“You’re really going to walk into that building looking like you just fought a truck?”
I stared at my friend in disbelief on the walk to school. We met up that morning, working on our daily trek together. The only thing was, she insisted on commenting on my bruised knuckles and black eye, the familiar smirk on her freckled face burned into my mind forever.
“Well it’s not like I can make it magically disappear, Ash. Besides, my parents are already upset with me so staying home and faking sick wouldn’t be an option.”
“Mhmm. Well, maybe you should have thought about that first Damon, before getting yourself into shit.” I elbowed her side; she just laughed and did it right back. “Just, like, try not to be too scary?” A bright smile crossed her face all of a sudden. “He should be here today! I’d just hate to scare him off immediately, y’know?”
Ah, I remembered. Her friend. Ashley had been talking nonstop about her online friend moving in recently. I knew absolutely nothing about him, except that he was in a completely different time zone originally and, somehow, got along with her. I was skeptical to say the least, but if she liked him, might as well entertain her a bit.
I nodded along as we got closer to the school, wondering why anyone would want to move here. The town itself was practically dust, and everyone who lived here was getting there. Middle of nowhere, nothing new ever. Except, this school year, the beginning of senior year. This was the only fun I ever had, getting new classes, since most of the teachers were at least slightly tolerable. I ate breakfast at home, but I still spent time with Ashley in the cafeteria, listening to her ramble and rant about her friend. There weren’t many redheads at the school, so she tended to stick out. I tried to scan the cafeteria, seeing about anyone I might know or someone Ash might know, but it was always the same screaming crowd. Even our other friends weren’t in there, though those two never ate breakfast here; typically they brought in food from somewhere in town for the morning. I’d be lying if I wasn’t jealous.
The school bell rang, and I slammed myself down into my first period desk, my head soon resting there as well. The dull morning murmur died hard, even after our teacher tried desperately to get our attention. She went through the roster, and I only really listened up to my name, before I threatened to fall asleep right where I was. I recognized nearly every name she called out, until she got to the last one, which was completely new.
The door shut. More kids started to whisper. I lifted my head up so I could see just over my arms, glancing at the new kid as he took his seat next to me. Something about him was... strange. He had light platinum, almost white hair hiding his eyes and a white hoodie on, and he spoke with what sounded like a slight English accent. The class whispered about him, and he hung his head, trying to hide. I couldn’t see a whole lot, but I still couldn’t keep my eyes off of what I could, even as the teacher continued on with class.
Being the first day, hardly anyone put in effort that day, so first period was a breeze. Second went the same way, and I actually managed to catch one of our friends, Arionna, in there, too. Then, when lunch rolled around, I followed my usual routine of completely skipping the cafeteria and heading straight for Mr. Bishop’s room.
No lights were on, leaving the room dimly lit. Yet, there he was behind his desk, grinning as I walked in. “Ah, you get in any trouble yet, Correa?”
“It’s the first day.”
He gave a quick nod to me. “What happened to you then?”
I smiled. “That is completely unrelated,” and pulled up a spare computer chair next to his desk. I used to have him for freshman English. On top of that, he had been a close family friend for as long as I could remember.
“How’s senior year so far for you?”
“Like I said, first day. Not much has exactly happened.” I nabbed his stress ball of his desk and started fidgeting with it.
He chuckled a bit, before standing up from his desk. “Can I trust you not to catch the room on fire while I step down the hall?”
The minute his footsteps started to die down after he stepped out of the room, I moved into his desk chair. His room was surprisingly organized this year, with an unusual amount of labels. I chuckled to myself. How long that was going to last? Knowing him, I bet a week.
Within seconds, I heard a knock on the door and a vaguely familiar voice.
“M... Mr. Bishop?”
“He stepped out for a bit.”
I watched the new kid step partially into the room, holding a small pile of papers. He caught sight of me behind his desk, eyeing me for a moment.
“He’ll probably be back soon if you wanna wait.”
He hesitated, then moved and sat in the computer chair I had been using. He slouched a bit, but still seemed tense as he moved his feet into the seat with him. I still couldn’t quite put my finger on what was off about him. I didn’t even realize I was staring until he looked over at me. I probably should have said something, but instead I just turned my attention back down to Mr. Bishop’s desk.
Footsteps from down the hall started to grow louder again, and the new kid jumped up at the sound. Mr. Bishop appeared in the doorway. They talked for a brief moment, I assume about something another teacher needed, before the kid left again.
“Get out of my chair.” He didn’t say it with any threat, but I still flinched as I stood up and shuffled out of the way.
“A-Actually, I think I’m going to go ahead and go. I... just remembered, I told Ms. Bryant that I would come by.”
He paused for a moment, but I had already started towards the door. “Alright, have a good day, kid.”
I waved halfheartedly as I walked out. Instead, my attention went elsewhere, and I managed to catch up with the kid as he walked down the hall.
He jumped at the sight of me, not relaxing when he saw who I was.
“So... are you new here?”
I felt kind of guilty for cornering him like this. I shrugged, trying to sound casual; “I don’t bite.”
Probably didn’t help that I still looked like garbage from the other night.
“What’s your name?”
He muttered something and turned away from me.
“Angel. It’s... Angel.”
I smiled. “Yeah...”
I was about to add something else, but was interrupted by the bell ringing for class changing. I furrowed my brow and glanced over to him as if to apologize. I met his eyes for a moment, before he turned and left for his next class. Despite the hall filling, I stood motionless for a moment, watching him leave in wonder.
The rest of my classes dragged by, but I was lost in thought for most of them. I didn’t have the best luck this year, since no one I was close to was in any of my classes except Arionna in second, which didn’t help much. I also didn’t see Angel anymore at all, even just in the halls. As the day was drawing to a close, I felt my phone go off and found a text from Ashley.
YOO GUESS WHO’S HERE TODAY!
Wanna go out after school with Arionna and I?
I’ll introduce you two.
I’m still feeling kinda shitty from the other night.
Actually, you know what, yeah, sure. Why not?
I’ll catch you out front. He and Ari
will be a bit late.
I think you two will get along!
I didn’t respond, instead sighing as I stuck my phone back in my pocket. Time still seemed to drag, and I nearly passed out on my desk when the bell for us to leave finally rang.
I caught Ashley as she was walking out. It was weird seeing her with such a huge smile on her face. “Hey hey hey hey hey hey!”
“Fucking awesome! He’s in two of my classes this year, it was so damn cool to actually meet him in person! He’s cool, I think you’ll like him. I hope you’ll like him.” She sighed a bit. “We taking your car?”
“Yeah? Why wouldn’t we?”
She shrugged. “I dunno. We were thinking about auntie’s coffee shop there on the square. Sounds good?”
I had been to that cafe a few times over the years, but usually just to pop in and grab something before leaving. Ashley’s aunt runs the place, and she seemed really excited to spend time there, so I agreed to it. It was a slight drive from the high school since it was closer into town, but we still made it fine. She also took the opportunity to catch me up on her internet friend.
“...but he’s a huge dork, no matter what he wants you to believe. Usually he’s pretty quiet, but you get him talkin’ about something he’s into, he will not shut up about it. Could lose hours just talking about his-”
“You know...” I interrupted her in the middle of her sentence. She looked over at me from the passenger side, and I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye. “You’ve still never even said his name.”
“Oh. Did I not?” She paused for a moment. “His name’s Angel.”
It took me a moment to recover from shock at my own stupidity. “Wait.”
“You met him already?” Ashley perked up a bit more, a bright grin crossing her face.
I heaved a sigh. “Yep. We’ve... got first together.”
She practically squealed.
Ashley kept on talking with much more enthusiasm than before, but I was only half listening. I still couldn’t believe that I didn’t put two and two together. It felt like it should have been obvious looking back, but that one quality about him was still off-putting. Yet, it surprised me when I felt my heart pick up speed, thinking more and more about him.
I felt more than relieved when we pulled into the square’s parking lot and gave myself a moment to try and calm my breathing a bit as Ashley got out. I watched as she stretched, then walked around the front of my car to wait for me; I took one more deep breath before I joined her.
“I’ll cover for all of us,” she said, briefly pulling out her wallet before stuffing it back in her jacket pocket. “Auntie usually gives me a discount anyway. Besides, we’ve still got a bit of time to kill before the others show.”
It was always such a nice atmosphere in there. The building was fairly small itself, but had round fairy lights hanging across the ceiling. You could practically smell the coffee from outside, a scent that always made me smile as I walked in. Ashley nudged my side, before going up to irritate her aunt, who looked happy as ever to see her. I just wandered over to a booth, taking a seat. We were the only ones in there at the moment, so she took her time talking to her family. At one point, her aunt waved at me, and I gave a small smile and nod back.
The two of us looked around right as she was carrying our drinks over to us to see the two familiar faces enter the building. Ash set the drinks down as quick as she can before going up to Arionna and pulling her into a tight hug, while Angel clung to the wall. He seemed just as nervous as he was back at school, but had a soft smile on his face, the corners of his mouth just barely up.
Ashley, an arm still around Arionna, pulled away and looked between the two of us, a bright grin at Angel. “You can sit down, dude! I’m paying for everything!”
His eyes widened, and he shifted in his spot for a moment, eyeing me a bit. Then, reaching into his pants pocket, handed her a small slip of paper which she gladly took. She dragged Arionna back to the counter to get the last two drinks, and Angel hesitated, before joining me at the opposite end of the booth. He pulled his feet onto the booth again, leaning against the wall so he was curled up into a ball. I tilted my head while watching him, until he glanced up at me. It genuinely left me speechless as my stomach started to flutter, taken aback by him. Though, it didn’t last long before I had to look down at the table. His eyes...
“You’re one of Ashley’s friends, then?”
I legitimately jumped as he spoke, which seemed to startle him too, his eyes going wide and his body curling up even more. I tried to give him a reassuring smile, which helped a bit, but he was still very much on edge. “Yeah... yeah I am. Told you, I don’t bite.”
“Yeah... well, you still... still startled me, a bit, earlier.”
I mumbled a small apology, which genuinely got him to uncurl a touch. “In truth,” I started, fidgeting with a small indent in the table, “I was just... trying to figure out who you were. You’re just... I’ve never seen anyone like you-”
“-I know, I know... it’s just that I’m-”
“-I don’t normally say this for other guys but... you’re genuinely, really... pretty?” His eyes went even wider, and the corners of his mouth flickered up again. “Your hair, your eyes... I don’t know what it is but... dude, you’re super cool.”
“You don’t think it’s... weird or anything?”
I stared, not knowing what to say at first, especially since I still didn’t know what strange thing was still there about him. But, still, I mustered up a smile. “Nah, not that much.”
“Well, if you’re friends with Ash, you’ve gotta have something up.”
He snorted a bit. “That’s not nice.”
“She’d say the same.”
I felt a light tap under the table as he hid a smile behind his hand. My stomach continued to flutter even more, and I gave him a soft smile back. Yet, it didn’t take long before his face fell again, his eyes darting away from me. “Um... I didn’t, get your name I don’t think.”
“You didn’t really give me a chance.”
He looked up again, a bit more confidence on his face again. “I’m giving you one now.”
I knew I fell silent for a moment. His eyes were so light in color that they looked nearly transparent, tinted blue like ice. Compared to the rest of him, they were the only spots of color on his person. It took me a moment to find myself again. He was giving me a soft, sly look when I realized I had been staring again.
“D... Damon... Damon Correa...”
He slid his hands into his pockets as a slight smile came across his face. “Nice to meet you, Damon.” His gaze shifted as the other two carried the last two drinks over, and he perked up just a touch. Before I could say anything else, he gave me a quick wink, gladly reaching over to accept his drink.
I stared down at my own coffee while the others got settled and enjoyed a bit of time. What the hell was I doing...? I felt my face grow warm and managed to sneak covering it with my hand for a moment. Even still, I couldn’t shake the thought of him from my mind. My eyes wandered up to him, staring as he moved his hoodie sleeves over both of his hands to hold his drink with. Something truly was strange about him, but I still couldn’t put a finger on what it was. After a minute or so, I gave up and just decided to join the conversation, still confused out of my mind.