The player. The bad girl. The dork. The diva, and the counsellor. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? Well, let me put it into more of a better perspective.
The popular playboy who's set as an outcast in his own family and tries to make a name for himself in the outside world; the foreign rebel who tries to forget the painful memories of her past and puts on a fake smile just to get through the day; the quiet one with his nose in a book who tries to focus on the good while living in a world of bad. The openly gay who is still afraid of judgment and being cast out as a 'freak' or 'mistake' and not being accepted by society, and the girl who tries to fix everyone else's problems but can't fix her own, stuck in a world where everyone expects her to have the answer.
Five completely different teens, each living and leading their own lives. But what happens when one night turns into something that none of them will ever forget. *COVER BY Cheba


2. [2] Senses

On the ride home, Elliot hitched a ride with Mikayla and her poor excuse for a family as they blasted hits from different time eras. Some songs were good, but most were ones where you would rather recommend hearing nails on a chalkboard than listen to that certain song. It would've been torture; added with Xavier yapping in her ear on the phone, only if it weren't for Elliot and his phone with a playlist of all of Mikayla's favourite songs along with earphones added to the mix. Elliot never left home without them. Plugging them in and pressing shuffle, Mikayla tuned the world out and rested her head on her best friend's shoulder as she watched the scenery drive past them in a blur. It was a temperamental escape from her life but Mikayla enjoyed every second of it.

A tap on her shoulder interrupted Mikayla's short escape with the music and she took out one of the earphones to see who wanted her attention.

To her demise, it was her irritating and gay as hell brother who had a smug grin plastered on his face.


"What do you want?" she snapped, already tired from swimming and did not want to start a conversation with him.


"Jeez, don't get your panties in a twist," Xavier mumbled and sat back in his chair, the stupid grin still there. "I was just wondering how well your little bugging romance was going on with your BF."


"My what?" Mikayla didn't understand what he was saying. It was Xavier after all.


Xavier just rolled his eyes. "I'm talking about Elliot dumbass, and how snuggly and close you two are getting."


Mikayla seriously couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Excuse me?!" she exclaimed. "There is nothing romantic going on between Elliot and me!"


"You sure?" Xavier said. "You guys do look cute together."


Mikayla looked at Elliot for support but he seemed to be out for the count as he had his head rested on the window with his eyes shut and was breathing steadily. Poor guy, although Mikayla a little ticked off that he wasn't awake for this. He could sleep through an earthquake.


Mikayla was about to retaliate with a comeback but her mom cut in. "Xavier is right, sweetie," she said. "You and Elliot have been friends for a long time and I think it's about time you two-"


"What, mom?!" Mikayla shouted. "We what? Get together? Go on a date? Well whatever you suggest, it sure ain't happening! So erase it from your mind and make sure it never makes it back!"


"Mikayla Alexandra Evans! Do NOT speak to you mother that way!" her dad shouted and pointed at her. "That is highly disrespectful and I will not tolerate it while I'm alive and kicking!"


Joseph Evans rarely ever raised his voice except for football games, having a rowdy night with his friends at the pub or at Mikayla's swimming events. But when he did it out of sheer anger, it terrified the lot of them. Silence rang throughout the car except through Mikayla's right ear where the music was still playing but even that was beginning to irritate her. She was seething with anger and had her fists clenched so tightly by her sides that her nails were pinching her skin and she would probably soon cut her own skin. Her blood boiled and her teeth were clenched but above all, she wanted to scream. She wanted to scream so loud she went deaf, she wanted to scream until her throat hurt and she wanted to scream until her ears were ringing and she couldn't hear anyone anymore. But she didn't and that just made her more frustrated.


"Stop the car."


Everyone turned their heads towards Elliot who was know awake but didn't make eye contact with anyone as he stared out at the window.


"Elliot is everything oka-" Elaine Evans began but she was cut off midsentence.


"I'm fine, Elaine, just please," Elliot begged. "Stop the car."


Without another word, Mikayla's mom turned on the indicator and parked the car on the side of the road. Before the car had even come to a complete stop, Elliot had his seatbelt unbuckled and was out of the car in a blink of an eye and had started walking down the road.


"What's he doing?" Mikayla's dad asked in a hushed tone as they all watched him walked further and further away from the car until he was about a few meters away and suddenly stopped and stared at the car.


Mainly staring at Mikayla, sending her a clear message.


"Oh no..." Mikayla mumbled as her heart dropped and she realized what had happened. "Mom, keep driving. I'll meet you at home."


"I'm sorry, what?" her mom replied, confused.


"Mom," Mikayla's tone was stern and cold. "Please. Keep driving. I'll be home as soon as I can. I just need to talk to Elliot for a while.


"But how will you get home?" she asked.


Mikayla paused the music and took out the lone earphone and began to unbuckle her seatbelt then shimmied her way over to the car door and placed a hand on the door handle. "My legs aren't just for swimming, mom. I can walk," Mikayla said and pushed open the door as she stepped out into the hot, stale air.


"This discussion is not over, young lady," her dad said in an austere tone. "We will continue this at home."


Mikayla shut the car door. She was tired of hearing them talk about useless nonsense she didn't need to hear.

As she watched the car drive away, Mikayla stood in the same spot for a few seconds before making her way over to her distressed friend who was on the verge of an anxiety attack. His breath was shaky, his hands were trembling as he held them close to his face under his chin, his eyes were shut tight and he looked tense. Mikayla knew thousands of thoughts were running through his head and lots of other things were happening to him so she knew she had to be predictable and not freak him out even more. She had to take things slow and help him relax and get back to his regular state.


"Elliot," Mikayla made her tone quiet and soothing as she attempted to speak to him, hoping it wasn't one on his attacks that made that world deaf to him: which could take longer to get through to him than normal. "Elliot, can you hear me?"


He did nothing for a moment then hastily nodded his head. Okay, so far so good.


"Okay, Elliot, you have to listen to me. Focus on nothing else but my voice, alright?" another nod and Mikayla took a deep breath and lowered her voice to just above a whisper. "Now, name me five things that you can see right now."


Elliot shook his head and kept his eyes sealed shut.


This is never easy, Mikayla thought. "Elliot, please. Open you eyes, I know you can do it." another shake of the head. "Elliot please!"


At the slight raise of her voice, Elliot freaked out a little more and moved his trembling hands to his ears and walked further away towards a park bench and sat down on it, curling into a ball and vigorously shaking his head. Mikayla cursed herself for not keeping her voice down and unhurriedly walked towards Elliot and tried not to rush. If she did, who knows what would happen. Eventually, she got there and slowly knelt down so that she was eye-level with him.


"Eli," she pronounced it like eeh-lie. "Come on, buddy, you have to listen to me," she spoke like she was talking to a three-year-old but she had to keep her tone calm and collected and not rush things. "Elliot, please."


She touched a hand to his cheek which caused him to flinch slightly but he didn't freak out like before and allowed her to touch him. That was a good sign.


"Okay, Elliot, I don't know if you can hear me but I really need you to open your eyes for me and name five things that you see."


It took a while but eventually, Elliot opened his eyes to show that he was on the verge of crying which made Mikayla sick to the stomach. She hated seeing him cry. He was still breathing heavily and trembling with tensed muscles but Mikayla knew he could do it and came back to reality, he just needed time.


"Breathe, Eli, breathe," Mikayla ran a hand through his hair a few times to try and attempt to calm him down. "What do you see?"


His voice was shaky and sounded terrified when he spoke but he tried his best. "I-I see t-trees... f-flowers..."


"Yes, yes, that's good, Elliot, that's good," Mikayla kept stroking his hair and talked in a reassuring tone. "What else?"


"The sky..." Elliot said. "Clouds, fluffy w-white clouds..." then he lost it again and trailed off as clamped his eyes shut and repeatedly mumbled 'no' over and over again. Mikayla was losing him and she desperately needed to bring him back.


"One more thing, Elliot," Mikayla said. "Come on, buddy, just one more thing."


Elliot slowly reopened his eyes and stared dead straight in Mikayla's eyes and continued to breathe heavily. It took a few minutes but after awhile, he finally said, "You. I-I see you."


An obvious choice of course but she decided not to mention that. Mikayla gave him a lopsided smile and placed both of her hands on his cheeks. "Great job, Eli. Now can you tell me four things that you can feel?"


Elliot blinked but didn't break eye contact. "I-I feel terrified, very, very terrified!" Mikayla gently rubbed her thumb in circles on his cheek. "And-and I feel the hot, sultry air, and... and..."

"And what, Elliot? What else do you feel?" Mikayla asked quietly.


"I feel safe," he swallowed. "Because I'm with you."


Elliot slowly removed his hands, which were still trembling, and placed them on the bench. Mikayla caressed his cheek and kept speaking, telling him what else he could hear and smell as she comforted him and kept him under control. By one, Elliot's breath was almost at a steady pace, he had stopped trembling and he was being more responsive and calming down pretty well.


"Okay, Eli," Mikayla said in a more normal tone. "Now tell me one thing you can taste. Just one more thing and then just breathe. That's all you need to do.


Elliot sat there for a few moments, not saying anything but Mikayla knew he that he was thinking of everything and anything right now so it could take a little bit. After awhile, his hand started twitching.


"Elliot, buddy, come on. Just name one thing you can taste and then you can relax," Mikayla said and ran a hand through his hair.


He started shaking his head and his breathing had picked up. He went to move his hands to his ears but Mikayla grabbed them before he could.


"Elliot, calm down!" Mikayla raised her voice and he looked up at her in sheer terror.


Pain and fear reflected in his eyes and Mikayla felt sick. Not the puking kind of sick but guilty sick as she had made him look at her like that. She felt horrible and slowly let his hands go and they immediately wrapped around his knees as he rested his head on them. Mikayla heard quiet sobs escape his mouth and she started tearing up a bit. She had failed at keeping her best friend safe and she felt horrible. What could she do now?

A few tears fell down Mikayla's cheeks but she quickly wiped them away as she sniffled and sat up on the park bench, next to Elliot with an arm wrapped around him and she rubbed him comfortingly. All she could hope to do now was sit and wait for him to fight his own battle and hope for the best. Elliot was his own hero in the end when all else failed and she hoped he could keep fighting until he felt safe and secure. Mikayla prayed that it was soon.

Several minutes passed and it took awhile but eventually, Elliot had gathered his thoughts and was now resting his head quietly on Mikayla's shoulder as she laid her head on his head and patted his hair. The summer breeze blew gently around the as the leaves on the trees rustled and the air was hot and muggy. The sun had slowly begun to dip below the horizon and the air grew steadily cooler although it was still a bit warm. Something suddenly vibrated in Mikayla's pocket and made both of them jump. It was Elliot's phone. Elliot sat up as Mikayla reached into her pocket and answered the call without looking at the caller ID.


"Hello?" she answered and tucked her hair behind her ear.


"Mikayla? Hi," said the female voice on the other end of the phone. "It's Jodie."


Mikayla silently cursed herself and quickly glanced at Elliot before continuing to speak. "Hi, Jodie. How are you?"


Jodie - Elliot's mom - sounded tired and stressed. "Umm... a bit concern about where my son is. He left a note saying he had gone to your swim meet but that must've been about a while ago and he would've called me by now," Jodie never got angry but she did worry a fair bit. "Any chance you know where he is?"


"He uh..." Mikayla looked at Elliot who had an expression saying 'let-me-talk-to-her' and handed him the phone. "Here."


Elliot shakily took the phone from her and put it up to his ear. He took a deep breath before speaking. "Hey, mom."


Mikayla sat silently and patiently as she watched him talk to his mother. His free hand started fidgeting with the hem of his shirt and Mikayla slid her hand into his grasp and gave him a slight reassuring squeeze. He looked at her and she gave him a small smile in which he gave a halfhearted return.


"Yeah, mom," he said into the mic. "I-I'm okay... I just umm, had a-an anxiety attack."


Mikayla noticed Elliot's eyes tearing up and she squeezed his hand tighter to let him know she was there. She couldn't hear her, but Mikayla figured Jodie was off her rocket and freaking more than Elliot did before. Elliot said a few words about how he was okay and that Mikayla had help (which made her feel better about before) and finally told her where they were to come and give them a ride. After a few more moments, Elliot said his goodbyes to his mom and hung up his cell. The silence returned between the two of them before Elliot spoke.


"Thank you," he said.


Mikayla looked up at him to find him looking at her with his expression unreadable. "What for?" she asked.


"Well it's nice to know that you'll always be there for me when I need you most," Elliot gave her a soft grin and Mikayla returned it and rested her head on his shoulder.


"I'll always be there, Elliot," she mumbled. "No matter what. I'll be there for you."


Mikayla heard Elliot sigh. "I know. I know."


Minutes passed and soon enough, a motorized vehicle appeared down the road and drove towards them. It came closer and came to a stop a few meters down the road from them. It was Jodie Mitchell, here to take her son and his best friend home. Without a word, both of them stood up and made their way to the car and both got in the backseats. Mikayla sat on the window side while Elliot - not feeling too himself quite yet - lay down on the two remaining seats with his head on her lap and his legs bent so that they fit on the seats.


"Hey you two," Jodie greeted with a soft smile as she glanced in the review mirror. "Feeling okay, Eli?"


Elliot shrugged. "I guess. Can we just go home, please, mom?" Elliot replied.


Jodie just nodded and turned on the indicator as she performed a perfect U-turn and turned the car around, driving along the home stretch towards home.



Mikayla sat peacefully on her window seat right up against the windowsill in her summer pajamas as she read The Mortal Instruments for the fourth time. She was already on the third book in four days and was calmly keeping to herself with the window cracked open to let the nightly, warm summer breeze in when there was a knock on her door. Mikayla looked up and saw her mom standing there in the doorframe.


"Hey there, sweet pea," her mom's said. "Everything okay?"


Mikayla put her worn bookmark in her book before putting it down and rubbing her eyes. "Yeah, just tired," she said. "I'm sorry for snapping at you today in the car. I was just a bit defensive about all the accusations."

Her mom smiled. "I understand," she replied as she stepped into the room and sat on Mikayla's bed. "But you and Elliot do look like a cute couple."


Mikayla rolled her eyes and let out a loud groan of frustration while her mom just chuckled. "You suck, mom," Mikayla said, laughing a little bit as well.


"Hey, I'm just being honest," she replied. "Now come on, we need to talk."


Mikayla let out a huff of air and swung her legs over the side as she went and sat on the edge of her bed while her mom sat behind her with a comb in hand. Mikayla crossed her legs and her mom started combing her hair. They sat in silence - for this is what they did ever since Mikayla was a little girl and would tell her mom all about her day. Now they only did it when they needed to talk one-to-one, just mother, and daughter.


"So," Elaine began. "Tell me about today."


"Which part?" Mikayla responded. "You were there for most of it."


Mikayla heard her mom sigh. "Well, how about the part where Elliot suddenly asked me to pull over and you had me drive home without you both?"


Mikayla froze but her mom just kept brushing her hair. As much as she disliked her mom (most of the time) she still had her moments where she could be Mikayla's only friend (female friend, for all the girly things). But this topic was just too fragile to talk about and she promised Elliot she wouldn't say a word.


Mikayla shook her head. "I'm sorry, mom," she muttered. "I can't tell you."


"Why not?" her mom asked. "Is there something you're not telling me?"


"No, it's just that-" Mikayla couldn't continue. How was she suppose to tell her mom that her best friend had had anxiety attacks (sometimes panic attack when it got desperate) ever since he was seven years old? It was just too hard and she had promised.


"Just what, Mikayla?" her mom rarely ever called her by her first name and it made her smile a little but it quickly faded.


Mikayla shook her head. "Nothing. It's nothing, mom," she said.


Elaine let out another sigh. She didn't seem to entirely believe her daughter. "Okay then. My room is just down the hall if you ever need me."


Mikayla nodded. "I know, mom. Goodnight."


"Night, baby girl."


Then she left.

Now alone in her room, Mikayla let out a deep sigh and stared out her window. A few blocks down, Elliot was probably sitting in his room watching Netflix on his laptop but not paying any attention to the film that was playing. He did that sometimes, he'd flick through all the random movies they had on their until he found the most random one and just watch it but not pay any attention to it as his mind was somewhere else. Mikayla worried about him so she decided to call him.

Crawling up her bed and reaching onto her bedside table, Mikayla picked up her phone and scrolled through her contacts until she found the one entitled 'Eli'. She pressed it and held it up to her ear. It rang four times before someone answered.


"This is Elliot Mitchell," he said.


"Hey, Eli," Mikayla replied and sat up against her headboard. "Just wondered what you were doing."


Mikayla pictured him shrugging. "Nothing much really. Just watching Netflix," he proved her theory. "Possibly also 'and chill' if you come over."


"Eww," Mikayla whined. "That's so wrong, Elliot."


He laughed which made Mikayla smile. "You know you love it."


Mikayla let out a dramatic sigh. "Oh woe is me for unfortunately I do," she spoke with a fake British accent which made both of them laugh.


Elliot was one of those friends where you could talk on the phone for hours about the most random, eccentric things and never get bored. Sometimes they both just sat in silence, enjoying having the other somewhat near them until one of them had a spark of a random topic to get a new conversation going. Their friendship was weird like that.

It had nearly passed an hour and a half when Mikayla heard banging on the wall from the room next door.


"Mikayla freaking Evans!" Xavier shouted, sounding weary and jaded. "Sh-u-ut up!" he moaned very sleepily.


Elliot and Mikayla both went silent. Nothing was heard for a few seconds until Mikayla couldn't hold it anymore and snorted loudly which only caused Elliot to burst out laughing. They both laughed for a solid three and a half minutes until Xavier banged on the wall again.


"Mikayla! Shut up or I'll throw your damn phone out the window!" he threatened.


Mikayla slowly started to die down on the laughter, as did Elliot, and they both just sat there for a few moments in silence until Elliot spoke.


"I suppose your brother is right," Elliot said. "We should get some sleep. You've had a long day swimming and we have school tomorrow."


Mikayla pouted. "But I don't wanna go to school and I'm-" Mikayla yawned. "-not tired."


"Mmm," Elliot hummed and Mikayla could picture him smirking at just how silly she was being. "I'll see you tomorrow, Kayla."


But Mikayla wasn't done yet. She wanted to stay talking to him, to hear his voice and to keep talking to him until dawn broke and sunlight filled her room and her throat hurt from lack of water. She wanted to know that he was still there even when she was asleep. They've been best friends for so long that Mikayla feels like Elliot is basically her other half and it just feels wrong without him. Still, he had a point and Mikayla needed rest after a long day of swimming.


But she decided to keep him talking for just a little bit longer. "Elliot?"


"Yes?" his voice was soft and hushed as he spoke.


"Can I ask you something?" she said.


Mikayla heard shuffling on the other side of the phone and figured Elliot was getting comfortable in his bed. "By all means," he said. "Ask away."


Now she had to choose her words carefully. One wrong word and Elliot could freak out again and she wasn't there to comfort him. "Earlier today, after the swim meet," she began. "What could you taste?"


It was a dreaded silence between the both of them that was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Minutes felt like hours and it almost felt like an eternity had passed until Elliot responded.


"Blood," he said with a faint, barely audible voice. "I tasted blood."


Silence hung in the air over the phone. Neither of them knowing what to say. Well, how do you? Your best friend of many years just tells you they tasted blood when they were having an anxiety attack and you're supposed to reply... with what? Tell them it's normal? Tell them it's okay, it wasn't real? That would just make things worse.

And that's exactly how Mikayla felt. Elliot was her best friend ever since first grade and they had been together ever since like they were conjoined at the hip or something. Sure they had their differences, but that's what made them the best of friends; and if anyone messed with them, they better start praying and planning their funeral.


Mikayla sighed. She'd have to reply to him, otherwise, he'd think she was ignoring him. "Okay," was her response. "That's all I wanted to know," she decided against on prying because she didn't want him to freak.


She could picture Elliot nodding. "Well then, see you bright and early tomorrow," Elliot said. "Goodnight, Mikayla."


"Night, Eli," she replied. "Sweet dreams."


And with that, the line went dead on both ends. Mikayla leaned over and placed her phone on charge, before crawling under her blanket and making herself comfortable as the world around her slept.

It wasn't long until she joined it.

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