"Just take a breath. Everything's fine." I find myself mumbling for the second time this week, bursting into one of the stalls immediately. I lock it, sitting on the toilet tank while I tuck my feet up on the seat. I get out as many panicked breaths as I can, waiting for the footsteps that were going to follow.
And sure enough, slow, measured steps came sauntering into the bathroom. I took in a careful, quiet gasp and held it, hoping my stall would be passed – as it was the third one in about five.
The door to stall one creaks open slowly, the hinges old and unused. Stall number two pushes open too, and I can see his shadow on the ground. I'm anxious, not wanting to be in the same country as this man, let alone the same room.
I can see the tips of his shoes under my door as he stops in front of it. I can hear the light push he uses and the short chuckle that follows when the door doesn't give.
"How about we make this easy and open the door, Soul." I stay silent. "Why do you try to hide from me?" It takes one swift boot kick and the door flings open easily. I won't lie, I'm terrified at this moment, but just a little annoyed and sick of being hunted down. I sigh, exasperated, and slouch on my perch.
"Can't a guy shit in peace?" I grumble sarcastically, earning a good chuckle from my stalker. Goddamn creep.
"Sassy today, hey kid?" He mutters as he steps forward. The stall is so tiny that he's already in my face as he stands over the toilet. He smells like nicotine, alcohol, and drug addicts. Makes sense. "How's it going?"
I placed a hand on his chest and pushed back lightly, glaring at him.
"Look, I don't want to make small talk. So fuck off unless you actually need something." He stares me down until I roll my eyes and make a leave. A hand shoots out to barricade me inside, and I swallow my spit as I look up at mean eyes.
"Pretty little girlfriend you got there." I don't wait to react as I connect my palms with his chest in a rough push. He staggers, but laughs regardless.
"She has nothing to do with this! Don't you dare touch her!" I'm advancing on him, anger, fear and stress all consuming me while I ignore my own danger.
"Now now, Soul. So quick to ignite. She must be important then. I think I've gotten the answer I need... Based on your reaction."
"You're already fucking holding my mom against me! Please, what more do you need!" My voice wavers and I can feel the sting of defeat in my eyes.
"Hey, Soul it's okay..." Giriko coos, wrapping an arm over my shoulders. He's awarded with another angry shove and I stand seething.
"It's not 'okay!' There's a psychopath following me around when he already knows I'll do what I'm told! What have I done to prove otherwise? I sell your dirty drugs, I'm not your 'friend.' So go away." I make to stalk out of the bathroom without looking back, but a stiff hand roughly grabs my arm, jerking me back a foot or so.
"Don't think I'm above hurting someone, Soul. This defiance you've had of late is not settling well with me. You'd best cut it out, before someone ends up hospitalized." His tone was dead serious, the weight of that threat pushing down on me. I knew he would follow through with it, no mocking or teasing in his voice like usual. I shrugged out of his grip and left the restroom, heading towards my group of chattering friends feeling anxious. Deep breaths.
I watched skeptically as Kid leaned in to whisper something to Maka, a light giggle sprouting from her lips. I couldn't help it, honestly, but I growled lowly. Not only did Kid's change in behaviour make me jealous, it also bothered me how accepting Maka was of him after how rude they were to her. It didn't make much sense in my eyes, and I worried for her. She was too nice, and I didn't think she should trust them. Even I thought they were assholes like, a hundred percent of the time.
"Hey guys." I announce in an attempt to appear casual, drawing all eyes towards me. Maka stared, trying to decipher what I was thinking. She'd been doing that a lot lately.
I was surprised when Kid glared lightly at me, shifting over so I could have a seat beside Maka. What the hell was that for?
"You okay dude? Where'd you run off to?" Blackstar asks, chomping down joyously on a fat juicy burger. I wanted to cringe away from the oozing oil, but only grimaced at his messy face as some drizzled out.
"I just went to the bathroom. I told you guys that." I rolled my eyes at the blue haired boy and plopped myself down beside her, casually slinging an arm across the back of the seat. Without meaning to, my eyes kept drifting back to the open bathroom entrance, expecting Giriko to saunter out like the smug asshole he was. He never did, likely disappearing as the stalker he was.
"Who was that guy?" Maka asked innocently, staring at me with expectant eyes. Crap. Unintentionally, my gaze darted to make awkward eye contact with Blackstar, him being the only one who really understood the situation. Save me!
"Who do you mean?" I answered, nonchalant, looking her dead in the eyes. I hoped it seemed casual.
"I don't know, the scary one you were staring at before." she specified, narrowing her eyes lightly. She was suspicious of the way I was playing it off, that much was obvious in her composure. However, it didn't help that she had reason to be,
"Maka, what are you talking about?" Blackstar piped up, taking this time to wipe his face on a napkin. Finally! I groaned internally, watching him gratefully. That eye contact wasn't for nothing.
"Well — He — I... I dunno. Never mind." Maka stuttered uncomfortably, shutting up at the sight of our expressions. Both him and I raised an eyebrow, eyes burning into her in our 'confusion.'
"You okay there, darling?" Kid laughed, giving her a quick wink. Agitated, I ran my tongue over bared teeth, narrowing my eyes at him. Seriously starting to get on my nerves. He doesn't miss my change in expression, his smirk widening when he looks over at me. Stunned, I stare dumbly at him, wondering what the hell he's up to. He was definitely mocking me!
We sit for a few minutes more, me eyeing Kid, him flirting with my girlfriend, and Blackstar shovelling the rest of his food into his mouth. I'm bothered, greatly, by both of my friends right now, painfully paranoid and suspicious of their actions. He may not be on the prowl right now, but Blackstar's moves the other night, taking her out and hugging her for far too long, and THE KISS ON THE FOREHEAD. How could I be imagining these things? Did both of the males before me have a crush on her, or were they having a good time fucking with me? Or even worse, with her?
Feeling a compression of apprehension and anger in my gut, I push up from my seat rather abruptly. Suddenly, everyone's watching me with their, 'What the hell are you doing?' faces, and I'm left to feel awkward and embarrassed.
"My legs are getting a bit sore." I explain casually, acting as though I'm stretching the limbs as I step away from the table. "You guys wanna continue on?" I roll my shoulders and yawn, actually a bit tired from the days events. I feel a scowl grow when I think of Giriko, but quickly shake off the irritation.
"Uh, sure, yeah." Maka mumbles out, sliding out of the booth to stand beside me. Much to my relief, she latches her hand lightly onto mine, starting to walk away from the cafeteria and pulling me after her. "Are you okay?" I turn my head to meet her olive eyes, surprised at the question. Genuine concern is pushing her eyebrows together, hand tightening its grip just a tad in mine.
"Oh, yeah." I answer lamely, glancing away. Would she think my jealousy is dumb, or that I'm overreacting? The look she shoots my way tells me she doesn't quite believe me, but she seems to accept the answer for now. Kid and Blackstar scurry up, each slinging an arm over Maka and I.
"So, where we off to, kiddies?" Blackstar hums, pulling at my light hairs with his free hand. Annoyed, I swat him away immediately.
"Actually..." Maka trails off, and when I turn to look at her, she's clutching her stomach rather tightly. "I'm not feeling so great. Think we could head home, Soul?" She looks up at me, the discomfort impossible to miss. I squeeze her hand, shrugging both of us out of my friend's holds. I'm tempted to ask, but chalk it up to her 'time of the month.'
"Uhm, yeah for sure. But uh..." I stop short, looking to the blue-haired spikes to my left. "I didn't drive."
"Oh right, right. Yeah, I'll drive you home, hun." Blackstar answers, pulling out the lanyard that held his keys. But seriously, more pet names? Although, he calls almost everyone hun, so I can at least pretend that one doesn't bother me.
"Well, I'm going to stick around." Kid declares, instantly pushing through to grasp Maka. Thank god. Closely, he hugs her tight, and lifts her a foot or so off the ground. It bothers me when I feel like the intruder to their hug. Excessively, I clear my throat and scowl at Kid as he steps away and ruffles her hair.
"See you guys later." He turns and walks away, throwing up a hand as a goodbye a few steps later. I clench my fists, teeth grinding in my agitation at his behaviour. Who the hell does he think he is, all nonchalant and valiant, or whatever? Just being a showoff is what he's doing.
The ride back is awkward, to me at least. I'm paranoid, of Kid, of Blackstar, and Giriko stealing my girl away. Like what, they meet her once and suddenly everyone is trying to whisk her away? There's no doubt she's gorgeous, but really? three other guys right after I start dating her? C'mon, that screams suspicion. I'm not being overprotective... I don't think at least.
"So wow, was I the only one that thought that was weird? I thought Kid would be really rude, but he's so nice!" Maka starts in the backseat, leaning forward to feel more included, I'm guessing. Instead of making a snarky comment, I turn my head out the window and fake interest in the passing grass strands.
"Yeah, he's not so bad." Blackstar puts in, throwing in some idle conversation. Although, he seems just as jealous as me, if not more so.
"You know what he told me?" She inquired, scooting forward and giggling before she spoke. "He said that the only reason pre-teens go the mall is to try and pick up guys!" She seemed to think this was rather funny, breaking out into quiet chortles. "He told me that this once, some like, 9 year old asked for his number!"
The rest of the drive continued on that way, Maka chattering about Kid this and Kid that while Blackstar answered lightly and dully. By the end, I was practically livid, having to leap out of the car the second it rolled to a stop. Quietly behind me, I hear Maka mutter a short, 'What the hell?' at my attitude, taking off after thanking Blackstar.
"Soul!" She shouted, following my storming steps up the ascending stairs. I ignore her. "Soul!" She shouts again, picking up her pace to a light trot behind me. I just desperately hope I can escape to my room to vent this random bout of anger. "Just fucking talk to me, goddamnit! What the hell did I do? Why are you so mad?" She rambles, now behind me. At this point, we're standing at our apartment door, relieving me slightly but making the itch to scream grow. Almost there.
Roughly, I shove the key into the lock and rattle it, shouldering the door open and slamming it on the wall as it flings open.
"Soul, quit throwing a tantrum like a child and TALK to me!" Maka emphasizes, grasping me tightly on the wrist as we enter the room. I swing the door shut with my foot.
"Why don't you go talk to Kid. Seemed to enjoy his company!" Tumbles out of my mouth, and I immediately turn, pacing away to hide my embarrassment. Goddamnit not supposed to be out loud...
"That's what this is about? You're jealous!?" She glares harshly, following me into our small living room. "Are you kidding me? Jesus Christ, Soul. Next you'll think I'm screwing Blackstar." There's a heavy silence as that information settles between us, making the air uncomfortable and strange. Especially since I do occasionally worry about that.
I know I'm upsetting her by ignoring her, and she's only mad because I'm mad, but god, I'm frustrated.
"You literally didn't shut up about Kid the whole ride home." I explain, trying to calm the rising tension in the situation and myself. "And you were talking to him, like, the entire time." I add rather lamely, realizing how stupid it really sounds out loud.
"So what?" She answers lightly, her voice taking on a gentle edge. At least we can both try the civil way. "You think I'd cheat on you?" She asks, looking at me desperately with those giant eyes of hers. Crap, I feel guilty.
"No, it's not that. I'd just.. I don't know, like you to spend more time with me than my friends. I felt like an outsider for most of that conversation."
"Oh, I'm sorry, you felt like an outsider?" She grinds out, irritated by my response. No Maka, not like that, dammit. "That's been my life for the past 5 years! And you can't handle one hour of being ignored?" I push rough hands to my temples and swipe my face in frustration.
"Look, you don't have to read into things and overreact." I sigh, massaging the bridge of my nose. Even if it was a big deal to me, I didn't want it to be a big deal to her. My feelings are a just bit wacky, is all. And I can at least admit that to myself! "I don't mean it like that. And besides, things are different. We weren't together then and regardless, I DID talk to you, thank-you very much. So it's not like you were completely ignored." Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, for when I look back at her, she's glaring hellfire at me, mouth agape in offense.
"Aw goddamnit. No no just stop getting mad! Frick, you're always picking fights now. With Kim, with Blackstar, and now me. The hell is up with you?" I know I'm being a dick, I really do, but I'm wondering why this is suddenly about her feelings.
"Don't talk to me for the rest of the day." She turns on her heel and slams her bedroom door, shaking the whole apartment room.
"God fucking dammit." I mutter, combing my fingers through my hair again. Next time? Don't express feelings.
Stressed and irritated, I go into the fridge to dig out one of the many beers. Pop the cap off, and tilt back for a nice long chug. Looks like another drunk night for me.