Author's Note:It's been a long time since my last update, so I'll give you a brief summary of what's happened so far to remind you which story you're reading.Nate is an average fifteen year old boy, uninterested in school and bored of life - until Kieran, a mysterious transfer student, arrives. Kieran expresses an unusual and unhealthy interest in Nate, which Nate thinks is purely bullying until he discovers that Kieran could be - and possibly is - related to the missing memories in Nate's past. Meanwhile, Nate's best friend, Jason, has started avoiding Nate in favor of his girlfriend, Winter, but to Nate's surprise invites Nate to hang out together again one evening. They meet Kieran at the skate park, and while Jason is in the bathroom Kieran 'expresses his feelings' to Nate - but whether it's honesty or manipulation, Nate isn't sure.
Hmm, I think that's about it. Oh, and Jason and Nate got into an arguement at the end of the last chapter.
I also changed Jade's name to Kyle - I don't even know why I called him Jade in the first place. He was Kyle in all my notes, lol.
Please stop hating me for not updating ;u;
As soon as Nate walked through the door, the phone rang. There was a note from his mum tacked to the fridge, but Nate couldn't read it because he hadn't turned on the light. He had been intending on heading straight up to bed. He didn't feel like eating and felt even less like taking any messages; he didn't want to think, and he didn't want to do anything that might encourage thinking. He ignored the phone and headed towards the stairs as it stopped ringing.
He was on the landing when it started again.
He swore loudly and trudged back down, snapping into the receiver when he picked it up.
Nate hesitated. He wasn't sure he recognized the voice.
"Kyle?" he asked hesitatingly after a moment. What could he want?
"Yeah," said Kyle shortly. "Hey, I was wondering, is Jason with with you?"
"No. He left for home over an hour ago. Didn't he text?"
"No, he didn't. Damn, do you know where he might have gone? There's some freaky shit on the news."
"Have you tried calling him?" Wondering what time it was, Nate reached across the bench for the kitchen light switch, fumbling with it until it illuminated the room and the clock on the wall.
"Phone's dead, or off."
"Maybe he went to the arcade?" said Nate, furrowing his forehead. He tried to remember which direction Jason had headed, but couldn't. Surely he would have noticed if Jason had started to walk in the direction of town? But too busy seething, Nate hadn't been paying enough attention. He licked his dry lips, thinking. He couldn't predict Jason anymore. He felt like he barely knew him.
"I could take a bus in and check," he offered reluctantly.
"No," said Kyle. "I don't think you guys should be walking around at night anymore." Nate heard Kyle grab his keys through the phone. "But I'm probably worrying over nothing. I'll get him to call you when he gets home."
"We had a fight," said Nate, knowing Jason wouldn't call.
"Ah, I see," said Jason, as though that explained everything. "Then I'll text you. What's your number?"
Nate gave him his number and Kyle told him again not to worry, and hung up. Ironically, it was Kyle's reassurance that made Nate worry. What 'freaky shit' was Kyle talking about?
Nate flicked on the TV, but there was just some movies and an Asian drama on. He wasn't even sure what time the news shows aired.
Not that it mattered – Jason could go and get himself beaten up in some kind of gang feud for all Nate cared. He kicked the back of the sofa and returned to the kitchen to put the kettle on to make a coffee, but ended up going back upstairs before the water boiled.
He lay back on his bed, trying to return to the thoughtless state he had been in when he had arrived home. He put his pillow over his face to block out the light from the stars; but his mind was buzzing now; wondering where Jason could be, whether or not he should make amends tomorrow, what Kieran had meant and what he really wanted.
It was half past midnight when the text came in. Nate hadn't been able to sleep at all. He snatched up the phone as soon as the jingle started. It was a tune Jason had picked out for a laugh, the opening to some children's show they used to watch back in primary school.
bastrd finaly came hm, safe n sound :) ~ Kyle
Nate tossed the phone on the floor and curled up under the covers.
Like I care, he thought bitterly.
"Where were you yesterday?" Stephanie asked on Friday morning. She had been hanging around at the bike stand waiting for him – Jason's bike was already there. "I called and your mum said you were sick."
"Then you know where I was," Nate muttered.
"I know you weren't sick because you never get sick, and I know you were skiving because you were meant to hand in that essay."
"Like I said, then you knew where I-"
"Jason was weird yesterday," Stephanie interrupted.
"Quiet, moody. He even snapped at Winter. What did you guys fight about?"
Nate kicked an empty can, aiming for B block, but it stopped a few meters short. He watched it rock on the concrete and didn't answer until it stopped. "Nothing important," he said. "I guess we just established how incompatible we are."
"Nate-" Stephanie started.
"No, Steph. He's an asshole. He's been treating me like shit recently."
Stephanie bit back whatever she was going to say and they walked to their lockers in silence. Nate wasn't sure if this meant Stephanie agreed or disagreed, but wasn't going to ask. He was sure, however, that Stephanie missed Jason too, and wondered, if it came to it, whether Stephanie would pick Jason over him. Unlike Jason, Nate didn't really have any other friends.
"Have you been watching the news lately?" Nate asked eventually, desperate to get Stephanie talking again, as he keyed in his locker combination. He had been meaning to watch it yesterday, but couldn't find an excuse to tell his mother. He didn't normally watch much TV, and if he got out of bed just to watch the news she would definitely have been suspicious.
Nate wasn't even sure what he was worried of her being suspicious of.
"Yeah," Stephanie said quietly. "It's pretty terrible, huh?"
"I wouldn't know, I haven't been watching it."
"So, are you going to tell me, or?" Nate prompted.
"Oh, right." They hovered around the locker, watching people go past. "A lot of people have gone missing," Stephanie said. "The council or someone has been covering it up – bribes probably – but Tuesday night a couple of teenage boys were killed. They think there's some new gang in town, but all the local gangs are being very hush about it... One of the reporters said they're too scared to say anything. The gangs, I mean." She leaned back against the neighboring locker and shrugged. "They'll probably leave in a few days. This kind of thing happens every now and again. I mean, this kind of thing is always on the news."
When Nate didn't say anything, she added, "It's the first time it's happened so locally, though."
"I didn't realize we had gangs," Nate said, furrowing his eyebrows as he fumbled with his locker. He swore under his breath as he realized he had gotten his combination wrong. Stephanie just laughed.
"You really don't watch enough TV. We don't have any serious ones, they're all in the big cities. I think that's why it's causing such a stir."
Inside Nate's locker there was a photo of Jason (among others, but it was the photo of Jason that Nate noticed). Nate ignored it as he got out his books for the first period, but thought back on the phone call from Kyle. Where had Jason gone that night?
An uncomfortable thought tumbled into his stomach. Had Jason joined a gang?
He slammed the metal door shut on the photo.
"You're still keen for tonight, though, right?" Stephanie asked, shutting the locker properly when the door bounced.
"Tonight?" Nate asked stupidly.
Stephanie elbowed him in the ribs and grinned, confusing Nate with her sudden change in demeanor. "You're taking me to see a movie," she said. "You can't stand me up now, my mum's already agreed to drive us. It's a date."
"Oh, right," said Nate. "Yeah, of course."
"Oh, and Nate? It's Friday," Stephanie said as the bell rang and she turned to leave. "You don't have Math today."
"Oh," said Nate, looking down at his calculus book. "Right."
At 6pm Nate was checking his hair in the mirror. He had never paid much attention to his own appearance before – he had never had much of a reason to, and the way his mother had fussed over his clothes and ripped combs through his hair when he was younger had taken away a lot of the appeal of trying to look nice.
Of course, he knew Stephanie didn't mean this to be a real date – which Nate clarified to himself as a meeting between two people romantically or sexually interested in one another (which he and Stephanie definitely weren't) – but the way Stephanie had suggested it after being rejected by Kieran, had called it a date, had got Nate thinking. About dates, about girls, about why neither of those things seemed to exist in his life.
Why didn't he dress up more to try and attract girls? He wasn't bad looking, was he? Sure, he had messy hair, but he had a nice nose. Nate really like his nose, and Stephanie had complimented it before. He wriggled his nose at his reflection. Maybe it was his personality? Nate knew he was boring. He wasn't really interested in anything, he hardly had anything interesting to talk about, so how could he expect anyone to be interested in him?
He shivered as his thoughts started to bring up someone who was interested in him, but he quickly squashed the surfacing face down. Stephanie had said Kieran hadn't been at school at all the past two days.
Instead, Nate raised another important question for himself; was he interested in anyone? He and Jason had joked about Sophie before, about her cleavage and the tattoo she was supposed to have on her thigh, but until Winter they'd never really talked about which girls they found attractive, or why. And even when Winter arrived, Jason hadn't expressed any interest in her until he announced one morning, "I'm going to hang out with Winter today."
Nate thought about Stephanie – thought of her as a girl and not as a best friend. He tried to pretend they didn't know each other's secrets, that Stephanie didn't do his homework for him or remind him to pack clean underwear for camp.
Could he find her attractive?
Stephanie giggled as Nate got in the car.
"You didn't have to dress up," she said, twisting in her seat and looking back over the headrest to see at Nate.
"I didn't dress up!" said Nate indignantly, looking down at the gray, striped shirt his mother had forced him to wear. When Mrs Brooks had asked him where he was going, he had thoughtlessly said, 'a date with Stephanie', thinking it was smoothest option – there's no way she would say no to that, no matter what was on the news.
It had been a disastrous mistake. Mrs Brooks had told him there was 'no chance in hell' she was going to let her son leave the house on a date in a shirt that promoted violence (it was an old Half-Life shirt Jason had gotten him for Christmas), and had insisted he wear the formal shirt she got him for Christmas instead.
In the end they reached a compromise; Nate left the house wearing casual a button-up t-shirt.
"Sit down, hun, we're driving," said Stephanie's mother, Ms Stone. They weren't actually driving – she had only just put the car into gear - but Stephanie turned back in her seat and buckled up anyway. Unlike Jason's family, Stephanie's used to only have one car. It was an old Holden hatch back, with scratched paint and a dent in the boot. It was also a manual. But now they used Winter's Dad's car, which was an automatic, and Nate got the impress Ms Stone wasn't too comfortable driving an automatic just yet.
"So, what are you kids going to see?" Ms Stone asked as the car lurched forward, the use of the word 'kids' reminding Nate that Winter wasn't in the car. He had been assuming it anyway, but knowing that Jason definitely wasn't going to be there was a relief.
"We haven't really decided, but there's a few I'm interested in"
"They're not horrors, are they?" asked Nate, suddenly squeamish as he recalled Stephanie's favorite genre.
"One of them," Stephanie admitted, "but the rest are comedies or dramas, or we could see an action? Was there anything you wanted to see?"
Nate shrugged, even though Stephanie couldn't see it. "Anything's good," he said. So long as there aren't any zombies. He wasn't even sure what was playing. Maybe he should watch more television...
"I guess we can decide when we get there."
Ms Stone couldn't find a park when they arrived, so they just got out when she stopped to let some girls cross the road opposite the cinema. Stephanie pecked her mum on the cheek through the open window, and then they scurried out of the middle of the road and watched her drive away. When Nate noticed Stephanie had her school bag with her, he raised an eyebrow.
"Mum made me pack some jellybeans, because it'd be cheaper than popcorn," Stephanie explained as they turned to go inside. "This was the smallest bag I had; they don't let people carry food in unless it's concealed. I wouldn't have bothered, but once she suggests something it's easiest just go along with it."
Nate laughed. "Jellybeans are good," he said, and then stopped as he recalled the last time he had eaten them – most of them had ended up ground into the concrete bowl by his and Jason's skateboard.
Nate quickly pushed the memory away. Tonight he just wanted to have some fun, to enjoy Stephanie's company and watch a nice romantic comedy. He wanted to pretend that he wasn't being stalked by a psychotic supermodel, that he had more than one friend, and that the one friend he did have had enough in common with him to take the now vacant position of 'Best Friend'.
They picked a romantic comedy (which, to Nate's relief, Stephanie suggested), but they still had half an hour before it started.
"I should have checked the timetables online," said Stephanie, sounding a little guilty. "There might have been something you were more interested in, and we wouldn't have been so early."
"We could get a drink while we wait, or go to the arcade?"
Nate waited for Stephanie to pull a face at the idea of going to the arcade, but she just said "Sure". Nate thought she might be feeling guilty that they were going to watch a romance instead of some kind of bloody war movie.
It's funny how, as soon as you think you're safe, as soon as you start to relax, something goes wrong. At least, Nate tried to think of it as funny.
"Oh. My. God," said Stephanie as they headed towards the exit. "Is that Kieran?"
There were two entrances to this side of the cinema. One lead straight out onto the road, and the other lead into the mall. Both entrances were huge and made of glass; you could look right through them at the people walking past.
Standing in the mall, just half a dozen meters away and separated from them by those painfully transparent doors, was Kieran. But not only Kieran – Kieran with his hands over some tall, pretty blond boy. The boy looked about Kieran's age, around the same height and build, but perhaps a little shorter. His hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, showing off the contours of his face. He was beautiful.
Kieran was kissing him, pushing him back, until the boy pulled away. But they were laughing. It was friendly. They were friends. Boy friends.
Nate suddenly felt sick.
"I didn't know," Stephanie whispered, sounding as faint as Nate felt. "I didn't know."
Knowing what she meant, Nate couldn't find his voice to say, I did. But he didn't know, not really. He hadn't actually thought Kieran was gay.
"It's no wonder he's been turning all the girls down. Oh, gosh, we should pretend we haven't seen!" Stephanie exclaimed. "Maybe he's still, erm, in the closet?"
Nate barked out a laugh. "I really don't think so," he said, and it was at that moment that Kieran caught his eye through the glass.
Stephanie noticed too, because she was suddenly asking Nate what they were going to say, muttering something about how embarrassing it would be if he came over – "Oh, look, Nate, he's coming over!" - but Nate didn't hear much of it because he was too busy trying to decide what to do for himself.
"I think I need the bathroom," he said, but Stephanie suddenly grabbed his sleeve. Nate nearly pulled away. He couldn't think of a good reason why he didn't. Maybe he was still too proud to run away. Maybe he was still a little bit curious.
No, there was no way he could still be curious.
"Hi," Stephanie said breathlessly as the automated doors opened and Kieran walked through. His friend followed him, looking completely relaxed. Nate didn't recognize him as a student from their school, and while Nate didn't know many people, he would have known him. If someone had told him that there was more than one god-like teenager in this town, Nate wouldn't have believed them. He believed it now.
"Hey," said Kieran easily. "Did you guys just watch a movie?"
Stephanie took a moment to reply, as though she were expecting Nate to answer. When he didn't, she said, "No. Not yet." Short, quick, high pitched and barely intelligible.
"Are we holding you up?"
"No, no!" Stephanie squeaked, tightening her grip on Nate's sleeve. Nate accidentally caught the eye of Kieran's friend, who flashed him a perfect smile. Nate noticed now that he had a lip piercing and several ear piercings. Flushing, he quickly looked away.
"Oh, sorry, this is Luke," said Kieran. "He's a freshman at the local uni and a good friend of mine. Luke, this is Nathan and Stephanie. They go to school with me."
Luke's eyes snapped to Nate when Kieran said his name, and Nate knew instantly then that Kieran had mentioned him before. But what could he have said? To Nate's knowledge, you generally didn't go bragging to your boyfriend about your other sexual interests.
The thought made Nate squirm.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," said Luke, holding out his hand, which Stephanie shook and Nate ignored. The hand was withdrawn tentatively and shoved into a pocket, and Nate could feel Luke's inquisitive gaze, but still couldn't bring himself to look higher than their shoulders.
"When's your movie on?" Luke asked. "We've got nothing to do, so we could hang out with you guys." He tugged on Kieran's sleeve, reminding Nate that Stephanie was still clinging to his. "Ask them to hang with us," he pretended to whine. "I bet they're not as boring as you."
Kieran laughed and shrugged him off. "Then I guess we wouldn't have much company to offer them," he teased. "The boring and the annoying.
"But we're heading to the arcade," he added, turning back to Nate, "if you'd like to join us."
"I need the bathroom," said Nate flatly.
"Nate?" he heard Stephanie question as he walked away, but he ignored it. He couldn't stand it any longer. That fake smile, that fake laugh, that perfect, charming attitude. How many people was he deceiving? Was he deceiving Luke, too?
He shoved the door open and swore loudly, probably scaring the twelve year old at the basin out of his wits. He washed his hands, needing to feel something. Something icy, or hot, or sharp or painful - anything to clear his mind. The cold water was enough, relaxing him enough that he stopped shaking.
He ran his wet hands through his hair and wondered what time it was. The longer he waited the more likely Kieran would be gone when he went out. Someone else came in, startling him, but the man did his business and left, and then Nate was alone again.
This time, Kieran didn't try and sneak up on him. Nate clearly heard the door open and close, clearly saw Kieran's reflection in the mirror as he came round the corner. And somehow, he wasn't surprised. Maybe he was too used to it – or maybe he'd been expecting. But this time, Kieran didn't approach Nate, just leaned back against the wall with his hands in his pockets as they looked at each other in the mirror.
"Luke's pretty, huh?"
Nate gave a non-committal snort, which for some reason made Kieran smile.
"You'd like him,"" Kieran said. "You have a lot in common. Do you want to know what?"
"No," Nate lied.
"You both like playing games. You're both ridiculously stubborn, and get bored easily. You both grew up trying to please the people around you, to the point where nearly all the interests you developed are your friend's, and when they lost interest, so did you.
"You're constantly hoping for something exciting to happen, but you're too afraid to go looking for excitement yourself. Your favorite chip flavor is salt and vinegar, and you love strawberries but can't stand anything strawberry flavored. You write song lyrics occasionally, and want to learn an instrument, but are afraid of starting something new without Jason. You find men more physically and intellectually interesting, and you're not too sure what to make of it. You love to draw, but you're not very good because you haven't pursued it. You don't know what you want to do at college, and you hate broccoli.
Sorry, I got carried away. That last half was just about you – Luke loves broccoli."
"How do you know all that?" Nate whispered, finding it difficult to breath. He was bent over the basin, wide eyed and pale, unable to tear his eyes away from Kieran.
Kieran laughed lightly. "Well, I don't mean to sound like some kind of creepy stalker or anything-"
"Trust me," said Nate thickly, "you already have that covered."
Kieran's grin broadened, as though Nate were joking. "I have a degree in psychology," he said.
"You're in highschool!" Nate spat in disbelief. "And there's no degree that will tell you my favorite chip flavor." Or that I write songs – even Jason doesn't know that.
"I'm not going to tell you how I know that one," Kieran said, keeping the humor in his voice. "Do you want to know more?"
"No," Nate said, and this time he meant it. Kieran ignored him and took a step closer.
"You're becoming increasingly interested in me," he said quietly, stopping behind Nate. "You're afraid of me, but hopelessly attracted to the drama I could add to your boring day to day life. You don't want to out me because you're secretly hoping I might make your life more exciting – you're afraid that if you do, I might stop. You want me to make your life interesting."
"That's bullshit," Nate whispered. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, he repeated to himself. So why wasn't he shoving Kieran away?
And suddenly Kieran's hands were on his shoulders, turning Nate gently, effortlessly, and their lips connected – not powerfully, or roughly, like Nate was expecting. They were warm, soft, gently brushing against Nate's. Hot breath, cool fingers against his cheek. Nate couldn't breath.
And then Kieran pulled away, as though nothing had happened, but his eyes were dark and his expression unreadable. "You should go," he said quietly. "Your movie starts in three minutes."
There was a moment of silence. Nate wasn't sure why he waited – maybe he wanted Kieran to leave, so he could compose himself; maybe he was trying to decide how to react; maybe he was still processing what had happened and how he felt about it. Whatever it was, it was going on subconsciously – his surface thoughts were washing over blank.
But Nate only hesitated for a moment, and then he shoved past Kieran and was gone.
Author's Note: Before you make any plans to kill me, please remember that if I'm dead, I won't be able to write the next chapter ;u;
I know, it's been forever. I have a lot of excuses, but all I can really say is 'I'm sorry'. I love you guys, and I really appreciate you sticking with Rough Diamond - the encouraging emails and reviews have been amazing. As always, you can chat to me on twitter or formspring. I have a lot going on over the next couple of weeks, but I'll be pretty isolated, so having some people to talk to would be awesome. I also started a msn group for slash writers to support each other through their stories, chat about slash fiction and give each other advice. Anyone can join, so long as you write slash - if you're interested, let me know! (I can be contacted through any of the links on my profile).
I won't be updating for at least another two weeks - my art circle's art book is going on sale next week, and the week after that I have exams. But when my Summer holidays start (in November) I'll be updating a LOT more frequently.
As always, reviews are appreciate more than you can possibly imagine!