I waited long enough to find out what topic Nathan and I would be working on before bolting it out of the room with Lisa hot on my tail. She had talked to Sakura about their partnership already but I had stayed firmly planted in my seat from the moment that June had said I would be partnered with Nathan Kirkland. He too had made no move to sit with me, just a stunned expression on his face as he tried exceptionally hard not to meet my glances.
What made them think that this was a good idea? You could practically cut the tension between Nathan and I with a buzz saw! Did these teachers honestly expect a decent work effort from two people who barely got along? Besides, what was their theory? Nothing had been made obvious that me and Nathan disliked each other really - I guess that makes my other point invalid now - but they were trying to avoid putting people together from the same school so he and I magically end up working together somehow?!
I didn't want to stick around to hear Nathan complain so made my way to the English building to meet my Lit teacher and run. As I got to the classroom I felt a tugging on my arm so turned around, blinking as Lisa looked up at me with dark eyes and flushed cheeks. She had actually ran from one building to another - I mean, she was always a fantastic runner, it was always a little unfair on the other kids in the relay on Sports Day when she ran but it certainly was an amazing sight. But right now she looked pretty beat...
"What the actual fuck, Amie?" she coughed, frowning at me as she stood up straight. "Why did you run?!"
"Because I didn't want to stick around and talk to Nathan," I replied. She looked at me incredulously, her eyebrows raised and her hands working to sort her hair out once more. I didn't feel like getting lectured by her so turned around and went into the classroom. To my surprise, the teacher inside was a very handsome young man reading A Feast For Crows. Even Lisa stopped being mad at me long enough to stare at him for a moment before he realized we were there and looked up from his page.
"Oh, hello!" he smiled, showing us a set of brilliantly white teeth. This guy could not be for real… He just couldn't… His hair was dark and curly, his eyes were so blue they were nearly violet and his skin was naturally tanned. "Are you another two for the induction session?"
We looked around. We were the only two, other than him, in the room. Dumbly, we nodded.
"Excellent," he said, sitting up straight. He set his book on the table and clapped his hands together. "Well, I'm Jon. Jon Rogers. What are your names?"
"I'm Amelia Lane."
"Nice to meet you."
"Um, where is everyone…?" I asked, looking around the room to double check there wasn't actually anyone else there. I was starting to feel a little unnerved by the lack of mentioned people in the room...
Jon chuckled. "I sent them on their ways," he explained. "Some had other courses to go look at and others just wanted to go home already. I too would like to go home as soon as possible... Induction day is so boring and I can never do anything with you guys so I just say hi and give you freedom."
"Sweet," smiled Lisa. "Well, it was nice to meet you!"
"And you, girls," he said, returning to his book. "I'll see you next week."
"See ya," I nodded, walking out of the room with Lisa who instantly rounded on me as soon as the door had closed behind me.
"I have never seen anything quite so cowardly in all my life," she huffed, her hands on her hips and her cheeks puffed out like an irate chipmunk.
"That is very ironic coming from you," I joked. For someone reason, this was not a joking moment... She glared at me. I held my hands up in defence. "Okay, okay... I know it was a dumb move running away from him but you saw what he was like when I tried to talk to him earlier... He nearly bit my head off. Can you imagine what he'll be like working with me? Because I can and it isn't pretty!"
Lisa rolled her eyes at me and huffed a deeply frustrated breath. "I forced you to talk to him so I feel a little bit guilty, but you need to get over this feud... Both of you. I don't doubt you two could make a pretty decent team if you put your heads together. "
"Our heads are constantly together," I countered, "they're just always butting…"
"Well, stop acting like fighting rams and just fucking get along," Lisa snapped. "This is getting ridiculous! Just tell him the fucking truth about what happened and clear the air. If he believes you then awesome, but if not then just get on with the project and try not to fuck up too much."
"You're such a wonderful friend."
"With you as a friend I have to be."
I smiled at her and she smiled back. That was the wonderful thing about our friendship: we had a mutual understanding of one another so we could get away with our mean sarcasm because it wasn't really all that mean. We began our trek down the stairs, walking past the library and towards the canteen. We had decided the day before that we would brave the café food at least once on our first day just to know if it would be worth spending our money on it every so often.
"Where are you going after this?" Lisa asked as we queued. "As if I didn't already know…"
"Where do I always go on Friday afternoons…" I sighed. "It's the least I can do for him… Aaron and I always went swimming on Friday afternoons… It was the one day of the week he would set aside from his friends to spend time with me so we could coach each other…"
"I know, Amie…" Lisa said. She was at the front of the queue now so order a slice of the surprisingly delicious-looking meat feast pizza and some curly fries, glancing at me. "Same for her," she smirked.
"One at a time, Deary," smiled the elderly canteen dinnerlady. "Unless you want to pay for her meal too." The money was out of my purse and into her hands before she could even say no. The old lady laughed and proceeded to dish up our food.
"So he really hasn't made a lot of progress?" Lisa asked, handing over the money and taking her plate. She grabbed a handful of salt packets and a knife and fork. I did the same and followed her to a quiet table at the back of the room right next to the large square windows that overlooked some of the other buildings, the theatre and the car park. Not to mention the smoking area. The top half of the window could be opened so I stood up and pushed it halfway, getting a mixture of cool air and sour smoke. It was a tough decision to keep the window open with that smell, but the need for cool air was greater.
"Not really," I said, dumping my bag on the seat next to mine. I started to cut my pizza and took my first bite – I could easily get used to the food in this place. Too eager to get another mouthful, I talked with my mouth full. "He's been showing small signs, but nothing amazing that would mean he would wake up any day now. No words. Just twitches… His hand will grip the bed covers sometimes and he held my hand one time, but every time I talk to him he just doesn't respond…"
"I wish I could go and see him more often…" Lisa said ruefully. She looked impressed by her pizza at the same time as being sad about Aaron which gave her face a really awkward slant.
"You do enough," I smiled, taking a sip from my water bottle. "You have your own family to worry about. Liam, Faith, your grandfather and parents."
"Aaron is my boyfriend," she countered. "I count him as a part of my family too, Amelia. And you."
I smiled – she was one of the only people that still used the present tense when talking about Aaron. Other people talked about him like he was dead already… I finished my pizza and picked at the curly fries. "And I love you for it. I'm sure Aaron does too."
"Bastard better had," Lisa chuckled. She looked over her shoulder out of the window. "For fuck's sake, that boy is out there smoking with that weird group…"
"Who?" I blinked. I knew she meant Nathan but I had no clue about this group she was talking about.
"That tall boy with the spikey blond hair, Marcus," she said, looking out the window at them. "Maria, that tanned guy Antony from our class and Marcus' girlfriend Nora. You know, that weird shrimp of a girl with the dead eyes and obsession with magic?"
"Ohhhhh," I said, sitting up in my seat a little to glance outside too. I watched as Nathan smoked and laughed with this random collection of people, looking more happy and alive than I had ever seen him. I knew he hung around with Maria a bit but the others were news to me… Not all of them were smoking, only Nathan and Marcus (who was exceptionally tall and lean) but it looked as though Antony had just put out a bud. Just as I was about to look back at my plate, Nathan looked up at the building and caught my eye. I turned around quickly and got out of sight but I knew that he had seen me. I groaned into my hands and finished the last of my fries in one bite and gathered up my things.
"Hey!" exclaimed Lisa. "What the heck?! Are you bolting again?! Why?!"
"Because he fucking saw me!" I replied, shoving my water bottle back into my bag. Lisa stared at me for a moment before rolling her eyes.
"You are a moron, I swear to God," she sighed.
"Look, I just don't want to have to deal with this until next week, okay?" I said. "I'll talk to him but not right now! He's already pissed at me and I know that he won't actually believe what I have to tell him so fleeing is my best option right now."
"Well, you better duck around the long way around that crowd then because he's just walked into the room."
"What…?" I muttered, looking up. Nathan had indeed walked into the room and was scanning across the sea of people to try and find me. I ducked down and held my bag.
"Idiot," Lisa said, getting to her feet. She held her bag and looked at me judgingly. "I have to go now, okay. I have to go pick my brother up from school, but seriously. Grow up."
"I will next week!" I said, making my way towards the crowd. "See you later! Tell Faith I said hi!"
"Again, you're an idiot!"
I ignored her and walked around the outside of the groups, hiding amongst the other students subtly until I got to the door. I waited until he was distracted before rushing out of the canteen and straight for the stairs. I ran down them, hopping around people and jumping to the ground skipping the last three steps. I looked behind me and hurried off into the reception area, gulping as I saw Nathan's friends walking in from the other end of the hall.
"Amelia!" called Maria, waving to me.
"Uh, hey, Maria," I said, bouncing on the balls of my feet.
"Have you seen Nate?" she asked. "He started acting weird then ran off. He's meant to be heading to practice with us in ten minutes."
"He's upstairs," I said, pointing up at the platform that connected the library corridor to the canteen and the stairs I had just ran down. I paled as I saw him walk out onto it. "Right there." When they looked up, I took my chance to run.
"Amelia!" I heard him call, but I really didn't want to talk to him. It really was a stupid thing to be doing but my God did I not want to talk to him. I managed to get out of the reception, but I had to wait to cross the road because of all the cars that were coming in and out of the college. I crossed the road when I got the chance to and hurried out of the gates and down the hill to the bus stop that would take me to the hospital.
I took a deep breath, convinced that I had lost him. I slowed to a walk and crossed the road again, walking past the woodlands and the walkway that led through them.
"Hey! Wait up, damn it!"
"Shit…" I muttered, attempting to run again. However, I felt a strong hand grip my arm at the elbow to stop me from running. "Hey! Let me go!" I turned around and looked up at Nathan who was looking at me with a hard expression. "Dude, let me go, that hurts."
"Do you promise not to run away from me?"
"You seem really creepy right now so I can't make any promises!"
Nathan sighed and let my arm go. "Look, I just want to talk to you. You ran off pretty quickly when Media induction was done with."
"I had to get to English Lit induction," I said in a half-truth.
"And I had to go to Music induction but I still didn't flee the room like it was a crime scene!" Nathan snapped. He looked really angry with me. "Did you know that they were going to team us up together? Is that why you came over to me at break?"
"Fuck no!" I exclaimed. "Did you not see my face?! I was just as in the dark about that little surprise as you were!"
"Right…" he said, running his hand through his already messy hair. I took a deep breath. "Still, what you said seems to be our best option right now… At least for the next two weeks…"
"I meant my apology earlier, Nathan," I said, folding my arms. "You were the one who was a dick about it."
"Because you were a bitch to me!"
"WHEN WE WERE NINE YEARS OLD!"
"Why were you a dick to me then?" Nathan asked, finally getting to the point I was actually dreading. This was so not going to go well. "I mean, the first time. I get the rest of the time cos I was an arse to you too… But that first time. Throwing my lunch in the toilet, screaming at me. What the fuck was that?"
"I was being bullied for being your friend…" I sighed. Nathan blinked, looking genuinely surprised. "The other girls were picking on me for hanging around with a boy so much and I didn't want to hurt your feelings. I was just so upset and desperate for them to leave me alone… I know I hurt you anyway, but I didn't want them attacking either of us anymore… So I threw your lunch in the toilet and you know the rest… I know you won't believe me…"
"Oh, I believe you," he said. "I just can't believe that you let some fucking little trolls get between what seemed to me like a pretty good friendship…"
"I fucked up… I know…" I said. "But like I said earlier, we were nine years old and my reasons made sense when we were nine years old… Now I know they were pretty dumb and I was a moron for hurting you like that."
Nathan frowned for a moment. "You're gonna have to do a lot to earn my trust back," he said. "But we need to get this assignment done. Just don't be a moron again."
"You can stop being a prick too."
Nathan laughed a little, giving me a small smile. It was a start. "Bullies…" he muttered, shaking his head and walking away. "Fucking bullies…"
I had no idea what had just happened. Had Nathan just forgiven me? Had he believed me? It seemed to me that he was a little too quick to just accept my story… There had to be more to it, but I figured I would find that out on Monday… I watched him walk back across the street and clicked my fingers. The colours melted away and everything slowed down, but as I saw the Shards on Nathan's shirt they were still as colourless as I had made the world…