Thankfully the only person I had to put up with in my last class – a double helping of science – was James. We were doing things with bunsen-burners. So while I was following the project, James was having fun burning this and that. I was glad when the last bell went and didn't bother waiting for Derek at the school gates like I usually would. Let Amber have him for all I cared. I was sick and tired of this.
“Someone looks grumpy.” I glanced up at the sound of a sickly, sweet voice. For once she was without her entourage and her expression didn't look conniving.
“And I bet your satisfied with yourself,” I spat. She made a little “o” with her mouth, then burst out in laughter.
“Wait, you really are? And Derek? Wow, I have awesome gaydar!” She laughed. Wait, what? Shitshitshit!
“Don't misunderstand, I just meant that he can do better,” I replied, but it was too late, I could tell by her expression she wasn't going to buy it.
“Calm down Michael, I'm not going to spill your secret. Unless of course you try to steal Derek from me,” she said. Her voice serious.
“Because I can really steal him, in case you didn't notice he doesn't play for my team, he plays for yours,” I said. Switching my bag from one shoulder to the other. I didn't entirely trust her on keeping it a secret. But I didn't have much choice at this point.
“Your right. You could never have a hope of getting him. Silly of me to think you did. Bye Michael.” With that she walked off. I glared at her back the whole time. A part of me, a very, very small part of me. Really wanted to prove her wrong. I'd obviously forgot about trying to avoid Derek because he came round the corner whilst I was glaring at Amber's back.
“Hey,” he said. He'd stuck his hands in his pockets and looked a little unsure of himself.
“Hi,” I said and began walking. I felt him follow, tasting the uncomfortable silence as we did. As we rounded a corner and left the view of other students he grabbed my shoulder and turned me to face him. I had to fight the urge to run my fingers through his hair. It always lost the styled look and got messy by the end of the day.
“Why are you pissed at me?” It was a fair question to ask but I had no clue how to go about answering it. I opened and closed my mouth trying to come up with some excuse, but everything I thought of was really lame.
“Is it because of Amber? I know you don't like her but she isn't that bad.” Oh yes she was, but I kept that to myself, just giving him a sureeee look instead.
“Do you not like the other girl? She said she introduced the two of you today,” He asked.
“No, Lily's nice. But I don't think I'm interested that way,” I replied. Derek laughed and shaked his head.
“You are the pickiest guy in the whole school, you know that?” Then he gave me a light shove on the shoulder and we kept walking. As far as he was concerned the tension had passed. And I guess he was right, only one person I wanted in the whole school.
“I hope this week ends soon. Then again maybe I should enjoy the time until the exams come up. Ugh, my parents are talking about university. First I need to get good enough GCSE's to get to sixth form college,” he groaned and it was my turn to laugh.
“You get straight A's, what are you so worried about?” I asked. I hadn't put much thought into which sixth form college I'd go to. But I didn't want it to be one of the stuck-up ones for really smart people. Except Derek's parents probably want him to go to a sixth form college exactly like that.
“Yeah, and you get B's without even trying,” he mumbled and I had to hold back a reply that they still weren't A's.
“Any clue what classes you'll be doing when you get there?” I asked, trying to stay on the safe topic we'd found.
“If I get there.” He placed a big emphasis on the if, “And no clue, my dad wants me to keep working at sports and my mum wants me to become a lawyer or something like that. She even said MP once.” I shivered at that last part. Derek hated public speaking with a vengeance, which is kind of funny when he seems so confident all the time.
“And what do you want to do?” This wasn't the first time I'd asked him, he always gave what his parents wanted, never what he wanted. It was weird to think that parents could have that kind of control over a kids mind. They weren't even bad people. I think they just cared way too much. I'm grateful my mum is happy as long as I'm happy.
“I don't know. As long as I get a decent job in the end does it matter?” Now he was giving the textbook answer and I couldn't stop myself from shaking my head a little.
“Well what do you think I should do?!” He asked, annoyed by my gesture. My mind listed about a hundred answers to that question and nearly all of them made me want to blush.
“Do what you enjoy,” I finally said. Pulling my mind to a more sensible line of thought and far away from the gutter. Already kicking myself for not just saying “kiss me” like I'd wanted to. At least my words got him thinking and I was grateful for the break in conversation.
“What are you going to do at college?” he asked.
“I know Art's one of the classes, no clue about the other three. Probably decide closer to the time,” I replied.
“And you aren't worried about struggling to get your art noticed?” he asked, eyebrow raised. I knew he was just trying to be concerned for me. But in that moment I felt just a little bit insulted. He hasn't exactly seen my art in around three years. We've never had an art class together since primary school, so why would he?
“I don't care about that,” I finally said. Knowing I couldn't really convince him I'd be fine. I knew it could take years. We reached his house and I grabbed the bag of my wet cloths, they'd been washed and dried now. I thanked his mum and told Derek I'd return his stuff tomorrow. The moment I'd closed the front door I lifted the collar of his shirt to my nose. Even though it'd dealt with a day of me it still held his smell.
“So you like the new detergent I bought?” I looked up at the sound of my mums voice and saw her raising an eyebrow, knowing smile on her lips.
“So was this your plan when you refused the umbrella this morning?” she asked with a small laugh. Mum was one of the few people who knew I was gay and she was perfectly fine with it. She also knew I had a big crush on Derek. It was kind of pointless hiding things from my mum, she just figured them out.
“It wasn't my plan to get soaked, but there was a plus to it,” I said with a shrug and flopped down on the sofa. Mum let out another laugh and went into the kitchen. I grabbed the remote and skipped through channel after channel, struggling to find anything interesting. I flicked past another channel then paused and went back.
“I know that voice,” Mum said moving from the kitchen to stand behind me on the sofa. I listened to him talk more about some new genetic development before flicking through more channels. I felt my mum stroke my hair for a few seconds. Not that she needed to, I didn't care.
“How about we just have take-out tonight?” she suggested. I shrugged. I didn't really care. I'd barely touch it like I always do. She continued to stroke my hair before letting out a sigh.
“You going to be okay?” I asked, knowing my mum was the more vulnerable one at the moment.
“Yeah, I'm fine,” She said, she was a terrible liar. I turned off the TV and stood up to pull her into a hug. I tried not to think too much as I felt her body shake from her silent sobs.