Lock-ins had always felt childish to Adriane -- and totally because they were. Seriously, who's bright idea was it to make a yearly tradition of breaking into the school? If you were going to break into anywhere, make it somewhere cooler and not nerdier.
It was about this point in her thought process, as she'd been carefully applying her lipstick, that she decided the lock-in must've been organized and perpetuated by the nerds of the school -- the Chas Marinos if you will. The ones that were set to peak in high school, so clearly those people wanted to spend as much time in the place where they would be seen as a somebody before they became loser nobodies.
Despite her rather scathing review of tonight's events, she had shown up for the lock-in. Her reasoning? Unknown -- perhaps partially because she was a senior, so surely, she should attempt to enjoy as much of her last year of school as possible. It was all about the "memories" or whatever it was that adults liked to preach -- all voiced by adults that had enjoyed their time in school. The ones that had peaked.
Adriane, for one, would've been fine avoiding all of this, and yet here she was. Standing alone in the gym, one hip cocked to the side while she examined her fingernails to try and look, well, occupied. Every so often, her gaze would drift up and move lazily over everyone around her. She was seeking out anyone that might be able to entertain her for a few minutes, and yet she was unable to find any of her meager handful of friends.
And clearly, no one else was worthy of her time. She almost missed the days when she was younger and people would actually approach her in hopes of making some kind of connection, and she would simply crush each one under her heel like the cockroaches they were. Granted, at the time she'd been annoyed by it, but now... well, it was more entertaining than what she was doing.
No one really approached her anymore -- both a benefit and consequence to having a reputation of being a bitchy ice queen.
Of course, as if the universe just lived to try and prove her wrong, a starry-eyed boy that obviously hadn't gotten the memo about Adriane's attitude decided to approach her. Her eyebrows drew together, her eyes darkening slightly as she watched the boy close the distance between them. If this boy had had any survival sense, he would've caught sight of Adriane's murderous gaze and turned and walked away.
That's what Adriane was trying to impress upon him, anyhow.
Maybe the short, doe-eyed boy had a death wish, Adriane decided as he positioned himself in front of her. Her harsh glare softened a bit, one eyebrow tilting up in a silent question as she dropped her hand from in front of her face to cross over her chest alongside her other arm. She didn't speak, instead waiting for the dumb boy in front of her to make the first move -- he had been the one to approach her, after all.
"I saw you from across the hall," he started -- and cue the eyeroll from Adriane. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone like you in my life. Not to be dramatic, but you took my breath away."
Her lips cracked into a slight smile and she brought one hand up to cover up her mouth and keep herself from laughing aloud.
Seriously? That was the best this little boy could manage to do?
She swallowed the bubble of laughter, sucking in a deep breath to keep herself from bursting out with laughter at his ridiculous and predictable attempt at... what was he even doing? Was that supposed to be a pickup line or...?
Whatever it was, it was almost as pathetic as this boy's general... everything. His general demeanor.
"So, I drew you. I hope you don't mind." He said. "What do you think?"
Well, if Adriane's perfection had taken his breath away, then hearing that some weird boy had just drawn her took Adriane's breath away. For once, the girl that typically always had some kind of quick, jabbing insult was speechless. Her lips were parted to speak, but no words offered to spill from her mouth, instead she just... looked from the strange, strange boy to the sketch of her.
This was going down in her list of worst encounters.
Eww eww. He was basically a creepy stalker boy. That was the only reason anyone drew someone.
After that shock had washed away, Adriane was able to find her words once more. The look of faint shock had washed away to be replaced with a look of pure disgust -- her upper lip was curled up, her eyes narrowing as she stared down at the boy.
"It's horrible," she said, her words dripping with venom as she looked back at the sketch, her nose wrinkling up in disgust. "Seriously? Please don't tell me you're here for visuals because clearly, you've never held a pencil in your life. I've seen better sketches done by dogs. This," she pulled one hand away from her chest to jab at the sketchpad, "looks absolutely nothing like me, unless you think I'm an ugly bitch."
Well, she was the latter half of that remark.
"Also, what the hell is wrong with you? Did you get dropped on your head when you were little? Beaten? Hit by a car or something to make you this incredibly stupid? You don't draw people without their permission, you little creep."
Lock In. His first school event. Ever. It also marked his first week at a real school, and so far, everything had been even greater than he could have imagined. Sitting in a real classroom, attending a lesson instead of just watching others attend classes on a screen. He had reveled and soaked in every experience, and his notebook was quickly filling up with the notes he had taken, all the things he had experienced. Tonight, he would be adding more to the pages.
The thought of being locked in anyway scared him a little if he was perfectly honest. He liked to be outside after spending 11 years stuck indoors. But this was different, this time he wouldn't be locked in alone. There would be other people, like Bella and Kellian, and lots of others! It had been really nice to meet them that day when he moved in. Both of them had been so nice and hopefully he would get a chance to talk to both of them again today.
Avery swallowed as he shifted the backpack on his shoulders. He hoped he'd brought everything he needed. He had no idea what to expect but now, standing in front of the school building, he was feeling underprepared. Had he brought enough food? Was he wearing the right clothes? What if he brought the wrong things? Was it too late to go back and pack more stuff? Probably. He might get lost if he tried to go back now. He had already taken a couple of wrong turns on the way here....he was at the right place...right?
Avery stared hard at the building, trying to see if he could recognise any part of it. It was hard to tell with how dark it already was. Everything looked so different. Still there seemed to be a couple of cars around and people? Those were people right? He'd never been out this late before...everything was so exciting and new. He had to document this. Avery raised the camera that was hanging around his neck and snapped a photo of the building. There. Hopefully, he would be able to fill it up with more photos tonight and make some fun memories and friends.
He could feel his heart pumping in his chest and butterflies in his stomach as he looked around. Was there a guide to this? He'd heard about some details but nothing specific. Did he just walk in through the front door? Or was he supposed to climb in through a window or something? What if everyone had already arrived and he was running late and kept them waiting? Oh no. He had taken a while to find his way over from the dorms but they hadn't been waiting too long or anything right? Hopefully they wouldn't be too upset with him or anything, or that they would forgive him if he was.
A loud slam spooked Avery and he turned to the source of the noise to see another student, striding towards the building. Was he not late after all? Or perhaps he wasn't the only one late. Thank goodness. Gripping the straps of his backpack, he quickly followed after the student, catching him just in front of the door.
"Hello!" He chirped breathlessly. The older boy had covered ground so quickly and now that he was standing in front of him, he could see why. He was tall, very tall, with long legs, a bit of a stubble around his chin and a handsome face. The air about him that just screamed mature and cool. Was he a senior student? Was this what all seniors were like? "I'm Avery! I'm here for the lock in but I wasn't quite sure where to go. Are you here for the lock in too? Oh and um what's your name if you don't mind me asking?" He licked his lips a little, a nervous habit he had picked up in his youth.
The older boy cocked an eyebrow at him at his name. "Dalton." He replied curtly. "Freshman have to climb in through the windows." He added, jerking his head at one. "Lock In tradition. Good luck." Without another word, Dalton walked in through the doors of the school, waving off Avery without turning around as the younger boy called out in thanks.
He looked over at the window. A window. He'd never climbed through a window before, he had only ever seen it done once, in a television show. At least now he knew what to do. Shifting his backpack again, Avery made his way determinedly over to the window and took a deep breath, before grabbing the ledge. Hopefully he wouldn't end up falling painfully like the boy in the show had.
The sight of Chas taking a big hit to the balls before being pounced on and served a clean strike to the face had been even more amusing than he had imagined. And damn could Charlie hit. Watching her rearrange Chas’ face had made him think of an angry dwarf attacking a beanpole. It had made him smile to see it that day over at Adriane’s place. Unfortunately, it was one of the last few things he had smiled about in the past week, or at least not been angry about. He wasn't going to be able to move in to the new place until later this month but at least Reid had agreed to move in and split the rent. On another note, his father had also sent him a mustang to replace his old car as an early birthday gift. He'd already given it a few test runs and it was making for some great drives, exactly the kind of present he appreciated even though it was bought with the old fart's money. In fact, he would appreciate it a whole lot fucking more if he hadn't learnt shortly after that the fucking halfwit slut he supposedly had to call brother was now attending H.A.
Dalton slammed the door of the mustang shut in annoyance. Probably shouldn't take it out on the nice new ride but fuck he was pissed. That little bastard had better hope he didn't run into him alone tonight.
He retrieved the duffel bag with his stuff for lock in, slinging it over his shoulder and locking the car. Putting aside the appearance of that brat, lock in actually ought to be enjoyable. After the chaos that had happened on twitter tonight would probably be messy and entertaining. Nothing tickled his soul more than seeing other people suffer, especially when he had a shitty week like this one. What was he doing tonight again? Right, Lydia. He was hanging with Lydia. To do what exactly, he couldn't recall, but he did remember that they had that bet about whether the new kid would last.
"Hello!" A painfully high pitched and happy voice squeaked in his ear just he reached the doors and Dalton turned to see a young looking boy standing behind him, looking rather out of breath and wearing a bright red shirt that hurt his eyes even in the dim lighting. "I'm Avery! I'm here for the lock in but I wasn't quite sure where to go. Are you here for the lock in too? Oh and um what's your name if you don't mind me asking?" Speak of the devil. New kid in the flesh.
"Dalton." He replied curtly. Did this kid need an instruction manual for everything or something? Oh well, whatever happened next, not his fault, out of his hands. Maybe it would teach new kid to leave him alone. Playing at babysitter was not his thing, especially not tonight after he learned that he already had one little shit to deal with for the rest of the damn school year.
"Freshman have to climb in through the windows." He jerked his head at a nearby window. A lie of course but if the boy was idiotic enough to believe him that was new boy's fault, not his. "Lock In tradition. Good luck."
Avery shouted a 'Thank you' at him as he made his way in through the front door, further into the school and further away from him. The boy really was a moron. He was so fucking happy he was a senior because he would only have to deal with nuisances like him and the slutbag for one year, not more. If he got hurt or pulled out of school after trying to climb in through the window, then even better. A week had already past. He won the bet with Lydia, so no skin off his nose if he left now that he had that favour in his back pocket to pull out whenever it was convenient. The thought made him whistle a little as he set off in such of a classroom to dump his bag.
This week had been utter shite, and Trevor was having to ration his weed because of it.
(Yeah— times were very fecking tough.)
Trevor had been smoking double time. The stress of the approaching Arts Festival meant that Trevor was faced with a heavily-pounding head every time that he sobered up. The film…
Oh, fuck, the film. Look, Trevor was a professional. He knew what he was doing— he had done it before. He had it under control— he had it under control, very under control.
HE WAS SO FAR BEHIND SCHEDULE, OH MY GOD. IF HIS GRANDMOTHER KNEW—
Charlie still fecking hated him. They had had minimal interactions, and that was stressing him out, too, because he hadn’t caught an opportunity to even speak with her, much less psyche himself up to apologize.
And Ash? His girlfriend? The one who he had confessed his deep care for two (three? Some weeks ago, who was even feckin’ keeping up anymore)? Yeah, he’d heard so much feckin’ less from her this week. Their plans to hang out? Out the window— out the window to “rehearse” with “Lucky”.
With that fecker, yeah! The fucking bitch in heat.
If he was going to hump her leg, he could at least ask Trevor’s permission first! Make some kinda comment! Shove his middle finger in his face and say “hahaha, I’m totally gonna fuck your girlfriend” aloud instead of— instead of whatever the hell that he was doing.
Making Trevor’s life hell?
Yeah, that was about right.
Listen, Trevor was trying— seriously, he was trying. He’d promised her that he was going to, and he was.
He was calm. Cool. Collected. That didn’t bother him in the least bit.
HE WAS GOING TO POP A FUCKING BLOOD VESSEL.
So he had been right feckin’ miserable, all feckin’ week.
And that miserableness had led to him smoking.
Every free chance he got.
To the point that he was almost out.
To the point that he was going to the feckin’ lock-in sober.
There was something that you had to understand about Trevor: there were few things that he loathed more than having to be around people whilst sober.
The main reason was that people got on Trevor’s last fecking nerve.
Hence why he enjoyed locking himself in his room for days on end during break times.
People were annoying, and loud, and obnoxious, and overbearing, and actually tried to interact with you, and Trevor could not handle the stress.
Without having an aneurysm.
Or wanting to bang his head against a wall.
Ah, and, if you recalled, there were few things that Trevor Callaghan loathed more than having to be around people whilst sober.
One of those few things?
Driving alone sober.
You see, Trevor was several things under such circumstances:
One step away from driving off of the side of a bridge.
Patient, however, was not one of them.
Exhibit A: right feckin’ now.
“Oh, fuck me right in the ar— can ya not feckin' drive in the feckin’ lane?!” Trevor yelled at his windshield, waving his hand at the glass before raising his middle finger. “Good feckin’ Christ, some of us’s got places ta be in one feckin’ piece!” He slammed his elbow against the side of the door, and then frustratedly propped his head up on his fist. “If yer gonna drive like that, just slam right inta me an’ take me out, damn it!”
The vehicle swerved over the lines yet again, as a special “fuck you”.
He bet Lucky was the fucking driver.
“Oh my God!” Trevor shouted, and he laid on his horn, flashing his middle finger again and waving it at the windshield. “I didn’t ask ta be here in the first place, dear feckin’ Lord Almighty,” he muttered beneath his breath. He raised his voice again. “Have fecking mercy!”
Up came his turn, and he put on his blinker with a deep sigh.
Fecking— fecking people.
God, he should have smoked before he came.
There was no way he was making it the night sober.
As soon as he parked— which took him only three minutes this time, and he didn’t hit any vehicles, so give him fucking props because he deserved it— he reached into the glovebox of his minivan and pulled out his green salvation, wrapped tightly in its glorious off-white joint papers.
Heavenly weed. Oh, how he’d missed you.
He pocketed it, along with a lighter, and he stepped out of Rachel, slamming her door as he made his way in.
He tried not to make eye contact with everyone. His posture was rigid, and his face was set in a sour expression.
Of course, this was his natural, un-high, un-drunk demeanor: don’t feckin’ talk ta me.
He made a beeline for the roof.
Of all places for people to be during a lock-in, outside wasn’t one.
Meaning? He should be entirely alone.
With a deep sigh, Trevor lowered himself onto the concrete in front of the water tank and leaned his head against the back of the thing. He pulled his weed from his pocket and closed his eyes, for a moment tuning everything out as he tried to do that thing where he lit it with his eyes closed and got a nice inhale of smoke.
Instead, he fumbled in the blackness of his eyelids, and he clenched his jaw, opening his eyes to see that he was trying to light the middle of the thing.
Breathing out a long sigh and sprawling out his legs in front of himself, Trevor lit the end of the object, and he got that deep inhale that he had been hoping for.
It was so fecking sweet. As he held it in his lungs, he could already feel his headache melting away.
Sure, that wasn’t exactly how weed worked— he’d need a few more minutes before the drug actually really kicked in. But he could enjoy the nice placebo of knowing what was coming.
“What are you doing here?” came a sharp, familiar voice that made him suddenly open his eyes and flinch harshly— and almost drop his joint.
Exhaling a deep sigh of relief as he felt that his joint was still in his mouth, he looked to his left. His heart was beating out of his chest from the sudden shock of the voice, and now, his pulse quickened even more.
Yep. It was Charlie, in the flesh, with her guitar in hand, leaning over him.
“Couldn’t last five minutes without smoking, huh?” she asked.
Trevor blinked at her, not knowing what to say.
He took another hit of the burning object, which bought him a few seconds.
In those few seconds, his mind raced.
He’d been waiting all week to talk to her.
To do something or other that was now totally slipping his mind and that he definitely wasn’t conveniently forgettin— oh, look, a butterfly.
He blinked at her again, and then a sheepish grin spread across his face.
His head gave a solid throb.
His veins felt like they were too constricted.
Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God—
Here is came, the moment that he died.
His blood vessels were all going to burst, and he was going to be nothing but a writing puddle on the roof.
And Charlie wouldn’t even give a eulogy at his funeral.
“Charlieeee,” he drawled slowly, trying to think of his next words as he drew out the word. “Ah…lovely…weather we’re havin’ taday."
Off in the distance, it thundered.
Trevor glanced in the direction that the noise had come from, a dumbfounded look on his face, silently giving a fuck you to whoever was up there, and then he looked back at Charlie, giving her a shaky smile again. “All…nice,” he said.
He cleared his throat, and he took another hit from his joint. He exhaled the smoke, and then gave Charlie yet another weak attempt at a confident smile. “Fancy seein’ you up here, Charlie. It’s…uh, yeah, it’s been a good little bit.” He held up the joint so that she could see—
And he dropped it.
“Feck!” he whispered.
Panicking for a moment, he snatched it up, but— somehow— the thing was still lit.
Holding it between his thumb and forefinger again, Trevor looked slowly up from the ground to Charlie’s face, grin slowly and shakily broadening, and he gave a sheepish laugh when he met her eyes.
He, uh, meant to do that.
His head gave a harsh thud, and he tried not to grimace.
He leaned back against the water tank again, closing his eyes for a moment.
He could kind of feel the drugs working, if that helped any now.
He gave a soft sigh. “Uh, hey…heh, so.”
Spit it out, Trevor.
“There’s, uh…” He looked up at Charlie, giving her a small, unsure smile. “There’s actually somethin’ I’ve been meanin’ ta talk wit’ ya about.”
In fact, Oates was annoying in a lot of ways: the way he talked, the things he frivolously purchased, the undesirable decisions he made... they were all equal parts irritating. To Callum, all of his eccentricities weren't inherently bad, but he had long determined the majority of his character to be a bit of a gnat. For example, even moody Callum had to admit that Oates' constant, dogmatic pestering about his well-being was charming in its own way. That was, of course, until he came across Lesbian Couples: A Guide to Creating Healthy Relationships tucked away on Oates' nightstand. He lifted the book with disgust, aiming a harsh "Tch!" at the book before setting it back in its place. God, was that guy strange.
That seemed to be the proper moment to finally bid farewell to his boyfriend's not-bachelor pad, which had been vacant of the sunny teenager for at least an hour or two. He'd be back later for dinner. Hopefully. That was granted Oates' plans didn't somehow impede on their alone time, but he had to remember to at least try to place a smidge of faith in his loyalty. Whatever; none of that would matter once Callum showed Oates his real charm, starting with a balanced diet.
The rest of the week went on fine, with a near-perfect attendance record on Callum's part, sans the part where he dozed off in his car for the latter half of Thursday's school day. His reunion with Oates felt nice. Secure. It gave him peace of mind, a clarity he hadn't even realized was missing until several others made passing comments on his slightly uplifted demeanor.
In fact, Callum was feeling so rejuvenated that he even committed to attending a school event of all things, even if it was practically the opposite of sponsored by faculty. He found himself parked outside the school, seated in the passenger seat of his newfound friend Jace West's car. He gave the spindly boy a sideways glance, then closed his eyes. Sitting up was going to be such a pain; Jace's car was, like, really comfortable. The older West didn't exactly give off the vibe of someone with money, but maybe it was just his insistent humility. Color Callum impressed.
A few moments passed, ending in the pale boy raising from his minute nap like a vampire from a coffin. "Thanks for the ride," he murmured flatly, exiting the vehicle and rubbing his eyes with his free hand. Soon after, he began to trudge at a snail's pace up to the school, paying no mind for how excruciatingly boring it must have been for Jace trying to match his pace. Hopefully the guy wasn't in any sort of rush, not that Callum particularly cared.
"I still can't believe all that shit they said about me on Twitter," he stated out of the blue, idly sizing Jace up with his tired eyes, "Even Oates was worked up about it. I don't know what gives them the right to be like that, especially after the way they started degrading you too." He sighed, his gaze shifting to the feet he was dragging.
"Why would I lie about some stupid pictures..." he mumbled, his vast vexation only apparent through his tight, trembling fist. It was ludicrous; what's more, everyone started accusing him of lying because of some obviously fake tale Ash concocted about her room being vacant the whole time. It was bad enough for dozens of people to have witnessed him drunkenly breaking down in person, much less on a video meant to frame him. "And that shitty tea account used a video of you supporting me for their own pointless agenda... I don't get it."
He paused, only hesitating out of a natural apprehension to badmouthing someone's sister in front of them, even if it was Ash he was talking about. It wasn't as though Callum was worried about sounding like an asshole, but those sorts of conflicts always turned out to be the most draining. People and their stupid familial ties. Friendly ties, too.
"Your sister's been so shitty lately, but I still thought she'd at least have my back a little. They all acted like I'm some villain out to make everyone suffer with barf and pictures. Who has the time or energy for that?" He shook his head. "And then she started turning it onto me like it's my fault she never wants to hang anymore, even if she acts like she only offers these days to save face. Not to mention her completely blaming her lack of responsibility on Gen's douchebag-ness. It's so frustrating. I didn't even do anything and now I'm more of a pariah than I ever was before."
He turned to Jace, finally managing to make his trademark intense eye contact of death. "It's so shitty, right?"
See, and this was the nice thing about her and Hunter's friendship. Even if they'd both been too busy to, like, actually hangout or even really text over the last few weeks, it was like nothing had changed.
She hadn't realized how tense she was until Hunter responded in his easygoing way. Her previous smile, which had been wavering with apprehension and a slight, like, fear or whatever that he might snap at her for... whatever reason, faded and was replaced by an actual, genuine smile. Any apprehension she had faded and her fingers, which had been playing with the bottom of her jacket, fell comfortably to her sides instead.
For the most part, those nervous habits that Ash never picked up on? Yeah, basically nonexistent right now. There was no lip-biting, no uncomfortable crossing of her arms over her chest, no looking at the ground because she was too anxious to look at Hunter.
Nah, with Hunter? She felt, like, comfortable. Like, he was Hunter. The little brother that she'd never had, the little dude that she liked to mess with, but it was all in good fun and he knew that.
(Little dude because he was, like, super young and basically just a child.)
(In case you hadn't gotten that by now.)
“Now is that before or after you logged your one-inch growth spurt to now?” He joked back. “What are you at now? Like three feet? Are you even tall enough to ride the Go-Karts yet?”
She let out a small gasp, her jaw dropping open in mock shock as he bumped into her shoulder. For a moment, Ash looked away from Hunter, rolling her eyes as she did so, before she glanced back up at him, a sly smile on her face.
"Look," she started and placed a hand over her chest, "just because I'm not a freakish giant like you doesn't mean that I can't, like, ride Go-Karts. You're not even old enough to ride them," Ash was, like, ninety percent sure anyway, and she reached over, poking Hunter in the side for emphasis as she spoke. "But when you are, I'll totally take you, okay? I'll make like a scrapbook or something. It'll say, like, 'Hunter's First Go-Kart Racing' or something, like, super cheesy like that."
While she'd been suggesting the name, she'd lifted her hands up to frame the title or whatever -- you know, putting her hands in front of her and kind of making a little square as she spoke. With a grin, her arms fell back to her side.
"Seriously, though, how are you? Like, you're doing good, right? No one that I gotta go beat up? Because I mean, I totally can't throw a punch, but I will definitely try for you... or get someone else to do it." For a moment, her eyebrows had drawn together in a brief sign of actual concern, but her expression lightened up and returned to the joking smile the longer she spoke.
Look, Ash really hadn't gotten a chance to check in with Hunter for a while, and... like... after all that Twitter stuff...
For a solid ten seconds, Hunter just stared down at Ash. Not in a demeaning way, but in the sort of comical "really?" way that always followed something he knew Ash hated to her core. But he wasn't going to put his arm on her head. He was the mature one, clearly. So Hunter didn't want to go there.
Hunter didn't want to be immature.
Don't be immature.
And then Hunter decided to be immature, arm bent and placed on Ash's golden crown. Even as she spoke, mentioning his first Go-Kart Experience, which made him want to apply a little pressure, saying "uh huh" and "oh really?" as she continued.
This was a recurring thing between them. Literal brother and sister-type behavior. Hunter would make a crack about her height and she would respond with something about how she was older than him. Yeah, only older by like a year. As if that really mattered, but Ash made a point in making it matter. But it was okay. Hunter never was mad at her for making those comments nor that she threw his age in his face almost any chance she got.
It was fine because he always got even.
Just like he was right now with his arm on the top of her head, applying slight pressure to it.
At some point totally not Ash hitting his arms or anything Hunter let up, returning the top of her head free of his tallness and he laughed. A few moments later, Hunter's hands were in his pockets. Not because of any awkwardness but just because. And as Ash asked how he was, he heard no inkling of her usual teasing tone when she asked. So Hunter took it as a genuine inquiry.
And he shrugged. "Not sure what kind of answer you want, but I guess I'm doing all right," he said, shrugging again. "I mean, other than being furious at everyone thinking I'm a dad, I'm just peachy." Hunter's ability to go from mild to hot was truly a gift. "And what about you? Things good for you? Need me to dick-kick anyone for you? Because you know I will."
(Although he wouldn't object to literally, so wink wink.)
This bitch returned his hello and gave him a slight smile, but then she looked towards his hand, and back towards his face, but didn't take his hand for a solid too long. So Damien was stuck there, hand extended, impatiently waiting for this bitch to pick up on basic human fucking cues and shake his hand. For a moment, he wondered if maybe just no one talked to her or some shit and that's why she didn't understand basic human courtesy.
But that didn't make sense because she was hot as hell if you could look past the slight teary look in her eyes.
“I’m…uhm, Nickie?” She finally introduced herself as she, hesitantly, took his hand. But the way she curled her words at the end made it sound like more of a question, and Slater wanted to fuck with her. A bitchy response rushed through his head.
"Do you not know your name?"
Something shitty like that -- not too bad, but blunt and to the point. And yet, instead of being kind of a dick, Slater actually bit his tongue and kept his remarks to himself. See? Because he was just such a good fucking guy.
She released his hand and he moved to take a seat beside her on the bench. He clasped his hands together and rested them lazily in his lap, his right leg bouncing up and down a bit as he looked over at the other girl as she started to talk again.
Yawn, yawn. Boring, boring. The bit-- sorry, Nickie -- was already losing his interest. There was something about the softness of her voice that was practically putting Damien straight to fucking sleep, but he tried to stay upbeat and positive. Ya know, because he was such a good fucking guy, as previously mentioned.
“Abrams,” she clarified, looking into his eyes again. “That…that girl, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Her voice quivered, and Damien internally rolled his eyes. “The…the one that…” She gave a shaky smile. “The one that everyone is saying is a pregnant, bitchy whore. Don't worry, I'm only the last part. I'm not pregnant.”
Slater hadn't been on Twitter when this whole thing had come out (or if he had been, he had no fucking memory of it, which meant that he was probably high, which wasn't a super far-fetched idea seeing as how Damien spent a good deal of his time fucked up out of his mind). So all Damien could really do for a moment was stare at her, his eyes blinking every few seconds, as he tried to digest what she'd just said.
"Uhh..." the boy, who usually had some kind of quipping remark, wasn't sure how to respond to that. A fucking pregnancy rumor, huh? So all he could do after a moment was crack a girn and let out a small chuckle, his head shaking in disbelief. Seriously, this was the kind of fucking school that was supposed to be prestigious as fuck? A school that spread rumors about its students being pregnant?
What in the actual fuck?
Well, at least that meant she was easy.
(Slater was clearly a glass half full type of fella.)
"That's dumb as fuck," he finally stated. He leaned back against the bench, sinking down into the seat a bit as he stretched his legs out in front of himself, crossing them at the ankle. "Dumb bitches in this school kind of like to tear others down for no reason other than wanting some cheap entertainment, huh?" Although Slater gave his words the inflection of being a question, it was rhetorical.
He'd been at the school for a solid week, and he already knew the fucking answer.
He was right.
“It’s…it’s nice to meet you, Slater.” Nickie tacked on.
Well of fucking course it was. Slater was a fucking delight, and one should feel honored to have him grace them with his presence.
Especially if that presence was in the bedroom.
He was truly a one track mind sorta guy.
"Nice to meet you, too, Nickie." Damien said with the best, most pleasant smile that he could manage.
"Anyway, don't let these bitches get you down about spreading dumb as fuck rumors. They're probably just jealous or some shit. Basic fucking high school bitch bullshit, you know? I bet it was some of those plastics, right? Yeah, they're total insecure bitches. I probably would be, too, if I was getting lip injections to try and make myself stay relevant. Like imagine if the only thing you had going for you was having a nice face. Of course they're gonna be bitchy -- they got nothing else going for 'em and they'll all be washed up by twenty-fucking-three. Maybe if they had something else going on up here," he lifted a hand to tap against his temple before dropping his hand back to his lap, "but you know how it is with a lifetime full of fucking beauty supplies. Airheads and all that shit."
For a long moment, his heart had kind of caught in his throat while he waited for Stella's response. It wasn't like he was super worried about her getting mad or something -- this was Stella, after all -- but there was... maybe... not a touch of worry, but maybe a touch of guilt? Look, Zeph had never... had a real girlfriend before, so this was all new ground for him. He wasn't sure how much time to spend with her was too much, and he didn't want to be overbearing, but he also didn't want to be distant, but he also really, really wanted to go play with his new friend Lin.
Yeah, that made him sound so mature but hey, there was something about pretending to be a child that really brought a smile to Zeph's face. Like he'd thought before, it brought him back to a better time. Hanging with Lin kind of made Zeph feel like he was taking a step back in time to the before -- when he was, like, ten and was still granted the ability to act like a dumb kid. Before those years were snatched away because he had to step up.
Not that Zeph was complaining. He was still young, and he wouldn't have traded those lost years for anything.
Well, except trading those lost years, not losing those years, would've meant that his mother never got sick.
She let go of his hand, and Zeph failed to pick up on the slight disappointment in Stella's body language. Look, he was very excited to hangout with Lin, and Zeph wasn't always the most... he wasn't always the best on picking up on other people's moods, especially when his own mood was fairly bright and cheery.
"You're the best," he said breathlessly, a blush creeping onto his cheeks when she kissed his cheek. "Yeah, yeah, of course. I'll uh... yeah, I'll text you." Zeph said, repeating her words as he started to back away, a huge smile on his face as he kept his eyes on his girlfriend. "I'll umm... yeah, text me if you need anything, okay?"
He really didn't want to walk away.
But also Lin and playing some dumb game was calling his name, so...
With one last grin in Stella's direction, Zeph turned and started walking away. He paused after a few steps, glancing back over his shoulder at her and giving her a little goodbye wave, and then he turned back around and hurried off in order to try and find his friend.
Now, if I was a psychotic, worm-loving dude, where would I be...
He-- he'd spent... he'd spent a good like... like... twenty minutes? Yeah probably maybe most definitely like twenty minutes of staring at himself in the bathroom mirror, and trying to decide if he looked good enough to go to the lock-in.
If he was-- if he was presentable.
What did one wear to a lock-in?
Did he dress like he was at school? You know, jeans and uhh... a... nice... shirt? Or was it pajamas? Was he supposed to wear something like bunny slippers, or would that be far too far and he'd be laughed straight out of the building?
That was a dumb thought, because Jace would most undoubtedly be laughed out of the building no matter what he wore. It was a... it was just... it was... something that he found himself dealing with on a day-to-day basis, and something that you'd think he would've... would've... like... like gotten used to by this point, so to speak. You know, the consistent taunting jabs that people enjoyed delivering in his direction.
He'd been receiving them since he'd first stepped through the front doors of his elementary school, his eyes widened with an intense curiosity and excitement at the possibilities that laid before him. Of course, as one might expect from the grueling schooling system, that was quickly beaten out of him and soon, Jace was crying in the backseat of his mother's car as she drove him to school to drop him off.
You know, until he learned not to cry.
And then it had just turned into a shaky fear that he'd never been able to get rid of.
As he looked in the mirror and ultimately decided that his sweatpants were too casual, he thought back to last weekend. Ya know, Sunday when Landon had stopped by, and how poorly that had ended. Landon had stormed out, Jace had felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. He hadn't bothered to stand as Landon walked out, instead, he'd remained facing his keyboard, his eyes glued to the white keys, as one finger pressed the same key over and over again.
Eventually, he'd found himself pulled away from being stiff as a board and he'd managed to actually stand, but that was just to shuffle his way over to his bed and collapse into it and pass out.
He hadn't woken back up until his alarm went off for school the next day.
The same alarm now blared, letting Jace know that he needed to go, go, go, so he quickly swapped his clothes out for something more proper. It was fitting, anyway, because if he'd shown up looking homely and his mother somehow found out (and somehow she always found out), he would've been in serious trouble, and he'd just gotten back on his mother's good side.
Yeah, that was thanks to Ash calling their mother finally to catch up and reminding her why Jace clearly should've been the favorite.
(He knew that he wasn't really anyone's favorite, especially not his mother's, but he liked to live in a fantasy.)
The drive to pickup Callum and then the drive to the school wasn't too bad -- the other boy was remarkably quiet, which really didn't do much to calm Jace's nerves. He very much hated silence and liked to have something in the background to distract part of his brain, so of course, he turned some music on low for some nice background noise. His fingers tapped against the steering wheel, Jace's scrawny frame hunched forward as his eyes darted about on the drive over. Yeah, driving anxiety was something that had plagued him for years, but hey, he'd stop flinching as much when he was driving, so it was getting better.
He parked the car and climbed out, grabbing his backpack from the back and locking it up before he caught up to Callum and shuffled along beside his friend. Sure, Callum's pace was slow, but Jace didn't mind much at all. One hand nervously placed an earbud in his right ear, and he fumbled with his phone as he struggled to turn on some soft music to play in the background of his head, all before he allowed himself to tune into what Callum was mumbling on about.
Oh... the Twitter thing.
"I still can't believe all that shit they said about me on Twitter," he stated, "Even Oates was worked up about it. I don't know what gives them the right to be like that, especially after the way they started degrading you too."
Jace could believe it. It was just how people at the school rolled, and both Callum and Jace were easy targets. There wasn't much between the two of them that wasn't easy to bully and put down, and... well, Jace didn't have a very thick skin, so every word or harsh remark was stabbed into his flesh like a knife and left there to fester.
"It was... it was really, really, really... dumb... just... just dumb..." Jace mumbled.
As they approached the front doors, Jace made sure to speed up and hurry ahead so he could grab the front door and hold it open for Callum before he stepped through and fell back into step with his friend.
Part of what Callum had said Jace had failed to hear, so he turned down the music in his right ear a couple notches, but then it was too quiet and he felt his heart beating a little faster, so he kicked it back up another notch and then slid his phone into his pocket.
He was in the middle of deciding what to do with his hands -- shove them in his pockets? Tap them against his thighs? Jazz hands? -- when Callum continued to speak, and Jace's heart dropped into his stomach and then catapulted back up into his throat. His hands fell down to his sides and started to tap a little rhythmic pattern against his thighs that bumped in sync with the music in his ear.
That's what Callum had mentioned.
The tapping increased in frequency for a moment, and he tried to calm his labored breathing, until he could return his fingers to their gentle tip tapping.
He was good. He was fine. This was great.
"Your sister's been so shitty lately, but I still thought she'd at least have my back a little. They all acted like I'm some villain out to make everyone suffer with barf and pictures. Who has the time or energy for that?" He shook his head. "And then she started turning it onto me like it's my fault she never wants to hang anymore, even if she acts like she only offers these days to save face. Not to mention her completely blaming her lack of responsibility on Gen's douchebag-ness. It's so frustrating. I didn't even do anything and now I'm more of a pariah than I ever was before."
He turned to Jace. "It's so shitty, right?"
Oh god oh no oh fudge oh help oh please oh god he was oh no.
He needed to speak, but his tongue felt thick and dry in his mouth.
"She... she..." he started to stutter, and he pursed his lips together, trying to better figure out his wording. "She... yeah, s-she never... she never has... has anyone's back..." Jace finally managed to mumble, his words faltering and growing quieter the longer he spoke on. It was true -- his sister had never once stood up for him when they were back home in New York, or now that they were here. Anytime she saw him getting bullied or torn down, especially by her friends, she'd just look the other direction and pretend that she didn't see him. That she didn't hear him.
"My sister... my sister is a-a-a-a bitch," ouch, oh god, he could taste soap on his tongue when he said that bad word. "You shouldn't... Gen owes y-you for... for false... false..." his eyebrows drew together as he tried to think of the right word, "uhh... character... character... defamation...? S-s-she owes you, but she... she's all talk... she won't, she won't actually do... do anything to make it up to you. She's... she... sucks."
He couldn't handle saying the b-word twice.
"I'm... I'm... I'm sorry, I tried to uhh... I tried to help, but they don't... they don't like me, they don't like you, they only like... I don't know, they only like Gen, they only believe Gen, and it's just... it's so... so unfair."
Nickie felt the dread and nerves ramp up slightly as this Slater guy lowered himself onto the bench beside her. Instinctively, she made herself smaller, scooting aside to give him more space as she folded her hands in her lap and crossed her legs.
"That's dumb as fuck,” said the boy. "Dumb bitches in this school kind of like to tear others down for no reason other than wanting some cheap entertainment, huh?"
She looked over at him, glassy, blue eyes searching his face.
No mockery? No...laughing? No “hahahahaha karma, bitch”?
She blinked at him in confusion, trying to figure out why the hell...he would be doing that.
Who put him up to this?
Curiosity and confusion was overcoming her anxiousness and dread, slowly and cautiously.
"Nice to meet you, too, Nickie,” Slater said, and he flashed her a smile that made her heart skip a beat.
Her eyes flicked away.
Hot guy— talking to her— who wasn’t Hunter— who wasn’t ridiculing her?
Who was smiling?
Who was talking to her, willingly?
She doubted it.
"Anyway,” he continued, “don't let these bitches get you down about spreading dumb as fuck rumors. They're probably just jealous or some shit. Basic fucking high school bitch bullshit, you know? I bet it was some of those plastics, right?”
Nickie looked up at Slater, cocking her head slightly, her brows knitting.
“Yeah, they're total insecure bitches,” he said. “I probably would be, too, if I was getting lip injections to try and make myself stay relevant. Like imagine if the only thing you had going for you was having a nice face. Of course they're gonna be bitchy— they got nothing else going for 'em and they'll all be washed up by twenty-fucking-three. Maybe if they had something else going on up here...” He tapped at his temple. "...but you know how it is with a lifetime full of fucking beauty supplies. Airheads and all that shit."
She stared at him, dumbfounded for a moment.
Was he...trying to comfort her?
What the hell?
After a moment of wide-eyed staring, Nickie let out a soft laugh, finally speaking. “Yeah...” She gave him a small smile. Though it was tiny and unbelieving, it was genuine. “Yeah, tell me about it.”
She looked at the wall in front of herself, pressing her lips into a line and working her hands for a moment, expecting him to go away, to be like “siiiike, now the boys owe me ten bucks”.
She really didn’t expect much of people, so...the fact that he was still here after...what, a minute of conversation? It...meant a lot.
Nickie smiled a small smile. She glanced over at Slater before focusing her eyes back on the wall yet again. She felt her ears warming up with a blush. She worked her folded hands, rubbing her thumbs together. “How’d you know it was the Plastics? Is it that predictable?” she said, laughing quietly and bitterly.
She leaned back against the wall, casting her eyes to the ceiling. “I probably should have seen that coming,” she mumbled beneath her breath with a soft breath of a laugh. “Another thing that makes me a total dumb bitch.”
She looked over at Slater, shaking her head slightly as she spoke. “I mean, I...liked them up until what happened or whatever. I was kinda...I dunno, a follower of them, too, until I had to, like...desperately defend myself.”
Desperately. The word echoed in her head, and she felt her mood start to slip.
She was so fucking desperate.
It was disgusting.
She let out a sigh, dismissing it.
No crying in front of the hot guy.
“I...,” Nickie started, and then she let out another soft sigh. “I don’t get why doing that shit is entertaining...? Like...?” She shook her head with a soft “ha”. “And it’s not even just that— it’s, like, the fact that everyone follows suit.”
She looked at him again, unsure whether she’d see him there or not.
When she did see him, she continued.
“Like, everyone...like, agrees to gang up on whoever they gang up on, and you’re, like, fine as long as that’s the only person you come at.” She pursed her lips, unfolding her hands to run one through her dark brown hair. “And everyone, like, believes what they say, too? Like, no evidence required?” She rolled her eyes. “It’s...so fucking dumb, yeah.” She let out another soft sigh. “Like, yeah, I’m getting fatter...? I realize...? They didn’t need to point it out...? Yeah, like, and I puked at the party...? So...? It’s called fucking being nervous...? I know they don’t, like...understand emotions or whatever...but...damn, seriously? It’s so fucking dumb. Like, I pissed on some sticks. I can literally prove I’m not pregnant— and no one fucking cares, because it’s...popular to...lie about Nickie Abrams right now, because ‘karma’ or some shit.”
She looked over at Slater once again, and, upon seeing his face, she realized that she was really fucking oversharing.
“Sorry, you don’t care about that,” Nickie laughed softly.
She looked down, feeling her face heat up in embarrassment.
She felt tears well in her eyes again, and she squeezed her eyes shut.
No. Fucking. Crying.
She looked up at the boy beside her again. “So, uhm, Slater,” she started, her voice a bit strained before she cleared her throat and continued. “Interesting name,” she said, giving a soft laugh. “Is that, like...a nickname, ooooorrrr..?” She slowly cocked her head at her “ ooooorrrr”.
After a moment of pause and totally not checking him out, she realized something with a soft laugh. “Uhm, now that I...uhm, think about it, I don’t think I recognize you. Are you new here?”
She wasn't entirely sure what kind of answer she wanted, just... an answer. She wanted to make sure he was okay, she wanted to quell the little feeling of guilt that had started to churn uncomfortably in the pit of her stomach ever since her conversation with Cal that had just ended with her feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt -- well, that coupled with the little voice in the back of her head that was telling her she was a horrible friend.
Ash knew that she wasn't the... greatest friend, but she... thought... she was better than what Callum seemed to think she was. She didn't think she was selfish, she hadn't thought that she'd tossed him aside for her other friends, but maybe she had. Either way, she didn't want her other friends to have the same ill thoughts about her, least of all someone that meant as much to her as Hunter did.
Of course, she also felt like a useless bitch for not standing up for him on Twitter in the heat of that scandal -- if it could really be called a scandal. But when one of the arguing parties was Gen, and when it was about Nickie whom kind of deserved what had been served to her (sorry, Nickie -- she winced inwardly at thinking ill of the other girl), and when it was... she didn't handle conflict well at all. Ash tended to shut down. She didn't know what to say. She'd bet sick in the pit of her stomach, and on rare occasions, she'd even found herself sick from such an ordeal.
Ash huffed as he rested his arm on her, and although her drawn together eyebrows kind of spoke of her being annoyed with said action, the slight upturn of the edges of her lips made it clear that, well, she didn't mind. Well, she did mind, but like, she wasn't pissed at him or anything. It was just a thing they did and eventually, with a little elbow to the side and a swat at his arm, she was freed from under him.
Ash was not an armrest. Rude.
She let out a little sigh of relief when he said he was alright and briefly mentioned said scandal. Thankfully, he didn't stick on the whole thing for too long, and instead turned the question back on her, which left Ash...
Quiet for a moment.
She tilted her head slightly to the side, her eyes turning upwards as she thought it over. Because yeah, she'd been... good, but she couldn't really tell Hunter, like, anything. Nothing about Trevor, because well, Trevor wanted to keep them secret, and other than that... what had she really been doing...? She'd been practicing with Lucky for the Arts Festival, and then there'd been that one night she'd hung with Javi.
Ash was not bringing that up, however. Like, what would she of even said? "Oh yeah, doing great, hung with Javi and did some drugs." Yeah, no, that was something she was keeping close to herself.
So instead, she just shrugged, a grin on her face as she looked back up at Hunter. "I've been, like, good. Really busy because I've been umm... you know, getting ready for the Arts Festival which has been, like, a lot. I'm doing a song with Lucky," she explained, and her smile grew a bit. "He's super cool, but like... we've only got a month until the fest, so it's just a lot to try and get ready and perfect in a month, you know?"
It was stressful is what it was, but she was having a good time, at least. Lucky was at least taking this just as seriously as she was, or... at least very close to as seriously as she was. Which meant that, clearly, they were going to destroy the Arts Festival.
Like, in a good way.
She really didn't understand why Trevor seemed to have such a distaste for him, or... well, she understood Gen's current issue with him, but it was one that she hoped would blow over.
(And, okay, she would relent that she understood why Trevor disliked Lucky, but it was on such an unfounded principle that it didn't make sense.)
"So, I'll have to turn down the dick-kick for the time being, but..." Ash shrugged, and let out a small laugh. "Do you know what you're doing for the Festival yet? Or are you just, like, one of those people that totally just wait until last minute?"
Trevor’s face brought Charlie a cocktail of emotions that she certainly wasn’t ready to face. Part of her wanted to shove him and his stupid fucking joint right over the ledge of the roof to his pitiful demise below. Maybe he’d even hit his stupid fucking van and become a stupid fucking Trevor pancake. The time for talking was long gone, the apology that she was maybe about to receive was only going to be present because Trevor was tired of feeling guilty. If he was actually sorry, he would have manned up and said something before he had no choice but to talk.
Charlie would be the first one to admit that she hadn’t been going easy on him. Avoiding someone like the plague makes it difficult to reconcile but in her opinion, the ball was in his court. She wasn’t the one who fucked up, she wasn’t the one who threw away a friend’s feelings for whatever pitiful reason Trevor had. Charlie blamed herself for a lot but this situation? No, that was entirely Trevor’s fault.
Somewhere in the distance, thunder boomed as clouds began to roll in from the horizon. Charlie’s teeth ground together as her face flushed red in anger. Seriously, small talk?
“Yeah, just fucking wonderful.” Charlie spat, shaking her head as she shoved her guitar back in her case. No, she wasn’t doing this whole ‘let’s pretend nothing happened’ thing. She wasn’t going to pretend she wasn’t upset nor was she about to let Trevor off with nothing.
“Fancy seein’ you up here, Charlie. It’s…uh, yeah, it’s been a good little bit.” Trevor continued, a rather shitty attempt at a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. At least he wasn’t in the visuals department because that boy couldn’t act for shit.
“It’s a public roof, why wouldn’t I-” Charlie began but was cut off with a sudden ‘feck’ from Trevor as he dropped his joint to the ground.
Breathing in sharply, Charlie picked up her guitar and notebook. She knew she shouldn’t have come. With guitar in hand, Charlie simply began to make her way over to the doors. She was done arguing with him, done trying to justify her actions. Fuck it, Charlie was just done. All she really wanted to do was enjoy the lock-in, possibly find Lin and cause some havoc like old times to forget all the bullshit. But there Trevor was after the biggest argument of their friendship talking about the fucking weather and the coincidence of running into her on a fucking roof.
“Uh, hey…heh, so. There’s, uh…” Trevor stammered as he leaned further into the water tank behind him. “There’s actually somethin’ I’ve been meanin’ ta talk wit’ ya about.”
Charlie paused with her hand on the doorknob, the door squeaking slightly as she pushed it open slightly. For a split second, Charlie just considered blowing the whole thing off. Fuck it, she didn’t need his apology because it wouldn’t be sincere. He wasn’t sorry otherwise he would have apologized before now. Charlie didn’t owe it to him to hear him out. Sure it may have been a bitch move to just abandon him out there but fuck it, it was a bitch move to act like Charlie was in the wrong in the first place.
“You don’t say.” Charlie laughed sarcastically, fingers still wrapped around the doorknob.
Placing her guitar down out of the path of the door, Charlie spun on her heels and marched right back over to Trevor. Her eyes gleamed with anger as she stopped in front of him, jabbing her index finger into the center of his chest.
“Listen here,” Charlie began, blinking a few times to stop the smoke from his joint from burning her eyes. “Whatever you’re about to say, just don’t and save your breath. You’re only apologizing now because you feel like an asshole and are tired of feeling guilty, not because you’re really sorry. So just fucking save it. It’s been over a week and we barely said two words to each other, you can’t look me in the eye, and now that you have no choice but to talk to me, you can’t even man up long enough to actually apologize without beating around the bush.” Shoving her finger deeper into his chest, Charlie quickly pulled it back as she turned around, walking over to the edge of the roof as she leaned forwards onto the concrete ledge.
The tiredness in Charlie’s voice could be easily heard, though she didn’t bother with crying. She didn’t want his pity or his stupid sympathy, it was completely useless to her. Besides, there had already been enough wasted nights and rivers of tears over the whole situation, Charlie didn’t need to give him anything more.
“Look, I get it. I’m the asshole, I’m the bitch for ruining your fucking birthday. Whatever. Charlie Howell, the friend group fuckup once again. Don’t worry, you made your opinions on me crystal fucking clear on Saturday night. I don’t know what I did to deserve that from you, of all people but it’s fine because the message was received loud and clear.” Charlie ranted, thin fingers gripping the concrete edge with white knuckles. “I came here to pretend for a night that I wasn’t someone that everyone hates so whatever you’re gonna say, spit it the fuck out. Just don’t bother letting me know how shitty of a person I am because trust me, I already fucking know.”
“You don’t say,” Charlie said sarcastically, and she sat her guitar down, turned on her heel, and started to march towards him.
Trevor would have breathed a sigh of relief had he not had the anxiety of her fecking staying to deal with now.
The anger in her eyes was palpable.
Oh my God, he was going to get fecking reamed.
He nervously released his cloud of smoke, bracing himself for impact as he pressed his back against the water tank.
She came to a stop in front of him,, and he smiled sheepishly up at her, making a meek attempt to deflect with his eyes.
She jabbed a finger into his chest angrily, deflecting his deflection with her gaze.
“Listen here,” Charlie started. “Whatever you’re about to say, just don’t and save your breath. You’re only apologizing now because you feel like an asshole and are tired of feeling guilty, not because you’re really sorry. So just fucking save it. It’s been over a week, and we barely said two words to each other, you can’t look me in the eye, and now that you have no choice but to talk to me, you can’t even man up long enough to actually apologize without beating around the bush.”
She jabbed her finger further into his chest, and then quickly yanked it back, turning and walking to the edge of the roof.
He looked down at his joint, breathing in a deep breath of it.
Pain reverberated in his head and in his chest, but not from stress.
It was from the sound of her voice. It was all the tiredness, all of the pain in it.
He looked up and to her figure, leaning against the railing, all his thoughts and fears and nerves ceasing as he listened to her speak.
“I’m the asshole, I’m the bitch for ruining your fucking birthday. Whatever,” she said. “Charlie Howell, the friend group fuckup once again. Don’t worry, you made your opinions on me crystal fucking clear on Saturday night. I don’t know what I did to deserve that from you, of all people but it’s fine because the message was received loud and clear.” Her voice was tired, but still ranting. “I came here to pretend for a night that I wasn’t someone that everyone hates so whatever you’re gonna say, spit it the fuck out. Just don’t bother letting me know how shitty of a person I am because trust me, I already fucking know.”
Trevor had been a doorknob once.
It was first year, and young Trevor Callaghan— or Sean, as all of his teachers insisted upon calling him— had finally given into his nana’s constant nagging to “put yerself out there and get off yer are, boy” by signing up for the school’s fall theater production: Alice in Wonderland.
Of course, Trevor wanted the role that would take the least effort, since he really didn’t want to be there in the first place, so he tried out and specifically requested, “Make me the doorknob.”
He got the role.
Cue him, practicing for hours on end in an attempt to memorize two lines, which he somehow managed to still fuck up every time. He didn’t deliver the lines with enough passion or umpf to suit himself, or there was too much passion to suit him, or the inflection sounded strange, or this thing or that thing or that thing or this thing.
Thanks to his perfectionism, though, he managed to get the lines down pat before the performance, and he was never to blame for the fuck ups at practice.
(Though this was probably due to the fact that he was such a minor role and his two lines really didn’t matter rather than his “flawless” performance, he told himself that, no, it was because pf his flawless performance.)
He knew exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.
That was then, though.
Now, Trevor was just a feckin’ knob, and he had no idea what the hell to say.
He stared at her back, dumb.
Fuck, he was so fucking stupid.
How the hell had he managed to fuck up this badly?
He looked at the joint between his fingers.
Fuck, that wasn’t important right now.
He licked his thumb, pressing it to the burning end to extinguish it, and he shoved it in his pocket along with his lighter.
For a moment, he sat, trying to muster up enough confidence to do this.
And then he realized that he didn’t fucking need confidence.
All he needed to do was stop fucking thinking and to stand the hell up and fix this situation before it was too fucking late.
He pushed up off of the ground, running a hand through his hair as he made his way over to Charlie. HIs steps were slow, and the dark part of him was trying to convince himself that he could stop at any second, sit down, and not apologize, because that would be so much fecking easier.
He dismissed the thought with an angry shake of his head, and he came to a stop beside Charlie.
For a moment, he looked out at the streets below, trying to find breath and words, and then he just decided to speak:
“What makes you think that I was goin’ to apologize?”
Oh fuck. That wasn’t what he meant.”
He shook his head, quickly correcting himself as he turned his eyes to Charlie. “I mean— what makes you think that I was goin’ ta do it in that way? That I was goin’ ta blame you for bein’ tha problem an’ that I was only goin’ ta apologize because I felt like an ass? What makes you think that, Charlie?” He tried to sound gentle, but he sounded more defensive.
He paused a moment, and he looked out at the city again.
What makes you think that, Charlie?
With a soft chuckle, he answered his own question. “Oh…right…it’s because you know me.”
He winced as he realized the truth in his words.
Because it’s what you always fecking do, gobshite.
“Heh,” he laughed defeatedly. “Well, damn.”
His guilt wore heavier on him.
He sighed softly, searching for the right words to say as he looked at Charlie again. “But, no. That wasn’t what I was goin’ ta say. I’m not goin’ ta make that kind of apology— er, uh…” He held up his hands, doing quotation marks. “…’apology’.”
Turning his gaze to the streets once more, he walked closer to the ledge, and he sat his elbows on it, folding his hands.
“But…,” he started slowly, in a mumble. “I am goin’ ta make some kind of an apology.”
He turned his head to Charlie. “I’m goin’ ta make an apology, Charlie,” he said, in a soft but sure voice, “an’…ya don’t have ta forgive me, but I…” He shook his head. “I jus’ want ya ta listen. That’s all.”
He swallowed hard, squeezing his hands and eyes together for a quick second before opening them. “Look, I’m…not here to make any— any feckin’ excuses,” he said. “An’ if ya hear one…” He cracked a small grin. “I give ya full permission ta kick me in tha crotch.”
He turned his head out towards the skyline. “I meant to apologize earlier,” he said, voice defeated and somewhat small, though his volume was loud and clear for her to hear. “I…now I realize that it probably seems like I didn’t care because I let you jus’ walk away every time without makin’ any effort to talk to you. I jus’…” He shook his head. “There’s no excuse for that. I…I should have tried harder to reach out to you, an’…I’m sorry that I didn’t.”
He looked at Charlie, meeting her blue eyes with his hazel ones. His heart gave a pang of guilt, and he squeezed his eyes shut again for a second, turning his head back toward the skyline once again. “I hate apologizin’, but that’s my problem, an’ it doesn’t need to be a fuckin’ excuse when what I did is hurtin’ one of tha very few people in this world who care about me.” He closed his eyes. “An’…I’m sorry,” he said. “About that, first of all— I’m sorry.”
He paused a moment, folding his lips in.
It was about to storm. The clouds were swirling on the skyline.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a second again, and then breathed out a soft sigh, opening them back up.
“I guess tha…firs’ step is ta jus’ admit what happened flat out,” he said, slowly and apologetically.
He slowly turned head towards Charlie, and he started to speak, ignoring his jumbled, confused thoughts and speaking from his heart. “I’m not here to spout that bullshite like ‘I was drunk, I was faded’,” he said. “Yeah, I was drunk, but that wasn’t my problem— isn’t my problem. I could argue semantics about what I did or didn’t say. I could say you misunderstood me and I misunderstood you, cry on my knees an’ try an’ convince myself an’ you that I did nothin’ wrong. When it’s all said an’ done, though, none of that shite matters, because I know what happened.”
He folded his lips for a moment, his eyes flicking to the skyline. “Look, I…,” he started.
Fucking spit it out.
What the fuck was so hard about fucking admitting that he was wrong?
Beside him— feck, beside him, Charlie was hurting, and he was, what, too far up his own arse to even make an—
He sighed softly, looking over at Charlie. “At tha end of tha day,” he said, “what it boils down to was that I…was selfish.”
I’m so fucking selfish.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a second. “That’s all that there is to it.” He opened his eyes again. “There’re no excuses to be made, there’s nothin’ more ta be said about it. At tha end of tha day, I blew you off when you put a lot of time an’ effort an’ thought inta makin’ somethin’ special for me. I-I took what you made outta tha kindness of yer heart, looked at it, threw it down, an’ defecated on it, then held it up fer you to look at while I whined about how big of a mess I made an’ tried ta get Amy an’ Jo ta help me fix that huge feckin’ mess that I made myself. An’…there’s no excuse for that.” He leaned harder against the ledge, looking down at the streets again, his voice growing more defeated the more he spoke, because saying all of this shite aloud made him realize, even further, what a fucking shite thing it was to do— and more than that. “There is no excuse for me makin’ you feel unwanted an’ unloved. There is no excuse for me…treatin’ you like I’m doin’ you tha favor by allowin’ you ta do shite for me. I don’t deserve you.”
He lifted his eyes to her.
He was so guilty that it hurt to look at her, but he forced himself too.
“Seriously,” he said firmly. “I mean it.” He paused, folding his lips. “From tha bottom of my heart, I love you.”
He fucking meant it.
He looked up at the clouds above, and then he squeezed his eyes shut.
“I jus’…am selfish,” he admitted, “an’ I have my head so far up my arse that I forget that people besides myself exist, an’ that other people have feelin’s. I…forget that no one has to deal with me, an’ that…er, uh…how should I put it?” He opened his eyes slowly, turning his head to face Charlie again. “I forget that I could lose you at any second because I don’t appreciate you. There are several million— billion?— other people out there who could be your best friend and roommate, an’ somehow— luckily— I’m one of those lucky few. An’ I still have tha balls ta treat you like trash?”
His eyes flicked out to the skyline. “Holy fuck, I’ve…tha more I apologize, the more I…”
Realize that I’m so much worse than I even thought I was.
”Damn it.” He gave a very soft, quiet, defeated laugh. “I have so much ta work on…I need ta start keepin’ some kinda list…but I don’t think that there’s enough paper in tha whole of Los Angeles ta write alla that shite on.”
He shook his head.
"Regardless of how much I have left to fix, regardless of all of my problems, I want to get better, an'...an' the first step is comin' to you an'...admittin' what I've done wrong, an'...not expectin' anything in return," Trevor said slowly. "It's the bare minimum. It's what I should have done all along. The fact that I haven't done that is...disgustin'. I'm disgusted with myself. An'...I know that that's not nearly anythin' like what I put you through. An'...I..."
He turned his head to Charlie once more. “Charlie, I mean this from the bottom of my heart: for everythin' I did an' shouldn't've done, for everythin' that I didn't do but should've done, for everythin' I put you through..." He drew in a deep breath. "For all of it an' more..."
Trevor met Charlie's gaze, his hazel eyes genuine as he said three firm, ashamed, apologetic words:
Alright. She was still here, she hadn't spit in his face, threatened to kick him in the balls, or walked off, and a quick around didn't reveal any jealous boyfriends. So as far as Damien was concerned, this was going absolutely fucking splendid. So clearly, that meant that Slater could kind of... stretch out a bit, so he stretched his arms up towards the ceiling as if he was, well, just stretching, and then brought his arms back down to rest on the back of the bench. So, ya know, his one arm was behind the hot girl, but not touching her. Just resting on the back of the bench.
God he was fucking smooth.
“How’d you know it was the Plastics? Is it that predictable?” she asked.
He let out a huff, his eyes rolling a bit as he looked away from Nickie, his head lulling to the side. His dark brown eyes turned down to stare at the tile floors, his eyes tracing along the lines between the tiles.
"Yeah, kinda is," he said. He sniffed, bringing his hand that wasn't behind Nickie up to rub absently at his nose before replacing it on the back of the bench. "The hot fucks -- that's what the plastics are, or at least that's what they think they are, because ya know... models. Can't really deny that shit. Anyway, super hot people always think they can get away with whatever the fuck they want. Do whatever the fuck they want, walk on everyone around them because they think they got some kind of dumbass fucking right to do so, yeah? It's dumb as fuck. Hate 'em."
Perhaps Damien was a bit biased on his hatred of the plastics seeing as how that was Dalton's department but, well, he'd noticed the same sort of behavior from everyone else in that fucking department. They were all identically ugly if you asked him.
“I probably should have seen that coming,” she mumbled. “Another thing that makes me a total dumb bitch.”
"You're not a dumb bitch," he echoed automatically, the words pouring from his mouth before he could really stop it. Ah, well, it was the right shit to say at the current moment, he quickly decided. Telling the dumb bitch she wasn't a dumb bitch? Well it would boost her ego a bit, maybe lower her guard a touch, and her being a dumb fuck would up Slater's chances since, well, he didn't have alcohol or drugs to rely on tonight.
(Well he did have drugs, but he also didn't want to share tonight.)
“I mean, I...liked them up until what happened or whatever. I was kinda...I dunno, a follower of them, too, until I had to, like...desperately defend myself.”
All that said to Damien was that she was one of those bitches that was more of a follower than a leader. She probably faded into the background more than anything else, following along and doing what others bade of her without a second thought to what she herself wanted.
Which meant she was easily pushed by peer pressure.
Of course, then the girl went on such a fucking tangent that Damien didn't know what to say, or what to think, and he was kind of just left with his gaze shifting over to look at her, a brief look of bewilderment coloring his dark eyes. Was it his imagination, or was this bitch legit giving him a rundown of how she'd pissed on a plastic stick and shit to prove she wasn't pregnant? What in the actual fuck?
Who the fuck told a stranger they just met this shit?
“Sorry, you don’t care about that,” Nickie laughed softly.
Damn right he fucking didn't, and he was positive no one fucking did.
When she looked back towards him, he dropped the shitty expression in favor of one that looked more concerned or pitied the girl beside him, even if on the inside, all he could think of was a mixture of what the fuck and what the hell.
“So, uhm, Slater,” she started, clearing her throat before continuing. “Interesting name,” she said, giving a soft laugh. “Is that, like...a nickname, ooooorrrr..?” She paused for a moment, her head tilting, before speaking once more. “Uhm, now that I...uhm, think about it, I don’t think I recognize you. Are you new here?”
Alright, here was where his lying abilities were really put to the fucking test.
"Yeah, it's a nickname," he admitted. "Well, kind of. It's my last name. First name's Damien. Damien Slater. But I was named after my dad, and he died in my hometown back when I was real little. Yeah, he was kind of a hero. Died taking a bullet for the mayor or some shit, I don't really know. My mom moved us here so we were closer to family, and she doesn't like to talk about it. Gets all teary-eyed, you know. Anyway, so I didn't like hearing my dad's name everywhere, so I started going by just Slater at school and it kinda stuck and now..." he shrugged his shoulders. "It is what it is."
Okay, the only ounce of truth in there was how he'd started going by Slater at school.
Other than that? Well...
His dad's name wasn't Damien and his dad was in prison for being caught in a meth lab or some shit. Damien had stopped keeping up with his dad's various incriminations and at some point, he'd stopped going to visit him at the prison. There was only so much sitting on one side of the glass, goosebumps pricking at his skin from a mixture of the cold air biting at him and nerves from being at a prison, that Slater had been able to take before he'd started begging his mom not to take him. And, well, she'd been all for it -- especially after she'd moved on from Slater's dad to be with Kirby's dad.
Fucking dumb is what it was.
"I started Monday. I'm an animator, do some," again, he brought his free hand away from the back of the bench and made little typing motions in the air before replacing his hand, "you know, on the computer and shit. Make little cartoon videos and what not. It's not really that fucking cool, and I've gotten laughed at for it a couple times, so I don't really bring it up a whole lot, you know?"
"Now, what're you doing over here all on your own? Where's your friends?"
He was also sending a silent question, silently getting her to speak about if she had a boyfriend or not.
You don’t fucking know me. You literally had to ask my name before we started talking.
Instinctively, Nickie wanted to curl up and shut up.
He didn't know her. Why was he acting like he did?
He was literally just fucking trying to help.
So she should be grateful. Why the hell was she being so unappreciative?
He wasn’t laughing, he wasn’t mocking her. So far, she hadn’t really seen why he was talking to her…
But he was distracting her.
And he was here.
And no one else was.
Even if it was a joke, it was...well, it was a good one, okay?
"Good one" not, like, "they have me fooled", but "good one", like..."you really did kinda give a desperate bitch a little bit of hope".
She gave him a small, dismissive, thankful smile.
"Thanks," she muttered.
As he wound his tale about why he went by his last name, Nickie nodded her head along.
It sounded like a load of bullshit to her, but she wasn’t the really type to call out that kinda stuff. Plus…he was supporting her…so…she should do the same thing back, right?
Also, she still kind of felt like she was going to vomit.
“That’s…wow,” she said, shaking her head sympathetically. “I’m sorry to hear that.” She switched the crossing of her legs. “Uhm, Slater is…cool.” She gave him her best reassuring nod. Her voice was unsure and unsteady as she continued to speak, though she tried to be somewhat...peppy and not totally whiny. “Uhm, it gives the vibes of the, uh, man in charge, ya know. Like, you’re a new kid, but I barely even noticed that you were new. You just have that…vibe that you fit in anywhere. I like that. Confidence, I guess.” She laughed quietly, brushing her hair back behind her ear. “Hot.”
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
She was seriously starting to flirt?
With a boy who wasn’t her boyfriend who, by the way, she was supposed to be looking for?
After oversharing about her piss test?
She felt sick again.
She was such a fucking whore.
She pressed her palms against her thighs and slowly ran them down to her knees, gnawing at her lower lip as he continued.
"I started Monday,” Slater said, the rest of the questions that she had asked. “I’m an animator, do some…” He made typing motions with a hand that she only just now realized had been propped behind her on the back of the bench, then he replaced that hand in the same spot as he continued. “…you know, on the computer and shit. Make little cartoon videos and what not. It's not really that fucking cool, and I've gotten laughed at for it a couple times, so I don't really bring it up a whole lot, you know?"
“An animator?” Nickie asked, looking over at her again. She cocked her head slightly. “You don’t hear that often…but I think that’s actually pretty cool.” She gave him a small smile. Her tone sounded dull, but she tried to speak encouragingly. “I mean, I can’t even draw, like…stick figures, and, I mean, what you’re making is so much harder, because it moves. Like…what? How isn’t that cool?”
Oh my God, she sounded so fucking dumb.
Ohhh, your pictures move?! Woooooow! Never seen that before!
Get it the fuck together. He draws pictures. They move a little. Big whoop.
Stop talking. You sound like a fucking ditzy whore.
Nickie winced, and then she gave another, much weaker laugh. “Seriously, though…I do think it’s neat,” she finished.
“Now,” Slater said, and Nickie lifted her eyes to him again, “what’re you doing here all on your own? Where’s your friends?”
“Friends,” Nickie echoed. “Where are they?”
She felt sick to her stomach again, and her vision went blurry from a film of tears.
She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment.
You’re not going to fucking cry.
You are not.
She looked up at him again, managing a feeble smile. “Yeah, I was wondering the…same…thing.”
She gave a soft sigh, her smile falling from her face. She leaned back against the wall, looking at the ceiling.
“I came in looking for Hunter,” she said. “I mean, I texted him that I was here and all of that. Like, I figured, now that we’re dating, we would be hanging out when we went out or whatever. Like…especially…after…what…happened. But, I mean, I guess, like…uh…I guess that he just didn’t think of it that way…or…whatever.” She closed her eyes again. “And I don’t really have any friends,” she nearly whispered.
Because she'd fucked everything up with them.
Because all that she could ever do was fuck shit up.
Because she'd somehow lost all of her friends over the past three weeks because she couldn't ever shut the hell up and stop crying.
All of the relationships that she had worked to build, some for years and some for month— all of the cards that she'd set with their edges to one another to construct this fragile little tower. All of the late nights partying, laughing loudly, dancing on tables while piss drunk on a Saturday night.
With one fucking blab of her mouth, she'd sent them all tumbling down.
And now, she had to answer Slater's question with "I don't fucking have any".
This was so fucking embarrassing.
She looked over at Slater again, lifting her head from the wall. Though her eyes were glassy, she tried to fake another smile and act interested in what he had to say as she turned the question back around on him. “What about you? What are you doing alone? Where are your friends?”
Veronica Crosby, beguiling enchantress and connoisseur of the "party girl" lifestyle, in a lot of ways felt like Barbie. She had lots of friends, prospective lovers, skills (yes, turkey impressions are an applicable skill), and eyes that really could stare right through one's soul.
The rave was a hit, and undoubtedly the highlight of her week. Even with her tendency to learn toward the more spontaneous and extroverted side of things, the experience was still overwhelming. After all, she'd been invited as an afterthought with a group she was hardly acquainted with, which would have been fine if one of those people wasn't the Damien Slater himself. Being in his presence was a blessing, but it would have been nice to have had some warning before going out on the town with him. Like, Ronnie would have totally opted for a more sensual fragrance if she knew that was the case.
Boys aside, the little redhead was overjoyed to have gotten closer with Liv through the whole thing and, in a weird way, it reminded her of just how much was to come in the current year. So many people to meet, memories to make... her one regret was not coming with Kelli, but it felt awkward bringing a plus one as a plus one. And, and, and, Liv kissed her on the lips! Is that quirky or what!? At first, Ronnie was all like "Whaaat just happened?" but then she came to the realization that it was just, well, a thing party girls do. And so, she vowed not to waste the vitality breathed into her by her newfound companion.
By the night's end, Ronnie had spared just enough energy to talk her cab driver's ear off, regaling him with tales of breakdancing to techno tunes and rapping with a mouth full of barbecue chips. The latter was more stabby and unpleasant than she was expecting, but the others seemed to think she had "bars"! At least, she hoped she did if she was going to call a ride home with her cell service, but the reception was spotty in that crowded, underground joint...
Anyway, it was a good night. And a good week. By the time lock-in night rolled around, she could hardly believe how many pivotal high school milestones she was crossing off her list. This would be her first year actually attending the annual tradition, as last year she ended up coming down with this really nasty stomach bug. Thankfully she had no roommate at the time, because that bathroom was occupied for an entire night. And, at the expense of this reader's lunch, the cleanup wasn't pretty.
Her ensemble for the night was between two contenders, a purple rabbit onesie or a cute sweater and jeans. The lock-in wasn't exactly a slumber party, but it still carried the same vibe in Ronnie's head. It was a lot like the school movie night her elementary school held in the cafeteria, at which Libby Parker got busted for getting into Monday lunch's milk cartons.
...At any rate, Ronnie decided upon the sweater outfit, applying an unusually minimal face of makeup before stepping out of the bathroom. As always, her loving roommate completely overhyped her appearance, bringing a smile to Ronnie's blushing face. "Kells, never change," she urged with a giggle, "You're, like, so good at uplifting people and stuff. I'm not even wearing anything special!" She shook her head with faux confusion, still absolutely beaming. Gee, that girl's compliments really seemed to resonate.
"It's nothing compared to your glamour fit—even though we're, like, breaking and entering, it totally feels like we're ready for a night on the town." She raised her index finger and pointed it to Kelli. "And, for the record, if anyone's gonna be a wizard of dopeness, it's you. You basically own the word. I wish I had a trademark as iconic as that. Like, what if we brought back 'That's so fetch'?"
She watched Kelli fondly as she worked on her makeup, frowning a little when she decided to scrap what she had. "What, why'd you do that!? I liked it!" the girl protested, closing in on her personal space to get a better inspection of her friend's eyelids, "Mine is totally not perfect. That would be weird and robotic and impossible." As though she needed to prove the point further, Ronnie took her thumbs and smudged a bit of mascara on both eyes. "Now you can call it, uh, smoky or shadowy or something. Total avant-garde."
Ronnie twisted her lip sideways as she considered Kelli's question. What was the lock-in? "You know, this is my first time going too, but you may be onto something with spooky stories... I heard there's a ghost janitor that lives in the boiler room of H.A. Do we even have that? We could explore with our phone flashlights or something, like an 80's slasher film!" She grinned deviously. "Let's hope we're really locked in. Then it'll totally be like a scary movie. Unless you have any severe allergies, which would suck, 'cause I don't. Do you?"
Once the two had reached the stage of picking Kelli's outfit, that was when Ronnie's eyes really lit up. "Ooh, ooh, I love when you ask for advice!" she chirped, rushing to her side, "Just picture this: both shirts invite you out to coffee. Which one's order do you like better?"
Callum stopped in his tracks and raised an eyebrow when Jace made a point to hold the door open for him. It was probably just a normal thing people did, but when it was Jace, he felt extra inclined to judge the hell out of him. It was so extra, even for friend standards. Nevertheless, he continued walking a moment later, resuming their conversation.
Maybe this judgement was the subject of that "work on being grateful" thing Oates had mentioned in passing. Man, that would be annoying if it was the case. Surely Jace would know him decently enough by now not to care about those sorts of things. In fact, it had just dawned on Callum that Jace had not once told him to drink water or stand up straight or smile or something. He would almost have been boyfriend material if he wasn't Jace. The lanky boy smiled to himself; what an absurd thought that was. Jace as a boyfriend. Even with all of Oates' cheery shortcomings, he was definitely the one for Callum. That was for certain.
It took Jace ages to get to the point what with his stuttering and mindless tapping, but as a man wielding all the time in the world, Callum didn't mind the wait. He merely observed the boy's odd speech pattern, the way his inflection was all over the place and how dry his mouth must have been after hanging all slack-jawed the entire conversation. "Yeah. And then she goes on about how bad she feels or whatever, like she cares. Or understands."
Callum furrowed his brows, frustration knitted across his eyes. "She has like five hundred friends. And they all let her get away with anything." He cocked his head to the side. "I bet that bothers you. What made you the lesser sibling? Unrelated, but I like your singing better, if I had to pick. Not that I'd really listen to any of your stuff normally."
He was almost impressed with the way Jace was able to force the word "bitch" out of his mouth, as up until then he'd only ever heard, or rather read, the feeble boy say '"wtf". Callum smiled again, amused with the ridiculousness of this guy's state of being. If he had to pick an animal to describe Jace, Callum would have said a miserable cat soaking wet in the bath or something. They shared that same horrified, pitiful stare that would have made Callum feel bad if it wasn't for the time a stray scratched him when he was seven.
"I don't really care about defamation money, so I'm not gonna push for it. Either way, it doesn't absolve her of her role in all this. Or Eli, for that matter." He nodded with affirmation. "You're right. She sucks." It was nice sharing negative opinions with someone that would agree. Callum didn't care much for the drama, but it was still therapeutic freely letting off steam like that. What was Jace gonna do? Stop being his friend because he got into too much shit? Where would the scrawny loser even turn to?
He was perfect.
Callum's eyes widened a bit, and he jerked his head to face Jace with a taken-aback expression. "You can't just say no one likes me," he teased dryly, all specks of humor defied by his monotonal tone, "Only I'm allowed to say that. What a dick you are."
Kelli watched in utter awe as Ronnie smudged her mascara.
Who did that? Veronica Crosby’s confidence was freaking jaw-dropping. She was the coolest, dopest person, seriously.
And the fact that she did it just to make Kelli feel better? She was the best friend that anyone could ever hope to have.
It looked a little silly, but Ronnie wore it amazingly because she was Ronnie. How she pulled it off, Kelli would probably never know. All that she could really do was stare with a gaping mouth for a second.
After a second, Kelli giggled. “Ronnie, you totally freaking rock raccoon eyes, too! Totally revolutionary! Er, Veron-volutionary!”
Kelli really sucked at puns, but she made the effort, anyway, and that was what mattered.
She cocked her head slightly at Ronnie as the girl answered Kelli’s questions.
Ronnie hadn’t gone last year? That made her feel a little bit better. At least she wasn’t the only confused person.
Kelli gasped softly. “A ghost janitor?” she asked. “Like, one of those old guy ghosts? Does he mop still? Or is he a grumpy guy who just pushes things down and is rude to the students?” Kelli wouldn’t mop in the afterlife, but she hoped that the guy probably liked his job enough to work for no wages. That meant that he’d died happy, ya know— but that also meant that he was just chilling with a broom and a dustpan, ready to scare the living bajeebees out of Kelli if she did explore. “Getting locked in a big school with one of those angry ghosts does sound like one of those scary movies— but I would be the first to die! I’m too easy of a target,” she giggled.
At Ronnie’s question, she shrugged. “I, uh, have a mild allergy to shrimp, but I have an Epipen in my purse in case I need it. But I doubt that they’ll be serving shrimp, so we should be good!”
Kelli moved aside for Ronnie to come closer, letting out a soft laugh at the excitement that came onto her roommate’s face. Kelli never really got that excited over clothes or anything, but she thought it was neat when people did.
She put a finger on her chin, screwing her face up again in thought as she looked back at the clothes.
Both shirts were inviting her out to coffee...hmm...
“Well...,” Kelli started, putting her hand on the shirt to the left, “this one seems like a mocaccino kinda shirt. Like, this shirt gets a chocolate mocaccino every time it goes out and, like, of course it did when we went out this time, too. It don’t, like, pay for my stuff like they promised. But, like, it offers a sip to me when I sit down and stuff, so at least it’s kinda thoughtful.” She moved her hand to the other shirt. “And this one...hm, I feel like it gets a decaf black coffee— just a cup of straight black coffee. But it’s surprisingly not pretentious or anything, and it asks me about my day, too...hmmm...”
Picking up the second shirt— which was just a plain white shirt— Kelli nodded. “This one,” she said. She picked up the black skirt that she’d had sitting beneath it and nodded once again. “And this sucker, too.” She smiled brightly at Ronnie. “Thank you!” she chirped, opening her arms to give Ronnie a spontaneous hug of thanks.
Pulling back, Kelli held the shirt and shirt to her body. “I need to go change real quick, and I’ll be back soon, Ron-ccoon!”
Kelli was still too self-conscious to change in front of her roommate, but she was working on it.
She made her way to the bathroom, and a few minutes later, she threw the door open and held out jazz hands. “Tadaaa!” she said, smiling brightly, and then she dissolved into giggles. She walked over to Ronnie and gave her another hug. “Thank you. You’re seriously the best!”
She walked to her desk, picking up her purse. She pulled her phone from her bag and turned to Ronnie once again, and she said brightly, “I’m ready to go!”
Dark blue long sleeve Henley t-shirt and brown cargo pants
Practice room in the school
Auguste didn’t like people. He really really really did NOT like people. Therefore, when opportunities arose to attend school events, that usually involved a lot of people in a small space, he usually was not in attendance and facetimed his friend back in France. Especially events where there were going to be a large amount of pretty much unstructured stupidity occurring. Like lock-ins. Especially lock-ins. HOWEVER.
Some idiot - Chas, was it? Chas. Definitely Chas. Auguste didn’t know, he had a policy of keeping his head down and not rocking the boat so he didn’t know anything about the politics of the school - had essentially goaded him into attending out of spite because Auguste was FASCINATED about Chas’s plan to throw him out. Physically.
So there had been a change in Auguste’s plans about what he was spending his Saturday night doing; because he might not be a violent person, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be a petty fucker.. Hooray. Lock-in. Woo.
He was already regretting his decision. He’d gotten into the building, saw all the people milling about, and decided to just nope right out of that cluster and into one of the practice rooms to be alone and mess around with the music equipment inside. Why do something that could potentially reveal more information about himself? Well, quite frankly he was bored. And he didn’t feel like watching Netflix on his phone. So with a guitar in his lap, and a pile of sheet music at his feet, he was trying to compose a song to choreograph later. Who was he kidding, this is what he was going to be spending his Saturday night doing anyways. Just with less equipment.
This did come with a potential consequence: people were a lot less scary when they got to see him and not… well… who he used to be. He liked being mostly anonymous, people not knowing anything about him. His height was annoying enough to deal with when trying to keep to himself, like a beacon of trouble - ie him being here to begin with. His white patch was attention grabbing, and if he wasn’t trying to stick it to his ma, he’d probably dye it to match the rest of his hair. Nobody needed to know about his past or his gayness or his talent at music, or who his parents were or his life prior to his friend giving him a reality smack, thank you very much. Because that meant that they were things that could be used against him. And things that could be used against him could make him angry. And an angry Auguste was a violent Auguste. And a violent Auguste was a scary scary scary scary Auguste. And that wasn't good for anyone, but more for the other guy than himself.
See? It was because he was empathetic to others was the reason why he always kept people at an arms length. Not because he was scared of pe- okay he was scared of people but what if they hurt him? That would be really scary. Especially because he probably wouldn't defend himself. Any kind of violence would be bad because of the aforementioned logic. So, Auguste was scared of people.
What was wrong with this? Something sounded bad. His deft fingers paused from the chord progression he’d begun planning out. He played it again. And again. Something was wrong. What was it. He adjusted the chords. Still bad. Was the guitar out of tune? He played each string separately, head tilted like a dog. No. Definitely not. He’d know if it was out of tune. Auguste made a little grumble noise of unhappiness and frustration as he tried to find what was wrong with the song.
Eventually he had to give up, the creative wall he’d run into was just too much. And he laid on the floor, starfish style, the borrowed guitar on his chest as he stared up at the ceiling. Why did he decide to come here again? This was stupid. He should be at home. That would be much more preferable. He was hungry.
Immense regret from the giant, which only got worse when he hit his head against the ceiling as he stood to go try to find something to eat. Life sucked. He took it back, spite wasn’t even worth it at this point. Get him out.
It was always hit or miss with weed. Most of the time (in his extremely limited experience) it did the trick. It quelled whatever anxious-ridden thought or life-altering problem. For a while at least. But there was always a risk. Slight, but a risk nonetheless that it would only enhance those issues.
The more Lucky attempted to forget about his life...to forget his problems...the more damage he seemed to do, but he couldn’t stop. Those moments. Those brief fluttering moments where it worked. Where he didn’t remember he was outed to the entire school. Or that his parents were dead. Those moments. They were worth it. At least to him. At least for now.
“You’ve been through a lot...haven’t you…?”
The voice was calm...soft. Different from what he remembered, but he never spent too much time with Saint. Hell, he never spent too much time with anyone. But the voice was soothing. He laid his head against the back of the couch, his eyes meeting Saint’s as he continued. Was he that easy to read? He didn’t think so. He prided himself on being the opposite. But drugs and alcohol can provide a window to the soul if you let it-- or if you’re too fucking exhausted.
He did his best not to react. To hold on to the feeling of the drugs coursing through his system. The escape he longed for...just a little bit longer. He just needed a little bit longer. Saint continued in his annoyingly soothing tone. Like he was reading Lucky like a book. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all, but he couldn’t bring himself to say anything.
The fight in him was gone. Left behind was just exhaustion and shame.
Despite his inability to focus on anything but Saint’s eyes staring into his soul...studying him...he was able to feel the other boy’s proximity closing in. Feel the warmth emanating from Saint’s body. What was happening? This...this was heading in a direction that would only lead to more pain. More destruction. More shame. Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to fight back.
“We don’t have to talk about it,”
He wasn’t planning on it. And if he was, Saint would be the last person he’d want to talk to. Even though he was being uncharacteristically kind. Or maybe he was just high. It was probably the latter. But sitting here. Succumbing to the warmth of Saint’s body as he leaned in. Oh this dude really wanted to get punched.
But he made no effort to move. His eyes on Saint’s as his hand cupped his jaw and it sent a wave of electricity throughout his body-- this would be the reason why he’d tell himself he let Saint kiss him. His lips pressed against his gave him a whole new sensation. Gave him the distraction...the escape he craved. Yes, destruction. Shame. Those would come later, but right now...right now...it felt...AMAZING.
He responded to the kiss immediately. If he thought about it for too long, he--prolly would have still done it, but look...he was going through something. It was desperate at first. Like drinking water after a long hike, but the more comfortable it became, the more he was able to enjoy the sensations coursing through his body.
He pulled back momentarily--breathless. His eyes searched Saint’s and for a moment, he saw in the other boy’s eyes exactly what he was feeling. They needed to get lost. To disappear. Just for a little while. Just for tonight. Lucky’s hands slid around Saint’s waist and he lifted him onto his lap so that he was straddling Lucky. He leaned up and captured the other boy’s lips in his. This wasn’t about feelings. This was about sex. No need to sugar-coat it and no need to make it into something that it wasn’t.
Tonight he could forget. He’d deal with the rest tomorrow.
He fucked Saint Taylor. And before you go and judge him. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. He wasn’t ready to feel terrible about it yet. Mostly because he was still under the influence and the severity of what had just occurred had yet to hit him. And partly because he was just over feeling terrible for the moment.
He sat up on the couch and reached for the partially smoked joint and placed it between his lips. He lit the joint and inhaled deeply before leaning back as he glanced at Saint. He held the joint out for Saint as he released the smoke into the air above. It was quiet. No talking. Peaceful.
They finished smoking the joint and the alcohol was starting to wear off. The longer he sat there, the more worried and anxious he felt. He didn’t want to have to talk and yeah, Saint said they didn’t have to but that was before they boned. He reached down and grabbed his clothes and began dressing.
When he was ready to go, he slid his hands into his pockets awkwardly. “So, I should...uh...head home. Have a busy day tomorrow.” His eyes met Saint’s as he cleared his throat.“Thanks.” He started. “For the weed.” He scratched the back of his head. It was more than that. He knew it. Saint knew it. He also knew that Saint wouldn’t give a fuck that he was up and leaving. They didn’t owe each other anything.
He sighed as he turned and exited the apartment. He reached the bottom of the stairs and the cool night breeze hit him as he stepped onto the street. He definitely didn’t want to stay around here, but even though it was his original destination, Lucky didn’t want to go home. The faster tomorrow came, the sooner he’d have to deal with everything. He really didn’t want to deal with anything.
He could wander the streets. Probably mouth off to the wrong person. Get shot. Bleed out alone. That didn’t sound so bad. His phone buzzed. Javi again. What was with this dude and fucking ice cream? ‘Hey. I know I ruined your life, but...how ‘bout a double scoop?’ Fuck off. His stomach growled. The weed and alcohol reminded him of how hungry he was and obviously affected his judgement. Why else would he agree? Ice cream with Javi? What could go wrong? Plus, he could always kill him after.
People knew he had fucked Javi. People knew and it didn’t matter. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand how it didn’t seem to affect anyone. Ash. Josie. Dorian. No one understood what the big deal was and it really pissed him off.
He had been ready.
The next day at school. He was ready to punch or curse out anyone that thought they could bring it up. Nothing. Yeah, there was the random look of pity and disgust (or maybe it was genuine concern), but it didn’t matter. Lucky didn’t need anyone looking out for him. He had everything under control. At least that was what he told himself.
Okay. Look. He fucked up. He’d be the first to admit it. To himself. No one else needed to know that he and Saint Taylor hooked up on Josie’s birthday.
What was he thinking you might ask yourself?
NO. FUCKING. IDEA.
He wasn’t, obviously. His body had been full of mind-altering substances the entire night. She couldn’t hold that against him, could she? She would. She’d kill him. Or never speak to him again. Lucky knew that. But she needed him. He always looked out for her. Made sure she didn’t cross the lines from stupidity to dangerous. That was the basis of their friendship. Right? Still. He felt guilty and he hated it.
This week was back to his original mantra.
Not the have sex with random people distractions, but the dive into your work headfirst kind of distraction. The best kind of distraction. He and Ash had been rehearsing for the Arts Festival all week and, to be honest, he was having a blast. He always did when he was working on his music. Even though it was Ash’s song--the process was invigorating and she was really talented. It was exactly what he needed after last week.
He avoided all other major socializing though. He couldn’t deal with the looks. Dorian was super supportive. Stereotypical, ‘it doesn’t change anything...blah blah blah. Josie tried making jokes. They fell flat but he knew she meant well. She always meant well.
Regardless, it didn’t matter how anyone else felt. All that mattered was how he felt and...he was confused. Really fucking confused. Two dudes under his belt...literally...and the world didn’t end. He didn’t implode. He didn’t die. No one sent hate messages. No one commented on how disgusting it was or quote some religious doctrine. Why? Why if perfect strangers could care less did his father make him feel that way? Feel like he was wrong. Feel like he wasn’t good enough? Wasn’t he supposed to be the one to protect him from the world?
It was no use going down that road. Not again. Not like he’d get any answers. And he wasn’t sure if he could handle any at this point. What was done was done and what would be...would be. There was no way around it. But this week was better than expected and he had to be grateful for that.
He was one of the first ones to show at Lock-In. He didn’t really understand why anyone would want to spend the night in the school, but it was tradition. And he figured he could use some uninterrupted studio time to work on his own music. The one benefit to having a shitty life? It kept the creative juices flowing. For the first time in a long while, he’d been writing again and it felt good. Felt cathartic. Felt like he was finally finding his voice. And it was good. The songs. The music. They could take him places. He was sure of it. He just needed someone to take a chance on him. To see his talent and bet on him.
He tuned his guitar as he stood in front of the microphone. He had a couple open mic nights lined up and he needed to perfect these songs before it was time. He started playing the guitar, his foot tapping with the beat.
“I think I’m crazy, lately
Everything is hazy
Everything and anything I ever wanna do
I think I’m crazy, lately
Feeling like I’m faded
Everywhere I go
Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh”
He smirked as he sang the chorus and did a small guitar solo between the rifts before stepping back up to the mic getting completely lost in his element.
“I need to tell you something weird about me
I like it when you tie the rope around me
And my life has always been a little different
Since you’ve been in it
Got double vision.”
He played through the lyrics before he stopped abruptly. His hand grasping for the leatherbound journal in front of him. His prized possession. The place he kept all of his song ideas, lyrics, anything related to his music. He jotted down a few more lyrics. This was good. This was really good.
Look, say whatever shit you wanted to about Slater (and he was sure everything said about him was shitty and untrue), but he did apparently have game. Some kind of game, anyway. Well, really he was just skilled at being in the right place around the most desperate of fucks at the right time. It had less to do with him and what he might say or do, and more with other people feeling shitty enough about themselves that they'd allow him to entertain them for a night.
Hence why he'd caught sight of this bitch with her watery eyes and her general depressing demeanor and figured he could slide ride in without issue. And the longer he talked with her, the more her lack of self-esteem pitifully dripped off her.
"Uhm, Slater is... cool."
Damn right it was. That's why he fucking went by it. Damien wasn't an uncool name by any means, but there was something about Slater that gave him a certain feel of being fucking bad ass. Plus, the name Damien had kind of been ruined by his mother and grandparents calling him "Dami" a lot when he was little. Yeah, it... it wasn't as cool as the rest of the fucking name. Fucking dumb nickname.
He still cringed thinking about it.
“Uhm, it gives the vibes of the, uh, man in charge, ya know. Like, you’re a new kid, but I barely even noticed that you were new. You just have that…vibe that you fit in anywhere. I like that. Confidence, I guess.” She laughed quietly, brushing her hair back behind her ear. “Hot.”
Bitches in this school were easy as fuck, Slater quickly decided, and his little half-hearted smile grew a touch at the compliment. Hot. As much as he wanted to bring that up, maybe toss something back at Nickie about it, he decided to keep any shitty remarks to himself -- for now. But he'd remember this for sure.
She started complimenting his whole animating thing, and Damien had to kind of bite his tongue to keep himself from sounding like a geek or something dumb like that. Look, if the whole animation thing fell through (and it probably would), Damien's backup would be something in IT or some shit, probably. Some kind of tech repair thing. Yeah, it sounded boring as all fucking get out, but it was the kind of thing Damien liked to do.
You know, when Slater wasn't busy getting fucked up beyond belief.
She started to answer his question about friends, and Slater perked up.
"I came in looking for Hunter," she said, and his face dropped.
Slater was kind of doubting that Hunter was some fucking girl, so all of his hopes for the night came crashing down around him... until he reminded himself that there was every chance that they were just friends. Or maybe this Hunter fuck was gay, and Slater did still have a chance.
Damn, Slater was a genius.
“I mean, I texted him that I was here and all of that. Like, I figured, now that we’re dating, we would be hanging out when we went out or whatever. Like…especially…after…what…happened. But, I mean, I guess, like…uh…I guess that he just didn’t think of it that way…or…whatever.”
Well fuck him.
There went that hope.
Right out the fucking window.
Not to mention all of the time, wasted away by sitting here next to Nickie. Fuck him.
She followed this up by saying how she didn't have friends, and Slater had to bite his tongue from going off on how he wasn't surprised about that seeing as how the meek girl next to him was about as fun as...
Slater couldn't think of anything as boring and dry as her.
Not boring and dry, necessarily, just...
She always sounded a bit whiny.
Kind of made his head hurt.
“What about you? What are you doing alone? Where are your friends?”
Damien chuckled. "Well, I'm new, so I haven't really made any friends," he explained simply. "But I got a couple -- Felix and Kian. Kian's kind of a whiny little ass a lot, though, and I really only talk to Felix 'cause he's my dealer." That was a lie -- Slater did enjoy Felix's company to an extent. "And that Javi guy, guess we're... maybe not friends, but we know each other. He's kind of fucking dumb, though."
That was about it. Slater liked to pretend that he'd had more friends outside of that handful when he'd attended public school, but he... really hadn't. Maybe a few, but he hadn't talked to them since he'd switched schools -- but it had just been a week, so he was sure they would hit him up. Granted, they hadn't invited him to the party last weekend... fuckers... he'd seen the fucking pictures on Instagram...
But it was fine.
Slater didn't need friends.
... But Damien wouldn't mind them maybe.
"So your boyfriend left you to just be by yourself at the fucking lock-in? Kinda shitty if you ask me." Slater stated.
The room was smoky and silent as Saint and Lucky shared an after-sex joint. In the quiet- and stillness of it all, Saint found himself once again studying Lucky as if he were an artwork, taking in the smallest parts of his form as he inhaled and exhaled smoke and passed the joint back from himself to the other boy.
It had yet to dawn on Saint what he had just done. For now, he was content.
Lucky stood, and Saint watched him dress, neutral, stoic expression on his face.
Lucky slid his hands into his pockets. “So, I should…uh…head home,” he said. “Have a busy day tomorrow.” He met Saint’s eyes and cleared his throat. “Thanks. For the weed.”
“Yeah,” Saint said, sitting up to dress himself as well. “Any time.”
As Lucky exited, Saint turned his eyes to the black television. The second hand tick-tick-ticked on the clock on the wall.
For a long moment, he sat, not considering what he had done or what today had entailed.
There was nothing to think about. Saint had clarified that he had not gone to that store to escape the memories of his ex, because he didn’t care anything about his ex, and he now had to clarify that him sleeping with his ex’s best friend meant nothing to him, because he didn’t care anything about his ex.
Saint stood slowly from the couch.
In time, his roommates would be home, and he needed to clean up.
After all, he doubted that he’d have much longer alone.
• • • • •
It was often said that part of “recovering”— if getting over a breakup could be called that— was getting out more and making yourself move on.
Saint had never needed that advice, because his breakup had had no effect on him; however, if he had had use for that advice, his recent actions would surely have shown him putting those words to use. After all, the fair had been the first outing that he had gone to since the breakup, and Halloween had marked the first party since. The lock-in marked yet another outing that he would attend alone. Though he couldn’t say that he was “excited” or “looking forward to it”, he knew that it was coming, so that was something, he supposed.
He had also realized Sunday, after everything had settled, that Lucky had marked his first hookup since.
He had “moved on” from Jo on her birthday via sleeping with who she claimed to be her best friend.
(“Move on” was a bit of a stretch, however; Saint was not stuck on Jo, so there was no moving necessary.)
As always, Saint had hung out with Jared throughout the week. His closest friend had entered into a relationship of his own, with Kennedy Parks, on Sunday. Saint had congratulated him on it, naturally.
Saint’s dark brown eyes were colored with concentration as his fingers now pressed into the smoothed grey clay. He raised his thumb to knead it against a raised spot until the spot was slightly cocave, and then he pressed his two forefingers onto the slight dip that his thumb had created, rubbing them both diagonally until the spot was entirely smoothed over. He continued to run his fingers along the spherical shape of the object, working out any spots that he found with his fingers.
Eventually, he felt no imperfections, and he leaned back to study his work.
After a week of work, the head of the cow was completed. Peering back into his eyes with its own grey, emotionless bulbs was a nearly-eerily realistic replica of a Holstein heifer’s head. From the grain of the horns to the pores on the cow’s nose, the sculpture’s intricate details were in just the right places with just the right proportions that it was almost as if Saint were looking at a live cow’s head that was simply drained of its color.
He gave a soft grunt to himself as a kind of congratulations, and he stood up from his work, picking up his water from the table behind him. He took a sip of the drink, then bent down and hefted up the board that he had been working on, the cow’s head in the center of it like a boar’s head on a platter. He moved carefully so as not to disturb the tools that he had left on the board as he walked to the corner of his room to set the board down.
He stood up from it, looking down and studying his handiwork once more. Because he had sculpted the head around several large balls of paper, duct-taped into the vague form of a cow’s head, he didn’t need to hollow out the head. All that he had to do now was wait for the clay to dry, which would take about two weeks. In the meantime, he would be working on the other parts of the body, and, once he was done with that, he would begin glazing everything clear, firing it, and making casts of it. The final step would be the actual fiberglass.
With a soft sigh, Saint went over to his phone to check the time. He still had a lot of work to do, but his hands were dry from the work that he had already done this evening. He rubbed his sunken eyes, and he tapped on his phone screen.
It was already time to go.
Sighing once more, he glanced at his cow’s head, and then back at his phone.
He supposed that he would have time to sculpt later. He needed to go to this lock-in.
Placing the sketchbook that he was working on this project with in his backpack, Saint concluded that he could work while he was at the lock-in. You could call him a bore, but, in truth, he was simply a dedicated professional.
• • • • •
Saint sighed softly, rubbing his kneaded eraser across the dimensions that he had written beside one sketch of the cow’s body. No, that wouldn’t work. If the head was…and the neck was to be…then that length wouldn’t work.
He leaned back against the cold wall, stretching his legs further out on the cold floor, and he glanced at the image on the phone on the floor to his left. He positioned his hand on the paper and began to draw lines in the shape of the cow’s back without looking at the sheet. He tapped on the screen to zoom out, and he glanced at his work.
It looked like a worm, not a body.
Heaving another sigh, Saint erased the sketch of the cow’s spine, and he looked back at his phone to view the reference just as a notification popped onto his screen.
LOW BATTERY Tap to turn on Low Battery Mode.
With another deep sigh, Saint stood, folding his sketchbook and placing it back in his bag, shoving his kneaded eraser into the front left pocket of his backpack, and tucking his pencil behind his ear. He threw his backpack strap over his shoulder, and he took his keys out of his pocket.
The problem was simple enough to fix; all that he had to do was grab a charger from his vehicle and return.
He began to make his way down the hallway, out of the front doors, and into the parking lot with a stoic, bored expression resting in its usual on his face.
cows me @ saint. also me @ saint. can you tell that he frustrated me this post? if not...he really frustrated me this post.
A shot straight through the heart. Angel's limp, small frame flew backward, specks of red and crystalline tears shimmering in the light. Now rooted on the ground, his soulless husk of a body weighed a trillion tons, sinking slowly through the floor into a cold, dark abyss.
A...a...hh... She... ha...ted i...it...?
The light in Angel's eyes gradually seeped out of his soul the moment Adriane began her scathing review of his artwork. For a moment, he was as shocked as she was, and he found himself so uncertain of how to respond that he merely stood frozen like a statue, surely petrified by the senior's hardened gaze. He hadn't even realized when his jaw dropped a tad, horror stricken all over his face. However, the dead giveaway of his chagrin was the look of primal fear in his eyes.
"W-well, it was just a quick sketch," Angel stammered, his eyes darting back and forth out of sheer panic, "I just... I thought—" In proper Angel form, he could hardly get a word in edgewise. All he could do was sputter out the beginnings of dismayed protests before being inevitably cut off by Adriane's piercing remarks. He flinched as the model's finger jabbed at the sketchbook, then scrambled to retrieve a pencil from his bag.
"I can fix it, I-I can fix it!" he stuttered frightenedly, accidentally swinging his bag around in such a rush that his sketchbook fell to the ground. As though it was a domino, the bag followed suit, crashing onto Angel's feet with a loud thud. His metal water bottle had managed to fall square onto his left big toe, causing him to gasp in pain. "Sorry!" he squeaked, gathering the pencils tumbling across the floor.
Narrowly dodging ramming his head into Adriane due to his lack of balance, Angel finally stood up, bag and book in hand. He felt like an ant being crushed under Adriane's heel as their eyes met once more. Depicting her as an ice queen wasn't so far off the mark after all. "I don't think you're ugly!" he yelped, vigorously shaking his head "no", "I'm so sorry! You're the prettiest girl I've ever seen!" He'd get shit from Lydia if she heard him say that.
"Photographers take candid photos all the time, I just thought..." He waved his hands around, as though that would suffice as some sort of point. "I don't know what I thought. I'm sorry." He hung his head with shame, rubbing his arm awkwardly. At this point, Angel was fairly certain that redoing the drawing wasn't going to appease the dragon baring her maw ahead of him. And this cowardice was exactly why he would never be the Perseus or Heracles or Bianca Del Rio of his own story.
Silence. A long, dreadful silence of approximately four seconds.
"Um, do you maybe wanna get dinner tomorrow night? And then I could draw you with your permission, uh, more accurately." He laughed nervously, flashing an earnest smile. This girl was way scarier up close. What would Javi say? What would he do? How would he be standing right now!?
"I think you'd make a beautiful model. I-I just get, like, lost in your eyes, and you have this m-mysterious allure, and you have really good skin, and..." Thanks to the shock, he wasn't crying or anything, but as he gave the girl his proposal, he could feel the thinnest layer of tears coating his eyes. She just didn't have to be so mean.
"Only if you wanna, which you probably don't, not that I think you're antisocial or a bitch or anything..." Lying isn't kind. Angel felt bad about that part. "A-and I'm not trying to, like, date you, because that would be super weird, but I don't think you're ugly or anything! I don't want to have sex with you. But you're gorgeous! I just... I... you know..." He cleared his throat.
"YouknowIhaven'theardyouacceptmyapologyyetandI'malittleworriedyou'regoingtohitmeorsomethingbecauseyouhavethisreallymenacinglookonyourfaceandit'sfreakingmeout ahahahahah...." he mumbled, most of the words lost under his shaky breaths.
"I'm, uh, Angel." He reached an arm out for a weak handshake. "Cervantes. By the way."
"Do you know what you're doing for the Festival yet? Or are you just, like, one of those people that totally just wait until last minute?"
Hunter's reply came in the form of an awkward silence that was such a tell that if he used his current half-smile expression on his face to play poker, he'd have to fold his hand over.
It's a good thing Hunter isn't a betting man, right? There might be some — mini blonde Ashton Kutcher in front of him included — who might say he barely counted as a man. Hunter knew they were wrong, though. He knew he was a man because his girlfriend told him so. And Hunter loves and adores his girlfriend. Nickie always knew how to raise him up even when she didn't know she was.
God, he loved her so much. When he got the chance, he was going to show her just how much.
But right now, Ash needed an answer to her question.
The arts fest. Right. The Arts Fest...
"I haven't figured that out yet," he admitted, awkwardly scratching the back of his head with his hand.
His hair felt a little dirty to the touch. Not exactly the kind of dirty that would warrant a full shower, but maybe it needed a quick rinse. And they were at school, so he could probably sneak off somewhere and put it under some warm water. Of the list of crimes they were going to commit tonight, a little good hygiene was definitely going to earn him points with the big guy upstairs.
But that would obviously require that Hunter actually give a damn about what God thinks of him. Lucifer, however, now that's a guy worth impressing.
"And what about you, shortstop? You going to set a good example and plan ahead or are you joining me on Procrastination Island?"