Chapter Three: Days Before You Came

Dear God, I hadn't known how accurate Lucca's prediction had been the day before. It hadn't even been a full twenty-four hours yet, and already four people had approached me to inquire whether or not he'd 'turned' me or something.

Even James joined in. "He didn't… try anything, did he?" he'd asked me that morning.

I'd tried to conceal my exasperation. "Yeah, he touched me up behind the English block and I'm scarred for life." My expression had remained blank as I'd said this, and I swear he'd taken me seriously until I'd ruined it by hitting him in the arm. "No, of course he didn't 'try anything'! James, he's a nice guy. It's not like he's a fucking rapist just because he's gay!"

James obviously hadn't listened to what I'd tried to tell him, but he'd shut up about it. Probably because Kit had threatened his manhood if he didn't.

It was as I was on my way to Art that Amy appeared next to me, her perky blonde pony tail bouncing along behind her. I groaned on the inside. Amy was annoying as hell. She considered herself a social butterfly, and as such made it her job to flutter among members of every group, whether or not they wanted her.

"Oh my God, is it true Harper?"

"Is what true?" I asked monotonously.

"You skipped class to be with that Lucca guy? The gay one?"

I scowled. How the fuck did she know that? Kit and James didn't even know that! "What if it is?"

She let out a high pitched noise far too close to my ear and I cringed away from her, but she was oblivious. "It is! Harper, please tell me he hasn't turned you?"

Eugh! What was it with people and this 'turned me' business? Being gay isn't fucking contagious!

"No, Amy, he hasn't," I answered calmly. Well, it was true. Technically. I'd been gay before I'd ever set eyes on Lucca. "And yeah, I skipped class with him. So what?"

She put her hand on my arm. "You should be careful, Harper. You never know what he might want from you."

My temper was threatening to break. How ignorant were the people in this school? I pointedly ignored her, and she disappeared after a while.

I entered my Art classroom and glimpsed Lucca at one of the desks. I'd been assigned to sit next to him in any class we shared, so I automatically headed his way.

His outfit was just as slutty as yesterday. The leather duster had been discarded over the back of his chair for now, revealing a figure-hugging, sleeveless black tank top. Today the logo read, 'I (heart) My Oral Fixation' in big purple letters. He wore fingerless netted gloves that came up to his elbows, and his nails were painted bright violet. His jeans were looser than before, but they were covered in tears and rips, and if I wasn't mistaken, he was wearing purple fishnet tights beneath them. His eyeshadow was also a very dark purple, and he'd stuck one of those adhesive gems just above his cheekbone, discarding the glasses for today. The piercings in his ear had been changed to purple to match the outfit, as had the ones in his eyebrow and nose. He'd even put a few small braids into his hair.

He looked up as I joined him, swiping aside a stray braid that swung in front of his eyes. He was actually working for once, I noticed, glancing down at his sketch book. I didn't get a chance to see what he had drawn, though, as he flipped it shut pretty quickly.

"So has it started yet?" he asked in his quiet voice.

I didn't need to ask what he was talking about. After having several different people come to me to ask if I was gay, if he'd done anything, if he'd 'turned me', or just to warn me what he might do, I pretty much got the idea. I knew what he'd been talking about yesterday now.

I nodded and shrugged. "Yeah, but it doesn't matter."

He snorted. "Like fuck it doesn't. You haven't been through the accusations yet. And after that, it only gets worse."

Maybe I shouldn't have, but I couldn't help but ask. As he'd spoken about accusations and the like, I had to wonder. "Lucca, if it's so bad and all, why do you… Well, why do you… y'know… dress the way you do?"

"Why shouldn't I?"

"I know, but isn't it like… provoking them?"

He regarded me coldly. "This is who I am. If it's… provocative, that's not my fault." I didn't miss the dual meaning in his words, and suddenly blushed against my will.

He raised an eyebrow in slight surprise, piercings glinting in the overhead light. But the expression was gone quickly as he shook his head. "Hn. Whatever. Go find your little friends and I'm sure the rumours will stop soon enough…" Dismissively, he opened his sketch book to a blank page, and took out the pencil I realised he'd tucked behind one ear. He began to draw, seemingly haven forgotten my existence.

Oh my God, what was with this guy?

"Dude, you are seriously insecure."

He practically did a double-take, blinking at me in surprise. "…You're kidding me right? I'm insecure?" He sat back in his chair and crossed one leg over the other. Absently I noted that I'd been right, and the purple criss-cross pattern under his jeans was in fact fishnets.

I bit my lip to stop from smiling. "Okay, maybe not… insecure exactly." He twitched an eyebrow, clearly articulating the words, 'No shit.' I sighed. "Look, what I mean is… I'm not gonna ignore you just to pacify a bunch of mindless gossips, okay?"

He looked taken aback, and instantly I blushed. Crap. Why had I said that? Could I sound any more desperate? Clingy? Shit, shit, shit! What if he wanted to be ignored by the likes of me? God, he probably didn't even take me seriously. What if –?

"Y'know, if I didn't know better," he drawled suddenly, "I'd think…"

I swallowed. "W-what?"

A hand absentmindedly fiddled with one of the sleek braids that fell over his shoulders. He twirled it between two fingers, watching me intently with his oddly coloured eyes. I couldn't help it; I felt another blush creep its way onto my cheeks.

He grinned abruptly, mouth curling up at the corners. "You blush very easily," he commented.

I looked down, letting my fringe hide most of my face and silently wishing Kit was here. The girl knew how to break the worst tensions just by making some idiotically inappropriate statement. Okay, often enough she embarrassed the hell out of me with this method, but surely anything was better than this silence.

Then I thought of the last time it had happened, having to quickly repress the memory of her regaling James with stories of the photo albums she'd found at my house. Personally, I don't think he's ever looked at me the same way since…

Yeah, on second thoughts, I was better off without her in this situation.

I glanced up at him, seeing that he'd picked up the sketch book from the table and had it balanced in his lap. A small smile tugged at his lips.

"Uhm… what are you drawing?" I asked, unable to think of anything else to breach the silence.

"You," he answered promptly.

A few more quick slashes of his pencil and he sat back, examined it for a moment, then turned it slightly for me to look. It was most definitely me, drawn in an anime-ish style. It was good, too, considering it had been completed in barely two minutes.

I blinked, looking closer, then scowled. The anime me was blushing! "That's so not funny…"

He smirked, tipping his head. "Maybe not, but it does make you look cute."

… …Inevitably, I blushed.

Lucca laughed openly at me, even if it was only for a moment. He tossed the book back onto the table, raising his arms above his head in a stretch and revealing a short glimpse of his midriff and the black rose tattooed there.

Damn this guy. If I hadn't known better, I'd have sworn he knew what he was doing to me… And that, infuriatingly, he was enjoying every second of it.

I looked away, staring at some random corner of the classroom. If I could just not make it too obvious that I was trying not to–

He sighed. "We have Science next, right? Wanna skip?"

Good God, was that sociability on his part? …Towards me?

He was staring at me expectantly, long hair falling over his shoulder and pooling on the desk as he leaned over his sketch book. He tilted a brow, obviously wondering why I hadn't responded yet.

"Uhm… sure," I answered with a shrug, and began sorting through my own art supplies.

Sakuri: Sorry, this chapter's shorter than the others. Quick updates, though. : ) Hmm, I think I might post an extra character development thingie, just to try and show what their personalities are like.

Oh, and thank you hunnies to, SayoukaDragon, False Alarm and Freaked for your reviews! : )Keep letting me know what you think, even if it's criticism.