The next day couldn't speed by fast enough. My excitement was enough for me to stand Amber for the double helping of Art. I mostly just drowned her out and helped Lily, as she was so certain she sucked at drawing flowers. She really didn't in my opinion. English shot by quickly, this time me and Lily included Derek in the notes passed around. Though she did pass me a note asking if I was okay after yesterday. This one Derek didn't get to see for obvious reasons. Science was more burning of things which James loved. Lunch crawled by as I sat at the table listening to Amber chatter about the date on Friday.
“Oh yeah!” Derek said, remembering something. I saw annoyance flicker across Amber face at being interrupted mid-sentence but she changed her expression to a frown.
“Lily suggested we do paint balling instead, could be more fun. There's a place nearby that we can go on the Saturday during the day,” Derek explained and Lily's face lighted up at the prospect.
“Dude, if there's paint balling I am in!” James said, holding out his hand for a fist bump which Derek returned. I failed to hold back the urge to roll my eyes - something I noticed Amber did as well, only much more exaggerated.
“But then I'll get dirty,” Amber whined, her baby blue eyes making puppy eyes for all their worth.
“If James wants in, it becomes a group thing rather than a double date. So you don't have to come if you don't want to,” I pointed out and how I wanted to grin at her poisonous expression.
“Yeah, he's right. Why don't you go shopping with your friends or something, didn't you say something about needing a new dress for that party next week? The one your parents are letting you throw for...what's it for again?” Derek stumbled. And to think, he almost won himself a dozen boyfriend points.
“It's a pre-exams party. Get drunk and have fun before we're stuck revising everyday,” Amber said. It actually sounded like a good idea. But parties weren't really my thing. Besides, I had no invite and the idea of being in Ambers house didn't really appeal much. As if he somehow managed to read my mind – which based on his cluelessness, I'm guessing he can't – Derek opened his mouth.
“Maybe you should invite Michael and Lily to the party?” Derek said and Amber lips curled into a look of distaste which she quickly covered up.
“Fine, for you” She added emphasis to that last part and Derek smiled. James made that fake retching sound he always makes when couples act too cute and I laughed. Amber shrugged us away, muttering something about immature boys before getting up to head to her next class. Which was another history lesson. Least Derek occasionally turned to face me. Mostly he talked about how excited he was about the paint balling. I don't think its something we've done since we were ten in all honesty. Then maths which I had to myself. I was able to absorb myself in work and relax my mind. But as the time went past I felt myself tapping the desk impatiently. I wanted to get to this thing already. It wasn't like I expected to meet another guy there or anything, just someone who understands how frustrating it is to like someone who will never return or even understand my feelings.
At long last the final bell went and Lily was waiting with Kim. She said her dad would be here soon, so I waited. Then Derek spotted us and walked over.
“Hey, you want to head off?” he asked.
“No, going with Lily and Kim somewhere, I'll see you tomorrow,” I said with a small wave. He shrugged, murmured have fun and left. Amber was happen to take my place that day.
“So, how does this thing work?” I asked as the car started to slow down and pulled into a gravel parking lot. There was a small community centre in front of me. Nothing special but it looked like there were a few people here.
“Mostly just sitting in a circle and talking. But its your choice if you want to speak or not. There's also other stuff you can do. It's like any other youth club, only for those who tend to feel more like outcasts because of their sexuality,” Lily said with a shrug.
“And I'm guessing your bi right? Since you agreed with the date - 'Cause the alternative that you liked Amber makes me worry a bit,” I joked. Lily made a grossed out face and said that yes, she was bi. Then she led the way through the simple double doors. I slipped my hands into my jeans, taking in all the different small groups gathered and talking. It really did look like a youth club. There were some older people there too. They seemed to be debating and discussing serious things. Looked like some kind of campaign they were running.
“Lily, how are you?” Me and Kim looked up at the sound of the male voice. He had simple black jeans and dark blue button up shirt on. And huge boots. The kind no one wants to mess with. And a top hat. I got the feeling he was an eccentric. This was furthered by the fact that his jet black hair was streaked with purple and blue.
“Zack!” She threw herself into his arms and me and Kim exchanged a whats-going-on? expression.
“Guys, this is Zack, he's an old childhood friend from a barracks I used to live. Though his mum was smarter than my dad and quit the army. He lives close-by but goes to a different school,” She placed emphasis on the different.
“Hey, I begged my parents, they wouldn't let me leave that boring private school,” he replied, hands up in the air in a I-surrender gesture.
“Well beg more,” she moaned, her hand was round his waist and his hand over her shoulder in a friendly manner. These two must've been pretty close.
“These two are Kim and Michael,” Lily introduced us.
“Pleasure to meet you both,” Zack said, doing an exaggerated bow and taking off his hat. Yup, eccentric summed him up quite well. When he stood up he studied us both closely and I had to fight the urge to fidget under his pale blue stare.
“Your both still hiding, huh?” he said, as if it was obvious as day and night.
“Stop freaking them out with your intuition,” Lily said, lightly slapping his chest. He feigned hurt before sending us both a cheeky smile. I found I wasn't feeling quite as nervous as before.
It took some getting used to, having people be so open about it and I'd never felt so free to just say exactly what I thought. I wondered why I'd always put off going to one of these places as I sat in the circle of Lily and Zack's friends. They all had a wide range of their own experiences, some good, some really not. Zack hadn't enjoyed public school, hence his parents put him in a private school that had a strict bullying policy in place. I could understand why he didn't want to go to our school if his previous experience was as bad as he claimed.
“So, Mikey-boy,” He'd quickly given me a nickname and I couldn't figure out if it bothered me or not. Zack was splayed on the floor, half propped up on a cushion seat that Lily had stolen.
“What's your story? Everyone wants to know about the new kids,” He said with a small smile. Kim had already explained that she was still figuring things out but she was pretty sure of her sexuality. And now everyone had changed their expectant stares to me.
“What do you want to know?” I asked with an uncomfortable shrug.
“Start with how you found out?” Zack suggested with a loose shrug himself.
“Three years ago, When I realised I had a crush on my best friend,” I said with a small laugh. Which caused the majority to nod and murmur sounds of agreement. Zack watched me calmly.
“And is he?” I shook my head in reply. Zack nodded. A few sympathised, saying they'd had something similar.
“Have you told him?” Zack asked, his face was very serious now and I could see his muscles were a little too clenched.
“No, not yet-” I began
“Good. Don't.” With that he walked off and outside. The others shifted uncomfortably but Kim managed to think up a joke to break it. I sent Lily a questioning look and she shook her head. Not hers to tell I guessed. I quietly excused myself and headed outside.