FINE ELLA. FINE.



if you see something breathing, do you let it breathe?
if you see something dying, do you let it die?
if you see a heart breaking, do you let it break?

if you see something healing, do you let it heal?
if you see something hurting, do you let it hurt?
if you see a fire burning, do you let it burn?

if you see something dancing, do you let it dance?
if you see something rotting, do you let it rot?
if i see you loving me, do you let me see?

--

"Noah, this is Russell," the teacher introduces. "He will be your mentee."

"Hello, Noah," Russell greets Noah with a bow and a shy smile. He looks up at Noah, his gaze shining in interest and innocence.

Noah looks down at Russell, and thinks what ugly hair, what weak eyes, what foolish boy.

"Hello Russell," Noah replies, voice cold, and the teacher has to remind Noah to shake his hand.

./

"I always thought that plants were like people," Russell says as they walk around the school, into the gardens. "Sometimes we forget that plants are just as alive as humans and animals."

"Mm." Noah doesn't say anything, but instead allows his gaze to drift off to the overcast sky above them. It is grey, unfeeling, cloudy, and Noah slightly feels scared of it. Then he remembers that it is only the sky, and what can the sky do to him?

"I like plants," Russell says softly, cupping the leaf of a flower underneath his palm. He looks over to Noah. "Do you like plants?"

"Mm," Noah repeats, and tries to ignore those wide, dark eyes staring into him, opening him up.

./

"Try to avoid sucking up to the teachers. They know if you are," Noah instructs Russell as they pass a nearby classroom. "You're starting classes next week, right? That's one of the first things you need to know. The teachers here are harsh."

Russell nods understandingly and glances into the class. Then he contentedly returns to walking ahead with Noah, and they continue on in silence.

Noah glances to Russell. "You don't really need a mentor, do you?"

"Of course I do." Russell gives Noah a smile that makes Noah wonder if it's even real. "It's my first time at this school. How could I possibly get around without someone telling me how to?"

"But you're a year older than me. Surely you could figure it out," Noah replies, eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

Russell chuckles. "If you don't want to mentor me Noah, that's fine. We can always tell the teacher."

Noah turns red in embarrassment and turns his head away from him. "Don't bother with it," he manages to mutter.

./

"What do you like most about this school?" Russell asks Noah while they pass the gym. Noises can be heard inside, loud screams and shrieks, but Russell's focus is only on Noah.

Noah shrugs and shakes his head. "I don't know. The classes, the schoolwork?"

Russell laughs full out, and Noah just stares, awed. "Really? You like the work? That's a first."

Noah shrugs again. "I'm not very…" He searches for the right word. "Social. I don't have many friends."

"So why are you doing the mentoring program?" Russell asks interestedly.

"Because it'll look good on my resume."

"Oh." Russell glimpses off again. Then he casts his wondering eyes back onto Noah.

"What do you dislike most about this school?"

"Everyone."

./

At lunch, Noah introduces Russell to a few people who calls Noah their 'friend', but Russell can see that there is a bitter distaste towards them as he watches while they converse. When they walk away, Russell turns to Noah.

"Why?" he questions.

Noah looks at Russell funnily. "Why what?"

"Why do you look at them like that?" Russell attempts to mimic Noah's old face, which causes Noah to snort. "Like you don't want to be associated with them."

"Because." Noah shrugs, his trademark move along with his cold, unfeeling eyes. "I know they don't care about me. They consider me only for company, but they don't care."

"How do you know that?" Russell asks.

"Because no one cares about me."

./

As they talk and meet others, Russell sees that every smile Noah gives is laden with a thin line of falsity and hurt. He sees the sparkle in Noah's eyes is the hint of a tear that he won't let fall, that all his words speak the opposite of their cheery tone. He sees that Noah is nothing but a broken clock, stopped and not knowing how to go on.

He sees Noah break and scatter with every move he makes, and he sees that Noah knows this, and he allows himself to shatter with every passing moment.

./

"What's this?" Russell asks when they reach a row of flowers outside of the music classroom. All the flowers are wilted, brown and worn, like old sheets of paper crumpled and thrown away. Noah shrugs, as always, though his heart aches at the sight.

"They died last winter. No one really bothered to put them back up," he replies, voice steady and unfeeling.

Russell has tears leaking in his eyes, and Noah almost feels empathy, but brushes it away with thoughts of, what a silly, weak fool. "These need to be replanted," he states, murmuring to himself. "These need to be reborn."

Noah turns away from him, and pretends he doesn't care.

./

Russell asks him why he likes pink, Noah responds because it is a deceiving color, and he doesn't say that he himself is a deceiving person. Russell asks him why he constantly changes his hair, and Noah replies because it is all the same to him no matter what style it is in, and he doesn't say that he himself is constant no matter how he acts. Russell asks him why he plays music, and Noah says it is because it is how he finds home, and he doesn't say that he himself just wants to run away from life.

And Noah pretends he doesn't care about Russell, he pretends that he doesn't see the way the eyes stare up at him with such glimmering innocence, with true wandering and words that speak of forgiveness, and he pretends that Russell doesn't care.

./

It is when Russell hands him a flower, that is small and round and perfect, when he kisses Noah. Noah notes that Russell tastes faintly of lavender and violets and carnations, and wants to linger a little longer when Russell finally pulls away. There is a tint on Russell's face as pink as roses, and Noah stares at the other boy.

"Why… Why did you do that?" Noah asks Russell, mind swimming with Russell and words and music and the sweetest smells.

Russell shrugs, not unlike Noah, and smiles like a daisy. "Because I felt like you needed it. You need someone, something. Anything to care about you."

Noah stares at Russell, and breaks.

./

Russell smiles prettily that makes Noah almost jealous, but he knows he doesn't deserve such pretty smile. So he takes the smile and keeps it in his heart and hopes that Russell will continue to smile. But not at him.

They continue to kiss, and Noah thinks it is because Russell is here for comfort. He does not think Russell will be here forever, but he takes what he can, and he knows he is greedy, selfish, but he doesn't care. He cherishes every moment he has with Russell, and tells himself, this is all for me, not for him or us, but for me.

And Russell continues giving, and Noah does not know if Russell knows what a bastard Noah is, but Noah doesn't care and continues taking, wanting more.

./

The garden outside of the music room blooms and becomes beautiful over time. Russell is no longer Noah's mentee, but perhaps a mentor of sorts but Noah does not listen to him. He merely basks in the mere presence of Russell, and does not think about anything else.

"This is nice," Russell states simply as he looks at the flowers while holding Noah's hand. "See? Isn't it beautiful?"

"It is," Noah agrees with a tiny nod, his ears hanging on every word Russell says.

"It's like us. Perfect. Beautiful." Russell gazes at the flowers, the colors reflecting in his dark, full eyes. "It's going to be here forever. It's never going to fall away. Forever. Just like us."

At these words, fear overcomes Noah, but he says nothing. He stares at the flowers, and they mock his heart inside.

./

Flames burn in Noah's eyes, as he watches Russell stare and cry at the flowers burning in front of his eyes. They spark like flames, and Noah thinks their ruin is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.

"Why?" Russell is crying in a voice that Noah cannot stand. "Who did this? Why would anyone want to destroy the flowers? These flowers!"

He sobs and beats the ground with his open calluses, and Noah continues watching. Noah ignores the tears pouring down Russell's face, not nearly enough to drown out the fire. Noah ignores the heart breaking inside of him, inside of Russell. He ignores that the greatest pain he feels is because Russell wants them to last forever, like the flowers were supposed to be, and the only thing Noah can do is destroy them.

./

When they break up, Noah feels numb because he's already experienced the greatest pain and now he can't feel anything anymore. He feels numb to the pained words echoing in Kangin's melodious voice, the hurt refracting in his eyes, every moment between them falling and breaking onto the hard, cold ground beneath their feet. He feels dismantled, as if he has been this way his whole life.

So he goes on. He goes on with life, pretending that nothing has changed him, that nothing has ever healed him. He pretends that he has always been like this, he has always been broken, and that he has always been a wilted flower. He pretends that nothing has ever cared for him, nothing has ever loved him, and that the only thing that has ever seen him for who he truly is, has crumbled away.