Dude... That's Not A Guy

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Horrible Mistakes

Ezekiel’s POV

“You can’t stop me!” I shouted back, spinning my keys around my finger once before closing my fist around them and moving swiftly towards the door.

“I know! But he doesn’t wan-!” Soraya shouted but I wasn’t listening,

“Can’t hear you! Don’t wanna hear you! Bye sis’!” I called up the stairs, before ducking out the door and shutting it softly behind me. I was horribly nervous and that was an understatement. What if he really didn’t want to see me? It had already been a week since the accident, he’d had proper time to stew on what I’d done, maybe he did hate me. Hell, he probably should.

After all I was coming on a bit strong I suppose. But he had started it that day at Ashton’s place, this wasn’t all my fault. I mean sure I might have stared a little too long and maybe I was reading too much into this than I should have. But I was still going to visit him. Whether I thought he hated me or not. No amount of nerves would stop me from doing that.

So it was with that small burst of purpose that I was able to grip the steering wheel a little more confidently and soon I was pulling onto his street. Feeling only slightly creeperish that I knew exactly where I was going. He was however known for throwing parties whilst his parents were out so I didn’t feel that bad.

Speaking of his parents, I wonder if they’re home.

That could be a horrible experience waiting to happen. In fact I’m not even sure Maer would bother opening the door once she saw me. But hopefully luck was on my side.

Pulling up to park in front of one of the neighbours yards, I quickly slid out of my car and pushed down the uneasiness threatening to make me turn around and leave. Because no. I was doing this.

So it was with that that I moved towards the impeccably done up garden, they must have had a gardener work on it; I doubted Maer had a secret green thumb. The gravel crunched under my shoes as I made my way up the drive, and I cursed the fact that I couldn’t make a silent approach. This was going to be so awkward. I should have just stayed for Soraya’s birthday party, it’s bound to be less awkward than this... well maybe. That’s up for debate really.

I hesitated when I reached the door, hand hovering over the doorbell button. Fuck. I didn’t think I was really this nervous to see him. But my hands were shaking in front of me, and I couldn’t stop the rush of nerves that flooded my body like pins and needles.

What if he hated me?

He’d definitely made it pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in me. But I was here to be a friend.

Speaking of which, before I had the chance push the bell, the door was pulled open and Ashton stood before me, his face morphing into a grin when he recognized me.

“Zeke, man what are you doing here?” He asked, continuing to pull on his jacket haphazardly, like seriously I was worried he’d loose an eye.

“Figured I should probs stop by and see how Xav’s doing.” I replied, shifting uncomfortably under his stare. He was actually quite attractive, but I’d already known that, after all I’d been in school with him for years. But he wasn’t someone I was interested in, and that was perfectly fine because I may or may not have a ship going between him and Soraya.

“Yeah, true.” Ashton replied, stepping out the door and pulling it half closed behind him, “Hey can I ask you something?”

“Uh, sure?”

“Are you – Uh – Are you like - you know?” He asked awkwardly and I blinked at him blankly,

“Not really sure what your tryna ask there man.” I stated, completely stumped by what the hell he was trying to ask me. He let out an annoyed huff, clearly put out by the fact I had absolutely no idea what he was going for.

“Are you like…okay why the hell is this so hard to ask?” He spluttered, face colouring slightly in embarrassment.

“Dude, just ask man.” I rolled my eyes, leaning back against the side of the alcove.

“Do you like dick?” He asked quickly and I realized belatedly that he didn’t want to offend me and that’s why he was having such a hard time asking.

“Am I gay?” I clarified

“Yeah.”

“No.” I replied easily,

“Wait what? You’re not?” Ashton stuttered, eyes wide, “Oh shit sorry man, I didn’t mean to assume –“

“I’m not gay, I’m bi.” I shrugged and he stopped talking

“Oh.”

“Is that going to be a problem?” I asked casually, I was used to having bad reactions, so I wasn’t really worried. Well not for me at least. I was completely comfortable with myself, I had nothing to hide.

“Oh no, nah man, your fine.” Ashton rushed out, he looked mildly offended by my question and I took that as a good thing.

“Good.” I let a smile take over my face, “So how is Xav?”

“He’s doing okay, but they’re starting to take him off the painkillers so he’s having trouble sleeping” Ashton shrugged, his mood was almost instantly sombre and he seemed to lose some of the light in his expression. It was clear that this had really taken it’s toll on him. Afterall they were practically brothers and from what I had heard both him and Alistair had been taking turns visiting him, almost like they were worried something else would go wrong. I didn’t blame them honestly.

“So he’s awake now then?” I asked, nerves bounding around my head at a million miles an hour. I wasn’t really sure if I was ready for this. Hell, I was fully prepared for him to hate me.

“Yeah man, you should go inside and see him, he needs more friendly faces around. Maer’s being a bitch about this whole thing.” Ashton said it without any remorse, and I beginning to realise that Maer really wasn’t someone people got along with easily.

“Does he remember much?” I questioned quietly, after all this would be the first time I had been to visit whilst he was awake. I didn’t want to go in their blind. Ashton frowned, reaching out to place his hand on my shoulder when I looked towards the ground.

“Zeke, man. He –he took a pretty nasty fall... no one knows how much he remembers.” He stated softly, “But I’m sure whatever happened with you guys up on that roof... it can’t have been as bad as you think. Just go talk to him.” I let out a humorless laugh.

“You say that like it’s easy.”

“It’ll be fine, try not to worry so much, Xav’s an understanding guy.” He lifted his hand off my shoulder then, a grin covering his features, “But I gotta go man, I just got a text from Alistair and apparently your sisters having a birthday party that I wasn’t invited to.”

“Goodluck. I think you might actually need it.” I stated with a wince, “She was really pissed at you.”

“Thanks man” Ashton let out with a laugh, patting me on the shoulder before he practically bounded down the porch steps. The roar of his truck coming to life filled the air before he disappeared down the road. And then I was alone.

The world suddenly felt a lot colder and I could feel my hands clamming up, but I refused to waste another second on hesitation as I reached up to hit the doorbell.

It rang throughout the house for a few seconds before it cut off and I was left in silence for a few minutes. I worried after the 3rd minute that I wasn’t even going to get an answer, but then the high clicking sound of heels on marble floors echoed towards the entry way and I froze in place.

The large door pulled away to reveal Maer standing in the foyer, her gaze cold as she held the door in place. I forced myself not to recoil under the harsh stare as I held my ground.

“Mrs Ragnvalsson, you look lovely today.” I attempted what was usually a charming smile, but it appeared lost on her.

“I know.” She responded bluntly, eyebrow raised poised in a blatantly judgmental position. I could see her analyzing my clothing and everything about me. No doubt not reaching her high standard. She herself was wearing another dress suit, a soft lavender purple with a white blouse, a little over dressed for just being at home in my opinion but each to their own.

“Uh...” I trailed awkwardly, pushing my hands into my pockets, “So, can I go up to see Xav?”

“Its Xavier.” She clarified with a frown, “And no.”

My face flattened into disbelief, “No?” I spluttered in shock. How can she just blatantly say ‘no’ to the concern of one of her son’s friends? It was ludicrous.

“No. You are not allowed inside my house, nor are you allowed to talk to my son. He has a bright future ahead and I do not need people like you interfering.” She stated bluntly and I just stared at her in shock. What the actual fuck. I could not for the life of me figure out why she put emphasis on me specifically but either way I was feeling royally offended. What a bitch. And I had no hesitation stating that to her face.

“What a bitch” I snarled in anger, “How the hell do you get off on saying shit like that? This is not the 1950′s. No one cares about goddamn family prestige or whatever the hell you think gives you the right to demean someone like that.” Her expression had now turned into a full blown glare but I wasn’t finished. “You need to not be such a controlling bitch, it’s his life. It’s not your place to tell him who he associates with. I don’t care if you’re the fucking president, it does not give you that right!”

She remained glaring at me in silence for a few seconds as I breathed heavily after my outburst. And for a moment I thought she was going to say something to defend herself, but instead she simply stepped back and slammed the door in my face. I stood still for a moment, taking in the fact that, yes, she just shut the door on me, my anger growing, before I realized that I was now no longer able to get inside to see Xav.

At that point I sort of stared at the closed door in defeat. All that and now I wouldn’t even get to see if he was okay. It was probably my fault but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to regret what I had said. She deserved it. Now I just had to find another way in.

It was with that resolve that snuck around to the side of the house that I thought I remembered Xavier’s bedroom being on and scanned the area for something to help me. The tree leaning oddly close to the window standing out like a goddamn beacon had me grinning in success. This was it. My way in. Well unless Xav actually had a thing for locking windows, which hello, who did that anyway? Probably people that didn’t want someone breaking into their house... but thats beside the point.

Anyway, I quickly made my way to the base of the tree and reached up to grab a hold of the branch conviently only a foot above my head. It was with that that I pulled myself up into the foliage, thanking the lord for those days at the gym which finally came in handy for something. But that was only the first step and from their I managed to navigate my way through the branches and leaves with minor difficulty. Well besides the inevitable spider that landed on my arm and nearly caused me to fall right back out of the tree.

But either way, despite the trauma I managed to make my way to what I hoped was Xaviers window on the second floor. Because if it wasn’t I was about to get in a whole lot of trouble – hell I might still anyway – and quitefrankly I don’t think Kelly and Dave would appreciate a call from the police. Especially not with all the hecticness that comes with a family birthday party going on.

I reached out to try the clasp on the window, thanking all the lords above, when it gave way and I was able to push the glass up. However, I was less then graceful as I practically fell inside and sprawled across the floor.

“What the fuck?! Zeke?!” Came an immediate shout,

“Shhh! Be quiet!” I whisper-shouted, scrambling to my feet in a rush, “Your mum will hear you!”

“Why the fuck?! No. Get out of my house!” He shouted back, completely ignoring my hurried attempts to quieten him. I was lucky this was a big house. It was at that point that I actually looked at him, and immediately all words left me. All I could do was stare. My heart pounding in my chest. He looked horrible.

“Don’t fucking look at me.” He hissed, and it was at that point that I realised he sounded different too, his voice muffled and almost strained. It was painful to hear. But obviously caused by the intense swelling around the left side of his face. It must have gone down some because the outer edges of his jaw near his neckline had gone that sickly yellow of healing bruises, but it still looked awful.

There were stitch marks too, thin lines dotted with near translucent thread as they zigzagged in and out of his skin. One along the top of his cheekbone and the other almost directly below it along his jaw. Both only around an inch long in length and less than a centimetre wide. But they puffed out with the swell of skin that showcased a mottled mess of blues, reds and purples. It was almost impossible to look at him without feeling sick.

I’d done that to him.

“I said get out!” He shouted again, his voice harsh with what I could identify as both anger and hurt. What was I doing? I’d come here to what? Try and rectify my own hurt feelings? To see that maybe I’d imagined this whole thing? What the hell was wrong with me. Why the hell did I think I had the right to come here? And now here I was looking at him for the first time and I couldn’t even keep the horror out of my own facial expressions. I was continuing to hurt him.

“Xav, I didn’t mean-”

“I don’t give a fuck what you meant!” He cut me off, his voice laced with malice “You can’t even fucking look at me without looking disgusted! Just fucking leave already!”

I took a step back at that, my body retreating towards the window. His eyes were watering now, the bloodshot marks blending in with the black bruising staining his left scalera and making the bright green of his right stand out in a way it never should. Xavier should never be upset. It wasn’t right. And here I was making him feel this way.

Fuck. I had to leave. I just had to get out of here before I made it worse. I couldn’t stand to see that look on his face.

The window frame pressed up against my back and I paused, glancing up to me his eyes once more, wincing at the anger I saw in them.

“Leave.” He hissed one more time, rolling onto his side where he laid on his bed. Effectively turning his back on me. I stayed frozen for a moment longer, my body refusing to move, before I pulled myself together and swung my body halfway through the window before I stopped again.

“You could never be disgusting, Xavier.” I whispered, just loud enough for him to here before I pulled my body fully into the tree, unable to stay and watch his reaction.

I’d done enough.

*

By the time I made it back to my house I was a mess, my hands shaking on the steering wheel and my breathing constricting tightly in my chest.

“Fuck.” I muttered, hanging my head against the worn leather beneath my fingers. What was I going to do?

“Zeke?” Someone called and I jumped in fright when there was a rapping against my window, my head slamming back into the headrest with a thud.

“Shit!” I hissed, turning wide eyes to see Dave standing on the other side of the door a frown on his face.

“What’s wrong?” Dave’s voice was muffled by the door so I immediately pulled the keys from the ignition. Schooling my face into a calm expression as quickly as I could before pushing the door open. He stepped back appropriately and I shut the door begind me, turning to face him with what I hoped was my normal smile.

“What? Nothings wrong.” I assured him, “I’m fine.” I reached over to pat him on the shoulder, I was less than a centimeter taller than his six foot something frame but I’d always mocked him for it. “Don’t look so worried, you’ll give yourself wrinkles there, Pops” I joked, allowing my hand to drop to my side as I started towards the front door.

“How was the birthday party?” I changed the subject, glancing back to see Dave still standing by my car looking troubled, but it was only for a moment and then he was following after me. Seemingly taking in stride the dropped subject and grinning back at me.

“It went great, Soraya was a real hit with the in-laws, they all loved her.” At that he clapped me on the back and over took me, “Common now, lets go see the birthday girl. There might even be some cake left over if you’re lucky.”

I let out a quiet sigh, proud that I’d gotten away with my charade and pushing my troubling thoughts to the back of my head. I needed to be happy for Soraya. This was a day all about her. She didn’t need to be worried about how badly her adoptive brother had just fucked up.

Willow’s POV:

“So what happened after I left? You do realise that because I’m your best friend you need to tell me these things. It comes with the contract.” I stated, pointing a finger at Soraya. Something happened after I left that party, and it’s my job to get her to tell me because that’s what friends do.

“Will, really? Nothing happened. We finished watching ‘Unfriended’, I invited him along with me to the baseball game next weekend that he got the tickets for and then he went home because his sisters were by themselves. Seriously, nothing happened.” She’s a tough cookie to crumble, but I would do it.

“You can’t tell me nothing happened when the hottest guy in school and you were by yourselves in your bedroom.” Come on Soraya, give me something.

“One, don’t let Alice hear you say things like that about another man because it would shatter his over-sized ego, and two, is it so hard for people to remember that I don’t like touching people?” she stated, grabbing her AP Maths books out of her locker before closing the metal door and locking it.

“Oh right… completely forgot about that.” I said, and she rolled her eyes as she tucked her hair behind her ear.

“Well never mind that now. Anyway, I have to get to maths and you have to get to whatever you do now.” As soon as she finished speaking she turned to walk away, and I was left alone as I strolled to the art room. My eyes scanned the room filled with easels and people already painting and found that we had a substitute teacher. Great. I went to grab the palette that had my oil paints from last lesson on it and found my usual spot next to the window, taking an easel with me before finding my canvas. I finished setting myself up, knowing I would be sitting here for the next two lessons, let the teacher know who I was and that I was present before I sat down and got my phone and earphones out.

I lost myself in the music and the painting, completely separated from the real world as I invested all of my attention in the colours and shapes I created. A lesson had passed, and all of the people in my art class filed out. I had a free, not wanting to do any other lessons and having talent in art meant that I was given a free period to do my work. I was good at portraiture, specifically photo-realism. I would say that my skills and technique is much higher than it should be, and it has been like that ever since I picked up a brush.

Of course, I hadn’t been anywhere near as good as I am now, it had taken a couple of years to get this good, and it would take a few more to get where I wanted to. I put the finishing touches on the painting I had been working on for a few weeks now, admiring it as I moved it to a safe place to dry. I loved my free, but now I needed to move onto the next project and I didn’t know what, or rather who, to paint. I sat down on my stool again, looking out the window wistfully as I wondered what the hell I should do.

I suddenly felt two hands grab my shoulders and shake me, and I faintly heard someone shouting ‘surprise’ through the music pumping into my ears. I screamed as I flung myself backwards, my earphones ripping out as the stool I was sitting on fell out from underneath me and I landed on the harsh ground. I didn’t even swear, or groan, or make any noise after I hit the ground. I just took in my new view of the world, as the person who had scared the living daylights out of me started swearing, picking up the stool and my phone off of the ground.

I sighed at my misfortune before a face hovered over my own.

“Willow, are you okay?” God damn, hello pretty eyes.

“I’m fine, but why the hell did you do that?” I asked Alistair, slowly sitting up. My back was in pain as I listened to Taylor Swift sining ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, irony kicking in as she sang the words ‘and now I’m lying on the cold, hard ground’. I liked listening to my music loudly… and I was only just realising how loud it was since I could hear the song clearly while my earphones were a meter away from me.

“Because I thought I would surprise you… and be nice and stuff. As we can see from this situation, I failed horribly.” He took my hands as he spoke, pulling me up so I could stand.

“What part of shaking my shoulders and scaring me half to death is ‘nice and stuff’?” I questioned, pulling my hands away from him to grab a new canvas and paints.

“The part where I did it gently.” He responded as I came back, placing the stretched canvas on the easel and pulling the paint tubes out of my jumper pocket.

“Uh-huh, sure.” I stated. “Now, why are you here? Don’t you have a lesson?”

“We have a substitute… so Ash and Ray are going to cover for me.” He stated. “I wanted to spend some time with you, I mean, we don’t have many lessons together and I want to see you.” he added, taking my hands in his own.

“Alright… well can you help me out here? I need someone to paint and-”

“Do you want me to model for you?” Well, that wasn’t where I was going with it but it’s not a bad idea…

“I suppose so…” I trailed off.

“Clothes or no clothes?” he asked with a wink, I laughed a little, but there was more of an awkward air to it than humour.

“Clothes please.” I squeaked, trying to keep my cheeks from turning red but failing horribly.

“Alright, Angel.” He responded, and the pet name he just came up for me didn’t stop my extremely embarrassing blush.

“Um, let me get my camera and then we can go outside and take some photos.” It’s probably weird to carry around a combination of an EOS 5DS DSLR with a Macro 100mm lens in my schoolbag (of course with a case, I’m not stupid). But, it’s me, and I’m weird. I got my camera out, admiring it’s beauty for a moment before we walked outside. Luckily the sun was out, so we should have good lighting for a nice portrait.

“Where should we go?” Alice asked me, and I honestly had no idea.

“Uh...” I trailed off, looking around the expanse of school that we have. Where can I get good lighting and a nice background to do Alistair’s face justice? Nowhere. Nowhere is good enough.

“Back oval?” He questioned, memories of the field with a few trees surrounding it came to mind. That’s a possibility…

“We can give it a shot I suppose.” I stated, the both of us starting to walk towards the back oval. When we reached the expanse of land I lifted my camera up, trying to figure out the best position for him to stand for lighting.

“Here?” He asked, seeming a little awkward.

“Uh, turn a little bit more towards the sun… perfect.” I stated, bringing the camera to my face. He looked towards me, looking directly into the camera lens. Perfect. God damn he’s perfect. “You know you don’t have to smile if you don’t want to.” I told him after I took a couple pictures.

“But I want to.”

“Why?” I asked, still taking pictures of him since I had the opportunity to.

“Because I have you.” Oh lord. Sweet baby Jesus, help me. I think I just lost all control over my legs, they were turning to jelly beneath me and my cheeks were redder than they’ve ever been. I lowered the camera more towards my chest, not really knowing what to say. What am I even supposed to say?

“I’m not that special…” I trailed off.

“To me you are.” Holy hell, stop. Please stop before I fall. Figuratively and literally. Just change the subject, Willow, just change the subject.

“Show me a brooding look.” I told him, holding the camera up again. Okay, that is not a brooding look. “Alice, that’s not a brooding look, that’s more of an ‘I want you in so many dirty ways’ look.” I stated, taking a picture anyway.

“What’s wrong with that?” He asked.

“Nothing…” I answered quietly, my cheeks were consistently red since he didn’t drop the sexual stare, and it felt like he was staring straight through the camera and into my eyes. I took a few more pictures of the look, since I didn’t want to ever forget how his eyes were watching me.

“Fuck it.” I heard him say before he moved towards me, and I moved the camera just in time for him to hold my cheeks and collide his lips against mine. We held the contact for what felt like hours, and I made sure I held onto the camera, considering the last time we kissed and I was holding something it ended with a bottle being dropped on my foot. We broke apart, and I was extremely disappointed.

“Let me hold that.” he stated, taking the camera from my hand.

“That’s a good idea.” I responded, before he pulled me towards him again. I heard an all too familiar ‘click’, so I pulled away to laugh. “Did you just photograph that?” He didn’t give me a verbal answer, he just smiled. I looked away to recollect myself and heard another ‘click’. God dammit.

“I don’t think I did too badly.” He stated simply, looking at the new aesthetic picture of me.

“I can be the judge of that.” I went to grab my camera, but he lifted it out of my reach.

“One more, I want to picture your reaction after my next question.” He told me, holding the camera like I had been holding it just before. I’m used to being behind the camera, not in front of it.

“What?”

“Well, would you like to go on a date with me?” He asked, and I couldn’t stop a massive smile from coming onto my face.

*Click*

“Is it dinner and a movie?” I asked him.

“Yeah…”

“Drive-in movie?” I questioned him next.

“Yes…” he trailed off, and I knew exactly where he got the idea from, but for his sake I would pretend that it was his own idea. I threw my arms around him, kissing him on the cheek. I then whispered my answer into his ear.

“Yes, yes I would like to go on a date with you.”

Soraya’s POV: (Earlier that day)

“Ray!” I jumped as I heard my nickname. Saying that I was on edge after reading that birthday card from Adam was probably an understatement. I didn’t want to be alone, because I was vulnerable by myself. But then again, I’m not as helpless as I was last time I saw him. I turned around and saw Alistair running towards me. I still couldn’t believe that we were related.

“Yes dear cousin?” I asked with a playful tone, acting like I was my normal self.

“Well since we’re related now and you have to help me whenever I ask you because that’s what families do-”

“Where are we going with this?” I asked, my memory flicking back to when both him and Xavier were trying to get in my pants for some weird reason. Well that could have been exceptionally awkward if anything ever happened…

“I need advice… like, where should I take Willow for a date?” he questioned, making my furrow my eyebrows. He never takes people on dates…

“You really like her, don’t you?” I asked, and he nodded. “Well, you better not hurt her or I’m going to slice your dick in half.” I added, his eyes widened.

“I won’t…” he trailed off, his voice shaky.

“Good. Well, the first thing you need to know is that although she comes from a rich family, money is no matter to her. You don’t need to go to an expensive restaurant or anything because she does that all the time with her family, she likes simple things. For the first date, dinner and a movie would be perfect since that’s the kind of date she’s been dreaming of.” I told him.

“What do we have now?” he asked next.

“Modern History, but we have a substitute teacher.” I told him.

“What does Willow have?” he questioned.

“A free, she’s probably in the art room.” I answered.

“Can you cover me?” I nodded in response and he started running the other way, so I turned around and kept walking to class. By the time I walked in it seemed that the teacher had already given up on trying to teach the class since she was sitting on her laptop. After making that small notation I went to take my seat next to Ashton but Van-hooker was in the chair. God, I forgot she existed for a solid couple of days there.

“Move.” Ashton told her.

“But babe-”

“Jessica, go away. If you didn’t get the memo, we aren’t together, and that’s Soraya’s seat. Now move.” He stated bluntly, she had a shocked and hurt look on her face, but when she turned to face me her expression turned to a killer glare. She picked up her books and her bag, moving seats. I would say that I feel sorry for her… but we all know that isn’t true.

“Great, now she hates me even more.” I stated as I sat down, my book out with a pen so if the principal walked past it would at least half look like I was doing work. “Plus she hates you too.” I added, winking at her as she turned to look back at us.

“No one can possibly hate me…” he trailed off, looking into my eyes and holding me captive within the beautiful irises. Fuck, did I just think that? “I’m me.” he finished.

“Well, I must be a freak against nature then.” I replied quickly.

“You don’t hate me, Ray, or you wouldn’t let me touch you.” He stated, and to prove a point he placed his hand on top of mine. I didn’t pull away, but instead just stared at the contact. “See, point proven.” He went to take his hand away, but I managed to entangle my fingers in his. I just needed some comfort with the whole Adam thing…but his hand seemed to mould perfectly to mine and that made me reluctant to let go. Fuck, what? Since when was wanting human contact a thing? Adam’s coming for you, you need to keep your friends safe, and that includes Ashton.

Thinking of Adam forced me to pull away, I tried to calm my mind down. “Sorry.” I whispered.

“It’s alright…” he trailed off. “But are you alright?”

“I don’t know.” I responded, looking out the window, seeing blonde hair leaving the school. It could have been anyone, but it just made me think of Adam’s bright blonde hair and how he would be coming soon. I felt my chest constrict, my eyes started stinging and I was already struggling to breathe.

“Let’s go outside.” He stated, grabbing my bag, book and pen for me and pulling me up and out of the classroom. Being outside and in fresh air helped me breathe easier.

“Be honest with me, what’s wrong?” He asked, and I shook my head.

“Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine.” I lied, he gave me the look. The look which means that he knew I was lying.

“Soraya.” God damn, bring out the actual name why don’t you.

“It’s just…” I trailed off, not wanting to say exactly what was going on because I had kept my past so hidden for so long that I was used to keeping it in the past. I hadn’t told anyone, and although that’s how I wanted it to stay, I had a feeling it would be coming out soon, just not yet. Not right now on the front oval at school. “My past is catching up to me.”

***

Thank god the day’s over, I can finally put my books away and get back home for a much-needed nap. I opened my locker for the last time today, placing my Española books back, and as I did so I noticed a piece of paper fall to the ground. I picked it up, checking that it wasn’t an important page from a lesson, so I did the logical thing and unfolded it to see what it was.

Soraya,

I’m sorry, I couldn’t wait. I need to see you, to look into your blue eyes again. And, may I say, the purple hair suits you.

Adam.

The air was knocked from my lungs, and I couldn’t get any back. He’d seen me, he probably knows where I live. I tried to suck oxygen back into my lungs, but I couldn’t. It felt like I was drowning… and the fact I couldn’t breathe made me panic even further.

“Hey, Ray, am I taking you home?” I heard someone ask, but I was too caught up with being unable to breathe to see and recognise who it was. My lungs were hurting, and I’m pretty sure I understand what a fish out of water felt like now. I was shaking, my chest hurting more than I ever thought possible, my head was spinning and I continued struggling to breathe.

“Ray? Are you okay?” They asked, but I was still caught up. “Shit… um…” Adam wasn’t coming for me. He’s already here. Everyone I care about is already in danger, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I sunk to the ground against the cold lockers, hoping that being on the ground would help me, but I was wrong.

I couldn’t see straight, and I was clutching my chest as the air continued to thicken around me, it was impossible to breathe, and that made me even more afraid.

“Soraya, look at me. Try and take a breath, then hold it for two seconds, then let it out.” The person told me, and I did as they said. “Now take a breath and hold for three.” I again followed instruction. “Now again, hold it for four seconds.” My chest was starting to loosen, but barely. “It’s okay, you’re safe.” He stated while I held my breath. “Now breath out, breathe in through your nose. Hold for five seconds.” As I did so I started to recognise who it was that was in front of me. “No one can get you here, you’re okay.” He told me before continuing with the breathing in and out exercises, eventually I was holding my breath for ten seconds, and I was actually getting air into my lungs.

It took a while, but I got to fifteen seconds, and I seemed to be over the panic attack. The pain in my chest was still present, I felt like I could throw up, but I was breathing and I was registering what was going on around me.

“Are you okay?” Ashton asked, looking at me worriedly. I nodded in response.

“How did you know…” I had to stop to breathe. “…how to help?”

“Janice used to have panic attacks after dad… after he passed away.” He told me, telling me something about his family I didn’t know. It left us in an awkward silence, and I stared at the piece of paper in my hands… the exceptionally crumpled and slightly ruined piece of paper. I decided that looking at it was bad for me, I didn’t want to experience a panic attack again, and not right now, so I looked around the surprisingly empty hallway. Thank god no one was here, I don’t think I wanted to be part of the whole school gossip feed tomorrow.

“Soraya, I don’t care if you don’t want to, but when we get to your house you are going to tell me what the hell is going on.”

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