A/N Okay, I can understand why some of my readers may be confused. To clear things up, I'll explain point-blank. This is a story idea that's been aching on me for months. I've wanted desperately to give Xavier an epilogue. So yes, this story is about Xavier, and what he faces 'After Eden', hence the name. You don't really have to read Angels Book 1 to get his story, because (spoiler alert, not like you care) he is hiding a lot of things from Eden, so most of his story is explained in here. I thought about making this an Angels book, but my amount of chapters (36, heh) exceeded my limit (specifically for Angels) of 16 chapters. So, here it is, Xavier's epilogue, told in the point of view of Isabella, his…well, you'll find out. Enjoy.
Some people are predictable, like me. You know what's going to happen to them, how they will respond to certain things, what they like. Other people are always full of surprises, always changing, always doing the opposite of what you expect. They always seem to have something to say, but never say it. They'll do something so unexpected and strange, then leave you hanging there. Those are the kind of people I like.
"Isabella Shor, Isabella Shor, Isabella Shor," I mumbled as I scanned the cheerleading callback list for my name. My stomach dropped when I neared the end of the list.
Then, when I had just lost hope, there it was. Isabella Shor, in black and white.
I immediately grinned. This was it. My one chance to finally get on good terms with Bethany Miller.
Bethany Miller, the most prestigious, worshipped girl in all of Stonehill High. She was the generic kind of popular girl-pretty face, snarky attitude, wealthy parents. She refused to hang out with anyone who wasn't a jock or cheerleader. At the moment, I'd earned the privilege of sitting at her table-but that could all change in a fleeting moment. Bethany had high standards. If I didn't make it through the callbacks, I'd be back to what I was before. A loser. Just another kid tossed around like a ragdoll by the popular crowd. I'd sworn that I would never let that happen again. Not after what I went through.
"Congratulations!" came a voice behind me. I spun around to face Sarah Mae, one of Bethany's well-known comrades. Before I could say anything, she was already hugging me. She was incredibly enthusiastic. About everything.
"Uh-thanks," I mumbled awkwardly, squirming out of her hug. I turned on my heel to escape the hoard of people huddled around the billboard, but was soon interrupted when a hand tapped my shoulder. I pivoted to face none other than Bethany Miller.
She grinned at me. "Congrats!" she practically shouted, and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I had to resist a lot of urges around her.
I forced a smile as animated as hers. "Thanks!" Then I turned around abruptly and walked away, my grin disappearing the minute we left eye contact. Then I suddenly had that insecure feeling I always got after talking to Bethany, where I was almost positive I'd done something wrong. Part of me felt like I should run back and apologize.
I kept walking, far away from everyone, until I was walking in a deserted hallway. I sighed with relief-I had a problem with big crowds. They made me feel nauseous for some reason.
I started to look for the stairwell-I hadn't been in this part of the school before, and I needed to get upstairs. I wasn't going back to the crowd, so I'd have to find a detour in this area-but it was weird. Several of the classrooms were dark, and most of the doors belonged to supply closets. That's when I heard it.
A yelp. I couldn't tell which direction it was coming from-but it was there. I glanced around anxiously, halfway expecting someone to jump out or something. I peeked around a corner-nothing there. I searched the rest of the surrounding area, but nothing appeared to be there. I jumped when the janitor came out of one of the closets, but he quickly passed me by. There was no way that squeal came out of him.
I resumed my search for the stairwell, and when I'd found it, I heard the yelp again.
A normal person would have kept walking and ignored it. But I wasn't exactly normal-I had what I like to call an 'adrenaline problem'. I like adrenaline. It feels good to me. Maybe that's not a problem, but when it's there, I tend to do stupid things without thinking on it. Just for the sake of feeling that old comfortable thrill.
So, amidst my adrenaline, I started walking towards the sound.
It came from the left. Definitely the left. So I turned a corner in that direction. I started nervously twirling a piece of my overly straight blond hair, an idle habit of mine. I usually didn't notice when I was doing it.
Then, finally, at one last turn, I found the source of the noise.
Three boys. Two big, husky juniors. One small, lanky boy I recognized. The two large boys were definitely football players-I could tell by their letterman jackets. By the looks on their faces, they weren't happy with the small boy, who was huddled in a ball against the wall. Then I noticed his bloody nose and gasped. I immediately clapped my hands over my mouth. Luckily, the jocks were too preoccupied with taunting the boy that they didn't notice. I slunk into the corner, but still peeked my head around so I could see exactly what was going on.
"You think you're so cool, don't you?" one of them laughed at the boy. Tom…Tom! That was his name.
Tom shook his head, red curls bouncing around wildly. He made no verbal response.
"You don't? Aw, how sad," the other one said with fake sympathy.
"Maybe we should kick some self confidence into him," said Jock Number 1. Bethany would have laughed at that.
Then, without any forewarning, Jock Number 2 landed a hard blow onto the side of Tom's head with his foot. Tom gripped his head with his hand, looking like he was going to throw up.
My hands curled into fists. I couldn't just stand there like an idiot and watch a boy get beaten up. I had to do something. I'd been in the same place before, and it wasn't fun. I was going to do something. No matter how stupid.
With absolutely no forethought whatsoever, I started to run towards Jock Number 2-he was smaller than the other one. They were too busy laughing to notice me, so it seemed to take Jock Number 2 on surprise when I tapped his shoulder. The minute he turned around, I nailed him right in the nose with my fist. His nose started to bleed profusely. My second thought was to run, but Jock Number 1 had already turned around and was coming towards me slowly. I started to back away. I ran into something-the other guy's arm. He pushed me towards Jock Number 1 and I rammed into his stomach. He caught me with his hands and shoved me into the wall so hard, my head knocked up against it with a cracking sound. I became incredibly dizzy, to the extent that I lost my balance and tumbled to the ground. I clutched the back of my head, feeling a large bump already.
I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness-I was seeing double and everything seemed to be spinning. I found some way to sit up and leaned my back up against the wall, practicing making out shapes. I could just make out Jocks Number 1 and 2. They were still beating up Tom, with more enthusiasm than before. Nobody was there to save him; obviously not me, though I'd tried, no teachers, nobody. Teachers at Stonehill were incredibly ignorant. They took no notice to fights, but instead did their best to avoid them.
Then, right on cue, came Xavier Bentz.
Xavier Bentz. I'd heard a lot about him, but you could practically tell his life story just by looking at him. He had black hair that hung about an inch below his ears, with long, thick bangs that he had to push out of his eyes often. It matched his cold, black, marble-like, eyes, which scared pretty much everyone. He never smiled, never laughed, never showed any sign of emotion. He was his only friend, it seemed. I had a stupid crush on him for a long time. It was silly, I know, but he was so perfect to me. He never cared what anyone thought about him, or his dark clothing, or his choice to be independent. I wanted to get to know him so bad, to hear his method. But those days were long gone. Bethany's crowd shunned him, so that meant I had to, too. He was old news to everyone else, so he was old news to me. But I never joined in when they teased him. I respected him too much to do that.
He came out from behind a corner. He must have heard something. I watched him, as intently as I could with my head still spinning, as he rushed towards the football players. He glanced at Tom, looking furious. He punched Number 1 in the mouth, then kneed him in the groin. Number 2 was backing away, but Xavier shoved him into the wall the same way they had shoved me, except he didn't fall down. He seemed discombobulated, using the wall for support. He kicked Number 1 in the shins so hard he let out some sort of manly shout, and though it most likely pained him, sprinted out of sight. Number 2 got the memo and went the opposite direction.
I stared at him in awe. My brain was able to process things now, and that would probably be embedded in my mind for the rest of my life. He literally had just beaten up two jocks and scared them off. Nobody, I mean nobody, had the guts to do something like that.
That old crush I had on him was starting to make a comeback.
Xavier kneeled down by Tom, who was out cold. He shook Tom's shoulders, and his eyes fluttered open, but closed again after a few seconds. He repeated this process, and this time Tom managed to stay conscious. Xavier brought him to his feet, where he somehow stayed awake, perched against the wall. Then Xavier diverted his attention to me.
He looked momentarily shocked, then extremely confused. Probably wondering how a girl like me got into a fight like this. And why I was sitting there, looking all pitiful with my knees pulled close to my chest while I still was gripping the back of my head, which was throbbing painfully.
Finally, he spoke. "Are you ok?" he said blankly. No emotion whatsoever.
I cleared my throat. "Uh-yeah-those guys…my head hurts." Congratulations, Isabella, you successfully made yourself sound like a complete idiot.
He raised a questioning eyebrow, and I felt a slight tinge of condescension. He leaned forward, his eyes still trained on me, and grabbed my arm. In one swift move, he pulled me to my feet. I was still a bit dizzy, so I had to steady myself before I could entirely stand straight. I hazily followed him as he walked towards Tom, who was rubbing his nose with one hand and holding his head with the other. He took him by the arm and was leading him as we walked. Xavier glanced behind his shoulder at me. "Do you need to go to the nurse?"
"Um…yeah, I guess…" I mumbled timidly. Gosh, Isabella, why do you have to be so freaking shy?
He gave me a curt nod. We trotted up a flight of stairs before reaching the nurse's office. Xavier sat Tom on one of the chairs, where he pretty much passed out, much to the nurse's dismay. I reluctantly sat down, too, but kept a chair-wide distance between Tom and I. The nurse went to work on Tom immediately, but never bothered to ask what had happened. Jeez, the faculty here.
A few minutes later, I had an ice pack on my head. It took me a moment to build up the nerve to glance over at Xavier, but he wasn't there. So with a quick nod to the nurse, as I tossed my ice pack in the trash, I stood up and headed for the door. Just as I was crossing the threshold of the doorway, Xavier appeared; probably to check on Tom or something. We stared at each other for a couple of seconds. Then Xavier spun on his heel and speed-walked away.
For some stupid reason, I rushed to catch up with him. He was walking really fast. "Hey, thanks for that," I said breathlessly.
"Go away," he mumbled. That stung. That was his response whenever anyone tried to communicate with him. But wasn't he just being nice ten minutes ago? What happened to the guy who broke up a fight and saved an injured boy? Now he was treating me the same way he treated everyone else.
"Why?" I asked, with a hard tone to my voice. He suddenly spun around and stopped me in my tracks.
"Look, it's not a big deal. I brought you to the nurse. Can we just forget about it?" Despite his snippiness, I was sort of proud of myself for getting more words out of him then most people had in a long time. Still, rude.
"Fine," I replied, then turned away from him, heading to my next class. On the other side of the school.
By lunchtime, things had returned to normal. I'd scored a seat at Bethany's exclusive table, between her and her friend Zoey Kamp, her other comrade. Xavier was at his usual spot; his secluded, empty table in the corner of the lunchroom. Tom had gone home, and I didn't see the two jocks for the rest of the day. All was well.
My head was spinning with the morning's events. I mean, Xavier Bentz beat up two football players-and he was smaller than them. Smaller in bulk, I mean.
I couldn't quite decide whether I wanted to tell anyone yet. Unfortunately, the topic came up before I had a chance to make a decision.
"Izzy, where were you during first period today?" Bethany asked me. Izzy was my pathetic nickname given by-don't even guess-Bethany. I only put up with it because she seemed to enjoy it.
I instinctively started brushing my fingers through my hair. "I uh…accidently…ran into a fight that was going on and got caught up in the middle of it. It was no big deal, though."
But by now, every girl at the table was leaning in to hear more. "Seriously? What happened?" Zoey asked anxiously.
I cleared my throat before explaining. I explained the whole story to them, with a few lies stuck in about how I 'was just casually walking to my next class' and how 'I don't know the red haired boy's name'. At the end, I said, "Then I followed him out the door, and I tried to thank him, but he told me to go away…so I asked him why and he told me just to forget what happened. It kind of pissed me off."
I'd started a riot. Girls from all corners of the table were hounding me with questions. I sunk back in my chair uncomfortably. Bethany must have noticed this, because she held a finger to her lips and shushed the table. Her face twisted into a mischievous smile.
"I have an idea for Izzy," she said, rather ominously. Some other girls copied her smirk. There was no way this was going to be good.
"I dare her…" she made a point to look at everyone at the table, "to give Xavier Bentz a piece of her mind."
The whole table (excluding me, of course) burst into hysterical laughter, which was mostly fake for Bethany's sake. My face turned red. There was no way I could talk to him again. He'd punch me in the face or something. Or just ignore me. But I'd gotten an extra sentence out of him earlier-what if I could do it again? I had to admit I was curious. I let a smirk creep across my face. "Fine."
Everyone looked at me in shock. There was a chorus of "Seriously?" and, "What?". Bethany threw me a high five as I stood up. I glanced at Xavier, and found he was staring at me. A pulse of fear snuck up my spine, and though I liked the adrenaline I felt, I had suddenly become too scared. I sat back down. "Nevermind."
Before I knew it, I was being pushed out of my seat by several pairs of hands, then led close to Xavier's table by someone's hands on my shoulders. That person gave me a hard shove, and I stumbled into his table. I caught myself on the side of it.
Another pulse of fear came as I studied him for a moment. His expression was blank and his gaze was set on his tray of food that'd only been touched by the pointy end of the fork that was shuffling it around. He didn't even glance at me as I sat down and folded my hands in my lap, not sure what to say.
"Go away," he said sharply. He still didn't look at me. I was glad-I would probably faint if I saw his black eyes. They scared me.
I somehow found the courage to say something back, using the adrenaline building up to give me some sort of strength. "Do you ever get tired of saying that?"
To my surprise, and discontent, he replied, "Do you ever get tired of saying yes?"
Confused, and keeping up the unspoken rule in this conversation to answering questions with questions, I said, "What do you mean?"
He actually looked up at me this time. I froze as I stared into his eyes, but I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be. It was like they were holding me there, and as long as they were still boring into mine, I couldn't move out of fright. I gulped nervously as he began to speak. "You know what I mean. You're just another clone. Everything you do or wear is based off of what those people say is ok. Your outfit is a prime example-every girl here dresses like that. You probably hate what you're wearing right now, but you're too obsessed with your image to wear something that's not in style. I can't stand people like you."
I could feel a lump swelling in my throat as I tried to hold back my tears. He'd practically looked into my soul, and exposed all of my denied feelings to myself. Somehow I found myself revering him, fascinated by his words-but I was still hurt. He told me he couldn't stand me. No, he said he couldn't stand people like me. Not specifically myself. Before any tears escaped my eyes, I said, "Everyone here is like that."
His eyes finally left mine and returned to his tray. "Exactly."