A week had passed since the boys left and my mood hadn’t gotten any better yet. In fact, it was getting worst every single day. I didn’t even have the courage to call him. Besides, I didn’t want to apologize on phone. I wanted to see him and say it to him in real life because I mean it. Sometimes, Jacob used to come around in the evening but not even he could make me feel better. Funnily, the more I see him, the more I remember and miss Xavier. Of course, I was not watching soap opera. I was just utterly upset and guilty.
And with Nikki persistently tailing my footsteps since Xavier left and throwing salt every time she gets a chance, nothing was getting better. Kendra figured that staring at the empty chair next to me all class hours wasn’t making my day any better so she volunteered to sit with me until Xavier turn up.
Thank you, Kendra.
And sorry, Connor. But I really need my best friend these few long century-ian days.
Collins was explaining ’bout The Declaration of Independence and everybody was literally snoring away on their desks. I think I saw a blonde boy on the far corner drool. Yuck.
Kendra and I were whispering away (trying to be clandestine) about Xavier and trying to figure out why he would say that it was him who messed up with Jacob. We couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer still.
His brain is like Einstein’s. God only knows how his brain functions. Maybe he has ten medulla oblongatas or add to all the forebrains and midbrains, maybe he has east-west and north-south brains too. I seriously don’t understand him.
“Are you falling in love with him, Alana?” Kendra asked me quietly.
I started and gawped at her as my face began to heat up.
“What? Wh . . . Why would you ask that?” My tongue began to dysfunction.
She shrugged. “Just asking because you seem to have grown very attached to him. You guys are always together and since he left, your mood’s been kinda off so . . .”
“Wha... What... What do you mean?” My tongue began to dysfunction.
“I mean what I asked,” she stated, no joke on her face.
She was serious.
“You have grown very attached to him, Alana, just in case you didn’t notice. You go, he goes. You come, he comes. And you no more has a problem with that. In fact, we can all see you’re happy when he’s around and you’re as good as dead when he isn’t around like practically right now. You’ve been looking like a mummified zombie all these days. So I’m asking, are you falling in love with Xavier?”
I chewed the insides of my cheeks as I wistfully stared down at his desk like a love-sick dove. The drum inside my chest had began it’s talk-about-Xavier-here-I-go piece, hammering away like some construction was going on down there and I could literally hear all the noise of woods and bricks and metals clashing and crashing in my ears.
“I don’t think so,” I said barely audible above my breath. “I know he’s amazing but I don’t think I’m falling in love with him. I guess I’m just sorry for what I said.”
But even as I said it, I was questioning myself inside my head.
She took my hand which was on the desk holding a pen and said, “Whatever makes you sleep at night. But just don’t force yourself into anything, Alana. Don’t force yourself to love him if you’re not and also, don’t hold yourself back if you are. He loves you. We all can see that.”
I looked into her eyes. She smiled back at me comfortingly and I just wanted to cry on her shoulders. I would really have had if only we were not inside this boring history class. I was missing Xavier so much. I was very much guilty but that wasn’t the only reason why I wanted Xavier to come back soon; not only for him to listen to my pathetic apology but I was missing him, him as a whole, too... His laughter, his teasing, his smirk, his cockiness, his handsome face, his eyes, his presence, the way he look at me, the way he call me Mongrel... EVERYTHING. I MISSED HIM SO DAMN MUCH.
“Okay?” Kendra’s eyes smiled.
I nodded with a slow smile, “Okay.”
She meant every word she said and I trust her. She cared about me and she wanted me to be happy. She lightly squeezed my hand comforting me immensely. I smiled more. She smiled back. Then I turned towards the window and stared out at the clear blue sky.
He was the only thing in my mind.
Nikki and her minions appeared at our table in the cafeteria during lunch break.
“Hey Mongrel,” her shrill annoying voice chirped over my head.
I looked up and scowled at her in the worst way.
Who is she to call me Mongrel. Only Xavier gets to call me with that name!!!
Not even my friends call me with that name. If they have to mention that name, they always say ‘Xavier’s Mongrel’, bitch!!!
This ramblings and protestings, all inside my head. I’m such an excellent mental speaker.
Over time, I have grown to like the name he gave me... like Starburst. And it feels so good when they say Xavier’s.
Kendra’s right. I have grown so attached to him.
“You’re not to call me with that name,” I grumbled as I glared at her.
Bending down and pinching my cheeks, shaking my face left and right, she faked an even more shrill and chirpy voice with the intention to make fun of me, “Oh, look!! Someone’s sad and lonely. How cute of you, Mongrel.”
I swatted her hands off my face, “Don’t touch me.”
She and her minions snickered as if what I said was some Mark Angel’s Comedy punchline.
Well, keep laughing at anything like retards. Maybe you’ll manage to choke out a brain.
“Do you want me to call Xavier for you?”
You calling Xavier?
I snorted, rolling my eyes.
Bring it on if you have the gut to.
I wanted to keep my eyes rolling over and over again. Just didn’t know how to.
I doubt you’d have his number anyway.
‘Get your ass out of here, Nikki.’
‘Do you want me to rip off your head?’
Brittany and Kendra said simultaneously.
“Oh please, behave yourselves. I’m just trying to give Mongrel some real company,” she batted her fake eyelashes.
I wanted to pluck them out.
Having heard enough of her calling me Mongrel, I stood up from my chair and barked right on her face, “Call me with that name again and I’ll eat you RAW!!!” I pushed my face out adding more noise and anger on my voice when I said the word ‘raw’ at the end.
She and all her minions dramatically jumped a step back like migratory birds who fly in groups, catching their breaths and cringing. I mentally rolled my eyes. Drama Queens. And I must have looked really horrible because the next thing she said was....
“God! You’re possessed!!!” Nikki gasped, placing a hand on her heart as her priceless face gaped at me in shock.
“You’re right! And no sort of crap exorcism is gonna work on me. You understand that?! Now take that cheese face out of my sight. You look like steak!!” I shouted and I couldn’t believe myself that I really did it.
Alana, threw comebacks for the first time in history. Yay!! Take note of the date and the year, month, time, everything.
She caught her breath again and looked at me definitely stunned.
“Let’s go girls. She’s crazy,” she worked herself up and catwalked off, the minions tailing her like minions.
I scoffed and sat back on my chair. Connor, Brittany and Kendra were all looking at me with smug smiles on their faces.
“High five!!” Connor exclaimed, grinning, and raised his hand.
I began to laugh and high fived him saying, “That felt great!”
“That totally was,” Brittany raised her drink, “Cheers!!!”
We cheered and drank our soda.
And that was just another day.
It was not just me who was effected by the absence of the Almighty Xavier. David had been asking me for days when he would be back. He said he miss him. I know he did... just as much as I did.
“Why don’t you call him and ask him?” he suggested, getting out of the car when I dropped him to school.
“He’ll be back soon, David,” I sighed, “Probably tomorrow.”
He shrugged and turned away, shutting the door behind him.
“Be good. Don’t fight!!” I reminded him.
I had swore that I would make this a daily morning ritual.
He shrugged without looking back. He never say yes. Never. I shook my head - Minion Xavier.
Kendra and Brittany were waiting for me at the yard when I got to school. We walked to class together. Just another usual day.
Hart came in. Class began. This morning was a bit sunnier than usual. All of us were actually feeling hot... Too warm for a morning. Kendra sat next to me fanning herself with a small paper.
After about five minutes, the four lost boys who left for tour in Neverland appeared at the door. Xavier and Matt, followed by Hunt and Scott at the back. Xavier. My heart stumbled at the sight of him... After a long time. I suppressed the urge to run up to him and hug him.
He was looking more handsome than the last time I saw him; wearing a white shirt, buttoned down at the collar around his chest revealing a part of his prominent collar bone, with dark jeans and his Vans. The sleeves were rolled up till the elbows, exposing his strong arms.
“Do I have to remind you boys the consequence of being late for class?” Hart said.
“It won’t happen again, Sir,” Xavier said as they walked in.
Deja vu. That was how he showed up for class on my first day here. I couldn’t help but smile. Butterflies. Butterflies.
“Daily bread, Arquette,” Hart remarked.
The boys snickered and a buzz of laughter filled the class. Xavier smirked his signature smirk and I suddenly felt alive, like a vampire smirked back to life. The world seem so incomplete without that annoyingly charming smirk he’s born to do.
The significant pair of light brown eyes landed on me and I suddenly felt warm and... nervous. I ignored the urge to tuck back a strand of hair behind my ear.
“Oh,” Kendra mumbled, straightening her back, when she realized that she was sitting on Xavier’s place.
Xavier lightly nodded at her, signalling her to sit there and he went for a place somewhere at the back. There was a noise of the other boys laughing and cheering with their chums as they grabbed their seats.
“Alright. Settle down, boys,” Hart said.
As the noise died down, I sneaked a peek over my shoulder towards the back to catch a glimpse of the long lost Narcissist. My focus bumped into his piercing gaze and I bolted my face away as quick as I could.
It was impossible to concentrate in class after that though my eyes were glued to the board. I could feel his burning stare drilling holes on the back of my head and I paralysed.
My head shot towards Hart as if it was me whom he called.
“Stop staring at Ms. Lancaster and pay attention here.”
His boys’ laughter and hooting were louder than the others’ as usual.
“Love is in the air, people!!!” Hunt whooped loudly.
“I’ll try,” Xavier said.
He didn’t even deny it?!
Kendra was smiling brightly on my right. The temperature on my face rose to boiling point and I placed my palms all over my cheeks to cool them.
The class quietened down. I breathed. And just as I began to breath....
“There Arquette!!” Hart exclaimed, pointing his finger at Xavier, “I said no staring!”
“Seriously!! I’m just...” Xavier sounded irritated and the class just bursted into another rupture of laughter when he paused realizing what he just said.
Hunt and Scott even stood up to give standing ovation.
The names that his boys give him were all over the classroom.
This is embarrassing.
I lowered my face to the floor. Seriously... He was getting irritated because Hart told him not to stare at me. I could hear his deep voice chuckling quietly at his funny mistake.
After class, I met Xavier outside the classroom. Kendra left with Connor, Brittany for her Chemistry and I had to go for History, the class I usually go with Xavier. He was coming out with Scott. When Scott saw me standing there, he quietly left whistling lowly with a sly smirk plastered all over his face.
“Hi,” Xavier leaned onto the door frame with his hands inside his jeans pockets.
“Hi,” I breathed.
He looked at me not with the expression I last saw him with. He was no longer pissed... I guess? Yet he wasn’t looking as happy and smug as usual.
“It wasn’t you,” I said, “Why did you say it was you?!”
His gaze solemnly dropped to the floor once, jaws clenched, and looked back at me again.
“Would it make a difference,” he stated.
It wasn’t a question. My whole structure of a body went numb the moment he let those words out. It felt like a knock on the head with a hammer, nailing some senses in. I didn’t want to admit it anymore but he was right. It wouldn’t have made a difference. He would only be some other Jock who helped Jacob. But now that he’d turned the table to every bit of my expectations, he’d made the difference.
I never thought his thoughts traveled so deep. I tried to say something but my mouth felt dry and nothing came out.
“I was right. It wouldn’t,” he said and left.
When I went for History class after getting my book from the locker, he was already sitting there at our usual place. I went straight towards our place, looking straight into his eyes and settled down beside him.
“It wouldn’t have,” I said.
He looked at me questioningly.
I said again, “It wouldn’t have made a difference. But now you have. Things have changed.”
He said nothing and kept looking into my eyes, trying to read my mind but it felt more like he was reading the words engraved into my soul.
“Is that so?”
“It is,” I looked back with every bit of courage and breathed, “I’m sorry.”
His eyes deepened into mine.
“I’m sorry that I said I hate you and that you’re not human. I didn’t mean it,” I swallowed nervously.
“Alana...” he formed a smooth frown and then dropped it.
We didn’t have time to continue talking as Collins had entered. After taking the attendance, Collins informed us that the four boys will be tutored by for a week since they missed many classes. Xavier and I ended up together since we were assignment partners and also because my grades weren’t that bad in the recent tests.
“You don’t have to if you don’t wanna. Just say yes and forget about it,” Xavier mumbled to me.
Things have changed between us, Xavier.
I love being with you.
“Yes, sir,” I said to Collins and then whispered to Xavier, “Your place after school.”
He looked at me incredulously. I couldn’t help it. He looked so cute and I just smiled. His eyes twinkled.
“Alana,” he mumbled when I wasn’t looking at him.
“Hmm?” I turned to face him.
“I missed you,” he said softly; his face softened, his eyes softened, his voice softened, everything about him softened.
For a moment, we just stared at each other, our gazes locked, letting the words sink in. These three little words, people say it all the time. But when Xavier said it to me, it felt so much more... Like he was adding another meaning to it, a meaning thousand times heavier. The soft gleam of the burning fire inside his eyes slowly sailed me away to a space where no one knew, a space real but unseen, a space where only Xavier knew... and he had taken me there.
“I missed you too,” I whispered back.
He looked at me in surprise before he muttered, “Dammit! You’re ruining me.”
And then he grabbed my hand which was on my thigh and entangled his fingers with mine.
You know what they say... Butterflies in the stomach. I say, the whole damn Amazon in my stomach. It was like all the creepy undiscovered species of animals were tickling my insides. It felt so good. His hand was rough but it felt like home and I didn’t want him to ever let go of me. I liked it that way. It felt so right.
He squeezed my hand lightly in a way that said he would never let go, like answering my wish.
I smiled. From the corner of my eyes, I caught him smile too.
This feels good.