The next day in Trigonometry as I'm staring at the board waiting for class to start, a girl with bright pink hair struts up to my desk, squatting in front of me, crossing her arms and resting her head on them. She has big, innocent blue eyes, her right brow pierced with a simple silver ring. Her cute button nose is also pierced, along with rosy cheeks bracing a pouty mouth. Her hands, peeping out from the curtain of hot pink hair, are lightly tanned, unscarred, a hint at an easy life. It's a contrast to the hands yesterday that slid a slip of paper with numbers on it to me, rough, marred with a single streak of white scar tissue. "Hi, Caleb." She says, tone strangely neutral. Almost as if she's hiding something.
I blink. "H-hello...?"
"I know it's weird for people to just randomly pop up on you, but...I noticed you weren't here yesterday." She says, her bright blue eyes gleaming. "I know we don't talk, too, but that didn't stop me from getting worried... Oh, my name's Haylie Von Leda, by the way." She smiles.
Haylie Leda...No wonder she knows my name. She knows everyone in this school. I smile back, then process her earlier statement, and frown thoughtfully. I didn't think anyone would notice I was missing. "Um...shouldn't you get back to your group?" I ask, quietly. "I don't mean to be rude," I add when she looks up sharply.
"They can do without me for a bit. It's not like I belong to them." She snorts. Something in her eyes tells me she knows I'm changing the subject, but she goes along with it anyway. "You missed out on some homework. Inverse functions, I think Mister Perez said. I fell asleep halfway through," she grins, embarrassedly. "but I do have some notes on it, if you wanna borrow them."
Surprised, I stare at her. Why has she suddenly noticed me? I don't think I remember ever seeing her in this class, but she's obviously been here all year...
"It's the pink hair. I used to be blonde." She winks, "Everyone's been commenting on how it makes me look even whiter than I already am."
I laugh, shaking my head. "To be honest, I think I'm always too wrapped up into the work in this class...I was trying to remember if I ever saw you here." I say, looking away. My eyes drift over to the door. Who else has slipped by my line of sight?
"That's alright...I dashed out right when the bell rang everyday, so...but, if you don't mind, can I sit next to you? My friends, they..." She glances over her shoulder, looking back at the group of girls at the front of the room. They all, one by one, turn away from her. "I don't think they like me anymore."
"What? Why?" How can someone like Haylie, so popular, lose all her friends at once?
She presses her forehead onto her arms. "Well..." She sighs at the desk, "I don't want to do the things they do anymore. It's...frustrating. I'm not who they thought I was, so they got irritated with me." She suddenly leans back, stretching her arms out, and I get a good view of her outfit--a white tee missing the shoulders and the collar, with a black undershirt--when she throws her arms up in the air. "I don't wanna party, fuck random guys, do drugs, or stay up for nights on end! I just don't! I don't wanna drive around at night with the headlights off and practically get killed! It's so stupid!"
And then she slumps back onto my desk, hiding under her hair. "I'm sorry...I didn't come to whine to you..."
Unsure how to handle this, I wring my hands in my lap. "Um, no, no, it's fine...if it helps you, I don't mind." I'm looking down at her pink hair wondering how to comfort her, when a flash of white cuts into the edge of my vision. White blonde...
I snap up towards the door, eyes widening when I catch sight of Dante walking just past it. My heart sinks, then gives a painful jerk when he retraces his steps and peeks through the doorway.
His grey eyes land on me, and my face burns with warmth. A corner of his mouth lifts slowly as he tilts his head. He waves a hand at me, the other tucked in his pocket. His gaze lingers on me, before passing over to Haylie's pink hair, then back to me. That smile grows a little...and then he's gone.
"Why do you look like you just jizzed your pants?"
"What?!" My jaw drops open, "Hayliewhatareyouwhywouldyousaythat?!"
She blinks at me, then grins, leaning her chin into her palm, giggling. "Ohh...I get it. Did you see someone you like? You had this dreamy look on your face. And your reaction..."
"I-I don't know what you're talking about!" I cross my arms, determinedly yanking myself around to stare out the window instead of facing her. A moment of silence passes, and I let out a little sigh. His eyes...that smile...that choker around a marble neck...the way his shirt sculpts his shoulders, the curve of his arm...his wrists bound by wire bracelets...
...and those rough hands that know what it is to fight. So dark, yet so strong--it even shows in his clothing choice. A black jacket in the crook of an arm, grey--that glimpse of a pale collar!--button up shirt, leather belt and ripped jeans, the latched boots he wears... There's something in him that calls out to me, pulling me in... It's in his expression, too, when he looks at me, though it dulls when he smiles. That smile...
"Caleb...you're grinning like an idiot again." Haylie rings out in a singsong voice.