Daniel demands to know what I've said to Seb, and we both refuse to tell him.
I don't know what Seb's reasons are, but I feel like Daniel is relying on me to keep Seb happy and living, and I've let him down.
After a week or so, Daniel starts bugging me and insisting that I tell him.
After another week, he tries to force me.
He grabs my arm and stops me as we leave the gazebo.
"We're supposed to be in this together," he says.
"We are," I respond casually.
"Right," he says. "Well, something's happened, and I think I have the right to know what."
"I don't want to tell you," I say. "It's too personal. It's a secret."
His expression falters very briefly, then he recovers with a scowl. "This is unfair."
"Life is unfair."
He lets go of my arm and sighs. "Fine. Then at least tell me what was worrying you the other week. Seb won't shut up about it. He says it shows all over your face."
We both sit down, him opposite me.
"I realized no-one's ever been racist to me."
"I have a scar for it."
He rests his elbows on the table and clasps his hands under his chin. "I don't have a count for that. The only time I ever heard any racist comment whatsoever was when Connor called Trish a n-" he pauses slightly, seeming to deliberate whether he should say it or not. "He used the N word against her. She has a count for that and I haven't heard that word since. My counts are for personal things, and as for you..."
I raise an eyebrow and he laughs once with a grim smile.
"I was wondering when you were going to stop taking shit for granted."
At those words, the flood of everything I was feeling when I realized comes rushing back.
This whole time, count have been something I've lived with and accepted.
When I first came across them, I was already used to the idea; Seb explained it time and time again. They were somethings that were just there. No-one questioned it. They weren't a problem or anything to be worried about.
But now, now I really think about it...
How many other people have counts for something that never happened to them?
How many people have been...
Then suddenly it dawns on me. Suddenly, and with a painful jolt in my chest, I have to accept what I have been denying all this time.
How many people have been self-harming simply because everyone else does? Just because that's what people do?
Daniel is right.
The essence of counts is self-harm, and I have been taking it for granted. Everyone has.