I slumped against the wall and watched as people filtered into the drama room. I saw Derek and Lewis enter with some other guy, the three of them talking and laughing like normal. Derek glanced towards me and I looked away.
“Think the gay boy has a crush on you dude, be worried,” Lewis taunted and Derek looked extremely uncomfortable. I didn't even bother answering Lewis, last thing I wanted to do was give him more reason to hassle me.
“You're not too smart are you?” I looked up and saw that Zack was in the doorway. Any talking that had happened died down as people realised something was going on.
“Smarter than you, gay boy,” Lewis snarled in reply.
“You use the word gay as if its an insult. Rather immature,” Zack said, cocking his head to the side as if looking at a small child. Lewis opened his mouth to reply, but Zack had already walked past to sit next to me.
“Is the drama teacher here any goo-”
“Hey! I'm still talking to you,” Lewis shouted, clearly he did not appreciate being ignored. Zack studied him for a few seconds with a neutral expression.
“I'll talk to you when there's a conversation worth having. Till then take you're petty attempts at insult elsewhere,” Zack said. Lewis mouth had actually snapped open at this point and it was a struggle not to laugh. Lewis glared some more then stormed to his usual back corner.
“I wish I had enough guts to say half that stuff to him,” I muttered when I was sure he was out of earshot.
“Actually, your approach was better. Completely ignoring makes them back off. I've probably just given him a challenge to rise to,” Zack said, not that he seemed particularly bothered by the idea.
“Then don't push it, Lewis isn't the kind to hold back...” I trailed off. Zack studied me, blinking a few times.
“What?” I asked, feeling my cheeked flush a little.
“Nothing, just that it's cute you're worried about me,” He replied with a small smile. He leaned forward and I thought he was going to kiss me again, instead he ruffled my hair. I glowered at him a little.
“I'm not a kid,” I stated and he chuckled.
“I'm well aware of that,” He whispered, his voice taking a new edge, it sent shivered down my spine. The good kind.
"And I never realised a glare could be cute,” He continued, wrapping an arm round me so we were sitting closer together. I didn't know what to say to that. I wanted to keep glaring but after hearing that I knew it would be pointless. So I decided to just watch the people walking in. Eventually everyone had filtered in and Mrs Roberts arrived with a big smile on her face.
“Right, as you probably are aware the annual play is coming up, I need volunteers to help with the backstage and the auditions for roles will begin in a few weeks. The play that's been picked this year is Rent,” She said. I heard Zack murmur a “yes” under his breath with a big grin. I raised an eyebrow but didn't ask. I'd heard about the play and a few of the more popular songs, but that was the limit of my knowledge. I had to wonder how she got the school board convinced the play was okay, but I guess she'd just tone down some stuff. The rest of the lesson was pretty loose since Mrs Roberts still had stuff to do with the play.
“Do you want to handle the backdrops and help with the stage design, Michael?” she asked, she'd gone around to ask the usual group of people if they were in this year.
“Sure,” I replied.
“Kim, you going to help with the lighting again?” She asked, turning to Kim.
“Of course,” she replied, she got more excited about the plays than I did. I wondered if it was a girl thing. Then again, Zack seemed a bit jittery about the whole thing.
“You like the play choice then?” I asked and he nodded.
“Rent's a great play, I'm definitely going for Mark,” He said.
“Aim high I guess?” Lily said from behind us, looking a little worse for wear. I wondered where she'd been but her eyes looked red enough to explain.
“Always,” Zack replied, keeping up the light tone. But he was studying her carefully.
“Maybe I should audition to be Joanna,” Lily said and Zack raised an eyebrow.
“No Maureen then?” Zack said with a small laugh.
“I know someone who's more like her than I ever could be. Might ask her to audition. Least that way I'm kissing someone I want to,” Lily said. A smirk crossed Zack's lips, but he didn't say anything else. Something else he knows about her that I don't I guess. It didn't bother me though, right now I was just trying to figure out if they could actually sing.
“The auditions are being held next week. I hope some of you turn up. At least some that can sing and act,” Mrs Roberts joked.
“So, not going to audition for a part?” Zack asks as we leave the arts block for the main building. I raise an eyebrow at him and suppress the urge to laugh.
“Err, no. I can't act and I definitely can't sing,” I reply.
“Anyone can sing, just need a few basic lessons is all,” He says.
“Because I have the money for that kind of thing,” I point out and he looks a little uncomfortable. Then a grin spreads across his face. Why couldn’t this topic be closed already?
“I should be able to recall enough to teach you,” He says, eyes way too bright for my comfort. I hold up both hands in front of me.
“No, I don't do singing or acting. I prefer to do the backstage stuff,” I explain. He looks a little disappointed but seems to accept it.
“Well,” Zack begins, pulling me into his arms the moment we're in one of the quieter corridors.
“I expect you'll make amazing backdrops,” He whispers, his lips barely touching mine as he does.
“Well,” I start and realise I have no clue what to say because he is being far too distracting.
“I...can't wait to hear you sing,” I finish rather lamely and look away. He was much better at this than I was.
“I could always sing now,” He says, apparently not caring about my bad attempt at flirting. I feel my face burn up a little.
“No, no, that's fine. I'll wait until the audition,” I say. I grab his hand and lead him outside to the others before he can say anything. Though his little smile told me he found the whole thing very amusing. I was really going to have to get better at this, otherwise I'll always be the blushing, stuttering one. I was going to make him get all blushy and embarrassed at some point. I just had yet to figure out the how.
“Look who it is,” Amber's voice drooled and Lily jumped at the sound of it. Kim sent Amber a very obvious go away glare, which she ignored to join us.
“Can we help you?” Zack asked.
“I was just curious as to whether the rumour about Rent being the play this year were true or not,” Amber said and I rolled my eyes.
“Are you seriously going to keep up the anti-gay thing you had going last week?” I asked, not bothering to hide my annoyance as I rubbed my hand over my forehead.
“Anti-gay thing?” Zack asked, eyebrow raised. Amber looked away in...shame?
“Sorry about that, I never thought you were actually...and things were...it's a long story,” Amber said. Lily watched her closely as she spoke.
“Things are always a little...for people. Doesn't give you the right to piss all over them,” Lily said and Amber physically jumped at her harsh words and tone.
“I know...give me a break. I'm trying,” She replied. Something about the way she said as she held Lily's gaze told me there was more. Lily broke whatever it was and stood up.
“I just remembered I left something in my locker,” she said curtly and left. Not bothering to listen to our replies. The silence that hung in the air was probably the epitome of awkwardness. I tried to figure out just what had occurred and noticed Zack shifting uncomfortably. And as usual, I got the feeling he saw past whatever barriers I didn't.
“Yes, it is Rent. Maybe you should audition for Maureen. You have the voice for it,” Zack said. The underlying meaning hit me instantly. And I saw the shocked look cross Kim's face that mirrored my internal thoughts perfectly.