Sakuri: I've finally bothered to write up some review responses, which can be read before the actual chapter. Apologies that it's taken so long to get round to it. I tried to make my responses a bit longer than usual. I really like answering you guys, I just… haven't lately. I'm sorry. Blame it on exam stress.
Oh yeah, and this update is so late because my internet was taken away from me for TWO FRIKKIN' MONTHS!!! Grr….
Funga-fu-fu: I'm glad you liked the date in the previous chapter and that you like Lucca's character. Yes, I do plan to finish this story, although sometimes it may not seem that way with the amount of time it occasionally takes me to update. I go through periods of drifting away from this story, but I promise, until it has an official DISCONTINUED on it, I still plan to finish.
Magalina: I'm gonna try and keep updating faster, but that hasn't always been successful in the past. Fingers crossed, right? And as for what's gonna happen, you'll have to read and see!
Catseye348: I think I'd resent Harper's reaction to crisis as well, which is pretty much the angle I'm going for with Lucca, as you'll see in this chapter. But you're right, he does have a soft side, which is the source of that resentment. I'm hoping you'll keep reading to see how everything plays out though.
Catgirrl246: James is my least favourite character, and despite the fact that I created him, he annoys me too. Yes, he's loud, obnoxious, homophobic, but I've had to resign myself to the fact he plays an important part in this story. Now, this may sound weird, but I love that you connected with some part of my story, and I hope that when you do come out things go much more smoothly for you than Harper's highschool drama.
Rachizzle: Lol! I'm really glad you liked the date, and I'm sorry I'm about to disappoint you over Lucca being mad at Harper. But tell me what you think of this chapter!
Midnight Screams: I know that Harper may be coming off as a bitch in the way that he's ignoring Lucca, but keep in mind that he firmly believes he's doing this for the right reasons. His twisted logic says that by cutting contact with Lucca, he's sparing Lucca the torment of other students and so on. He can't stand up to James because he's not ready to come out yet – the only people who know he's gay are Lucca and Kit. He's afraid that James will disown him when he finds out, and despite their differences and arguments, Harper still sees James as a close friend. I hope that answered your questions.
Skitbunny: Lol, I'm glad you like. It's interesting to know I make you think, or my story does anyway.
Usonaki: Lol, glad you liked the updates, and the little glimpse into Lucca's less serious side. You're probably right about drawing more attention, but Harper doesn't think like a normal person, bless him. One suggestion from Kit seems to be law to him. Sometimes, even I find it hard to understand my own characters, but oh well…
Bluedays: Lol! Gdgd, glad you liked the updates hunni. And as always, I luv your very random reviews, even though you seem to be calming them down a bit lately, lmao. You don't ramble for half a page like you used to. : P
Bellezagotica: Lol! Totally okay that you missed the updates, considering how long I didn't update for, or respond to everyone's reviews. I was surprised how many people commented on liking the Harry/Draco theory, and especially that they approved of Lucca liking it. I'd intended it as a joke of sorts, but apparently it got Lucca bonus points! : P Glad you liked the date chapter, and I'm really glad you wanted to cry at the next one. Sorry, that sounds mean, but it kinda tells me I must have wrote something right.
Kon-chan: Lol, sorry the date couldn't continue into another chapter, but I'm glad you liked what there was of it, and gladder to know I didn't mess it up. You really do have strong feelings about Lucca, don't you? Don't worry, as the author, I'm already planning my vengeance on him for not cooperating in being the perfect slash-couple. To be honest, when I started this, I had no idea where it was going, but I hadn't planned Lucca to be so resistant to the idea of dating Harper, or treating him as an equal. However, in following chapters, I'm hoping to give a bit more of an insight into Lucca's side of the story, and maybe then he can earn a better reputation for himself, hmm?
Ddz008: Yep, Lucca's going to be sad – although he has an interesting way of showing it. You'll understand what I mean when you read this chapter, but trust me, it'll become clear that he has been effected. He's not that cold.
Cherryd22: Thank you I'm glad you like it. It's always nice when someone new reviews. I do try to update fast, and when I'm on a roll the chapters are usually posted within days of each other, but you'll find I have dry spells. I promise, though, I do intend to finish this story.
DeadlyPinkPuchu: Sooorry for the cliffhanger! I seriously had no intention of leaving it for this long! It was supposed to be updated straight away, but my internet was removed for a month and I've got GCSEs, so everything kinda piled up…
Momoro: Glad you like. I'd love you to keep reading, so you can find out for yourself if everything works out for them!
Emo Eyes: Sorrry for not updating! I've said to some of the others that I meant to update right away, but then my internet was taken away and I have GCSEs, so…
Crowagain: Lol, it's nice to hear that someone likes my writing style. Thanku!
Orangeena: Yay! It's brilliant to hear I have another regular reader (if you can put up with my rather long spells of Writer's Block, that is). I love reviewers like you, who actually tell me their opinions on certain things. And don't worry, both Harper and Lucca will be receiving a swift kick in the ass about their respective faults pretty soon.
Mahlise: Woo! Another MCR fan! Lol, glad you like my story. And it must be pretty cool to know someone in real life who's like Lucca…
Fork-In-You-Eye: Lol! Glad you like my story. And yes, I agree with you about Amy. Grr…
Luci-chan's Lunchbox of Doom: Woo! Yay, you like it. Lol, it was fun writing the lists, so I'm glad you enjoyed reading them. Keep reading!
Chapter Eighteen: Consequences Hanging in the Stars
Days passed and I continued to tell myself I'd done the right thing. I clung to Kit as if she was a lifeline, completely forgetting my anger with her. I never really had been angry with her, anyway, but with myself. She'd pointed something out to me, yes, but I couldn't keep telling myself that she'd made the decision for me, or that I hadn't already been thinking along similar lines.
I think that realisation made what was to come even harder.
Of course, it wasn't like I'd expected someone like Lucca to take rejection well. Especially from someone like me. That he'd consented to pay attention to me at all should have been something out of my reach; that I'd spurned that attention was, even to me at times, incomprehensible. I could barely believe I was doing it, but at least I was aware of my motives. Lucca wasn't. To him, I'd promised not to be effected by anything anyone said – then abruptly turned around and point-blank ignored him at the first sign of hassle.
Not that my distancing myself from him slowed the rumours that spread like wildfire. If anything, they sped them along, feeding them more possibilities to be passed on, each more ludicrous than the last. The latest was something outrageous, along the lines of Lucca cheating on me (with James, of all people – probably a result of the constant innuendoes Lucca had once pestered him with) and now we were fighting, with me carrying on an affair of my own in order to get back at my secret boyfriend.
I mean, honestly…!
But back to my original point. Obviously, Lucca was never going to react well to what I was doing, but I figured the occasional sneer in corridors and an icy silence was the worst I could look forward to.
Wrong. Lucca didn't so much get angry as he did even. I'd spent the last few days watching him flaunt himself everywhere he knew I'd be, dressed – if possible – more provocatively than ever. He flirted with boys and girls alike, only some of whom took it badly. He never once looked in my direction.
Watching him talk animatedly with a girl sat at the other side of the canteen, it occurred to me for the first time that, although Lucca was not liked by the vast majority, he certainly hadn't been limited to speaking only with myself and Kit. It struck me hard that he'd done so by choice, something I'd never really thought about before now. I'd always assumed that there hadn't been anyone else he could choose to spend his time with – because why else would he deign to hang around us? …Me?
I didn't know, but it annoyed me that I hadn't noticed this before now. Not that I could – or would – go back on what I'd done. I'd done it for him more than me, and to take it back would be selfish.
I told myself this during the times he'd wander past me, blatantly checking out the guy ahead of him.
To distract myself, I immersed myself in Kit's life. I would have attempted the same with James, but he insisted on congratulating me on my 'sensible realisation' all the time, making it impossible to forget what I was trying to forget.
Kit, on the other hand, was good at distraction, whether or not she intended to be. As the only one to know about her interest in Amanda, I found it fun to tease her over her growing crush on the other girl. She'd growl and snap at me, and in the next breath ask me for advice, however grudgingly. She seemed to think that my being gay made me an expert in all things romantic and fashionable – like the guys off 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' or something. This, I can assure you, was not true. She was ashamed of my fashion knowledge most of the time, and I was more clueless than her when it came to all things romantic, and I was definitely not well versed in lesbian love affairs. It didn't take her long to realise all this.
She wasn't best pleased with my lack of helpfulness, but there was nothing to be done, and instead she found other uses for me. I was someone to rant at, someone to laze around with and complain to, as well as the buffer between her and James. The two disliked each other now more than they ever had in the past – something, I was beginning to suspect, which was most likely due to Amanda. Even if James didn't know for certain what Kit's feelings were, I could tell his instinct was to be jealous and wary of someone who was taking up more attention from his crush than he was. Kit and Amanda's friendship had deepened quickly, and nowadays they spent quite a bit of time together outside of school. Before now, I hadn't paid as much attention to this fact as I probably should have. But now that I'd noticed it, I hoped that it meant Kit's crush wasn't as one-sided as it might have seemed. I'd only met Amanda a few times, though, so perhaps this was just wishful thinking.
I talked to James much less than I used to, in the same way I was talking far more to Kit. I don't know if he'd picked up on it, but he never said anything. When we did talk, it was during lessons in which we were forced to sit together, or when there was no one else around, or the occasional MSN conversation that lasted all of five minutes.
I wasn't sure when it had started, but I felt some distant spark of anger every time I was around him that I'd never felt before. Sure, we'd had arguments and I'd been furious with him now and then, but never this constant, dark mood every time I saw him, as it was now. I didn't hate him – I don't think I ever could, really – but I no longer thought of him as my best friend. Logic told me that if I wanted to keep him as any kind of friend, maybe temporary distance was in order until I could get rid of this grating annoyance – no, anger – I felt with him.
He'd done something different to make the situation the way it was – something worse than yelling at me from time to time for associating with queers. To myself, I admitted that it was probably his genuine happiness that I was avoiding Lucca.
For now, there was nothing to be done. Confronting him would mean an argument I wasn't sure we could recover from, as well as having to tell him I wasn't as furious and disgusted by Lucca as I would have him believe.
And so, I put up with his vicious smirks in Lucca's direction without comment, and I listened to Kit complain that she hated crushes, hated not being able to say anything, and I watched Lucca go about things casually, effortlessly, looking as though he'd never even noticed my absence.
"Aargh! This book sucks!"
I shrugged without looking up. "I like it."
Next to me, Kit snorted. "Well of course you do – you're you!"
Ignoring her, I flicked a page and carried on reading. The words spun in my head, pretty, but hard to concentrate on.
'I fear too early, for my mind misgives;
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars.'
I hoped the classic Shakespeare line wasn't a sign of some kind. At this point in time, believing in Romeo's ill-fated prophesy wasn't entirely out of the question. Okay, so I wasn't going to end in glorious, love-struck tragedy any time soon, but neither did it feel as if life would take a turn for the better in the near future.
I'll try to stop sounding so melodramatic now.
It had been a week and a half since I'd been 'outed', and I still wasn't sure what the students around me actually believed. According to Kit and Amanda, who seemed to see it as their duty to keep track of every rumour relating to me and retell it with enthusiasm, there was an almost even split on those who thought I was genuinely gay (most of these were Amy's followers, and took her word implicitly) and those who thought the scene Amy had witnessed was all Lucca's doing, and that I'd been a… less than willing participant, so to speak.
I hadn't known how to react after hearing that last one. To be honest, I genuinely hadn't expected anyone to come to a conclusion like that, even though I suppose it was a fairly obvious one, thinking about it. Nevertheless, it hit me hard.
In effect, it was the exact opposite result to what I'd been hoping for. In that scenario, I was cast as the victim – getting me out of any hard-to-answer questions and earning me the pity vote – but Lucca would be blamed for the entire thing, and further despised. I'd only started ignoring him to get him out of this! What was the point, if this was the outcome…?
The bell jolted me out of my thoughts. I stared at the page in front of me, having just read the whole thing and not taken in a word.
Sighing, I grabbed my bag and stood alongside Kit as we made for the door. Someone shoved me as I passed, but I was becoming used to that kind of treatment. It didn't bother me, as long as I didn't have to participate in a full-out argument. I hated being the centre of attention, which I doubtlessly would be if someone decided to pick a fight.
The sound of laughter and gossip washed over us as we came into the corridor. It was lunch time, and so students lingered around within the building, having nothing better to do.
"So, we going the canteen then?" Kit asked, a bit too casually.
I smirked at her. "Well, considering I know you want to meet 'Manda there, I suppose we'll just have to…"
I chuckled and followed her as she sped up, half with indignity, half with genuine eagerness. She amused me more than ever lately with her newfound crush. I wondered if I'd acted like this (or still did) due to my crush on Lucca. She was so… wrapped up in it. I'd never pegged Kit for the type to fall head-over-heels for anything, let alone another person. She'd always struck me as… immune, I guess, to pesky teenage compulsions. Apparently, I'd been wrong. I liked to think that was a good thing to be wrong about.
We dodged in and out and around the groups of students that filled the hallways as we made for the canteen. By this point, I was finding it almost amusing to note the number of various looks I got as I passed. They ranged from hostile to disgusted to pitying to sympathetic, all within twenty paces.
Realising Kit had drifted further away from me, I started to jog to catch up when noise caught both our attentions. Ahead of me, she slowed as she turned a corner, stopping completely to watch something or other. The rest of the students were massing as well, quick to join her. I fought my way through with difficulty, attempting to reach her side.
"– probably scratch your eyes out or something."
Okee… Weird sentence to overhear half of.
Interested, I finally found myself next to Kit and proceeded to peer in the same direction as everyone else.
What I saw was… worrying, to say the least.
Several of the older guys that still go to this school had gathered in a rough semi-circle around none other than Lucca, who was – of course – left to face them alone. Whichever new friends he'd found himself were nowhere to be seen.
Despite that, he was acting – 'acting' being the key word there – as calm as ever.
One eyebrow raised disdainfully at who I assumed was the last person to speak. "You're kidding…?" was the drawled question, spoken scornfully. "Despite popular belief, I'm not a woman. I doubt the want to 'scratch someone's eyes out' has ever once crossed my mind."
Why? Why did he have to be sarcastic and insulting in every situation? He was going to get himself killed!
Would I be able to just stand here and watch…?
The only reaction his tormentors gave was to snigger and make several obscene comments that, if nothing else, should be given their due for originality.
I risked a glance at Kit. She was biting her lip and looking as on edge as I felt.
"Just hit him!" someone yelled from the watching crowd. I shuddered, feeling the waves of animosity wash over me, all directed at Lucca.
As if that shout had been the starting cue, I watched in horror as one of Lucca's tormentors lunged forward. Before I knew what was happening, I was moving toward them as well. I would have ended up throwing myself across the hallway if Kit hadn't been there. She latched onto me and simply threw me backwards, into the boy that had yelled out moments ago. We both toppled, and in the background I could hear the beginnings of a fight.
The sound of countless teenagers jeering filled my ears as I scrambled to regain my feet. I needed to see what was happening! A loud smack! told me someone had landed a hit, and I had an awful feeling it wasn't who I was hoping for.
And then, suddenly, as I was still fighting my way back to the front, I heard other voices join the chaos. Teachers. God, I'd never been so glad to hear Mr Howard screaming furiously as I was just then.
Finally regaining my place next to Kit, I was confronted with a rather unusual sight. Two other teachers were holding back the boy that had started the fight and Mr Howard actually had Lucca around the waist and was attempting to drag him backwards. He was failing, to say the least.
I could see that Lucca's lip was bleeding, but it hardly looked as if he'd taken it lying down. In amazement, I watched as he kicked and struggled and fought to get at the other boy. His glare was lethal. I gaped as Mr Howard actually hauled him off his feet, hoping it would stop him. Instead, Lucca used his new position to kick out, catching his attacker in the chest with a heavy looking boot. The other boy grunted and stumbled backwards.
There was an odd silence from the students now, with only the scoldings of the teachers and Lucca's cursing to be heard. I don't think anyone really expected to witness what had just happened. Lucca was… vicious. And violent. And he wasn't supposed to be! He was Lucca! He was supposed to be… well, girly.
What the fuck had just happened?!
I was still wide-eyed and staring when amber eyes abruptly fixed on me. Lucca froze for a split second, but it was enough time for Mr Howard to successfully yank him away. Still, he kept his glare on me, even as he was tugged and pulled along the corridor toward the nearest teacher's office. A sneer was the last thing I saw before he was gone from sight.