I stood looking through the window. Fatigue ran through my system, yet I couldn't sleep anymore. The need for food had ceased to exist, and I barely forced a small portion of anything down my throat during the painfully depressing mealtimes. I traveled through the motions, day in, day out.
"Mr. Carter." It was a voice that had soothed and comforted the pain when John had denounced our friendship. "Aren't you supposed to be at dinner?" I could have told him why I stood at the window, rather than sat through another uncomfortable force feeding. Instead, I chose a witty reply.
"I could ask the same of you, Professor Alexander." I said. Instead of smug, and grinning proudly like I would have a mere month ago, I sounded deadpan, cold, lifeless. Professor Alexander approached silently. I could feel his presence behind me, although his dress shoes made no echo against the cold, marble flooring. My breath fogged the cold window, and the rain dropplets ran down as a light drizzle chilled the cold October night. I continued to look, even when my reading glasses fogged up. I had taken to wearing them full time, as my vision was clearer. Any day now, my new glasses from the eye doctor down in the village would come in, and I could wear those.
"I wasn't feeling particularly up to a meal tonight, Mr. Carter." My chemistry professor replied, sounding equally deadpan. "I think you can appreciate what I mean when I wasn't up to forcing cheerfulness."
"Is it your wife, Professor?" I asked, still not moving. There was a third presence in the chilly, darkened corridor.
"Unfortunately." He said. "Johnathan."
"Sebastian." The two teachers greeted one another, and the new voice had clenched at my stomach, making pain and betrayal seep through to my exhausted bones. "Mr. Carter, shouldn't you be at dinner?" He dare speak to me now? If this was his way of getting me to speak, I was going to seriously get Alisha in. She could manipulate him better than anyone. John may be tough, but he was always at the complete and utter mercy of his wife.
"He wasn't hungry. I could ask the same of you, Johnathan." Professor Alexander, the one teacher on the faculty that had no friends, knew what it was like. I wanted to hug my professor then, but the Aspberger-plagued professor may not exactly appreciate that. Seth, fully-blown Autistic would have received my embrace better than Professor Alexander would have.
"You could, but I was at dinner in my own quarters. Alisha cooked." He said. It was almost...taunting. John, at that moment, was the world's biggest jerk. "I asked Mr. Carter myself, sir, not you." His tone was cold.
"Under due circumstances, I don't think young Remus-James here rather enjoys your presence." I smirked again. Thank you Professor Alexander. I continued to stare unmoving out the window otherwise.
"Mr. Carter is supposed to be at dinner, he's a Prefect. It's his job to show a good role model for his younger students."
"Mr. Carter can speak for himself, thank you gentleman." I replied coldly, using third person to emphasize my point. "He would like to wish Professor Alexander the very best of luck with his lovely wife, and would like to make the point that Mr. Stratford can mind his own business." I turned finally, to look into the eyes of my former best friend. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we will be leaving your unwelcome presence. Professor, I'd like to visit your wife in the Hospital Centre."
"Actually, son, the support would be welcomed." He sounded small, heartbroken. My own heart shattered in a thousand pieces. I remembered being ten- bullied, scared, and my brother dying in the Hospital Centre, his girlfriend a mess, the flu only dehydrating and worsening him, and Professor Alexander being the only one who could really reach me. John, who tired and failed thousands of times, couldn't even get to me. The one man who fought tooth and nail to keep me from being skipped a grade (and he unfortunately failed, resulting in my being held back to my own grade level) and the one man who knew twice my pain and back, came to my rescue. Here we were, seven years later, and still needing that comfort. I had decided that Professor Alexander had become my new favorite faculty member (besides Mortimer Rider, the one person who had really understood, and Mr. Anderson, my Godfather).
"You gave me that support when it was my own brother, Professor." I said to him, looking at him. "Now, it's my turn to comfort you." He smiled gratefully, and together we made our journey through the cold halls to the hospital center. We walked in, and found her sitting up, having a breathing treatment, but otherwise okay. We sat in chairs, and watched her for a moment. She weakly smiled.
"Sebastian." He smiled at her.
"Ally, how are you?"
"Better." I smiled warmly.
"Mrs. Alexander, looking wonderful." I said, not really faking much of my happiness. Somehow, this was when I was happiest anymore, in the presence of my chemistry teacher and his wife.
"Thanks, sweetheart." She said. Professor Alexander took her hand, and rubbed it soothingly with his thumb. Doctor Prested came out of his office, and walked over to us.
"Professor Alexander." My professor didn't glance up. "She's doing well." He nodded.
"Thank you, Doctor." As he walked away, a pale, scared, lonely face waled through the door, and over to the sleeping mass on the farthest bed. Professor Rider's wife had been suffering the flu. It had taken the same bad turns my brother had all those years ago. Fortunately, like my own brother, she had hope for a good recovery.
"I'd go see him." I told my professor. "But I don't want to come back, and make your wife sicker." Mrs. Alexander, smiled. Her breathing easier after her breathing treatment, although her lungs still full of fluid, smiled.
"Thanks, sweetheart." She said. Professor Alexander shot me a grateful look. He leaned in, and kissed her on the forehead.
"I love you." He whispered. I looked away, not wanting to intrude. Although it was a rarity to see the two so open.
"I love you too, Sebastian." She whispered. Astoria walked by, and saw me.
"Oh, hey." She said, kissing my cheek. "Missed you earlier. You not hungry?" She knew me better than Seth, and yet somehow I couldn't tell my own girlfriend the truth.
"No...too much homework. And I'm past the point of hungry at this point." She nodded.
"Well, I'll see you later, all right. I have my patrol tonight, but maybe I'll stop by your office before you go to bed."
"Sure, love." I said, pressing my mouth to hers. "Love you."
"Love you too." She said, smiling. "You look good in glasses." I blushed slightly.
"Thanks, baby." I muttered. Her Head Girl badge gleamed in the florescent light, before she walked away. I turned back to find my professor and his wife watching me. I blushed. "What?"
"That's the first time you've made physical contact with her in a while, that I've seen." He watched me. "Is everything all right?" The doors opened, and I saw a face we'd just left behind minutes ago. Pain and anger chorused through my veins.
"No...no, it's not." I said, unable to tear my eyes away from John. He was soon followed by a second voice.
"I don't see why he refuses."
"He doesn't seem concerned." John replied to Mr. Jones. Oh great, another jerk. That's what I need. I looked at them.
"So, what were you saying?"
"Oh, yeah. So, he has this weird collection of ties right. One even sings." Surprise and betrayal hit me. "What kind of weirdo has a singing tie?" He should know. He's the one who gave me the singing tie for Christmas. It played Jingle Bells, and I wore it every Christmas.
"That's really lame."
"Not to mention the fact that he bought it himself." The Halloween one played the Monster Mash...I could feel my face going red, hot with shame, embarrassment, and betrayal. So deep that it penetrated my soul.
"What else have you got on this kid?"
"Remember that magnetic chess set I told you about? He literally took it with him on a date. That's what I meant by 'he takes it everywhere.'" My first date with Astoria had ended in a chess match. She had asked me to play her, I didn't ask her. Tears stung my eyes. Mortimer looked up, and right at me. Mr. Jones was laughing. "And the pocket protector! Kid, that sweater vest isn't going to hide it!" My own sweater vest had felt suddenly too hot, and my tie was choking me. My normal attire, altered to add skinny jeans and a pair of high tops rather than my khakis and loafers. I had a pocket protector, and it didn't stick out usually. It was well hidden. Apparently, I was off.
"Mr. Carter?" Professor Alexander asked me. A lump stuck in my throat, and I struggled to keep it together for a moment. Mr. Jones, and Mortimer looked at me, surprised and concern etched in their features.
"Excuse me." I mumbled, before taking off. I threw myself from my chair, and ran. Nobody came after me, and I ran through the hallways, which seemed colder now, and kept going. Good. I thought. Someone knew to leave me be. I ran, passed Seth and Andy, who were talking to someone I didn't catch. Passed Bobby and Sean, who were looking at the Technology club bulletin board. Passed Professor Nakamura, Headmaster, and Professor Miller, who were congregated in the Entrance Tower. I threw myself through the doors. My walkie talkie squawked.
"If you guys see Remus, just let him go." Rider. Thank God. "He needs his space."
"Absolutely." I ran, ignoring the responses of my superior and inferior prefects. I kept running, until the talk radio fell to the ground as I scaled the wall that sealed Moon Johnson's Elite Spy Academy from Spy Village 238. I ran into the village, my chest constricting, my body wearing down, my breathing short, and soon painful. The cold reared it's ugly head on my asthma-filled lungs, and soon, I had collapsed in the middle of a gravel road. I didn't move. I couldn't.
Sometime later, I had lost track of time, I heard voices. I could barely breath, everything throbbed and ached, and I didn't want to be there anymore. My best friend, my own surrogate brother, had betrayed my secrets to my other best friend's father, the same man who had been a bully to everyone around him the past few months. My own two teachers, who had been there for me for a long time, and they had turned on me with everything.
"Hang on, Moon. I think I found him." Footsteps, fast, and crunching on the frosted gravel. "Remus-James?" The only professor in the entire school who called me by my full first name.
"Professor-Alex-ander?" I panted out, unable to move. Soon, several more footsteps sounded in my ears.
"Head-master?" I felt a face to my chest. "Tight...painful." I forced out.
"He's wheezing something fierce." Professor Alexander said. "We have to get him to the school."
"Asthma...worse...from...heat...to cold." I forced out.
"I can get Doctor Prested to have the breathing treatment machine hooked up for our arrival at once, Remus. I have a short cut." I heard a voice.
"Moon, why the hell is my nephew in the middle of the road?" Uncle Romeo?
"He's having an asthma attack." Professor Alexander said. "Romeo, do you think you could help us get him to school quickly." I don't know what happened after that. I blacked out, I think.
Sometime later, I woke up. I was in my striped pajamas, warm underneath the hospital blankets. They were tucked between the mattress and bead frame up to my hips. My breathing was normal, and it wasn't scaring me. I think maybe, because of his connections, my Uncle had somehow had an inhaler at his house nearby, helping me to breath properly again. It was dark, and my vision was blurry. I looked over and pulled on a pair of unfamiliar glasses. Oh, my new glasses came in. The sight around me was clearer than ever.
Seth, Amie, Astoria, Bobby, Sean, Pierre, Gerald, Andy, Jon-Mario, Professor Alexander, Headmaster, and Mortimer were all in chairs. Everyone but Seth was asleep. Seth got up, and sat next to me on the bed.
"How are you feeling?"
"Better." I mumbled. He looked at me. "You guys stayed for me?"
"What makes you think we wouldn't?" Seth asked. "I know you've felt lonely for a while, but you never were. You've always had us." Tears stung my eyes, and a lump formed in my throat. "You had me." He sounded hurt, sad. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't know how." I replied back, looking into his gray, suddenly watery eyes. "I never knew I could." Someone behind Seth stirred.
"Remus-James, you're awake." Professor Alexander was smiling. "Seth, will you do me a favor, and gather Mr. Carter's things. He's going to stay with me while he recovers."
"No, Professor, I don't want to trouble you-"
"It's no trouble." He said. "Son, really, Ally comes back to our quarters today. I'll be taking the time off to settle her in. You can stay too, it's all right." I nodded, uncertain.
"On it, Professor." Seth's deep voice was soothingly familiar, and I realized that, in my depression, I'd missed my friend. He found my jeans, and dug through the pockets to find the key to my office. He knew the code through the door, but it also required a key card. He found it, and left.
That, I knew, signaled my long journey of recovery ahead.