I walked towards my locker, hoping that no one would really pay that much attention to me. No one knew that I had dyed my hair a new colour, yet my wish was granted. I blended into the background like I didn't exist and I was able to put my maths book back in my locker, I had taken it with me to do homework, without anyone trying to talk to me. I walked to home class with my head down, my hair blocking me from the world. I was wearing pale blue skinny jeans, black lace up boots and an oversized jumper. I didn't want anyone to look at me, I wanted to hide.
"What the fuck man?!" I heard someone shout, but I ignored the familiarity of the voice.
"Dude, what the hell?" that voice... I was accustomed to hearing it. I looked up and found Ashton holding Xavier up against the lockers. Xavier looked like he was in pain, but Ashton wasn't listening to him.
"Don't you 'what the hell' me you piece of crap." Ashton snapped, his hand starting to grip the collar of Xavier's shirt even more than before. What the hell was going on here? Why would these best friends be arguing?
"Guys! What the fuck?!" Alistair shouted, he must have been the one that shouted before. That was when I realised that this was about the weekend, about what had happened at Xavier's party.
"At the party, did you even know where Soraya was half the time? Were you even around her? Weren't you even slightly worried?!" Ashton started shouting, and then I knew for sure that it was about me.
"I thought she went home." Xavier said. I went over to them.
"You wish she did-"
"Ashton." I said quietly, trying to gain his attention.
"-but instead she ended up-"
"Ashton, don't!" I shouted, trying to stop him from telling and from hurting his best friend.
"Soraya, you could have been-"
"It doesn't matter!" I shouted, pulling on his shirt to try and get him away from Xavier.
"Yes it does, if I hadn't of been there to help you, you would never even know!" He shouted, and I could tell he was getting extremely worked up over this.
"Ashton, it wasn't his fault!" I scream, tears starting to fill my eyes. "This isn't worth hurting one of your best friends over!"
"And it's worth you being in danger? Being hurt?" he stopped shouting, his words suddenly taking on a more concerned edge rather than angry.
"Seriously, stop. It's fine, I'm fine, no one got hurt. No one that matters anyway..." I trailed off. He took a step away from Xavier, anger still visible on his face and in his eyes, but it was struggling to be overtaken by concern. "You don't need to hurt him." I added, my breath shaking as I wiped my eyes. I couldn't understand why Ashton was so impassioned about this whole situation.
"What happened? Ashton?" Xavier asked, he seemed almost lost, looking to his best friend for answers, but I cut them off before Ashton could even try to explain away the situation.
"We should get to class." I stated abruptly, swiftly turning on my heel to punctuate my words as I all but ran away.
When I got there I moved to sit with Raven, it had been a while since I had talked to my original group of friends.
"Hey." I said to him, and he looked over at me.
"Hi." He responded, and he ran a hand through his shaggy, black hair. "How was the party on Friday?"
"It was good, I think... I haven't really been to any parties to compare." I responded. I was lying straight to his face, but he would never notice. "What did you do over the weekend?"
"Nothing much, just hung out with the rest of the group." He said. "Willow's missing you, you haven't hung out with us for almost two weeks."
"Sorry, I've had extra baseball practices. Our first game was last Thursday..." I trailed off.
"I know, but Jackson's not happy." He stated. "I'm fine with it, so are the Gingers, but he's not."
"He'll have to get over it, I have baseball now." I informed, struggling to keep the aggression out of my voice, I have had enough controlling people in my life. "But, I'll try my best to hang out with you guys some more, I've kind of missed you knuckleheads too." I stated, a light smirk brightening my expression.
"Well, we're totally ready for you at lunch break." He grinned,
"Excellent, I'll be there." I responded, and we zoned back into what the teacher was saying as he took the roll. Advanced Spanish came next, and the lesson went by slowly. PE went for far too long, and my shorts were way too short. Recess went by in the blink of an eye , and I finally managed to hang out with my group of misfit friends. Specialised Maths sucked, we started a new topic. Modern History had me lose interest in life, I spent the lesson watching YouTube videos and almost falling asleep. English was kind of interesting, we started reading another book. Lunch was great, I hung out with my friends again, caught up with them, had some girl time with Willow. Home Ec was okay, it was a theory lesson, so I spent it on YouTube again. I had a free last, so I spent it outside in the sunshine while listening to music through my earphones.
I watched as everyone left school, and walked over to Zeke's car. "So, how was your day?"
"Meh." I said, and we drove back home in an awkward silence. Neither of us said a word during the long drive home, and soon enough our home came into view.
"Soraya, are you okay?" he asked as he stopped the car.
"I'm fine. I'm perfectly fine." I lied, before getting out of the car. I walked into the house and straight up the stairs and into my room, jumping onto my bed gluing my eyes to the window.
"Yo Ray!" I heard Zeke shout.
"What up bro?!" I shouted back, he was the only person I permitted to call me Ray. Ashton was a different story.
"You wanna play some COD?!" he shouted, and I smiled. He knew how to make my day a shit tonne happier.
"You want me to kick your ass?!" I shouted back. He opened my door.
"Hey, I know you well enough to realise that you had a shit day and that you're definitely not alright. I also know that nothing makes you happier than beating other people at video games, so I am definitely ready." He said, and my smile got bigger as I ran after him down the stairs so we could start as soon as possible.
I heard the phone ring and I groaned, I didn't want to let it ring out but I damn well wanted to play some COD so... I grabbed a remote control. The phone finished ringing, but less than two seconds later it started again. I jumped up off of the couch and basically ran over to get it. "What up bruh?" I kind of questioned, wondering who the hell it was.
"I am your mother!" I heard Kelley shout, and I could hear people talking in the background.
"No, no you're not." I said in response, and she seemed to ditch the topic.
"Look, I need you to come in-" my phone went off, signalling a text message. "-one of the workers dropped a glass bottle and-" damn Ashton was messaging me, what the hell did he want now? "-failed to tell someone and also ignored the fact he would need to pick it up and someone tripped over because they were wearing sneakers and didn't tie up the laces and-" oh, Ashton wanted me to come over and play... COD. "-basically we just need you to come in." I sighed in response.
"Okay, I get it, I understand, just... Stop freaking out, I'll be there in 20 minutes." I cut her off with irrelevant hand fluttering's, her panicking wasn't helping in the slightest.
"Oh thank god," Kelley sighed through the phone, her relief clear as day, "You're a life saver."
"No problem, but I gotta go so I can get ready."
"Yeah yeah that's fine, just thanks again." At that shouting started on her end of the line, people's voices, some I briefly recognized some I didn't, but there was no time to decipher what they were saying as Kelley hung up. Leaving me to figure out what to do about the Ashton situation.
"Zeke, look, I have to go to work so I can't play COD with you. But, I know some people who can..."
"Guys, Ray can't come over but apparently she's sending a replacement?!" I shouted from the kitchen, before typing out a quick response and tucking my phone back into my pocket.
"Did she say who?" Xavier called from the lounge room,
"Just that it's a surprise" I replied, picking up a bowl of popcorn in one hand and balancing 4 cans of coke in the other, it was only then that I spotted the bag of chips laying abandoned on the counter. A frown moved my eyebrows closer together as I weighted my options; I could either put everything back down and tuck the bag under my arm or I could probably just hold it with my teeth... The latter seemed easier so within a few seconds I was off down the hallway.
"Dude, what does that even mean?" Alistair questioned, laying his head back to look at me as I wandered carelessly down the hallway. I dropped the bag of chips from my mouth and onto the table.
"Beats me, but this surprise replacement will be here in about ten minutes apparently."
"She better not be sending us some freak." Alistair stated, and I glanced boredly in his direction.
"Dude, its Soraya, I doubt she'd send us a freak" I replied with an eye roll as Ashton fiddled with putting the cans of coke beside the bag of chips he had dropped on the coffee table.
"Xav's right, she's pretty chill," Ash cut in, right as he dropped one of the cans onto the floor with a wince.
"Oh good one, Ash." Alistair laughed, reaching forward to grab one of the safely placed cans on the table with his signature grin. Ashton promptly flipped him the bird and I took the chance to snag one of the other cans whilst he bent to pick up the other.
"It's probably not even that shaken" Ashton shrugged
"Yeah? Then you have it" I stated with a smirk, leaning back and popping the tab on the aluminium can, he made a face and picked up the last remaining unshaken can,
"Nah, it'll settle down before the replacement person gets here."
"Whatever, we have time to play a round before they get here right?" Alistair questioned as he kicked his feet up onto the table and reached for one of the controllers on the couch.
"Don't see why not?" Ashton stated, promptly sitting in the small gap on the two seater couch between Alistair and I and stretching out like the rest of us comfortably. It was a small couch and the unfortunate thing had been going through years of torture by rambunctious game play and the occasional house party, and by now it was probably running a little worse for wear. Yet none of us could stomach getting rid of it, all the memories that went with it was just too great to lose.
"Dude! You totally just shot me on purpose!" Alistair shouted in a huff, throwing his controller up with a frown, whilst Ash and I laughed at him,
"Every man for himself." I snickered, earning an elbow to the ribs for Ashton as his laughter only grew in amusement.
"Screw you guys." Alistair pouted before joining in with the laughter and pinching the abandoned bag of chips off the table. It was then that the doorbell rang and Ashton and I both chorused,
Leaving Alistair with the short end of the stick as he rolled his eyes in amusement and stood to answer the door. "Screw you guys" He huffed again, annoyance clear as he walked down the hallway to answer the door as Ashton and I burst into another round of laughter.
It wasn't long before Alistair came back into the room, another vaguely familiar guy following after him. Although, it wasn't until he actually stepped into the lounge room that I fully recognized him as one of the seniors last year or the year before. Ashton on the other hand seemed to recognise him immediately.
"Zeke, man, good to see you." He grinned, standing to engulf the guy in a bear hug, one that 'Zeke' responded to easily.
"Yeah, you too man." He responded with a grin, before his eyes slid past my best friend and landed on me.
"Oh yeah." Ashton seemed to catch on, "Zeke this is Xavier, Xav this is Zeke, Soraya's brother."
"You can just call me Xav." I stated, standing to greet him in the standard bro one-armed chest bump, the scent of cologne and something else engulfed my senses for a moment, before we both pulled back, Zeke's grin bordering on a smirk.
"Nice to meet you, Xav." Zeke said, his eyes locking with mine for a second before he turned to the screen "So what game are we playing?"
"COD of course.”
It was about half an hour into playing and all of us had sort of shifted to lounge all around the room; Alistair was sprawled on the floor near the coffee table, Ashton was stretched out taking up the space he had abandoned. Mean while I held onto my position on the couch, one leg tucked underneath me and the other placed on the floor, beside Zeke. Who's body heat I could easily feel through the fabric of my jeans, which honestly wasn't unusual considering I often sat like this with the others, in fact it wasn't unknown for any of us to actually sit between the others legs. It was a bro thing, something we all had just done since we were kids.
This on the other hand felt different. It was almost like his shoulder was sending little electric shocks into my leg every time his muscles moved as he angled the controller for better game play; because honestly everyone knows that's how it works best.
"Hey is this coke anyone's?" Zeke asked a few seconds later, but he was already reaching for it as Ashton nodded. Although it took about 5 seconds for the other three of us to realise what was potentially wrong with that decision, but by then, Zeke was already opening the can.
"Shit, stop!" Alistair shouted from the other side of the room but it was too late. The cap had been popped and coke fizzed everywhere, drenching Zeke's shirt and splashing onto my legs. The whole room practically winced.
"Oh fuck" Zeke immediately said, his eyes wide as the brown liquid continued to drip down his arm, the initial explosion done with, "Shit, sorry Ash, I didn't mean to get it on the floor."
"Dude, dude, chill it's fine, this living room has seen worse days, believe me" Ashton laughed, "You can go to my room and change if you want, Xavier will show you where to get a shirt" he pointed to the hallway, already turning to go and find something to clean up mess before he received a response.
But with that I took my cue and stood from the couch, pants already starting to feel sticky the more the coke soaked in. I'm sure Zeke was having a similar feeling as he was already moving to follow me down the hallway.
"Probably should have warned you about that one a bit faster, sorry" I apologised as he trailed behind me into the bathroom so that he could wash his hands off.
"Nah, it's fine, don't worry about it" He shot me a smile before setting the most likely half empty coke can on top of the counter. I hadn't realised that he'd still been holding onto it and I now realised he probably hadn't known what to do with it beforehand. " I just hope Ashton isn't too angry about the carpet"
"Pfft, please, the only one you would need to be worried about is his mother," I reassured but when he looked up with a stricken expression I immediately raced to calm him, "Zeke, don't worry about it seriously, Mrs K. is the sweetest, besides she gave up on that carpet a long time ago, believe me"
"Still.." He looked lost and I shook my head in amusement, lifting a hand to sit on his shoulder, only regretting it a few moments later when the movement felt oddly intimate. But I couldn't take it away now because that would just seem weird and he would surely question it and I didn't even know if I knew the answer myself. Let alone be able to come up with an excuse for my weird actions. So instead I settled for giving his shoulder a light squeeze before waiting until he moved away to the towel rack to let him go.
"Like I said, it's fine, now come on lets go raid Ashton's room for new clothes, these jeans are starting to ride the wrong way if you get what I mean" I stated, and with that I started walking towards Ashton's room, not waiting to check that he was following.
"So how long have you guys been friends anyway?" Zeke asked as we entered Ashton's room, it was surprisingly clean for once, and I made a bee-line for the wardrobe.
"Too long probably," I called from the closet, and unlike the rest of his room, it was a total tip, clothes everywhere and shoes scattered over the floor. It's safe to say that I made it a short trip, quickly grabbing the clothes I was after before exiting the closet.
Only to stop dead when I saw Zeke standing shirtless, in the middle of the room, the damp fabric balled uselessly in his hand. His chest was still damp from the coke and it shined in the dull light from the window.
"You okay?" He asked a moment later and I blinked in shock, before managing to pull myself back into the present and toss him the shirt.
"Perfectly fine, why?" I questioned, an eyebrow raised,
"No reason" Zeke replied and I could have sworn I saw a smirk but he was already pulling the shirt over his head and blocking my view of his expression. But before I could get side tracked by the fabric sliding over his chest I unzipped my pants and began wrestling on a, hopefully, clean pair of Ashton's trackies.