Rubber Band

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Oliver: Focus

It went well.

Sure, it could of gone better, but as first meetings go with someone one hasn't spoken to in ten years, he would say that went alright. Though, the entirety of the time, he was struggling to subside the ongoing torment of guilt whispering in his ear every time William's expression dropped or flattened or fell utterly motionless.

Oliver knew one thing, for sure; William Levi was most definitely not the same boy he'd met in that graveyard once upon a time, the same boy he'd shared everything with, the same boy who knew his most embarrassing secrets, what pissed him off, what he lived for, his favorites in all subjects that apply to the word.

He was different, in not only physical appearance, but emotionally and morally, and mentally.

Oliver could see it.

The lifeless look in his eyes, the constant downward curve of his lips. It was as though William was consistently troubled by a persistent ghost. A ghost of his past, one that wasn't keen on allowing him to forget; a ghost that nagged him and jostled him and spat orders and insults at him.

It wasn't overtly noticeable at first glance; it wasn't as though you immediately knew William was of a haunted nature. Oliver was simply observant.

And he had know William once, a long time ago; he could still know the boy now, couldn't he?

Oliver sighed as he slumped downward in the hardly comfortable, plastic formation of his desk chair, watching his fifth period, marine science teacher blab on and on about aquaculture and the sex lives of groupers and Atlantic salmon, everything Oliver found absolutely pointless at the moment.

He couldn't focus. He didn't want to focus.
He wanted to figure out the boy he'd abandoned, the boy he felt an irregular amount of guilt because of, the boy of whom had caught his eye and of whom he was determined to decipher.

Who had William Levi become in ten years?
And what had made him that way?

The questions were nagging him, annoying pests tugging on his ears, and tapping on his forehead, willing him into curiosity.

He'd seen Will in his literature class, just a period before, and tried desperately to remove his eyes from the familiar face but found it near impossible. Every so often, Oliver would find himself glancing at the back of the room, where William Levi sat hunched over his sketchbook, face hidden from prying eyes, in an attempt to learn something new about the mysterious boy, his long lost friend, of sorts.

But he'd gained nothing.
Not a lick of information.
Not a word, or detail, or inch of something new and unknown.
Just the top of William's black and blue haired head.

He'd sulked the rest of the period.

And he'd sulk throughout this one too.


At soccer practice that afternoon, Oliver found himself conflicted. His mind was racing with skeptic thoughts of action and conversation starters as he jogged his lap around the field and struggled to get William Levi out of his head.

Obviously, it wasn’t working.

So, he decided, if he saw William again, walking down the dirty cement sidewalk as he had merely a day ago, Oliver Emerson would approach him and invite him over. Invite him over? No, perhaps that would be far too forward of him. But he wasn’t exactly sure how else to gain his attention, to steal William away from school for a bit so they could have a proper talk, not just a quick “hello, goodbye” chat by his lockers.

He had to. He had to do it. He could do it. He would do it.

Suddenly, he was hoping William didn’t choose to walk by the field again today.
Suddenly, he was hoping his appearance yesterday was merely a one-time thing.
Suddenly, Oliver Emerson was terrified – and he didn’t understand why.

Sure, he had been nervous earlier, but this nervous? Where his hands were beginning to sweat and shake and fall clammy?

Then again, he was running laps with the soccer team.

“Oliver!”

He heard his name shouted from behind him, and he started, turning in his position, and beginning to jog slowly backwards, coming fact to face with Maxwell sprinting a few feet behind him.

Max scoffed breathlessly and caught up to his friend, the two running side by side, “Are you okay? Been a bit quiet.”

Oliver chose to simply nod and shrug the best he could as he continued his workout, “Yeah, fine. Sorry.”

“So,” Maxwell began, panting between words, “How was your second day of classes?”

Oliver chuckled and shook his head, looking down to simply watch his feet as they lifted and fell and lifted and fell, “Yeah, interesting. Really, quite interesting.”

The two teenagers slowed in their pace as they quickly reached the end of their lap, approaching their towels and duffle bags and water bottles, along with the coach standing straight, appearing wholly intimidating as he stood there in silence, whistle dangling about his neck.

“Well, that’s Laketown for you. Always ‘quite interesting’,” Max smiled, reaching for his refreshment and chugging down a large mouthful of rejuvenating water.

Oliver sighed and planted himself down onto the bench, eye narrowed in exertion, and lips chapped from the spontaneously cool air that had swarmed the small town early that morning, an odd temperature for such a warm place.

“So,” Maxwell began again, in the same tone as he had before, eyes wide, and smirk in place, a look of pure cheekiness gracing his freckled expression, “I saw you talking to William Levi in the hallway today.”

Oliver instantly reddened, cheeks burning, a blush so powerful he was sure Max would notice. Perhaps he’d put it off as over exhaustion from their earlier jog.

“Well, I – I – I was just –“

Maxwell leaned forward, one brow raised, biting his lip suspiciously as he stared his newfound friend down. “Were you asking him out?”

Oliver flushed, jaw falling open in desperate denial, “No! What, why would you – no, of course not!”

The redhead fell into a fit of ridiculous giggles, eyes glistening in mirth, cheeks wrinkling from the force of his grin, laughter loud and obnoxious as he fell harshly onto the bench beside Oliver, placing a hand on his shoulder comfortingly, “Relax, dude. I was kidding.”

Oliver groaned and placed his head in his hands, rubbing his eyes brutally, aggravated and exhausted, “Christ, Max.”

“It’s alright. I know you’re straight.”

“Straight as a rod.”

“But even rods have some dents in them.”

Oliver stared as his friend, eyes wide, and mouth open, eager to respond and defend himself, but the coach’s whistle sounded from behind him, startling him and his friend into motion, the two of them joining the others on the field before Oliver had the chance to say but a word.


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