“We need to tell The Head.” Leo says finally after several disturbing minutes of watching Roan mumble to himself.
I swallow and nod, he’s right but Mrs. Oscar’s warning about taking things into our own hands and the consequences that would follow has my hands cold and clammy.
“Come on.” He starts to steer me out the room but I dig my heels in.
“What about Roan?”
“He’s not going anywhere, besides-” he grabs the door key from the top of a cluttered and bursting bookshelf and locks the door behind us. “He couldn’t even if he wanted to.”
His smile dies after only moments on his lips.
“Rose, what’s happened to your head?”
I reach up to the back of my head despite already knowing it’s bleeding.
“I hit it on the wall.”
He clenches his jaw.
“You mean Roan hit it on the wall.”
“Come on.” He drags me along and I stumble after him, not bothering to argue.
As we turn down a corridor I realise he’s taking me to the Nurse.
“Rose, you need to get that sorted, you might have a concussion-”
I shake my head, another stupid idea, and refuse to move.
“Rose, it could need stitches.”
“Exactly. I doubt she’ll waste energy on Healing a little cut. I… I’m not great with needles.”
He sighs and runs a hand through his hair.
“I’ll talk to her. That little cut won’t take much energy so I’m sure I can persuade her.”
I let him urge me forwards, my hand trembling in his.
Stupid. Stupid. I say to myself as a familiar lump builds in my throat. It’s just a freaking needle, you won’t even see it. Stop being a baby.
Leo knocks on the door and I hear her familiar soft but tired voice.
Leo opens the door and gently, but firmly, pushes me in.
“Rose, is it?” She smiles, eyeing my arm.
“How can I help?”
“Uh…” I take my hand away from my head to show her it’s covered in blood. “I hit my head.”
I keep my eyes focused on Leo as she pokes and prods, silently swearing to rip his head off if she starts talking about stitches. He gives me a smile as if he knows what I’m thinking which he probably does. We’re pretty close.
His leg twitches restlessly as he leans against the door. He’s worrying about Rin. About telling The Head. About his best friend, currently talking to himself, mind warped out of his control.
“Okay, I’ve stopped the bleeding. It’s only a little cut so you’ll be fine.” She pats my shoulder before pulling off her blood smeared gloves and dropping them in a bin. I resist the urge to feel it for myself.
The Nurse turns to Leo and smiles.
“Just keep an eye on her.”
He nods before grabbing my hand, now clean, and steering me out.
I’m not really aware of where we’re going until I recognise the low thump of music and sound of video games.
Leo opens his door and I stumble in and fall on his bed.
“Hmm?” I grumble just wanting to fall asleep and forget about what a crappy day it’s been. Billy, Alex, Rin….
I want to fall asleep and lose the world. Hopefully it’ll be a better, different place when I wake up.
“Rose, you need to stay awake. You hit your head.”
I roll over, and waking up a bit when I see he’s leaning over me.
“I’m fine and I’m tired.
He shakes his head, a small smile tilting his lips.
“You need to stay awake.”
“Make me.” I challenge and roll back to my front.
“You asked for it.” He sighs and them I’m laughing and cant catch my breath, wriggling like a fish out of water as he tickles me mercilessly.
“No, no! I’m awake! I’m awake!”
He stops but I’m still giggling. It doesn’t help that he’s now lying beside me, looking at me in that heated way that makes me feel like someone I’m not. Someone beautiful and special.
“You’re awake now?”
I nod, not entirely sure my voice wouldn’t do something embarrassing.
Then he’s kissing me and I don’t know if it’s the stress or his previous worry but…. it’s a new side to Leo. A strong, determined side that makes sure I’m wide awake and well aware that I’m alive.
I always thought, being so afraid of being vulnerable and then the whole tied to a bed thing, that I’d hate someone taking control like this.
But I was loving it. Because it was me making him like this and that was power I never thought I had.
His hands are hot on my back, pulling me closer despite there being no space between us as it is. His slight stubble scratches lightly against my skin but I don’t care, his rough, callused hands just confirm that he’s there and he wants me.
I never thought someone would want me.
Leo springs away from me so fast I’d laugh if I had breath to do it with.
Leo blinks, and I feel the same way, they sound so familiar but….
“Leo? It’s Roan.”
Leo slides off me and opens the door, I shift to sitting and pull my shirt down, pretending to play with the hem so I can hide my flushed cheeks as I hear the door open and feel Roan glance at me.
“Leo I…. I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t apologise to me.” He replies, clearing his throat and nods at me.
“Right. Rose, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
I nod and turn to face them. “I’m fine…. Are you?” I ask hesitantly, not entirely sure he’s not still going to start mumbling to himself again.
Roan blushes and that’s when I realise why his voice hadn’t quite sounded right through Leo’s door. He sounds uncertain…scared.
“Yeah, I – uh – I’m fine.”
“Wait, how did you get out? I have your key.” Leo pulls it out of his pocket as proof and holds it out to him.
A look of hurt crosses Roan’s features before he takes the key and pushes it deep into his pocket.
“That was Ri- …her key.”
There’s a moment of silence where Leo and I wait for him to start arguing her innocence in that creepy monotone. But nothing.
“We need to see The Head.” Roan says quietly and Leo nods.
“We were just about to.”
Roan looks from him to me and the unmade bed.
“Right. Shall we go?”
Leo exits first and, just as I’m about to follow, Roan reaches into his pocket, squeezes his hand and throws the contents in the bin.
He shoots me a smile as we leave and I pretend I didn’t notice the yellow post-it note flying into the bin.