-i promise to depart, just promise one thing-

-kiss my eyes and lay me to sleep-

in which we discover the nature of tyler.

It's past one when he appears beside my bunk, slipping his hand inside the school regulation grey blankets. I want to tell him to let me sleep just this once but I stopped speaking a long time ago. He wouldn't listen anyway. He never does. He's got lots of us; he's always telling me that he can replace me in a shot. I'm not sure I like that idea or not. He never does anyway, it's just an empty threat.

"Ant. It's time." He whispers into my ear, his hot breath tickling the delicate skin. I don't like it when he's so close. I don't like him being so intimate. We're not good at being affectionate, I guess that's one of the things we've got in common.

I shove him away with cold hands, glaring as I rub them together. It's so cold in the night. I don't know why the school bothers to associate itself with a reputation, it's common knowledge we've been sent here to be disciplined.

Except for me.

I'm not sure why I'm here. I mean, at this school. With him. I'm not sure why he bothers with me. It's all messed up. I'm all messed up.

"For fuck's sake Ant, stop being such a prick for once! God, I don't know why you're even here…"

Fuck you.

He's dragging me down the corridor with a firm grip. I want to slap his hands off of my skin, but those hands have been all over me. I try to wash them off in the morning showers, but I scrub and scrub till the soap's a slither of a bar and he's still there.

God, I hate him.

"In here." He pushes me into a convenient room and locks the door behind us. I try to push him away, heart beating fast, I don't want this, but he pins my hands above my head. He's shorter than I am but more muscled and I can't fight him off as he slams me into the wall.

This is the third time this has happened this fortnight.

I hate this room. I hate that it's always empty. I hate the lock. I hate the combined stench of sweat and cleaning products. He knows this. Sometimes we go to the boys' toilets instead but it's always so much riskier in there.

I think he likes the risks. He likes the thrill of being nearly caught, I know that, he's told me that before.

I just want him off me, but he's biting at my neck. That's why he prefers boys to girls, they don't fight him off as much. Hands slip under the hem of my shirt, making me shiver as he grips at my sides.

"You're so fucking ugly, Ant. All skin and bone, it's disgusting."

He tells me this every time. I'm used to it, used to every move he makes. Next he'll slide his fingers down towards the waistband of my trousers. I hate that my body automatically reacts to him, it's a betrayal of my body to my brain. I'm mute even when he's hitting every nerve in my body with his own. I cry instead.

I don't want this, I never wanted this, I hate him, I hate everything he does.

I screamed the first time he did it. It hurt so much that my voice ripped out of my frozen vocal chords, leaving my throat feeling like it was burning.

He doesn't care. At least, I don't think he does. He's almost wild in the way he goes about life, so much so that it scares me.

"That's all, Ant. That's all."

He leans over me again and I move to push him away but can't.

His eyes are wide as we hear someone outside. It's probably one of the staff on night-patrol and we're good at evading them, but we're still trying to be quiet. We both let out a sigh of relief as the footsteps pass away.

We learnt how to tell footsteps apart a long time ago. Teachers will walk kicking down their heels to make sharp sounds resound through the corridors while students will shuffle quietly. Only the sluts walk with clicking noises from their heels. Only Sophie walks so that you can hear her from a mile away.

I guess that's Sophie for you.

I don't really want to talk about Sophie right now. She's his girlfriend and shoos away anything that could be a whisper of competition. I guess it's good that she doesn't know her boyfriend's spending his nights with various boys.

"Ant, get out now." His voice is urgent, unusual for him. He never panics about anything. Nothing ever upsets him. I want to ask him why I need to get out of the room, but I can't, for obvious reasons. Not talking has never been so frustrating as it is when I'm with him.

I don't know why I stopped talking. It was about two years ago, when I first started this school. I just…woke up one day and decided that there was no point in saying things when people wouldn't listen.

"Ant, go the fuck away!" I don't want to leave, I realise this startling revelation. I don't want to leave him alone here with whatever inner demons he's got because, much as I hate him, no one deserves to go through that kind of thing on their own. I should have pushed him away more forcefully. I could have prevented this.

So I look at him. Really, properly, for the first time in two years. I look into his face, see how he's lost the childish face from fifteen. He's striking now, the light from the hinge of the door filtering across his features. It's almost ethereal.

I'm still not sure why he wants me to leave because I've been caught up in my thoughts for the past few minutes, but I get an inclination when I hear the jingle of keys outside of the door. The teacher's asking the caretaker why the door was locked.

So I tune into their conversation, straining to hear the distinct words.

"…door…Why would it be locked?…No students allowed…Fire hazard…"

"I don't know!…Door's left unlocked all the time…Very precise about security…" The caretaker's voice is easier to make out than the teacher's, lower in pitch and higher in volume. The teacher's trying to quiet him down and I almost want to laugh because the caretaker's one of the grumpiest men around.

Then I realise what will happen if we get caught.

I turn to face him, eyes wide, breath catching in my throat as he places his hand over my mouth.

"Just…you go out first. Maybe they'll leave if they think that only you're in there. Let's save both of us getting into trouble, hmm?" He hisses into my ear, other hand gripping my elbow tightly.

I hate you.

I should have known that he was only bothered about his own self-preservation. What's saying has an element of truth to it though; if they saw him come out of the room on his own, they'd be suspicious. Everyone knows of his reputation. Me though…No one knows me here.

So I step out, shaking him loose and unlocking the door with a trembling hand.

The two members of staff look a bit surprised, to tell you the truth. Then it changes to anger.

"What on Earth are you doing here? Don't you know that the school is out of bounds after lights out?!" The teacher's the first one to speak, while the caretaker fumes quietly. I can hear him mumbling about spoilt little brats and frankly it amuses me.

I say nothing.

I always say nothing.

"Were you in there with someone else?" I glance up, startled. Maybe he'll have gotten out of the room somehow. Maybe he's hidden. I'm kidding myself though, I know that I'm wrong. We're both about to be caught.

The teacher takes one step into the room, passing her torch to the caretaker, who snatches it from her angrily. The light's almost not bright enough to cast shadows on the overhead walls, but the light still shocks me after a good hour of darkness.

My partner in crime joins me in the hallway a few minutes later. I don't want to see his expression. He'll be angry. He always is.

"What in flying hell is going on here?"

I glance down towards the floor, but I swear I can almost hear him smirk.

"Well, Ant and I were having a discussion."

The teacher addressed me. "I'm going to give you five minutes to tell me what was going on in there before I'm taking you to the headmaster."

"Ant can't talk sir, he's mute." He's talking in my place and while I'm thankful, I can't believe that he's just been so stupid.

"Oh, now is he? So, Anthony, perhaps you can tell me what kind of a discussion you can have when you don't talk. Perhaps you should tell the headmaster instead."

Shit.

He gives me a look. I can tell that he wants me to miraculously start talking but he doesn't understand that I just…I can't.

-

That's how we find ourselves in the headmaster's office first thing the next day. I wasn't able to sleep all night, hard as I tried. I get like that sometimes – there are nights when I can't sleep at all but wind up sleeping through my classes. I guess that's a general teenager's sleep schedule. That's what my mum keeps telling me anyway.

She's going to go crazy when she hears about this. Not the boy loving boy part, but the part where we snuck into a room in the middle of the night and had crazy fun-time.

Yeah, she and Patrick are going to freak.

"For fuck's sake Ant, speak." He hisses angrily into my ear. I can't help but notice his usually carefully-messed uniform is neat and tidy. Maybe he really wants to stay here, at this school. You can never tell though, not with him.

Do I want to leave him? I don't know. Do I want to leave the school? No, I don't think so.

"Anthony, if you could tell us just what you were doing, I wouldn't have to punish you quite so severely." The headmaster's eyes are kind. Does he know? I think he must do, because his expression turns stern when he looks at the boy beside me.

"Tyler-"

"It's not Tyler, sir."

The headmaster seems to loom above us in that moment then. It's almost reminiscent of those cartoons I watched as a child, when I would hide in my mother's lap from Team Rocket, or the Daleks.

"Your name is Tyler and that is how I will address you. Furthermore, perhaps you could explain what was going on at half-past one in the stock room while everyone else was sleeping, because you'd better have a damned good explanation!" He stands up, away from his desk and paces the wooden floor. "Not once, once, in all my fifteen years at this school have I had to deal with a case like this. Not once. Tyler Bedford, you are a menace to your friends, family and society in general it seems!

Tyler snickers under his breath, almost inaudibly, but the headmaster seems to pick up on that. He leans his face in towards Tyler's, flecks of his spittle hitting him. He doesn't flinch.

"You are insolent, rude and generally foul, boy! I kept you on at this school as a favour to your father but if you step out of line one more time, you will be expelled! Do you hear me?"

There's a general pause as Tyler thinks his words over. To show weakness, or to bow before the law of this school? Considering the fact that he's meant to be clever, I can see his thoughts across his face. He's blunt though, I guess.

It's my turn next.

"I'll ask you one more time, Anthony. What were you doing in that cupboard? Don't force me to have to punish you like Tyler here." His hand sweeps out to indicate just who exactly he means, almost as if he thinks I'm blind as well as mute. I don't like how he's treating me.

My legs and hands shake involuntarily and Tyler glances down towards my twitching knee, tapping out its own morse code against the floor. He smirks, before raising his eyebrow at me. I get what he's doing. Even if there's a teacher in the room, he can still bully me into not saying what he wants.

My mouth opens to try and speak, a tunnel of contained words, but all that comes out is a croak. Two years of silence have damaged my throat.

"...I..." I paused, the one word burning my throat, my vocal chords feeling as if they were being cut with a knife. "Want-" A swallow of breath; the headmaster's looking slightly less angry. Good. "Tyler to leave-" I bent over double in my slumped sitting position to cough harshly, but was determined to finish. "The room."

Tyler looks towards me, shocked, his smug expression replaced by one of surprise. He didn't expect me to talk; I can tell. The bastard thought that he could just get away with everything he's done. The headmaster's expression has changed as well, but to one of glee. I'm playing right into his hands, I can tell.

"Well, Tyler, I suppose you'd best leave myself and Mr Rosoff alone for a while to discuss what you were "discussing"."

Then the cards all change hands.

Tyler squeezes me on the shoulder as he passes by, with a barely concealed whisper of, "Good luck, lover."

Oh shit, it's all gone to hell now.

I should've known- if he couldn't defeat his own punishment, he'd make damn sure I didn't either.

"What was that, Tyler?" The headmaster's tone is low and dangerous, the look in his eyes resembling one of a predator's. Tyler's won here.

"What? Oh, I was merely wishing Ant here luck. As his friend, you know."

Footsteps pace the floor to in front of me, forcing me to look up. I meet his eyes for a split second before examining my shoes again.

"Anthony, I'd like to know what the hell is going on here."

Silence.

I don't know what to say. Nails bite my palms, sweat paints my forehead and under my arms. I'm thinking of silly thoughts – did I put on enough deodorant? Is my shirt clean? My hair's greasy, I can see the single strands hanging thickly in front of my eyes.

I blink. Clear my throat.

"Anthony?"

"I don't know what to say, sir."

That seems to clarify whatever he was thinking, at least. He's not spitting fury at me, but I can tell I didn't admit what he wanted me to. He's not that bad, for a teacher, at least.

"You'll be punished the same way as Tyler, you understand?" I nod in response, still keeping my eyes trained to the floor. It's easier. Far easier.

We're pushed out of the office with a promise of long-lasting detentions and an eventual suspension, but I can't bring myself to care much. It sounds pathetic, but I'm more worried about his reaction. He can cause me more harm than any suspension can.

We step out onto the path, my 6ft frame dwarfing his height of 5'8. He looks like a God next to me.

There's silence, at least, until we get out of view of the school and start across the field to the main sixth form block. There, the cameras can't follow us.

He slams a punch into my stomach, swearing loudly as the impact has him clutching his hand. He curved his hand too much; he caught the blow on his knuckles. The punch hasn't left me unaffected either; I'm struggling for breath as he glares at me.

I can't breathe all of a sudden, and not just because I'm winded.

"Why did you do that? You idiot!" I've never seen him look so young before, the anger contorting his face into something other than his usual expression. He doesn't pretend around me. That's one thing I have over Sophie, but I've never been into tallying her losses before now.

"What did you expect me to say?" The words leave my throat feeling like sandpaper imbedded with glass, a feeling not entirely pleasant. I've never been much for pain.

He narrows dark eyes at me, twisting the corners of his mouth into something resembling his natural smirk.

"You're talking."

No shit Sherlock.

I nod at him, attempting to stretch my back out again. My stomach hurts. I just want to get back to my bunk and pack my things.

"I didn't think you were actually able to speak." His voice has a tone I've never heard before – it's almost childish, with a hint of a hysterical giggle. If my brain isn't deceiving me, I'm watching him fall apart.

"I've never had any reason to talk before now." I ignore the pain for once, more than a little curious to see what's up with the boy next to me. I've never seen him look so different before.

"What are your parents going to say?" He says after a few moments of silence. We've resumed walking again, the damp from the dew of the grass soaking into the sides of my shoes. I'm quiet while I think of an answer. We're nearly at the dorm now. This will nearly be the end of everything.

"They'll probably be a little freaked. I've never done anything like this with a boy before." I admit quietly.

He snorts loudly. "Diddums. You were a fuck-up before you came here though, I nicked your records."

There's shock before the anger registers and I find myself clutching at his shirt in full view of the main window.

"You know?"
"I know everything about you, Anthony Bedford, from your PE skiving habits to your father's living arrangements."

I can't think of any words.

"You're a cunt, Tyler." My throat's still killing me.

He chuckles lowly. "It's Kook, Ant."