right next to you. You can invite her to your birthday but how she answers depends on you.”
“Gwen?” Jackson raises his brow. The name feels somewhat familiar like he’d heard of it long ago. So he contemplates for a while till a light bulb lights up. “That Gwen? You mean that Gwen? Spider-Man’s girlfriend, Gwen?”
“What do you think?”
“I think it’s too good to be true. Am I suppose to introduce her to Peter?” His mouth curves into a smile and his eyes are bright like a twinkling star. “But if I remember correctly, Gwen’s life is doomed and fated to die a tragic death.” His mood turns downcast and seems as if a big boulder crashed heavily unto him.
“I’ve already suggested a candidate. As for what you plan to do, I won’t interfere, but don’t you think girls are the easiest problems for a mere hero? Think about it.” The system gives a vague hint before disappearing into oblivion.
“Girls are the easiest problems for a hero?” He repeats. “That is true. Gwen is Peter’s first love… if I introduce her to both Peter and Harry at the same time on the day of my birthday, feelings could develop… waah, system, you’re great!” Jackson’s mind flips a 180. A theater drama of a love triangle quickly takes shape in his mind and he will bear witness to scene soon to unfold.
“Now, how should I invite her…” The love triangle drama continues to beat wildly in the depths of his heart. He begins to formulate ways to invite Gwen to his upcoming birthday.
“Psst! Jackson!” Tom whispers.
“What’s wrong?” Jackson snaps back to reality and turns his head slightly.
Tom dons a melancholic look as his eyes look towards the front podium.
“Jackson, come and do this question.” Jackson whom recently snapped out of a trance hears the hoarse voice of the math teacher calling his name.
Jackson walks slowly to the front podium and picks up the marker sitting nonchalantly on the edge of the board. He presses the marker on the board and begins to write. He need not worry about the problem asked. Some time ago, he exchanged his reward points for an eidetic memory. Jackson smiles smugly; it isn’t useless, after all.
Three minutes later, he finishes the equation and sets the marker down. He walks back to seat overseeing the urban scenery thinking about the matters regarding Gwen and the best path he should take but the outcome depends on whether his plan will be perfect or not.
“Gwen, Spider-Man, and the Little Green Goblin’s love triangle.” Jackson’s lips curve slightly, his head turns towards Peter and Harry. “This should be interesting.”