"Who's the new kid?"
"I heard he's called Kieran. Is he really as good looking as they say?"
"You mean you haven't seen him yet? He's like a god..."
Nate groaned and let his forehead sink to the desk. He was tired, he had a headache, and no one would shut up about the new transfer student. Every girl in the school seemed to want to not only talk about him, but squeal and gossip across the classrooms. What happened to note passing, secret diaries and whispered confessions when it came to girls with crushes? Nate wondered bitterly. He's only been here a week too.
"Good morning!" came a sing-song voice to his left. Nate muttered something unintelligible in reply. As he turned his face to watch the bouncy brunette sit down in the empty neighboring desk. Her elbow length hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail and adorned with a very loud, scrunched up black and yellow hair tie.
"Hung over?" Stephanie asked cheerfully as she pulled her English books out of her bag. Nate closed his eyes and focused on enjoying the feeling of the cold wood against his cheek. He wasn't hung over – he had been up all night working on his essay and she knew it.
"If only you had helped me with it," he muttered, flinching at the sound of her pens as they clattered to her desk. "I could have been done days ago and gone out this weekend."
"Oh, I forgot you haven't finished that essay!" Stephanie exclaimed in exaggerated surprise. Nate knew she hadn't forgotten at all. "You want to go to a university, right? You need your English credits. My doing your essays for you won't help you in exams."
When Nate opened his eyes again Stephanie had arranged her stationary in an orderly fashion and was underlining the date at the top of her page. Nate hadn't even gotten his books out. It was true that he wanted to go to a university, but he couldn't find the motivation do his homework. He did, after all, spend the majority of his days in school. He only had so much free time, and he didn't want to spend it trapped inside textbooks.
"It's not like you had anything better to do with your weekend anyway," Stephanie continued with a grin. "I mean, you don't have a girlfriend."
Nate scowled. Thanks for the reminder. "Why am I friends with you again?"
"Because you need me," said Stephanie simply. "Get your books out! The teacher's here."
Nate groaned again and was about to reach into his bag when the fire alarm went off, surprising the girl in front of him enough that she nearly fell out of her chair. They had been warned that they would be having a drill sometime that week, but Nate hadn't been expecting it to be in the first lesson of Monday morning. He couldn't decide whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, it was loud and irritating and did nothing to improve his headache, but on the other, it meant that he could escape most of his dreaded English period.
Stephanie looked crestfallen as they left the classroom and entered the packed corridor. "I was hoping that we'd be starting Othello today, too," she complained loudly, clinging to the back of Nate's shirt so that they wouldn't get separated.
Ugh, Shakespeare? No thanks, Nate thought in disgust as they were pushed into a wall by an older student. They were suddenly surrounded by people, everyone pushing and shoving as they moved through the too-narrow corridors.
Nate hated being part of a large crowd. It made him feel claustrophobic. He hated being part of a crowd even more on Mondays, when he was usually groggy from sleep deprivation. He banged shoulders with older and younger students alike; a lot of students still had their schoolbags on their backs, taking up even more space. Nate wished they had left them in their classrooms.
"Oh, look, there's Jason. Jason!" Stephanie shouted, calling out to the boy who made up their little trio, Jason Hunt. Jason was tall, lanky and obnoxious. There were two things that made Jason stand out from a crowd; one was his height and the other was his shocking hair. Last month it had been clue, this month it was a messy combination of black and red.
Jason grinned at them and waved, but continued with the crowd, shouting something that sounded vaguely like "meet you outside." Stephanie sighed, but catching a glimpse of an opening in the crowd, directed Nate with a push to the back.
"I know," Nate grumbled.
"Nathan?" questioned a sudden voice from somewhere behind them. Stephanie stopped dead, pulling Nate to a standstill with her. There were a few disgruntled mutters at their abrupt halt. Nate turned around bitterly. He was ready to snap at whoever was holding them up, but as he looked up into captivating green eyes, his angry retort trailed into nothing.
The voice belonged to a tall and very handsome senior with dark stylized hair and the kind of elegant build that seemed to be the most popular with the girls. His button-up shirt fit him perfectly, as though it were made for him (it probably had been), and Nate was willing to bet that every designer rip in those tight, dark jeans cost more than Nate's entire wardrobe.
"My name's Kieran," the boy introduced himself quite unnecessarily. He smiled, and Nate wondered how someone so desirable could act so humble. Having only seen Kieran from a distance, he had assumed that everything his classmates had said about him were complete exaggerations. Now that they were face to face he could see why the girls got so sucked in by him, and that only irritated him more.
He scowled up at Kieran and asked, quite rudely, "What do you want?"
"Perhaps we could go somewhere a little quieter? If we go back this way the corridors will be empty...Is it alright if I borrow him for a second?"
He directed the question at Stephanie with an aplogetic smile, as though she had any say in the matter. Stephanie squeaked slightly at being addressed and, much to Nate's dismay, nodded. Nate glared at her as she cast him a meaningful "tell me all about it later" look and disappeared into the crowd.
"Well then," said Kieran cheerfully as soon as she was gone, "Let's go this way."
He turned and started walking away, obviously expecting Nate to follow him. Nate hesitated, but his curiosity got the better of him. What could Kieran possibly want with him?
They passed a few stragglers, a couple who reminded them halfheartedly that they were going the wrong way. But even once they were walking through perfectly empty corridors, lined with some rather terrible paintings from the year nine students, Kieran didn't stop.
As they reached the doors that led to the stairway Nate spoke up. "Isn't this far enough?" he muttered. "I don't know what you want, but we'll get in trouble if we don't get outside before they reach our names on the attendance lists. To be frank, I don't want a detention because of some pretty boy I don't even know."
Kieran laughed, somehow amused, and turned to look down at Nate. There was something about his eyes that made Nate feel instantly inferior. "You think I'm pretty?" Kieran asked sweetly. He looked back down the corridor as though checking that no one was there and brushed some of his dark hair out of his eyes.
Nate scowled. That was meant to be an insult, you idiot. But he bit back the retort and crossed his arms over his chest. When Kieran looked back at him a slight hardness had appeared in his eyes. The look sent an unexplained chill down Nate's spine.
"What do you want?" Nate repeated, trying not to let the intimidation sound in his voice, determined not to look away. But there was something about Kieran that was inexplicably different to the warm person he had showed Stephanie.
Nate suddenly felt uncomfortable as Kieran stepped in closer. Was it really something so delicate that Kieran had to whisper it? Nate narrowed his eyes, and then suddenly, in a flash of movement, Kieran's fingers were in Nate's hair and lips soft against his ear.
"I think you're pretty too," Kieran breathed, winding his free hand around Nate's wrist and pinning it gently to the wall.
What the fuck? Nate panicked, but he couldn't move. He couldn't think. He felt the rush of heat to his face and the sweat on the back of his neck, but he couldn't move for – for what? For fear?
"You know, I like blonds," said Kieran softly. "How long will it take to make such a rough diamond mine, I wonder?"
"You creep!" Nate shouted, suddenly finding his voice and his legs. He pulled away violently, and at the same time Kieran relaxed his grip as though he had been anticipating Nate's rejection, and Nate stumbled from his own force. The honesty in Kieran's bright eyes were instantly replaced with amusement – not that Nate stayed long to watch. He could hear Kieran laughing as he ran down the corridor, but he didn't look back and Kieran didn't chase him.
What the hell was that?
He was panting as he reached the school field. All the students were there already being organized and checked off of the class lists by their teachers. Nate put a shaking hand to his face and could tell by the stark iciness of his fingers that his cheeks were still on fire. "Damn it!" he swore, and remembered Kieran's arrogant expression. "This is what he wants, for me to get all worked up like this."
I'll kill him, he thought ten minutes later as he was being scolded by his English teacher for being late. He thinks he can make a fool out of me. What did I do to make him hate me this much? But he knew that he couldn't tell anyone, not even Stephanie. Not only was it painfully embarrassing, but who would believe that the perfect, charming and idolized new student would have any interest, good or bad, in Nate, an average and uninteresting boy two years his junior?
Nate apologized to his teacher, pretending to have been in the bathroom. He walked straight past Stephanie, who was explaining something to Jason with exaggerated hand movements, and sunk into an empty patch of grass.
And why, of all the students in the school, had Kieran singled out him?
Author's Note: Thank you so much for starting this story! Seriously, it means a lot to me. Please let me know what you think of it!