Lin’s face was set in determination. His hands grasped either side of the drinking fountain. His shoulders heaved as he tried to catch his breath. He stared down the reflection of his blue eyes in the gleaming metal of the drinking fountain’s drain.
This was his last run, and he was gonna do this thing. He was Lindsay emm-effing Kay, and it was a slicey-slice of cakey-cake for that guy, luhmao.
Running a hand through his hair and giving the drinking fountain’s button a solid wham!— ya know, like football dudes did to each others’ butts— Lin turned his gaze to the end of the hall and set his feet shoulder width apart. He dropped his hands to his sides, then curled his fingers into a fist and clutched his hands to his chest.
He pulled his phone from his pocket, grinning at the black screen for a moment before pulling up his timer app. On the screen were his other attempts— not failures ‘cuz Lin never failed, but just not-good-enoughs— and he snickered.
He took a final sip from the water fountain, filling his mouth up with water and puffing his cheeks out to hold it. He wiped his lips with the back of the hand that held his phone, and then he held the phone out in front of his chest.
“Hhh-wee…,” he started in a gurgle, and he hunched his back, scooting his left heel back.
“Hh-wooo…” He lowered his brows further and pointed his right toes. “Hhhhhhhh-nn…” A mischievous, confident grin, sans the toothiness thanks to the mouthful of water, snaked its way onto his face
“Nn-guh!” he yelled to complete his countdown, jabbing his finger into the start timer button— and he dashed off down the hallway, cheeks puffed out like a fish and a look of determination set in his brows.
His bare feet, ridden of their socks and shoes, slammed against the ground, his heels hitting the polished school floors with loud, rapid thudthudthuds. His left hand tightly grasped his phone so that it wouldn’t fly out and hit one of the bystanders— though, luhmao, that would’ve been funny as hell, tee-bee-aych. He rounded the corners without so much as a skipped step. His excited snickering threatened to make the water fall down his throat, but he was determined to accomplish his goal before he even thought about swallowing it.
He could feel eyes following him, even though he was too zoomy-zoomy for them to actually see more than a blur, and it made his snickering intensify, to the point that some of his water dribbled out of either side of his mouth.
Finally, as he rounded the corner and came to the lockers, he felt his goal finally be accomplished, and he immediately pressed stop on his watch. He skidded to a halt just in front of the water fountain, and he looked back at his completed goal.
There, on the floor, lay the yellow letterman jacket that he’d had tied to his neck, laid out like a rug— all untied and everything.
Victoriously, Lin opened his mouth to let out a whoop— before he realized that he had a mouthful of water, luhmao, so it was just an intense gurgle. With a loud laugh, Lin swallowed his water and wiped what had spilled out with the back of his hand.
“Hell yeah!” he yelled now that he had an empty mouth, and he pounded his fist into his chest. “Woooo! Fuck yeaaaah!” Lin put his hands on his knees, and he accented each syllable of his next sentence with shakes of his butt. “Miss-ee-un uh-com-poh-liiiished!” He struck a disco pose, cackling happily, and then he walked over to his jacket, clutching his stomach.
As he picked his jacket up and slung it over his shoulder, he held his phone out to check his time. “Forty-fiiiiive!” he read, and then he let out another whoop: “Woooo!” He raised a fist in the air, shaking it triumphantly. He dropped his phone into his pocket, and he dropped his fist to do the running man. “Go Lindsay, it’s yo birthday,” he muttered to himself, and then he laughed again. “Wooo!”
(And here, in the wild, we see Lindsay Kay, in his natural habitat, exhibiting one of his characterizing behaviors: “mmmmmmblockin’ out the haters” and acting like none of that shit that happened back there had ever happened via a dumb bet— that happened to be with himself this time…and last time…and the time before it.)
(Yes, Lin had been occupying and distracting himself via various self-bets for the paaast…uhhh…half hour now? Yeaaah, sounded about right.)
He looked up from his celebration, looking for eyewitnesses to his fucking amazing victory back there.
Bee-eye-enn-gee-oooooh, and bingo was his fuckin’ name-oooo!
“Stellaaa!” Lin greeted cheerfully, coming up to his potential witness. “Yo, bro— did you see that? Luhmao, I just took off my jacket without even touching it— how fuckin’ dope, riiiiiiihhhhwait.”
He interrupted the programming of that thought with a special announcement from “Look At Them Feetziez.Com”.
“Brooooooooooo,” he said, his face ridden with surprise as his eyes trailed up to Stella's. A wide, excited grin came on his face. “Bomb ass skates!” He held up two shaka brah hands, giving them a couple of waves, and then he gave a gasp as he had an idea. “Wooooah, wait.”
He grinned again, this time a lot slower and more mischievously, and he jutted out his elbow to prod Stella’s arm with it. “Heeeeeey…," he said slowly, and then then he repeated it a few more times. "Hey, hey, heyyyy.” He glanced down at her skates, then back up at her. His grin spread wider, and his eyes were gleaming with that excited look that could only mean one thing:
A bet was coming.
“Me on Dick, you on them skates...we should race each other, luhmao," Lin drawled, prodding Stella with his elbow again as his grin grew toothier. He drew his shoulders up to give a dramatic shrug with an impish cackle. "Unless you're afraid of getting your ass beaten, luhmao."
@Steller.Bae has set their location to: School (her locker)
@Steller.Bae has mentioned: Ronnie, Zeph, Charlie
@Steller.Bae has Interacted with: Mike & Lin (Ditto
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Was her goal to piss him off? Not really, she didn't think anything she said would do that, but she was going to speak her mind, and let him know that she wasn't like his usual playthings. If that made her "boring" then so be it. She didn't find any pride on being considered entertaining enough to be a possible knock in the belt or jester for Mike. Ew.
She wanted to gag when he called her babe. In fact she almost did.
He was so annoying. Honestly was he really miming right now? What's wrong with him? For someone who was trying to claim she was sooo boring he sure was taking a long time to explain that. So he didn't care about her opinion and she didn't care about his, so once again what was the point in all this? Just to be mildly annoying for a bit? How childish can you get? How delusion did you have to be to think that such a think made you well...anything? You weren't mature, it's not clever, it not entertaining...it's just nothing. It's the antics of a 5th grader, and her was trying to lecture her on her personality?
Please Stella could be a lot of fun when she wanted to be, but not everyone deserved to see that side of her. Not everyone deserved to see the softer sides, and she knew that. The future wanna-be standing and chuckling in front of her definitely didn't. Especially if he was deaf. Jesus was listening and reading such a difficult skill in this damn place? Like where did you all go to middle school?
She hated that he wasn't the only victim of selective or out right misreading information. No one listens around here, it's like talking to brick walls. She hadn't mentioned his aversion of Ronnie, or even mentioned he was infatuated with her like that. She said his obsession with talking about her...like he was still doing. God was she sick of hearing about Veronica. She kinda thought once Zeph was over his crush on her and stopped complaining about her that'd be the end of her having to hear about her, but of course not. She can't seem to stop running into guys who can't keep the girl off their lips. Really it was almost impressive how much of an imprint the girl left on men even if it's mostly distain. Pity date or not he still was talking, and so clearly she still lived in his head rent free, for better or for worse. Point proven moving on hopefully.
When it finally seemed like his whole bits where coming to a close she rolled her eyes and mumbled dryly as she typed away on her phone before pocketing it, "Oh yes, I'm crushed I wasn't able to entertaining you enough tonight to keep you around longer. Because this is exactly how I love spending my free time." She placed her hands on her hips, "I'll be sure to take your notes and do better the next time you have this god awful itch to speak to me again."
What part of anything that she said previously made him think that him being bored and leaving her alone for the night wasn't EXACTLY what she wanted. She didn't care what mood it left him in; bored, mad, upset, happy. She gave zero fucks if he would just shut up and walk away from her to not talk to her ever again. He went with bored, so be it. She didn't care. Truly it was a god send and she only wished he'd stop talking and get a move on sooner.
Because he was STILL talking. Holy fuck why? She pressed her fingers to her temple and closed her eyes a moment before pushing herself off the lockers to skate around him, "You know for someone who was soooo bored. You still being here to give me more notes isn't helping. I will enjoy myself, so shoo off to some bitch who will play with you." She shooed him with her hands. Seriously it was amazing how much of an incel some people at this school were. Like catch a hint and keep moving. He finally came to the end and walked off to find some other poor unfortunate soul.
She skated around and a few circles up and down the hall once Mike was gone just to get herself back into the groove. It'd been a while since she last skated, and it was always in a ring so this floor was different and she needed to adjust a bit. She almost feel loosing her concentration when she heard/saw Lin come round the corner. What on earth was he doing here, and what was her...celebrating? Yah sure that looked and sounded happy.
Her next thoughts drifted to where Zeph might be. She figured he'd be turning the corner any moment now too, but that moment never came. Wasn't he supposed to be with Lin? He they still not run into each other yet, and if not why? What's the point of modern technology like phones if the boys weren't going to use them to find one another. Perhaps that was part of the fun for them. Like hide and go seek and Lin was the hider and Zeph was seeking. It could make sense right? She felt anything was possible of making since when it came to Lin based off his twitter conversations.
Lin finally noticed her and called out her name bringing her outta her inner thoughts and into this moment where she realized she was fucked. "Huh?" She blinked confused a moment before registering what he was talking about, "O-oh! Yah I did see that, and so that's what you were doing? That' cool. I know some locker room girls who'd love your secrets Lin." She giggled scratching the back of her head with one hand as the other rested on her hip. She was confused but she'd try to roll with it.
It was easier to go with the flow and hide her continuous confusion of Lin and his antics on twitter then in person because her body reacted before her brain could process his energy. He felt like the equivalent of the energizer bunny and Stella wasn't quite sure how Zeph and Charlie kept up with this all the time. As she spoke she supposed now was as good of a time as any to start figuring out how. Zeph clearly liked hanging with him, and so they were all bound to hang out at some point right? Plus Zeph was supposed to be looking for him, so if she stayed with Lin...or tried to then it'd be easy for Zeph to find her later. "Thanks!" She chimed in response to his compliment.
She smiled simply even if it became a bit strained as he poked her arm with his elbow. She reminded herself that he didn't know her well enough to know she didn't liked to be touched. She simply moved her arm above her head as if she was stretching instead of being rude about it. Sure she could've just said so, but she didn't trust her tongue after still being pissed off about talking to Mike. She didn't want any residual animosity to rub off on him since he didn't deserve that shit.
The more 'hey's' that left his lips the more concerned for her own well being she became. She remembered Charlie's warning in twitter, and hadn't thought so soon she'd have to actually act on it. "Race? Sure I can totally do a race! Where to?" She asked curiously though it might be her down fall letting him pick the parameters rather then herself. Self preservation wasn't exactly a strong suit of his. However she figured how bad could a race be? "Where is Dick anyways? Did you bring him inside?" She asked curiously.
She figured she might as well ask while they were at it, "Also have you not seen Zeph yet?" She asked curiously. "We might need a photo finish guy." She giggled with a playful competitive wink. Did she actually believe she could beat Lin on skates as he rode his bike? No. Mostly because while she would still try her best...she had this thing called self preservation and caution to limit her. Lin didn't posses those two qualities. She had to be film ready in a few weeks so a broken arm or leg in the mean time was not the way to go.
Cappie spent his week fixing his sleeping pattern. Jet lag sucks. His body had been about 15 hours ahead, in Japan’s timezone. Flying back to LA was a bit almost like time traveling, at least in his mind. He was sleepy during the day and wide awake at night, and a few times, he wrote the date one day early. Going to school with jet lag sucks, too. He nearly fell asleep during classes on more than one occasion.
In last year’s Hollywood Arts lock-in, Cappie only went there to set up a prank on a couple of other then-seniors who kept treating him and some of his friends like trash. So, Cappie concocted a humiliating prank that involved super-gluing feathers and feather boas on the two seniors’ parked cars, and another prank that happened that night involving balloons filled with soda and paint, and a confetti cannon to make them look like colorful human disco balls. He had help from a couple of people.
But then a rando told the seniors that Cappie was responsible for their public humiliation, and the senior jerks plus a few friends chased him throughout the school. Fortunately, Cappie was agile enough to escape, by hiding in the school auditorium’s catwalk, where he also spent the rest of the lock-in night. Fun times.
This year, he wasn’t planning on creating another revenge prank. This time, he just wanted to check out the scene, hang out with some friends and stuff. Gen and Eli were doing something else somewhere else—were they sticking around for the lock-in? Cappie couldn’t remember. And Ash wandered off on her own, so the Captain was without a crewmate. At least for a little while.
Not long ago, his roommate of last year, Oates, invited Cappie to hang out with him, Nathan, and whoever else was joining. Sure, why not? Cap missed his buddy Oates, one of the first friends he’d made in Hollywood Arts outside of his friendship with Ash and theJohannes twins.
Instead of his sophomore year roommate at the meeting place, he only found his gym buddy Nathan Woods. Okay, he’s not actually his gym buddy. He and Cap just visited the same gym around the same time frequently, but they didn’t interact with each other much.
Cappie wasn’t really close to Nathan like he was with Oates, but he thought he was an all right guy, and not as bad as Gen made him out to be. Nate had never done anything disrespectful to him, and his artwork was pretty rad. So, yeah, he was okay in Cap’s book.
“Hey, Woody. How’ve you been,” he greeted, approaching visibly from the side. “I heard your museum date with Evie went great. Congrats, man. Y'know, with having a girlfriend now.”
As far as birthdays go, Jo could say that hers was a good one. There had been gifts, most of her friends had been there and someone managed to sneak a cake into the rave… They had gone to a fucking rave for crying out loud. How could it have not been a good birthday? By party girl standards it was practically perfect.
She and Liv had blown out the candles before proceeding to get uncontrollably wasted in a matter of hours. Or maybe it was only minutes. Hell, Josie had taken enough shots and done enough of the drugs her friends provided to knock out a grown man.
Okay…maybe not that much but pretty damn close so you get the picture. It had been a lot. To be quite honest, Jo couldn’t tell you what exactly she’d taken that night but she’d been on cloud nine and the next day she was still alive and breathing so did it really matter? The whole point of the birthday bash was to be so fucked up she barely remembered her own name.
On the subject of things, Jo couldn’t remember there was the matter of the guy she’d stumbled into her dark bedroom with. She knew who he was, well kinda, but she couldn’t think of his name to save her life. Dean? Damon? No, wait, it had an S in it. Stutter? Sle-
…Oh! Slutty! That was it. Now that she thought about it, she’d stick with calling him hot guy #3. It was fitting enough.
By the time Jo had woken up the next morning the spot beside her was empty, leaving only the disturbed covers behind as a reminder of the late-night rendezvous. Something she would surprisingly come to regret once she finally sobered up and got over her second hangover of the weekend. Not that he wasn't decent enough in bed or something but he just wasn't...
She had her reasons...okay?
And it definitely had nothing to do with her ex.
The week had come and gone pretty quickly which was lucky for Jo since she'd been looking forward to this lock-in since she'd heard it was happening. She had even invited Tilly to stay over the night before so they could hang out and then head to the school together when it was time. It was the perfect plan for the two friends.
Tilly and Jo seemed like an odd pairing but somehow they actually had a solid friendship. In fact, they kinda balanced each other out in some ways. The wild child and the sweet innocent one. It was a wonder how Jo hadn't already completely corrupted the girl, instead, she got her out of her comfort zone sometimes and Tilly managed to ground her from time to time.
As she pulled her duffle bag out of the uber, she thanked the driver and turned to Tilly to be sure she had her things too. "This is gonna be so much fun! Maybe we can get into the teacher's lounge or something and see what they have in there too," she grinned as she walked beside her friend
"Oh! Liv said that Nate has the keys to the pool. If she can get them then I'm totally going skinny dip-"
Now, Jo had a habit of getting overly excited and not really paying attention to her surroundings. It was something she always said she needed to work on but never did. That much became clear as day when she slammed into someone causing her words to halt as she lost her balance and fell onto the cool concrete ground along with her duffle bag and the person's keys.
Keys that she recognized quite easily due to the keychain being a dead giveaway of who she'd just crashed into. Of course! Leave it to Jo to run into her ex again...quite literally this time.
Wait, why the hell hadn't she gotten up off of the ground yet?
Evelyn Sinclaire. The self-proclaimed ice queen. The bitch with no emotional ties to the people she slept with. The one who said over and over what a waste of time dating was. Yeah, that girl. She was now in a very public relationship with none other than Nathan Woods. Had the world stopped spinning? Did she finally lose it?
Honestly, she still couldn't understand how she'd managed to get where she was. A week ago she would've told you that she had no feelings for Nate, that he was just a friend and sometimes they fucked. That was all there was to it really. It would've been a lie even then but she still would've said it with enough confidence to convince at least herself.
Now here she was. She thought it would be weird to be dating again. Like it would feel off or she'd be questioning the choice to take that chance again but it just felt normal. Like things had changed for the better but at the same time, nothing had changed too much. The craziest part was that she was actually...happy.
Jesus. That was such a simp thing to think. Was she a.... No, no. Evelyn might've caught feelings for Nate but she wasn't a simp, okay? That was reserved for people like Nickie and Hunter. Gross. She could be happy without it being some big deal. Fuck anyone who thought otherwise.
She stuffed the fur jacket she'd been wearing when she arrived into her suitcase. Look, maybe fur at a school lock-in was overboard but it was Evie so if you expected any less then you didn't know her. A click sound came from the lock she'd been placing on her suitcase which indicated that it had been secured. Hey, you could never be too sure around here and she wasn't taking chances.
Walking away from the area she'd set her stuff Evie scanned the already half-crowded halls. If she was going to be stuck at the damn school all night then she needed to find someone to hang out with, preferably Nate or Gen. Hell, she'd even hang around Mike if she stumbled on him first.
Instead, her eyes caught sight of a certain blonde who she noticed was with her ugly, but sadly not step, brother, and his highly annoying friend. How someone could be even less desirable than Jace was baffling to her and yet here was Callum. Round of applause for that very horrid achievement.
As she got closer, she could see the clear upset across Ash's face and Cal's voice only got louder and louder until his words became practically crystal clear even from a distance. Was this kid serious?
"I don't fucking like you. I'm fucking FINISHED with you!" -- "No one is ever going to trust you like I did, you 'sorry' piece of shit. Get out of my face and never speak to me again."
His declarations were almost as pathetic as he was and had it not been for them being directed at Ash, Evie would've probably ignored them. Unfortunately for them, she wasn't the type to bite her tongue when her friends were involved so the brunette approached the two idiots just as Ash walked away in tears
Her eyes rolled at the sound of Jace congratulating his friend. Was this a kindergarten showdown on the playground? Her hands came together in a slow and obviously sarcastic clap as she halted in front of the pair. "Yes, Cal. That was quite a display of your so-called manliness. You really showed her, didn't you?" she said.
"I have a question though. Are you really that pathetic or was that part of the act too? I mean, bravo either way because I truly don't know anyone else who can make just existing look this pitiful." a shrug as she looked them up and down before continuing.
"You did all that because what? She didn't listen to you whine about boy troubles or hold your hand when you couldn't handle a little heat on your own. Are you that desperate for someone to actually care about your existence?" a chuckle escaped her glossed lips.
"News flash: no one does, besides maybe your little sidekick here," she added, eyes flashing over to Jace briefly. He was kinda like Batman's little lackey. Well, if Robin had been a greasy-looking teenager whose only personality trait was saying "wtf" and following the few friends he had like a stray hoping for scraps.
Just then her eyes caught sight of another familiar face and a smirk tugged at her lips as she reached out for his arm pulling him into the conversation. "Reid, hey. Quick question. Matter of opinion really." Was she stirring the pot more and more? Absolutely. They deserved it though, to be fair.
"Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum here had the brilliant idea to make Ash cry. Now, you know as well as everyone that Ash is like family to Gen, and personally, I think she would rather enjoy hearing all about this amazing performance they put on. What do you think though? Wanna help me find her so these two can have the audience they so clearly crave? Do some charity."
Lin honestly didn’t know what the hell Stella meant by the locker room girls wanting to know his secrets. Regardless of what exactly was meant by that comment, everyone wanted to know his secrets, not just those girls, ess-em-aych. He was Lindsay mofo-in’ Kay. Yeah, oooobviously everyone wanted to know his secrets— and he wouldn’t tell them.
Why, you ask? ‘Cuz he was a magician— the magical-est musician. Duh. And magicians never revealed their secrets. Duuuuuuh. Keep up, ess-em-aych. Get with it, luhmao.
At Stella’s agreement to participate in his bet, he pumped his fists a few, quick times, laughing mischievously.
Luhmao, suuuuuckerrrrr! She was going down!
As much as Lin liked to gloat that he had never lost at anything before— which was totally true, ess-em-aych— he had never never never lost a race.
(Video games didn’t count. Those were electronic, not physical, and the people he played against knew the shortcuts, too. Not fair, not fair.)
On bike, on foot, on skates, on anything, Lin came to kick ass and take names. He had swole calves and unmatched Lin-ness, which slated him to win every single fuckin’ time. He was in track at one of the schools that he was in. Took home a fucking blue ribbon, ‘cuz duh. She didn’t know what she was up against.
“Hell yeah, luhmao!” Lin cheered, pumping his fist again “You’re goin’ doooooown down, Stelly! I won’t take it easy just ‘cuz you’re Zobin’s girlfriiiiend!” He wagged a finger at her, and then he put his hands on his hips and put his weight on his right hip. “I don’t take it easy on no one for noooo reason.” He picked up his left hand from his hip, his nails and pretending to buff out some of the nails’ imperfections on his shirt. He held his hand out in front of him again and splayed the fingers, and he pursed his lips. “Not even little toddlers. I put them in their places.” His toothy grin snaked its way back onto his face, and he let out a little cackle, giving a dramatic shrug and dropping the sassy pose. “You’re going down down doooown!” he said, repeating the same phrase he had used before.
He gave another shrug. “And ehhh, we won’t need a photo-finish dude— but I do wanna know where Zeph’s at, bro, ‘cuz we’re supposed to hang, ess-em-aych,” he said, frowning slightly. His brows knit tighter and tighter as his eyes glanced around the area for a moment. When he didn’t spot Zeph, he gave the gift of yet another shrug. “Ehhhhh, guess it doesn’t matter right now, luhmao.” He grinned again. “I’mma win so good and beat you that we don’t needa guy to call it, luhmao!”
With a cackle, he gave a shake of his butt, and then he spun in a quick circle before looking at Stella again. “Yooo, are we playing for mon-ayyy or just victor-ayyy?” He reached into his pocket and quickly whipped out a quarter, holding it between his thumb and forefinger. “I got this that says I win.” He held it out for her to take, and then he gave a soft laugh and made his way over to his locker. He’d left it unlocked from when he’d visited it before, and he simply opened the door and stooped down to reach into it.
A neon pink sock, rolled into a ball, hit the locker beside Stella’s head with a soft whump!. It bounced off and rolled to a stop at Stella’s feet.
Lin’s hand remained open from having thrown it at the locker, and a wide grin spread across his face. He gave a happy laugh. “And a sock, luhmao. I bet the sock, too.”
He reached into his locker again, pulling out the other neon pink sock and his two black high-top sneakers. He dropped himself onto the floor and began to tie them on, singing beneath his breath. “I’mma win at a race, I’mma win at a race; I’mma say ‘in yo face’, said I’m boutta win in a bike-skate race…”
As he finished his last loop, he gave an excited “there!”, and then he popped onto his feet without having to even push off the ground. He grinned excitedly at Stella. “Dick’s outside,” he said. “Hold up, lemme just run and get him real quick.”
Run and get him was not a figure of speech.
Off Lin sped, full-speed ahead, wind whipping through his ears. He pulled the letterman jacket off of his shoulder and looped it through his belt loops, then knotted it at his jeans’ zipper as he disappeared out of the school’s doors.
Less than a minute later, in came a colorful, cackling blur, several deflated latex balloons dragging and bouncing behind it on strings.
The blur only became a flame-painted bike and its laughing driver as Lin slammed on the bike’s brakes and the tires skidded against the polished floors. Lin set his foot on the floor beside the bike to steady it, and he grinned at Stella, a wild, excited look in his eyes.
“Alriiiiiiiiight!” Lin said. “Let’s get this fuckin’ goiiiiiiin’!”
He took long strides down the hallways, having to keep a hunched over figure in order to keep his head from knocking against things. He should've just gone to the beach. Broken a window. Escaped. Damned the consequences. He hit his head against a fire doorframe, making him pause as he held his forehead with a scarred hand, blinking away the pain. Usually he was a lot better at dodging things like this. His black and white hair fell into his eyes and he cursed his existence.
The behemoth usually didn't move this quickly towards anyone, much less a stranger, but he had been promised food. A very good motivator for a starving Auguste. And even though it was from a complete stranger he didn't know... Hey! Free food was free food. What were they going to do? Poison him? Actually yes. Yes that was an actual present danger.
The giant paused, hand still rubbing where his forehead had smacked against the doorframe. Risk assessment... pending.... Fuck it, he wanted free food. He continued on his way.
The terrifying dancer continued towards Room 312, his brisk pace slowed down to a steady amble. Best not appear too eager. Might scare off the nice person giving him food. Excellent decision, Auguste.
The giant was not the friendliest of faces. He had long dark hair that was currently obscurring his face, with the white patch adding just enough asymmetry to make him distinctly uncomfortable to look at. That is, if the height and the muscle wasn't enough to deter people. And usually muscle was a thing that people looked for in a guy, but when it was added to his height, he came across more as "terrifying dangerous behemoth" than "hearththrob." And while most people of his size moved with the kind of clunkiness - an awkwardness - that came from having to move so much mass, he'd trained his body to move with careful precision. Which gave him an almost ethereal, unnatural way of moving that was also uncomfortable to witness.
But more importantly, when all was said and done, he just was mean looking. Probably handsome at one point, and then someone seemed to have tried carving his face off with a knife. He had a small little scar on the inner part of his right eyebrow, and then two larger ones making an X farther out. There was another scar on the left side of his lip, evening out the asymmetry somewhat but still making him look distinctly dangerous even when his hair was pulled back.
And if that wasn’t enough, he had pale blue eyes. Not particularly pretty blue, like the ocean or the sky, but like ice. Unnervingly pale blue. That had the effect of looking like they could stare into someone's soul to read their sins.
All in all, unnerving, unnatural, particularly terrifying.
Keep that in mind now, there was a man that was way too large, slightly bent over to keep his head from scraping the ceiling, with black hair obscuring his appearance, except every now and then there was a glint of intense pale blue eyes and a scarred face and he was slowly walking towards Clementine with an unnatural air to him where he was way too graceful and calculated in his movements than he really should've been. Like a god of death coming to drag her down to hell.
"Are you... the muffin person?" Auguste's voice was similarly terrifying, but in a different way. Deep, and rumbly. But soft, and melodious, with a mild French accent. The kind of voice that could convince a man to lay down in his own grave. So soft and pleasasnt that it was at complete odds with his monstrous appearance.
Auguste was also pretty sure that this girl was about to poison him, but whatever... as they said, YOLO. Or something. Oh God this was absolutely terrifying.
His gaze snapped up when someone's voice hit his ears. Evelyn Sinclaire had made her way over to Jace and Callum, and the sight of her sent Jace's heart pounding straight into his throat. He straightened up, his eyes widening like a deer caught in the headlights. His heart pounded faster, threatening to straight up choke him out if he couldn't swallow it as she started to berate them.
For the most part, Jace could handle what nonsense she was spewing. It wasn't as if he hadn't expected something to come out of Callum's little bitching at his little sister. For some reason that still stumped Jace, people actually kind of liked her, and Callum's words hadn't... been... loud... until the end... which had probably been... the worst part, so... it had caught the attention of some nearby students. It was just that--
Any train of thought came to an abrupt, grinding halt as Evie grabbed Mike and pulled him over. Instinctively, Jace flinched and lowered his gaze again, but it was kind of hard to look down and not at Mike when Mike was shorter than you. So he had to hold his head in a bit of an awkward position as he took a couple shuffled steps back, placing himself slightly behind Callum and out of punching distance of Evie and Mike.
He-- he wasn't-- he--
He wasn't... he wasn't... s-scared...
Oh fuck, now even his narration was stuttering.
Oh god, he'd even cussed.
You caught him red-handed in the midst of a lie. Jace was absolutely petrified, terrified, more scared than he had been in a long time. His heart had stopped pounding in his throat and was now just blocking passage to his lungs, and his head was starting to throb with an unwelcome headache. This was... all... too... too much, he just... he needed, that wasn't... she didn't... Evie...
She didn't get it, and Jace did. And he just wanted them to finish their little bitch fest and walk away cackling like the witchy bitches they were, and then Jace could try to shake the anxiety that was gripping him so strongly. He could shake it, and he could try to return to enjoying himself with Callum or as... as much as... as much as one could... could kind of... kind of expect, kind of have in a... locked in a school.
Evie spoke again and this time, her words truly cut him to the core.
"Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum here had the brilliant idea to make Ash cry. Now, you know as well as everyone that Ash is like family to Gen, and personally, I think she would rather enjoy hearing all about this amazing performance they put on. What do you think though? Wanna help me find her so these two can have the audience they so clearly crave? Do some charity."
"W-w-what?" His lips trembled as he struggled to force out the word, his gaze snapping back up. Now, he was shaking a touch, and he pressed his hands into the pocket of his hoodie, his hands clenching tightly into fists. If they had been visible, his knuckles undoubtedly would've turned white as he tried to keep his gaze off of Mike and instead, fully focused on Evie. Evie was at least a little less scary to him.
"N-n... no, no, no," he stuttered out, shaking his head slightly, his lips trembling up into a faulty smile. "W-wh... we... we don't... no, no, we... we don't need... need Gen. We'll, we'll, we'll go check on her right now -- Ash, you know... m-my sister, we'll... we'll go... check on her. It was, it was, it was a joke, right, Cal?" He gave an uncomfortable laugh that sounded more like a smothered sob than anything. "Y-yeah, and we'll... apologize, no... no need to... to do that."
Lin ‘Macho Man’ Kay. What a fucking joke. She’d laugh if it wasn’t so unbelievably pathetic. Well..she’d laugh regardless, but later, with Dalton and a drink. It was always better with company anyway. She sighed as he puffed his chest to assert some form of dominance. What she ever saw in him was beyond her. Just an annoying gnat buzzing around that liked to get too close to the bug zapper. His lack of self-preservation was comical. Pretending to fear nothing only made it glaringly obvious that he was afraid of everything.
“You talking to me?”
She faked a yawn. Did he think he was clever? Funny? Cute? All of the above? The poor guy had been severely lied to. But then again, he was dating Charlie Howell. And that bitch thought she was God’s gift. Sanctimonious whore. It was only fitting that the two people that felt their shit didn’t stink would end up together.
“You wouldn’t really go against your dads’ wishes like that, would ya? After everything you’ve gone through to obey ‘em?”
Her body tensed at the mention of her dads, but she covered it up the best she could. She remained unphased. Years of practice allowed her to act as if very little bothered her. Yeah...she and Lin were a thing. Like a small thing. Not quite as small as his dick, but you get the point. And yes, her dads felt that she could do better. Were they wrong? Abso-fucking-lutely not. And it was in the past. She was over it. So over it. Lin, on the other hand, seemed to hold a grudge.
“Go make out with your dads’ asses, Lydia. Keep the hell away from me.” His lip curled up in disgust. “I never want to see your face again, you fucking pathetic. Wannabe. Bitch.”
The blasse look faltered as he closed the gap between them. Their eyes met. He hated her. Maybe he had good reason. Maybe. Maybe she could have handled the situation differently. But it wasn’t like they were dating. They weren’t a couple. They weren’t anything. They just...were. And it’s not like he didn’t know about the pressures parents can put on you. There was a giant hole in the wall in the science lab to prove it. And now he wanted to attack her? Her smirk returned to her face as he brushed past her. Her eyes followed him down the hall as he continued his performance. As if anyone cared what he had to say. As if anyone ever really listened. As if he wasn’t just that yappy person you keep around to see how much they’ll embarrass themself next.
Never happened? She owed him nothing. Not that Lin punching a hole in the wall was newsworthy journalism, BUT...it wasn’t as if it couldn’t be useful. And she wasn’t one to pass up an opportunity. When he was out of sight, she took a deep breath as she made her way into the classroom. Pulling out her phone, she snapped a photo of the hole in the wall. A slight smear of blood could be made out, but she didn’t care. At least that’s what she told herself. He didn’t want anything to with her. She didn’t want anything to do with him. Seemed pretty easy to just avoid at this point.
Exiting the room, she made her way down the hall. She wasn’t about to let that minor blip ruin her plans. She rounded the corner and saw the Dean’s office in the distance. A small smile appeared on her face as she noticed Dalton waiting outside. At least he showed. It was hit or miss with him sometimes. Would he get distracted? Would someone want to hook up? Or would he just plain forget? All things you had to deal with when you were friends with him. “Sorry I’m late, Kirby. I was dealing with a giant rat problem.” She said referring to Lin. Before he could respond. “Don’t ask.” She said with a sigh. “You ready to do this?”
He was over it. Yep. One hundred percent over it. Had Jace reached out and apologized? Nope. Had he been surprised? Nope. Jace was a dick. Yeah, he had the social skills of a scared bird. And yeah...it wasn’t his fault but...Jace was a dick. They’d been friends since Freshman year. They’d been best friends. And for Jace to just write him off cause he didn’t return whatever romantic feelings was a dick move. And then he pretends like nothing? Like he doesn’t matter? D I C K.
Maybe he was overselling it. Landon wasn’t over it. He was pissed. He was hurt. He missed his friend. Missed the times before things got complicated. And Jace was unwilling to even talk. He just clammed up like he always did and avoided the issue. Maybe he could have fought harder. Maybe storming out wasn’t the most mature thing to do but...he was seventeen. Maturity could come later. Right now he wanted to be upset. They’d get past it, right? He wasn’t so sure. Jace was stubborn and probably didn’t even know Landon was upset or didn’t care. Maybe their friendship had run its course. Maybe they were too different.
Eh. He was over it. Or he didn’t want to think about it. Not now. Not tonight. Tonight was about fun. Tonight was about a lot of fun. And he was about to have a lot of it. Gen was always a good time. Even when sex wasn’t on the table, they had a blast, but since sex on the table was definitely in the cards, he was on cloud nine. He hadn’t hooked up since Halloween and that was...less than thrilling. And he knew that Gen needed to rid herself of the mistake that was Mike Reid. And he was happy to oblige.
He wasn’t a fan of sneaking around. He had done way too much of that for way too long and for what? To have some shitty ex pretend like you didn’t exist. Like you didn’t matter? Okay, so he hated sneaking around. Sure, hook-ups were one thing. They didn’t need to be discussed unless it was mutually agreed upon. Relationships? They should be celebrated. You should want to tell the world. And he knew that he and Gen weren’t serious. Just a hook-up. Something to pass the time, but...it could be more. But all these stupid rules got in the way. And what was he supposed to do? NOT have sex? That wasn’t happening. Sorry Eves.
He walked confidently into the building. You know...cause he was about to get laid. He made his way toward where Gen said she’d meet him. It was important to avoid major areas. He couldn’t risk running into Evie or anyone else he knew if he wanted to stay alive. He slid into the room quickly and shut the door behind him.
He turned and met Gen’s eyes. She was hot. She was beautiful. She was perfect. She knew all that, though. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t told her time and time again. The first time they hooked up...he couldn’t believe that she was giving him a chance. That’d she’d chosen him over countless other possibilities.
Don’t get him wrong. He was a catch. He was Landon fucking Sinclaire. He was a king. But this was Gen Johannes. She was in a league of her own. A playful smile formed on his lips. “Genny. Fancy meeting you here.” He said as he stopped in front of her and leaned back on the desk. “I’m supposed to be meeting a really hot hook-up. Maybe you’ve seen her?” His playful smile turned into a smirk. “She’s about this tall…” He motioned in the air about Gen’s height. “...killer legs, nice rack and an amazing ass.” He said looking around the room. “She come by at all?”
Instead of his chill little sidekick, Oates, showing up, Nate was instead greeted by a not all too familiar face, but a friendly one all the time. It was that uhh... he was that Cappie guy, right? Yeah.
In case it hadn't become apparent with the whole Trent fiasco, Nate wasn't the greatest at placing a face to a name. It wasn't that he was bad at remembering people -- he recognized most people that he met -- but he had trouble being able to remember, well, their name. He'd remember little bits and pieces of what made them them instead of the label that was attached to everyone.
In Cap's particular case, it happened to be recognizing him briefly from a few trips to the gym (and as anyone who knew Nate knew, he spent a lot of time at the gym, so it came as no surprise that the two would've run into each other), but also that this guy was one of Gen's closest friends. One of those ones that she considered... what was it... sibling-esque? Her relationship with them?
Personally, Nathan could never understand being close enough friends with someone to ever perceive them as a potential sibling, or even to refer to them as such. Hell, Nate didn't want to refer to his blood siblings as his own siblings half the time, let alone people that he could dispose of on the drop of a hat if he so desired. It just... felt like such a meaningless title to equip to someone but hey, it wasn't Nate's friendships and had no effect on him, so who was he to judge? He'd simply observe, give a nod of his head, and respect that any ill remarks he might make towards Cappie would have Gen on his ass.
Granted, now dating one Evelyn Sinclaire meant that he constantly had Gen breathing down his neck, anyway, so it wasn't really anything new for him.
Upon Cappie's arrival, Nate gave a faint grin. The first comment he made? About his newfound relationship with Evie, and he let out a small awkward chuckle. He lifted one hand to rub at the back of his neck, a goofy grin on his face as he tried to think of how to respond to that. Sure, he'd been with Evie for almost a whole week now, but it wasn't like... he'd had a lot of friends that cared to ask him about it, and that was how Nate honestly preferred it. Yeah, him and Evie were dating now, there was no reason to talk about it, or gossip about the details like middle schoolers gushing over their crushes.
There was still a small part of him that was a little excited about being able to talk about it, though, but Nate didn't really acknowledge that.
"It's..." he trailed off, giving a little shake of his head with another chuckle. "It's... new. I mean, of course it's new, but it's... she's different from the other girls I've tried dating, you know?" And Nate meant that in the best way possible because there were reasons that those other relationships (namely him and Amy) hadn't worked out (and clearly, it didn't just have to do with him being immature).
He dropped his hand back to his side, chill smile still on his face. Nate tried to recall something about Cappie -- and he did know some stuff about him, seeing as how they were in the same department and shit.
"You just came back from... filming or something, right?" Nate asked. He was pretty sure he'd recalled something like that being mentioned on Twitter, but he couldn't quite recall the details. "Something in... Canada...?"
Honestly, it was the first country he could think of.
Her hopes of being able to pass Nickie off to Hunter so that she could be like... alone had ultimately failed, and there was a sinking feeling in her chest. Like the last little bit of hope had just been shot, like the last flicker of light had been pinched out. She was like... she was like stuck, stuck with Nickie, stuck with someone that she wasn't sure how to feel about, and Ash just, she just, she just...
Fuck, she didn't know. She didn't know. She didn't know.
The barrage of thoughts that usually left her drowning were suddenly gone, empty, and her mind felt blank. Well not, like, blank blank, like... static. Yeah. Fuzzy, static, like she couldn't find a clear thought through the fog was that was clouding her. Her eyebrows drew together to reflect this hazy view in her head, her lips pursing together in reaction, but also because her stomach was hurting.
God, she wasn't sick. She hadn't been drinking (although she now wish that she had been and the only clear thought that she could form through the fog and haze was of the water bottle of vodka that she may or may not have brought with her to the lock-in -- sue her, she had more fun drunk). So there was no reason for her stomach to be hurting and for her to feel like she needed to find the nearest trash can to empty the non-existent contents of her stomach.
And she couldn't fucking breathe.
Her lips parted to suck in a deep breath of air that rattled her lungs, and the flickering thought of maybe she was dying flashed through her mind for a moment before vanishing. Because like, that was totally unreasonable, that totally didn't make sense, but there was still the little, ever existent what if, what if, what if and the oxygen in her lungs started to constrict again.
Absently, she pressed one hand against her forehead, and then pushed her fingers back into her mess of hair. Her other hand moved from its place across her stomach to rest on her hip, and she finally looked back at Nickie. Her breathing still felt ragged and short, but she was like... she was... she was like... she was totally adjusting to it, and it was like... she was like... she would, she would, she would be fine.
“You look…sick. Like, no way that that is fine.” Nickie said, which was like, just a total lie.
Ash did not look sick. She just... she wasn't even like... really crying. The tears? Yeah, no, that was uhh... those were allergies. She was like, she was like, she was fine... she was, she was... she would be fine, she wasn't like... she just needed like to be alone for a little bit. Yep. Alone, to collect herself, to process what Callum had said to her, and then she could return to the lock-in with a fake smile painted on her face that would eventually turn genuine and like, she would be fine. So fine. A-okay. Never seen someone more fine than Ash would, like, totally be after that.
The more she tried to convince herself of that, the sicker to her stomach she got.
“Are…are you alright?” she asked. “Did something happen? Did someone do something to you?” She frowned deeply. “Do you, uh…like, do you need a bucket?”
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Why was Nickie acting like she cared?
She pushed her hand through her hair, messing up the typically perfect strands before dropping her arm once more and, instinctively, both her arms crossed back over her stomach.
God, she hated it. She hated it. She hated it when people kept pressing, wanting to know if you were okay, if you were alright, if you were fine, and they wouldn't just... go... away. Like, she didn't people's fake worry to make themselves feel better. She didn't like... she didn't need it and she didn't want it. It was like... look, people didn't care -- Ash wasn't stupid -- and like, like, like... she just... she knew what she needed to do. She needed to keep smiling, acting like everything was alright, and breakdown somewhere alone. Keep herself calm anad collected when she was in front of others.
Nickie was making that impossible.
To be fair, it was her fault for having no control of her emotions. That used to be, like, something that her mother would complain about all the time when Ash was little. That she, like, was irrational and reacted too impulsively or whatever and like... she was trying.
"I'm... I'm alright," she clarified, giving a nod of her head to back up her words, although it was hard to tell if the nod was to reassure Nickie or if it was to simply reassure herself. "It's just, like... Callum..." she waved one hand dismissively in the direction she had just come from, but the hand quickly went back across her abdomen, "he was like... he'd mad at me, because I'm kind of like... like a... a... a shitty person, and like... like a whore, I guess... he, uh, he didn't say that last one -- like, he didn't like... he didn't call me... a... whore..." that was her own totally valid opinion of herself, and the last thing she needed was Nickie telling someone offhandedly that Callum had called her a whore, and then Callum was even more mad at Ash, and then there would be no chance of redemption, and then it would just spread like wildfire, and then everyone would hate her, and, and, and--
"What do you want?" She asked, swallowing a sob in her throat that wanted to escape. Her voice was still wavering, she still looked sick as hell to her stomach, but her words were like... they were at least like... clearer, and she was like... she getting some kind of control over herself. Although her faltering voice was probably coming off more defensive than was necessary. "Do you want, like... do you just... do you just... do you just want to know so that you can, like.... you can like... go tell everyone?"
In some aspect, Ash realized that what she was saying might have been offensive, but that was kind of lost in the static and fog of her mind.
She wanted out.
She wanted to leave.
She wanted, she wanted, she wanted...
She wanted to be alone.
Or, at the very least, she wanted someone else that wasn't like... that wasn't like... Nickie. She wanted like... she needed like... like someone that she actually knew cared about her beyond a doubt, and someone that like... she didn't know.
Alone was good.
Alone would be fine, alone would be better for others, because she also didn't want to bring anyone down.
"I just like... I have a hard time believing that you like... you're not like... here to fuck with me like you, like you, like you did with like... like Rome, yeah? And like the shit that you did with Javi and Lucky. I mean like, if that's all this is, then just..." her shoulder shrugged helplessly, "just take a picture and go away."
Full. Full. What the fuck! Nasty – he did not need to see that, why the fuck did they not lock the door first? Were they trying to be exhibitionists or something? Bloody hell. Sure it was exposing season but that usually stayed on twitter, and on the topic of secrets, not crap like that.
Fuck, his eyes.
It was Lock In so there was definitely going to be plenty more hookups tonight and he had nothing against them, he'd had his fair share over the years, but that was in private, not an unlocked, public classroom. Hopefully the rest would have the sense to secure themselves some privacy first, though that was probably asking for too much.
Dalton continued searching for a room to put his bag. It seemed like he'd picked the wrong corridor because so far it was just, full, full, full and messy. He crinkled his nose as he shut the last door.
Somebody needed to consider a career change because clearly their talent lay in making dumpsters and pigsties, and in record time too considering that it hadn't exactly been long since Lock In started.
Reid had better not be the messy type. If he was, he could expect the messes to be chucked in his face or on his bed or find himself thrown out of the place. That would be a pain though, after all, he did need a roommate.
Whatever, he'd deal with it later if it really was an issue. In the meantime, he needed to find a quiet spot to leave his bag and then he had to go meet Lydia at...Dalton paused to check his phone. Dean's office.
Ah so that's what they were supposed to be doing tonight. One of Lydia's information digs. Of course. He could get down with that. He was used to accompanying her on these little excursions anyway and they could be fun. Yes. No better way to get over a shitty week than by digging up the skeletons of teachers.
After a couple more turns and doors that got unceremoniously opened and shut, an empty room finally appeared. Perfect. He really wasn't in the mood to deal with a crowd of out of control squealing teenagers tonight.
He dropped his duffel bag on the desk at the front before sitting himself on it, taking a moment to take in the room and glance out the window. His last Lock In. Actually one of the better ideas the students at this school had come up with in his years here and maybe something he might actually miss after graduation...
Yeah no. He wouldn't. Reminiscing like some sentimental, hormonal teen was not his thing anyway. He had better things planned for the night. Like digging through files and hanging out with one of the few people he would call a friend, if he did friends, which he didn't. There were just people he got along with, people he didn't, people he'd hooked up with, people he hated and those in between.
(All just longer, fancier labels for friends and enemies really but you did not hear that from me.)
Now then, where was he. Ah yes, Dean's office. To find embarrassing secrets or whatever was hiding in those files with one little Ms Fox.
The corner of his lip curled up a little as he swung his car keys on his finger and exited the room. He strolled leisurely down the hallway towards the office. She now owed him a favour courtesy of new kid helping him win the bet by managing to last a week. At least the little kid had made himself useful in some way. The question was what to use that favour for.
He whistled softly as he tucked his keys into his pocket and turned into the corridor where the dean's office was. Huh. No Fox. And here he thought he would be the late one. No matter, he thought as he parked himself by the door, leaning against the wall, hands shoved in his pocket, he could wait a while.
It didn't take long for him to hear footsteps coming from the other end of the hall as one Lydia Fox made her entrance.
“Sorry I’m late, Kirby. I was dealing with a giant rat problem.” He cocked an eyebrow, guess he wasn't the only one having a somewhat shitty start to the night.
“Don’t ask.” She said with a sigh. “You ready to do this?”
"And here I thought being fashionably late was supposed to be a model's thing." He smirked a little as he pushed off the wall and turned to the door. "Of course, I wouldn't be here otherwise."
He pulled a safety pin from his pocket and started to pick the lock, twisting and turning the pin until he heard that familiar soft click. Still had the touch. Learning how to pick locks back at the time when he was being an idiotic young child was the one smart thing he had done amidst all the other moronic decisions.
This was how you did a real break in, not flirt with a secretary so you could steal a key that they were allowing you to steal. Take notes boys. He pushed open the door and stepped in, waiting till Lydia was in before he closed the door behind them.
"By the way I look forward to cashing in on that favour you now owe me since new kid lasted the week. Might not last much longer though if he broke something trying to climb in through the window." He still had no clue what he was going to use it for but he was going to rub the win in her face, especially since he had lost the last two bets they made. He had to admit though, new kid's level of idiocy was truly amazing. It was no wonder his parents kept him locked up for so long. Who would want to let the world know that they birthed such a moron.
His eyes swept the tidy office of the dean before he turned to look down at his shorter partner. "So whose files are we raiding tonight? I can grabbed the high ones, if you ask nicely, or...if you insist on taking them yourself I might be feeling generous enough to give you a little boost instead."
Ash looked sick, to the point that Nickie considered just grabbing the nearest trash can and dragging it to her. The girl looked like she was going to hurl at any second.
And then she spoke, and Nickie felt her heart squeeze and tug. So someone had said something that hurt her, said that Ash was shit. Like, Ash was a nice girl. Nickie knew her. She was helpful and nice and just generally, like...friendly or whatever.
Like...Ash wasn’t a piece of shit or a whore or whatever, so it made sense why it hurt her to hear that said.
“Oh...oh, I got it,” Nickie said in a soft voice. “So Callum said you were a shitty person and a whore...? That’s fucking dumb.”
Like, if he was going to insult her, he could probably say something more applicable to her. Shitty person and whore applied more to Nickie than anything.
Nickie reached out to hold Ash’s shoulder, brows knit with concern as she waited for her to say more.
And then Ash asked, in a weak voice, “What do you want?”
Nickie’s arm sunk, and her heart dropped for a split second, her expression faltering. “What?” she asked after a second, putting on another small smile and readjusting her posture. “What do you mean?”
She tried to search Ash’s face as Ash continued. "Do you want, like...do you just...do you just...do you just want to know so that you can, like...you can like...go tell everyone?"
The expression drained from Nickie’s face. “What?” she repeated hollowly.
"I just like...I have a hard time believing that you like...you're not like...here to fuck with me like you, like you, like you did with like...like Rome, yeah? And like the shit that you did with Javi and Lucky. I mean like, if that's all this is, then just..." Ash gave a shrug of her shoulders. "...just take a picture and go away."
That stung. It burned like a scratch to the face. She tried to give some kind of laugh to brush the pain back, but she only managed a pathetic, wavering gasp.
Nickie wanted to puke now. She probably looked some like that what Ash did, but the difference is that it looked better on Ash. Ash looked like someone who you would want to go out and comfort, and Nickie—
Nickie just looked like some kind of scum desperately clinging to the side of a fish tank. She was a fucking eyesore, the kind that people didn’t even want to bother attempting to touch.
That— what Ash said, it wasn’t what she did— wasn’t what she meant to do. When she spoke to someone, she rarely ever did it to...to get something out of it. With Javi, she wanted to clear her name, but that was it. She let it spill about Rome because she was worried about him. She didn’t do that shit to spite him.
She didn’t do that to— to get attention.
Not— it wasn’t that that time.
...or was it?
She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, trying to block out the noise of her thoughts and force back the tears and the upset and the everything that she was just fucking feeling.
She wasn’t here to cry. She wasn’t here to fucking cry. She wasn’t going to cry.
When she opened her eyes, they were glassy and hurt. “Don’t mention them,” she said. Her voice wavered wildly. She sounded angry— but she didn’t want to sound angry, didn’t mean to. She shook her head. “I-I want to help— I-I’m not doing this to...fuck.” She let out another pitiful gasp, tears welling in her eyes. “No one is going to...know about this. I’m not going to tell. I can keep my trap shut, you know. I-I’m not going to take a picture and go away— I’m not going to go away. I-I’m not some big-mouthed whore like they say.”
Or was she?
Nickie couldn’t even help. She couldn’t even care. She couldn’t even be nice. She just had some kind of end goal— some master plan to fuck whatever sorry bitch she was talking to over for some kind of fucked gain. At least, that’s what Ash seemed to think.
Fuck, that wasn’t what she wanted. None of this shit was what she wanted.
“Ash,” Nickie said again, her voice still shaking as the veil over her vision thickened. “You said...you said Callum?” she asked, trying to turn back to comforting— or whatever the hell she was doing with Ash. “Like...the anemic ghost twig whose default emotion is ‘none’...?” Her go-to comfort tactic was demean the person who did this to them. “You care about what he says...? Why? What has he ever done for you?” Nickie brushed her hair over her shoulder, letting out a soft breath as she tried still to force those tears back. “He, like, just seems like a...gross, like...skeleton, ew. If he said that you’re a whore, he’s...I bet he’s projecting or something.”
Nickie studied Ash’s slightly-foggy face for a moment, and then she shook her head. She dug through her purse for a moment, and she found a small package of tissues. With a frown and a sniffle, she offered Ash the package. “I keep some of these on me,” Nickie said, and she gave a small smile, “in case of emergency.”
See now Felix was the kind of guy that Slater could get behind actually hanging out with and shit. He wasn't like Kian, who was constantly pushing all of his fucking buttons and seemed to just... just fucking live to get Slater all riled up. Fucking asshole, that one fucking was, but Slater would begrudgingly admit to enjoying his company and shit -- Kian, at the very least, was a damn good party friend.
There wasn't much else going for Damien keeping Kian around, but... friends that could get him into fancy fucking parties and shit were hard to come by, so Slater would take it and shit. It was at least something.
But it was nice to hear someone bow down to Slater's skill. His flirting. His obvious charm. It was nice to be around someone that clearly understood that, and Slater's not at all oversized ego grew ten times stronger the more that Felix stroked it. Yep, he was right. He didn't stand a fucking chance, especially not with that dopey expression on his face or... his jacket tied around his waist. Seriously? Was this dude fucking serious?
Slater gave a slight shake of his head. It wasn't his fucking job to play fashion mogul -- he wasn't here in the fucking plastics department for a reason. He didn't know a single fucking thing about clothes, but he was pretty sure it was common knowledge that jackets around the waist? Shit that kids did or something. But hey, if Felix wanted to be a fucking baby loser fuck or whatever, then so be it.
“But what’re you doin’, bud?” he asked. “Anything interestin’ planned for tonight?”
That answer was... an unfortunate no. It was a fucking mess! A straight up fucking disaster. Slater, who obviously needed to be known for just being... super fucking interesting and always having something to do and shit, he had... he had absolutely fucking nothing. He didn't fucking know what he was going to do for the next several hours stretching out, other than try to avoid things that might end with some fuck face's fist connecting with his nose.
(Aka watch his own tongue, which in and of itself was a full-time job.)
Slater placed his hands on his hips and turned his face away from Felix. His eyes squinted a bit as he surveyed the people around them, as he tried to think about the school, and as he tried to come up with some shit that he could do and then, with a heavy, defeated sigh of his lungs...
"No fucking idea," he admitted, his hands dropping from his hips, his chest deflating, and his shoulders slouching forward a touch. "I was trying to hit up this really hot chick, but she has a fucking boyfriend. And no, I didn't meet the fuckhead, and no, he didn't fucking punch me in the face or some shit. Not this time." Yeah, Slater had been punched more than once by pissing boyfriends who were all "why the fuck are you talking to my girlfriend?" like dude, bro, it wasn't his fault that they weren't keeping their girlfriends fucking satisfied so they were driven into Slater's welcomingarms.
"Not really sure what else...." but as Slater started to speak again, his words trailed off as his eyes settled on a very hot and very familiar brunette. Err... not familiar, but he recognized her from her profile picture on the Twitter when, you know, she'd show up because she was clearly obsessed with Slater and come on, who could blame her? Have you seen her dumbass fucking boyfriend? Dude's profile picture was him giving the camera a thumbs up, like who the fuck wants to be seen with a fucking goody little bitch boy like that? No, no, girls wanted to be with guys like Slater.
So, speaking of girls unsatisfied with their boyfriends...
"Hey, dude, c'mon," Slater said with a sly grin as he slapped a hand absently into Felix's chest and then started to walk past him towards the hot, hot brunette. "Look I'll show you how to actually pick up chicks since you're just... just really fucking hopeless." He flashed a grin back over his shoulder at Felix to let his buddy know that he was definitely kidding, although he was only like... partially kidding.
And then, he focused back on JJ.
As he made his way over to her, the sly grin was replaced by something at least a touch more warm. A pleasant smile, even, or it would be considered pleasant if it wasn't weighed down by the reputation that Damien had already stolen for himself.
"Hey," he said to her with a grin, and politely held out a hand. "I don't think we've had a chance to formally meet. I'm Damien, this is Felix," he gestured with a tilt of his head to his friend, "and you are....? JJ, right?"
Lucky scribbled quickly. His mind moved at lightning speed when he was inspired. When he was writing. He’d spend hours trying to decipher it later, but it worked out in the end. It always did. It was the only thing he knew he was good at. Sure, he was an okay student but music...no one could take that away from him. No one could make him feel he wasn’t worth giving a shot to. The only problem was getting other people to see it. That was the hard part. Getting people to listen when you were so used to no one giving a shit.
“I’m so sorry, I just. I heard you cause the door wasn’t fully close, and just...You sound amazing!”
He didn’t hear the knock. Didn’t hear the door open. He was too enthralled in his writing. His head turned as he heard a voice from behind him. He swiveled around in the stool he had sat down in and smiled at the compliment.
“Thanks.” He said as he scratched the back of his head. He knew it was good, but it was still weird to hear from outside audience that weren’t his family or Josie. “Figured most people would be avoiding work like the plague tonight.” He said as he looked her up and down.
He didn’t know Amy too well. A wave here and there when he would pick Josie up. Figured with Charlie and Trevor living there, it was always best to make his time in the apartment as short lived as possible. And as elite as this school was, the music department was the most impacted. So many wannabes.
“I really hope that’s for the festival because I can’t wait to hear the whole thing!”
She was nice. Different from most of the people she met here. Seemed that encouraging others was a huge faux pas. Even talent can’t get you anywhere. It was about connections. Creating rivalries was not a good idea. Douchebag wannabe writers were one thing. They weren’t gonna help Lucky get anywhere, but other music students? They had potential. And Amy was good. She was amazing. He’d done his research. Checked out the competition. Who wouldn’t? You’d be a dumbass if you hadn’t. Know thy enemy.
“I don’t know if it’ll be ready by the festival.” He said with a sigh, “but I’ve got a few open mic gigs set up. Practice makes perfect, right?” He said with a small smile. “But me and Ash have a song in the works. It’s gonna be epic.” He could talk about music all day.
“O-oh I’m sorry I should go.”
“You don’t have to.” He said without really thinking. He hadn’t done much socializing since he was outed. Since he royally fucked up. Mags...had been avoiding him. He wasn’t sure why. Drunken make outs between friends happen, right?
How? He’d been so careful to avoid getting close to people. You get close, you get hurt. Dorian was unavoidable. He was family and persistent. Josie and Mags were the same way but they didn’t know. Well, Mags knew enough. Knew enough to know why he hadn’t reached out. But for someone who tried so hard to not care, he felt sick. Guilt? Probably. He’d never admit to it. He was a shitty person, right? Most people thought so. His dad. Most of HA’s student body. He was just some douchebag fuckboy. And he wasn’t disappointing no matter how hard he tried.
“What about you? You all set for Arts Fest? Or scrambling at the last minute like the rest of us?” He said with small chuckle.
Why was she being nice? Why was she still talking to her? Why hadn't Nickie taken off running at the mention of Hunter, or... or... or anything else? Why was she still standing here, in front of Ash, and trying to be there for her?
Her expression was one of pure bewilderment for a moment, before her eyebrows drew together, and she recoiled, taking a step back away from Nickie. She wanted out, she wanted out, she wanted out and away from Nickie. She wanted gone. She wanted out and away from this entire school, she wanted to be gone, to be free, to be anywhere but trapped in these halls that felt like they were closing in on her.
Ash felt light-headed. It felt like her throat was closed off, like something was clenching her windpipe so she couldn't breathe. So she couldn't breathe. She couldn't breathe.
Her thoughts were warring against each other -- a mixture of wanting Nickie to stay because Ash didn't want to be alone, because she hated being alone, she hated feeling alone, she hated being left alone with no one but herself... and wanting Nickie to fuck off and leave her alone, because she wanted to be able to fall to the ground, because her legs couldn't keep holding her up forever, and she wanted to fall down, and she wanted to be able to cry, but she couldn't do that here in this hallway, not with everyone watching, and she couldn't do in front of Nickie.
She didn't want alone, but she needed alone.
She deserved to be left alone.
That was the thing -- she deserved it, she deserved it, she deserved to be left to rot with no one pausing to take a moment to check on her. It was, it was... it was what she deserved, as like... like... karma for living Callum in the same predicament.
"Don't mention them," Nickie said, and a twinge of extra guilt was added to the avalanche of other hurt that she felt.
“No one is going to...know about this. I’m not going to tell. I can keep my trap shut, you know. I-I’m not going to take a picture and go away— I’m not going to go away. I-I’m not some big-mouthed whore like they say.”
That was already a dumb lie, because she was sure that people knew. It wasn't like... like... people had... had seen, and she turned her head down, her eyes squeezing shut in a brief moment of embarrassment as she thought about it. She chewed on her bottom lip again, even as the metallic taste of blood brushed against her tongue, and she brought her arms against her stomach again, squeezing around her abdomen, and she just... she just...
"You're not, you're not, I'm sorry," she echoed, shaking her head. Nickie wasn't... she was big mouth, but she wasn't like... she wasn't a whore, and maybe like, maybe like, maybe like she had reasons, but... no, no, no, there wasn't, there wasn't anything that could excuse what she had done. And again, she took a shaky step back, her breath rattling as she tried to suck in more oxygen.
She couldn't fucking breathe.
She wanted to be alone, because this was fucking embarrassing.
“Ash,” Nickie said again, her own voice shaking as she spoke. “You said...you said Callum?”
She nodded her head.
Why the fuck was she still trying.
What the fuck was her angle.
What the fuck was happening, why the fuck... why...
“Like...the anemic ghost twig whose default emotion is ‘none’...? You care about what he says...? Why? What has he ever done for you? He, like, just seems like a...gross, like...skeleton, ew. If he said that you’re a whore, he’s...I bet he’s projecting or something.”
"No, no, no," she said, starting to shake her head again. "He didn't... he didn't... he didn't say that, he said, he said... nothing, it's not, it's not important." Because it was true, and she didn't want to remind herself of the truth of it. She didn't want to remind herself what a bad fucking person she was, because it wasn't like she wasn't reminded of it every day of her fucking life, and she didn't fucking... she didn't want... she didn't fucking want to think about that right now.
"I care, I care because he's, like... he's my friend, and he's just... he's hurt, I fucked up, I fucked up." She was repeating herself like a broken record, and Ash wasn't sure how to stop that, and her voice was cracking and sounded choked, and her cheeks were wet again and fuck, fuck, fuck her. "It's my fault, it's my fault, and I'm just, I'm just... I need to just... just apologize again or... I don't, I don't know, I don't want to lose him."
She hated losing people, and she wasn't sure why she was spilling anything like this to Nickie.
Nickie held out a package of tissues, a small smile on her face, and Ash just looked from the tissues to her face.
"Why are you doing this?" Her voice was harsher this time. Her chest was constricting, something had grabbed her fucking heart, and was squeezing, squeezing, squeezing, and she let her breaths were shaky, and her stomach hurt, and she just wanted gone. "Why are you here? Why are you... we're not... we're not like... we're not that close of friends, why are you doing this? What do you want from me?"
Genevieve Johannes was known for many things. Her face graced the centrefolds of fashion magazines, her name was at the top of the list of runway models for London Fashion Week. For anyone who knew fashion, they knew or knew of Genevieve. On a more personal level, some people knew her to be the coldhearted bitch who only cared about herself without concern for the feelings of others. On the deepest level, people knew her to be someone a lot more emotional and dedicated to the people she loves and the work she does.
What Genevieve Johannes was not known for, however, was being someone who wanted a relationship. People knew her as the girl who slept around without feelings towards the people she spends her time with, caring not about long term connectedness and instead focusing on the fleeting moment at hand. Most people were simply one time offers for Gen who found as much fun in screwing someone for a night and then waltzing off to the next big event or warm body. On the rare occasion, people got to be with her a few times. There was, however, one person who kept her coming back no matter what. Livanna Moore was the exception to every rule and ideal that Gen had put in place.
Growing up, Gen used to hear the stories from her highschool sweetheart parents about how they met and how they knew they would be together forever. All the cute little tales of her father sneaking cute little heart-shaped post-it note letters into her mom’s binder when she wasn’t looking and the sweet little lunch dates that her mom would organize on a moment’s notice. If she was being honest, Gen never really liked those stories. Sure, she was happy that her parents were together and cared about each other but the chances of actually finding that herself? Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
Imagine the surprise when it did, long before her hopelessly romantic brother found his footing and long after a string of messy hookups and breakups that left Gen certain that she wasn’t anyone that could be loved. Livanna took Gen’s entire world and flipped it on its head. All the fears of being unlovable, all the worries about never being anything to anyone but the local bitch or a warm body to share the time with, they all went away with Liv. Gen felt entirely at peace with Liv, even through all of their stupid fights or time apart, there was no where else that Gen would rather be.
The attachment was terrifying, especially when the gleam of young love blossomed into a whole new bouquet of fears that plagued Gen’s every moment. When would Liv take the drugs too far? When would the day come when Liv would inevitably fall out of love with her? When would the person that Gen loved so much become nothing more than a stranger?
Italy happened and confirmed every fear. Gen knew it was her fault, she took every ounce of blame even despite how often she brushed off her feelings about it to nearly everyone. It was her fault, not Liv’s, that their relationship crumbled apart. Gen was forever caught between two evils that she never thought she would ever have to face: be alone and fear for Liv or be by Liv’s side and hurt the entire time. Gen had never wanted to choose between those evils again. Italy was a mistake, there was no doubt about that, but she had convinced herself it was for the better. Liv could move on with her life, get clean, find someone who wasn’t so afraid of commitment that they could give her the type of love Gen could only dream of.
But there they had been again, dancing on the top of the parking garage like a sad song stuck on repeat, wrapped up in each other's arms as tears silently streamed down their faces as they clung to a singular positive moment in a hailstorm of agony. Gen couldn’t keep running into Liv every time something went wrong, she didn’t want them to only be there for each other when times got hard only to jump ship before things got good. There was little Gen thought she couldn’t do but watching Liv destroy herself was at the top of the list.
“I love you Liv. I want this, I want us. There is not a damn thing I want more in this world than you and I would give everything I have up to have you by my side. But this? The drugs, the partying, the having to come to your rescue? I can’t do this, I can’t watch you destroy the woman I love. I won’t do it.”
Gen was fucking pathetic. Liv was spiralling and all Gen could do was think about what she couldn’t handle, what she didn’t want to see. Liv had opened up to her and all Gen could do was shut her down without a second thought. Hell, she hadn’t even been able to muster up some sort of weak apology for her own actions. Those words were the last ones she had spoken to Liv that evening and they hadn’t stopped replaying in her mind since.
The week passed by in a blur. Gen did anything she could to silence the thoughts in her head. That night on the roof with Liv had reopened wounds that she had spent a long time closing up and Gen wasn’t entirely sure she could fix them again. Distraction after distraction passed through her days, long nights spent in the studio met with early mornings at the gym, the spare time in between filled with alcohol or car rides with no destination.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, the whole petty ass bullshit with Lucky and Javi happened. Gen refused to feel guilty about what happened with their exposure, though she certainly felt bad that Lucky had been caught in the middle. It wasn’t her fault that Nickie found out somehow, that nosey little whore always seemed to find things out no matter how hard someone tries to bury their secrets. Besides, Gen had enough to feel guilty about without having to worry about their shit.
The guilt came from fucking Michael Reid, both literally and figuratively. A one time drunken fling had clearly become a repeat event, Gen using him to numb the pain every chance she got. Look, he was a first class dickhead with an ego that easily rivalled her own and no, getting with him multiple times did not make Gen’s life any easier. She could laugh it off and say that it was because Mike was hot or good in bed or whatever superficial reason that would shut people up but in all actuality, Gen kept returning to Mike because he was familiar. They had been friends long before the benefits and somehow, he was a constant in her life and Gen was not about to let that go.
The morning of lock-in had them back together, fucking around in Gen’s empty house without much thought to the repercussions of her actions. The whole fling with Mike was getting strange. Gen wasn’t about to say that she felt connected to him somehow because that was far from the truth but he was just becoming so easy to fall back on, so easy to be with to ignore the shit in the world. In some odd way, it was comforting being with him. Hell, she had even started getting goodbyes after their hookups. But it also felt strange. Gen never hooked up with someone so frequently and so passionately that she didn’t have some type of feelings for and with Mike, she wasn’t entirely sure what to feel. The comfort she had been feeling was gone, replaced with confusion and uncertainty.
After Mike left, Gen had texted Landon asking him if he wanted to meet up during lock-in. She needed someone that was going to listen to her and not judge her, at least not openly. Most importantly, Gen needed someone that she could 100% trust no matter what. Gen couldn’t go to Evie, she didn’t want to put her in the middle of whatever was happening given her new relationship with Nate. Ash, Elias, and Cap were busy with their own problems. Only Landon was left and, to be honest, he was really one of the only people Gen actually wanted to see. At least he would care.
They had agreed to meet in a classroom near the back of the school, somewhere that was unlikely to be frequented by other students. Gen had arrived early enough that people hadn’t really noticed she was there, finding herself lounging on top of an empty desk and scrolling mindlessly through her phone as if nothing was happening. Landon would arrive later, losing himself down the hallways before finding her in the room.
Gen thought she knew how their interaction would go once Landon showed up. They would talk for a bit, hook up, talk for a little bit more, and leave without anyone noticing. That’s how it always was when they were alone. No one could know that they hooked up, nor could anyone know that they were actively still seeing each other, Evie would have her fucking head as a trophy on her wall if she ever found out.
If Gen had what she had with Landon in literally any other situation, she would have been proud to say it was happening. Hell, she likely would’ve gotten with Landon if it wasn’t for the whole ‘hey please don’t fuck my brother’ rule she shared with Evie. Gen had thought about telling Evie multiple times about her and Landon, thought about making it official with him. But every time there was something. It was either Evie getting in the way (which she obviously had every right to) or it was her relationship with Liv coming back to haunt her or it was their work taking them apart. He was just too complicated and Gen was okay with what they had. They were predictable together, they were familiar in a way that Gen really wasn’t with anyone else.
“Genny. Fancy meeting you here.” Gen looked up from her phone, a soft smile tugging on the corner of her mouth as she clicked the lock button on her phone. Right on schedule. “I’m supposed to be meeting a really hot hook-up. Maybe you’ve seen her? She’s about this tall, killer legs, nice rack and an amazing ass. She come by at all?”
Gen laughed as she hopped off the desk, walking over to Landon and looking over his shoulder to make sure the door was firmly closed. With the coast clear, Gen snaked her arms around Landon’s neck so that they were resting on his shoulders, her nails softly drawing patterns on the back of his neck.
“Nope, never saw her. You should check the music department though, I heard they’re full of hot bitches with great racks and good asses.” Gen laughed softly as she pulled Landon in. Her gaze met his and her smile fell, a pang of guilt ripping through her stomach as she looked up at him.
Gen sighed heavily, dropping her gaze to Landon’s chest as her arms moved from his shoulders. Her hands rested gently on Landon’s waist, hands wanting to pull him in for some sort of comforting hug that Gen rarely sought. Instead of pulling him in, Gen simply stood there for a moment.
“Are you sure you-” Gen’s voice faltered, mouth going dry as she broke off the contact entirely with a step backwards. “Evie’s here so maybe we-”
On top of feeling guilty, Gen felt like a total fucking idiot for not being able to complete a basic thought. Running a hand through her hair, Gen pushed herself up onto the desk behind her with a soft groan, forcing the breath to fall from her chest. Everything felt wrong. Gen was okay using Mike to numb whatever pain she was feeling because realistically, there was nothing there. But Landon? No, Gen was not about to fuck around with him and not at least try and be honest.
“I’m sorry, Lan.” Gen sighed with a shake of her head. “Shit’s been so complicated lately and since apparently I can’t stop screwing with the people I care about, I guess I don’t wanna screw with you too. It’s not that I don’t want this because I really do, I just don’t want you to feel like I’m only using you for sex.”
Gen’s nose scrunched up at her own words, a soft roll of her eyes met with a gentle chuckle from her lips.
“Fuck, maybe Eves isn’t the one going soft.” She laughed under her breath, a hand reaching out to grab Landon’s. Pulling him towards her, Gen wrapped her arms around Landon’s waist and looked back up at him. “Look, that whole stuttery cold feet thing isn’t a good look on me so I’m just going to pretend that I didn’t just say that. Plus I really doubt that talking about anything that’s fucking with my head is going to be more fun than what we’re really here for.”
Sliding forward onto the desk, Gen reached up and pulled Landon in for a kiss, her movements softer and more careful than usual. Pulling away after a few seconds, Gen looped her fingers through Landon’s belt loops.
“But I will ask again: are you sure about this? I mean this is hardly the riskiest place we’ve been but you know the rules. You’re welcome to back out at any time, no harm done.”
Nickie’s brows knit tighter together, the small smile on her face fading as she listened to Ash talk.
She really…fuck. Ash really sounded like…her, to be honest.
Hearing it— something like Nickie’s own thoughts— aloud made something in her want to roll up into a ball and cringe. Ash sounded like Nickie. She was saying that she fucked up, that she needed to apologize, that she didn’t want to lose her friend…
It sounded like Nickie to Nickie, and that part made her ill, to be frank.
But there was still a difference in the two. The difference was that Ash was literally perfect— literally everything that Nickie wanted to be. Even if she didn’t have that corpse to be a friend, she had several hundred other people. She had people clamoring for her attention, guys lined up. She was pretty, and…well, now that she thought of it, maybe she wasn’t confident, but she could at least hold a damn conversation without making missteps and crying herself to sleep at night over the mistakes that she made. The way that Ash was crying, this wasn’t a regular occurrence. The way that she was saying that she didn’t want to lose him meant that she hadn’t really lost anyone before, had never really gone through it with a friend like what was happening right now. Her regrets were countable, her wrong turns were just wrong turns, and she could probably actually fix the shit that she claimed that she’d gotten herself into.
And that was different from Nickie, who had no one, no one except one single person who happened to be her boyfriend, and…damn it, now she was doing the same thing that he had done to her— ya know, not going to him and all of that— so her whining about not seeing him was all moot now and he was probably going to be mad at her or something, but he was going to say that he wasn’t to spare her feelings. Nickie wasn’t pretty, Nickie didn’t get natural attention. She blended into the background, and no one would see her if she didn’t make herself obvious. Nickie’s crying was a normal thing— a regular thing, like clockwork— and no one cared when she did it. Nickie didn’t want to lose the people in her life either, but now, she’d lost them because she always did because she couldn’t keep anyone or anything around for too long before she fell victim to that cycle. That cycle that made her regrets uncountable, her wrong turns just turns in a fucking circle, and her shit that she got herself into un-fucking-fixable.
Ash’s fuck-ups were just fuck-ups because she wasn’t the fuck-up herself.
Tears came to Nickie’s eyes. God, she was such an attention whore. Was she seriously fucking comparing herself to a girl who was about to burst into sobs and break down in the middle of a hallway just to play the fucking victim?
It made her sicker— the disgust at herself.
Damn it, damn it, damn it.
“Why are you doing this?” Ash’s voice was harsh when it came to Nickie, but the color had already been draining from her face, and the pit had already been eating at more and more of her stomach, so there wasn’t much further for her to strain, not much more pain or hurt to feel. “Why are you here? Why are you…we’re not…we’re not like…we’re not that close of friends, why are you doing this? What do you want from me?”
And now Nickie was wondering the same thing. What the fuck was she doing here? What did she plan to accomplish?
She’d told herself that she didn’t talk to people with endgoals, but she couldn’t think of any case where she hadn’t. She couldn’t think of a single time that she’d reached out to comfort someone and not ended up getting something out of it, so it made sense that she— even fucking subconsciously— wanted something from it.
But what could she want from this? Something to feed into a fucking savior complex? More attention that she could lavish in for helping?
Damn it, damn it, damn it.
Maybe Ash was right with her first fucking assumption. Maybe the fucking rat in her wanted her to— to just snap a picture, to apologize to her, say it was just business, say that they could be friends, say that she wanted to be her friend, say that she didn’t mean what she was doing, and then post it, and then cry about it, and then get all of that negative attention that was what she guessed that she fucking wanted in the first place, since she knew it was coming.
But she didn’t feel that way.
She felt sick to her stomach, and sick of herself, and tired of…trying to justify her fucking existence, trying to justify her fucking actions to herself and then poking holes in her own damn argument.
For once, she just wanted to fucking help— she just wanted to fucking help! Was that too much to ask? Was that too much to fucking ask?
A tear spilled over her eyes, and she turned her head away for a second, closing her hand around the Kleenex and pressing her fingers down on the top as she bit down on her lip. She squeezed her eyes shut.
Don’t you dare fucking cry. Don’t you dare fucking cry. Don’t fucking cry. Don’t. Fucking. Cry.
She looked back to Ash. Her eyes were muddy with emotion, with self-hatred, with confusion, with disgust, with tiredness. Her lip curled up slightly, and her brows tightened. “I-I’ve…,” Nickie started, but her voice was weak and wavering, so she cleared her throat, shook her head, and tried again. “I’ve said, Ash. I-I just want to help. That’s it.” She glanced down at the damn tissues, the kind that she kept on her but always fucking forgot about when push came to shove. “You can call it altruism or whatever you want to,” she said, a cloud of hurt, defensiveness, and desperation hanging over her voice. Just a please believe me. Please fucking believe me.
Her gaze moved from the tissues and back to Ash again. “You don’t have to trust me or anything,” she said in a weak voice. “I-I don’t blame you— I wouldn’t either…after the shit I’ve…done, but— but I don’t want anything from you.” Her voice was slowly strengthening. She swallowed hard, setting her brows. “I just want to…” She trailed off, then shook her head. “Fuck, I dunno. I don’t fucking know. Help? Be there to comfort? Like…I don’t fucking know.” She shook her head again. “I literally barely know you, and…now that I think about it, you don’t like me, do you? But that doesn’t have anything to do with it. Like, that’s not what…I’m…like…”
No, no, she was fucking splicing her words again, not making any sense, and she— she…fuck.
“I was sitting alone trying not to cry a few minutes ago,” Nickie said quickly. “Because I feel like I deserve everything that’s coming at me and don’t at the same time.” She didn’t know why she was saying this. “I dunno, it’s weird. I don’t want to…whine about that. But I was sitting over there, trying not to cry and trying not to puke, and it was just…I was miserable.” She gave a soft, sad laugh. “Am miserable.” She winced. “Fuck, I dunno.” She breathed out a long sigh. “I haven’t felt good all night, and I noticed you, and I just..”
“I was alone for a bit,” she tried again. “And…that was bad. And…and it was like…it was like everything was fucking closing in, and I couldn’t breathe, and I felt sick, and I wanted to get away, but I also just wanted someone there, too. And then someone came over to talk to me and that helped some, even if I didn’t— don’t trust…it. Him. But it still helped. To be distracted. To get…some…affirmation. To have someone there…”
She trailed off, and she looked at the Kleenex again. “I dunno, guess I don’t wanna see someone else have to go through with crying alone,” she muttered. “Been there, done that,” she joked lightly, giving a small smile. “Not fun. Zero out of ten experience…” She lifted her eyes to Ash once more. A tear rolled down her cheek, and she gave a soft laugh. “…Ya know?”
She held the Kleenex out to Ash again. “They’re the good kind— on-brand Kleenex. They say that they’re, uh…rose-scented? But I can never smell them.” Nickie sniffled deeply, giving a small shake of her head. “You can keep the pack, but take it.”
She rolled her eyes. Leave it to Dalton to be a smart ass. It was part of his charm, after all. Not that she found him charming. She didn’t. Definitely not. He was...a fuckboy. Wam bam thank you ma’am...or sir. At least he didn’t discriminate. And he was consistent. It was his most redeemable quality. At least for her. He was there. Whether he wanted to be or not, he showed. And aside from Angel, was her only true friend. And with Dalton...she could be more herself. Angel idealized her. Didn’t see the damage. Or didn’t care to. But he was a good person. And Lydia was...strong. Good was gonna get her nowhere.
“Please...I was fashionably late cause of a legitimate reason, not because I got lost walking in a straight line.” She said with a smirk inferring to the stereotype of models being dumb as a box of rocks. For some *cough* Evelyn *cough* that stereotype rang so very true.
She leaned on the wall and waited for Him to do his thing. A second quality she liked. He didn’t question her and was always willing to walk through the mud and get a little dirty. After all, this was cause for expulsion. And as much as she valued her dads’ high opinion of her, this was how she kept it up. You don’t win junior editor by playing it safe. You had to take risks.
The door popped open and a smile formed on her face as she made her way inside the office. “You’re gonna have to teach me how you do that some time.” She said glancing back at him with a smirk. She reached in her purse and pulled out her phone, turning on her flashlight.
"By the way I look forward to cashing in on that favour you now owe me since new kid lasted the week. Might not last much longer though if he broke something trying to climb in through the window."
She made her way over to the dean’s desk and began looking at the pile on top of the desk. She stopped and gave Dalton a confused look. “Why would he—“ she shook her head and a small laugh escaped her lips. “You’re such a dick.” She said a pleased smirk on her face. It was funny. And that new kid was...not longed for Los Angeles. He didn’t have what it would take. He’d be eaten alive.
“You think you got what it takes? Our last bet left you naked. Streaking down the football field at homecoming.” She laughed. “I’m sure I can find the video if you need me to jog your memory.” She said playfully as she turned her attention to the files on the desk.
"So whose files are we raiding tonight? I can grabbed the high ones, if you ask nicely, or...if you insist on taking them yourself I might be feeling generous enough to give you a little boost instead."
“I bet you say that to all the girls.” She glanced up at him batting her eyelashes. She said as she flipped through the files. “It’s all up for grabs. Anything you think looks promising. Obviously the dean is off limits. But anyone else is fair game, of course.” It’s not that she necessarily scared. She had plenty of chances BUT she was smart. That card would need to be played at the exact right moment. Most likely to save her ass.
“We can always check out your file. Bet you’ve got a ton of skeletons in your closet...figuratively speaking of course.” She said as she snapped a few pictures with her phone.
@He.went.2.Jared has interacted with: Mikaela (Xed
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Josie's birthday party had been wild! No less was expected of course when the two girls got together. They really were a match made in heaven...or hell depends on your taste. She was recovering from it basically all week. It'd been a little while she she'd pumped so much toxic shit in her system all at once. Between the various drugs, and alcohol, and who knows what else honestly...her body needed a serious detox and she was surprised she didn't wind up in the hospital for at least a night. Her liver was fucking champion and she was proud.
Normally it'd be hard to re-focus on school and work after a ragger like that, but surprisingly that's all she was focused on. That was her drug of choice for the whole week. Music and water.
She didn't honestly know. Well...maybe she did, but she sure as fuck didn't want to admit or acknowledge it, so she'd stay in ignorant work-a-holic bliss. All she knew was every time she thought about that night and what few events she could recall...she felt something she's not felt in YEARS. Nervous, panicked, shy. There was something in the pit of her stomach she wouldn't dare call butterflies because it wasn't that pretty. Since she didn't understand, or want to, she avoided the feeling and it's triggers like the plague.
That meant avoiding Lucky. Sadly one of the few memories that was causing this highly uncomfortable and sickening feeling was deciding it was a good idea to make-out with him. Which baffled her more then anything because since when did makeing-out with ANYONE cause her to feel any type of way at all? While it's not something she's ever done with him before, it shouldn't have been a big deal. He was her best friend and literally everyone was kissing everyone like it was nothing. Because it WAS nothing. So why did she still ahve this lingering feeling that...that it wasn't completely true? Something was different and she didn't like it.
She couldn't and wouldn't be able to face him until she figured it out or it went away. Something she thought would only be a few days...but here we are a week later.
It's fine, it was going to be fine. Lucky probably hadn't even noticed due to spending so much tie with other people the past week. No she hadn't talked to him, but that didn't mean she didn't lurk on twitter from time to time. It's not her fault people put everything in public twitter, so it's fair game. Prime example? The act he was apparently outted!
Honestly it left her in a rage, and she wished she was sober when it happened to fully understand who was responsible because vengeance would've been swift and cruel. However she wasn't and piecing things together via sporadic twitter posting was hard. She couldn't tell if it was Javi, or Gen, or Nickie, or if there was someone else involved too. Which meant she didn't know what to do because how she'd make a guy like Javi pay and how she'd handle girls like Gen or Nickie were vastly different. When she get's revenge it needed to hurt, and hit close to home. She needed to know this would cause this person to one day need therapy to even begin to heal if that was even possible. Was she vindictive? Maybe...don't hurt her friends plain and simple.
Problem with her plan? She can't figure it out because she couldn't ask lucky...cause that'd require talking to him which she wasn't ready to do yet. Which she hated because she felt like she probably needed to be there for him right now...but he had Josie, and Ash...and until she could be helpful that would have to do.
So? Work it was. She always had an excuse ready especially with the festival fast approaching. She needed to put the finishing touches on everything for her performance. She wanted to go all out! She had already talked to some dance students to be her back up dancers. She also wanted to see if she could talk to someone about visuals because this was going to be a big deal. Possibly her first break out song, and if she was lucky she'd get picked for the tour if done right.
After a week of hard work and making calls and rehearsal she decided the lock-in was going to be a well deserved break. She called up Mikaela and decided she'd ride with her in an Uber to the school, since let's be honest the girls were gonna pre-game a bit and who wants to drive after that? Maggie was reckless but she wasn't stupid. She caught a ride to her place with some tiny shot bottles in her bag. They took a few shots at her place and a few more in the car much to the Uber drivers distain cause Maggie can be a bit of a rowdy drunk.
When they pulled up to the school it seemed some people were clearly already in. She hoped out the car and gave Mikaela one of the last two bottles, "Cheers to an awesome night." She grinned taking her final shot. She was ready to have some fun, maybe get into a little trouble, and relax for the first time in a week. No more work, no more churning feeling in her gut at the thought of last weekend, nothing but thrills and maybe some chills.
Ronnie nodded giddily. "I agree. I've worked with lots of actresses our age over the years and... I dunno." She shrugged with a smile. "She's probably the best actress I know. By far." It was true; Ronnie had acknowledged, and even came to terms with, the fact that Stella was everything she wasn't. She was way more popular, way more successful, way prettier... and she seemed to handle everything with grace. And when she didn't, she had the confidence to kick some serious ass. How Stella didn't have some smoking hot stud like Hunter or Mike or Dalton locked down was beyond her, but to each their own. Less competition.
Even so, it was hard not to be a little dumbfounded upon hearing the news that she and Zeph had supposedly entered some sort of relationship. Zeph was a great guy and all, but... really? Ronnie had thought the girl had it in her to aim a little higher. Still, she had to admit the two made a cute pair, even if Ronnie was down one admirer.
An uncomfortable silence set in after Zeph's take on the whole "Mike" thing. The bitter commentary toward her crush was a little excessive, but at least he was happy for her. It was nice to hear that Zeph still had her back despite the past month. Ronnie didn't want to lose such a sincere guy, even if she'd spent the past year or so avoiding every opportunity to get more intimate with him. Perhaps it was for selfish reasons, but they were her own and she'd stick to them.
"Yeah, we worked things out," she replied softly, the lift in her voice gradually lowering, "I know it was super weird at first, but he proved himself wrong. He's not such a bad guy. We haven't gotten to talk much since the fair, but I'm sure we'll get together soon. There's lots of time for that stuff!" Her voice returned to its usual, melodic pitch towards the end, her tone more hopeful than desperate. The somber haze enshrouding the girl never lasted long before her bright smile cut through the uncertainty. All that seriousness was the last thing anyone would have ever wanted to deal with, so why delve too far into it?
She clasped her hands behind her back, then rocked back and forth on her heels. "Thanks for looking out for me and, you know, being a friend. I normally try not to wrap everyone up in all my weirdness." She let out a lighthearted laugh, painfully unaware of just how much of an understatement "weirdness" was. "I'm super impressed with your patience." Oh, Veronica. Oblivious as ever.
Ronnie was beaming once they returned to hyping up Stella, and she made sure to really get the point across that she was agreeing with Zeph by nodding extremely vigorously. "You know, you're so right. And, like, she has the best advice. I think that comes from the whole 'decisiveness' thing she's got going on. Super cool." If only completely emulating another girl's personality was as easy as dropping dishes. Ronnie would have already mastered it by the age of seven.
Her nodding ceased abruptly once Zeph reached the tail-end of his mini-monologue, the enthusiasm draining from her face as she processed what was just said a second time. Well, that's certainly a way to put your starkly different comparison of two girls. Zeph had explained it with such a smile that Ronnie had hardly caught it, and even then he had a hard time believing such a passive guy like Zeph could ever make a comment like that. Even in calling Mike an asshole earlier she was a little taken aback.
"Hah, well... I guess that's fair," she faltered, finding her gaze slowly shifting to the side, "That's great for you, Zeph. I'm glad things worked out in the end." As her realization set in, Ronnie began to feel more and more like a complete idiot.
Does he really think that?
Oh no. No no no. None of this could be true, nor the way Zeph really felt.
Where does he get off saying that after being turned down by me? Does he forget the way this works?
Ronnie was reeling, and she had to react with something else other than a singular, choked-out response and a wide-eyed confusion. "But we're really okay, right?" She grasped her arm self-consciously, however she quickly found the strength to meet Zeph in the eyes again. "I sorta can't get over the way I let things get, so... I just want to be sure."