Even though I'd expected it - even prepared myself for it - it wasn't any easier to deal with. I wanted to fucking scream. But I managed to make my face pull the exact expression I wanted it to - unsurprised, not quite resigned, but accepting.
"Don't worry about him," I heard John murmur as I walked away. For some reason, the fact that I knew Cay wouldn't worry about me made something inside of me snap. My fists balled up as I walked down the stairs, silently raging. Hadley was at the bottom of the stairs, watching me with this weird look on his face. I couldn't really tell what expression it was. All I knew was it needed my fist in it. So I whacked him as I walked past. To be honest, it probably hurt my fist more than it hurt him, but I didn't give a flying fuck.
I just walked straight outside and pulled myself up the rope ladder.
I reach the top and throw myself down on my ass, letting out a low moan as I bury my face in my hands. "Fuck." My knuckles throb as a light breeze cools them and I grit my teeth, lifting my head so I can rub them. As I look up, Hadley appears, walking across the roof toward me, Caleb following behind at a distance.
"Sorry," I mutter as he reaches me.
"I fucking warned you. I warned you and you knew it was coming either way," he says harshly, and I nod.
"I said sorry! Fucking hell. Just because I knew it was coming, that doesn't make it any easier!" I snap, looking away.
"Okay, guys, let's just cool it. And could we maybe get off the roof?" Caleb suggests. I ignore him, hugging my knees to my chest, looking out over the road below us. I hear Hadley draw in a deep breath, trying to keep his temper in check.
"Look, I know it's hard but hiding up here isn't acting like it doesn't bother you," he says. I groan inwardly, knowing he's right. After a moment, I nod and look up at him.
"Yeah," I mumble quietly, getting up.
"Does this mean we're getting down now? Heights really freak me out," Caleb says anxiously.
"You didn't have to come up here," I mutter, reluctantly moving back towards the ladder.
"Well you need at least one voice of reason up here."
"Appreciated. You first," I gesture towards the ladder.
"Thank fuck." He races down the ladder and I follow him quietly. Hadley waits a few moments before joining us back on terra firma. I wander into the kitchen and notice my patches on the side. Y'know, it might have helped if I'd been wearing one of those before. I pull one out absently, and stick it to my arm, staring at the floor, trying to pull myself together. Caleb looks around, sort of nervously. Why he's nervous, I have no fucking clue, but as I'm about to ask him why he looks freaked out, he awkwardly hugs me.
"Sorry, bro," he says. I wrap my arms around him, trying to take comfort from someone who's pretty much a stranger to me still. "Hadley's not gonna be sympathetic, he's never been in love," he tells me and I nod, resting my head on his shoulder.
"He doesn't have to be sympathetic," I sigh, "I'm grateful for his help; he doesn't have to do any of this." Hadley walks in and I look up at him.
"How're we gonna do this then?" he asks. I let go of Caleb and lean back on the counter.
"With no more punching from me would be a good start, I think," I mutter.
"Chances are Cayden'll be oblivious to anyone else til tomorrow so for now I think you just need to put on a brave face," he says, and Caleb nods in agreement.
"And maybe make sure you and Hadley are together if Cayden's in the room," he adds and I glance at Hadley.
"Yeah, okay. I think I can manage that now I've had my freak out," a small, wry smile appears on my lips and I look back at the floor, keeping my breathing regular as I try to stop myself freaking out again. Fucking useless emotions.
"C'mon, let's go for a walk. It'll take your mind off it," he flashes a smile as I glance back up. Caleb nods again and links arms with me. With a shrug, I follow them to wherever they think I should be walking.