The next day at school, Daniel and Sam were on their way to lunch when two boys from their class came rushing up to them.
"Somebody smashed your pyramid!" they cried.
Horrified, Sam and Daniel ran to the pyramid, the boys right behind them. When they got there, they saw that their creation was in perfect condition.
Loud laughter made them turn to the boys.
"April fools!" the kids shouted. Still laughing, they ran off.
"Oooh! Those jerks!" Sam growled, furious.
"What's April fools?" Daniel asked, silently agreeing that it had been a mean trick to play.
"Today is April Fool's Day. People play tricks and jokes on other people on April Fool's Day."
"I don't know."
Sam thought about the boys who had played the joke. She realized that she should have known not to trust them. They were friends of Bud Whitman, and, though they'd never participated in any of his bullying, they did like to tease some of the other children, including her and Daniel.
Getting an idea, the girl suddenly smiled. "Hey. You wanna get back at them?"
Daniel stared at her. "What do you mean?"
"They're in our class, and I know where they sit." Sam whispered her idea in Daniel's ear.
"I don't think we should do that," he said. "It's not nice, and we could get into trouble."
"But it'll be funny. And it won't hurt them. It'll just embarrass them."
Daniel frowned. "I don't know. I still don't think we should do it."
"Come on. It'll be great."
Reluctantly, Daniel followed Sam to their classroom, which was empty, everyone off having lunch. He watched as Sam gathered the things she needed.
"Go to the door and watch out for anyone coming," she instructed.
Daniel did so, getting progressively more nervous as Sam carried out her plan of revenge. By the time she was finished, he was a nervous wreck, certain that someone was going to suddenly appear, catch them in the act, and haul them off to the principal's office.
He was tense all during the time they ate lunch, wishing that he'd told Sam not to do it. He was dreading the return to the classroom and what was going to happen.
When he and Sam went back to the class, Daniel didn't dare look at Mrs. Mason, certain that his guilty feelings were written all over his face. As the other kids came in, he kept his gaze on his desk.
Sam, on the other hand, watched and waited for the two boys to come in. She hid a smile as they entered and went to their desks.
It was ten minutes later when Mrs. Mason told everyone to get out their history books. All of the children lifted the lids of their desks to get to the compartment inside. Unnoticed by two certain boys, a string had been attached to the lid of their desks. When they opened the lid, the string was pulled taunt. The other end of the string was attached to a small plastic container, which was being held lightly to the underside of the desk by some tape. The container was jerked free of the tape, and the boys suddenly found the crotches of their pants soaked with water. With a startled squawk, they jumped up and stumbled back from their desks. When the other children saw the state of their pants, the room was filled with laughter.
Seeing what had happened, Elizabeth Mason let out a sigh. She really hated April Fool's Day. She got up and took a look under the desk of one of the victims, quickly seeing how the prank had been pulled off.
Returning to the front of the class, the teacher stared narrowly at her students. "All right. Does anyone know who did this?" As she studied the kids one by one, she noticed Daniel's hunched posture and the way he was staring fiercely at his desk. No, it couldn't possibly be him. He simply wasn't the kind of child to do something like this. Elizabeth had a thought. But it was possible that he knew the identity of the guilty party. That made the woman's eyes go straight to Sam, who was also staring at the top of her desk. Oh, my.
Okay, so how should she handle this? There had to be a reason why it had been done. Sam wasn't the kind of child to do this without a reason. Regardless of the motive, however, it shouldn't have been done.
"Okay, here's the deal," Elizabeth said. "Unless someone confesses, I'm keeping the entire class after school, except for the two victims of the prank."
"But that's not fair!" one girl cried.
"Nevertheless, that's what's going to happen. So, what's it going to be? Is the guilty party going to let the whole class be punished for what they did or are they going to do the right thing?"
Sam squirmed in her seat. Her idea had seemed so funny. Now, it wasn't funny anymore, not even a little bit. If she didn't confess, all the kids in class would get punished for her actions. But if she did confess, she'd probably be sent to the principal's office.
After a long internal struggle, Sam at last raised her hand.
"Yes, Sam?" Elizabeth asked, glad to see that her faith in the girl had been justified.
"I did it," Sam mumbled, her gaze glued to her desk.
"I see. I'm not going to ask right now why you did it, but we will be talking about it after class." Elizabeth turned to the two boys. "Go to the restroom and dry off your pants the best that you can."
Knowing that everyone who saw them would think they'd wet their pants, the boys left, shooting Sam a dirty look on the way out.
After the boys were gone, Elizabeth handed Sam some paper towels. "Wipe up the water that's on the floor," she ordered.
Feeling terribly embarrassed, Sam did as she was told.
During the entire scene, Daniel hadn't looked up even once. He felt guilty and embarrassed. Though it had been Sam who'd done all the stuff, he had helped her by acting as lookout. He should tell Mrs. Mason what he did. It was only right. But what would happen if he did? His foster parents might get mad and send him off to another foster home. And Mister Greer would be so ashamed of him. He might not want to be Daniel's tutor anymore.
The more Daniel thought about it, the more upset he became. Elizabeth, who'd been watching Sam wipe up the water, looked over at the boy and was surprised to see him wipe tears from his face. He looked utterly miserable. She had to wonder what part he'd played in this whole thing.
Once Sam was finished, the teacher resumed class. The two boys came back in a while later, their pants still quite noticeably damp. None of the other kids dared laugh.
The ringing of the school bell at the end of class sounded more like the sound of doom to Sam. She remained seated as the other kids left. The silence that followed was almost deafening.
"Daniel? Is there something you'd like to tell me?" asked Mrs. Mason.
Surprised, Sam turned and saw that Daniel hadn't left.
"I helped," the boy whispered.
"How did you help?" the teacher asked.
"I-I-I stood at the door and watched to see if anybody was coming."
"So, this was your idea, too?"
"No!" Sam cried. "It was only my idea. Daniel didn't want to do it, but I made him! He told me we shouldn't do it."
"And would you like to tell me why you did it?"
Haltingly, the girl explained what the boys had done, adding that they often teased the other kids, including her and Daniel. Knowing how important that pyramid was to Daniel and Sam, Elizabeth agreed that it had been a cruel prank, but striking back at the perpetrators had been the wrong course of action.
Elizabeth let out a sigh. "All right. I'm not going to report this to the principal since no real harm was done, but I am going to tell your parents. You'd better go now before you miss your bus." She looked at Daniel, who appeared to be on the verge of tears again. "Go on to Mister Greer. He'll be waiting for you."
Quentin was very surprised when a tearful, miserable-looking Daniel entered the classroom.
"Daniel, what's wrong?" he asked. When he got no answer, he went to the boy and knelt before him. "What happened, Danny?"
Tears began sliding down the boy's cheeks. Then, suddenly, it all poured out in a rush. "I-I did something bad, and y-you're going to be ashamed of me, and you w-won't want to be my tutor anymore, and Mister and Mrs. Underwood won't want m-me anymore, and I'll have to go to a new f-foster home."
Wondering what Daniel had done that could possibly have been so bad, Quentin cupped his cheek.
"Hey," he said softly. "Whatever you did, Daniel, I won't want to stop being your tutor, and I know that your foster parents aren't going to stop wanting you. Now, tell me what you did."
In barely more than a whisper, Daniel told him about the incident with the two boys and what Sam had done to get even. Quentin was surprised, but chose not to say so.
"Did you want to get even, too?"
Daniel shook his head.
"Did you tell Sam that she shouldn't do it?"
This time, Daniel nodded.
"But you helped her anyway."
Daniel replied by hunching his shoulders and ducking his head even tighter to his chest.
"Why did you help her?"
"B-because she's my friend."
Quentin nodded slightly, not surprised by the answer. "Daniel, you need to understand something. When someone is going to do something that's wrong, you shouldn't go along with it just because they're your friend. You need to try and stop them from doing it. And if you can't, then you need to just walk away or, if it's really serious, tell an adult so that they can put a stop to it."
Daniel's head shot up. "But I couldn't tell on Sam!" he cried. "She's my best friend in the whole world!"
"What if she was going to do something really dangerous, something that could get her or somebody else hurt? Don't you think you'd be a better friend to her by doing all you could to stop her?"
Daniel's gaze dropped back to the floor.
"Sometimes, Daniel, being a true friend means taking actions that might make them mad at you but will keep them from doing something wrong. Do you understand?"
The boy nodded slightly after a long pause.
Quentin got to his feet. "Okay, let's get out of here."
It wasn't hard for Kathleen to tell that something was wrong when the two arrived at the house. Quentin sent Daniel to the library, then filled her in.
"He's feeling very guilty about the whole thing," he said. "He actually thought that I wouldn't want to be his tutor anymore and that the Underwoods would kick him out. He was crying his eyes out when he told me that."
"Oh, poor Daniel."
"I didn't realize until now that he's still afraid of losing the people he loves in one way or another."
Kathleen sighed. "I guess it's going to take a long time for him to get over that fear."
Sam slunk into the house, shutting the door as quietly as possible. Maybe if she was really, really quiet, she'd make it to her bedroom before her mom realized she was home.
Tiptoeing toward the hallway, she froze at the sound of a voice.
"And where do you think you're going, young lady?" said her mother.
Slowly Sam turned around. Laura was staring at her with a stern expression, arms crossed. The girl said nothing, waiting for her mom to speak again.
"Your teacher called and told me what you did. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I'm sorry," Sam said. "I-I was mad at them, and I thought it would be funny, and-and. . . ."
"And you did something you shouldn't have. What you did was wrong, Sam, regardless of how justified you believed that you were. Revenge is an ugly thing, and it can cause a lot of pain." Laura's expression hardened. "No TV or other privileges for the rest of the week . . . and no phone calls or visits from Daniel or any other friends through the weekend."
The other things were no more than what Sam had already expected, but the ban on Daniel coming over or calling made her burst into tears and run away to her bedroom. She threw herself on her bed, her face buried in her arms.
Mark had heard about the incident and thought the whole thing was hilarious. He wished that he could have seen the look on the faces of those two boys when the water was dumped on them. When he got home and saw the expression on his mother's face, however, he wisely chose to remain silent. He had to wonder what Dad was going to think when Mom told him.
"I'm assuming you grounded her," Jacob said, having just been filled in on what happened. He was not at all happy with his daughter's actions, not so much the act itself – which he actually thought was quite funny and imaginative – but the reason why she did it. He did not condone acts of revenge. When he got home, he'd have to have a little talk with Sam about that.
"You bet I did," Laura replied. "No TV or other privileges for the rest of the week and no visits or phone calls to or from Daniel or any other friends. I think she was more upset about that last part than anything else." Laura paused for a moment before continuing. "Jacob, she got Daniel into it, too."
That really shocked Jacob. "What?!"
"I didn't learn that from Mrs. Mason. Diane called a couple of hours ago. She wanted to know what I thought a suitable punishment would be for his part in it. She said that he's been miserable all afternoon and evening. According to Quentin, Daniel actually thought that the Underwoods would be so disappointed in him that they wouldn't want to be his foster parents anymore."
Jacob cursed softly. "So, what part did he have in the whole thing?"
Laura explained to him what Daniel did.
Jacob let out a sigh. "This would happen while I'm not there. So, what did you tell Diane?"
"I figured that since he was an unwilling accomplice, and his biggest mistake was in going along with Sam, grounding him for a couple of days would be punishment enough, especially since he seems to be heaping plenty of punishment on himself. On top of that, he's going to be affected by Sam's punishment since he won't be able to come over and visit or call her."
The conversation changed to how the day had gone for Jacob. They said good night a few minutes later.
The next morning in class, Daniel didn't look at Sam at all, and she was afraid that he was really mad at her for getting him into trouble. At lunchtime, she tentatively approached the table he was sitting at.
"I'm sorry I got you in trouble," she said. "I should have listened to you and not done it. I promise I'll never ever do anything like that again. Please don't be mad at me."
Finally, Daniel lifted his eyes to hers. "I'm not mad at you."
Sam sat down across from him. "You're not?"
Daniel shook his head.
"Then why wouldn't you look at me?"
"Because I feel bad about what we did."
"Oh. I feel bad, too. Mom told me that getting revenge on people is wrong. Did you get grounded?"
"Me too, for the whole rest of the week and weekend. We can't see each other or talk to each other on the phone."
Daniel's expression became sadder. "Yeah, I know. Mrs. Underwood told me." He sighed. "I'm going to flunk my science test on Friday."
"Oh, no!" Sam cried. "I forgot all about that. I didn't study with you. If you flunk, it'll be my fault!" She got an idea. "We can study during our lunch breaks. We'll go somewhere quiet."
"But I'm supposed to help Kenny with his reading tomorrow and the next day."
"Can't you skip a week? I bet he'd say it's okay if you tell him why."
Daniel considered it. He felt like it wasn't right for him to skip out on helping Kenny, but if he didn't study with Sam for the science test, he'd probably flunk it. "I don't know. I guess I can ask him. I don't think he's here today. I haven't seen him anywhere."
Sam stood up with her tray. "Come on. Let's take our food outside so that we can study. It's cloudy, but it's not raining."
They took their trays outside, then Sam ran back in to get their science books and notepads.
For the rest of the lunch break, Sam helped Daniel study for the science test, determined that he wouldn't funk it because of her stupid stunt.
Upon arriving home after school, Sam headed straight to her bedroom and started in on her homework, figuring that she might as well since she was grounded and couldn't do much else. She was working on her science homework when it suddenly dawned on her that she'd made a mistake in something that she told Daniel. She needed to tell him as soon as possible. But how could she? She wasn't allowed to call him.
Sam went out into the living room.
"Mom? I need to call Daniel."
Laura looked at her. "Sam, you know very well that you're not allowed to."
"But I have to. There's a science test on Friday, and Daniel and I studied for it today, and I told him something wrong."
"Can't you wait until tomorrow to tell him?"
"But what if he's studying right now, and does things wrong because of my mistake? He'll have to do everything all over again."
"I suppose that wouldn't be fair, would it." Laura nodded. "All right, you can call him, but you are to limit the conversation to correcting what you told him."
Sam hugged her. "Thanks, Mom." She ran to the phone and called Daniel's house. After explaining things to Mrs. Underwood, she waited for Daniel to come to the phone.
"Hi," he said when he picked up. "Mrs. Underwood said that you called because you told me something wrong for the test."
Sam gave him the correct information, and he thanked her.
"I wish I could talk to you more," she said, "but I'm not allowed to."
"We can talk tomorrow at school."
"Yeah. Well, I gotta go. See you tomorrow."
The next morning, Daniel spied Kenny at his locker. He walked over.
"Hi. I didn't see you yesterday," he said.
Kenny didn't look at him. "I was sick," he mumbled.
"Oh. Um . . . is it okay if I don't help you with your reading and writing this week? I need to study with Sam for my science test, and we can only do it at lunchtime because she's grounded, so we can't see each other after school. I'm really, really sorry. I don't want to not help you."
"It's okay. I don't really feel very good today anyway."
"Are you still sick?"
Kenny paused for a long time before replying. "Yeah, kinda." Once again, he wasn't looking at Daniel, his gaze on the floor instead, his fingers twisting the tail of his shirt.
"Maybe you should go see the nurse."
"No, I'm okay," Kenny responded quickly. He gathered up his books. "I need to get to class."
The bell rang, and Daniel said goodbye to his friend, wondering why Kenny was acting so weird. Maybe it was just because he didn't feel good.
At lunchtime it was raining, so Daniel and Sam got permission from Mrs. Mason to eat their lunch in the classroom so that they could study. She was also eating there as she graded homework. She glanced at the two best friends from time to time, watching as Sam helped Daniel with the things that would be included in Friday's science test.
Everything seemed to be working out well with their study partners arrangement. Sam was continuing to get passing grades in English as well as history and other social studies, and Daniel was doing the same in science and math. Of course, Daniel's strengths still lie in the areas he was helping Sam with and vice versa. It was interesting how two kids whose educational interests were complete opposites were such good friends, but it was certainly proving to be beneficial to both of them.
By the time Friday came, Sam was certain that Daniel would do great on the test, but he wasn't so sure. Therefore, he was quite pleasantly surprised when he was handed his graded paper after lunch and saw the big red A and smiley face written on it. He was so excited that he showed it to Sam. She got a huge grin on her face and bounced up and down in her chair.
Immediately after the final bell rang, she jumped up and hugged him.
"You see? I told you that you'd do great!" she exclaimed.
Daniel was wearing an ear-to-ear grin. "I thought I'd just get a B. That's the most I've ever gotten before on a science test."
Mrs. Mason came up to them. "Congratulations, Daniel. You should be proud of yourself."
"Thanks, Mrs. Mason. I wouldn't have done so well if Sam hadn't helped me study."
"Well, you'll be able to return the favor next week. There's a history exam next Friday."
Sam groaned, already guessing what subjects would be covered in the test.
As the best friends went to their lockers, they talked about Daniel's grade on the test.
"I wish you could come over today so that we could celebrate," Sam said.
"Yeah, me too."
When Daniel entered Quentin's classroom wearing a huge smile, the teacher knew that his pupil must have done well on the science test. The boy had been fretting about it for days.
"Let me guess," Quentin said. "You did well on the test."
Daniel proudly held up the graded paper for his tutor to examine.
"Way to go, Daniel. Congratulations."
Quentin thought of something. "Um, Daniel, could you wait here a moment? I need to go make a phone call before we leave."
After the teacher got back, they headed over to his house. Daniel was disappointed that Kathleen wasn't home. He always enjoyed seeing her.
"I'm sure she'll be back soon," Quentin told him. "She probably just ran to the store to do some shopping."
Kathleen returned just twenty minutes later. Daniel and Quentin were in the library and heard her say hello. Another ten minutes had passed when she came in. Daniel's eyes grew wide when he saw what she was carrying. It was a chocolate cupcake with a lit birthday candle on it.
"Is that for me?" he asked.
"It sure is. Quentin called and told me about the A you got on your test, and we agreed that it called for a little celebration." She set the cupcake down on the table. "Now, I know that blowing out candles is usually something you only do on birthdays, but I figured that we could make an exception."
"Should I make a wish, too?"
"If you want to," Quentin replied with a smile. "Couldn't hurt."
Daniel closed his eyes, made his wish, then blew out the candle.
"So, where's my cupcake?" Quentin asked.
"What makes you think I got you one?" Kathleen responded. "You didn't get an A on a science test."
Quentin pouted. "No cupcake?"
"You can have some of mine, Mister Greer," Daniel offered.
His teacher gave him a little hug. "Thank you for offering, Daniel, but that cupcake's all for you."
Kathleen pulled out a second cupcake from behind her back and plopped it down on the table. "Yes, and that one's all for you, hubby dear."
Quentin smiled brightly. "Hey, thanks!"
"What about you, Mrs. Greer?" Daniel asked.
"I've got one, too, Daniel. Don't worry. I'll go get it. Would anyone like some milk?"
Both Daniel and his tutor said yes. A couple of minutes later, the three of them were enjoying their cupcakes and milk.
"I wish Sam could be here," Daniel said. "We wanted to celebrate, too, but we couldn't because she's still grounded."
"Well, maybe you can have your celebration next week," Quentin responded. "Who knows? You might even get another cupcake."