I watched him sitting there, seething in silence. It was stalemate; it was pretty damn obvious that the first move made would determine the entire outcome of the situation. However, when it came, I think everyone but him was ready for it. With a single word, everything around him seemed to pause, and he seemed visibly shaken. The word was like a punch in the gut, cruel, devastating and not even actually true, not yet, at least. One word, and the most beautiful boy I had ever seen seemed to snap, or break, or something, as he shot his former friend a terrible, wounded look that I hoped never to see again. The other boy lifted his chin, his chest heaving with what could only have been anger. He said it loud and clear, and the room seemed to shiver.
He stood up quickly, knocking his chair over in the process, and even I could tell that he was beyond angry. Instinctively, I held my breath, waiting for him to explode. It almost reminded me of the night I came out to my dad, except a hundred times more tense- it was only a couple of months before, and I remained adamant that the shock was one of the only reasons he let the Stepmonster convince him I should go to boarding school. Still. I didn't think anything could have been more excruciatingly tense than the forty minutes I waited for him to come back down from his room... until now. The tension around me was suffocating and the atmosphere was downright unbearable in the best way. It was like a train wreck, because it was awful and we still couldn't look away- we were all waiting for him to put on a show. Of course, he didn't disappoint.
"You know what? You can just shut the fuck up, Seth." His voice was deadly- quiet and silky and frankly pretty damn terrifying. I couldn't help shivering at that voice, little slivers of attraction working their way up my spine. It was so malicious and strong and so fucking sexy- and I swear I'd never thought that before, never thought it about anyone in my life, boy or girl, but it was the only word that seemed to do him justice when he looked like that, with his black hair unruly and shaggy. He looked like he'd just crawled out of bed, and I took a mental snapshot without wondering if he had, or who he'd been in bed with.
Seth smiled slowly and humourlessly back at him, taking in the undertones of anger- he was the only person in the room who seemed unaffected. We all watched, completely transfixed. Even if Mrs Meyer had come through the door at that very second, I doubt she would have been able to tear our eyes away. It wasn't every day that we saw a showdown like that. In fact, we had never seen a showdown as intense as the one currently unfolding; in our little school, there weren't many people capable enough of creating one and, well, we'd never expected it from them.
Anyone outside of our little school bubble would have thought they were a couple. The two boys were both absolutely flawless, and perfectly matched physically and intellectually- one smaller, slender, raven-haired and beautiful, the other a pillar of blonde strength and masculinity. They were both known for their stupid bets and their tendency to out-drink everyone else and still be sober enough to be manipulative. To be honest, I always thought that Seth wanted people to think they were together, because he was so damn possessive all the time, so horribly intense and moody around anyone who approached them. It felt kind of inappropriate, watching them together. As if they were screwing on a regular basis, such were the intimate vibes they gave off. Until now, they had seemed unbreakable.
Seth's voice was just as beautiful as his friend's, albeit for different reasons. The slight lilt in his voice from his years in Scotland almost softened his words, but the poison in them was unmistakable.
"You know what, October?" He practically purred his friend's name, and I saw Andrea's eyes widen as her lips curled upwards. I inwardly smirked, reminding myself to warn her about it later (after all, only a new kid would let October see them laugh at his name) and hunched over my desk, trying to feign disinterest as the boy's eyes met mine. He didn't look amused, but I wasn't important enough to distract him from Seth's reply; I could see him thinking it. I silently agreed with him.
"I don't think I will," Seth continued, seeming to choose his words carefully. "You're a fucking wreck, and I'm sick of you. I don't give a shit if your mother abandoned you, babe, and I don't even give a shit if you're drowning your sorrows. I'm bored of watching you stagger into our room completely off of your face. What I care about, October," again, he drew out the name, practically growling, "is you bringing my sister into it. I care about you driving her around when you've had six or seven too many. I care that your reckless driving has her in the hospital when you're here with barely a scratch to show for it. I don't fucking care what you think anymore, because you deserve whatever's coming to you, okay?"
I have to admit I was impressed by Seth's calm demeanour. I could see October shaking, and at first I was just really afraid that he was having some sort of crazed fit and would start a real fight. And then I realised that his shoulders were heaving, and he was sobbing, and dropping to his knees. All of his dignity left him in a single movement, and I saw that even Seth was at a loss to how to react. Something sharp pierced at my subconscious, and as I looked at October, I remembered how it felt to be that hopeless. I remembered the pain.
And I couldn't stop myself. Andrea's cries of "Jake, don't!" couldn't snap me out of my trance. Without even really registering what I was doing, I went over to October, and picked him up. I vaguely remember feeling glad I'd not lost the strength I'd built up last year at all those gym sessions with the boys back home, but after that it's all a little hazy. I remember unlocking the door to my room, and Leo helping me to get October onto my bed, giving up his free period to go and tell Mrs Meyer where I was. I remember spending the night with a boy crying onto my shoulder, and knowing it was the weakest he'd ever let anybody see him at.
The rumours started pretty soon after and people came up with some crazy stories. I heard that I was his secret lover, that Seth was ridiculously jealous, and even that I'd challenged Seth to some sort of fight. It didn't matter to me, though. The truth saw me through it. I knew the truth of that night, and I knew the real story was only just beginning. I didn't know then that that night would change my life. I didn't know anything, except that the boy who had once helped me was now in need of my assistance, and it was time I woke up and stopped trying to be invisible.
That was the night I met October.