My phone alarm goes off at 6am. When I try to get up, Michael pulls me towards his bare chest.
"We have to get up! It's Monday!" I protest halfheartedly. He nuzzles his face into my neck.
"No. We're skipping. I'm not letting you go to school the day after......that happened." He murmurs, voice deep from sleep.
"Please. I need to go to school today. If I don't, I'll be thinking about my dad" I plead, and Michael looks straight into my eyes.
"Just today." He finally says after a moment of silence. He rolls out of bed and pulls on his school uniform. I realize that in my sleep I had taken off my dress, and I was in only my underwear.
"Um." I slide farther under the blankets. He looks at my uneasy face, then holds a finger up. He runs out of a his room, then returns with a uniform for me.
I pull on my skirt, begrudgingly. I hate school uniforms. And then, Michael throws last night's dress at me. "I washed it. It looks good on you. Besides, who cares if you're supposed to wear a uniform?" He grins at me, then looks at himself. He wears his shirt not tucked in, and his sleeves are rolled up to his elbows. He then uses the tie he is supposed to wear on his neck as a headband.
My eyes widen. I've never broken a rule before, even though I hang out with the person who jumps at a chance to make the teachers angry. I feel a smile spreading across my lips. "Not me." I change, mischievous thoughts filling my brain.
Michael and I go downstairs to brush our teeth. He sits on the toilet as I brush my hair and run my hands through the front to style it. He organizes his hair dye while I borrow eyeliner from his mom to rim my eyes with. As soon as I put the eyeliner pencil onto the counter beside the sink, Michael pushes me into the kitchen for breakfast.
Karen sits at the table, eating crêpes. For some reason she doesn't seem to care that we aren't wearing proper uniforms. That or she is so damn used to Michael's shenanigans that she doesn't care. My eyes widen when I see breakfast and I run for the table. As soon as I sit down, I drop strawberries, chocolate sundae syrup, bananas, and icing sugar in a crêpe, then roll it up and eat it in less than a minute. Michael eats three bananas and chugs a glass of orange juice before we walk out the door.
Michael pulls on his leather jacket, then we drive to the school on his Harley.
When I arrive at the school, people start giving me weird looks. It only makes me smile even more. I tell myself they are staring at me because of my clothes, and only my clothes. I don't want to think about my dad. Not right now.
When I drop into my seat in the classroom beside Michael 5 minutes late, I notice the teacher giving us a look.
"Can I help you?" I ask, and the teacher frowns.
"Well, I can help you with getting detention during the weekend. Clifford, this is the fifth time this month, and you've brought a good student into your mischief." He looks like he thinks he's the best damn thing to be given to the earth. I don't make a sassy comment. I just laugh.
And soon, Michael is laughing too. We stand up and I walk up to the teacher. "I'll pass." I smile and leave the classroom, followed by Michael. We walk straight out the doors, and get onto his motorcycle. We drive for a while, until he stops in front of a garage.
When he knocks on the door of it, it opens to reveal three boys, all around Michael's height.
One has blonde hair. He looks like he had just gotten a lip ring. One has more or less short, coarse black hair and big eyes. The last one has sandy brown hair and a happy-go-lucky air, maybe because of his wide smile and giggle as the blonde one opens the door.
"Erik, this is Luke, Calum and Ashton. Guys, this is Erika." Michael introduces us.
"Uh...hey." I awkwardly say, and am about to hide behind Michael when Ashton wraps his arms around me, lifts me into the air, and spins around in circles. I scream, and he giggles again, then puts me down. Luke scratches the back of his head, and I can't contain myself. I hug him tightly. It's a habit I've developed. Whenever I meet someone that I will most likely get a close relationship with, I hug them. When I let go of Luke, I squeeze Calum, and have to fight with myself to not take a deep breath so I can get a better smell of his cologne.
Damn he smells good.
I let go, and Michael and Ashton lead me into the garage, Calum and Luke slowly following (after closing the door), trying to process what just happened to them. Ashton sits at a set of drums, Michael picks up a guitar, and eventually, Calum picks up a bass. Luke stands in front of a microphone, his guitar hanging off of a shoulder strap. Michael beckons to me, so I slowly shuffle towards him. Ashton is still smiling when I look over to him.
"Do you want to sing for us? We still need to practice with the chords, and singing is kind of hard when we're doing that." He asks, and I'm about to refuse, but it sounds more of a 'you're going to sing whether you like it or not' rather than a question in which I have a choice.
And so, I walk over to the microphone. Thank god I took singing lessons. Luke moves over to make room for me. "We'll sing a little with you so that you can get how the beat of the song goes." He whispers in my ear, and Calum switches on the tiny amps scattered around them.
I look at the music stand beside the microphone. It is a little high for my taste, but is at the perfect height for Luke to read without staining his neck. For that reason, I don't ask to move it down. Ashton starts counting.
"One, two, three, four!" He chants, and starts drumming a beat.
Calum joins us at the microphone.
"Na na na na na na na na na na na na, hey!" Luke and Calum start off. I join in for four sets of Na's, then the guitars start.
"Eddie never went no where he..." Calum starts and motions to me. I look at the paper in front of me.
"Stayed at home and played his Xbox. He read to many comics, he watched too much TV. Then somehow it got around that his parents would be out of town and so they all decided that he should have a party"
*several songs later*
My throat is sore from so much singing. We all sit down on a couch behind the instruments.
"How can you guys sing so much?" I gasp in between gulps of water. Luke laughs.
"That liquid right there." He says, then takes a swig of my water.
"Hey! This is mine!" I frown at him, but then Calum takes it.
"Technically, it's mine because I brought it." He smirks at us, then sips it. I shake my head and lean against Michael.
"So are you two dating?" Ashton asks and I sit up immediately. Michael goes rigid too.
"No!" We splutter at the same time, making the others give us suspicious looks.
"I dunno, Erika just cuddled you, Mikey." Calum says, smiling. Me and Michael give each other a look.
"No. We're not dating." Michael says firmly, even though his hand is still touching my thigh.
"So do you guys normally skip school?" I ask, making them all laugh.
"We're dropping out at the end of the month." Calum says. "The reason we haven't already is that Michael would rather face that hellhole of a place than leave you all alone."
I give Michael a look, making Ashton giggle. "Are you sure you're not dating?"
"I swear to god Irwin!" I grumble, and the others go quiet.
"Irwin? How did you know my last name?" Ashton asks, and I furrow my eyebrows. That's a good question. Rather than telling them that I randomly pulled it out of my memory, I make something up.
"I...um....heard some girls talking about you at school." I lie, making everyone else look at Ashton.
"But you don't even go to our school!" Luke complains. Ashton smiles at him and strikes a diva pose, making me burst out laughing.
"I have an idea." I say, making them all intently stare at me.
"Well...maybe not exactly now...” I scratch the back of my head.
"Aw.." Michael pouts.
"Later." I say, and stand up.
"Wanna go get pizza?" I suggest, and they all stand up as soon as I mention the Italian luxury.
"Yes!" Michael shouts, and before I know it, everyone is standing around me, suggesting places to go for pizza.
"We can go to my uncle's pizza parlor," I say, making the others give me a look. "Yes?"
"Your uncle owns a pizza place?" Michael's eyes widen.
"WE'RE GOING!" He shouts, and we all run outside.
"It's not far from here, I don't think." I tell them, checking the street we're on to make sure.
After about 15 minutes of walking, we make it to a small shop with big windows. at the front. When I walk in, my uncle runs and hugs me.
"I'm so sorry about your dad." He sympathetically rubs my back.
"Yeah, me too. But I can't change what happened." I tell him, making him shake his head and step back to look at our group.
"We'll have two pepperoni pizzas with bacon." I tell my uncle, and sit down in a booth near the back.
"What happened to your dad?" The question bursts out of Luke's mouth. Michael slaps his hand over Luke's lips.
"Don't." He hisses, making the other guys swallow, with nervous expressions.
"He was killed by a terrorist in America." I spit, then cover my face with my hands. There is no way in hell I'm going to break down here. Not when I'm with these guys.
Michael hugs me and rests his chin on my head as Luke, Calum and Ashton look at each other, horror-struck. Ashton, who is sitting on the other side of me, grabs my hand. He sighs, and whispers quietly in my ear.
"It's okay, I don't have a dad either. He left when I was two." He says softly, and rubs circles into my palm with his thumbs. I move my other hand from my face and shake my head, making Michael move his chin.
"Don't feel sad for me. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't my fault. There's nothing we could've done to change it. He wasn't the only person who died." I say in a steady tone, and we all go quiet as my uncle puts our pizzas on the table.
"Enjoy your meal." He nods curtly to me and returns to the kitchen. We all start eating in silence. There is nothing else to say.