Calling Affection

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Chapter 3 - Oliver

Oliver’s POV

So you’d rather I go to school with a 38.2 °C fever than miss another day of school? I thought, bitter at Mother as I rest my head against the dirty window of the bus. Feeling the love, Mother.

Quickly looking around to make sure nobody was around—nope nobody—I let out a long, loud groan.

The bus driver’s eyes flickered towards me for a second, giving me a ‘what the hell, kid?’ look before turning back to the road.

I sighed. Oh, woe is me. I have to go to school sick, deal with bitches all day, deal with a bigger bitch in chemistry, and then finally, go home and be a bitch at home.

If only those plans wasn’t tarnished with burdens like ‘homework’ and ‘chemistry project with an asshole’.

I got off the bus at the stop outside my school and took a long, deep breath in, getting all the irritation out of my system so I wouldn’t blow up at some dumb-ass piece of shit classmate.

Even sick, I wouldn’t let my smile drop for a single moment. Not unless I planned for it to.

I’m sure I could get away with not being ‘myself’ for a day, considering I was obviously physically ill.

But in the long run, it was easier to suck it up and fake nice anyways.

The last thing I want was a complicated high school life too. I had enough troubles at home. While I don’t care about others, I care about preventing others from creating trouble for me.

I made it past the gates and took a resigned look at the barred windows.

Gates. Barred windows. Was it a prison, was it a cage? No, it was a school, simply created and designed to feel like a prison or cage.

“Oliver! Hey!” I heard a cheer when I walked through the main doors.

I immediately grinned in the direction of the voice, making myself appear as soft and friendly as I could.

“Hello, Emily, Drake.” I didn’t raise my voice, so Emily and Drake came closer to me.

We stood to the side when a group of kids—the soccer team—passed by, nodding back at whichever extras waved at me. Only when they passed did I continue to walk over.

High school and its social politics dynamics. It was a pity I was so good at playing a game I hated.

“Hey man,” Drake nodded, flashing me a smile when we met halfway. “Haven’t seen you in a bit.”

He wrapped an arm around Emily, who giggled and leaned into his chest.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. What was with the pointless affection? They were going to break up within two months. I would bet my lunch money on it.

“I’m out for a week and we’ve got a new prom king and queen,” I joked, nodding at their conjoined bodies. “You finally got together? Congrats!”

Emily beamed. “Thanks, Olly!”

I bit my tongue, barely stopped myself from cringing. Who gave her the right to call me that?! I despised nicknames!

‘Olive’ was on thin ice, but Olly, Ol, O, Lee, Liv, Livy, Liver—I would tolerate absolutely none of that!

But I just grinned and nodded.

“Why were you out for so long?” Emily leaned forward, eyes flickering over my body, hungry. “Did you get in a fight?”

I’m sure she would’ve loved that. Some juicy, fresh gossip. “Nah, just the flu,” I sighed dramatically, slumping against the lockers.

Emily leaned back, the disappointment of me not having some petty drama to divulge evident. She and Drake laughed at my exaggerated behaviour, ready to end the conversation, search for their next fix of drama.

“Oh, well, get better soon, yeah mate?” Drake’s eyes shifted to someone to the left. “Oh Jesse! Bro, I haven’t seen you in ages!” And with that, he and Emily left me alone.

I continued through the halls, wishing I had doubled up the pain medication before I left. Maybe even tripled, because the stupidity around me made my head hurt for reasons entirely unrelated to my sickness.

I barely kept in the irritated groan as I walked through the halls.

“OMG, ABBY!” Ignore.

Stop screaming, you saw your friend yesterday.

“Oh, look it’s Oliver! Hey!” Wave. Smile.

Who the fuck are you and why are you smiling at me?

“Rana, your tan is so cool! I want to visit Lebanese too!”

“I thought you were straight?”

You can buy your essays, but you can’t buy common sense.

“Omg, I got a text from Lina!” Gentle nudge from behind, polite apology.

Walk faster, fuckface.

“Lol, Ellie put on weight again!”

Your brain needs to put on weight.

Lucky for me, my locker was right by my first period class. Tossing my bag in, I frowned at the nasty smell.

Shit. That was, like, three old lunches that I was going to throw out last Monday, sitting at the bottom of my locker.

And it was Friday.

Oh well, I shrugged, not concerned. I’ll deal with it later. I didn’t.

I walked to my French class, when somebody got in my way, stopping abruptly in the doorway of the classroom.

This would be the part where I bump into him, fall over, he picks me up, and we run off into the sunset.

Yeah, no. I paused, turning to walk around him. I had no interest in angsty teenage romance.

The guy in front of me got in my way again. I tried stepping around him again, figuring he was one of the inconsiderate assholes who thought the rest of the world cared about his text conversation as much as he did, when he stepped into my way again.

My eyes flashed up to see who the asshole was. Juuuust my luck. No, it wasn’t Axel. My life isn’t a badly written cliche romance story.

It was somebody I faintly recognized to be one of the footballers—a fairly popular guy, who sat at the cool kid’s table—staring down at me.

“Sorry,” I gave him a casual smile and nodded towards the class he was blocking, trying to give him the hint to get out of my fucking way.

Polite, but firmly, I approached him again, and looking conflicted for a moment, he let me pass by, and I gave him a wave of thanks.

Weird guy, I thought, feeling his eyes follow me even as I passed him. I shrugged it off.

He was probably having his own issues. Maybe him blocking me in front of the door was supposed to be symbolic of his financial state, or his love life. Not my problem.

I was met with a couple of calls as people noticed me enter the class. Feeling the many eyes on me, I gritted my teeth, smiling politely as I let out a small sigh of resignation.

This was what I hated about being well-liked. Everybody was always in your face, attentive, waiting for you to mess up so they’d have something to talk about.

I gave them a general wave and head to the teacher’s desk, handing in the hastily scribbled homework I’d missed from my days of absence.

A convenient violent sneeze later, and the teacher was convinced to extend the deadline on my upcoming homework.

I restrained a pleased smile. This was what I liked about being well-liked.

I put my head down when I sat at my desk, and within moments I was surrounded.

Drake or Ashley or whomever had spread the word that I was out with the flu, and apparently everybody wanted it, because they wouldn’t get out of my face.

It took a couple more well-timed sneezes for people to leave me alone. But before that, I got a free cute travel pack of tissues from one concerned girl, another gave me a cookie, and another guy gave me a copy of his notes.

This was also what I liked about being well-liked.

I slumped over in my chair, covering a yawn. I wished I was shorter so that nobody would see me. 5′9 wasn’t tall, but I wouldn’t mind being a bit shorter.

Maybe I would stop getting aggressively hit on by the chicks if I was a bit smaller. But I did have a good face, so maybe not.

I knew my olive green eyes looked nice. The same couldn’t be said for my hair, though. It was the kind of messy, fluffy and curly nest in the mousy brown colour you’d find around every corner.

Otherwise, my virgin nose (that is to say, I’d never had it broken before. At least not yet) and lips sat neatly on my medium-light skin.

Frankly, I kind of verged on having that pasty colour that comes from spending the majority of your time indoors playing games or watching crappy tv shows.

Sports? Pfft. Exercise was for squares. I was round.

Metaphorically, anyways. My stomach was flat and my body was once compared to a woman’s in the locker room back in grade 10.

The thought was amusing, so I jokingly seductively flashed the guy my nipples and he laughed.

That didn’t mean I was totally unfit, I’d shape up when track season started again. And the girls who keep slapping my ass tell me it’s a nice one.

After wasting away in French, wondering if I could twerk—further proof I was sick—I let Natalie carry my stuff up to Math for me.

My fever had gotten worse and I just wanted to go back home and sleep. I missed my bed. But Mother told me to ‘pop some pills like most teenagers do, anyways’ and suck it up, so I gave an exhausted grin, repaying Natalie’s favour with the cookie I received earlier.

The mousy math teacher was a temporary replacement who had no clue what he was doing, and I felt a bit better watching him squeak around.

But just as I was drifting off, a prickling sensation running down my neck had me stiffening slightly in my chair.

Sitting up, I faked a yawn. I stretched out my arms, and then turned around in my chair, pretending to be stretching my back.

I was right. Two seats behind me and four to my left sat a group of guys who were undoubtedly staring at me.

I let my eyes scan them over from under my hair, stretching to the right and left slowly.

The first I recognized was Jayy... Jayy something, I didn’t care. Tall, dark and handsome, I’d never messed with him—6′2 hulks in leather jackets with intimidating stares aren’t the type I usually bother with.

But I did talk to James Kernell, the guy sitting behind Jayy.

He and I got along, even though he was a dumbass. He was my seat buddy in physics and didn’t ever seem to understand what was going on, but his goofery made me laugh, so I helped him out when I felt like it. His graphic tee was obnoxious today as well.

Beside Jayy sat Van Sileian.

I knew him. I didn’t like him.

He was too clever for me to like him. Intelligent, perceptive, and powerful—he was the type of person I tried to avoid.

If I was the villain of the story, Van was the protagonist. He raised an eyebrow when my eyes caught his for a split second. I pretended not to notice.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his auburn hair sway as he leaned over to whisper in Jayy’s ear, still looking in my direction.

My neck prickled. I’d tried to avoid Van at all costs. On top of being an amazing person, he was popular, sitting at the cool kid’s table next to his best friend, Axel Reaper.

In fact, I vaguely recalled that Jayy and James were both seated at that table, too.

I’d never had any reason to interact with them as a group before. Why would Axel’s crew of friends stare at me so blatantly?

I just had a chemistry project with him. Not a baby.

My neck prickled with the awareness of the eyes on me all class, but I didn’t turn around after that.

The attention made me a bit wary. I had no reason to be bullied—I wouldn’t let anybody bully me—so the off-behaviour when I was already feeling ill wasn’t very comforting.

I sighed as class came to an end without our substitute teacher doing anything. I’d just go online to our regular teacher’s website and copy the notes and homework.

I would have done that during lunch, but my nap was ruined by the freaky staring. I had a sudden urge to leave before anything troublesome happened.

Feeling a bit queasy, I strolled through the hallways during lunch, perfunctorily greeting people I saw.

Seeing Emily and Drake hooking up in the old English classroom only made my nausea worse, but the movement helped my stomach.

Unfortunately, both the subject content and the breeze trickling in through the window in History made my headache return.

And just my luck, I had Phys Ed right after. The locker room smelled like ass and hormones, and after changing, I trudged out onto the field.

The grass was cool, but it felt good against my sweaty body, even if I was shivering. It took me a long moment to realize I was shivering because I had the chills. Damn it, Mother, I knew I should have stayed home!

I closed my eyes for a moment as I trembled, intending to rest until class started. I felt my consciousness fading away, but I was too exhausted to do anything about it.

It wouldn’t hurt to shut my eyes for a moment, would it?

If I was lucky, I’d sleep right through the period I had next, and wouldn’t have to see a certain attractive but unwanted partner’s face.

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