innocence and the heathen. ---

prologue.
The new boy wasn't like the rest of us at all. He had tattoos, piercings, and he wore his clothes all wrong. He didn't wear his collar down, he left his tie hanging over his chest, and his belt hung loose around his waist. I'd never seen him shine his shoes, or fix his hair, or button his shirt up properly. The boy just wasn't right. He didn't belong here. Was he a joke? A lesson for the rest of us to learn not to follow people like him? I couldn't figure out why he'd come to this school, but there could only be one reason. Like the rest of us, he was an orphan. There was no place for him in the world. He was dangerous, yet he was too smart to be cooped up inside a correctional facility. The boy wasn't right. They thought, "God will fix him." And away he went, away from their hands. So what do they do? They send him to the sixth highest ranked Catholic boy's school in all of England, with teachers willing to use restraint against him when needed.

During study hall, he leaned against the wall behind me with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Firmly, his arms folded around his chest. The risk he took of not wearing his shirt was a large one, but he didn't seem to think a teacher would be coming around here any time. His best excuse when I warned him was, "It's summer. I shouldn't even be here." Yes, you should be here, because none of us have anywhere else to go. 'Would you rather be in a correctional facility with a bunch of insane kids?' I wanted to ask him. I'm sure if he ended up in one of those places that he'd be too much for them to handle. As long as he was in charge, he could handle it. That's the impression he gave me, anyway. Here, he could feel like he was in charge, but if he ever did something wrong, they'd give him a reason to believe otherwise.

As I copied my own homework in messy writing, he loomed over my shoulder, smoke curling towards me. Coughing, I waved it out of my face and continued writing, but he blew it my way again, his claws resting on my shoulder. I cleared my throat. He was quiet. Obviously, he was doing it on purpose, but for what reason? Irritating me wouldn't be good on his part, considering I was the one doing his homework. My eyes fogged up, so I looked away, resting my chin on my wrist. What was it about him that made my heart race? I surely wasn't afraid of him, yet something about him put me on edge. It may have made me nervous the way he was such a stranger to my world of prayer and belief in God. He seemed like everything that we'd been taught against. Like a…demon.

"Why are you here?" I mumbled, eyes widening at my own words.

I stuttered to recover but he drew a chair out from under the table and slinked down beside me. His gray eyes were playful, but his smirk was far too familiar. Running his hand through his hair, he shrugged, flicking the ash from his cigarette onto the desk. He asked if I was done yet, ignoring my question. Hopefully he'd misheard me and wouldn't say anything else.

He replied suddenly, "I thought you were the smart one here." and headed across the room to the double doors, locking them up. "What do you think it would take to hotbox this place?" he grinned, swinging his arms as he shut the blinds. Bye-bye football players.

Glancing upwards, I was alarmed to realize he'd already sat down at my side again. Time flies when you're doing someone else's homework, I guess. He swung his armaround my neck and nearly planted my face into the desk when he rested his hand on it, wincing at the letters across the page. "What does it say?" he asked, and I paused. I hadn't done that good of a job making it messy.

"You can't read it?"

Awkward silence. "You can't read?"

Awkward silence awkward silence awkward silence. Sigh. Crumple. "Give up before they find out. They'll ask you to read from the Bible when you end up in detention. Then what?" I questioned.

He furrowed his eyebrows and rubbed at his forehead with an aggravated expression. "Lauren? You're Lauren Kenneth, aren't you?" I realized, nearly bashing my elbows into the table as I covered my face with my hands. I was prepared to scream.

"So it's true, then, eh? Everyone knows Lauren Kenneth, the fucking retard."

Wince. I peeked an eye open and sighed at him. He didn't seem to notice, and he squeaked his shoes wretchedly against the floor tiles. That horrifying noise.

"We're orphans. You just came late…which is…"

"Weird? Go on, pretty boy, and fucking say it!" he shouted, his fists clenched in his lap.

"No, not weird…" Breathe. Breathe. Keep calm. "Unfortunate."

Shrugging, his shoes crossed paths with the floor again, and I carved my hand around his arm. "Don't do that…" I swallowed.

Suddenly, I realized my mistake. He dropped his cigarette on the table, letting the smoke lift to the ceiling. The ceiling…? "Put that out!" I shouted, but the water already came showering down on us. He chuckled and held his arms out, shaking his hair away from his face. It was like he wanted this. "Oh…" I groaned, shaking my hands as I ran for the double doors. My shoes slid from underneath me as my arm was grabbed, and I fell to the ground at my knees, pouting my lips and letting myself sink onto the floor.

"Abbott's sermon can wait. You're getting me out of this." he decided for me, dragging me across the floor by my ankle and breaking the lock open on the closet. "Hurry on, then!" he called, flipping me onto my back and grasping my slippery fingers to pull me up. Darkness surrounded the two of us, and our chests heaved up and down. Shivering, I held my arms around myself and closed my eyes tight. Some study hall this ended out to be. "You're one skinny little bloke, aren't you?" he laughed, shaking his head. I didn't understand where that came from. "That hardly passed as air conditioner in this bloody heat."

"Hey, you've got muscles, at least. Try football out and you'll be just like the rest of us." I pointed out.

"Nah, football's for the girls." he said in a quiet voice. It wasn't softer than usual, but it was quiet.

The two of us hesitated for a while, catching our breaths and eventually falling to the soft carpeted floor of the closet. Sighing, he shifted in front of me and his fingers reached at my buttons. I smacked his hands away and blushed, bringing my knees up to my face and hugging them.

"Hm, go ahead an' freeze, then…" he taunted, pulling his shoes and socks off.

Grimacing, I tilted my head onto the wall and peeked without effort through a crack in the closet door. It had stopped pouring, but a thin layer of water shimmered against the ground. Finally, he did something. He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the closet. We ran across the damp floor and bolted through the left wing's corridors, our hands latched together. When he suddenly stopped at his door, I nearly flung past him, but his hand pulled me inside the dim dormitory. He caught his breath and collapsed to the ground, his chest moving up and down in laughter. I glared and stepped past him, flicking the light on when I reached the bathroom. Drenched. "We should hang out more." he remarked from the room, though I considered that this was figurative speaking that I was a geek.

I headed into the room and observed everything before taking my place somewhere dangerous. Or is that what I want? Sinking down on his bed, I buried my fingers into the soft sheets, gazing lifelessly at the wall. He turned his head and his eyebrows twitched towards me. His lips hung open like a beast frothing at the mouth. The boy was a beast, but he only watched. He was a patient, swift hunter…not yet a creature who I would come to despise for his very existence. Lauren slowly waded to the curtains on the other side of the room, his glance following the reflection of the glass windows. Silently, I shivered, my mouth closed and my teeth clenched. The room was dark. The room was quiet. He closed the curtains, his eyes darting to my place on the bed. Soon, the sheets slid away. I closed my eyes and rest my head back on the pillows as he stepped towards me, his shoes thudding on the carpet. I could feel him close to me; breathing on my face. My hand was clasped between his and his fingers roamed along my wrist…across my palm…between my fingers. Entangled.

Another hand roamed to my buttons, twitching against my soft skin and peeling away my second flesh, my shirt. A hand buckled against my side, lips traced around my hardening nipple, and an arm slipped underneath my thigh. The rain poured outside, but we kept on living. Eyes…followed mine, which opened at the touch of his tongue on my bottom lip. The lips stayed closed. His eventually gave up and closed, smoothing against mine. I mean it. We should. Touch where there shouldn't be, pulling at my zipper.

"No…" I refused, pulling my eyes away from his as the rain tapped along the window.

Lauren liked boys. This is what had been eating me. I'd seen him in the halls, his eyes crossing with mine. Maybe that's why I tried to help him. I knew he would see me. But it was wrong…so wrong. It was against everything I believed in, and I just couldn't bring myself to disobey what I'd been taught my whole life. I didn't love him, nor did I want to. Someone had to get my head around the fact that this was not right. It took me so long to realize who he was, but at the same time, so little. You don't need to know a person's reputation when you've experienced it. Being with him was dangerous, and I couldn't do it anymore. I just couldn't find a reason to leave.

"Fine." he muttered, forcing himself away to sit as a partner to the rain again, tapping his head onto the window. Sheets wrapped around my body, ghosts, and I grasped them with my shivering fingers, my eyelashes sliding across and dampening them. He said, "I'm dying." but I gave it no thought, ignored the pang in my chest,and shut my eyes. While I was sleeping, his fingers stayed away, though the rain never did. My eyes rained on for the rest of the night, the ghost fingers wept against my body, and the rain fell all over me.