"Valerie, what is up with you today?" Josie asked me, finally snapping after I'd spent the whole lunchtime moping.

I barely heard her speak. "Huh?"

"Val, all day today you've said maybe 3 words! You're a million miles away, which, granted is fairly normal, but usually you snap out of it by now! What is up girl?" She said the last bit with a dodgy American accent, playing off a long running joke between us, hoping for a smile.

I just looked away. "I dunno Joz, I just feel shitty…"

She looked at me sceptically. "Yeah, if that's it I'm the Queen…" she muttered.

I ignored her, knowing that she would never understand. I wandered away, mumbling something about a bathroom and needing to be there. The general plan was to hide in the toilets until the end of the day, and maybe no one would notice I was gone. Of course, like with most good plans, something unexpected always comes up. In this case, that something was Hayden.

I nearly didn't see him, hiding in the shadow of a pillar. His dark hair mingled with the shadows around him and his eyes, normally intense, were clouded. At first it looked like he was leaning on his arm, lost in a trance, but then I noticed that he was shouting into a phone.

"Bloody hell, what do you expect?!...that's rich!...why would I want that?...oh you're thinking of me now are you? Well I'm not thinking of you!" with that he snapped the phone shut with such ferocity that it almost scared me. Then I saw something that scared me even more. A lone tear traced its way down his cheek. He didn't even try to stop it, forgetting his macho-man image for a moment.

He looked up, saw me watching him and stood up abruptly. He covered the ground between us in a single step and looked menacingly up into my eyes.

"I don't know what you saw, or what you heard, but I swear if you say one word of this to anyone, I'll never let you forget it." He held my gaze for a moment longer, the stormed away.

I didn't know what to think as I swayed on the spot. Forgotten memories came rushing back; his bright blue eyes and the hate that flashed inside them triggering a wave of repressed emotions. Then I realized that it wasn't hate – only fear; fear that maybe someone would discover that his life was beyond perfect, that he had problems too. I recognised the fear that sheltered deep inside his gaze – I saw it everyday when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror.

The bell rang, and I turned, walking quickly to my next lesson. The class began, and I floated through that class, not learning anything about switches and circuit diagrams. I didn't really focus on anything, not the scene with Hayden, not the memory of baring my soul to someone I didn't know. The only thing I felt like doing was sleeping, but each time I closed my eyes, there was Kyle, looking at me, lost for words. The image was burned into my mind, and I hated myself for letting anyone get in that far.

The bell rang and I hardly heard it. I drifted out to my locker, my mind a million miles away, and wandered slowly towards the train station, almost half an hour after everyone else had left. I wanted to get home with at least effort as possible and crawl into my bed, trying once again to forget.

Well, that was the plan at least. Once again, however, someone got in the way of my plan.

"Valerie!" Someone called to me as I approached the intersection in front of the station. I spun around, seeing no one until I caught a glimpse of a hand waving above the rest.

Kyle.

Normally I would have run – the basic instinct that had grown in me since I could remember. However, I didn't. Not sure why, I waited until he reached me, wheezing from the sprint.

"Val, I'm so glad you're ok. You seemed so…hollow the other day…"

I smiled weakly, not speaking. He took my silence as anger and hurried on.

"Look, I'm sorry I pushed it all out of you, but it's good to talk about those things. Besides, how could I bother you this much, this long after it happened?"

I sighed – I hadn't expected him to understand. "Have you ever been bullied?" he shook his head. "It's the worst thing that could ever happen. You feel so alone, like no-one can help. Everyone hates you and soon you begin to hate yourself. You feel smaller than small."

"You don't have to feel that way though – you can talk to someone about it…"

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to trust someone again?"

"You can trust me though…"

I knew I could but something wasn't letting me. I could see he knew that but he wouldn't stop staring at me intently. I was about to try again, to try and explain my issues in a way he might have been able to understand, when someone ran into me, roughly knocking me to the ground.

I looked up, and saw Hayden, and I knew it hadn't been an accident.

So it begins again…


AUTHORS NOTE: OH MY GOD. I AM SO SORRY ABOUT HOW LONG THIS HAS TAKEN. I JUST LOOKED AT THE DATE OF MY LAST UPDATE AND I WAS LIKE 'OMG THOSE POOR PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY LIKE THIS STORY!'

I know im pathetic at updating and I am soooooo sorry. Gah i can't even describe it - THATS how sorry I am. Please forgive me!