The Dancer

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Chapter 23

I kept looking out the cafeteria window as I waited for Grace. She was supposed to meet up with me in the next ten or so minutes. I bit down on my lip, nibbling it as I continued to look out, wondering if I could catch her head of hair as she walked to the building. She always had an alternative scene style of dressing, so she was always visible from afar in her construction boots and fishnet leggings.

Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into a dumpster fire of an idea. I thought myself, taking a hold of my can of pop soda before taking a sip. It was late in the afternoon and the cafeteria at the student union building was crowded and noisy just the way I wanted it. Of course, how else was I supposed to get Harry and Grace to sit next to each other without ripping each other’s heads out? Yes, I had invited Harry to this meeting as well. We all had to talk things out together or this mess would continue to play on a loop.

I tried my best not to let the possible ways this could probably go wrong to consume my mind. I looked out the window again, sitting up as my eyes went wide when I noticed Grace walk past the building. I kept looking, and I noticed Harry was right behind her, but they didn’t seem to notice they were going in the same direction. It’s going to be okay. I tried to calm myself down, playing with the sleeves o the sweater I had on as I waited for them. Not long after I watched as they both approached the table I was sitting at. They paused, giving each other weird looks when they noticed they were walking in the same direction, but they kept walking forward after exchanging glares. I let out a sigh of relief. Great, at least they weren’t attacking each other. Grace reached the table first, squeezing into the chair beside me as Harry sat accord form both of us.

“What’s going on?” Grace asked, her voice high as she took off her fall jacket. Her eyes moved from me to Harry. She had a worried look on her face, and it was obvious that Harry was just as bothered by her presence as she was of his.

“I thought you called me over to talk to me?” Harry asked, turning to look at me. “What the fuck is this, Oliver?”

“Calm down Harry, I am going to talk to you,” I said, watching as my ex-friend grunted. “Both of you,” I added, looking over at Grace who was playing with her fingers as she frowned.

“Look, what’s been happening over the past few months has to stop. Here. Today.” I made my voice as firm as possible. “All these shitty revenge plots are petty. I know you guys are tired of them too,” I said, looking over at Harry who had his hands folded over his chest as he gave me a not too impressed look.

“You left us, Oliver,” Harry said, changing the conversation.

“Yes, I need too. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything, but that’s how scared I was of you guys’ behavior. Maybe I made you all shitty for leaving, but what was I supposed to do when I knew how you guys were going to react. I didn’t want to be like you guys anymore. It’s draining. I’m not built for that,” I rambled, watching as different expressions took form on Harry’s face as I spoke.

“So, can you get the rest to call it off?” I asked after a while of silence, watching as Harry rested back on his seat with a blank look on his face.

“I don’t know. The rest really want to get back at her,” Harry said, looking over at Grace. “If I just ignore them, I’ll get into shit too,” he explained, his voice becoming small, and it was then I realized a lot of this was peer pressure on Harry’s part. Sure, he was a big guy with anger issues, but he was a lot friendlier and more regular when he wasn’t mixed up with the rest of the bunch. To be honest, it was like that for all of them. They just fed off each other’s negativity and toxicity, so they were a menace together.

“You know, you don’t have to be friends with them,” I explained, watching as Harry’s eyes had a small cloud of doubt filled him. “You’re miles away from them. You’re at a big university with tons of socializing opportunities, and I don’t think toxic friends on the internet are worth stressing over,” I added, watching as Harry ran a hand through his hair before pinching his nose as he thought about things.

“Oliver has dirt on your friends. Heck, he has shit on me and you too,” Grace explained, making Harry’s eyes go wide. “Remember? He collected it a while ago. So, if you’re afraid of your friends fanning you in the flames, he has that covered,” Grace continued talking. I looked at her with wide eyes. I had forgotten how quick she was with making deals and convincing people, and I guess when she wasn’t using that skill to be a pest or manipulate people it came in handy.

“You... make a point,” Harry said after a while, nibbling on his bottom lip. He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, then he closed it like he was thinking over what he was about to say.

“S-sorry,” he got out in a go, like a part of him was having a problem with apologizing. He frowned to himself, and Grace snorted before laughing and resting her head on the wooden table that was stained with soda and beverage.

“Thank God that’s over,” she said, sighing as she raised her head and rested it on her hands. “Gosh, I was this close to fucking you over,” she said, looking at Harry. Harry rose a brow at her, rolling his eyes.

“Oh, please. If anyone was going to get fucked over it would have been you,” he said, making Grace sit up on her chair with a baffled look on her face.

Oh, no. I thought, realizing the two were about to get into an argument about who would have fucked the other person up. They were strange people, and they seemed to derive some sort of joy from it. I shivered in my seat, hoping to get this over with so that I could go for the rest of my classes and meet up with George at work.

As the two bickered I watched them, noticing how Harry’ face would go a bit red whenever Grace looked away from him. No way. I thought, watching as he played with his fingers. What on earth. I kept looking form Harry to her, trying to gauge if Grace knew what was going on. My mind was blown. Harry liked Grace, but I guess he already knew she was a lesbian, and that his chances with her were very slim.

“Okay, enough,” I said, making the two to stop exchanging words. “Grace,” I started, my voice a little low and my eyes focused on the table. Gosh, she was not going to like what I was about to say next, so I was braced for an explosion from her. “Please visit the counselor,” I said, turning to look up at her. Her lips had drawn into a thin line, and she was giving me a look that I could only describe as a death glare. “Please,” I said again, licking my lips before looking away from her.

“I’m not a pussy—”

“This is not about being a ‘pussy.’ You tried to kill yourself, remember? You need help,” I said in a firm whisper, trying to make sure we didn’t draw any attention to ourselves. Too late I guess, people were already throwing looks our way because of how loud Grace had yelled her last sentence.

Grace stayed quiet after that, and it looked like she was considering it. “Fine,” she sighed, resting back on her seat before folding her hands over her chest. “I’ll go and meet the counselor, but I fucking doubt that would do anything.”

I smiled, not even angry that she didn’t seem convinced, but she was going, and that alone put my mind at ease. “Great,” I said, grinning at her. Grace rolled her eyes at me, getting up from her seat before wearing her fall jacket again. She picked up her bag, looking over to both Harry and me before shrugging her shoulders.

“I’m leaving,” she simply said, turning and walking away. When she had disappeared into the crowd of students in the cafeteria, I turned my gaze to Harry.

“You like her, don’t you?” I asked, watching as his face took on a beet red color. His expression didn’t change, but how red his face was mixed with the way he was playing with his fingers gave him away. He really did like her.

What the hell? I wondered, squinting at him as I tried to figure out when this happened. I guess when they were both working together to try and get back at me, they might have spent enough personal time together to make Harry feel that way.

“She’s a lesbian,” I said, watching as Harry shrugged his shoulders.

“So?” he asked, drumming the tip of his fingers against the wooden table. “Does it really matter. It’s not like she thinks I’m a dude anyway,” Harry said, making me grimace before shaking my head. No, no, no. Harry might not be my friend, anymore, but I wasn’t letting him do this to himself.

“Are you really considering dating a transphobe?” I asked, watching as he looked from me to his hands.

“Maybe. We’ll have to start with whether she would even want to go on a date with me first,” Harry said.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Jesus doesn’t give a fuck about any of this,” Harry said, making me scowl as I looked at him, dumbfounded. His eyes just watched me as he sucked on his bottom lip; as if daring me to say anything he didn’t want to hear. I forgot how blunt and gritty his wording could be. Despite how strong headed and carefree Harry acted, it was a known thing that he had a lot of issues. He went extra lengths to pass. He had leg lengthening done, to appear taller. He’s done face sculpting and that’s why his face was unnaturally sharp. I don’t even think the dose of medication he was on was safe. All he wanted to do was pass. He was obsessed with passing like every one of my ex-friends, but at the same time, he had stupid pitfalls like when he would try and make holes in his logic to get what he wanted. Like thinking someone you liked misgendering and making you feel like shit was an acceptable compromise in a relationship.

“Well, good luck I guess,” I mumbled, watching as Harry nodded as he took out his phone and started typing on it.

“You should go. I’m going to get something to eat, so I’ll be here for a while,” Harry said.

“Oh.” Looking down at the time, I realized my next class was in less than half an hour. Harry’s right, I really should be going. I thought as I got up, ready to leave before Harry called out to me.

“Hey,” he said, making me turn to him with a raised brow. “Thanks. I think this is the final push to say goodbye to the rest,” he said, holding his phone. It was then I realized he might be cutting ties with them right away. I smiled, and he chuckled a bit, waving at me. I turned away, leaving the cafeteria, and eventually the student union building. My anxiety surrounding today was lifted, and things went a lot better than I had planned.

I was glad.

Things were really over.

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