"You're kidding, right Harper?"
I received an unfeeling blank stare in return to my angry question. Leo patted the patches of cold, moist grass next to him, eyebrows rising on his forehead when he noticed that I didn't join him immediately. With a shrug, he muttered, "Suit yourself," and positioned his bag against the tree. Crossing his arms behind his head, he leaned back and closed his eyes no longer paying heed to my reaction.
With a loud and drawn out huff, I sat down next to him. The grass was cold against my palm and when a chilly breeze swept by, I wrapped my scarf around my neck even tighter.
"If this is what you define fun, you suck."
"Charming as ever, I see," Leo retorted with a smirk. I wanted to slap it off his face.
When I managed to convince him into joining me in ditching class, I was truly hyped about what we might do together, where we could go. It was probably the most excited Leo had ever seen me as we quickly and quietly made our way down the halls and toward the exit of our building. All the while, I'd been babbling on about whether we should go catch a movie or head to a gaming arcade. Too caught up in my excitement, I had failed to notice that Leo was already leading us somewhere. And that somewhere ended up being -
"The football field? Really?"
Leo opened one blue eye and cast me a glance. "What's not to like about it?"
"Well let's not forget the fact that it's almost freaking winter," I snapped. Grabbing my bag, I put my arms through the straps, wearing it backwards but it didn't provide me the warmth I'd been seeking. "I was hoping we could head out of the school campus. That's what ditching really means."
"I'm afraid I can't do that Makayla."
"Because you're the president of the student body?"
He didn't answer. Just continued to look at me in a very obvious fashion.
"Forget I asked," I mumbled, drawing the bag closer against my chest.
His statement hung in the air, to which I responded by returning the same look he had given me a moment ago. Leo's eyes darted from my bag, to my shivering hands, before finally resting on my colored cheeks. What he did next surprised me. It wasn't a witty remark about our current situation. Rather, he unfolded his right arm from behind his head and raised it in the air, waiting.
"Are you coming?"
Disbelief was the reason behind my muteness but Leo was a patient one. His tone, though cold, was unmatched to his eyes which were inviting and beckoned me closer. Unsure of how to respond, I ended up letting go of my bag and crawling closer to him until I was pressed up against his side and his right arm had fit snugly around my shoulder.
"Better?" he asked. Casual. Cool. A total opposite to the stutter that came out of me.
If I were him, I would have laughed at how absolutely pathetic I sounded. Don't get me wrong - I wasn't at all embarrassed by the fact that Leo and I were practically snuggling. If at all, it felt a lot more normal than I would have though it would. But, it was the fact that he had offered his warmth in the first place that had me tripping. He didn't say anything though. Instead of words, a mutual silence settled in between us.
My heart stopped racing fast inside my chest and settled into a steady rhythm. My eyes closed of their own accord and I rested my head against Leo's shoulder, feeling him tense for a split second before his body relaxed. I could now understand why this spot was the favorable hang-out area for the gang, and why, more particularly, Leo loved it here. It provided a break from everything else and having closed my vision, my other sensed heightened. I could feel the cool ends of the grass prickle against my jeans, the sound of a few birds in the distance and the wind dancing in the sky. I could feel Leo too, the rise and fall of his chest - constant. The pace, matching my own. When another breeze swept by, Leo pulled me closer to him instinctively. I didn't stop him.
"You're not mad anymore."
Cracking an eye open, I peered at him from behind the strands of my hair that had fallen in front of my eyes. Again, Leo had made an observation. And again, his eyes held an all together different emotion than his voice.
"Well," I started speaking, a smile making its way to my face, "it's hard to stay mad at my personal radiator."
Leo cracked a smile at that. "Fair enough."
I watched him, even after he'd returned to closing his eyes and swimming off into his thoughts. He would do that a lot. It wasn't just his general quietness that made him a mystery, but the fact that he always seemed so distant and faraway. It was almost as if if I didn't reach over and touch him on the arm, like I did each time, Leo would float away all together. This hardly seemed like a problem to Damien and Nick however, who seemed to know whatever Leo was thinking without having the need to ask him. I, on the other hand, was completely new to this group. I was new to a lot of things my life now involved. Including him.
"Say," I started talking, hoping to enter a topic that would allow me to get to know more of what his mind was made up of, "what's on your mind?"
That's right May, go in straight for the kill. No need to be subtle at all.
He wasn't lying. At least not entirely. But he was evading the truth.
"Liiiike?" I drew out the word, giving him the hint that I wanted to know. He responded by lowering his chin and staring me straight in the eyes, a way an eagle would do to its prey. It was slightly intimidating but I didn't let him win. Shuffling in place, I straightened my back, nudging my own chin high up in the air till our faces were inches apart. For extra emphasis, I puffed out my cheeks. It worked. Extra cuteness always works.
Leo fought a smile and let out a sigh. "Why do I even bother with you?" he grumbled like a tired old man.
"Come on," I said teasingly, nudging him. "You know you love me."
"That's highly debatable but," with a slight shrug, Leo finally gave in, "I'm just thinking about the life that awaits me beyond these school walls."
The rare times that Leo did choose to enter a full conversation, he spoke like a 50 year old philosopher. Decoding his words, I double checked, "So you mean, after graduation?"
"Yeah." A frown crossed his face but just for a slight moment before it returned to being stoic again. "I like challenges, Makayla. I keep myself occupied with them. It's a good distraction from...boredom."
"Is that why you're friends with Damien? Because he's a good distraction?" I was only joking but today must be Leo's official 'surprise Makayla' day as he let out a chuckle and nodded.
My mouth fell open. The reaction made Leo's blue eyes light up in clear amusement. He released his arm from around me and let both of his hands drop on his lap, twisting together till the fingers interlaced perfectly together.
"I don't expect you to understand my way of perceiving life. I don't expect anyone to but," he lifted his gaze from his lap and toward the open field ahead of us, "there are those that genuinely try. And I appreciate those people."
I didn't have to read between the lines. He was talking about his two best buds.
When I started to speak again, my voice was a lot more quiet than I thought it would be and tinged with shyness. "You know, I'm trying as well."
Leo smiled and turned to look at me. "I can see that."
Why was I blushing? Darn it.
"So," I coughed and tore my eyes off his face, off that smile that was downright mesmerizing when it appeared. "Is that what you're worried about? That you'll run out of things to keep you on your toes once we graduate?"
Leo's brows furrowed at my words and he raised one hand to his temples, rubbing them together. I must have hit the spot.
"What do you plan on studying anyways?"
He shrugged, hand still covering his face.
"You don't know?"
Boy, it was hard getting through to him.
"These challenges you speak of, they won't go away, you know."
That got his attention. His hand stopped massaging and he peeked through his fingers at me. I was watching him, hoping that he would let me in a little as I continued to say what I had on my mind.
"I'm not sure what exactly you see as challenges - whether it's people that you see as walking puzzles, or situations that life sometimes gives us, challenges will always exist. It's up to us to decide to face them or not." Smiling, I leaned against him, nudging my shoulder against his warm one. "And you don't seem like the kind of guy that would run away from one."
Leo moved, readjusting our position so that I had more room to snuggle up against him again. He didn't say anything for a while. He just let me lean against his shoulder, and didn't react when I rested my head on the nook of his neck.
"You really don't know me at all, Makayla."
My eyes flashed open. Blue depths melted into my dark ones. Leo was smiling.
"But...you're starting to grow on me."
I returned his smile, moving closer and gave him a half-hug. Leo didn't hug me back. He didn't do anything and that was fine by me. I knew he wasn't the kind of guy to shower affection on someone, let alone me. But this was the start of something for the two of us.
With every cold sweep of the wind that passed us by, I could feel him edge slightly closer toward me. And not just physically. He was taking his time with it but Leo Harper was beginning to trust me, bit by bit. I promised myself at that moment that I would do my best not to break that trust.
"Do you see me as a challenge?" I asked. A peculiar question, no doubt, but I wanted to know. Leo tensed slightly at my question and moved away. For a second, I was scared that I had said something wrong but then I realized he was only moving so he could have a good look at me. Plus, he was smirking.
"Hmm," he hummed, now sitting across me with his legs folded in front of him. He tilted his head to the left and observed me through narrowed eyes. "I do."
"Is that so?"
Leo grinned then did something that had my heart leap miles into my chest. In surprise, of course.
He rose onto his knees and leaned forward till his face was just a centimeters above mine. With one finger, he traced the side of my face before resting it below my chin, rubbing a circle there.
"Rest assured May," he whispered, his breath fanning my face, "I will win."
I had no clue what the heck he was talking about but my body did something of its own accord. I inched slightly closer and nodded, eyes hanging onto his like a lifeline. They were brimming with confidence, and something else. Something else that I couldn't place but it told me that despite the playfulness in his voice, Leo was dead serious.
About what exactly? I guess I would soon find out.
A/N: Hi to those readers who will see this note in spite of the fact that this is a way overdue update to this story. I just came back to Protag last night and decided this is one solo that I just had to update, especially considering that it's completed offline :P
I wanted to let you guys know that you can also read this story with its enhanced features of gifs and pictures that I've added through out its scenes on Wattpad here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/36120289-th%CE%B5-sp%CE%B1rkl%CE%B5-too%C6%92us-act-i-fall-term
I am in NO way trying to sway you from Protagonize. This is still my top and most favorite writing site <3 Nothing will change that. I've just branched out to other writing sites in my time off.
If you, as a reader would like an enhanced reading experience for this particular story, or if you're already a Wattpad-user, you should definitely read the story on that site. :)
If not, then Protagonize it is! This is where it all started anyway. ;)
I love you if you are reading this right now. It means that you haven't given up on the story and that means a lot to me <3 Rest assured, it is almost complete!