|Coeur de la Lune
Author: LazuliLarisa PM
Jayden is the star player on the university basketball team; Adrian is the "troubled" loner with a dark past. What will happen when they're forced to be study partners? Will the partnership fail, or turn into something more? Warning: SlashRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Hurt/Comfort - Chapters: 9 - Words: 9,532 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 05-11-12 - Published: 03-04-12 - id: 3002582
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 3: Waking Nightmares
It shouldn't have bothered him. It really shouldn't've. But for some reason it did.
"You are just a punk."
What right did Jayden have to call him that? Or any other student, for that matter. None of them had any right, and it pissed him off. He didn't do anything to improve their opinions of him, but all the same it irritated him. More than irritated him. It made him furious.
And from Jayden, of all people.
If that golden boy had ever once missed a meal or slept outdoors in the freezing cold he'd eat his ratty shirt. No, Jayden was clearly a pampered son to some rich suburban parents. And Adrian had been serious about his baby-face comment. Jayden, though tall and lean and muscled, had what girls would call a "bishie" face. Soft cheeks, long lashes, and full lips. Basically, he was pretty. But also clearly masculine. With his sandy light brown hair and dark brown puppy eyes, he was a teen girl's heartthrob. He'd have been Adrian's too, if his life experiences hadn't given him such an aversion to getting close to people. He hadn't even considered having a relationship with anyone since middle school. And that experience in particular had left him with no desire to go out again with anyone. Ever.
He skipped out of school early, too distracted and pissed off to pay attention in class. He regretted not staying for his cooking class, but couldn't bring himself to stay on the campus after the crappy day he'd had.
He was trekking up the threadbare-carpet stairs to his apartment when another tenant stormed down the stairs in the opposite direction. He quickly dodged to the side, barely avoiding being mowed over by the much larger man.
"Watch where you're going, boy!" the man snarled.
Adrian just kept his mouth shut and continued on to his apartment. Picking a fight with his neighbors would get him evicted faster than you could say 'sorry for the black-eye, sir."
He slid his deadbolt into place, and turned to survey his dreary living space. The carpet was gray-green, and the walls a light blue that had faced into a pale gray, like fog. All the lighting came from the cheap lamps he'd put in the corners. No TV, no wi-fi. His only internet access was dial-up through the phone line, and horrifically slow. His kitchinette had a fridge, a dishwasher, a toaster, and a microwave. And very little in the way of food. He had five just-add-water ramen cups, two bottles of water, a loaf of bread, and a six-pack of the cheapest soda he'd been able to find. He'd spent a grand total of eight dollars and fifty-four cents.
The money he'd spent had been the last of his recent paycheck from his convenience store job. At minimum wage, he barely had enough to cover his rent and expenses. After all of that, he generally had maybe ten dollars left for food. And since he only got paid every other week, he had to spend that ten dollars on the cheapest bulk foods he could lay his hands on.
I bet Jayden never wants for food. He glared at the empty fridge at if were the most offensive thing he'd ever seen. He glanced at the garage-sale clock-radio he'd paid nine dollars for last month after he'd pulled a double-shift to earn the extra money.
Four o'clock. That left him two hours to sleep before his eight hour shift at the convenience store.
He tossed himself down on the futon by the window and drifted off to sleep.
"Adrian!" A scream. "Keep your hands off him!" Slap.
"And now," a deep voice growled, "it's your turn." Smack.
Pain. Dizziness, and bruises. Blood.
Another transfer. Another house. Yet another "family". And worse conditions still.
More beatings, more bruises. And not a single person to take his word on it.
"I'm sure it's not that bad."
"You're just overreacting."
Slam. Crash. More pain.
"It hurts," he whimpered. "Stop, please. It hurts…"
He twisted in his blankets, and woke up in a cold sweat. "It…hurts…" he panted. He sat up, breathing heavily.
He fisted his hands in his hair. Why? Why why why why why. "Why?" he whispered.
His alarm went off, blaring a disgustingly cheerful tune out of its poor-quality speakers.
He threw a nearby book at it, but missed, which he was belatedly grateful for: he couldn't afford to replace it.
While Adrian was rushing to get ready for his six-thirty pm to two-thirty am shift at the convenience store, Jayden was in his dorm, running over the playbook of strategies they were working on for their next game. Coach Carter had added a few new ideas, based on the moves of the next team they'd be up against.
But when eight o'clock rolled around and Kevin showed up at his door with Justin, the both of them demanding he drive them to the convenience store for "real food," he agreed.
"I can't believe you guys eat this crap," he mused as they browsed aisles. "Do you know what's in this shit?"
"Sugar. Carbs. Not to mention flavor, which all our health-nut food lacks."
Jayden just rolled his eyes, and followed his friends to another display of artery-clogging treats. Eventually, he started tuning them out. He was brought back out of it, however, when he heard a large crash.
Justin had knocked over a large rack of snack bags; potato chips and wafer crisps.
"Sorry!" Kevin called to the aggrieved-looking manager, a woman in her thirties.
She scowled at them, and then turned to shout in the direction of the stock room. "Adrian! Get out here, and clean up this mess."
Jayden frowned. Adrian?
"What mess?" a familiar disgruntled voice demanded.
Jayden gaped as Adrian Fletcher emerged from the stock room, dressed in a tidy convenience store uniform, polo shirt and black slacks.
"What're you doing here?" he blurted before he could stop himself.
Adrian's eyes narrowed. "Well, Golden Boy himself is here." He strode past him and began picking up the mess Justin had made. "For your information, I work here."
"Work?" he repeated.
The younger boy sneered. "Yes, Jayden, work. It's what us poor peons do for the sake of survival."
Jayden opened his mouth to answer back, but the manager spoke first.
"Adrian, clean that up and keep your mouth shut. They're paying customers."
"You wanna get fired?" she demanded.
Adrian said nothing, lapsing into sullen silence as he set up the display again, lining up the snack bags like they were before.
"That's what I thought." The woman said triumphantly. "Once you're done with that, man the register. I'm going out for a smoke." And then she disappeared out the back door.
He's got a job. Jayden mused. Wouldn't have expected someone like him to have steady work. Although the pay can't be very good. He watched Adrian as he finished arranging the display, ignoring the furious looks the other boy was shooting him.
When Adrian shoulder-chucked him walking to the register, Jayden resisted the impulse to shove back, instead grabbing a granola bar at random and following his partner to the counter.
He smirked at Adrian and set down the granola bar.
"Dollar fifty." Adrian said flatly, without looking down.
"Bit much." he observed mildly.
"Dollar fifty." The angry teen repeated.
"Sure you're not hustling me?"
"Dollar-fucking-fifty." he growled.
Jayden laughed, feeling oddly entertained, and handed over a five. "Got change?"
Adrian quickly and easily counted out three-fifty and handed it over.
"Not gonna bag it for me?" Jayden asked pointing at the snack bar.
"Would you like me to bag that for you?" Adrian asked in a flat monotone.
"No, I'm good, thanks." He tucked the bar into his sweatshirt pocket, and looked over Adrian again. "You look good all cleaned up."
"Almost like a human being." Justin snickered. "Pity you're a waste of space the rest of the time."
Jayden turned to tell him off, when a large box of cereal went flying by his head to smack into Justin's face. He spun around to see Adrian, face furious and eyes dark.
"Fired!" The manager's voice shouted as she stormed back inside. She jabbed a finger at Adrian. "You're fired."
"You. Are. Fired."
To be continued in Chapter 4: Troubled