I'd just remembered it was my birthday and no one had wished me, even Nate, though he'd talked to me earlier in the morning. Therefore I decided to ignore him until he remembered.
My last period before P.E. was English, which I couldn't pay attention to no matter how hard I tried. I felt like there was something else that I should be doing, something more important, but I couldn't focus on what. Had I not done my homework?
The bell rang, signaling the end of the period. I was only too eager to leave - my distraction had expanded to a bad feeling in my stomach. I must have really forgotten something.
It didn't occur to me that something bad was going to happen.
I wasn't in the mood today, what with the feeling in my stomach, so I decided to just skip P.E. Not before I noticed that Nate wasn't there either. I wondered where he was, he never missed P.E.
Why wasn't he there?
Maybe it was the date last night. When I'd asked him, he'd shrugged, but Allison had looked as though it was far from fine. Had they fought over something? Was Nate... No, I didn't want to pry... Was he skipping P.E. because he couldn't face her? Was he crying his eyes out over that?
I decided to ignore my previous decision of ignoring him and find him instead. Where was he? It was stupid to crawl away into a corner because of a girl. It had been their first date, anyway...
The steps echoed in the corridors as I tried to find him. Surprisingly enough, there wasn't a teacher in sight. Was there an important school meeting in P.E. or something?
After a while of wandering, I began to hear something else other than my own steps.
Someone was yelling.
It was most definitely a guy, and he was yelling at someone. I began to walk towards the sound automatically. It didn't sound like Nate, but maybe he was involved. I didn't know. I was just curious.
The voices became louder. It was more than two people there. Some of them laughed. Paused. Laughed again.
"...didn't think you would get away with this, did ya?"
"Aw, poor baby. Is he crying?"
I felt a chill go up my spine as I recognized the voice, and I understood the situation. It was Darren Anderson, with his followers and victim. Everyone knew him. This guy took bullying to a whole new level.
Instinctively, I began to walk slower, making no sound. This place was dangerous, and I shouldn't be coming any closer, but I was. These guys were right around the corner. I kept walking slowly. I had to see who the victim was, because I had a horrible feeling that it was Nate.
I pressed myself against the wall, took a deep breath, and turned around, in full view. Not even hiding.
My blood ran cold.
Nate was on the ground, and he was obviously crying. His face and uniform were bloodied, some of it had even dried. Darren was standing over him, laughing.
I didn't know what was worse; the fact that my friend was getting beaten up, or the fact that Darren could reduce a guy of that size to what he was now.
Darren turned and looked at me with a smirk still on his lips, and his cronies noticed me one by one. My body began to work in two opposite directions at once - I began to walk towards Nate and back away from Darren at the same time. My left leg was forward but my right leg was behind, which was ultimately a defensive position.
"Hey, Pretty-boy," Darren said, but I could only stare at Nate in horror. His face. God, his face.
"Leave him alone," I blurted.
There was a pause where probably everyone was taken aback, including me. I didn't know about Nate, though. I couldn't see any kind of expression on his face because he wasn't in any position to make expressions.
"What did ya say?" The guy on Darren's right growled menacingly. I recognized him as Aden Clarke.
"Aden," Darren warned, his blue eyes flashing in annoyance. Clarke shut up.
"Get the fuck out of here, Paul," Nate said, his voice strained, but it sounded wrong.
Darren looked down at him, and Nate stared right back at him in defiance. Darren lifted his foot, and I knew that he was going to smash Nate's nose in.
My voice sounded unnaturally loud, and it didn't sound as though it had come from me, either. But it got Darren's attention - he paused and looked at me, before his face melted back into a smirk.
He stepped away from Nate very deliberately, as one would step away from dog shit, but his blue eyes were focused on me. He swept his dark hair away from his forehead.
"You want me to let him go, Pretty-boy?" he asked.
I didn't answer.
"What do I get in return?"
"What do you want?" I asked, noticing my throat was dry.
He paused, thinking about it. He glanced at Nate, then looked at me, then at my legs, and then back at my face.
"You," he said simply.
A/N: I hope you feel better now. Reviews are appreciated.