“You’re sure you’re alright to get home?”
“Yeah, I’m taking the coach down to the station and getting the train up to Scotland from there.” Diesel rolled his eyes, “Stop worrying about me and worry about your snobby parents instead.”
Quinn snorted and spared one last sweeping glance around the room. Things were still messy and disorganised, considering they’d be returning to their dorm straight after half term, but a few of his belongings a most of his clothes were missing, packed up haphazardly in his bag. “Well, I better get going. My parents are meant to be arriving at one.”
The idea of parents bothering to drive up and collect their kids was odd at Oakleaf. Most of them came from deprived homes and were expected to find their own way back for the holidays. The coach would take them to the train station, and it was the kids’ job from there. Quinn was just lucky, and people were resentful of that.
Diesel nodded in acknowledgement and tugged him forward, enveloping him in a brief, tight hug. “I’ll see in a week, brother. Call me, yeah?”
Quinn nodded, suddenly remembering the fact that they would be exposed to the real world at any moment. A world where phones exist.
He flung his bag over his shoulder, tucked his key into his back pocket and left the room. But he only walked a couple of metres before stopping again, right in front of room 113. And after knocking twice, he received an answer.
“You’re early.” Kit stated, a toothbrush hanging out his mouth.
“No, I’m not.” Quinn rolled his eyes.
“Yes, you are.”
Quinn didn’t bother to answer as Kit hurried back into the ensuite before returning a few seconds later and grabbing the last of his stuff. Before leaving, he turned to Benji who was hastily stuffing things into his bag, a hint of sadness ghosting his features. He was the only student who looked disappointed at the prospect of leaving hell. “You gonna be okay, kid?”
Benji glanced up and forced on a smile, “Yeah.” He promised. “Yeah, I’ll be alright. Have a good half term.”
Kit ruffled his hair one last time, “I left my number on the windowsill. Call me if you need to, alright?”
Benji hopped up from where he was sitting perched on the end of his bed and gave Kit a tight hug. They weren’t extremely close, but Kit had looked out for him during his first term, and he was forever grateful for that. “Bye, Kit.” He smiled softly, glancing over his shoulder to face the other boy, “Bye, Quinn.”
The two gave one last small wave before departing, walking side by side, their bags bouncing heavily behind them. Once Benji was alone, he folded up the piece of paper with Kit’s number scrawled across it and slipped it into his pocket. Just in case, he thought.
Lucky watched Sebastian from the other side of the room, packing the last of his things. “You’re such a cocksucker.” He groaned loudly. “Why can’t we exchange numbers?”
“We don’t need to talk over half term, Blue. I’ll see you in a week.”
“But what if I see like a really interesting bird or something? I’ll want to tell you about it.”
“Then tell me when we get back to school.” Sebastian snorted.
“What if I forget by then?”
“Then it clearly wasn’t that interesting in the first place.” Sebastian deadpanned. “Hurry up, aren’t your parents coming in like half an hour? You haven’t even started packing.”
“So, you just don’t want to talk to me unless it’s face to face?” Lucky remained where he was standing, folding his arms over his chest stubbornly.
Sebastian rolled his eyes incredulously and dropped what he was doing. He glided over to Lucky’s side and held his warm face in his hands, “I don’t want to text you kisses when I can just do this when we get back.” He whispered, leaning down to plant his lips over Lucky’s.
Lucky immediately took it a step further and snaked his arms around Sebastian’s neck, pulling him down for better access. Sebastian happily complied, moving his mouth in sync, his tongue parting Lucky’s lips to delve deeper, exploring every inch of his mouth. When Lucky sighed in content and let slip a quiet, satisfied moan, Sebastian reluctantly pulled back, “You need to pack.” He murmured into his lips.
Lucky grumbled in complaint and finally began to pack, stuffing his screwed up clothes into a backpack. It didn’t take long, just long enough that by the time he had finished, Sebastian needed to leave, “I gotta go, the coach will be here by now.”
Lucky didn’t want to drag things out. Sloppy goodbyes made him cringe. So he made sure it didn’t turn into a goodbye, it was merely a promise to see him again soon. “Have a good time with your family. Don’t forget about me.”
“Yeah and don’t forget to tell me about all the interesting birds you see.” He shot back sarcastically, grabbing Lucky’s collar and pressing his cool lips against his cheek. Then he left.
Lucky watched him go sadly. They’d been together for a total of two days and they were already being separated. It wasn’t fair. But his true fear hid somewhere else; What if he can never as good as Alex? Because he can’t compete with a dead guy, no matter how hard he tried, it just wasn’t possible. Besides, he didn’t want to compete with Sebastian’s ex, he was either good enough or he wasn’t, end of.
Sebastian’s ex. That didn’t sit right with him. Alex wasn’t an ex. They never broke up. They never ripped up old photos and cried themselves to sleep at their broken relationship. Technically, they were still together, but one of them was lying beneath cold soil with rotten flesh and a heart that will never beat again.
He was snapped out of his thoughts when he heard a soft knock at the door, before the hinges creaked to announce the intruder’s arrival, “It was open.” Benji said quietly, “The coach is about to leave. I just wanted to say goodbye.”
Lucky stared at his best friend for a long three seconds, his expression hard and unreadable. Then he strode forward and locked him in a bone crushing hug, their bodies pressed tightly together, “The offer still stands, y’know?” He mumbled against Benji’s soft caramel locks.
Benji pulled away first, forcing on a small, awkward smile, “Thank you. But I need to go home.”
“No, you don’t. Just come back with me, Pup. He can’t hurt you there, just—”
“Lucky, please stop.” His voice sounded so fractured with guilt and pain, it made Lucky stop talking in an instant. “I’m gonna be fine, please don’t worry about me.”
Lucky groaned loudly and shuffled over to grab the notepad he’d left under his bed, then fished out a pen from his bag. He quickly wrote his number in smudged ink, and an address below it. “Here. Come find me if you need to, alright?”
Benji smiled softly, “You live in Oxford?” He observed, glancing down at the note. “I haven’t been there in years.”
“Yeah, well pay me a visit.” Lucky shrugged, “It’s not too far from you, is it?”
“No, I’ll only be in London. Well, the outskirts really.”
Lucky wrapped him up in one last hug and they exchanged final goodbyes. Benji placed the scrap of paper in his pocket, right beside Kit’s number, and finally left. He didn’t return to his room, merely headed straight down the stairs and out the front gates, where two large double decker buses were impatiently waiting. Today was one of those rare occasions when the gates were left unlocked and open for kids to come and go as they please because today, they were officially someone’s else’s responsibility.
He hopped onto the nearest coach without a second thought, wandering down the aisles until he found a free seat by the window, plopping his stuff down by his feet and turning his attention to stare through the frosty glass.
Diesel glanced around halfheartedly for a seat, a smile creasing his features when he noticed one beside Pup, just waiting to be filled. He collapsed onto the cushy material and dropped his bags to his feet, turning to face Benji, “You need to stop blaming yourself.”
Benji resisted the urge to face him, keeping his gaze strictly on the towering building through the window, desperate for it to fade from view. “It was my fault.” He whispered.
“Bloody ’ell, it wasn’t, alright? What does it matter now anyway? He’s fine.”
“He was seriously injured, Elias.” Benji snapped, finally giving in to the urge and twisting his body around to look into those tauntingly mysterious eyes. “I shouldn’t have left.”
“It wouldn’t have made a difference. It would only mean that you’d be just as injured as him.” Diesel rolled his eyes, “And don’t call me that.”
“But Lucky didn’t do anything wrong—”
“And he got beat up. So what? Every kid at Oakleaf has been beaten up before. And if they haven’t, then it’s coming.”
Benji gulped, “I-I know.”
Diesel sighed heavily and slouched back in his seat. He’d never admit it out loud, but deep down, he knew that Benji would never be beaten up, not if he was around to stop it. He was going to protect him, just like he did for Lucky, but this time, he’ll make sure he rescues him before the damage has already been done. No one was going to hurt his Pup.
“Where you heading?” He asked, trying to lighten the mood a little. He vaguely registered the sound of the engine as the coach roared to life, the wheels beginning to drag them towards the train station. He knew he didn’t have much time left with Benji, he was going to make the most of it.
“London.” Benji murmured. “You?”
“Up north.” He shrugged.
“How far north?”
Benji rose his brows in surprise, “You’re Scottish? No way.”
“Why? Do I not match your ideal Scottish person?” He teased. “I’ll be sure to wear my kilt and bring my bagpipes the next time I see you.”
“You don’t have an accent.” Benji noted.
“It’s faded.” He replied simply. There was more to it than that; when he first arrived at Oakleaf, he made a conscious decision to suppress it. It was difficult at first, but eventually, his accent had flattened out entirely, not that it was ever very strong in the first place.
The rest of the journey was spent in silence. Benji watched the dying countryside zoom past the window dropping with condensation, while Diesel’s eyes darted from his feet onto Benji’s soft features and incessant fidgeting.
When the reached the station, they parted ways.