Deep breaths. Easy breathing.
Inhaling, exhaling, all that good stuff.
Oliver cleared his throat uncomfortably as he strolled from the school parking lot, on the lookout for a familiar face still so very unfamiliar. He frowned, eyes searching through the crowd of students entering the school, slowly arriving, their parents dropping them off, buses pulling in, bikes being parked, skateboards skidding across the gravel.
After a minute of quick observation, he spotted the small blonde that had been so very helpful on his first day, pointing him in the right direction, informing him of which corridors went where, which doors held which classrooms.
He sighed calmly, pulled himself together, and jogged forwards toward the small figure entering through the school's large, blue double doors, appearing so very disproportionate with her mousy, timid expression and her thin ponytail.
"Hey!" He called out, squeezing past students crowding together around the entrance, making his way after the girl, careful not to slip on the white tile flooring of the school's corridors.
She turned slowly in her steps, gazing at him skeptically as she passed several rows of lockers, movement trained forward, determined and unwilling to stop for whatever it was he might want.
He slid up and over to her, trotting by her side, and adjusting his backpack, of which had been close to flying off his shoulder, smiling a hesitant smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
She glanced at him, expression shy and dread obvious in the twist of her features, "Lost again?"
Oliver let out a sharp laugh and shook his head, nervous and agitatedly anxious, "Looking for someone actually."
The small girl froze in her steps, eyes blinking and fearfully wide, stopping to turn his way, expression immediately reverting to a stoic gaze, fixed on his eager stance. "Who are you looking for then?"
Oliver cleared his throat, "Um, William Levi?"
Her response was instant; at the mention of his name, her eyes, merely her eyes, glanced to the side, indicating to an area further down the hall of lockers, where a shadowed silhouette of a lonely boy stood, fiddling with the code on the blue, metal door. Oliver frowned, turned slightly to his right, and saw the exact figure he'd been looking for.
Swallowing, he took in the lanky being, blinked harshly, and then clapped the small girl on the shoulder, remaining utterly gentle, the relief genuine on his features.
Her eyes widened and she shook her head, turning to follow him as he jogged off in the direction of his old friend, a boy he once knew so well, a stranger to him now.
"Wait, wait!" She called out before her footsteps stopped and she merely watched Oliver hurry towards the boy, backpack flailing to and fro.
Oliver swept through the crowd of people, dodged the larger teens, and inched past the smaller ones. He watched from his slow approach as William managed to yank the door of his locker open, removing a few things from his backpack that sat by his feet.
Oliver's heart was pounding; he could feel it in his ears, behind his eyes, in his head. It was throbbing, pulsating, longing to come face to face with the boy he had once never separated from.
With a deep breath, and one final leap forward, he stopped beside the open door of the blue locker, expression hopeful, brows raised in anxious excitement.
William continued to tuck things into the small rectangle, placing what looked like a sketchbook and sketching tools down upon one of the single shelves.
Oliver was frozen.
Frozen in the exact spot he stood, lost and uncertain, brain whirling through a mix of unwarranted decisions.
Tap him on the shoulder?
Clear his throat?
In the end, he had to do neither.
The black and blue mop of hair turned upwards, the boy's body lifting slowly, and suddenly Oliver was meeting the startled crystal clear bluish, slightly grey, eyes he'd been meaning to see up close and personal merely a few moments ago.
Now he was beginning to regret his own desires.
For some unknown reason, the word that came to Oliver's mind was ethereal. An exotic and beautiful face stared directly through him, cheekbones outstanding and as sharp as daggers, jaw line smooth and thoroughly noticeable. William Levi had gone from a flimsy, overgrown barbarian with blonde curls and curls and curls to a surreal, pale, skinny dark-haired Angel.
And Oliver was not oblivious to the warmth growing in his gut, to the butterflies in his stomach, to the pounding of his heart all the way up in his throat. He merely gazed at the unexplainable eyes glowering over at him.
William's stance was awkward and uncomfortable, hands still grasping a forgotten sketchbook, backpack still sitting beside his tattered converse. And then, all at once, he was moving again, as if nothing had happened, as if his long lost friend wasn't standing a mere few feet before him.
Oliver swallowed, pushed the ever-present, familiar flashbacks to the corner of his mind, and sighed, masking an expression of supreme bliss and excitement, "Remember me?"
Stupid. Stupid! Remember me? Really? How inconsiderate was he?
William scoffed to himself, tossed
his sketchbook angrily into his locker, expression stoic and emotionless, and
slammed the blue door shut, "Of course. How could I forget?"
For a split second, he grinned, subtle and fierce, before spitting out, in his deep luxuriant baritone, "Oliver Emerson."
Oliver shivered at the underlying ferocity, before schooling his expression and smiling, friendly and reverently, reaching out with an extended hand, "Look at that. And I surely remember you, William Levi."
William arched a brow, and then lunged forward, grasping Oliver's palm, pale complexion meeting tan complexion. Oliver swallowed and exhaled deeply to keep his composure, observing how very warm William's hand was, when it certainly didn't look it; in fact, William looked cold in general, harsh and frigid, overtly uninviting.
When it was clear William wasn't going to say another word in response, Oliver bit his lip and met those surrealistic eyes, "When was the last time we saw one another? Beginning of first grade?"
And then, William was smirking. Widely and menacingly, as though taunting Oliver with a shameful glance.
"Perhaps when we last hung out and you forgot to mention you were moving."
Awkward, terribly nauseating silence overtook their position in the hall, the inaudible noise drowned out amongst them, neither boy hearing the slamming of lockers, or the jocks and their insults, the ringing of cellphones, or booming of footsteps.
"But you're back," William began, sarcastically enthusiastic, thankfully initiating the conversation, much to Oliver's gratitude, "How very thrilling."
Oliver nodded, slowly and nervously, swallowing his desperate emotions, "Yeah. It's great. You know," He chuckled, cheeks reddening, "seeing familiar faces, meeting new people, reliving the culture and the town."
"I'm sure," William clipped, sneering wildly.
Oliver smiled, "And how are you? Your parents still work over at that old antique shop?"
Oliver watched as the entirety of William's expression fell flat, not an inch of pain, or anger or resent.
Just nothing. Nothing whatsoever.
"No, unfortunately," he responded, voice nearly monotone, uncaring, perhaps even slightly, uncharacteristically, hateful.
"Oh. That's too bad." Oliver adjusted the strap of his backpack, clearing his throat with an indiscrete sigh.
"Yes, I believe its now part of a shopping mall. But, who knows." William shrugged, glancing off at something over Oliver's shoulder.
"That place was great."
Oliver snickered softly, politely, his nerves acting up again, as he took a deep breath, "Well, tell them I said hello, won't you? We gotta catch up soon."
It took William a moment, a moment in which his features hardened and his entire being stiffened, as though increasingly irritated, "Sure, yeah."
Oliver took a step backward just as the five minute bell rang, piercing his ears and lulling him away from his used-to-be friend, "See you later Will."
William merely froze, stance stiff once again as Oliver turned away, eyes releasing the slack expression of William Levi, and those stubborn memories finally giving him a well-deserved break.