Rubber Band

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Oliver: Wounded

Friday had arrived quicker than Oliver had imagined it would, his classes flying by, nights spent doing homework paying off as he finally began settling in to his classes. When he had broached the idea of dinner on Friday with William Levi and his family, his parents had seemed perfectly fine with the idea, his mother blabbering on about the two of them as kids, his father narrowing his eyes and asking Oliver questions about who he was now, what he was like, all of which Oliver had shrugged to and said, “I don’t know yet.” His mother had declared that she would make spaghetti and homemade meatballs, a classic meal Oliver remembered eating quite often with Will as a kid. He had arched a brow at his mother and stated, “Are you trying to be nostalgic or something?”

And she had simply replied with, “Oliver James, there is nothing wrong with a little reminiscing.”

He hadn’t spoken with William since their little “heart to heart” and Oliver was growing more and more anxious by the minute. What if he didn’t show? What if his parents made dinner, set the table, and put on their best smiles only to end the night confused and furious that they had put so much effort into a nice evening and Will had never knocked on his door, never rang the doorbell.

Oliver swallowed nervously as he strode through Laketown High’s massive corridors, his heart racing as he slowly neared one very familiar locker, and one very familiar figure standing beside it. William was still avoiding him, and though he had every reason to, Oliver had thought they were over the trivial aspects of their slowly healing relationship. He’d found out that he shared his Physical Education class with William the day before, when he’d spotted the boy sitting atop the bleachers, headphone buds tucked into his ears, hidden beneath his black beanie and black hair, his head bobbing just slightly to whatever he was listening to as he scribbled in a notebook. Oliver couldn’t bring himself to pester him, admiring how at peace he looked, hiding in his music and his work, completely oblivious to the insults being thrown at him from among the crowd of brawny boys tossing around a basketball.

Oliver had soon learned, in his first week of attending Laketown High, that most of the school loathed William for being gay. He’d always known that Laketown itself wasn’t the most accepting of individuality or distinctiveness. It was known to be conservative, religious, ordinary and all-round so old-fashioned that Oliver got strange looks just for wearing a Doctor Who shirt out to the grocery store. He wasn’t exactly sure though, why the youth of the town had such a passionate hatred for him. He’d heard about nasty rumors, brutal words used to incriminate William as being something horrible, something violent, something vicious and persuasive and controlling. But Will was none of those things; Oliver knew that for certain. He’d grown up with the boy. He didn’t have a violent bone in his body, and those around him knew that, and they extorted it. They pushed him around, bullied him into submission, tarnished his reputation, forced him into a state of quiet suffering. Oliver was disgusted by it. But what could he do?

The damage had already been done.

Smiling at the sight of his old friend, hunched over his locker, brow furrowed, clad in black skinny jeans and a grey hoodie that appeared wholly worn down and faded, and his blue and black hair free of his beanie, shaken and scruffy, Oliver rapped his knuckles on the small, metal door, grinning wider when those grey-blue eyes lifted to meet his.

“Hey,” He stuck his hand in the pocket of his ripped, blue jeans and leaned on the lockers beside William’s own.

Will smiled a frail smile, of which wobbled a little, like a baby deer learning to walk for the first time, unused to the feeling, and simply out of practice.

Oliver was saddened by that idea; the idea that maybe, and most likely, William didn’t have any reason to smile all that often.

“Still on for tonight?” Oliver questioned, voice wavering slightly, his nerves so obvious Will was sure to notice.

With a nod, William cleared his throat and shut his locker, turning to face Oliver now, giving him his full attention, not glancing away to look down at his hands or off at something over his shoulder; he was staring directly at Oliver. And it was absolutely nerve wrecking. As if to clarify, as though a nod wasn’t enough, Will swallowed and watched Oliver peculiarly, “I’ll be there.”

Sighing in relief, his heart finally finding a steady pace once more, and letting out a shaky chuckle, Oliver bobbed his head up and down erratically, and smiled yet again, wide and liberated.

“Great. That’s,” He scoffed, shaking his head instead, deciding not to finished his next words, simply going for a soft shrug, glancing down and then back up at Will, gazing at his chiseled features, the sharp angle of his cheekbones, the light peppering of blue in his hair, how his lips were a rosy pink. What?

Feeling how quickly the situation had grown awkward, Will glancing around and shifting uncomfortably under Oliver’s gaze, Oliver swiftly grunted and let out a nervous laugh, “My mother is making spaghetti.”

Will arched a brow, “Spaghetti?”

“Yeah. And homemade meatballs.”

“You mean, like,” Will blinked, and then frowned, “like she used to?”

Oliver nodded and let out a low chuckle, “Exactly. She said she was going for an air of nostalgia.”

William looked at his feet, eyes closing painfully, and head hanging just slightly, as though in despair, in defeat. “She remembers that?”

Oliver’s brow furrowed and he nodded yet again, watching as William grimaced as though pained by his response, as though he had expected to hear it but hadn’t wanted to.

Oliver was so distracted by his expression that he missed the quiet mumble, a few words murmured under his friend’s breath, and within an instant Oliver was clearing his throat and shaking his head, “What?”

William sighed and glanced back up to face him, “She could have called too.”

As though on cue, Oliver’s blood ran cold and his muscles ached with guilt. He had broken this boy. Really, truly broken him. God.

Before Oliver could respond with yet another apology, a far more desperate and agonizing one, Will coughed awkwardly, shifted, slammed his locker shut and muttered, “See you tonight,” and then sped away, never stopping to look back over his shoulder at Oliver’s wounded expression.

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