Chapter 7


The Insider

This is the last time I ever volunteer to help anybody with any sort of school project. I don't care if the teacher begs for my help. The answer is no. Not if I have to deal with another ungrateful idiot like Taveon.

Tav is sitting in the back of the car with his arms folded and staring determinedly out the window.

I have no idea why he is sulking. We had a nice day out, for once we didn't end up getting into an argument with one another and he got his work done. Shame on me for thinking that we could end on a positive note.

Celina keeps glancing back at Tav with a frown. "What is wrong with him?" she asks me.

"The hell would I know?"

Tav laughs in an obviously sarcastic manner. "Ha, yeah right!"

I frown at him, "What is that supposed to mean?"

"You know exactly what it means!" Tav snaps at me.

I sigh loudly at his dramatics. "I really can't be bothered to deal with your mood right now Tav."

Thankfully as Tav begins to simmer, I pull over at the side of the road outside his house. I expect him to get out of the car straight away but much to my irritation, he doesn't. When I turn round to tell him to get out, I'm a little taken aback by what I see.

Tav looks genuinely upset by something. He looks up and notices me watching.

"You really don't get it do you?" he asks me in a surprisingly soft voice.

"Do I look like a mind reader to you?"



"Why? Why don't you remember? He ruined our friendship Julian! It's all because of him that we ended up like this." For a split second, he appears shocked by what he's said but then his resolve hardens and he stares at me, daring me to refute it.

I can't resist rolling my eyes at this statement because it is absolute bullshit and he knows it. "Don't be so overdramatic." I mutter.

Tav thumps the back of Celina's seat with his fist and she jumps. "I'm being overdramatic?" he asks angrily.


"You always did take his side didn't you?" Tav spits. "Always. Roddie was always teasing me and winding me up on purpose but did you ever stand up for me? No! It was always him."

"Would you calm down?" I don't know why I bother asking that, I can practically see steam coming from Tav's ears.

"No, I won't calm down! He ruined everything!"

"Roddie didn't ruin anything, you did." I reply. I'm fed up with his childish attitude and the fact that he never owns up to his mistakes. "You were the one who cut me out of your life. Roddie's still my friend. You are not."

Tav stares at me, I meet his dark eyes wide with shock. For once in his life, he is speechless. Good. I can't stand his voice any longer. "Get out." I tell him and turn back round.

I release a sigh when I finally hear him slam the door behind him. "I thought he'd never leave." I say to Celina.

Celina taps a fingers on the door impatiently. A sign that always told me I'd done something wrong. Whenever she gets irritated, all you can hear is the tap, tap, tap of her fingers. "Don't you think you were a little harsh?"

"How so? It's true. Tav was the one who told me never to speak to him again."

"That was because of Roddie." Celina counters.

I groan and run my hand through my hair in annoyance. "I'm not saying that Roddie was innocent," I explain, "but Tav decided I was as much to blame as Roddie."

I know that what Roddie did to Tav was cruel. I really do.

When Tav and I were in Primary school, he was always a quiet kid, but he had friends and was in plenty of clubs. Something changed when he started senior school, I'm not sure what. I always put it down to the awkward teenage stage that most people go through.

When he started year seven, he was separated from most of the friends he had known. Over time he grew quieter and there were a few individuals who were constantly teasing him. He retreated inside his shell, so I can honestly understand why he would have such a bad reaction when Roddie yells out as loud as possible, "Oh hey Tav, Julian and I saw you getting some in the park, didn't think you were the kind to hook up with random guys."

Poor Tav. He had been innocently walking down the corridor on his way to lunch. He had seen me, smiled and then Roddie had let loose. The look on Tav's face, it was like he had wanted to curl into himself and die.

I understood why he was angry and hurt, even at me but there was little I could do. I didn't initiate it and I didn't see Roddie's outburst coming. He hadn't seemed bothered before, when we had first seen Tav and I had pulled him away.

Maybe I should have known better.

When I arrive home, I'm in a foul mood. I slam the door and stalk into the sitting room where my parents are watching an old re-run of Midsomer Murders. I squint at the television before slumping down on the leather armchair.

"Wasn't this episode on last weekend?" I ask them, not really caring about the answer.

Mum turns her head to peer at me with a surprised expression. "I'm impressed, you do actually pay attention to your environment."

"I do occasionally."

"Did you have a nice day?" Dad asks me, only briefly removing his eyes from the television. I've never understood my parent's fascination with this show.

"How is little Tav Morgan?"

"Mum, he's not little."

"Oh, I know. It's just, I remember him when he was younger. Such a sweet boy."

"He's not sweet either," I grumble, "Tav is far from sweet."

Mum makes a tutting noise at me. "Don't be nasty Julian. Remember when he used to follow you around all the time? He adored you."

"He did not!" I answer with a huff, feeling my face heat up. "Never, ever say that again." I cross my arms and stare intently at the television. "Why do these people stay in this murder town? This show is ridiculous."

"You're ridiculous." Dad replies, and Mum smacks his arm.

"Are you alright honey?" Mum asks me kindly.

I want to tell her that no, I'm not alright, but then she would ask me follow up questions to which I don't know the answers to. So instead I smile and nod. She can tell I'm lying but she lets it go. She knows that if I need to talk to her, then I'll get round to it eventually.

I pretend to watch the TV but nothing goes in. My focus is elsewhere, I can't stop thinking about what Tav said about Roddie. I have no idea why he felt like he was entitled to bring up the past, let alone blame someone else for the mistakes he made years ago. Does it actually bother him that much? I thought he'd long put everything that happened behind him and was simply stuck on hating me.

I wish I'd never agreed to be a part of this stupid project in the first place.

"We are going to make this the best school year ever!" Alice announces suddenly. The rest of us stare blankly at her. It's nearly eleven and I'm sitting in the sixth form common room, Celina is curled up beside me with her head in my lap, curtesy of the comfy sofa we managed to steal. One of her headphones is in her ear as she tries to block out the commotion, I've stolen the other.

No one answers Alice, so she stands in front of us with her arms held high above her, waiting patiently.

Kyle and Ryan have squeezed themselves onto the chair that sits beside the sofa. Despite how uncomfortable they must be, the pair have dozed off.

When Alice realises that less than half of her audience is paying attention, she shoves Kyle, who jumps and knocks into Ryan, causing him to slip off of the edge of the chair. Alice watches with disinterest as Ryan scrambles to pick himself up off the floor.

"What was that for?" Kyle snaps.

"Alice said, that we are going to make this the best school year ever." I deadpan.

"Could you have said that with less enthusiasm?" Alice asks me.

I shrug and she shakes her head.

Celina mumbles something into my lap that sounds a lot like, "These fucking idiots need an off button." And turns the volume up so some rock band starts blaring into my ear.

"Where has everyone's motivation gone today?" Alice sounds appalled. "Julian, you're supposed to be a model student, Kyle, I know you get up for that paper round of yours but really, you need to start getting to bed earlier. What is wrong with you all? Celina? Can you even hear me?"

Celina responds by covering her face with her arm.

"Wow. You guys are the worst. What's going on?"

"We've all just sat in on an assembly addressing university, jobs and other future prospects." Ryan answered, shooting Alice a concerned look. "How does that not scare the shit out of you?"

"Is that what everybody is so depressed about?"

"Yes." We all mumble in unison.

"I have no future," Ryan adds miserably, "and now my arse hurts."

"Oh boo hoo." Alice mimes wiping a tear away from her eyes. "C'mon, cheer up!" She yanks a chair away from a nearby table and places it in front of us, she sits down with her arms crossed, giving each one of us a dark stare. I think Alice would make a good teacher.

Her determination is admirable. I'm certain she intends to stare at us until the end of break, unless one of us can admit defeat.

Ryan breaks first. "Okay. Fine. We're going to make this the best school year," the false cheer is obvious, as is the fake smile, but the small fist pump he makes in the air gives Alice some hope that at least one of her friends might not be a lost cause.

"What's going on here then?"

"We're going to make this the best school year ever," Ryan repeats to Roddie, with slightly more enthusiasm then before. Alice nodded in encouragement.

Roddie's lips curled into a smirk, "Looks like a pity party to me." he says, eyes roaming along our miserable faces. "It was a crappy assembly, not an end of day's announcement."

"Same difference." Celina mumbles into my lap. Celina, I learnt years ago, has amazing hearing. Mutter insults under your breath at your own risk because it is more than likely that she will hear them, and proceed to smack you in the head with whatever nearby inanimate object can be used as the best weapon. Even with a loud music playing in one ear and the other leaning against my leg, she can stand hear every word.

Roddie blinks in surprise. "I thought she was asleep." he says to me.

"Sleep is for the weak." Celina pulls herself slowly into a sitting position and appraises Roddie with suspicion. I can tell she is thinking about what Tav said at the weekend, that Roddie is the cause of our broken friendship.

Roddie gives her a suspicious once over, but seems unconcerned that her eyes are trying to read his mind. "Hey Jules, want to go to the cinema after school?"

"Weren't you there Saturday?" Celina asks, eyes narrowed.

Roddie stares at her and then shoots me a look that clearly says, "What the hell is her problem?"

I'm about to explain to her that Roddie loves the cinema, when something catches my eye. Tav Morgan stalking over to the row of computers, his faithful friend Ivan on his heels I'm sure he's noticed me but he makes it clear that he is completely ignoring my existence, as he slumps down in one of the computer chairs.

Celina follows the direction of my gaze, "Go and apologise to him," she hisses in my ear, "now's your chance."

"What do I have to apologise for?" I ask incredulously. "He was the one making a fuss over nothing."

"You were both making a fuss, but you really upset him. Didn't you see the look on his face?"

"I don't care." I cross my arms and sit back in the chair.

Roddie catches on quickly to the topic of our conversation. "You talking about Taveon Morgan?" He rolls his eyes. "What does Jules have to apologise for? That kid's always upset over something. Pathetic."

I frown at the animosity in his voice. It's barely noticeable. Has it always been there? I know Tav was right, that Roddie was always winding him up, but I never thought it was serious, either way, despite the role that Roddie played in our ruined friendship, it still that doesn't mean Tav has to hold an eternal grudge against me for Roddie's idiocy. That's his choice.

"I agree, what do I have to apologise for?"

Celina pretends not to hear me and taps a finger against her phone. "You have a problem with Tav?" she asks Roddie.

He shrugs, "Nah."

"I have a problem with Tav." I grumble in Celina's ear.

This comment goes ignored. Celina stands and then reaches out a hand. I stare at it and don't move. "Come on Julian, didn't you promise to help him with his photography project?"


"It'll never get finished if you two keep ignoring each other."

"And that is my problem how?"

Celina gives a frustrated groan, "Stop being difficult!" Whether I like it or not, she decides that I'm going to speak to Tav before the end of break. She grabs a hold of one wrist, then snatches the other before I can move it out of her reach and much to the amusement of my friends, yanks me off of my seat.

I land with an ungraceful thud on the floor.

I quickly pull myself to my feet and glare at her, hoping that not too many people noticed.

"That wasn't quite what I what I was aiming for," Celina says, not sounding the least bit apologetic, "but at least it got the job done."

"You are a devil woman."

"Flattery will get you nowhere Julian Hart, you should know that." She winks. "Now come on."

Celina practically charges at Tav. He and Ivan notice her before they see me hovering behind.

"Hi Tav," she says politely. "Hi Tav's friend."

"Ivan." Tav supplies helpfully and Ivan nods.

"Sorry to bother the both of you, only, Julian has something he would like to say."

At the mere mention of my name, both Tav and Ivan's expressions turn sour.


Still watching Celina, Tav says, "And what would that be?"

I step up behind her. "Yes what would that be Celina?"

"That you are sorry."

"What she said." I clap my hands together, "Now that's sorted-"

Celina quickly jabs me in the side. "You have to say it."

"Fine. Sorry. Happy?"

This is aimed at Celina, but Tav is the one who answers. "No. That was the least sincere apology I have ever heard." He's watching me now, with a bored expression, like he expects nothing less from me. This irritates me for some reason. "Do you even know what you're apologising for?"

"Yes." I answer. I glance over my shoulder at Roddie, who is watching us from the sofa. I wave my arms and gesture for him to join us. Instantly I notice Tav stiffen.

"'Sup?" Roddie appears looking mildly amused.

I turn to him and try with all my might to sound like I mean it. "Roddie, stop being mean to Tav, he's a sensitive soul." It comes out incredibly sarcastic but I think the point gets across.

"You arsehole!" Tav snarls.

Or not.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't help it okay?"

"Oh Julian." Celina shakes her head in disappointment.

"I tried!"

Roddie pats me on the back, watching the whole situation with bemusement. "Come on." He pulls me back over to my friends. "What the fuck was that all about?"

"Don't even ask."

And because Roddie is a true friend who has never cut me off for a stupid reason like Tav, he doesn't. Instead he changes the subject. "So, cinema?"

"Yeah, sure."