I dashed around one corner of the hallways one morning at school and caught my breath. I could hear Alex's voice travelling around frantically to people in the hallways saying, "Hey, you, have you seen Jess? Then get out of my way. How about you, have you seen Jess? Move. Have you seen Jess? Has Jess passed through here? Then why are you wasting my time?" I could hear his voice getting closer and closer ever so slowly. I ran a hand through my hair and tried to keep quiet. I've been avoiding Alex since I got to school the morning after staying at Stephen's house for a while the night before.
I got a call from my mom that the school called and she wanted to talk to me, Stephen offered to drive me home. After a few refusals because I still didn't trust him, I finally accepted his proposal and let him take me home. On the way, I got a text from Mona saying that Alex was looking for me all day and wanted to talk to me. But I didn't talk to me. "Oh shit..." I cussed under my breath.
"I take it you heard that Alex's searching for his true love?" Stephen glanced over at my worried expression with a little smirk on his face.
I pouted. "Don't call me that. I hate him now. I'm not his true love. He just thinks I'm his property. I'm no one's property. Besides, how did you find out before I did?"
"My buddy, Halvo, is a little brother of one of Alex's posse. You think you're the only one in school who has connections, Little Miss Popular?"
"Shut up, Stephen, after that stunt I pulled this morning, I doubt 'popular' is the right term for me anymore."
"Calm down, princess, I'm just giving you one last insult before you go inside." We slowed to a gradual stop in front of my house. "Now get going. I don't want your mom getting mad at me, either."
I rolled my eyes and stepped out of the car. Before walking any further, I turned and looked at Stephen. "Hey, Gomez?" He glanced up at me before starting the engine. "Thanks. For everything today, I mean." I smiled and headed toward my front door after seeing him nod. I waited until the purr of his car was distant before opening the door, a heavy sigh escaping my lips.
I heard Alex's voice a few feet away so I turned to run until I ran straight into somebody. "Hey, whoa, watch where you're-" I looked up to see Stephen. "Jess? Is that you?" He asked. A little too loudly, in fact.
I could hear Alex going. "Huh? Jess, baby, are you back there?"
I looked at Stephen with a panicked look in my eye. "Shit, shit, shit, I don't know what to do. Alex is coming right now, Stephen. Help me. Please."
Stephen looked around and pushed me into the janitor's closet. He swiftly closed the door after giving me a reasuuring nod. "Just trust me alright?" I heard him say on the other side of the door. I panted as I sat down against a wall and nodded as if I thought he could see me. "And stop panting, Jess, he might hear-"
"Hey, you, Band Freak!"
"Oh hey, fellas, what's shaking? Oh, whoa, Alex, buddy, that's quite a shiner you got on your face there. Wonder who gave it to you." Typical Stephen Gomez. Expressionless but still a smartass.
"You shut your fucking mouth, you dumbass." I heard one of Alex's buddies say.
"Carter, shut up, and let me deal with this." Alex demanded. I heard him take a few steps toward Stephen. Then I heard a slight thud against the door and then a sliding sound. Alex was holding Stephen up against the door the same way he was doing with John. "You're the little punk who thought he could just punch me."
"Well, you were kind of crossing the line when you, one, decided to pick on my baby brother and my best friend. Two, you hit a girl. Wow, and that was your girlfriend, too. Ouch." Stephen toyed with Alex.
I heard a slam against the door and Stephen grunt. "You son of a bitch, I wouldn't have hit Jess if she wasn't in the way of your idiot brother. I love her. Where is he, by the way, huh? I saw you kidnap her when Lyle and the rest of campus security came running. Where is she, punk?"
"Jess? Oh I wasn't aware you two were dating. I thought you called her your property yesterday."
"You're not answering my question, Band Geek!"
"How should I know? Aren't you supposed to know where your stuff is?"
Alex chuckled and set Stephen down on his feet. "You know, if I don't find her, you could be in serious trouble. I know how much she hates you. She always talked about you and your emo-fag friends when we're together. For all I know, you could be holding her hostage for revenge. Your choice, Band Geek." I heard them walk away.
I rushed out of the room to see Stephen emotionlessly standing there. I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. "Stephen?" I asked. "Stephen, are you alright?"
He slowly turned to me, a dark look in his eyes. "Emo fags, huh, Jess?"
I was taken back by his remark. I shook my head. "What? No, Stephen, that was before, okay?"
"Why was it, Jess? Why were we emo fags to you Popular Kids?" I didn't see any anger in him. All I saw was utter disappointment clouding up in his eyes.
I tried to plead with him. He saved my ass twice, I didn't want him to hate me now. "It was the music you guys listened to, but-"
"Our music? That is the most fucking stereotypical thing I have ever heard. You think because you guys listen to pop mainstream, us Band Kids think you guys are preppy priss to us? We don't."
"Enough. I'm done with you now. You don't need to worry about us emo fags anymore." He shook my hand off of his shoulder and walked away.
I didn't want to run after him. I didn't want to make things worse. I've always had that fear. You know, that fear that if you attempt to fix something that needs patching up, you'll end up fucking everything back up again. I hate that I have that fear. If I didn't have this phobia, I would've ran to Stephen and told him what I thought about him. That he was actually a cool, smartass, nice guy. That I wanted to be friends with him. But, this isn't a perfect world, so I can't have any perfect plans.