I chewed my nails and my heart was beating up to my neck.
I didn't want to go to school. My body couldn't handle that extra stress; I was sweating, but it wasn't hot, my throat was dry and my stomach hurt. That night I couldn't sleep for one second, which meant that I was completely exhausted again.
"Calm down," Josh said and tried to laugh, but he also was nervous.
I looked up from the street to his face and he smiled insecure. I snorted and began to rock with my legs, which I normally hate. But even that didn't distract me, I was still terribly nervous.
When we finally turn to the school parking lot and looked at the smiling students, I prayed that I didn't have to go in that damn building.
Liam and Niall stood at the gate; they talked with other students and Niall laughed. His laughter could be heard almost in Josh's car. My head was pounding and I swallowed.
"Can't we just go back home?," I asked Josh and he laughed.
"Nope," he said, and I noticed how he tried to stay calm, but his voice trembled even in that one word.
He parked his car, then unstrapped himself and reached back to get his bag.
"Are you coming?," he asked and I swallowed again.
Slowly, I unstrapped meand took a deep breath.
It would be all right. Everything would be fine. Josh was at my side.
With trembling hands I opened the car door and swung my bag to one of my shoulders. Josh got out of his car, locked it and smiled at me.
"It'll be okay," he whispered, loud enough that I could hear it.
I nodded and we walked to the gates of hell aka the huge doors of our school. When people noticed us, they pushed each other and began to whisper and to laugh, but stopped abruptly when Liam and Niall came up to us.
"Everything all right?," Liam asked with a smile and now walked with us.
"This is the beginning of the end," I muttered, Niall laughed out loud.
Besides his resounding laughter nothing was to be heard; around us was dead silence. Even the teachers were staring at us. Liam and Niall escorted us almost to our lockers before Niall and Josh went to their classes and I went willy-nilly to math with Liam.
"I haven't seen anyone from the other guys yet," he said, his voice had a strange undertone.
Was it repentant? Or even... even fear? He took a deep breath and then smiled at me encouragingly.
"But as soon as I see them, I'll text Niall and we’ll talk to them. Niall does the same. So today you will be safe and not stuck in a garbage can," he said, and smiled half.
Just like Niall he knew practically the whole school. I felt uncomfortable while Liam blossomed: with every person we met he exchanged a few words, hugs, handshakes. Being in Liam's near was awkward. Until yesterday he would've probably paid somebody to record how he and the others would beat us up. It happened all at once and way too fast: Niall's change of mind, Liam's niceness. Something was not right, I was feeling it.
When we entered the classroom, already a teacher stood in front of the class and we hurried to get to our seats; Which means I went to my place and Liam made the person next to me find a new place.
"Listen, class. Mr. Owen had last night an accident and therefore isn't able to teach today. He will probably need a few days to fully recover himself," began the older woman and someone chuckled.
"You will get a replacement, but only starting tomorrow. Therefore I ask you that you will do the following tasks..." she got on and turned around to write tasks on the board.
Liam stood up and took his things.
"What are you doing?," I whispered.
"I am leaving?," he said, puzzled, as if it were the most obvious thing of the world.
"Get up, pick up your bag, you’re coming with me," he ordered and I wrinkled my forehead.
"We have class, Li-" I began, but he had already got my bag and had pulled myself up.
He dragged me with him and together we stumbled to the door. What the hell?
Arriving at the door, he glanced at me and whispered, "Now it’s your time to come to life."
I took one last look at the class, which was staring at him in surprise and looking at me dismissively, and followed him, after he had opened the door.
We walked the long school hallway and I felt not good at all. I’ve been bad enough in school and now I started to skip the lessons. This was not exactly helpful... even if we hadn't a real teacher.
All teachers who came to meet us had to think that we had a free period, because they greeted us warmly and just ran on. Okay, I was used to being ignored by them and that they never intervened, but it was still a bit strange, right? Did Zayn and the rest have so much money that they paid the entire teaching profession? Probably yes.
Liam kept going through the huge building and I stumbled after him. I had no idea where he wanted to go. We've already left the cafeteria and all classrooms behind us, but he didn't stop.
"Where the hell are we going?," I asked and he turned around, but didn’t stop to walk.
"I'll show you one of my favorite places," he said and I nodded before I looked at him confused.
We had now arrived in a part of the school that I didn't even know it existed. He pushed open a door and we went into a washroom. Probably we were above one of the gyms.
Liam dropped his bag and then closed the door behind me.
"Would you mind opening a window?," he asked and I gave him a quick glance before I ran into one of the tall windows.
Had he just asked me for anything? Niall was perhaps right when he said that Liam was actually a nice person. My brain couldn't process these images and simply left it there.
I stood on a stool and reached out to open the window to its snap closure. The view from this room was shockingly beautiful. Shockingly, in the sense that I hated school so far and yet this perspective was pleasant. Flowers grew in front of the tall buildings and the leaves danced in the wind. I solved my eyes and stepped down from the stool.
"Where are we, Li-?" I asked and stopped in mid-sentence.
Above the door through which we had just entered, stood in capital letters "VIP AREA". The letters were arranged artistically in black and red color and they excluded themselves from the gray wall. In addition, five crowns were sprayed in a golden hue and somehow complemented the colors.
Liam had moved away a few plates of a wall and was probably going to get out of the hole a few things, but instead he watched me and laughed.
"Your face is really priceless," he said, and giggled as he continued to pull something out of the hole now. I slowly walked up to him.
"This is obviously the VIP area. The boys and I sometimes come here during the lessons or breaks. It's quite nice, right?," he said, and I watched as he brought pillows and packages from the hole in the wall.
"Coke?" he asked and I nodded, confused. He took two cans of Coca Cola from the hole and then shut it again.
"Sit down," he said, throwing a pillow at me.
He lay down on the floor and opened his Coca Cola can. I let the pillow fall to the ground and sat in a cross-legged on it. Then I took my can and opened it. The cold liquid slid down my throat and calmed my thoughts.
"Want some?," Liam asked, holding up a small bag. It consisted of small grains and green stalks, one could almost compare it with dried grass, but I knew better.
"No, thanks," I said and he shrugged his shoulders, before he stopped in the movement and grimaced in simpathy.
"Oh, shit, your mom... I've forgotten, I'm sorry," he said.
I didn't know what shocked me more: that he was able to show feelings or that he apologized.
"It's okay," I assured him, he looked at me for a moment longer.
"Can I still...?" he asked and I nodded.
"Good, because that's exactly what I need right now," he said with relief and produced with skilled finger movements a joint.
I watched him all the time and took a sip of my soda. When Liam was lighting his work, he rolled onto his back and blew the smoke out of his nostrils.
"Oh, God, that's doing good," he said, closing his eyes.
"Can you please hit the second tile next to the hole?," he asked and I laughed.
"Your kidding, right?," I asked, but he neither looked at me, yet he said something or nodded. He did nothing. Liam pulled at his joint and opened his mouth, so the smoke escaped from his body.
"Okay..." I said, looking next to the hole.
I banged on the tile and winced as suddenly music escaped from some little holes in the wall. After a few beats I recognized the song; it was "What Goes Around... Comes Around" by Justin Timberlake. Liam laughed.
"Oh, one of my favorite songs...," he said and took another drag. I raised an eyebrow and Liam rolled onto his side so he could look at me.
He was wearing a figure-hugging black sweater and ran the hand, in which he held the joint, trough his short brown hair. His brown eyes didn't leave mine as he nodded the rhythm with his head.
"What is your favorite song?," he asked after a time and the situation became more uncomfortable to me.
"Uh, I don't know, but I like this song, too," I said, because I could think of nothing better. And because I believed in karma.
He nodded and then laughed. Slowly he began to sing the text and took another drag of the joint.
Over time – and probably with the support of smoke that spread throughout the room – I calmed down more and took sips from my coke. Liam blew smoke rings into the air and we laughed when failed. A few songs passed and now started a new one. I bobbed my head to the beat and Liam laughed.
"I love this song!" he said, standing up. With the joint in his hand he started spinning around and began to dance.
"She, she used to be a really special lady! I guess she's feeling kinda freaky lately. It's such a shame, cause now the lovin's changed,” he sang along with Lloyd and held out his free hand.
I took it and he pulled me up with an ease, so I bounced against his chest.
"She used to squeeze me... Grip me tight enough so she can please me!," he continued singing and pulled me closer to him.
I laughed and we began to spin around. He sang on and I had to admit that he had a very pleasant, good voice. Again and again he pulled at his joint and then blew smoke in my face. I shook my head and laughed along with him.
"Is that better than math?," he asked and I nodded.
He took my hand and we crossed our fingers while we danced to the music. Finally, the song ended and a quieter song began. Liam sat down, drank his coke and took the last drag of his joints. Then he squeezed it on the can and threw it into it.
"Sit down," he said and I plopped down on the pillow next to him.
"I'm cooler than you thought, huh?" he said and I laughed and nodded.
He grinned widely at me and his brown eyes sparkled. I was no longer afraid of his near; I felt now more likely like I was drunk. I felt light and somehow safe.
"I can't understand why you have bitch as girlfriend," I heard myself say, before I could even think about it again. Liam laughed and nodded.
"I sometimes neither," he admitted, and now I laughed. "But she looks good and knows how to move," he added, winking at me.
"Oh, God, guys are all the same," I muttered, and he tore his eyes.
"Bullshit! Otherwise Niall hadn't broke up with Aly," he said. "If he would've been like this, he hadn't ditched her, if she still got into bed with him." I sighed and nodded.
"That's probably true..." I relented and he nodded with a smile.
"And what about you? What do you like best?" he asked me. I looked at him confused.
"What are you talking about?"
"Are you into nibbling on the earlobe or do you need a little more... magic?" Liam asked, raising his hand. He wiggled his fingers at the last word and I choked on my spit.
He laughed at my reaction and asked "Do I have to ask Josh because of that or what?"
I laughed and said, "Neither Josh nor I will tell you even anything like that."
"But you are still together, right?"
"Still? We were never together."
He looked at me confused. "Are you sure?"
I snorted and said, "Uh, yeah? Yeah, I am."
He frowned and said, "Aly told us that you two are getting it on since you were thirteen and that not always alone..."
I laughed out loud and said, "She has always been the best story-teller I knew..."
"So there was nothing about it?"
"Huh," he said and nodded. Then he leaned back and stretched. A yawn followed and then I also had to yawn.
"And you're sure you're not together?" he asked after a short time and I laughed again.
"Quite sure," I said, and he turned his head, so he looked at me again now.
"Um, because we're just friends. You will perhaps not believe it, but girls and boys can be just friends."
He laughed and said, "Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think so."
We stayed until the break ended and while Liam stowed the pillows and closed the hole, I closed the window. We strolled back along the path from the VIP area and with every step we met more students. They looked at us weirdly while we were laughing and discussing and ran past them. Everyone waited probably that Liam would freak out and threw me against a locker, but that didn't happen. Liam's near pushed me to do things and be something, I hadn't done or been for a while.
I felt alive for the first time again and when we saw Josh and Niall from further away, I waved to them and together with Liam, I ran towards them, laughing.
"Woah, are you all right?," Josh asked, looking at me with concern. "Your smile is scary. Yours also, Sel."
I smiled widely and looked at Liam, who had a broad smile on his lips, too. We giggled and Niall pulled an eyebrow.
"You're fine?" he asked and I nodded.
"He's cooler than I thought," I said, repeating Liam's words from earlier.
He snorted, put his arm around me and hugged me. I looked from him to Josh and he was staring at me in horror. Niall began to smile and glanced at his clock.
"I guess, It's time. Mrs-" he began, but before he could end his sentence, he was interrupted.
"Can wait, exactly. What a pleasure to meet you here," said a familiar voice.
Liam let slip his arm away from me and we turned around.
Zayn, Louis and Harry stood behind us and all three had a greasy smile on their lips. Louis cracked his knuckles and Harry ran a hand through his curls.
Josh placed himself protectively beside me, but I wasn't afraid. I was calm and kept my smile on my lips.
"Can't say this about you. Hello, boys," I said and they looked at me surprised for a moment.
"What are you thinking that you can talk to us like that?" Louis asked and pursed his lips.
I laughed at his behavior and felt Josh's eyes on me. I felt confident and strong, stronger than in recent years, more than ever before.
"I need to talk to you guys," Niall said and now made a few steps to Zayn. Even though he said "guys", he meant Zayn.
I glanced beside me. Liam looked strained and tense; no longer relaxed like a few minutes ago. And suddenly I realized why exactly we were at their secret room. He didn't want to get to know me better in the first order. He wanted to calm himself and build up some courage. He was scared. He was afraid of Zayn.
I frowned. Was there no one to defy this boy?
I looked back at Zayn and he was staring at me.
"What is it, Niall?" he asked, but his eyes remained on me. "Have you made new friends, or what?"
"I, uh," Niall stammered and Zayn finally looked at him.
Niall took a deep breath and said, "No. We have always been friends."
He stretched his shoulders and Zayn pulled an eyebrow.
"Oh, yeah?" he asked.
Harry looked confused at Niall, but Louis wasn't deterred. He trusted in Zayn's influence on Niall and Liam. Harry looked at Liam, but he kept being at my side and took an uneasy breath. Although he was the one who had smoked the joint of the two of us, I felt more rested than ever. Rested and stronger and more confident.
"I am bored. We're too late, Josh," I said, taking his hand and pulled him into the opposite direction from the other guys. Without looking back, I knew that everyone was staring at me.
Josh stumbled along behind me and I dragged him to the school corridor.
"What's the matter with you?" he hissed as we were far enough away and I looked at him with a big smile.
One could easily read the fear in his face. Did I also look like that when I met the boys?
"Hey guys," someone said and I looked in front of me again.
Ashton came up to us and smiled at us wide. As always.
"Wow, you can even smile properly, Sel," he said and I laughed.
"Don't you have classes right now?" I asked and he shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, actually we do," Josh said. "Why aren't you in your class?"
"Physics is killing me. I think I am going a bit earlier today..."
"Today, huh?" I said, and he rolled his eyes as he smiled at me.
Only the first period has passed and Ashton wasn't really a person who visited every class he had...
"I'll come with you," I said, then quickly corrected me when I realized I was still holding Josh's hand. "We'll come with you. Right?"
"Uh, sure," he said, and smiled uncertainly.
We went to Josh and from there I called my father.
"Hey, dad," I said, and his voice brightened.
"Selena, it's been ages since I've heard of you," he said, exaggerating, of course, as always.
Josh and Ashton plundered his big fridge and dragged everything to Josh's room. I had a bottle of wine in my hand and ran after them.
"I also call you up just to ask if you can take care of the kids this afternoon? I don't feel so good," I lied and coughed.
Ashton laughed out loud and I slammed the wine bottle at his arm.
"Oh, Josh," he said in a high voice and groaned. "Oh, baby!"
"What's that?" my dad asked and I had to bite my tongue so that I didn't laugh.
"Here is a boy with an obvious personality disorder in the infirmary," I explained and Josh laughed. I looked at him smiling and holding my index finger in front of my lips.
"Ah, yes. Um, well, if you're feeling this awful, I'm going to-," my father said and I could hear that he didn't believe me, but he agreed and that was what I wanted to hear.
"You're the best dad in the world, thank you! Love you, daddy," I said and hung up as fast as I could.
"You idiot!" I complained about Ashton and we started to laugh. We spread the captured treasures on the ground in Josh's room and Josh turned the music on.
We spent the day singing and eating and drinking in Josh's room and this day was really one of the best in my life. I had defied Zayn, started to like Liam and along with Josh, I got to know better Ashton.
Linkin Park blared through the speakers in Josh's room. Josh and Ashton danced and laughed and sang, while I just lay on the Josh's huge bed, eyes closed and didn't move an inch.
The alcohol and the music was pulsing through my veins, while Chester Bennington was singing "I wanna see you choke on your lies, swallow up your greed, suffer all alone in your misery! Choke on your lies, swallow up your greed, suffer all alone in your misery!"
I didn't want this perfect day ever to end.