Sam was plotting. Rory only had a week and half left and after dinner that evening, seeing him beside that blonde friend of his, he decided he needed to come up with a plan and fast.
His confusion of Rory's gender had begun after they had first met. While he knew the others had taken Rory in their stride, not bothering to question their suspicions, he wanted to find out. Much like Saul, he liked getting answers. But he also liked to interfere and create amusing situations.
Telling Rory about Charlie had never been part of the plan, but he was glad he had done it. Saul seemed to take the boy a lot more seriously and was looking out for him. It was all going to end in a week and a half.
Unless he intervened. He'd pieced together in his head that Rory was a musician and that he was good, according to his mother. He'd also figured out that Rory admired Blue Forest in a way no other person did. The plan was simple; get Rory a scholarship.
But then there was Spike. Rory looked at him in a way which suggested they were more than friends – they shared a deeper bond. It would be hard to break that and fully convince Rory to join the school because, of course, if he was attending, he would have to continue living with them.
Sam frowned and kicked the red, bright carpet of his bedroom floor. The ocean blue beanbag he was sitting in crunched as he readjusted his position.
He wouldn't tear apart a friendship for the sake of his curiosity. But he was going to get Rory that scholarship and then he would be forced to choose between his dream or his friendship. With a little bribery and the right words at the right time, the boy would eventually cave in.
"You're thinking deeply. I like it." He looked up at the owner of the new voice in the room and saw his mother leaning over him, a devious smile outstretched on her flawless face. He returned it.
She nodded and threw the pile of laundry that she had in her hands onto his bed, placing her hands onto her hips afterwards.
"Does this plot you're making involve a certain homeless boy?" Fae grinned at him when he winked playfully.
"How did you guess?"
"Oh, I was right?" She hopped on the spot, squealing with excitement. "This is great! We can work together," she leapt onto a beanbag that was next to his and leant over. "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours."
Sam's expression took on one of cunning. With Fae and him working together, poor little Rory would have no idea what hit him.
"When did you start not liking it?"
Saul had been leaning against his wall for a while, staring at me as I straightened my bed. It had been disconcerting, but I had grown use to his distant, watchful gaze. His question had appeared out of nowhere, spoken into a long silence. I blinked in confusion at him, sitting onto my quilt that I had just straightened.
"Not liking what?"
Saul twirled a pointed finger at me. "The touching thing," he replied.
I scratched the inside of my wrist, not holding back the reluctance that showed through my face. I couldn't tell him the real reason for my dislike of touching – that would give everything away. Should I even tell him anything at all? It's not like I wanted to blurt my secrets out to a stranger.
But I knew Saul's personality, as much as I hated to admit it. Almost three weeks had been enough for me to learn. He'd just ask again later. Not only that, but I knew I would reply. There was an air about him that made you want to reveal your secrets. On the outside, it would seem like he didn't care, but I knew that inside he would be thinking about it a lot.
"I…" I sighed and started again, "When you're homeless, you have to be paranoid. Being touched or grabbed can be a good thing… if they're helping you." I cast my eyes downwards to the floor and dug deep into my memories. Dirty hands grabbing me, drunken fights, muggings, receiving punches and kicks from other starving vagrants…
I felt angry just thinking about how useless I had felt against them all. I swallowed. "If it's not help they're giving, there's nothing you can do. No policemen in this city will do anything about beaten beggars, so you have to ride it out no matter what it is they're doing to you. And that's why I don't like being—"
I stopped talking. Saul had appeared in front of me and pinned one of my wrists to the bed. Repulsion spread through me and I tried to shake it off. When he refused to let go, I lifted my other hand and tried to force it off, but Saul grasped my other wrist, holding it firmly to bed sheets. I was useless. Again.
I could kick him, head butt him, knee him where it hurt or break both of his wrists in order to get free… But I knew who it was. It was Saul Weatherton, a seventeen year old boy with a lazy attitude and whose best friend had committed suicide. I didn't want to hurt him.
He captured both of my wrists with one hand and pinned them behind my back, then lifted my chin up with his now-free thumb and forefinger. He was smiling warmly at me.
"You can get free, can't you? Why don't you?" His question was provoking. He was trying to make me break free. Feeling a dash of rebellion amongst the discomfort I was feeling, I sent him a quick grin.
"I don't want to break your hands," I said simply. He responded with a snort of amusement, his lips quirking into a one-sided smile.
"This isn't so bad now, is it?" He lowered his voice, not needing to speak full volume due to his closeness. I found myself surprised that no, it wasn't so bad. Once I knew I wasn't in danger, I felt nothing. In fact, the feeling of his warm hands wrapped around mine was pleasant.
Had he cured me?
Saul watched as many emotions flittered across Rory's face. At first, it had been disgust. Then surprise. And now comfort.
Saul was amused at how easy it was to mess around with Rory's emotions and how easily he showed them. While Saul liked to hide his, Rory showed them vividly on his face.
A face that, when examined closely, was…
Saul struggled to find the word. His previous smirk faded away as his eyes darted around Rory's face, taking in every feature. A small, pert nose; big, luscious eyes; smooth, velvety skin; flawless, perfect lips…
That was it. The word.
He didn't stop to register that thought and instead he focused only on the boy in front of him. The warm scent of cut grass and soap made him dizzy and he wanted to lean in to see if the smell was any more pungent the closer he got. It entranced him. His heartbeat had quickened – something that was alien to him – and he ducked his face lower, wanting nothing more than to feel those soft lips on his…
"Saul?" The boy's voice was quiet, small and questioning. It snapped him out of his reverie. He hadn't realized how close he had gotten. Their breath entwined in the small space between their mouths.
Appalled, Saul quickly released Rory's hands and they shared equal gazes of surprise. He said nothing and stormed out of the room, slamming the door hard behind him. Anger, frustration and heat were cascading throughout his entire body. Gone was his calm, lazy attitude. His long-sleeved, dark gray t-shirt was tight against him, so he ripped it off and tore the front door open once he reached it.
What was that? His mind pummeled him with images of a blushing, startled Rory. His heart sped up, as did his pounding footsteps. He was almost jogging now, out of the school and into the heady, dirty flurry of the city. What was it? He barged through the crowds, not caring about the stares he received, not apologizing or caring about the people he knocked over. His heavy boots clunked against the pavements as he broke into a sprint.
He didn't know how long he ran. The graveyard's distance seemed to increase or decrease depending on what mood he was in.
He didn't remember running through the gates, or even reaching the white, fresh gravestone. He rested a hand against it while he caught his breath and mouth gulped down oxygen hungrily.
Letting out a groan of frustration, he scratched the back of his hair like he wanted to tear it out.
Why? He thought to himself, Rory's face flashing into his mind once more. Why is he in my mind?
Saul placed his free hand over his bare chest and stared at the gravestone, as though hoping the answer would sprout out of the top.
In exhaustion, he collapsed against it. It propped up his back and he tilted his head back on the polished ridge, hand still pushed to his chest.
Charlie, he pressed his other hand into the cold, sharp grass. I don't understand what I'm feeling.
He shut his eyes and allowed himself to drift off, the deadly chill of the creeping night air encasing his body.
I need you.
The sun had long since set behind the city, casting strange, distorted shadows across the pathway Sam was walking on. His head spun to the left and right, frantically searching.
It was always a subconscious action. Sam knew where Saul was, but yet still expected to see him in an alleyway somewhere, or lying in the park.
The gate to the graveyard let out a creak as he opened it. He'd long since gotten over the chill that shot down his spine every time he walked in, but still tightened his jacket and scarf around him. Dull lamps lit the stone pathway he strolled down and they illuminated the grim, emotionless expression on his face.
Sure enough, in the obscure darkness, Sam recognized the familiar silhouette of Saul sitting above the ground where his friend was buried. As he got closer, he noticed Saul's half-nakedness and his mood was increasingly dampened.
"Idiot," the blonde whispered, his voice sounding loud in the eerie graveyard. His footsteps subconsciously increased and he was soon by Saul's side. He cupped his brother's face with his warm hands, inhaling an ice cold breath. His face was frozen.
"Saul," he nudged Saul on the shoulder. He remained asleep. Urgency spread through Sam and he froze for a moment, heart beating fast and dread causing his hands to feel weak.
Sam jolted in surprise when Saul's hand moved. Following that, his half-lidded, tired eyes flickered open. Confusion flittered amongst his dark eyes for a moment as he took in his surroundings. After seeming to remember why he was where he was, he settled his gaze onto Sam, who was beside him. He was wearing a look of relief.
"I was worried about you," the blonde said, sending his brother a warm smile. The smile did everything but warm Saul though, whose body began to tremble from the cold.
"How long have I been out here?" He wheezed, his throat constricting against his speech. Sam rested a hand on Saul's bare shoulder, taking in his appearance.
"I'm not sure. I didn't know you were missing until Rory came to me before dinner. He was wondering why you hadn't come back," Sam grinned, "I think he was worried."
Saul let out a gentle, painful snort and attempted to move his frozen limbs. Each movement obviously seemed to pain him. Sam helped Saul to him feet, slinging one of his bare arms over his shoulders to help support his weight. Saul wriggled in discomfort.
"I can handle myself—"
"You can barely walk. I'm surprised nobody thought a corpse had climbed out of its coffin." Sam joked, grinning. Saul's plump lips rose upwards into a lazy smirk and he kicked Sam's shin playfully.
They walked in silence for a while, Saul leaning on Sam and Sam concentrating on not tripping Saul.
Both of them were clearly in thought. Sam wanted to know what had been running through Saul's head before he fell asleep by the gravestone. He rarely ran to Charlie when it was simple stress bugging him. It had to be something big.
But he knew Saul wouldn't tell him. Sam was just a post for Saul to lean on when he felt like he couldn't stand on his own anymore - which was being taken quite literally at the current time.
I'm okay with that, Sam thought, opening his mouth to throw a joke at Saul about what people would think of his lack of shirt.
He is my brother, after all…
I tapped my foot impatiently against the white carpet beneath me, my fingers drumming against the heavy blanket I was perched upon. I checked the clock on the wall again.
Where was he? It'd gone past eleven. I cursed under my breath and slumped sideways onto my bed, forcing my eyes shut. Go to sleep.
My eyes shot back open and I let out a heavy sigh, shoving my face into my pillow. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Had he? Had Saul wanted to kiss me? I lifted the edges of my fluffy pillow over my ears and listened to the sound of blood pumping around my body. My heartbeat was a dull thump, quickened by my thoughts. Of course not. It was ridiculous. Of all people, Saul was the last I would imagine to feel anything for me. Especially since I was a boy.
That thought struck a memory.
"I'm supposed to be a boy."
"Doesn't mean their bodies won't respond..."
I released the pillow and jolted up straight, my short hair sticking up in strange directions. I swallowed the sickening guilt that had risen in my throat and stared blankly at the wall. What if that had happened? What if Saul had sensed I was a girl, but didn't know? If that was the case… would he? Would he actually fall in love with me?
A hard slap rung in the dark silence of the bedroom. I let my hand fall back down to the bed, my cheek stinging. That wouldn't happen. Of course it wouldn't. This was Saul.
Saul was still a stranger to me. We never talked; we never hung out; we never did anything together. We weren't even friends. He was definitely the most levelheaded out of the Weatherton's, but just because I appreciated his strange detachment from the world didn't mean we were close.
I stood up off of the bed and flicked the light on. My eyes dropped to the white line that split the room in half. Smiling, I stepped over it and walked slowly towards the mirror. When I saw my reflection, I held back my grimace.
Hair stuck out in strange places, my eyes were sunken and outlined with bags, one of my cheeks were red, both looked hollow and stretched. Although I was grateful my nose and mouth were small, they were positioned in a way that made me resemble a mouse or a magical pixie.
I snorted and turned away, switching the light off again. Right. Of course Saul would be attracted to me.
Before I had the chance to settle myself back into bed, someone knocked at the door. Relief spread through me. He's back, finally.
I shuffled over to the gray door and hauled it open. My stomach sunk.
Jared's arms were folded over his bare chest and his dark, bed trousers were slunk low on his hips. I bristled, pretending not to notice the slight flush that ran up the back of my neck. I don't think I'll ever get use to this half-nakedness…
"Why are you knocking on the door of someone that doesn't exist?" I mimicked his posture and raised a sardonic eyebrow. His lip twitched upwards on one side in response and he unfolded his arms. In one, lazy movement, he stretched one arm out and leant against it on the doorframe. The hair that was usually slicked back was loose and fell in front of his face.
I closed my open mouth, cleared my hoarse throat and readjusted my position, leaning on the opposite doorframe to him with my arms still folded. Eyes narrowed in suspicion, I urged my blush away and my pale cheeks returned.
I knew what he was doing. Anger quickly replaced my embarrassment. He was trying to get some sort of cringing response from me in order to prove my homosexuality.
"Do you mind?" I snapped. Jared snorted and straightened up, returning his arm to his side. Still, he said nothing. "What do you want?" I asked aggressively. He'd ruined my mood. There I was, thinking that he would be leaving me alone for the next week and a half, but here he was, bugging me again.
My eyes shot open in surprise. Did he just...?
Did he just say he wants me?
A bubble of something stirred in my stomach. It began to spread up my body, sending strange shocks in its wake. And then, it came out.
I laughed. Hard. My actions seemed to confuse Jared, whose previous cool attitude had shattered. He stood, eyes wide, mouth open, frown evident. I wiped a tear that had escaped from my eye and smiled up at Jared, who – for the second time that evening – had made me laugh, though not at something that should be laughed at.
"Go away, Jared," I ordered lightly, mood heightened after my spur of laughter. He didn't seem to protest, but didn't move either. I didn't wait for him to move and closed the door quietly in his face, shaking my head as I made my way over to my bed.
What an idiot.
Jared's eyes were lifeless as they stared at the gray door. He blinked, disorientated.
He'd just been laughed at. His plan had failed horribly. He'd lain awake, thinking of a way to expose Rory's strange trait that confused him and finally come up with an idea. But it hadn't worked.
Not only that, but he was more puzzled than before. More curious.
Like the first time Jared had seen it, it still bedazzled him. The boy's large, laughing smile; the shimmering twinkle in his eyes… it stunned him. Swallowing, Jared turned his back on the door stiffly, his legs awkwardly shuffling along the carpet towards his own bedroom. It wasn't that Rory's reaction had aggravated him. No; it was more than that.
It was when, in the short moment of happiness Rory had displayed, Jared's chest had tightened, like his fast-beating heart was trying to burst out of it. It was something Jared had only ever felt when looking at Mao. Mao, beautiful, nice, Mao.
He didn't like Rory. It wasn't an attraction. That wasn't what was causing his insides to turmoil, his brain to fry and his body to sweat.
It was Rory's appearance – it seemed too forced. While others looked natural with their features, there was something with Rory that stood out. That was what had made Jared go back on his word on forgetting the kid's existence. It was hard to, when all he could think about when he was trying to sleep was how to get rid of him, how to find out his secret, find out who he was.
He'd established that Rory was different. However, that evening he had he had discovered something else about him. Rory was unusual, stubborn, challenging, unique…
A/N: I've actually written this and the next chapter, but I forgot I had. I'm sorry for the slow update, I'm just SERIOUSLY busy at the moment. Also, I haven't proof read this yet, so please point out any mistakes!