Warning : Allusion to drugs
A fireplace behind me.
A couple of goody doers in front of me.
My big brother – my only real family to be honest – was blocking my way away with a disapproving and thoroughly tired glare. Only five seconds ago he’d caught me…ingesting something a friend of mine had been kind of enough to get me. His first reaction had been to yell at me to get out of his house.
I’d been saved by his husband.
I guess I must’ve struck some kind of sympathy cord with Xavier when I showed up at his doorstep weeks ago. He told my brother kicking me out wasn’t going to help. Which is entirely true. I’d just head back home. Sure, mom was a pain to be around right now, but I had a lot of cheap stuff stashed over there.
I didn’t expect to be watched so closely when I asked to crash here. I’m an adult for god’s sake, they don’t need to treat me like I’m one of their troublesome kids.
“Look I get it. I’m a pain in your asses. Thanks for letting me crash! I can figure something else out.” I interjected their little ‘parenty’ exchange.
“Alistair no, I’m sorry. I’m worried for you.” My brother said with big concerned eyes.
“Why? Dad’s dead remember.” I replied. Edmund grimaced.
“I’m worried about your…addiction.” He said. I scrunched up my nose. I couldn’t really deny it. I knew I was addicted to anything that made my head fuzzy really. Some people fish.
“I don’t see why. It doesn’t affect you, so it’s not your problem.”
“In this case, you involved our kids.” Xavier said with a short irritated laugh.
Ah shit, yeah I did that. Nikolas must’ve ratted me out.
“Because of it,” Edmund continued. “You keep losing your job, your money, and your friends.”
I exhaled sharply. I didn’t have anything to say.
“We could send you to rehab.” Xavier said.
“No!” I snapped. “Hell no, never, ever, in a fucking million years am I going to rehab. It’s not like I’m trembling my way through the day without some!”
“Then your options are limited.” Xavier said.
“Alistair,” Edmund picked up. “If you don’t change how you do things, we will send you to rehab.”
“No.” I repeated.
“Then show us you have some control. Stop depending on drugs, and get yourself a stable job.” Xavier pressed.
I do have control.
I sighed inwardly. Maybe if I get a stable job and stop getting caught by Nikolas of all people, I could convince them to overlook my occasional indulgence…
Yeah sure, guess it’s worth a try.
I really can’t say I’m surprised. I expected him to have given up by now, but instead Zac decided to woo other girls while still harassing me practically every day. Guess he just needed to reassure himself his charms still worked on someone at least. I chuckled at the idea that mister bigshot needed reassurance.
Walking down the corridor, I spotted one of the freshmen on a bench – looking down and irritated.
Really down and irritated. He was contrasting everyone else’s happy break atmosphere. I was surprised no one else had sat down beside him to ask him if everything was okay.
I decided to sit down beside him.
“Is everything okay?” I asked. He snorted.
“I’m too tired to deal with all of this today. Too many lies, it frustrates me. I just can’t bear with it like a civilized person today.” The boy grumbled. “And don’t say oh I don’t lie because hell the lies are rolling off you like a waterfall. Whatever you’re lying about is huge and constant for you and I don’t want to know what it is.” He ruffled his own hair with a groan of annoyance.
I bit my lip. I didn’t know if there was something I could say at this point without annoying him further.
“Look,” He said with a sigh. “I know it might be an interesting idea to get on Nikolas’ good side, by faking concern for his cousin, but let me tell you right now it’s not going to change anything. We’re not on good terms.”
“You’re Niko’s cousin?” I asked with clear disbelief.
“Well not by blood, more like our parents are really good friends, but – wait you didn’t know?” I shook my head and he seemed to cheer up a bit. “Sorry then. I assumed that’s why you were talking to me since I always see you chasing him – I mean hanging out with him.”
Well not always. I’ve been too busy to hang out that much. “Yup, I was really just a nice person worried for your mental well being.”
“And that’s actually the truth.” He said with a grin. “I should elaborate I guess. I can sense lies. Like, it’s an actual power. I’m a lie detector.”
“I have my dad to thank for it. Ugh it’s ridiculous how much people lie.” He said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
A lie-detector? Wow! That’s…useful.
“You can detect any lie? You could know if someone….likes someone else?” I wanted to shove the words back into my mouth. The boy looked at me with a scrutinizing look before a smirk crept up his face.
“That’s a great idea. Putting my cousin on the spot? That’s definitely going to cheer me up!” He exclaimed.
“Wait, what are you-”
“Since everyone went outside a few seconds ago I know exactly where he is. Come on!” The freshman said, grabbing my hand and dragging me down the corridors.
The scene wasn’t pretty. But Nikolas getting into an argument never is.
He’d managed to go almost all week without a fight, but here he was about to throw away that record.
Nikolas was just about ready to react to the provocations of one of Zac’s friends. Veronica was calling Niko out for being rash. Zac’s other friend was probably getting ready to place bets. Elaine was on the side laughing and cheering Niko on. As if this was just a game.
Still gripping my hand for some reason, Niko’s cousin cleared his throat and shouted over the crowd.
“Hey Nikolas! Do you have a crush on anyone?”
My cheeks grew warm from embarrassment – that wasn’t very subtle! I tried to make myself scarce.
Why did this boy’s squeaky voice have to be loud enough to get everyone’s eyes on us?
“Jesse?” Nikolas said, obviously confused. If he noticed me, he didn’t show any sign of it. “What the fuck, get out of here.”
“It’s a simple question.” Jesse said, sticking his tongue out.
Elaine jumped off the hedge, her interest in the subject evidently high. “Yeah, tell us Niko.” She chirped before anyone else could wave Jesse off.
Nikolas grimaced and everyone else didn’t quite seem to know what to say. “Tell us!” Elaine insisted again.
“How is this remotely-” Nikolas began to say, but he was cut off.
Guess everyone – really done with Niko’s constant getting into fights – saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
They crowded around Nikolas asking him the question over and over, Niko’s discomfort clear and just encouraging the crowd.
Nikolas shoved a kid who’d gotten a little too close and a little too insistent. He balled his fists and shouted at everyone to shut up.
“I will punch the next person who asks that again.” He growled. A hesitant silence settled around the crowd. One of the boys opened his mouth with a sneer, but Niko feigned punching him right between the eyes, shutting him up rather quick.
When it was clear nobody wanted to really test his threat, he pushed through the crowd and made his way into the school.
“That’s a success if I’ve ever seen one.” Jesse smirked as the crowd dispersed.
“No, Jesse…” I said shaking my head. “Everybody ganged up on him….he-”
“That was the point! Thanks for the idea. It was a great cheer up. By the way, you were probably wondering, usually when people don’t answer it’s cause they either don’t know the answer or don’t want people to know the truth. So you know…” He winked. I pouted.
A blond freshman made his way over from the crowd.
“Heeeyyy Jesse you missed it.” He said, with a quick glance at me.
“Hell no Arthur, I caused it!” Jesse stated proudly.
The two boys started chatting between themselves and I glanced back at the school – where Nikolas had stormed off to.
“Niko. Niko wait!” I ran to catch up to him…only to realize he hadn’t been walking away. He was pacing back and forth in the corridor.
“I’m sorry.” I said. “It’s my fault he-”
“Oh he’s a nasty little brat.” Nikolas interrupted me, voicing whatever complaints he had going in his mind. “I thought we’d gotten some kind of coexistence, but if that’s what he wants that’s what he’ll get.”
Nikolas wouldn’t hit his own cousin would he? “But he’s just a kid…”
“Yeah the devil’s.” He grumbled.
“Oh yeah, before I forget, there’s going to be a Halloween party at my house. Are you coming?” Nikolas asked.
Butterflies fluttered. “Yes, of course!”
“I should make sure Jesse comes. Could make him piss his pants. Elvis! I need a creative dare idea…” I shook my head with a smile as Nikolas rambled off again.
“It was supposed to be a good day too!” Nikita complained, leading me into the dance room.
“It couldn’t have been that bad.”
“Oh, but it was. He was there. Of ALL places – he chose it on purpose I swear.”
“Tyzel Gallivant.” She hissed the name like it was a curse.
“It was a totally normal day at work. Everyone’s warming up and I get to join now, not just direct the warm-ups.” Nikita began recounting. “The instructor is talking about the dances we’ll work on today, and then he starts mentioning the Talent Troupe. They’re really well known and admired in my group. The troupe often has complex dance choreographies that look really impressive. So then the instructor declares he’s managed to get a representative of the Talent Troupe to come and share some tips.”
“Of course it’s none other than goddamn Tyzel Gallivant. I’d recognize that mop of hair anywhere – even if he decided to chop it off. Still can’t be bothered to take pills for those allergies of his though, god. Apparently, the whole Troupe is on the other side of the ocean right now, but they were more than willing to send the only representative they had in Ridgevalley. So we get him.”
“Turns out he actually does have experience in dancing. I mean I figured he wasn’t an amateur after prom, but to think he actually knew more than 1, 2, 3, as in a bunch of break dancing moves, well…it just really pisses me off. Everyone’s fawning over him and he’s acting like he doesn’t know me – which really is fine by me. I just can’t wait till this is over and I can go back to having fun at work. But the instructor found his tips useful, ugh, he’ll want to keep him a little longer. Cue my suffering.”
“Awesome! Can you ask him something for me?” I asked. This is the perfect opportunity to ask for that magical key back again. At some point, the chance to go down to the basement without my fathers knowing is going to come around.
Nikita snorted. “Me? Talk to him? Not happening as long as I can help it. In a way, I consider it his fault my knees got busted and you want me to go talk to him in a civilized manner?”
Ugh nevermind. She’s too stubborn on this.
“So your knees can actually take it? You’re sure?”
Nikita grinned and smacked her knees. “Oh yes. My children are ready. And I’ve been doing the warm ups at work for a while now. I can do a good few songs with you.”
I’d missed this. It was kind of our thing. I play the violin and she dances. I remember the first few times she’d gotten annoyed when I screwed up all the notes, but we’d harmonized pretty well now.
Playing the violin always relaxes me and helps me clear my mind.
I found myself thinking back on what happened at school today. That really ridiculous show Jesse started.
I don’t understand what the big deal was about needing to know if I had a crush on anyone! They were probably just looking for a reason to gang up on me.
You know people get crushes on celebrities, but it’s nothing serious. It’s just a mixture of envy and admiration.
So what even is, seriously what is a crush?
Apart from a type of soda.