One Murder For Another

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Chapter 6

The could and callous Khalil that Mina had seen on the first day of school in homeroom had decided to make a reappearance. That day she had given him the benefit of the doubt, he was at a new school with new people all around him and he was only trying to survive like the rest of them, but the way he had banged his fist down onto the lunchroom table and stormed through the school, the way he had turned around on her with a look of pure ferocity twinkling in his eyes made her question her friendliness with this student she knew nothing about. She wanted to believe that the rumors about him were just rumors, but a part of her began to question everything.

“He definitely has....some issues” Noah rolled her eyes, sitting atop her desk her legs crossed in contempt. She was wearing fishnet stockings paired with the same front-lace combat boots she always wore, her makeup an extreme of bright blues and greens reflecting her eccentric personality.

“He was-he was upset Noah!” Mina exclaimed, she felt compelled to defend him though in her head she heavily agreed with her friends argument. “They were making fun of him...teasing him. What did you expect him to do, sit down and take it.”

“No” she threw her hands into the air and a few stopped to stare at the intensity of their conversation, receiving murderous looks from Noah before they moved on their way. “But I also didn’t expect him to hulk out on us.” she chuckled. Mina didn’t understand how any of her friends could find humor in the situation, she was to conflicted to even be able to think straight.

“He just..got a little angry.” So angry that he screamed in her face and scared her, but she didn’t tell them that, she didn’t want to give them another reason to validate the rumors floating around the school. It was best for everyone if they all just forgot that entire lunch exchange had even happened, though she had as much luck making her friends forget as she did of draining the Rio Grande with a straw. “Just-just leave him alone, ok?”

Noah smirked, her eyebrows raised in questioning. “You don’t even know this kid!” she scoffed. “Why do you care so much if we pick on him?”

“Why don’t you?” Mina snapped back, and Noah’s eyes almost grew as dark as Khalil’s at Mina’s insinuations. “Hailey and all the other girls on the cheer team treat you the same way as you treat Khalil.” There was silence between them for a moment before Noah spoke once more, her eyes down trodden this time as she played with the hem of her green plaid skirt.

“He gives us a bad feeling....he gives me a bad feeling M.” her voice was quiet and reserved, a tone Mina wasn’t used to hearing from her friend, her anger slowly dissipating with each word Noah spoke.

“Yeah” Sigh. “And you guys probably give him a bad feeling to.”

The entire air of the room seemed to change when Khalil stepped through the door frame, the laughter changed to jeering and the smiles to smirks, a target on his back every where he trekked. His face still wore the same look of guilt as it had yesterday in the hallway, and his eyes were downcast only ever looking at the reflective tiles below him. Mina couldn’t help herself, though she still had reservations about being near him, she also couldn’t stand the sight of his defeated face. With one look look at him, and once glance back at Noah still sat atop her desk she tiptoed her way across the room to where Khalil sat at his desk sulking. Eyes followed her all the way to the back of the room, but no one dared to give her a word of warning, no one dared to say a thing.

“Hi.”

Khalil didn’t look up and Mina noticed him holding on to the metal pendant around his neck once more, she hope she wasn’t making him more anxious.

“Are you ok?” There was still no response from Khalil, though he did stir in his sit a little uncomfortably.

“Listen” she began, he own hands beginning to move restlessly by her side. “About yesterday-”

“I’m sorry.” Khalil blurted before she could get another word out, and though Mina was relieved he had broken his silence, she found herself feeling guilty at the regretful look written across his face and glimmering in his caramel eyes.

“I’m really sorry.” she felt as if his eyes were boring into her soul, looking into the deepest parts of her that no one else could see and it scared her more than his yelling. She wanted to comfort him.

“I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of apologizing lately” he attempted a laugh, but it came out strangled and forced, he played it off, clearing his throat. “But I really do mean it.”

Mina opened her mouth to speak, but Khalil didn’t give her a chance to get the words out, he kept plowing on. “Yesterday..yesterday I-I let my emotions get the best of me. I got angry and I’m sorry. But it-it’s hard being in a place where you know you know you’re not wanted, surrounded by people who don’t even know you but are determined to make your life miserable just because they can.”

Mina felt like they were talking about more than just the lunch fiasco yesterday.

“I’m sorry I scared you yesterday, and I want you to know that I won’t ever make you scared again.” There was finally silence between them, and she realized that he was done.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. You reacted the way any person would have in the situation.” Half-truth, but she was on a roll now and she didn’t want to stop.

“And you don’t need to apologize for that, if anyone need to be sorry..it should be me. I’m the one who dragged you over there in the first place, when I knew that it probably wasn’t a good idea, and I’m really sorry I put you in that situation in the first place Khalil.”

“It’s fine. You’re friends are just-”

“Assholes.”

He laughed. A genuine actual whole-hearted laugh that reached the even the corners of his eyes. She wished she could have captured the moment, replaying it over and over to see the way he shone when he wasn’t burdened by fear.

“I was going to say jerks” he smirked, “but assholes works too.”

“Do you want to go to a party?” Mina hadn’t meant to blurt the words aloud, but nevertheless, they were already floating through the air.. Khalil’s smile contorted into a confused smirk.

“A party?”

“Yeah” he voice came out a squeak, her lips pursed together as she mentally berated herself for her lack of self-control. Her friends had quite literally almost sent him into a blind rage and now she wanted to put them all in the same place again, this time surrounded by alcohol and multiple eye witnesses, the whole idea seemed like an explosion waiting to happen. Then why did Khalil look like he was actually considering her offer?

“What kind of party?”

“A birthday party.” She left out the part that it was Chris’s birthday party. She had a feeling if Khalil knew that he was going to a party for the guy who had humiliated him, he might have a change of heart.

“Will your friends be there?” Khalil asked, though this time his eyes were trained on something over her shoulder. She assumed it was Noah, eavesdropping on their conversation like a fiend. She had to chose her answer carefully.

“Yes.” she finally nodded her head in confirmation, “but we don’t have to hang out with them if you want to.”

“I don’t want to.” Another smile, it was amazing how fast he went from looking like he was in pure agony to smiling from ear to ear. His emotions were all over the place.

“Ok” she didn’t know what else to say. “Umm..” A stray pen on an empty desk caught her attention and she grabbed the matte black material into one hand and Khalil’s arm in the other. She could feel his eyes following her every movement as she etched away on the skin of his wrist and she could have sworn that she he had felt his entire body tense at her touch. She had probably only imagined it.

“I’ll pick you up at nine?” Khalil nodded silently in response, his eyes scanning over the wet black ink on his arm as if he had grown a third limb. Mina wasn’t used to that reaction, but it made her smile nevertheless. Now all she had to do was manage to keep her friends away from Khalil and Khalil away from them, especially Chris.

Noah’s glaring eyes were blazing red with anger, along with everybody else who had just witnessed her interaction with Khalil and already she could hear her name floating about the room with disdain. She hoped that the party would help get her out of her head and enjoy herself for the first time in weeks, but she was starting to get an aching pit in her stomach and the feeling that she was going to regret this Saturday morning.

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