The first thing I saw when I walked into the main corridor was James leaned against the locker, I could hear Derek's fast footsteps behind me.
“You okay?” James asked, so she had told more people. I nodded stiffly but the pause had cost me as I felt Derek's hand close over one of my shoulders.
“Can I talk to you?” he asked. I opened my mouth to speak but James stepped in for me.
“You or anyone else even think about giving him shit and I will make you realise what a true beating is.” I stared at James in shock. As did the rest of the corridor as he'd said it loud enough for the whole place to hear. I felt a hand slip into mine and turned to see Lily.
“Ugh, the guy needs to toughen up. Stop coming to his defence. Or we might grow suspcious of your team choice,” Amber said. Her voice contempt and disinterested as she opened her locker.
“You just don't care do you? You don't give a damn about anyone but yourself,” I said, eyes narrowed and she raised an eyebrow.
“You only just picking this up?” she asked. I sneered at her.
“I can't believe I actually felt sorry for you for a split second. Keep doing what your doing to your body. Maybe with some luck we won't have to put up with you for long,” I crossed my arms and walked away. Her face blushed red, completely shocked by the harsh words was an image that remained painted in my mind. Give away my secret will she? Well I'll give out hers too. I didn't care about sinking to her level. I walked to the front reception, hoping to meet Zack when he arrived. Wondering what classes we'd share. I recognised his car when it pulled in and waited by the front glass doors for him.
“Hey -” He didn't finish that sentence, so I guessed my expression spoke volumes.
“What happened?” he asked.
“School knows,” I finally murmured.
“Shit, well at least I can do this now.” with that he pulled me into his arms. I held back tears because there was no way I was letting any of this get to me. When we broke apart he watched me with concerned eyes but didn't say anything. He got his schedule and we shared a few classes. But none today, which I knew must've been fate fucking with me. I walked silently to my first class with Kim. She didn't say a word about the school knowing and for that I was grateful. I just wanted to concentrate on my work and not think about the pairs of eyes watching me.
“Wie gehts, Michael?” Miss Dale asked. I realised I'd just been staring blankly at a wall. So much for concentrating on work.
“I'm fine,” I said, forgetting too late we weren't meant to speak English but she didn't call me on it. Just nodded wordlessly and walked away to help someone who was struggling. I expected the next class to be torture. But Amber wasn't there and without her the others didn't dare speak to me. Lily attempted to cheer me up but didn't manage it. I don't think anyone could to be honest. Maybe Zack could. Derek definitely couldn't, though he certainly tried to in sports. James told him to back off and let me think, something I was grateful for. I had to marvel at how wrong I'd been about James. I always assumed he was some shallow idiot. But he's nothing like that. He didn't talk about what was going on, simply talked about the game we were playing – We'd moved onto basketball which I sucked at – and giving me odd tips. By English I think everyone had given up on talking to me. Lily sent me a note asking if was okay and I suddenly realised I was sick and tired of hearing that question.
I answered honestly and she exchanged a worried look with Derek. I wish they'd both just leave me alone. Wish everyone would leave me alone. The only plus was that it was lunch soon and I'd see Zack. I couldn't see him during the morning break because he had to go through some orientation stuff with the school. Derek continued to stay with us, despite me making it clear I didn't want him around. Amber had told him! I could feel my cheeks burning at the thought. What was going through his head right now? Did I care if it was good or bad? No, I had Zack, Derek didn't compute anymore. Even he must realise that. Its the only explanation for why he isn't freaking out and yelling at me.
“I forgot how ignorant people are in state school,” Zack said, drawing my attention from my thoughts. I wanted to yank him into a hug and forget about everything but his eyes looked...different. But he wasn't looking at me.
“So I guess they had enough common sense to kick you out,” Zack said, I followed his line of sight to...James? He looked a little uncomfortable under Zack's glare but stayed where he was.
“Yeah, kind of had to after what happened to you. Sorry about that,” He said. One hand shoved deep in his pocket, the other rustling through his hair madly.
“Imaginative apology,” Zack said, one eyebrow raised, I didn't know a person could give a stare that cold.
“Wait, your-” I wanted to slap myself for being so slow.
“Someone want to explain what's going on?” Kim asked and I remembered she didn't know about Zack's past. Me and Lily exchanged a look. But we both knew it was ultimately up to Zack - or James I guess - to tell. I still couldn't comprehend the idea of James being the guy who'd rallied against Zack. All day he'd been the most supportive guy I'd met, apart from Zack obviously.
“All I can say is sorry. And tell you I've changed,” James said. Judging by Zack's look he didn't consider it enough.
“Wait, does she know your here?” James asked and now everyone including Lily was confused.
“No, but I tend to stand out so I'm sure she'll hear. Decided I'd surprise her.”
“Braver than I am,” James replied. The tension wasn't gone, but it had lessened with that last bit. Though I really wanted to know who “she” was.
“What the fuck are you doing here?!” Everyone - apart from Zack - jumped at Amber's shrieking.
“Transferred,” Zack replied, calm as the still ocean. A contrast to Amber's red face and shaking fists.
“No! You hate state school!! You can't be here!!! Not you of all people!!!!” With each sentence her voice grew louder and she closed the distance between her and Zack. Until with the last sentence she was poking a finger into his chest. If anything he seemed bemused by all this.
“Stop throwing a tantrum, it makes you look ugly,” He said, as if all her screaming had just been a light breeze. I'm pretty sure I'd have wanted out fast if I was in his position.
“Shut up!” she yelled, clearly any sense of her usual wit had disappeared at seeing Zack and we all stared between the two of them. I was trying to figure out how on earth they knew each other.
“Same eyes....same hair...” Kim whispered.
“You shut up too,” Amber snarled in response to Kim who backed away a very big step.
“You should stop bullying people you know, that makes you look ugly too,” Zack commented. I swear, it's like he was trying to piss her off further.
“I'm not going to let people know I am related to a pathetic person like you,” Amber whispered angrily, though it turned into a half yell towards the end. Not that the school hadn't already guessed by now that Amber didn't like Zack.
“You think I enjoy sharing my genetics with you either?” Zack replied, arms crossed. Amber glared at him some more before stomping and making an enraged noise, like a real childish tantrum.
“I hate you!” she yelled before storming off.
“Love you too, cousin!” Zack yelled after her, and you could see her shoulder hunch up before she continued to walk. Zack being rich was one surprise, but now he's Amber's cousin? At this point I think I was prepared to hear he wasn't even bloody human. It's not as if I haven't wondered if Amber's an alien before.