In Your Dreams
Starting over was never easy. Especially for somebody far from the social norm, which Suzu was. He was not only an antisocial, book-smart, gay hermit. He also happened to have weird ass visions that left him with terrible headaches. Oh, and he could move stuff with his mind.
The crisp crunch of autumn leaves under his feet almost made Suzu forget that he'd usually be tuning into the music on his iPod right about now. Instead, he was walking alone in a large, empty quad, his headphones hanging around his neck, his hands in his coat pockets. The sound of the leaves crinkling beneath his black leather dress shoes was strangely comforting in the absence of his music.
Suzu lifted his gaze from his feet and noticed that he'd reached a cluster of two story buildings with an archway entrance and a sign made of wrought iron that proclaimed "DORMITORY." He stopped before the entrance to remove his class schedule and dorm assignment from his pocket. Unfolding it, he found that he was in Room 24-D.
Looking back up at the cluster of buildings, he saw that each had a big white number painted on a placard tacked to its front door. Number 12. Still a ways to go, then.
It was a pleasant walk through the stone walkways. The buildings seemed to only have three color schemes; blue and white, green and white, and yellow and white. They seemed to have been built identically, and looked similar to apartment buildings.
When he finally found his building, green and white, he tromped up the four steps to the door, staring at it for a moment. Should he knock? Then his fingers touched the warmed metal of the key that Ms. Bromwell, the Headmistress, had given him. Right.
Taking it out, he opened the door to a warm and welcoming aura. The building was empty of people at the moment, since class was still in session, but as he gazed around at the interior, he immediately liked the lived-in feel of it. There were shoes stacked haphazardly to the left of the door. There were sneakers, boots, even a pair of expensive-looking Doc Martens. Suzu wondered if he was supposed to put his shoes into the pile. He'd rather not, so he moved on.
The kitchen was cramped. The dining room was a bit bigger, but clearly, the table in there was not meant for all of the inhabitants to eat at, because it only had four chairs. The common room looked the most lived in—there was a blanket draped over one of the three couches, as though someone had napped there recently. The television was still on, so Suzu went into the room to turn it off. He was used to conserving energy at home, since his absentminded father was constantly forgetting to do things like turn off the light. He had to step over a pile of magazines heaped up beside the coffee table, and he kicked them over as he did so.
"Ugh…" Suzu switched the television off, then turned around and knelt beside the magazines to organize them back into a pile. The magazines were an assortment of very male types; Suzu saw Sports Illustrated, a pile of Car and Motorcycles, there were even a couple of Playboys. As he swept the magazines up, he happened upon a face on one of the Playboys that caught his attention. He stared at the face, trying to place where he knew it. He could swear that he'd seen her before…
The front door swung open with gusto, and he could hear several boys' voices.
"Hey, who's that?" he heard one of the boys ask another.
"I dunno, but check it out! He's already drooling over your mags, Bryce."
Before Suzu could do anything about the current Playboy under his fingers, one of the boys was standing right behind him, looking over his bent body at the magazine in his hands. The boy chuckled. Suzu looked up. It was too late to try and push the magazine underneath the others and pretend he hadn't been looking at it. He'd only make an ass—and a liar—out of himself. It was thoroughly embarrassing.
The boy he was looking at grinned at him.
"Like what you see?" The boy teased.
Suzu wasn't sure what to say. He didn't think explaining her familiarity would go over well… Wasn't the phrase "I swear I've seen you before" some kind of pick-up line?
When Suzu failed to come up with something acceptable to say, the boy continued speaking, perhaps aware of his discomfort.
"I don't know you. You must be the new kid the R.A. told us about this morning."
"Yes." Suzu looked back down at the smiling woman on the magazine. She had an intense gaze. It reminded Suzu of someone, but he couldn't place who. He put the magazine down. He thought about explaining about the whole television thing, and knocking the magazines down and trying to tidy up after his mess, but he decided there was no point.
Suzu put a hand on the coffee table beside him and pushed himself up. The boy who'd been leaning over him straightened himself as well and took a step back to give him room, but he was still watching him with amused hazel eyes.
Suzu noted that he was a pretty attractive young man, probably a year or two older than he; and several inches taller—for Suzu was pretty short at only 5'4". The other boy's slightly wavy hair was a strange color. Or colors. Even in the artificial light of the overhead light, he could see light brown, pale red and blondish streaks. He wondered if the boy dyed it. Above all, though—despite the unusual hair color and everything—the most notable feature of the other boy were his striking hazel eyes. They almost seemed to swirl with amusement and curiosity… That is, if Suzu was reading him right.
Suddenly, the guy stuck his hand out. Suzu blinked, taken aback.
"Wh-what…?" Suzu stared at the hand.
"Hi. I'm Ilya," the boy said. Suzu's gaze went from the hand back to Ilya's face. His smile was lopsided, curling up on one side. It was a strange smile, but inviting. Suzu hesitantly placed his hand in Ilya's.
"Renjiro Tadashi," he introduced himself, habitually using his first name. His voice sounded stunned, even to himself. He wasn't used to this; people being friendly and shaking his hand. He'd expected it from the Headmistress, of course. But not from any of the students.
"Japanese?" Ilya asked, his head tilting just slightly. His eyes even seemed to smile as he regarded Suzu. When he let go of Suzu's hand, Suzu could still feel the warmth of it. He had to fight the urge to touch his hand where Ilya had touched it, tracing the outline of where foreign skin had touched his. He opted to stick his hands back into his pockets to keep the urge at bay.
"Yes. Well, technically, three-quarters." And to clear up any further misunderstandings, he added, "I've never actually been there myself, though." He couldn't even count how many times people asked him what it was like in Japan.
"Yeah, my ma's from Russia, and my dad's from Canada, but I've never been to either place myself," Ilya responded in an easy tone. Suzu found himself somewhat in awe of that easy tone. He had to fight with himself to get anything to sound casual. Most people said he seemed overly serious. "I was born and raised here in Moon Springs, actually. It's a nice place. I'm sure you'll fit in and make a lot of friends pretty fast."
Somehow, Suzu doubted that. He'd never had an easy time just chatting with strangers. Most of the time, they gave up on him, or called him a snob because he took to wearing his headphones all the time. That meant he didn't hear them call for him in the hallways, and they assumed he was ignoring them. The guys all called him a sissy because he was smaller than them, and the girls thought he was full of himself, so they talked crap about him. He didn't even really mind any of it. For the most part, he'd lived in his own little world. Coming home and studying, watching National Geographic Channel with his dad, listening to music, reading books, and writing; that was how he spent his days.
He did not spend his days "hanging out." He barely knew what it meant. To him, it just looked like a gang of kids lazing about in a restaurant or coffee joint, laughing loudly over other people's misfortunes.
Ilya must have seen the dubious look on his face, because he laughed and said, "Seriously. You might think that people from a smaller place like this would be all… tight-knit. But it's not like that, really. Everyone'll be thrilled to meet a new guy. Especially the girls."
Ilya didn't even try to hide the frank direction of his eyes as they swept over Suzu's body like some kind of heat laser; his gaze causing flowers of warmth to bloom deep in his belly and blood to rush to his cheeks. And of course, he was wearing his tightest shirt beneath a formfitting black coat and fitted slacks, so every contour of his body seemed to be magnified like a million percent. It didn't help that Ilya didn't seem displeased at what he saw.
Suzu ducked his head to hide his blush as Ilya winked at him. This feeling was not familiar at to him. A little like embarrassment, but there was something different about it. Not sure where to look now, he found himself looking behind Ilya, at the other guys who'd come in. Ilya's gaze followed Suzu's.
"Oh! That's Owen," Ilya said, gesturing to a chubby boy with short brown hair and rectangular, black-framed glasses that seemed to keep sliding down his nose. "I think he's going to be your new roommate."
Owen looked up from where he'd been spreading jam on a piece of toast. His smile was also open and friendly.
"Hi! Welcome to Gold Leaf Academy! 24-D, right?"
Suzu nodded. He looked at the others. All of them were wearing the school's uniform. Well, classes had just let out. Of course they were. Suzu couldn't help but notice that the uniform didn't look half bad on Ilya. Though it did look a little stiff on Owen, who seemed like he would be more comfortable in some other type of dress.
When Suzu had been given his set of uniforms, he'd been pleased. It was almost the type of thing he'd wear every day, anyway. Well except that he didn't necessarily like plaid. The uniform consisted of green and gold plaid pants, high collared button-up dress shirt (white), green tie with thin gold stripes, and dark green blazer. They were supposed to wear dark socks and loafers, or shoes similar to Suzu's own, with it.
Looking at these boys now, he noticed that they were in various undress now. Owen had loosened his tie, and his blazer was hanging off his arm. Ilya's tie was untied and hanging loosely around his neck. Though he still wore the blazer, it was unbuttoned and hanging open. The top two buttons on his shirt were also unbuttoned.
As for the others that were in the kitchen; there was a tall black boy with dreadlocks and a short, stocky Latino kid. Ilya pointed to each one as he introduced them.
The tall black boy flashed him a grin from where he was standing before the open fridge. His blazer was hanging around his waist, and his shirt open, revealing an undershirt beneath it. He lifted two fingers.
"And that's Francisco."
The short, stocky Mexican nodded in greeting as he left the kitchen to throw himself onto the couch and flipped the television back on with the remote that sat on the couch's arm. He had ditched his blazer and shirt, thrown them on the kitchen table. He, too, was wearing an undershirt.
Ilya looked around the room, apparently having expected to see more guys, which only served to make Suzu wonder just how many people lived in dorm 24.
"I guess the others went to their rooms or aren't here yet. But you'll get to know all of them eventually. We're all pretty good guys."
Suzu smiled tightly in response. He didn't think of himself as shy. He just found it useless to waste his breath on words most of the time. But wasn't that what socializing was all about? He detested the idea of wasted words, but how else did one communicate with others…? Ugh, but small talk was so lame. He wracked his brain for some kind of topic for conversation, but came up empty-handed.
"Well, I've gotta go make sure my stuff got to my room and unpack it," Suzu said, backing away towards the hallway even as he spoke. If he couldn't think of anything to say, he might as well make a quick retreat, right?
Ilya rose an eyebrow.
"Like to keep busy?" he asked.
"Something like that."
"Well, I'll let you get to it, then. I've got to go study with my friends. But make yourself at home, and don't be afraid to tell 'Cisco to turn off his boxing so you can watch something more interesting."
Suzu glanced at the television and confirmed that yes; the guy called Francisco was watching boxing.
Although, he really doubted he'd be watching much television. He was more of a reader. And above all else, an avid music fan. Mostly punk rock or alternative. And television offered very little when it came to music. Seriously. Why did they bother having an MTV or a VH-1 if all they were going to do was have boring dating shows where all the girls were catty bitches and the guys were a bunch of vain peacocks who put each other down to feel better about themselves?
Ilya seemed satisfied with his verbal answer and gave him another one of those lop-sided grins before he grabbed his backpack and left the dorm.
Wow. Okay. So, he'd officially socialized with some of his dorm mates, and even knew some of their names. He tried to commit them all to memory as he trudged down the hallway to D. He opened the door, and wasn't surprised to see that his new room was also inviting and lived in. As he set his messenger bag down on his bed—he knew it was his by the luggage sitting on it—he briefly wondered what had happened to the kid who'd shared the room with Owen before. He hoped his new roommate wasn't a loud snorer or some kind of obnoxious loudmouth or something.
Now that he was all official and everything, he wondered how long it would be before he was an outcast here, too. Because he wasn't exactly, you know, normal.
Yeah, he was definitely not normal, and this was what was bothering him as he shoved his luggage off the bed so that he could sink into it and stare up at the ceiling. He pillowed his head with his arms.
He was feeling fine right now. There were no headaches, no strange visions plaguing him. Yet. But it was only a matter of time before he was found out to be a weirdo by the other kids. He'd miss class a few times too many and they'd start whispering about him in the halls. He might have a particularly vivid vision and cry out in the middle of class. That would get a few laughs. And also alienate him.
Suzu closed his eyes. Maybe it was better if he just steered clear of making any friends, despite his father's intentions.
They'd betray him anyway.
Opening his eyes, he slid his headphones up over his ears and switched on his iPod.
Slowly, his eyes began to close once more as he was lulled into his dreams by the piano in Evanescence's "Like you."