“Do you need anything else?”
Christian shakes his head as he swallows painkillers and chases them down with a full glass of water. “I’m good. Thank you, Princess.”
Since he stayed at my home, we end up walking to school together. He’s wearing the same clothes he did yesterday, wrinkled and disheveled. His hair is a mess, standing this way and that. He looks as if he’s been ill for days and is just now going through the healing process. The bruise on his cheek is dark and menacing now, and there’s a cut over his eyebrow. I didn’t notice that either when I was cleaning him up. He looks like hell.
“I still think you should stay home, rest more,” I say when we’re a block away from the house. We move at a slow pace, Christian finding a comfortable way to walk so his aches won’t increase. Right now he kind of shuffles and waddles like a penguin.
“I’m fine. You don’t need to play nurse anymore, Coconut.”
“I’m not playing anything,” I say, offended. “Why can’t you ever just appreciate anything? I’m being nice.”
“I’m alive, okay? Now leave me alone.”
The school is a block away, but he waddles ahead of me, onto the lawn and past the school, ditching. Again. Next thing I know I’m chasing after him. I really don’t have to run; he can’t go very far with the state he’s in. “Christian!”
“Leave me alone, Princess!” he yells mockingly over his shoulder, pulling something out of his pocket. He pulls out a lighter, and I realize that he’s lighting up a cigarette. I’m surprised, yet not. His bad boy image keeps getting more and more intense, more impressive. I’ve never known that he smokes until now.
He leans against the wall, throwing his head back. He brings a foot up against the wall and blows out smoke. I roll my eyes.
“You can’t smoke at school,” I say, standing in front of him.
He takes another inhale, looking me dead in the eye, and huffs it out through his nose into my face. I cough and swat at the air.
“When are you gonna get the hint that you don’t need to be here?” he says. “You never gave a crap about me until we were paired up for this stupid project, so stop pretending.”
I turn and see Cole standing by the trees, watching me, hand shading his eyes. Christian snorts, blowing more smoke into my face, making me cough again. “Look who’s here to rescue you, Princess. Go on, go to your foreign prince and leave me the fuck alone.” He flicks the cigarette at me and walks off.
“Hey!” Cole storms over, clearly after Christian for being so atrocious, but I stop him, holding him back by a hand to his chest. He looks at me, eyes furious. I don’t like this look on him. “You okay?” he asks.
I nod. “Come on.” I say softly, leading him away. He takes my hand and does as told.
Kelsey sits with us at lunch now that she’s back, and she asks Cole all these dumb questions about Korea and his mom and some stuff that I only half listen to. Cole watches me as Kelsey blabbers on like a child, his eyes worried. I look at him and smile, but I’m sure he knows that it’s not real. I’m not even sure what I’m upset about. Christian has made my life hell without even trying, maybe that’s why. I did this to myself, caring about him. I’m still not sure why I even care at all. Maybe it’s just in my nature just like it is in my mom’s; she helps people every chance she gets.
Why did that trait get passed on to me? Could Christian just be a defect encoded into my DNA? I feel as if I absolutely have to be nice to him, to actually care, but I don’t want to. He doesn’t show any gratitude. I practically babied him all night! I could have left him at the hospital, have the real nurses take care of him.
From now on, I’m not caring anymore. Not about him. He doesn’t need me and I don’t need him.