“So, your the guy who...” I trailed off and James shifted uncomfortably in his lab stool. He seemed to have lost his usual interest in burning things.
“I was ignorant and I regret it. There's not much else I can say to defend myself than that,” he said, shoulders hunched forward as he gazed at the pattern on the floor pretty intensely.
“Are you okay?” I'm not sure why I asked it, but seeing Zack had to bring just as many bad memories for him. I knew I should hate him for what happened. But he looked so guilty and upset by the memories. I don't think Zack needed to shove more blame his way, James was giving enough of it to himself.
“I'm not really allowed to be,” He answered. Before I could reply the teacher interrupted us. James refused to talk about it from then, wanting to concentrate on our work. When the bell went I tried to talk to him again but he outran me. Claiming he needed to get home and do a bunch of homework. He was a bad liar.
“Hey there Mikey-boy.” I didn't get a chance to respond because Zack pulled me into a kiss. For a second I felt embarrassed, we were in the middle of the corridor and people were definitely staring. Then I decided I didn't care what they thought and drew it out longer. When it ended Zack seemed to the one who was surprised and blushing, an expression which looked adorable on him.
“I think I'm going to throw up,” Amber muttered. She seemed to have re-composed herself.
“FYI, if I have to put up with you two at home, I will do everything to ruin your buzz.” Like that she seemed to have accepted it. I was waiting for the catch, but she continued to meet my eyes. Her arms were crossed and she had an no-nonsense expression.
“Then tell your parents to stay in one place. That way you don't have to stay at mine,” Zack replied with a shrug. Amber lived with Zack? I guess it was pure luck that we didn't see each other that time.
“As if I haven't tried,” She muttered before walking off.
“Ermm, so did you know I meant Amber when I talked about the bitch before?” I asked and Zack laughed.
“I wondered but since we don't talk to each other except to argue I didn't ask,” Zack said. He grabbed my hand and walked me to my locker where I quickly took the books I needed for homework and stuffed them into my bag. I was amazed the thing was still together, it had stitching coming apart here and there.
“I'll be right back,” I said, running to the bathroom. But the moment I walked into the room I was pinned to the wall.
“Derek, what are you doing?” I asked, he seemed a little on edge.
“Amber was right when she said you'd liked me, wasn't she?” He answered with his own question. I felt my cheeks burn, I knew he wanted a straight answer.
“It doesn't matter anymore, I'm with Zack-” I didn't finish the sentence because he slammed me. Hard. Against the wall. I choked out a yelp of pain.
“Derek! What the hell-”
“Answer me!” There was something wrong with his eyes, he didn't look one hundred percent sane right now, and that scared me.
“Yes,” I whispered. Derek loosened his grip on my shoulders and watched me for a few seconds. Then he let go and walked out. I slid down until I was sitting on the tiled floor. What had just happened? Should I be worried? I didn't know, didn't want to think.
When I walked out and saw Zack I told myself I wouldn't tell anyone, Derek was dealing with all of this in his own way. I could handle being shoved against a wall once. No point giving him further crap. I just hoped that was as far as he intended to go. Zack own story kept jumping into my mind.
“So, as you know Amber is throwing a party on Friday, but I'd rather hang out just us two at least once before then,” Zack said. Pulling me from my trance.
“I like that idea,” I replied. Failing to hide my wide grin. He gave me a lift home which I was grateful for, I wasn't sure if I wanted to run into Derek again. Least not anytime soon. Maybe he'd have recovered and accepted everything tomorrow morning.
Mum wasn't in when I got home because she'd managed to nab some extra shifts at the restaurant. I heated up the food she'd left me for dinner and ate it silently. Trying not to think about what had happened in the toilets. Derek wasn't a violent person. I had no clue how to take what had happened. I didn't want to worry Zack though. So I pulled out my phone and called someone else.
“Amber talking, biatch” Judging by the general happiness Amber didn't check the caller ID much.
“Hi,” I said and I heard her hesitate on her side.
“What do you want?” she asked, I noted the usual snarky edge to her voice was gone. I wondered if that was because I was going out with Zack now or if she was just changing after everything.
“How did Derek respond when you told him I liked him?”
“What? I never told him you liked him, just that you were as clearly gay as the sky was blue,” She replied, genuinely confused.
“Then why did he just...nevermind, thanks Amber,” I cut myself off, if she didn't know anything there was no point bothering her.
“Is Derek giving you trouble?” Her tone sounded serious, why did she care?
“Nothing I can't handle,” I replied, “Don't tell Zack about this conversation.” With that I ended the call. I stared over at the TV and grabbed the remote, nothing interesting seemed to be on. My phone buzzed with a text. Derek.
I'm sorry 'bout earlier, can we talk?
I knew he'd be waiting in the park as always, hoping I'd show up. But I didn't like the idea of being alone with Derek, not after what had happened. I stared at TV screen, some advert about food was on. I wasn't taking it in as my mind listed the good reason and the bad reasons to go. The good ones were I could gauge how much this bothered him; I could reassure him I wasn't interested anymore; I would know no matter what happened, I had done everything in my power to stay friends. And the bad ones? He could be violent again, only this time there was no chance of someone walking in and stopping him so he'd have no reason to stop; He could get freaked out and not want anything to do with me.
I ran my hands through my hair and sighed loudly. I had no clue what to do. Either way I could regret the decision. Maybe I should've told Zack about this. But then he'd leave, he wouldn't stay in public school. And me? I have no choice, I wasn't going to turn around to mum and ask her to pay for some expensive private school. And I couldn't transfer to another state school. I'd need to travel by bus if I did and that was money we couldn't lose. I glanced at the text again. He'd said sorry, I took that as a good enough sign on his state of mind and left.