Author's Note: To everyone who read Black Orchid and Midnight Roses. This is my Christmas present to you. This is the birth place of Xander Ocher. This is where my memories collided with ink.
He was just a boy. He was sitting in his desk with his pale blue eyes trained on the floor. As if it mattered. Their crystalline surface saw not a thing. His mind was consumed even as he absently started to drum his fingers upon the plastic coated surface.
Life had not treated him particularly well, though these days he very much doubted it treated anyone well. But he viewed it with a sort of hopeless desperation, dreaming of an escape he knew all too well would never come.
His fate had been sealed since birth. Born in a town much too small to contain his soul, he looked for solace in all the wrong places. But each bottle, each line, each goddamn cut did little to numb the pain he felt each and every moment he was awake.
It was neither a fate he desired nor one he though he could derail. As he sat there drumming out the irregular beat of his shattered heart, his blackened soul, and what was left of his life, he wondered if he would ever see a stray glimpse of light. He very much doubted it.
No, he was just a boy, hiding behind his thick black hair and his impenetrable expression, drowning his afflictions in a bottle of whiskey and then watching them drip back out in ruby rivers from the fragile skin of his wrists. He would not cry, could not scream. The words that fell from his perfect lips were little more than lies.
A shadow fell across his face through the pathetic excuse of a window as the midday sun drifted behind a storm cloud. He had to choke back a laugh, in spite of himself. How fitting, he thought, that he should be shrouded in darkness.
He felt it long before he had realized what it was. The steady taps of his fingertips slowed and then ceased all together as he raised his ice-like gaze ever so slowly.
He found the source with ease. He had seen it many times, though for the first time he had to wonder if he had ever truly looked closely. Certainly not close enough to break the delicate surface.
She was just a girl, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing of particular importance. Her head was bent down as she scratched something barely legible into her notebook, her vivid green eyes flickering back and forth between the latter and a well-worn copy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But every few seconds her eyes would stray up to fall upon his face, studying it intently. Then she would bite her lip in embarrassment and look back down, the pencil blurring by again.
He watched her openly for several long minutes, his falsely composed gaze attempting to memorize each and every part of her, from the too-straight black hair to the carelessly chipped polish on her nails to the scuffed toes of her Converse high tops. For what may have been the first time in ages, he allowed the slightly hint of a smile to tease the edges of his lips.
She dared to glance up again then, and her roughly made up eyes went wide as they locked into a stare with his. Pencil froze mid-stroke, her body tensed up into the desk. She reached up to push back her choppy bangs with one pale and slender finger, so that the entirety of her hollowed face was revealed. Angled jaw set the stage for plush lips, but they were turned down in a look of sorrow he doubted could be shaken.
Then she looked away again, this time back to the play he hated so, and he was left to wonder what had just passed between them.
He would write it off as nothing, pretend it had never even happened. He would not look to her again, and he would forevermore deny that for one split second the pain had disappeared.