As Oliver drove home, hands clutching tightly to the wheel of his father's Mercedes, his current vehicle whilst he waited for his own, of which, shockingly, his dad had promised him in the next days, he thought constantly about the millisecond glance he'd had of William Levi.
The guilt was almost unbearable at this point. He had been a stupid, stupid child, ridiculously thoughtless, utterly menacing.
He'd thought it nothing to simply leave his home and push saying goodbye to his best friend to the side.
But then, it had sunk in.
The fact that he might never see William again, that he might never see his face, his grey, incomprehensible eyes, his skinny physique, his bright smile. Or hear his peculiar laugh, his deep voice beckoning Oliver over, his shouts of boredom or will to be spontaneous. But by the time it had hit him, it was too late. Oliver was miles away from the one person he missed the most.
And he hadn't even said goodbye. Not a word. Not an inclination.
He wondered how William did eventually find out. Perhaps he went to his house, saw the 'For Sale' sign outside. Or maybe, when Oliver never showed at school, he asked the teachers or the other students. Maybe he questioned his parents or customers that entered their store. Or, perhaps, he didn't care.
Maybe he was relieved.
Oliver scoffed aloud and shook his head, pushing down on the pedal harder, and glaring at the road surpassing him, sighing gratefully when he spotted his own address, and could finally put his thoughts to rest.
Pulling into the driveway, he stopping the car, yanked it into park, turned off the engine, tugged his backpack along with him, and leaped out, slamming the door behind him, shoulders hunched and face downcast.
He strolled up to the front entrance, wiping his feet on the welcome mat, and pushing his way inside, closing it softly after he entered, eager to dodge his parents and their, presumably, multitude of questions.
"Ollie?" His mother called, her voice echoing out of the kitchen.
He froze on the first step upwards toward his room, "Yes?"
"How was school?"
Ah. The infamous question. Never gets old.
"Fine," Oliver shrugged, slowly shuffling to the kitchen, where he saw his mother, slouched over the counter, eating an egg sandwich.
"Where's dad?" Oliver sighed, stepping toward the fridge and yanking it open, pulling out a gallon of milk.
"Work," His mother replied between chews, flipping through a magazine with her other hand.
"How'd he get there?"
"He should have just told me," Oliver shrugged, removing a glass from their newly stocked kitchen cupboards, "I would have given him the car. I could've caught a ride with someone."
His mother chuckled, "Making friends then, huh?"
Oliver scoffed, filling his glass with milk, before shoving the jug back in the fridge and reaching for another cupboard handle, "Somewhat. Just some boys from the soccer team."
"Oh! How lovely! The coach let you practice then?" She asked, looking up from a page about the best cosmetic brands in America, to stare intently at Oliver.
"Yeah. I made the team."
"I knew you would."
"And I knew you knew I would." Oliver winked, grasping a canister of chocolate powder from the shelf and dumping spoons of it into his mug.
"Any pretty girls?" His mother smirked, flipping another page in her magazine, one with a particularly provocative underwear model sprawled out along the width of the flimsy paper.
"I haven't even had the chance to think about girls, mom," Oliver chuckled, lifting his hands into the air exasperatedly, before returning to scooping the chocolate from the top of his mug.
"I know, I know," His mother giggled, her face brightening and then flattening as she watched him go about his mug of sugary liquid.
"Oliver James Emerson. Can you even properly consume chocolate milk?"
Oliver blushed and shrugged his shoulders, spoon lifting more sweetness into his cup, of which he merely slurped as it floated at the top. "The chocolate is the best part. Mixing it in just ruins the effect."
"It's not even chocolate milk any more, it's just powder!"
"With a hint of milk."
"You bewilder me, Oliver James." His mother quipped, unable to fully contain her laughter as she watched him close up the chocolate mix, and tuck it away in its rightful spot on the shelf.
"Well, as much as I'll miss this stimulating conversation," Oliver teased, mocking his mother's tone of voice as she chuckled softly, "I did, in fact, receive homework today. If you'll excuse me."
With a wave, his mother watched as he carried his mug of dark chocolate milk with him up the stairs.
He took each step hastily, unwilling to remain in the company of others, eager to have just some time alone. He shoved the door to his room open, shutting it behind him with a barely audible thump. His room was mostly put together, a mattress and duvet finally thrown across his bed frame, a wardrobe sat in the corner, an oak desk bearing his books and things, and a firm, mahogany dresser resting beside his door, bearing most of his clothes, or simply the ones that weren't still in boxes, of which marred his wooden floor.
With a huff of exasperation, he fell backwards into his desk chair, sliding along the ground as its wheels guided him sideways with the shock of his forceful descent.
He was conflicted. Conflicted with whether he should simply ignore William Levi, in an attempt to dodge the weight of his still present guilt, or approach him, say hello, reminisce.
Find out what had become of his past best friend, a boy he had been so very close to, in his time away.
A boy so very, very different.
He remembered past conversations, various occasions where the two of them would mention something arbitrary and discuss. He remembered so many things about one William Levi, but when he saw him now, it was as though the kid was a blank slate.
It was as though the boy he once knew had altered the entirety of who he was, and the curious aspect of why was grasping violently at Oliver's cerebral lobes.
"I want piercings when I'm older."
Oliver narrowed his eyes and glanced over his shoulder at his strange friend, pencil freezing in the middle of writing his name, "You do?"
William nodded his head, whilst Oliver went back to working on his second grade math homework, something William had declared he wouldn't be attempting.
"How come?" Oliver asked, writing out the multiples of two across the whole of his paper.
"I don't know. They add character." William shrugged and giggled as Oliver gave him an incredulous look, eyes wide and brows raised.
"They hurt bad though," Oliver informed him, expression turning serious and forewarning, eager to prevent his best friend from any physical pain.
"I don't care," William shrugged yet again and sprawled out across Oliver's red duvet, its race car design lying flat beneath him, as though he were stretched out across the hood of a vehicle. Oliver held back a laugh.
"What about your parents? Wouldn't they care?" Oliver pondered aloud, frowning down at his math homework, features twisting in spite.
"I'd still get a piercing whether they said yes or no," William beamed, sitting upwards and grasping one of Oliver's ink pens from one of the drawers attached to his bedside table, of which he used to start doodling on himself.
"Oh! And I want tattoos too."
Oliver scoffed, and shook his head, turning away from his math to stare at his friend, jaw hanging open in disbelief.
"What's next? You wanna work for the circus?"
Oliver smiled at the fond memory.
It seemed William hadn't cared what his parents said, because he certainly sported the piercings, from what Oliver had seen of him. Who knew about the tattoos. Or the circus for that matter.
The other thing; he certainly hadn't
All those years as a kid, William never showed any interest in boys. One would have never suspected he would grow up to be homosexual.
And open about it.
The ability to be open about something most degraded and diminished, certainly took a air of pride, which bewildered Oliver.
William wasn't proud. He was never proud.
Someone would pay him a compliment and he would hide his face, blushing, with an expression of shame. Oliver never understood why; his friend had nothing to be ashamed of.
But, perhaps, or he supposed, William was simply a timid person; shy and discrete. He always had been rather quiet, dismissive, unwilling to socialize. Maybe he was merely afraid he'd say the wrong things, or speak his mind, something he'd always had little control over.
Oliver shook his head, confused as to why he was still decoding the one and only William Levi, when he had far more pressing things to take care of.
Didn't he? He was utterly confused.
But as he stormed over to his backpack, and yanked out the Pre-Calc work he had yet to finish, he knew one thing for certain. He was going to talk to William Levi tomorrow, whether the boy wanted him to or not.