Flake & Flare

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Chapter 3 - SOMETHING IS OFF

It was 3 am when I suddenly woke up from a dream which I can't remember. My mouth was all dried up. I slowly walked to the pantry without making any noise because I was careful not to wake anyone.

The night was very warm, so I went out to the balcony with a glass of water. I'm a nyctophile. I love to look at the moon with all the shining stars. Facing the cold breeze and looking at the beautiful sky, it felt like heaven. It was calm and quiet, that even the sound of a water drop could be heard. I was enjoying this silence for a while. But suddenly something caught my eye. I saw a standing figure down in the garden. And the next moment I was running down the stairs.

It was Zayn, Zayn Redfield. What is he doing outside at this hour? I didn't mind because this is the best chance for me to talk to him. I need him to be my friend and more than that I need him to look at me. I can't tolerate being ignored. Not anymore.
"Zayn!" he twitched. But he didn't look back. I repeated. I need him to look at me. I need him to say something. He slowly started to walk away. Is he rejecting me? Why? What did I do to him? But all I could say was "Zayn" I was almost pleading.

This time he stopped and turned back. And for a moment our eyes locked up. Those black eyes were like endless pits Those were filled with thousands of mysteries.
"What do you need?" his voice was cold. It was colder than ice. I could feel it. He was standing only two feet away. But it felt like we were on two different planets. Zayn was not my childhood friend anymore, he is a stranger. Some sought of alien. I knew it from the moment I met him. And now I am sure than ever. He is not the person I knew.
"I'm sorry. Good night" I muttered and rushed to the bedroom. I was embarrassed by myself. Even for a moment, I thought he'd talk to me. Now I know things would never be the same. Every inch of my body was freezing painfully but it was not because of the weather. I closed my eyes but never slept because all I could see was those deep black eyes that were darker than the universe.

Days passed. We began to organise our team. We filled in all the documents and sheets that were given by the headboard. Chris was a technology expert. So things, we're easier for us. We also learned a lot about Camp Atlantis. This was not a mere teenage camp, it was a camp to train secret agents against illegal activists!!!
This week completely changed our lives. We went for the lectures of the headboard to learn its history. We were trained with
Marshall arts which we girls were weak. But to our consent, Jake was selected as the top warrior of the batch.

By now our team had the spotlight of the batch. We had an IT expert, a top warrior, head boy and head girl in the team. And the last is the worst. I and Zayn had to attend special meetings of the headboard from time to time. But the worst is that we both ignored each other. To be accurate we were like robots when dealing with each other.

At the end of the week, we were all exhausted. We all had a hard time understanding and embarrassing the sudden changes in our lifestyle. But we forgot all these hardships at the dinner. It was the best time of the day where we talked, laughed, argued, cried and shouted our emotions.

Remarking to the end of an awful week we got three completely free days.
"Guys! we must enjoy these free days", it was Stacey's idea at the dinner table.
" Enjoy? What? being a secret agent?"Phoebe was still having a hard time with the new concept. I pat her shoulder"Phoebe, everything will be fine" I assured her. But deep inside I was not sure.

The next day, I woke up early in the morning. I felt like I'm responsible for the happiness of my team. Yes, I was not the carefree girl anymore. Camp Atlantis had done great work in inculcating new principles and responsibilities in our lives.

I was enjoying the morning view in the garden with my mug of tea. I loved to see the mist on flowers and leaves. Watching the water droplets doing their best to survive refreshes, my soul. It was my involuntary reflection that turned me back with the sounds of the steps. I was surprised to see Zayn standing right behind me.
"Umm..., Good morning Zayn" I did my best to act normal. I still hated the idea that we were not friends. But my instincts said that I should not meddle with this person.
"Can we talk?" that was the best I've heard from Zayn so far. Those words were not cold but my body had already started to freeze. It is a different feeling. It was not painful like that night.

We sat on either side of the garden table. Zayn kept staring at me for a while. Thanks to the cup of tea, I was able to get away from that awkward moment.
"I'm sorry" I heard his husky voice. deliberately I looked at him. I could not see the slightest bit of emotion on his face. I did my best to verify what he was confessing. Many questions were running in my head but I had no idea where to start. But before I could say anything, "Don't ignore me" sounded like a warning. But still, I could hear a pleading form somewhere at the edge of his tone.
"Zayn..." that is all I could say before he left me all alone in the garden.

For a while, I was startled by this conversation. Apologies and telling me not to ignore is something I least expected. But this made my heart flutter. At least now I know that he doesn't hate me.

"Amy!!! What are you doing by yourself?" Jake's voice brought me back to consciousness.
"Oh! nothing just enjoying the bed tea" I wore my most cheerful smile. Jake was followed by the rest of the clan.
"You wake up early these days. Is something bothering you?" Phoebe asked while patting my shoulders. Phoebe was right. These days my sleep was bothered with some dream which I don't understand.
"Not really..." I gave a playful wink."Guys, we enjoy these free days. What are we going to do?"I did my best to change the topic?
"I'm in. What about you Chris?" Jake questioned. We already sensed something off with Chris. Today, he was not the usual cheerful guy. His mood was quite serious.
"Hey!!! I'm going out" it was Zayn who grabbed our attention while walking out of the gate. He was already gone before any of us could speak.
"What is wrong with him? He never stays with us." this was something ringing in all of our minds but it is Stacey who said it out loud.

"Jake, don't you think we should tell the girls about it?" Chris talked for the first time, with all seriousness and he continued with Jake's nod."There is something wrong with Zayn"
"Chris! we all know that. He is not like us. And I think he doesn't want to be with us" Stacey snapped.
"No Stacey, that's not it. Something else is going on." Jake's serious face said the whole story.
"Somebody is blackmailing Zayn" Chris's words made me jump out of my seat. Yesterday morning at about 4 o'clock someone visited him. I saw this when I went out for some fresh air and only then I saw him arguing with someone right in front of the gate.

For a moment nobody dared to talk. My heart was beating fast and I could feel that coldness once again in my body. And this time it's neither pain nor happiness. It seems like I was about to explode.
"Amy!", it was Stacey. I knew what she was about to say.
" Jake, Chris...Zayn and I are childhood friends" and told them everything I knew about him, how he has changed and how he is ignoring me all this time.
"We should find out what is going on. Isn't it" Stacey is a sensitive girl. A moment ago she was enraged with Zayn and now she wants to help him no matter what.
"I don't think we can do anything yet. But now on we must pay more attention to him."
"Phoebe is right and Amy you should get close to Zayn. He is one of us now. We must not let him struggle alone." Jake was looking right through me. I just nodded.

So many things were going on in my head right now. I didn't tell them about our conversation in the morning. Now thinking of what he said, it looked like a pleading of a little kid seeking attention.
Time passed by. We did nothing special. Once in a while, we talked about Zayn. They all had a different hypotheses. But for me, I had a feeling of guilt, which I did not understand. It was nearly dinner when Zayn arrived looking like a mess. His shirt was toned and was covered with mud.
"What happen bruh???" Jake stood up as he entered. Zayn didn't bother to answer. Chris signalled me to follow Zayn but I didn't have an idea of what to do.

Zayn rushed into the boy's room and closed the door behind him. I just stood there completely looking like an idiot. Stacey brought me back to my senses. She handed over a mug of tea.
"Give this to Zayn and try to talk to him" I sighed, that is all I could do. I knew that dealing with Zayn was not that easy. I hate to see him staring at me with that ambivalent gaze But as Stacey said Zayn should talk. That is the only way to know what is wrong. We must help him. I can't let him be in a problem all by himself. I gathered all my guts. Today, I'll make him talk.

I was sitting on the sofa in the corridor when he came out. He was not a mess anymore. Zayn, the perfect statue is back. I instantly stood up.
"Zayn...drink this" I gave him the mug of tea while peeping into his eyes. He looked surprised. It's the first expression I saw from that statue-like face. His hand brushed against mine when he took the mug and it felt like an electrifying wave of shock ran through my body. I shuddered and moved my hand forthwith. The next moment, everything was fine. I refocused on my mission, I should not be swayed. Zayn must talk.

"Is everything okay Zayn?" this is the question I needed to ask him from the very first moment. He sat on the sofa without answering and I was not surprised. All I needed is to talk to him.
"Are you doing well?" while asking me eyes went through his statue-like face. These eyes were deep and mysterious than ever. But somehow I could sense the fear hidden behind them. His jaws and cheeks were all rough but I sensed a softness in the edge. I was wrong. Zayn is Zayn. He is the same kid I knew. I can see that kid behind this flawless statue. I can see that playful kid behind this serious guy.

Zayn's eyes turned into me. For the first time, I didn't look away. I let him read my face. I knew it was a thousand times better than speaking. He must know that I'm still his childhood friend home he can speak to. He must know that I am by his side, whatever the problem is. His gaze seems endless. It was not comfortable anymore. And once he stood up like a lightning bolt. And stormed down the stairs.
























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