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To Love Nathan Prescott

Chapter Text

Welcome to the wonderful world of meeting, dating, and or just generally interacting with Arcadia Bay's one and only, the myth, the man, the legend, Nathan Prescott. I love this mess of a boy and I love answering requests so here we are :3c enjoy!

For those wondering: i don't want these fics linked back to my main account for personal reasons, therefore please don't ask about my main!

Chapter Text

The first time you saw him was in the dead of night, sitting on top of a picnic table with his head in his hands, a rather expensive looking camera residing next to him. He wasn’t moving much but you could tell he was stressed; shoulders hunched and his fingers occasionally pulling at his brown hair. The street lamp above him illuminated his figure and if you hadn’t already heard the rumors of the infamous Nathan Prescott you would’ve had some mind to reach out. Though this was the first time you’d actually seen him you knew it was the asshole rich kid your friends had gossiped about. You being new to Arcadia Bay seemed to grace you with not knowing him or his family, and maybe it also offered a second opinion as well. You hadn’t talked to him, seen what he’s ‘capable of’, so seeing him looking like he was seconds away from a breakdown made you wonder if he was truly the evil bastard everyone painted him out to be.

While you wanted to talk to him the fear of being yelled at was too much. Instead to sat where you always were in cool nights- at the edge of some hefty rocks and hoping Principle Wells wouldn’t find you outside your dorm. It wasn’t smart to be out after hours, especially so close by, but usually you didn’t care. You valued your alone time.

Nathan left barely 20 minutes after you saw him and to your dismay he noticed you too. You couldn’t see his eyes from how far away you were but you could feel them- that cold stare. He probably thought you were watching him. Still, he seemed to spare you an argument, and disappeared into the night.

The second time you saw him you began to understand why Nathan Prescott certainly was a force to be reckoned with. While waiting in the parking lot for one of your friends you happened to see him storm out of the front door of Blackwell Academy, fire in his eyes that managed to clear a path of all the other students trying to leave. He raced straight past you and instead confronted a brunette girl you hadn’t met before. Whatever sorrow he was experiencing the previous night was replaced with venom and hate, and thought you couldn’t hear the words he was saying judging by the girl’s face they weren’t too friendly.

Growing uneasy at the scene starting to play out before you, you pushed off the front of your car and shifted your weight, wondering if you should intervene. However that thought was sent out the window when a boy you also hadn’t met before tried to lay his hands on Nathan, therefore only earning a headbutt that sent him straight to the ground. You gasped, watching his body thud and his hands move to cradle the wound. The girl, to her friends defense, roughly pressed at Nathan’s shoulder and he immediately retaliated by placing his hands on her throat, forcibly backing her up a few feet as his voice grew in volume. A few of the other students in the parking lot took note of the commotion but they all seemed to be in your position- both too scared and shocked to do anything.

Luckily none of you had to do anything. A truck barreled past all the parked cars and narrowly stopped just in time to avoid running the two students over, and in an instant the girl managed to free herself from Nathan’s grip and thanks to the heroic sacrifice of her friend who’d gotten back up taking a few more blows from him the girl was able to climb into the truck before it sped away, leaving behind a fuming and shouting Prescott.

Someone seemed to find it in themselves to take some sort of action, another student you had never met before running over to the two boys and kneeling beside the nerdy looking one on the ground. You could see the patches of red on his face but not the actual wounds. Nathan stared down at him like a predator but decided against attacking again, turning on his heel and stomping away while muttering things to himself. He passed by you again on his way back inside the building he saw you through the corners of his eyes and this time you were close enough to see everything first hand. His eyes narrowed at you before recognition took over, and he scoffed, mumbled something along the lines of ‘fuck off’ and then made his way back inside.

Your friend came out not minutes later, looking behind her as she made her way to you.

“Holy shit,” She said. “Did you see Nathan back there? He looked like he was going to kill someone!”

You just nodded, still staring at the doorway like he was going to come back out of it. Perhaps those rumors were more than true. He did seem to be rather violent and that was only a few minutes worth of a fight- you couldn’t imagine what it be like to be one of his enemies.

Hopping into your car with your friend right beside you, you made a mental note. Stay out of Nathan Prescott’s way.

It seemed as though life did not agree with your new plan.

Since you had only been in Arcadia Bay for little over two weeks now there were still many places you still hadn’t visited yet, and one of them was the frequently suggested diner ‘Two Whales’. From what you could see standing outside the building it was a cute restaurant, the logo of the two whales making you smile to yourself. Inside was how you expected it to be- small but not empty with a nice layout. Cozy. You chose a window booth and nested against the edge, staring out the window and taking in the aesthetic of a small but lively town.

“Can I start with you anything to drink?” A voice asked, pulling you from your thoughts. The waitress, a blond, stood at the end of your table with a note pad and warm smile.

“Just a water for now, please.” You answered. She nodded and didn’t bother writing anything down.

“No problem sweetheart.”

You turned back to the window when the waitress left you be, and low and fucking behold, the one person you’d been avoiding for days now appeared from the edge of your vision and, upon somehow seeing you from across the street through the window looking at him, B lined it for the diner.

Something about him staring directly at you before making his way over had your stomach rolling in it’s spot, your nerves starting to light up. He shoved the diner’s doors open up and you kept your head down, hand resting on your forehead to avoid eye contact. Unfortunately it didn’t work as Nathan slid right into your booth, staring you down from across the table. You looked up at him from your brows and cringed at his obvious anger.

“Alright,” He hissed, resting his hands on the table and leaning in. “I don’t know who the fuck you are but stop fucking following me or you’ll regret it, got it?”

You frowned and met his heated gaze. “What?”

“‘What’?’ He mocked. “Don’t fucking ‘what’ me, bitch. I’ve got eyes all over this shithole of a town and apparently you do too. Mind your fucking business, capische?”

“I’m not following you!” Leaning forward as well you stared at him in disbelief. He leaned back and shook his head, laughing. You took in the few heads turning in your direction and softened your tone. “I’m not following you.”

“Yeah right. I’ve seen you how many fucking times this week, all the time staring at me, watching me like I’m some sort of freak show?”

“We go to the same school, asshole.” At the sharpness of your tone he narrowed his eyes again.

“Really? So what were you doing out in the middle of the night last week?”

“None of your business, that’s what.”

“Hate to say it but bitchy little stalkers are my business.” He turned his head as the waitress came with your water, setting it down and looking at you with a confused expression.

“Everything okay here, sweetheart?” She asked you. You licked at your lips and debated telling her that you were being harassed, but you didn’t even get a chance to answer.

“We’re fine, Joyce.” He said with a fake smile and sarcastic tone. She shifted her weight and stared at him for a moment, then you, then him, almost as though she was torn. Eventually she did give into him though, nodding before letting a sigh escape her lips.

“Alrighty then.” She turned to you. “Let me know when you’re ready to order.”

You nodded and looked back down at your lap, and when she left Nathan once again found his intimidating pose in leaning forward. Despite the both of you sitting you felt so much smaller than him.

“You have no fucking clue what you’re dealing with,” He growled in a hushed tone. “Stay out of my way or else.”

“Why are you so angry all the time?” You suddenly asked, and it caught him off guard. You looked up at him. “I’ve seen you twice in the two weeks I’ve been here for. In what fucking world does that count as ‘stalking’ you?”

He scoffed and balled his fists. For the first time it felt like you got him as no response came out, just a pissed off glare. Finally he spoke up again, standing up and scowling down at you.

“Just stay away from me.”

With that the wildfire of a human being stepped away from your table, not looking back as he pushed the doors open and exited with diner. The few people who watched him go turned to look back at you and for a moment your face heated at probably looking like an ass. When the waitress did return, oddly kind with you, you randomly chose the first thing you saw on the menu.

You did not enjoy your meal.

Despite having been sincerely warned to stay out of Nathan Prescott’s ‘fucking way’ the angel guiding your life seemed to not care whatsoever about your well being. After talking with him face to face that first time you tried your hardest to not see him, not talk to him, not cross paths, but it felt like you were just seeing him more and more. You locked eyes in hallways, bumped shoulders walking in and out of classrooms, and at one point he almost hit you with his car while you were walking through the parking lot. Even outside school it was as though you couldn’t be anywhere without seeing his car, seeing him walking, or even entering the same place as him. Thankfully he didn’t feel the need to threaten you again, however. In return you hauled ass the moment he arrived or changed direction upon seeing him.

As much as he scared you it was almost comical how ironic it was given he’d warned you to stay away from him and as fate would have it you only ran into each other more often. He seemed equally pissed each time but hadn’t yelled at you save for a few ‘watch where you’re fucking going’s here and there.

You were waiting for your friend after class once again, leaning against the front of your car while idly messing around on your phone. Most of the students had cleared out now, the parking lot fairly empty except for the teachers who hung around after class and those who had in school assignments to be spending their time on. Your friend was one of those people unfortunately, and you were her ride, so you were stuck in waiting for her to be done with whatever it was her teacher was making her do for just some measly extra points.

However you grew bored and groaned, eyes scanning over the door in hopes she would just magically walk out and you could go home for the day. You shoved your phone in your pocket and pushed off your car, kicking at some rocks beneath your feet and wondering where you should walk off too to waste time. In the distance you could see those rocks you had been sitting at nights ago and they looked as welcoming as they had the first time, so you pulled your phone out, shot your friend a quick text, and made your way over to them. You’d still be doing almost nothing but at least this way you had a nice view.

As you walked across the parking lot and stepped into the grass you could hear a commotion nearby. Fear struck at your heart at the thought of there being yet another fight on campus grounds. When you pinpointed the area you’re curiosity got the better of you and you came closer, barely brushing by one of the few parked cars. Not far away you could see two people- one of them you recognized to be Nathan, and the other looked like some sort of security guard. They were arguing, and for once you were actually witnessing Nathan being the one who get’s his ass chewed out. He seemed to be arguing back, however, hands balled into fists and shoulders tense. You didn’t dare get closer in fear that you’d get roped into the argument but as your luck would have it the security guard looked up from the teen and right at you. He pointed a finger.

“You,” He hollered. “New kid! Get over here!”

Nathan turned at the man’s words, looking to see who he was referring to. When he found it was you for a moment his eyes widened and then they rolled, his expression utterly annoyed. “She’s got nothing to do with this.” You heard him say as you slinked closer.

“Oh yeah, I’m sure.” The man said sarcastically. Cursing at yourself for being so nosy you slowly made your way to the pair, heart thudding in fear that you’d get in trouble for something you never did. It seemed like that was a growing pattern as of late.

When you stood beside Nathan you looked at him through the corners of your eyes and he huffed.

“There’s no point in lying. I know you two are involved somehow.” The security started bluntly. Both you and Nathan gaped at him. “Now, you two have been trying to keep it down but you can’t fool me none. Where one of you is, the other is always around. I’m not sure what it is you two are planning just yet but know I will find out.”

“Me and Nathan?” You said in disbelief. “We barely know each other!”

“Don’t you give me that missy. I see everything, and it’s only a matter of time before I know everything too.”

“You’ve got it so fucking wrong,” Nathan grumbled, rubbing his hands over his face in irritation. “You all think you’re some fucking detectives but you don’t know anything.”

“Then enlighten me, Prescott.” The guard challenged, overlooking his crude language.

Nathan sneered at him. “How about instead I’ll have my dad fucking fire you.”

Mentally you were rolling your eyes at the ‘my daddy will get you’ card but on the outside you were staring at the ground, not wanting to get in between their very obviously person argument. Some part of you was wondering how this came to be, how the choices in your life led you to be mistaken for not only Nathan’s friend, but his accomplice in whatever the hell he was doing. You wished you could disappear.

“We’re not friends.” You dared to mumble, half of you wanting to be assertive and the other half wanting to stay silent and get this over with already.

“Really?” He asked skeptically, obviously not believing your statement. “Then explain why you’re always together.”

“We aren’t, you ass.” Nathan grumbled.

“Well I didn’t ask you now, did I?”

You swallowed, trying to think of a way out of this. An idea popped into your head and you prayed that it would suffice enough to get not only you but also Nathan out of this situation. He was a jerk and you hoped to never see him again but you could also tell this guard made him just as uneasy as you.

“We’re partners for a project. We can’t go to one another’s houses so instead we’ve been trading information back and forth between classes.”

The guard narrowed his eyes, biting at the inside of his cheek. “How come you don’t go to each others houses. Ain’t that whats projects are for?”

“Like I said,” you began, looking at Nathan then turning your gaze back to the guard. “We aren’t friends.”

The guard took a few moments to bounce the thought in his head. For a moment you were terrified he would catch you in your lie since you didn’t have classes together and he obviously knew where you were at most times, but it seemed being new to the school was a benefit. He hadn’t yet figured out all your classes.

“This true?” He asked, turning his attention to an oddly silent Nathan.

Nathan offered a glance before nodding. “Sure is.”

For a few moments the guard didn’t say anything or leave, looking at the two of you back and forth. Finally he huffed in what sounded like some sort of defeat, straightening his back. “Very well then. You two are free to go for now. I’ve got my eye on you.”

The thought of being watched by the school’s head of security was something you did not want to be always thinking about but you took the leave, quietly thanking him and turning on your heel to get the hell out of there. You heard feet following behind you, then a hand grasping at your shoulder.

You stopped, turned, and groaned to see Nathan. “Look just leave me alone, man. I didn’t want to get involved I swear.”

“That was a good lie,” He said to your surprise. “Sucks to know he’s gonna figure out you’re full of shit, though.”

You scoffed and shook your head. “You too, asshole. Leave me alone.”

“No, no, no,” He raced to get in front of you, stopping you from trying to walk away from him. “Madison doesn’t fucking stop, and when he figures out you lied to him,” he faked an exaggerated laugh. “You’re in for some shit now.”

“What, are you warning me?” You asked, glaring at him and trying to pass. He stepped in front of you again.

“I’m just telling you the next time you think I need your help at least think of a lie that’s got some fucking substance.”

You stared at him. “Are you serious? You think I did that because you needed my help? I did it because that guy scares me and I wanted to get away. I couldn’t care less if you did or didn’t get in trouble.”

Nathan shoved his hands into his pockets, that same silently dangerous expression coming back. He took a few steps towards you, staring you down while you took a few hesitant steps back. Just like back in the diner you felt tiny both on mind and stature compared to him, even if he was built like a twig. For a moment you were scared he was going to hit you but the movement never came.

“Don’t expect the favor to be returned.” He said sharply. “And watch your back.”

He turned his back on you before you could even think of a reply.

Like before a few days passed, each day feeling longer than the last. The length of your classes were awful and in between them when you should have been conversing with friends you were instead watching over your shoulder, heart dropping when you’d occasionally see Madison watching the crowds of teens from the corner of the hallways. The upside, however, was that you were seeing less of Nathan. According to your friend he had been skipping classes of late, getting into some real ‘deep’ trouble. You didn’t tell your friends about your run in’s with Nathan since you knew their stance on him. He was a rich kid asshole, he was a villain, an irredeemable dickhead. The rumors were true, he was all those things. But at the same time he was also… More. You couldn’t place it. He’d been nothing but bad to you but all those time he’d looked into your eyes, mustering up the darkest expression you’d ever seen, you’d also seen something among the hate.


You didn’t let that change your opinion of him, however. You’d be happy to not have to see him ever again. Just… some stupid part of you wished you could get to know him a bit more, maybe even get on his good side if he had one. But those thoughts were quickly brushed away when you remembered how so far every single run in you’d had with him was nothing but bad.

Sitting on the rocks, that picnic table he had sat at only a few yards away, you sighed. Scribbles, song lyrics, and random phrases littered the pages of the notebook you held, partially hard to see thanks to the setting sun. From the school yard you could hear a few students talking, a few others shouting and laughing. Friday was always a day all the students enjoyed and stomached willingly staying after class to discuss weekend plans. You, however, just wanted to get some peace and quiet. Sure you loved your friends and most of your classmates but you needed some alone time to think about academics and ‘other’ things. Most of the thoughts you had were settled down to pen and paper, the other half just buried. Good times.

“Isn’t that the new girl?”

Though you hadn’t been listening in on the conversations before this particular line, spoken from a male, caught your attention. Another male, who you assumed was his friend, laughed in amusement.

“I think it is.”

Muscles tensing you prayed they wouldn’t talk to you but you could hear them getting closer, small snickers and audible shoves getting louder. Eventually two hefty shadows came to rise behind you.

“What’cha drawing?” One sang, and in response you leaned forward a bit and quickly tried to fold your notebook shut. Before you could, however, a hand snatched it away from you. Immediately you shifted to turn around atop your rock, standing up and staring up at the person in front of you. Him and his friend were football players, wearing their varsity jackets and ugly grins. “Come on,” he sang, grabbing one end of the cover so the rest fell open. You reached for it and he lifted his hands, his height not allowing you take it back. “Ah, ah, ah, share with the class!”

“Give it back.” You demanded, frowning. You never considered yourself entirely weak but fighting two large football players was definitely out of the question. Strength alone was not going to get you your stuff back.

“Why?” His friend laughed, taking a turn in flipping through the pages. “You hiding some pervy drawings in there?” His friend laughed and made a ‘scandalized’ expression.

Face heating, you crossed your arms.

“You totally are!” He said at your reaction. You leapt forward and tried to catch him off guard but failed.

“No, I’m not!” You yelled as you regained your footing. “I just don’t appreciate giant dicks looking through my stuff!”

The first male, a blond, made a cat’s meow. “Giant dicks, huh?”

You crossed your arms again, not answering.

“I’m sure you’d love some giant dick,” his friend taunted. He shook your notebook and stared at it, then you. “How about we make a deal?”

The blond, at his friend’s words, whistled and laughed. You, however, were not nearly as happy as he was. Both in shame and also anger you were blushing furiously, hands shaking. You suddenly wished you hadn’t told your friends you needed some alone time. The males suggestion made your stomach churn.

“What if I say no?” You managed out through your tensed jaw. He tossed some ideas around in his mind, head moving from shoulder to shoulder. He suddenly grinned widely then pulled a lighter out from his pocket. You gasped and almost jumped at the thought of him burning it. He saw the fear in your eyes and snickered.

“So,” he hummed. “What’s it gonna be?”

“How about you leave her the fuck alone?” A voice suddenly piped. All three of you were shocked by the interruption and the pair of boys turned, you looking past them. Your throat went dry at the sight.

“Nathan?” The blond gasped, thrilled at the sight of him standing with his hands shoved into his pockets.

“My man!” The blonds friend shouted, turning his back to the Prescott and then taking a few steps back in order to loosely hang an arm around his shoulder. “You got here just in time! The fun was just about to start!”

However Nathan did not seem to be nearly as amused and gleeful as the two players were. He shoved the boy off of him with what almost seemed like disgust, leaving the other staring at him in confusion. He slowly made his way around the player, seeming to separate you from them.

“Back off,” He growled, turning so his back faced you. “And I said leave her alone.”

The two boys traded glances and the blond forced a laugh.

“Seriously?” He asked with a rose brow. “You’re defending some no name?”

“Did I fucking stutter?” Nathan retaliated, and you could tell he had his eyes narrowed in that same threatening way.

Once again the pair glanced at each other before the one holding your notebook seemed to give in, obviously knowing something you didn’t about Nathan. He tossed your notebook on the ground roughly and then put his hands up as they both backed away, turned, and left while mumbling things under their breath.

With your notebook at his feet, Nathan kicked it in front of you. “Grow a backbone.” He grumbled while you bent down to pick it up and brush the dirt from the covers. You huddled it to you chest.

“They’re both almost a foot taller than me! ‘Grow a backbone’, they’d kill me!”

“They’re all talk. Everyone here is, you should keep your fucking eyes open.”

You frowned and stared down at the ground, the tip of your foot kicking at some of the blades of grass. “Why did you step in?”

Somehow through your hushed tone he still heard you and leaned his head onto one shoulder. “Consider it your only thanks for ‘sargent madison’. He hasn’t bothered either one of us yet so it seems like you’re awfully thought out lie worked.”

You licked at your lips and looked up at him, and sure enough he looked just as angry as always. However you did take note that for once this time the anger wasn’t directed at you. Still, you decided to poke the bear.

“I thought you said to not expect the favor to be returned.”

He squinted at you and then scoffed. “How do you know I just don’t like bullying jocks?”

“Because if you were bullying them you wouldn’t have done it in my defense.”

“Don’t say shit like you know what I’m doing.”

“Alright then, what were you doing?”

His hands tightened in his pockets and you felt that same wave of danger again. “You are such a bitch, you know that?” He hissed. “I fucking save your pathetic ass from a couple of nobodies and instead of thanking me you analyse me.  Newsflash, ___, I don’t need you to be trying to fucking figure me out.”

You stared at him for a few moments, his words seeming to fly right over your head. The things he was saying were making no sense, and it suddenly struck you that perhaps he was venting in some way.

“I wasn’t analyzing you.” You stated, taking a moment to sit back down on the rocks.

“Why not?” He huffed. “Everyone else is!”

“Because I’m not your therapist.”

His pointed expression seemed to soften for just a moment and he looked away from you, sighing. “Good. I don’t need your help.”

Again, you had no idea what he was talking about, but it was very apparent something more was going on with him. You decided to not take him so personally.

“Then you won’t get it.” You flipped through your notebook to make sure everything was still intact. “You’re clearly capable of taking care of yourself.” You weren’t looking at him but you could tell he had his eyes on you again. In your thinking, however, something seemed to strike you. You looked up at him. “How did you know my name?”

At first he didn’t answer, instead just glaring down at you. Then he shrugged. “Madison.”

“No,” You shook your head. “Madison only called me ‘missy’. He never said my name.”

He grunted. “I’m not sure what the fuck you’re on but we sort of go to school together.”

“Yeah and we don’t share a single class. We’ve never even talked before aside from you threatening me in the diner.” For a moment it seemed like he forgot about that instance, and then when he remembered he ran a hand through his hair. “So tell me, how did you figure out my name. You don’t seem like the type to go around asking people.”

“None of your business, that’s how.” He grumbled.

“Hate to say it but angry stalkers sort of are my business.” You stood from the rock and slowly stalked towards him. At mocking his statement from the diner he eyed you with an odd expression, one you hadn’t ever seen before. For once he seemed like he was on the other end of the stick, shoulders tense in defense but no words leaving his lips. Even though he was taller than you he still seemed smaller than you’d ever seen him, like you’d caught him red handed. The question was what you caught him for in the first place.

“I told you before, I have eyes everywhere.” He finally answered, but it was weak.

“Nice cop out.” You said, then sighed, a twinkle of amusement in your eye. “You were asking around about me, weren’t you?”

He rolled his eyes and grunted again, taking a step back and shaking his head. “You are so full of it.”

“You are too.”

Nathan remained silent and you did too, the both of locked in a strange feeling moment.

He was the first to break it, however, turning his head away and wiping at his mouth impulsively. “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.”

“You told me that already.”

“And I fucking meant it. Shit’s serious, got it?”

“What,” you started incredulously. “And you’re worried I’ll get hurt?”

“Jesus christ, ___,” He huffed. “Is this some sick game to you?” He turned his back to you and then rolled his shoulders. You shifted your weight and looked back down at your now safe notebook. He’d been the one to stand up for you thankfully, and even though it sort of creeped you out to think he’d been watching you as of late, you still couldn’t help but feel just a tad special. Nathan Prescott had gone out of his way to save you from the big bad bullies.

“Whatever’s going on,” You dared to start, now feeling a bit bashful. “thank for you helping me.”

He turned back towards you and sighed, his edges once again starting to soften. He truly was a firecracker of a person, someone who could cycle between emotions like they were on and off switches.

“Yeah,” He huffed. “Whatever. Just don’t go telling stories to all your little hipster friends.”

“Sure thing. Last thing you’d want is for news to spread that Nathan Prescott’s going soft.”

“I am not going soft.” He growled suddenly, and just like before he was mad again. You felt like you were going to get whiplash.

“Alright then, I believe you.” You bit at your lip. “But I’m serious, y’know? Thanks for getting them off my back.”

“They aren’t off your back.” He retorted. You tilted your head and he sighed. “If anything you’re more of a target now than ever.”

Your heart felt like it was going to drop. “Damn it.”

“Could you at least fucking try to not piss your pants?” He teased, and it felt odd for him to say something like that in a non malicious way.

“Well what am I supposed to do? I can’t fight people, and it’s not like you’re going to be there to ‘save me’ again.”

Nathan narrowed his eyes and shifted his weight. “You’ll be fine.” He said. You looked up at him at his tone, which was for once, almost genuine. He still sounded annoyed, like your fear of being constantly harassed made no sense, but overall he seemed like he was actually talking to you like a person. “Just don’t be a smartass all the time.”

“I’m guessing you a get a free pass then?”

“Only to everything.” Despite the obvious brag he didn’t seem to proud of his status, and you wondered if you ever would get the story behind that. You wondered if you would ever even be his friend.

You took a moment to gaze around, seeing all the students still talking in the distance. The jocks were nowhere to be seen but your eyes did catch on something even worse.

“Madison,” You warned suddenly. Nathan knit his brows and you swallowed, eyes frantic. “Madison’s coming.”

He looked over his shoulder and groaned, rubbing his face. “Damn it.” He looked at you then turned, taking a few steps to the right. Madison was gaining momentum now, obviously having saw the interaction and not happy as all. Now it definitely looked like you two were involved in something.

“I’ll tell him I was being harassed when you came to talk and you helped, and then you left. Nothing suspicious.” You said, nudged your head to the side to wordlessly suggest he take off.

He licked his lips and then nodded. “Thanks, just don’t-”

“Expect the favor to be returned. Got it.”

He offered you a nod of thanks before jumping off his feet and hurrying to the side of the school. Madison’s head watched him go but he didn’t follow, going right for you.

You were nervous and trying to think of the right words to say, and it occurred to you that now you weren’t just protecting yourself. You were protecting Nathan too, and for some reason you had no problem with it. Despite not ‘expecting the favor’ to be returned, you know it would in some way. You just hoped it would be in the form of nicer treatment.

Nathan disappeared behind the building and you felt at ease that he was out of the line of fire. Madison was feet away, and even though you knew you’d probably get yelled at, you felt better knowing Nathan had made his getaway.

Chapter Text

For a time, you and Nathan did not interact again. He stopped seeing you everywhere he went, and in turn you stopped fearing him cornering you in a restaurant again. Sometimes you’d see the back of his head in the hallway, and other times you’d manage a quick glimpse at his face. It was always so pensive, so strained. You’ll get wrinkles, you joked silently. You didn’t speak to him again but for the first time you didn’t hate him. Sure, you hated the fact that you lied to an actual security guard in order to cover his ass, but you realized you didn’t hate him.

At first you were relieved to not have to converse with him anymore. He was a ticking time bomb and everyone knew it, and you’d experienced firsthand how unpredictable he could be. You even managed to wrangle up your own friend group, a few girls and boys who you finally started to come out of your shell with. Getting accustomed to Blackwell wasn’t easy, and Nathan had made it so much harder, but as the weeks grew on you began to fit in.

It seemed like you were having everything you wanted, that being a friend group, a-little-better-than-average grades, and best of all you were on the good side of Nathan Prescott (even if you didn’t speak anymore). Not many students could say that and even if you kept it mostly to yourself, you still couldn’t help but feel just a little superior.

Yes, it really seemed like you were where you were supposed to be. Finally, after bouncing from school to school to school, you were comfortable.

And then you felt it. The longing, empty feeling in your chest.

When it first arrived you thought maybe you were homesick, missing your parents and hometown, but after visiting them during a long weekend you realized that wasn’t the case. You were happy to see them again, and mostly content when you returned back to Blackwell, but at night you found yourself missing something. For the longest time you had no idea what it was.

Then you locked eyes with him, and all at once, you knew.

It had only been a quick glance and to him it probably meant nothing but for some reason it left you stunned, unable to move from your spot as he rested atop the fountain. He was rummaging through that binder he always carried, that same binder he always slammed shut when people walked by. Initially he hadn’t seen you, too wrapped up in whatever it was he was looking at, but when he looked up briefly he froze when you were in his line of sight. You were late to class and it was obvious he was skipping, leaving you two virtually alone in front of the school building.

Neither of you moved for a moment, staring at each other knowingly. You hated yourself for feeling nauseas as he watched you, but it wasn’t a bad nausea. You didn’t feel sick at the thought of Nathan Prescott staring at you. You didn’t cringe or turn your back on him. Instead you wanted to talk to him, sit down, ask him what he was working on as if he would actually tell you.

The spell that had been casted broke when the front doors swung open from behind the fountain, your friend poking her head out from the crack. “___!” She shouted, and Nathan jolted before looking at her over his shoulder. “Teacher’s pissed, you’re late, again!”

“You’re late too then, aren’t you?” You called back, adjusting your bag on your shoulder and walking past the boy staring at you.

“I was on the way to the bathrooms and I saw you, hurry your ass up!” Without another word she retreated back inside and let the doors slam shut. You sighed to yourself, laughing shortly at her antics, but you went silent when you saw Nathan in the corner of your eye. Though you wanted to stop, to talk to him, you didn’t. Instead you just kept going, and he looked down at his binder as you passed by.

That following day you knew you were entirely screwed. You barely saw him again after that, and it was like everything had reverted back to normal. But this time something was different- you still missed him. He was scary and brash, loud and made you feel so uneasy but you wanted to be around him. You wanted to know about him- the things that made him tick. But most of all, you found, you wanted to help him. That was a funny thought though, given you could barely even take care of yourself sometimes.

Tonight was one of those nights, apparently. What was supposed to be a fun weekend out with your buddies turned sour on your end, and by midnight you had no ‘party’ left in you. Maybe it was all the homework you’d gotten that was due Monday, but it couldn’t be that. You had two more days to get it done. Maybe it was the fact that you never were much of a drinker, but, you also hadn’t drank hardly anything either. Perhaps tonight was just a night that was destined to be spent alone, even if it was a friday. At first you considered maybe sitting down for an hour or two to ease your rolling stomach, but then you felt the coldness of the weather and shivered. Arcadia Bay didn’t exactly have freezing winters but it was chilly enough to have you rubbing at your hands and arms every so often.

It was 1 am when you left, having to walk your way ]back to your dorms since the get together had been at the friends parents house. You were never a fan of walking after dark but at that moment, alone, listening to music, you’d rather have been there than anywhere else. Even if the streets were a little too dark, the alleyways a little too menacing, and the fact that you could hear a police siren a bit away even through the music of your earbuds, you were content.

As you clicked through songs trying to find the right one, the sirens stopped. You sighed in relief, even though you weren’t anxious anyways, because that meant that the police must have caught whatever perpetrator they were searching for.

You chose a random song and hummed along quietly. In hindsight you probably shouldn’t have had your music as loud as it was, your fingers occasionally turning the volume up even more out of habit. Before you knew it, you couldn’t hear a thing over the tunes that were playing. It was this that rendered you unaware of the feet behind you, the sound of someone running coming up fast. When you felt something slam into you from behind, effectively knocking you to the ground, the breath was forced from your lungs at the force. You couldn’t even gasp in shock, not entirely realizing what had happened even after your face made contact with the concrete. While your headphones fell off and clattered nearby, you cringed at the pain in your right side, looking over your shoulder and feeling your blood turn to ice at a figure only a few feet away. It was taller than you but not much larger, and was completely shrouded in darkness thanks to the convenient lack of street lamps.

“Agh, fuck,” The figure groaned, managing to bring itself to its feet. You narrowed your eyes, you knew that voice.

“Nathan?” You whispered, voice uncertain but harsh given the amount of pain you were in. There was silence and then suddenly you were being bathed in light, the source from the phone the figure had picked up.

You?” He breathed viciously, and you huffed.

“Yeah, me,” you brought yourself to your feet and brushed the dirt from your pants. “Thanks a lot for the hello, fucker.”

“There no time to bullshit around,” Nathan said quickly, and before you could react he launched forward and grabbed your arm, literally trying to drag you with him as he left.

“Wait, my phone!” You hollered, ripping away from him and scrambling to gather your phone and headphones before he managed to grab the fabric of your hoodie and then pull you to your feet again.

“I said there’s no fucking time!”

Thankfully you did have enough time, fingers clutching your items to yourself as tightly as you could. Suddenly you were thankful that you left most of your stuff back at your friend’s house because you didn’t feel like carrying it.

“Where are we going?” You tried your best to keep up with him but he just kept pulling you. When he didn’t answer you tried to plant your feet on the ground, bringing you and him to a halting stop. He shot you a look as though you’d just stabbed him. “Where are we going?” You repeated, panting.

Nathan, frantic, turned around in a quick circle as though he were looking for something. He groaned and rubbed his face, briefly tugging at his hair.  It was then you saw his attire- black jeans, his varsity jacket, and a white t shirt underneath. However it was all nearly caked in mud and dirt, and something a little more crimson than everything else. You gasped.

“What did you do?” You took a step away from him, horrified.

He looked at you and then his clothes before putting his hands up. “Don’t fucking freak out, okay? It’s not mine.”

Your eyes bulged at him. “That’s supposed to make me feel better?!”

“Stop fucking yelling!” He, ironically, shouted, then he took in a deep irritated breath. “Just chill the hell out, okay? Stop yelling.”

“Okay, okay,” You pinched the bridge of your nose. “Just tell me what’s going on.”

“No,” He said quickly, that sudden frantic expression taking form again as he looked past you. “Not right now. We gotta go.”

When he made a reach for your arm again you pulled back. “We?”

“Yes, fucking-” He grabbed you and started to run again. “We!”

Instead of arguing you tried to save your breath, anxiety starting to bubble within you like a cloud of dust. It made you feel weak and lightheaded- or maybe that was just the fact that you hated running. Either way you were starting to get scared, and what made it so much worse was seeing a silent police car suddenly turn down the street Nathan was hauling you on. He came to a dead stop, almost making you clash into the back of him, before pivoting and dragging you in another direction.

This time it was off the road and up a small hill, then into some poor strangers back yard. When Nathan rooted his knees to the dirt, his form covered by the thick hedges that lined the person’s yard, he yanked you down with him. The fear of being caught in a stranger’s yard with a troubled and most likely on the run teen was suddenly very real, and you swallowed thickly trying to wrap your head around how you’d gotten yourself into this mess. All you had wanted was a nice night to yourself.

Beside you Nathan was dead silent, reaching out to poke his hands through the leaves to clear some out. Then he peered through the brush, squinting through the darkness.

“What the fuck is going on?” You quietly whispered, pissed to hell and back. When he didn’t answer your childish nature got the better of you, and you reached out and pinched his leg. He flinched, swatted at your hand, and for a moment it sounded like he actually growled at you.

“Would you just fuck off for a minute?” He hissed, not looking at you. You shook your head in annoyance, in disbelief, and tried to look through the leaves as well. Luckily you didn’t have to clear much to get a perfect view of the police car slowly cruising by, a white light scanning the area back and forth in search of who you guessed was Nathan. As it passed by you held your breath, eyes wide as it drew close enough for you to hear the engine and tires crushing the rocks.  When it continued it’s way down the road and eventually turned, you felt like a weight had been pulled clean off your shoulders. You fell back onto your ass not-so gracefully, running a hand through your hair.

“What did you do?” your voice was much softer now, tired from all the suspense and running. He looked down at you.

“I didn’t do shit.”

“Yeah, because that,” you gestured to his clothes. “Is so convincing.”

“Just mind your own business.” Nathan grumbled, and for a moment you swore you sw red.

“Mind my fucking business?” You were seeting at this point. “You dragged me into this! I just hid from a cop car! This is my fucking business! Why are you covered in shit and blood?”

“Keep asking questions and I swear to god I’ll shoot you.”

You gaped at him. He was fucking joking, right?

The hostile look on his face, even through the darkness, told you otherwise. You brought yourself to your feet and wiped at your face, feeling dirty from just looking at him.

“This was fun Prescott,” you started, putting your headphones around your neck. “But I’m fucking leaving.”

“You can’t yet.” He suddenly said. You narrowed your eyes at him, and he huffed. “They’re still out there.”

“Yeah, and they’re looking for you, not me.”

“You owe me.” He stated blankly.

“For Madison?” you asked incredulously. “That was for the jocks and you know it.”

“Not just your stupid note-book fiasco,” He said, standing up, and you took a step back. Oh god, here came the yelling. “Do you even know how much shit I’ve done for you? How many assholes I kept off your back after that?” You blinked at him, unsure of what he meant. At your obliviousness he forced a sharp laugh. “Of course you don’t. See, when I rescued your sorry ass from those dickheads, I told you that it would make you a target, yeah?” You nodded slowly. “Yeah. Why do you think that none of the shit ever came? I’ve been working my ass off keeping people off your back. You’re fucking welcome.”

“I-I don’t-” You looked everywhere but at him, searching for words to say. “Why? Why would you do that?”

“Don’t ask me shit I don’t know the answer to.” He looked left and right over the bushes, making sure the coast was clear before passing you by. “This is how you thank me. You keep your mouth shut about what you saw tonight.”

Though you hated the feeling of being chewed out by none of than Nathan Prescott, the problem child of the year, you still nodded and remained silent. When he took little care in shoving past you, you turned to follow him out of the stranger’s yard and back onto the street.

“Why are you even out so late?” He asked as though he had any right to talk.

You shrugged. “I was just walking back to my dorms.”

“At 1 am?” He scoffed, shoving his hand into his pockets and glancing over his shoulder for any sign of the cop. “You don’t seem like a night kind of person.”

“I was feeling sick so I went home.” You knew you didn’t owe him any sort of explanation but at that moment you were tired and honestly, all you wanted was to go to your room. Your casual walk back to the dormitories, so calming and enjoyable, was ruined. You were also painfully reminded why you kept your distance was Nathan. It seemed maybe after not talking to him for so long you forget the edges he carried with him at all times, forgot how troubled followed him wherever he went.

“Sick?” He mumbled, looking back at you. “You look just fine to me.”

You rolled your eyes and looked down at your phone, turning it on to check the time. 1:30. “I just want to get back, okay?”

He rose his eyebrows and turned his back on you. “Yeah, fine, what the fuck ever. Lucky for you I’m on my way back to my dorm too so feel fucking free to thank me for the walk home.”

“I didn’t ask you to walk me back, you know.” You huffed, looking down at the ground. “Feel ‘fucking free’ to hurry your ass up and leave me alone.”

Nathan didn’t answer, or maybe he didn’t hear. Either way you weren’t repeating yourself, occasionally checking your phone as if it would make your now silent walk home any less awkward as it already was. Among the silence there was also anxiety- what if the car returned? Where would you hide if you had enough time? On top of that, what if you got caught? Your parents would have your throat for getting into legal trouble, even if you hadn’t exactly done anything illegal in the first place.

While you two trekked block after block, you made sure to keep mental notes of all the areas you could duck into should a police car arrive. These spots mostly consisted of thick trees, bushes, and occasionally decks if they jutted out far enough. As you picked out spot after spot, you only realized you were close to the dorms when Nathan suddenly hissed ‘shit’ and then swiftly ducked behind the Blackwell Academy’s welcome sign by the road.

“What is it?” You asked quickly, peeking over the top. From what you could tell the parking lots looked normal on either side, but he seemed distraught.

“Fuck,” He repeated a few times. “Jackasses- they’re staking out the boy’s dormitories.”

You snapped to look down at him, eyes wide. “What, did you kill someone?”

“No, I didn’t kill someone!” He said defensively. You peeked over the edge again, swallowing. “Look, do me one more favor.” He added quietly.

“Like what?” You didn’t look down at him, still peering over the edge for anyone that could be walking around.

“Give me your clothes.”

You stared at him, bewildered. “Ex-fucking-scuse me?”

He roughly gripped at his hair, groaning. “Not right now! In your dorm, give me clothes!”

“I’m not letting you in my dorm!”

“I said do me this one last fucking favor!”


It wasn’t wise to argue with Nathan and you knew it, but your temper sometimes really did get the best out of you. You were utterly shocked that he’d demand to have your clothes, and on top of that trespass into your dorm even after nearly getting you arrested.

“If I go in my own they’ll arrest me,” he argued. “So let me into yours. It won’t fucking take all night, I just- I just need a minute.”

You shifted your weight and then stared at your feet, frowning, giving into him even though your conscious screamed at you to do otherwise. If you helped him you’d be potentially aiding a criminal, but if you didn’t he would hate you and then that big target would return. As much as you hated it, you needed the shelter.

“Fine.” You grumbled. “But you better not get me fucking caught or so help me.”

“Fine, fine,” He got up and looked over the edge. “Let’s just hurry up.”

Since the police cars were likely looking for a male fitting Nathan’s description (if they had even seen him directly), there were none parked nearby the girls dormitory. Given it was late at night all the students were inside sleeping, so all their cars parked gave you and Nathan great cover as you darted from vehicle to vehicle, occasionally looking through windows just to make sure there was no one undercover watching. It was an easy trip and in no time at all you were both bounding the steps leading up to the door. You used your key to open the doors and when you both stepped inside there was physical relief, the walls providing shelter from both the outside and from the all the possible watching eyes. But, your ‘mission’ wasn’t complete yet. You put a finger to your lips, looking back at Nathan before starting to walk through the hallways. Stopping at your door, you were suddenly embarrassed at the stupid messages your friends left you on your whiteboard. Nathan saw them and of course had to make some sort of scene, raising his brows and pointing at the remarks. Though you wanted to lock him out, you opened your door and led him inside.

Your room was never the cleanest but it wasn’t dirty either. The only thing you were had an issue with was decorating- you didn’t have much decor whatsoever. All your room consisted of was basic necessities: a night stand, a bed, a dresser, and your homework desk, and even that was rather bland.

“Wow,” He breathed, standing in the center of the room while you pulled open your drawers and grabbed at your baggier clothes. Most of it was pajamas but he’d have to make do if he really wanted to have something clean to wear. You looked over at him, and he laughed under his breath. “Your room fucking sucks.”

Your fingers squeezed at the knobs of your dresser in frustration, eyes slipping closed as an irritated sigh left your lips. “I’m still moving in.”

“Yeah I can see that. It’s so vacant and- are those cobwebs?”

“Shut up, Nathan.” you shoved a pair of sweatpants and a black t shirt at his chest, which he grabbed and glared at you for the act of aggression.

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

You narrowed your eyes. “Given you’re in my room, about to be wearing my clothes, and you dragged me into some sort of legal shit, I think I can tell you whatever I want.” He rolled his eyes but didn’t speak, so you continued. “Change your clothes and then go so I can get some sleep. Or maybe do homework.”

“Wow you sure know how to party.” he said sarcastically, tossing the clothes you gave him onto the bed. Without warning he grabbed at the hem of his shirt and pulled it off, baring his stomach and chest to you.

“Woah!” you gasped, sharply turning around and staring at the wall. “A heads up would be nice next time!”

“Maybe if you weren’t always fucking staring at me that wouldn’t happen.” Despite his bitterness you could hear a waver in his voice- maybe he was shy after all.

“Are we really going to start this ‘stop watching me’ crap again?” You groaned, slumping your shoulders. From behind you, you could hear the shuffling of fabrics as he presumably dressed into the top you’d give him. It was a shock that you didn’t care less he was probably putting his dirty clothes on your bed.

“You’re always staring at me,” He started, but he wasn’t mad. Your brows knit at the sound of his voice, as mellow as it was. “You never say shit, but you’re always staring at me.”

“I see you here and there, Nathan. It’s not like I look for you on purpose.” Your cheeks were starting to warm as you realized that maybe yeah, you were looking for him on purpose. There was no way you’d say that to him, though. He’d probably get mad about it for some reason you couldn’t quite place. Your face flushed even hotter when you heard what sounded like his belt being undone, and even though you weren’t looking and this definitely wasn’t a romantic situation, it was still jarring to know he was undressed behind you. Grow up, ___, you mentally screamed at yourself. 

“Even before everything you were always there. You were so fucking creepy, you know that? The new kid who never said shit. You were always watching everyone.”

“I didn’t have any friends, sue me.”

“You didn’t even try.”

You’re one to talk?” Without thinking you turned sharply, glaring at him in anger. How dare he talk to you like he was Mr. Popular. Everyone hated him! The rumors, the names, all the things you’d heard about him, and he was grilling you for not making any friends? For being ‘creepy’ because you were distant at a new school? Through your anger you barely registered the fact that he was still pants less, staring at you like he didn’t understand it either. There was a tense moment of silence, and you felt your mouth dry. You turned back around. “Sorry. You just-” you shoulders tensed. “You piss me off so much.”

There was more rustling behind you and finally you heard his sigh. “Stop looking at the wall, I’m done.”

Hesitantly you turned, looking at him through the corners of your eyes just incase for some reason he wasn’t dressed still. When you saw he was, in fact, covered, you let your shoulders relax again. It was odd seeing him in casual clothing given he mostly wore rather expensive materials, and you inwardly smiled. He looked cute with your clothes on and his hair all messed up. For once he didn’t look all posh and fake, he looked human. A very dirty human who still had dirt all over his face, so you grabbed the baby-wipes you kept on your nightstand and handed them to him.

“Baby wipes?” He asked, wiping his cheekbones and beneath his eyes. “What am I, five?”

“You might as well be sometimes.” you crossed your arms and leaned against the wall, watching him wipe the dirt from his face and then his hands. When he finished it was quite the sight to see him bunch them up and then just toss them on your floor, and you clicked your tongue in annoyance.

“Be quiet.” He muttered, and then started tugging at the clothes he was wearing, looking down at them with a disgruntled expression. .

You, having grown far too tired to deal with much more of his shit, rolled your eyes at his constant display of anger. “Why do you do that?”  He looked at you like he had no idea what you were talking about, and it annoyed you that much more. “I can’t say anything to you without you getting all pissy and mad. If I bother you that much than why are you here?”

“Um,” He grabbed the collar of the shirt he was wearing. “I told you I needed fucking clothes.”

“Then why didn’t you call someone else! You’ve got delinquent friends, I’m sure.”

“Because I ran into you, you were there.” Nathan scowled at you and made his way past the bed, staring to take small steps towards you he grew increasingly upset. You wished you could’ve held your tongue but you still kept going.

“I could’ve gotten arrested,” you hissed. “It would have been all your fault.”

“Hey, I got out of the mess, didn’t I?”

“Barely! And I didn’t ask you to!”

Nathan was upon you in a moment, hand slamming flat against the wall beside your head. You hated how he was capable of dwarfing you, leaving you feeling defenseless against him even if he had virtually no muscle on his frame. It was his eyes, his shoulders, his aura that made you bite your tongue. The tension in the air was so thick you could’ve choked on it, and the silence wasn’t helping. He was just staring you, eyes narrowed and lips in a tight line. You really fucked up this time.

“You have no idea the shit I’ve done for you.” He growled, hand balling into a fist beside your head. Your anger only festered as he spoke, and you could feel your body start to shake at the intense moment. He leaned in close to you, eyes on fire. “You should be grateful, ___. It fucks up my reputation.”

“You don’t care about your reputation,” You breathed, your voice calm despite the wave of fury boiling beneath your skin. “And if in some way you do, then why do you keep helping me?”

His eyes bore into your own, unmoving, unchanging. He didn’t answer your question even if it was entirely direct, and you found yourself nearly breathless as he grew closer to you. So much flowed through you, first the anger that lit you up, the sudden fear of being caught in a corner, and now you just stood there, looking back up at him and shaking. You were so pissed off him at him but you couldn’t say anything else, the thickness in their almost tangible.

Nathan was so fearsome, but for some reason he didn’t scare you. Indimitiated you, yes, but you never felt like he would hurt you. Sure, the thought of being hit crossed your mind, but somehow you just knew he wouldn’t. Even now, backed up against the wall with his arms caging you in front of him, you didn’t cower beneath him. You couldn’t meet the intensity of his eyes as there was just too much within them, but you hoped you could muster up something to at least be on the same level.

When you spoke again, you were hesitant and soft.

“Why are you helping me?”

It barely rose above a whisper in the quiet room. He blinked, licked at his lips, and for a moment you swore he leaned in to kiss you. You almost met him halfway. But then he pushed himself back, settled his hand on his forehead.

“Nevermind.” He whispered hotly. “Just fucking– forget I said anything.”

You found yourself almost chasing him, taking a step forward and fighting the urge to rest your hands on his chest. “Tell me,” You murmured, trying to coax him into an explanation. “Why do you care so much?”

“Why do you care so much?” He retorted, letting his hands fall to his waists in vexation. He knew what you were going to say, so continued spoke before you could answer. “I should leave.”

Not quite timid, not quite furious, either. He was in a strange state of mind and you wanted to know more about it. But, he wasn’t willing, suddenly appearing like he’d rather be anywhere but your room despite being the one who demanded he come over. Still shaking from your previous position, you shrugged and sighed. There wasn’t a point in arguing with him anymore. The best way to get something out of Nathan was to have him acting like a loose cannon, talking with no filter or worry of consequence. He was learning, you realized, and that’s how he forced himself away from you. He stopped himself before he revealed too much information. You desperately wished to know what he would have done, but you gave in anyways.

“Fine, yeah. I’ll walk you out.”

Nathan looked at you and there was something there, you could see it and you could feel it. Disappointment, but then acceptance. He shifted his weight and subconsciously tried to shove his hands into his pockets, but given he had none, opted to just shrugging his head down.

He pushed past you, unlocking your door before walking out as if he had a right to be there. You didn’t turn, not yet, staring ahead in your room feeling almost dazed. He was so spontaneous, and you had no idea what he was thinking at any given moment, but when you had your back to the wall, his physique almost shrinking yours, you thought maybe you knew. When you closed your eyes in disappointment, you felt shame course through you. You had wanted to kiss him. You wanted to kiss him, and kiss him, and kiss him, and then ask him why he was such an asshole at times. God, you wanted to ask him everything.

“Are you coming or not?” Nathan whispered behind you. “I can one-hundred percent walk my ass out of here if you’d rather stand around.”

You opened your eyes and tried to push yourself out of your own head, turning on your heel, grabbing your phone, and slipping outside your door. Just like when you had first come in, the halls were dark without even a single light showing beneath the cracks of the rooms surrounding you two.

“What if the cars aren’t gone yet?” You whispered, looking out for any security guards before darting down the corridor. You saw him shrug in front of you, eyes forward at the front doors.

“They probably aren’t,” Nathan moved forward and you followed suit, oddly impressed at how easy it was for him to choose the right moment for sneaking around. “I’ll just stay at V’s or something. Wouldn’t be the first time I was out all night anyways.”

You frowned. 

Stay at my room.

“Why are you out at night?” You asked, and he didn’t answer. “Seriously, you get into all this trouble- why?”

“None of your damn business, that’s why.”

“You’ve been saying that a lot tonight.”

He glared at you over his shoulder, a silent order to shut up. Though you wanted to argue and force things out of him you didn’t, shaking your head in defeat and sighing. As he made his way to the front doors he cupped the window with his hands, peering out and giving a breath of relief when there was nothing but empty cars in the parking lot.

“Alright,” He started, unlocking the door and carefully pushing it open. “You better keep your fucking mouth shut about this, got it? I find out you snitched and I’ll-”

“Shoot me, I know.” You crossed your arms. “And I already know what you’re going to say next: don’t expect the favor to be returned.”

He gave one last scan of the parking lot before turning to you, snatching your phone out of your hands. He was typing before you even had a chance to grab it back, gaping at him like he had two heads. “Actually,” He mumbled. “You should. You only get one, though. One. Don’t fucking waste it on some stupid shit.” He practically threw your phone back at you and luckily you caught it.

As Nathan stuck one foot out of the door, the breeze cutting through the opening and chilling you to the bone, he glanced at you over his shoulder. His expression was different than it had been moments ago, you noticed. There was no anger this time, no irritation. Thank you, it said. It felt like you were freeing an previously injured animal.

There was silence, and then he was gone.

Chapter Text

Amidst the partially one sided conversation he was involved in, Nathan’s mind was roaring per usual. Victoria tried to help him in the best ways she knew how; trying to distract him with jokes and gossip, but today it seemed that wouldn’t be enough. She watched his pensive expression while she still continued to talk about some underclassmen he really couldn’t care about and hoped it would elicit some sort of response but unfortunately nothing came. She wasn’t entirely surprised, however, and just sighed in defeat knowing he wouldn’t notice.

She also wasn’t surprised when Nathan stood up from the benches they were relaxing on and shoved his hands into his pockets, ducking his head down to his shoulders like he was trying to shield himself away from all the students around them involved in their own events. Victoria raised her hand to block out the sun as he told her he was just going to head back to him dorm, he wasn’t feeling well.

Knowing she couldn’t, and shouldn’t argue against him she just nodded and let her hands fall back onto her lap. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.” she said as he turned. “I’ll text you later on.”

As he walked past the dispersed students Nathan couldn’t help but feel like every single pair of eyes were on him. Eyes are attracted to movement, he reminded himself as he subconsciously sped up. They aren’t staring at you. But he knew they always were. Eyes were always on him, rather it be students, that dickhead Madison, or the ass backwards Principle Wells. Of course Nathan had leverage as to not get bothered but he still hated the feeling entirely, and most times, it pissed him off, had him lashing out at everyone who so much as waved to him. Of course he’d regret it later on and wonder if he should apologize but an ‘im sorry’ most likely would never see the light of day. It just wasn’t in his character. Wasn’t his style.

Just before he entered the building to his dorms he saw something in the corner of his eyes. Like everyone else, he was attracted to the movement, and his head turned. All at once everything seemed to come to some sort of stop, even the howling thoughts in the back of his head.

You were leaning against the brick walls, phone in hand, occasionally glancing up from it to take a look around as though you were waiting for someone.

Frozen with his hand still reached out towards the handle Nathan didn’t move, undoubtedly staring at you and for some reason just taking in your appearance. ___ hair, ___ eyes, your outfit simple but fitting you so well. He didn’t know what it was that was so capturing but he couldn’t look away until you turned, eyes meeting his, and his stomach dropped. For a moment he didn’t do anything, he felt like a deer in the headlights, and it only strengthened when you offered him a hesitant wave. The oblivious, innocent gesture meant one thing. You had no idea who he was.

Instead of acting like a normal person and waving back he blinked himself free of his trance and threw the door open, completely ignoring your greeting and hauling into the building. The moment he was inside he felt oddly shielded, for some reason at ease knowing you couldn’t see him anymore. The ease wasn’t out of fear, however.

Nathan didn’t know what it was. Something about you ate at him the entire way to his dorm and well into the evening, and even as he clicked off his lamp at 4 am you were still on his mind. He wanted to know you. He wanted to know your name, your favorite color, everything about you. Why he did was the biggest question he had, however, and it too eroded away the walls he’d placed all around himself. He rolled over on his bed, holding a pillow tight to his chest, and frowned. Why were you so special to him? You were just as average as everyone else in Blackwill, but at the same time you were so much more.

He felt like if you asked he would cave into you and spill every single secret he had, and this feeling fucking scared him. It struck him that you, having not done anything at all save for exist, made him fear.

Even days after he’d saw you that first time you were still on his mind. Though he wanted to avoid you like the plague he also seemed to subconsciously search for you face in a crowd of people, wondering where you were and what you were doing. 

Nathan had hoped if he avoided you and made sure to keep any and all contact minimal that you would cease bothering him but if anything it made it worse. The less he saw of you the more he wondered, the more he questioned. What were your friends like? Would you ever consider Nathan to be friend? Had you yet learned about his reputation, and if so would that bother you?

Scenarios littered his mind and played out like story books. Some good, where he’d befriend you and learn, and others bad, where you would tell him to leave you alone and stop obsessing over you. These were the thoughts that bothered him the most but then again they were entirely farfetched- you had no way of knowing you were constantly on his mind with how he made sure you two did not cross paths. He still didn’t even know your name, but then again maybe that was best.

Still, despite his efforts to keep away he sometimes would see you from the corners of his eyes, just like he had the first time. You were almost always alone- either on your phone, reading, or sometimes just leaning back with your earbuds in. He wondered what type of music you liked, and then remembered you weren’t supposed to capturing him anymore. It made him feel a sense of weakness, or maybe even shame, to know that even without meaning to he found himself wanting to talk to you about anything and everything. Sometimes he could barely even bring himself to chat with his best friend, so what was it about you that made him want to be right there, talking about mundane things that no one should even care about. Things that he shouldn’t care about.

When he saw you afterclass one day he had to fight himself down from taking a photo of you. His camera shook in his hands while he watched you sit against a thick tree, eyes downcast and mind probably enveloped in whatever book you were reading. The sun was starting to set thanks to shortening days (Blackwell never got much of a winter) and so your figure was outlined with gold while the leaves above head shadowed you perfectly, the small specks of light peeking through and dancing atop your skin. You’d make such an excellent model, Nathan thought to himself. You had no much potential.

In successfully biting back his want to take pictures of you he was quick to abandon the scene before he could second guess himself, and thankfully before you could look up from your story and see him standing there like a statue, staring right at you. How embarrassing that would have been on his part.

Along with wanting to know everything there was about you, Nathan also at times envied you. You always looked content, so at peace and down to earth. You’d pet over the grass you sat upon, lean your head back and take in deep breaths of air. From what he’d seen you were on good terms with almost everyone. Classmates smiled and waved to you as they passed and you’d do so right back, and each time he got to witness your harmless smile he’d feel his shoulders ease up just a moment. You had such an effect on him without even trying, and part of him wished he could be like you, just spending your days relaxing and watching. Never bothered, never hateful, always taking in everything around you, a stark contrast to Nathan himself who lived like a wildfire. Almost everything he did was spontaneous, loud, and angry, never regal. He never felt safe whereas you could sleep under a willow tree without a care in the world. 

Nathan scoffed to himself as a beaten and bruised phrased swept through his mind. Opposites attract.

The next time he saw you he wasn’t able to stop himself taking a photo. It was a weekend and he was out on his own for the evening, spending a large portion of his day in the more wooded parts of Blackwell when he saw you again. Like a good omen you were as soft as ever, crossing over a log that connected a shallow stream. Just like those few days ago the sunset outlined the play of your figure and with all the scenery the shot was too good to be true.  Before he could wonder what you were doing out in the woods alone he pulled out his camera, fingering at the button he’d grown so familiar with, and with just one click he realized you were going to be with him wherever he went now. Of course he couldn’t use this for any type of contest but then again he didn’t want to. This photo was for his eyes, and his eyes only. Exploiting you was the last thing he wanted, and it was an odd feeling to know that he wanted to keep you safe and out of danger. That’s why, he decided, he would never befriend you.

For a time in knowing keeping himself at a distance would keep you out of any harms way, he was at ease. He’d still see you from time to time and those moments would light him up for the rest of that day, and dreams of holding you would still eat away at his decision, but ultimately you being alive and happy would overcome any urges of confrontation. Sometime’s he’d bully himself for growing so soft over a stranger.

Sitting at his school desk in silence, waiting for a reply on his phone while the teacher lectured the class, once again Nathan’s mind wandered to you. He wondered what you were doing again, if you were bored, if you had made any friends yet or if you just prefered to be alone. He would understand if you did- most of the kids here were assholes. They’d take advantage of you, they’d use you just like the lot would use him when given the chance. He wanted to protect you from that, to show that you can do better than anyone else. He wanted to show you that he could be the person who gives you solace, and he wanted to show you that if there was someone worthy of your affection in the school it was him. But then he’d remember who he was, and that was all it took to make him stop.

When the bell rang and students routinely packed up their papers and binders, Nathan instead opted to sitting for a few more moments. He was tired, it had been a long day, and he knew the teacher wouldn’t say shit. His phone vibrated, Victoria’s name lighting up, and he decided to finally leave the room. He packed his things half assedly, not caring if the papers squashed or bent, and wordlessly left the room. Most of the hall had cleared out by now except for a few teens hanging around their locker, so without looking both directions he slipped from the doorway and ended up slamming directly into another student passing along all the lockers. Given his size, just like the other person he hit the floor and fell back on his ass, but sooner than them he was back on his feet and fuming.

“Watch where you’re fucking going!” He shouted, roughly shoving his bag back onto his shoulder. The person he’d collided with scrambled to pack up all their papers and notebooks that went sliding over the tile flooring, all the while apologizing over and over again.

“I’m so sorry,” they repeated, and for a moment Nathan’s eyes narrowed at the familiar tone. He swallowed when he really gave the person a good look over, their ___ hair leaving his eyes widening. When they looked up at him, face red with embarrassment and eyes watering with both fear and shame, he felt his stomach roll in his gut.

It was you.

You looked at him, silent now, and for a moment you two just stared at one another. All the things he wanted to say to you bubbled to his throat but he swallowed them back down when you took in his features before looking back down, mumbling apologies and how you weren’t looking where you were going.  In an instant you were back on your feet, clutching your things to your chest, and racing past him without daring to look up. He wanted to chase after you, even turning as you left and watching you disappear with regret in his heart. All the scenarios he’d made in his head, all the wonderful conversations you could have had for the first time, crumbled. Instead of it being happy and peaceful, your first meeting was something you were going to likely never want to think about again. He would be a bad memory in the back of your head.

A teen who’d been at his locker, who’d seen the whole thing, watched her go. His head turned to follow her as she passed him, a crude laugh leaving his throat, and for a moment Nathan wanted to rip it out.

“Be quiet.” He growled, and the student did in an instant. He went silent and turned back to his locker as though he hadn’t seen a thing.

Nathan, however, wanted to scream. He wanted to find you and apologize over and over, say that he wasn’t thinking and he never meant to yell at you of all people, but how would that sound? Up until this moment you’d never met him, so you’d be confused as to why you were different than any other kid on campus. How could he explain that you’re constantly on his mind? He’d terrify you more than he already had. He wondered if he could make it up to you, show you that he means no harm, but if there was something Nathan didn’t have it was the ability to make someone feel safe, not to mention showing his love. If love was even the right word for it.

Instead of borderline hunting you down, making you feel like an animal caught in a corner, he bit so hard at the inside of his cheek the skin sliced. He walked away from the scene with blood in his mouth and his hands clenched so tight his knuckles whitened.


That was your name.

He’d heard it in a whisper in the back of the class, one that he hardly ever paid attention in. Two of his classmates talked back and forth about countless subjects that Nathan couldn’t care less about but the minute he heard a name he knew it was you.

“Have you met ___ yet?”

His fingers, moving rapid fire over the keyboard on his phone, came to a dead halt.

“Nah, have you?”

Nathan leaned back on his chair and stared down at his lap.

“Yeah. Kind of weird, but overall cool.”

Oh, how Nathan wanted to whip around in his chair. He wanted to demand the kid tell him everything there was to know about ___. Did they share classes, have they hung out, what type of people were you attracted towards. Everything. But, instead, he just continued to sit there, unmoving even well after the subject had been changed. His phone turned off due to inactivity but he didn’t notice, entirely lost in thought about you and the things he desperately wanted to know. He wanted to open you like a book, read all the fine print, take note of the contradictions and all the pieces of you that fell into place. He didn’t understand why of all the people in his life it was you that drove him up a wall, but it was.

At the end of class it had begun to rain, the droplets tapping at the window endlessly. Like before Nathan didn’t leave until the classroom was virtually empty and instead just leaned back in his chair for a few longer moments. Even with the dark clouds rolling in overhead and the rain as heavy as lead, all he could think about was how you’d look under the open sky, soaked to the bone and smiling. In his mind you were smiling, anyways. He could picture it in his head- you with a heavy raincoat, mindlessly wandering around as though it were a bright and sunny Saturday morning. He wanted to take photos of you with rain dripping down your face, and no matter how greyed out his pictures were the color in your eyes would always stay.

His fingers itched to grab his camera and find you, and he almost did. He leaped up from his chair and threw his bag over his shoulder, his sudden movements making the teacher jump at her desk. He was gone in a few seconds flat and just before he walked out of the classroom’s door he looked both directions, hoping to see you. He’d grab your hand and apologize in a heartbeat. But, you were nowhere to be seen. He made his way through the hallways of the school, moving slower than usual in hopes of maybe catching a glimpse of you in some other area. He tucked his camera into his bag when he reached the front door, knowing you had already gone to your dorm for the day.

Normally Nathan couldn’t care less about the world around him, much less the rain. He’d step right out into the storm and not worry one bit about his school bag getting drenched, but this time he did. His camera was in there, and though he knew he could just get another, it struck him he had the only copy of a very important photo in there, and he couldn’t lose it just from the rain. Seeing his car in the parking lot, he bit at the same spot in his cheek he’d split earlier, and in a strong dash sprinted to his truck, where he threw the doors open and then shoved himself inside. The minute he was shielded from the pelting rain he ripped open his backpack, pulling his camera and turning it on. When the logo flashed and the item powered up Nathan felt like he could breathe again. It was safe, and therefore the photo of you was too. You were still with him.

He didn’t drive anywhere in particular, mind both full and empty at the same time. He’d visit Victoria, maybe smoke a little if he was feeling it. She’d ask him why he was acting off as of late and Nathan wouldn’t tell her because he knows how she is- if he told her about you she would be on your ass in an instant. He’d just say it because of his dad again and she would buy it in an instant. She knew how his dad was.

Before he made his way to his friend’s house Nathan took a quick pit stop at one of the local stores nearby, hopping out of his car and leaving his things inside. He shoved open the doors and quickly made a B-line straight for the alcohol section. A few adults side eyed him but didn’t speak up, instead just going about their business. His mind was hazy and lagging behind but he managed to grab a bottle that he somewhat recognized and made his way to the register but something stopped him.

You were there.

He stopped dead in his tracks and even though he couldn’t see your face he knew it was you. Your hair, the clothes. He realized that somehow despite being a stranger still he could tell your style of out-wear. You were at the candy aisle, staring down at the many different selections. He wanted to ask you what your favorite kind was and buy you 20 of them, but opted to instead just standing there. When you suddenly turned around without grabbing anything he was so caught off guard that he didn’t have time to dodge your line of sight and dip back behind the racks of food, and when your eyes met that same expression of fear took over.

“Oh shit,” you mumbled as though you were in trouble. “Sorry.”

He had no idea what you were apologizing for but he shrugged anyways, taking his advance and stepping into the aisle. You were thrown off and took a step back, eyeing him with uncertainty. In turn Nathan didn’t come closer.

“You like candy?” He asked, rubbing the back of his neck. He’d die if his classmates ever saw him being this bashful, this strained and awkward. It left a weird feeling in his stomach to not be blowing up at someone but he didn’t want to scare you again.

You just shifted your weight and nodded a few times. “Yeah.” You looked at him then the bottle he was carrying, eyes narrowing for a moment.

He nodded too and stared at the floor, about to say something else before you moved to grab a random candy bar without looking at it. Before he suggest that he’d buy it for you in hopes of mending some sort of ties you pushed it up on the counter and shoved a five at the cashier. “Keep the change.” you said quickly, leaving without looking back.

Nathan lurked for a few more minutes so that he could mentally beat himself up before handing the cashier a ten, tauntingly shaking the bottle in his hands and leaving knowing the seller wouldn’t say shit about him and his underage drinking. Part of him wanted to see you outside so he could try to talk to you again but you were nowhere to be seen. With the rain still falling he hoped you lived close by.

His mind was as tired as it was when he’d first walked in but that didn’t stop him from cracking open his drink and taking a long chug. When he tossed the cap of his drink into the garbage can his heart sank. Your candy bar sitting unopened at the top of the pile of trash. 

One gulp after another, Nathan climbed back into his car and didn’t bother to check both ways while he pulled out.

Over the course of a week it seemed like you had fallen off the face of the earth. Your name didn’t float through the halls, you didn’t bump into kids walking out of their classes, and you didn’t rest in obscure places looking like an angel. The lengths you were going to avoid talking or even seeing Nathan was beyond him, and it hurt. It actually hurt him, something he didn’t think was possible. For a time it pissed him off, made him want to hate you because he didn’t know what to do with the emotions pooling his gut, but then he realized it wasn’t possible. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t hate you, not when he could see you in the back of his head still. Not when he pinned that photo of you on his wall in plain sight. You were too pretty to hate, he thought.

Subconsciously he scouted you out, eyes scanning over the waves of students in hopes of seeing you. Sometimes when someone had the same color hair he’d catch sight of them, heart lifting, only to drop back down when they’d turn to look back at him. Suddenly everyone who wasn’t you were so ugly.

It hurt him to understand that among all the different thoughts in his head, one was persistent. He missed you. He missed seeing your face, missed imaging all the expressions you were capable of making. He wanted to capture every last emotion, every last pull of your lips and brows. He wanted it all, but you didn’t want him. You were terrified of him, and it was all his fault. The fruit of all his labor was crushed by just a few words: watch where you’re fucking going. Oh, how they haunted him. How he wished he could take them back. He would break his entire persona if it mean forgiveness- no matter how much pride he had. That scared him, too, how he was willing to throw away his pride for someone he’d barely talked to. Nathan knew, deep down, that it was wrong of him but he couldn’t stop. You clung to his mind like oil on fur.

You were destroying him to the point where even though you deliberately hid from him, he sometimes swore he could see you. Sometimes it would be underneath the shadows built from leaves, sometimes it would be leaning against walls. Sometimes he thought he saw you in the passenger seat of a car he’d never seen before, and sometimes he thought he saw you in buildings through glossy, foggy windows. He saw you everywhere like a thirsty man saw a river, or a starving man saw a deer.

When he saw you again, driving in the rain and debating pulling the steering wheel for the hell of it, you didn’t disappear before him. You weren’t a ghost, a figure composed of shadows and want. He hit the brakes faster than his mind could register it.

You were sitting atop a block of cinder beneath a tree, it’s branches extending out, covering you from the rain. Despite having little to no cover than what the scattered leaves offered you didn’t seem bothered one bit, even looking up and closing your eyes as water dripped down the sides of your face and onto your shoulder. The peace in your expression, in your body language, made Nathan lean back in his seat and actually take a breath. You were so relaxed even in high winds and heavy rains, almost comfortable.

This was his chance.

He rolled down his window and swallowed, his throat dry when he tried to shout. “Hey!”

He would make up for the shit he did to you.

That serenity was broken, and you opened your eyes and looked at him through the rain. He hated the expression that the happiness was replaced with- fear. You were uncertain of Nathan, and rightfully so. You sat up straight and picked your bag up, nervously fidgeting with the keychains you had on your zippers.

“Do you need a ride or something?” Nathan asked, leaning forward to get a better look at you through the open window. You looked left, then right, before hesitantly standing. The look on your face was less than pleased, and if anything you were likely scared of getting into the vehicle with him. At this point you must have heard the rumors- about what Nathan had been doing with girls as of late. Still, you reached out, grabbed the door handle and cast him a wary look before opening it and jumping inside.

When the door shut you looked at him through the corners of your eyes, and he leaned forward with his arms on the steering wheel.

“Um, thanks.” you said hesitantly, tucking your school bag down by your feet. “Sorry I’m getting everything all wet.”

“It’s fine.” He replied, leaning back against seat and looking out his own window, trying to stay as casual as possible. The silence that took over was deafening but at the same time his heart was beating a mile a minute in his ears. You were right next to him, acknowledging him, and for once being seen felt all too good, even if he could see how unnerved you were. Your fingers played with the hem of your shirt, body tense with unease. You were afraid of him.

Nathan licked at his lips and looked in the rear view mirror before settling his foot back on the gas peddle, rolling the window back up.

“So,” He said, “Where are you going?”

“Just to my dorm. I was uh… I was gonna outwait the storm.” 

Nodding, he pressed at the gas and made a U-turn. As if scared of the car instead of the person driving you held the small handle on your side of the door, still not looking up at him.

“Do you not have any friends to pick you up?” He asked, wishing his voice wasn’t so naturally harsh in comparison to yours.

You shook your head. “I haven’t gotten around to making very many friends.”

“Everyone likes you, though.” As soon as he spoke Nathan his eyes widened, forgetting that you didn’t know he’d been watching you. You didn’t seem to notice, or if you did you didn’t say anything, still looking down at your lap.

You did, however, breathe a small laugh that made his face heat up. The feeling made him frown at himself. “I’m on good terms with a lot of people but as for friends…” you sighed. “I left them all back at home.”

“You’d make friends easy here. They’re all easy to please.”

“What about you?”

Nathan narrowed his eyes on confusion and tried to fight off his oncoming menacing tone. “Meaning?”

“Are you easy to please?”

Nathan opened his mouth to answer but found he didn’t know what to say. He wanted to tell you no, that he wasn’t like the rest of the idiots, but then again all it took was one look at you for him to fall practically head over heels. Not only that, but just sitting in the car with you, talking, would be enough to keep him content for weeks. When he found he had no idea what to answer with, he just changed the subject entirely with a small shake of his head.

“Why’d you chose Blackwell?” He asked. The rain was hard to see through as he drove but Nathan, for once in his life, had no problem with taking it slow. It gave him more time to ask you the questions he’d been dying to know for weeks.

You noted this topic hop but didn’t question it, looking out the window. “Not sure. My friend knew someone going here and I checked it out- the school’s not bad and I’ve been wanting to get away from home anyways.” Finally starting to warm up you leaned back in your seat, shoulders rolling before you relaxed. “Do you like it here?”

Nathan scoffed. “Yeah, I’m all about phony hipsters and wanna-be artists.”

Instead of being off-put by his attitude, you laughed, and once again he felt heat in his cheeks. It made his heart flutter to know you had laughed because of him. His words. It felt like some sort of progress.

“Why do you stay, then?” You asked suddenly, and he took in a breath of thought. Of course the answer was obvious, but if by now you didn’t know who the Prescotts were the last thing he wanted to do was make you painfully aware of how they seemed to own the entire town. Usually his last name was a weapon, but at that moment Nathan wished he was someone else.

“My dad.”

“Does he work here?”

Nathan felt his grip tighten around the steering wheel at the thought of his father. “Yeah.” He mumbled through gritted teeth.

Taking note of his anger, you grew uneasy in your seat again. That same hesitant expression made him want to run.

“Everything alright?”

He didn’t answer, not wanting to think about his father anymore. This was his second chance, the last thing he wanted was to scare you off with his explosive anger again. you just nodded shallowly before looking down to examine your hands, eyes unfocused but unsure where to settle. 

You’re ruining it, He thought to himself. You’re scaring her again.

Nathan swallowed, shook his head, forced himself out of the mindset no matter how much it eroded him. Instead he tried to take the conversation elsewhere.

“You like the rain, don’t you?” Painfully aware at how stupid the question was, Nathan bit at the inside of his cheek. It throbbed but he didn’t let up. Thankfully it seemed like you were fairly easy to talk to, taking the bait and shrugging.

“From afar.” You stared out your window almost longingly. “It’s pretty when you’re inside, but I don’t really like to get wet.”

“You looked pretty happy.”

You rose a brow at him. “You were watching me?”

“What? No!” Nathan huffed, cheeks heating. “I’m not some creepy stalker, okay?” The irony in his statement almost made his chest hurt.

You, however, giggled. “I know. I’m just giving you a hard time.”

He exhaled sharply, trying to calm his nerves. This conversation felt like a rollercoaster, and your twists and turns were all new to him. However talking to you, person to person rather than him intimidating you, was nice. It felt casual… Calm. He began to understand how you were on good terms with everybody, and once again he felt just a little tinge of jealously. He wished he could be as warm as you were. He wished he could be half the person you were.

“Thanks for the ride.” You suddenly said, and Nathan realized that he hadn’t been paying attention to the road but his instincts were strong enough to lead him to the parking lot. You leaned forward and grabbed your bag, lifting it onto your lap as he turned into the lot and parked in front of the doors so you could avoid as much rain as possible. When you looked back at him, smiling, he wanted to reach out and stop from pulling open the door. He wanted you to stay, he hadn’t learned enough about you yet. This was his shot to finally get his answers and he wasted a majority of it pissed off.

When you jumped out of the car he really felt like he’d missed his chance, but then you turned around as if getting wet all over again didn’t mean a thing to you. You smiled at him.

“Thanks,” You shouted over the roar of the rain. “We should do this again sometime.” Nathan felt his heart flip in his chest, hands gripping harshly at the steering wheel. He stared at you, not knowing what to say, but thankfully you continued on before he could. “I’m ___, by the way.”

I know that, Nathan thought to himself, but he didn’t dare let you know he already knew who you were. “I’m Na-”

“Nathan, I know. You know, you’re not as scary as I thought you were.” You said with a sheepish grin. His heart rolled again, and for a moment he feared that you knew about him and his family, but then he recalled that you had no idea who his father was. He also feared maybe you heard the rumors about him, or possibly got his name during the times he’d scared you, but the look on your face told him otherwise. You seemed interested in him, bag over your shoulder and rain dripping down your face. You didn’t fear him like a stray fears a stranger.

“Well,” you breathed. “Thanks again, see you later!”

Then you were gone, shutting the door and bounding for the dormitories, hauling inside to escape the downpour. For a moment Nathan just sat there unmoving in his seat, a wide array of emotions running through him. He was so happy at the thought of seeing you again, but at the same time fear of involving you in darker matters weighed him down. He was stuck between getting what he wanted and actually caring about your well-being, which was something Nathan was very unfamiliar with.

When he finally pressed back at the pedal and drove off to burn his gas going nowhere in particular, he thought about your face seconds before you’d left him to run inside. Your hair was flat and dripping, clothes heavy and soaked. Your bag was in no better shape and for a moment he wondered if you’d ruined your things. He would buy you ten times what had been ruined.

One thing, however, stuck out to him the most.

With the rain beading and racing down your face, dripping down your chin and a smile on your lips, you were as breathtaking as he had imagined you’d be. However this time he didn’t feel the need to capture it in a photo, your words of wanting to see him again ringing in his ears.

For the first time in weeks Nathan felt something in his chest, an absence of a feeling he’d lived with his whole life. With you still fresh in his mind, the hurt stopped.

Chapter Text

Nathan’s phone shattered the second it hit the ground, and you watched in silence. He was fuming now, shoulders squared, jaw tensed, hands balled tight into fists. Though you weren’t yet sure what had happened you could guess what it was: his father. Normally you’d refuse to be around someone who’s entire personality could shift in just seconds but with Nathan it was different. He had no grip on his anger and you knew this, but he did too, because when you took a step back he saw the uncertainty in your expression and instead of punching a wall like he so obviously wanted to he roughly sat down on the futon across from his bed. He gripped at his hair and seethed, body nearly quaking in anger.

“Nathan,” You called, voice soft and hesitant. It felt like just a second ago you were both laughing. “Was it your da-”

“Yeah.” He interrupted you. He covered his face with his hands and you could hear him trying to manage his breathing. That’s good, learn to control yourself. You moved to sit on the bed across from him, leaning forward and trying to see any expression you could make out beneath his thin fingers.

“What happened?” You asked. He just shook his head, and you knew he’d rather not talk about it. At this point, though you didn’t even need to know. His father probably bitched at him for getting into trouble, had his sister work as some sort of pacifier to try and get him back inline, and it had backfired.

My entire fucking family hates me, he’d once screamed at you. Kristine thinks dads just some big bully, she doesn’t fucking get it! No one does!

But, you did. Of course you didn’t know every last dark ‘Prescott’ secret, but you’d known enough. You knew his sister was just trying her best to help Nathan, make him feel less traumatized than he was, but in turn it never worked. She talked to him like she was talking to a child who’d gotten into an argument with a friend, but Nathan wasn’t a child, and Sean most certain was not a friend.

Sometimes it made you upset how he was treated. Nathan was troubled, and he needed help, but he wasn’t… Evil. He had his moments, yes, where you’d wonder if there were sides to him that you’d never known but he’d always come back to you, apologize. He was such an angry soul but along with all the hate there was good, he just needed the right person to bring it out. There were so many people that would use Nathan for bad just because he was easy, because he was always looking for some sort of validation, and it was a scary thought to realize that.

“No one understands.” Nathan said into his hands. “Everyone hates me.”

Your brows knit in worry, and before you could stop yourself you were up and bounding for the futon. It would have been easy for him to shove you away, yell at you to get out, but he grew quiet as you sat down beside him. When you ran your hands from his shoulders, down to the small of his back, he leaned to the side against you. It was a great improvement when you compared it to the times he’d refused any help from you. He said it was because he didn’t need anyone’s help, especially not from you, but you knew it was all a ruse. He hated being seen as weak, so you learned to not take his fury-induced words personally.

“I don’t hate you,” You murmured. “I could never hate you.”

“You could,” He argued, though it was a losing war. He was already giving up. “You will.”

“I won’t.” Softly you made circles at the small of his back, watching him carefully. From the minute Nathan had picked up the phone you knew this was coming. It was jarring to see him stand up and whip his phone at the floor, and it was even scarier to see the screen break apart at the blunt force, but you stayed, and you waited for this moment. In his bouts of anger there was always this moment.

It was small and quick, barely there if you blinked twice, but you’d learned to harbor the few seconds when he’d lean against you. Sometimes he would just sit there in silence, and sometimes… Sometimes he would cry. And then you would cry, and you would tell him one day this would all be over, and it would just be the two of you with the big open world. He’d nod, wipe his eyes in frustration, and say he knew, but in some ways you knew these things were just… words.

You wanted nothing more than to ditch Arcadia Bay, and ever since you’d brought it up with him it was a constant thought, but deep in your heart you knew you would likely be tied to Arcadia Bay forever. Plus, even after everything, Nathan still seeked the approval of his father. He could yell, curse, break things and swear up and down that he hated his father’s guts, wanted nothing but to break away from the Prescott name, but in the end you knew he wanted to do right by his father. It saddened you to think about how he was chained like that, stuck between hating his father and needing to live up to his expectations. It fucked him up beyond belief.

So, for now, the only thing shoved into a suitcase was the thoughts and plans of leaving the city. You’d leave a note attached to the zipper that read, “For the future”, and you’d shove it into the back of your mind.

Your eyes found their way to the floor, catching on his broken phone. The first time you saw him destroy his cellphone you were worried you wouldn’t be able to call or message him anymore, and then it turned out the next day he’d gotten a brand new one. After that you lost count of how many he went through.

“Can we go?” Nathan suddenly spoke, and you looked at the digital clock by the wall. The dorms would be locking up soon but you nodded anyways.

“Yeah,” You said. “Where do you wanna’ go?” Nathan shrugged, and you leaned your head back in thought. “Beach?”

Even though it was cold out, summer still being months away, he agreed.

When you stood up he followed, rolling his shoulders and taking in a much needed deep breath. He inspected the broken phone on the floor and you were scared for a second he would get mad all over again, but instead of restarting his cycle he just shook his head in irritation and grabbed his varsity jacket from the top of his bed. You in turn leaned down, grabbed your shoes and slipped them on before throwing on a light jacket.

Outside was much colder than you’d initially thought it would have been. Your breath was visible every time you breathed out, and even though there was no snow on the ground there was some soft frost lining over the grass. As much as you hated goosebumps and shivering, you were grateful that this was the worst winters could be in Arcadia Bay. You’d rather have this than 3 feet of snow and icy roads.

You tried to maintain yourself in front of Nathan, fingers subconsciously gripping your forearms as you fought the urge to shake. Nathan would give you his jacket rather you’d want it or not if he found out you were cold, and even though you did like wearing it you’d rather he kept it for himself today.

The thought made you smile, though. Big bad Nathan Prescott would totally give you his only jacket in order to make sure that you were feeling okay. People would go nuts if they’d learned that little tidbit, but then again maybe they wouldn’t. They’d ignore anything that could potentially make Nathan seem like he was human.

Ugh, he’s only doing that because ‘he’s got possessive issues,” someone would say. “Yeah, he’s a total freak.” Another would add. You frowned bitterly at knowing how some people treated him.

“What is it?” Nathan suddenly asked, pulling you out of your thoughts. His hands were shoved into his pockets and he was looking down at you, probably wondering why you were looking so crossed for no apparent reason.

You shook your head. “Nothing, I’m just thinking.”

“Whatever you say.”

As he turned his gaze back down the ground, you looked up at him. He obviously wasn’t nearly as upset as he had previously been, but there was still something swimming beneath his skin. You could see it in the way he didn’t shiver in the cold like he normally did. He hated colder temperatures, and whenever it was even slightly chillier out he’d shake even with the aid of his jacket. This time, however, he didn’t, which led you believe his mind was still racing with whatever his father had said to him earlier. How could he think about how cold he was when he was remembering his father’s shitty words?

Worried, you wondered if you should try to hold his hand, remind him that you’re there for him. When you two were alone he wasn’t against it, but maybe right now wasn’t the best time. He scared you, but not in a frightening way. You weren’t scared of what he could do to you, no, you were scared of what he could do to himself. Should he blow up at you, cross some sort of line you’d made in the imaginary sand, he’d always mellow out at some point and try to make it up to you. However when it came to himself he owed no apologies. He liked to pretend nothing could cut him, that words were only sticks and stones that would bounce clean off, but you knew better. You knew better than anyone else that words could fuck him up just as easily as a fist could, but those marks were much harder to see than bruises.

He was so reckless with himself, doing all these drugs, getting into trouble. He didn’t care whatsoever what happened to him and it worried you so bad. At one point you’d accidentally started an argument about it with him- and even though you hated fights it turned out pushing your relationship further than it was before.

You can’t do this to yourself, you’d cried at him, and when he asked why you said, It’s not fair to me.

You told him it scared you. You told him with tears in your eyes, a shaky voice, and tight fists that you loved him so much and you couldn’t handle the thought of one day learning you were found dead in some ditch. 

It was in that moment that Nathan learned someone loved him, and he had no idea how to handle it.

At first he was pissed. He stormed away and for the first time you almost gave into your anger and put a hole in your wall.

But then, hours later and without a word, he came back. He pressed you to your mattress and told you he was sorry, and you believed every word.

He’d gotten just a little bitter after that entire ordeal. Finally he started answering you when you called, and along with that he stopped turning his back on you when you tried to help him. It was a hard journey to where you were now but you earned it, and you were going to keep it.

Arriving at the beach and finding a spot in front of the coast, you two sat beside each other but kept some sort of distance. You didn’t force yourself closer, knowing that at first he needed space before gradually making his way closer to you. Even though you wanted nothing more than to grab him, hold him close, you taught yourself to wait. Being patient with him was rewarding.

Thanks to the shorter days the moon was well out by the time he started scooting closer to you. The stars were beautiful, as was the ocean, and feeling his fingers tentatively tug at your arms made it all the better. He found a spot right behind you, holding your back to his chest as his arms wrapped around your waist. He would only cuddle you in the dark but that was okay, you’d accept it. However, outside in the cold, you forgot to stop yourself from shivering when a gust of wind cut through you. Without a word Nathan pulled back for a moment and you sighed knowingly, already about to argue with him to keep his jacket on, but he took it off too quickly and shoved it over the top of your shoulders like a makeshift blanket.

“And they say romance is dead.” You mumbled to yourself in defeat, slumping your shoulders but tugging it closer to you nonetheless. Finally you stopped shivering.

“Be quiet,” He breathed, finding his way back against you. “Are you warm enough?”

A smile found it’s way to your lips. If you ever happened to tell anyone that Nathan, the dangerous, asshole-rich-kid gave you the jacket off his back, affectionately asking if you were warm enough, they’d laugh at you. Even you yourself would have been shaking your head in disbelief at the scene, but now you’d learned enough about him to know that even though he was an asshole he still had some good in him. It all came back around to people not knowing who he truly was, but you stopped yourself from thinking about it all before you got angry again. Right now you were safe with Nathan, and so you were more than content.

“Are you feeling better?” you asked softly. Nathan shrugged behind you, and you bit at your cheek, daring to take a leap. “You know.. You shouldn’t care what he thinks.”

Nathan bristled against you and you almost groaned at your own stupidity. Way to ruin a nice moment.

“I don’t.” He managed quietly, but you knew better.

“Nathan I’m serious. If he doesn’t care enough to get to know you then you shouldn’t care enough t-”

“I said I don’t fucking care what he thinks.” He snapped, and you went silent. You heard him give a deep breath before speaking, quieter this time, taking the time to sound calmer. “I don’t care. Not anymore.”

You watched the moon. “What changed your mind?”

His chin rested atop your head, and when no answer came you smiled.

When his anger subsided Nathan was always a tired soul. In the heat of the moment he had enough power to bend the world around him it felt like, and despite knowing him you sometimes feared you would get in the crossfires of his meltdowns. But, it never stopped you. You’d step right into his hurricane, mollify him, ease him into a softer state of mind. It took so much out of him mentally and physically, and often when his fire faded from the edges you could see how burnt out he was. He was a melting candle that hid behind an impressive flame, and in order to stop him from completely falling to pieces you had to douse it.

This, sitting with him at the beach as though it was summer all over again, is how you doused him. The sand was soft beneath your legs, fingers drifting through the particles that fell atop one another. Neither of you cared that sand would be stuck in your clothes for the rest of the evening. Sitting with him, watching the stars and the slowly pulling tide… Sand didn’t matter. 

You looked out to the dark horizon, finding where the water met the sky. Under the moonlight, resting atop buoys, you noticed two ducks perched side by side. You smiled.

“Those birds,.” You started, blinking slowly at the scene in front of you, “They’re us.”

Nathan breathed a laugh and you imagined him rolling his eyes. “Shut up.” He said.

“Wouldn’t it be nice, though?” You ran your fingers through the sand again, sighing. “Not having to worry about anything, just kinda relaxing together.”

For a moment Nathan was quiet, then he spoke again. “Remember what you said, the whole ‘we could run away after Blackwell’ thing?”

His voice was strangely fragile and you swallowed, nodding. “Yeah?”

There was another pause.

“Let’s do it.”

You didn’t turn to look up at him, staring forward at the seemingly endless ocean. In the silence his arms came to wrap tighter around you, squeezing you to him, and you felt your heart pick up. You were so entirely afraid, your stomach was churning, anxiety holding you tight. But, your fingers came up, held gently on his bony arms. Everything seemed to come to a stop, as if the world had ceased turning. The coast didn’t even seem to be moving anymore. The entire world teetered on the edge, waiting for your fateful answer, but Nathan already knew what it was. You said it anyways.


Beneath the moonlight, the ducks flew away.

Chapter Text

At many points in your life, you’ve always underestimated just how loud music can be.

Ringing in your ears, thudding in your chest, you can physically feel every single note of the DJ’s top picks. How he isn’t deaf by the end of the night, you’ll never know.

Your friends have to shout to pull your attention from the ripples in your drink. When you finally do catch their line of sight they’re motioning for you join them, and suddenly, you’re aware of just how long you’ve been standing at the punch table. Turning, you retake in your surroundings.

Mostly just dancing bodies, some figures leaning against walls. There’s a couple making out by the entrance way- real classy. Your friends gather in a circle, all with matching cups of various drinks, all in their nicest outfits. Parties were never your forte but they’d managed to convince you to come out just this one time. You’re still not sure if it was a bad choice or a good one but you’re not dead, or crying, so you’re hoping for the ladder.

“There you are, I thought you got lost for a minute there.” Kaz told you. You’ve known Kaz for a few weeks now, a newer friend, but sweet enough. “I almost called security.”

“Forreal, what happened over there?” Lance asked, another new friend you’d made since you arrived. He elbows your shoulder and raises a brow. “Chatting it up with the locals?”

“Oh please,” you roll your eyes. “The ‘locals’ are our classmates. I wasn’t doing anything, I think I kinda just… Zoned.”

“You gotta be careful with that stuff, ___, never know who could try to pull a fast one.” Lance remarks.

You sigh, nodding. “I watch my drink all the time. That’s like ‘Party 101’”

“But you never see it coming. Just boom- drugged. No one there to save you.” Kaz takes a gulp of her beer and cringes. “Except us, of course. We’d kill for you.”

“Oh, totally. Blood, guts, you name it.” Lance adds.

You laugh and run a hand through your hair. “I’m counting on that, then.” You take a sip of your punch, not in the mood to get drunk that evening.

Your friends start to converse about something mundane when you begin to drift again. It always turns out like this, moments you spend in your own mind, not quite uncomfortable, not quite living in the moment. You aren’t thinking, just existing. Listening to the music or ramblings of voices next to you, seeing shadows bounce on the wall illuminated by the vibrant neon lights. There’s a sea of bodies surrounding you.

A hand touches your wrist, you’re brought back to reality. Kaz watches you with concerned eyes.

“Hey, do you need to go the bathroom?” She asks, and you decide that yeah, maybe you would like a moment of quiet.

“Sure, yeah,” You take in a breath. “I’m gonna head over, you guys have fun without me for a bit, okay?”

“Holler if you need me.” Kaz giggles as she sends you off on your way.

The bathroom isn’t far in this building, but it’s a trek through the dancing figures. As much as you don’t like brushing up against strangers, the thought of solitude, even for a moment, is too much to pass up. So, you swallow your nerves, and begin to weave your way through. It isn’t long until your drowning in that ocean, shrinking yourself in hopes of slipping by, but your drink is soon enough knocked from your grasp and splattered onto the floor. Not a soul seems to notice other than you, too wrapped up in the music to care.

Or so, you thought.

Your arm is taken into a hold, and you find yourself tugged in a different direction. There’s too much commotion to see who’s leading you, but eventually, you find yourself along a wall, out of the waves of dancing.

“Hey, sorry about that,” A rather… Smooth voice says from behind you. You turn, squinting through the lights, and see a tall figure standing before you, dwarfing you. He rubs the back of his head. “But you really didn’t look like you were having all the much fun.”

“Um-” You shake your head. His hair is dark, you notice, his eyes equally so. They entrance you in a strange way. “Yeah. Thank you, for that.”

“You lost your drink I noticed,” He starts. “Want me to get you another one?”

It’s odd for a guy to be speaking to you like this, out of the blue. But then again it wasn’t like you had many instances to compare from. The only guys that really approached you were classmates asking simple questions. That, and Nathan, who was an entirely different story.

It felt… Nice.

“Sure. Sounds great.”

He reaches out and grasps your hand, then starts to tug you along once more. To the punch table, you notice, as he guides you to safety. In this new light, you can see him even better. He’s handsome, with a kind smile and glistening brown eyes, pearly white teeth and olive skin. Aesthetically pleasing, in a way.

“What’s your name?” He asks. You lean against the table.

“___. You?”

“Tate. I’ve seen you around a few times but we don’t have any classes.”

You tilt your head. ”Oh? I’ve never seen you.”

“Heh. Figures. I’m not real big on partying.”

“What are you doing here, then?”

He shrugs. “Just trying to live it up, I guess.”

You nod absently, and despise yourself for thinking this totally normal conversation is actually boring you. Where’s the sharp remarks, the quick snarky comments?

Where’s the Prescott in him?

Tate’s talking about his classes when you come to again, him handing you your drink that you don’t remember him pouring. Still, you take it anyways, and thank him for the trouble.

“Oh, no trouble. Anything for a cutie like you.” He says, and though you’re unsure why, your stomach churns. Your cheeks heat but not out of fluster. It’s a weird feeling, an uncomfortable one. You take a sip of your drink and brush his comment off, not replying.

He doesn’t take the hint, which makes it just get worse.

“Shame we don’t have any classes together,” he sighs, troubled. “I’ve never really gotten around to talking to you.”

“I’m busy a lot.” You answer dully, staring down the contents of your drink, taking another gulp. Your stomach starts to hurt.

“Yeah I can see that. Always rushing around. You gotta take things easy sometimes, ___,” his hand rests on the table, close to yours. “Let yourself live a little.”

You take a moment to answer before flatly saying, “I live plenty.”

“Oh yeah?” He taunts, straightening his back. “Let’s have some fun then. Dance with me.”

“I thought you said parties weren’t your thing.” It feels like the music is going to split your head open. You just down the rest of your cup in hopes of it settling your newfound nausea. 

“They usually aren’t but…” His hand lifts from his it’s place, and gently, he traces his thumb over your knuckle. You think you might be sick. Somethings wrong. He starts to sound far away when he says, “Like I said. Anything for a cutie like you.”

You can’t take it anymore.

“I have to go.” You blurt, and you pull away from him as if his touch burned you.

You didn’t want him like that.

Backing away, you throw your empty cup into a garbage can, taking in a deep breath. The music is so much louder than it had been before. You peer through the crowd, and like an arrow shot straight at you, you catch two eyes watching you from afar.

He sit’s sprawling on a couch, red cup in one hand, the other slung on the arm rest.

“Nathan.” You whisper, and just seeing him there, that felt right.

A hand catches your arm again.

“What was that?” Tate asks, a playful smile on his lips. “Don’t get all loopy on me now, you’ve only had one drink.”

You force yourself away from him again and make your way back to your friends, who all cringe upon seeing your state.

“Woah, what the hell happened to you?” Lance asks, bringing a hand to your forehead. “You look sick as a dog.”

“I think I am,” you grunt. “I’m gonna head home for the night. Sorry, guys.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Kaz says, patting your shoulder. “Just take it easy. Get some rest. I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

“Course,” Your head is reeling. “See you tomorrow.”

You manage your way past them, past the people surrounding the doorway, and finally outside. It feels better in the fresh air, your lungs greedily sucking in anything that may help your swimming state of mind. When you set out for your car, your dizzy. When you reach it, your legs feel like jello. You just prop yourself on the hood of your car and whimper.

Something is so wrong.

“Hey,” That voice says. Tate takes your arm and pulls you against his side. “I don’t think you should be driving like this.”

“What…?” You slur, unable to stop as he pulls you away from your vehicle. It feels like you’re being swallowed by a void, nothing around you coming close enough to process.

A car door opens, you can barely speak. A split second later you think you’re on the ground, the side of your face on the pavement, your hands weakly grasping for purchase. You hear sounds of distress but you don’t know where they’re coming from.

Then, you hear nothing.

When you wake up, it’s like being able to breathe again. You suck in a breath so deep it hurts your chest, your eyes snapping open, fingers digging into the fabric of your shirt. It hurts- you sputter and cough, tears catching in the corner of your eyes, your chest heaving as it tries to regular your breaths.

A light clicks on, flooding you with color, and you shield your eyes with a hissing groan.

“Jesus, can you shut up?” A voice pipes, and you narrow your eyes, looking through your fingers. Nathan stands at a doorway, his hand resting by a light switch, his hair a mess and his eyes exhausted. His nightshirt, red, hangs loosely on his bony shoulders. “You’re gonna wake everyone in the whole damn dorm.”

You can’t respond just yet. It still feels like you’re barely conscious, but you take in your surroundings anyways. Mostly just dark colors, some illuminated photos you can’t make out quite yet. There’s a projector straight ahead from you, dangling above a couch.

“Where the hell am I?”

Nathan scoffs. “I don’t know detective, why don’t you look around and guess?”

Of course it’s easy to put together the clues, and you feel your mouth go dry.

“This… This is your room? Oh god, we didn’t-”

“Fucking- no. God, we did not. In fact I took special care to specifically ensure you did not get any action last night. Or- this morning. What the fuck ever.”

All you can do is frown at him, asking, “What?”.

He stares at you incredulously. “What do you mean, ‘what’? You seriously don’t remember a thing?”

“I remember drinking, and then, um-… Heading home.”

The clock on the nightstand reads 4:36 am, and your eyes widen as he speaks to you. 

“You really don’t remember being carted away like a rag doll?”

You shake your head and press your palms to your temples. Fuck, your head hurts. Nathan just sighs.

“Of course you don’t.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” You glare at him as he leans back against the door. “What happened?”

He shakes his head and eyes the floor. “Just forget about it.”

“If something happened I need to know-”

“Look, I took care of it okay?” His gaze snaps back up to you. “Kicked the shit out of him good and throughout. Don’t get your panties in a twist, just be grateful I stepped in.”

Your lips press into a tight line, your eyes falling to your lap. His blankets pool around your waist and you just now notice how soft his bed is under you. It feels like a level above memory foam, like it was made entirely for a king. You glanced at him, his expression aggravated. Of course this was his bed.

Fit for a king.

That pain is still present in your skull, strumming and pulsating. As you lean your head back against the wall of his room, you sigh. “Nathan Prescott saves the day once again.”

“Like a goddamn hero. It’s getting exhausting at this point.”

“Then stop,” you mumble, frowning at him. Though you know he’s jesting with you, the hiss of his words makes you stir. “I never ask you to.”

He narrows his eyes, in disbelief. “Did the fucking roofies make you fucking stupid or something?”

Your hands ball into fists and grasp that soft fabric. “I never ask you to help me.”

He pushes himself off the door and throws his hands in the air in frustration. “Fine then! Go and get assaulted the next time you make googly eyes at a guy you’ve never met, see if I fucking care!”

Although you don’t want to bring yourself to admit, you’re in the wrong. You know that, you’ve known that since you opened your mouth. But fuck, he just makes it so hard to say it.

Instead, you just cross your arms, and you huff. “I wasn’t making googly eyes at him.”

“Oh, sure,” he rolls his eyes. “The way you were looking at him, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d of dropped to your knees and suc-”

“Hey!” You snapped, throwing the pillow next to you. It collides with his chest and he catches it, grinning deviously. “I wasn’t flirting with him!”

“Whatever the fuck you say, ___.” Nathan tosses the pillow back and sits on the couch across from you, letting his body sprawl over the back. If he wasn’t built like a twig, he’d look almost mighty. However, you don’t have time to appreciate it. You swallow hard as you realize he was likely sleeping there, his jacket thrown on the arm rest, a throw pillow flat down beside him. On top of his soft bed, you feel like an ass.

Not only had he saved you, but he let you rest in the best seat of the house (even if his couch looked like it was worth more than your entire house).

“Shit,” You rub the back of your head, your hair a tangled mess. “I’m sorry I stole your bed.”

Nathan waves it off. “It’s whatever. That’s really the least of your concerns right now.”

“So, what’s the biggest, then?”

He scoffs. “Christ, ___, maybe the fact that you’re in here at all? Forget the fucking bed, Madison would flip his lid clean off if he found out you were anywhere near here, or me in general. Not to mention I wasn’t even sure if your sorry ass was going to wake up in the first place.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? Why wouldn’t I wake up? I could have been dead?”

“Yeah,” He fakes a laugh. “You were so fucking out of it- like- poisoning out of it.”

“Oh, and you just thought, hmm, yeah, I’ll take her back to my place and just hope she wakes up?”

“I panicked, okay?” He leans forward as he grows anxious. “You were all the place, and you were all over me, and god forbid if anyone saw me leaving with you in that state. I just went to the first place that came to mind.”

“Why not just take me back to my own room?”

Nathan grunts and crosses his arms. “Did you hear a word I just fucking said? I needed to keep a fucking eye on you. Not to mention, I was not going to sneak past the pigs just to throw you into your room, and then have to go back into mine.”

“Couldn’t you have just taken me to a hospital? It would have been even worse if I fucking died in here.”

“Keep your voice down, damn it.” He uses both hands to motion you down. “No one knows jack shit about you being here. And, for the record, you didn’t die. You’re up and at-’em right now being a huge pain in my fucking ass, so it’s not like anything matters anyways.”

At the end of his sentence he grows quiet, looking off to the side. He wants to say something, you want to extract it, but you know that your efforts will always be fruitless. Not until he deems himself ready, and you trustworthy. Part of you has a hard time believing you two aren’t even entirely… Friends.

Maybe now would be a good time to start.

You toss the covers from your bare legs, glad to see your skirt still keeping you decent, and climb out of bed. You’re sure your make up is a mess but you don’t care, your mind too caught up in inspecting the many pieces of decoration he’s lined in his moody room. The first thing you investigate in his nightstand, and he watches you go, only intervening when you pluck a phone from where it sits.

In a second, he’s up and bounding.

“Hey, hey-” He barks, grabbing it from your fingers. “Care to tell me when I gave you permission to rummage through my shit?”

You grin, just going back to looking over the many papers. “Might wanna keep your voice down, Prescott. Know one knows I’m here, remember?”

“Shut up. They aren’t gonna know who the hell I’m talking to.” He tosses the phone on the couch, taking a seat at the corner of the bed you once resided in.

“Whatever. When can I go home again?” On the wall, you see a photo of him, young, with an adult. His dad, you guess. He looks like a goober of a kid. 

“Not tonight, so you better get comfortable.” 

“Not tonight?” You turn and lean your hands on the desk, tilting your head. “What am, on lock-down?”

“If someone sees you leaving my room in the middle of the night we’re both fucked.”

“I thought you had immunity.”

“Yeah but you sure as fuck don’t, and I’m not in the mood to get drilled by sergeant ass-for-brains.”

“So I’m a prisoner.” You mumble to yourself. There’s a certificate next to the wall, one that awards Nathan for being the ‘best son ever’. It brings a smile to your face, one that doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Now what are you doing?” He groans.

“What’s it look like? I’m getting comfortable.”

“Stop looking through all my junk, christ you act like you’ve got a warrant for that.”

“Chill out, Nathan, you act like you’re hiding a body in here”

“Maybe I am,” He leans back on his palms, his fingers sinking into the mattress. “You don’t know me.”

On the table there’s a nice stereo, and next to that, what you can only describe as a goldmine. Your eyebrow raises.

“You’re really about to tell me you’re a killer?” You ask, fingers running down the cover of a DVD.

From behind you, you can almost hear the way Nathan smirks. “Maybe.”

“Oh yeah,” Flashing the DVD at him, you grin like an idiot. “Because ‘Whale Tracks’ just screams dangerous.”

That smirk he so expertly wore dropped in a flat second, replaced by a scoff and rolling eyes. “Fuck off.”

“Aw, come on, don’t be so shy~” As you set it back down, you giggle. “I’m sure all the big bad serial killers listen to soft animal tracks. I think I read something about Ted Bundy’s favorite disk being cat purrs.”

“Stop being such a bitch, it helps me calm down,” He pauses and leans forward to shrug his head down to his shoulders. “Sometimes.”

There’s a pang to your heart. In his voice, you could hear the twinge of pain, the slight self deprecation. His words were… Admittance. You glance down at the DVD, and you hate it, but you feel bad. Those tracks help him calm down. Nathan Prescott, king and ruler of Blackwell and Arcadia Bay, unwinds to the melody of homogenizing whales. It should be funny, but it isn’t.

It just feels… Human.

To bandage the silence, you casually announce, “I used to listen to wolves.”

He looks up at you for a brief moment. “Fucking wolves? Like an emo?”

“No, like,” As you toss ideas around in your head, you decide to give into him. “Yeah. Like an emo.”

The breath of laughter you recieve is almost healing. He shakes his head, looks down at his lap, and he smiles.  On the wall, you take notice in the illuminated photos. Up close now, you can see them better, and it has you putting your thoughts back in check. He’s cute, sitting there, lips upturned, but… Then you see the contorted bodies, the ropes and chains. You see black and white photos, as beautiful as they are, just as equally haunting. It reminds you that, although you wish to be closer with him, he’s still a weird fucking guy.

As well as a dangerous one, despite the warmth you feel glancing at him again, seeing his eyes soften.

Still, you tilt your head and gently touch at the photographs, the lone child on a long stretch of beach. “These are beautiful.”

He shifts in the bed, but he doesn’t reply, for reasons you’re unsure of. As you look over the photo of him and his dad again, that pit in your stomach grows heavier. Something tells you he and his dad don’t have the best relationship, and yet… Here this photo is. There that certificate is. It’s another human aspect of him you aren’t used to seeing.

In the quietness, you sit beside him, daring to just barely brush your shoulders together. He’s so silent now that he’s had time to stew in his thoughts, and you have to ask yourself if he’s always like this in the late hours of the night.

You swallow. “Thank you for helping me. I don’t want to think about where I would be if you hadn’t done this.”

“Don’t mention it.” He mutters. “Seriously.”

Crawling to the top of the bed, you get comfy underneath the blankets, nestling to get comfortable. Your back rests against the wall, and you subconsciously draw your legs up and press them to your chest. It’s silent, strangely so. So far, every time you’ve been with him, it’s been nothing but a wildfire. Either anger, fear, anxiety or a certain warmth that makes you want to pull him flush against you. Never just… Silence.

Tonight could have gone horribly wrong. You could have woken up in a strangers car, room, or even worse, you could have not woken up at all. Nathan really did save you, again.

Again and again, it seemed. Always dragging you out from the fire, whether you know you’re in it or not.

You glance at his nightstand, and you remember the DVD, and the depressing photography. Then, your eyes find him again, his back towards you and his head hung lowly.

Perhaps it should be you dragging him from the fire this time.

“Hey, come over here.” You pat the empty space next to you. He just grunts, and doesn’t move a muscle. You sigh. “Who’s being emo now, huh?”

“What the fuck ever.”

“Nathan,” A frown finds it way to your lips, your hand patting the empty space once more. “Just come sit by me, stop being such a prick.”

The groan that emits from him is irritated, but regardless, he does it, scooting beside you. There he crosses his arm, looking ahead, not meeting your gaze. “Happy?”

You’re really not happy, but you nod anyways. “Yeah.”

He looks at you from the corners of his eyes, and mumbles, “Creep.”

I’m the creep?” You laugh, pointing at the many BDSM photographs he’s lined along his room.

“Hey don’t bash on taste!” He says, but he’s lacking that sadness now. Happiness fits him like a glove.

“I mean, I can’t say they aren’t aesthetically pleasing.” Eyeing over the many decorations he’s filled his space with, you can’t lie, they are tasteful. Even the creepier photos and drawings, they’re nicely composed. His movies are organized expertly, his furniture neatly organized and top quality.

It’s only when you find yourself staring at him again, his eyes still forward, his hands resting on his lap, do you realize he’s your favorite thing in the whole room. Edges both hard and soft, a villain waiting to be unmasked. He’s burning himself alive, sometimes quietly, and you want to douse him. You find yourself wanting to rescue him. Your muscles relaxes.

For once, you don’t feel danger.

You want to save him.

Moving slowly, as if it may scare him away, you gently nudge your pinky against his own, and the way he almost yanks it away forces you to understand this situation, the closeness, the quiet, it isn’t normal for him. Still you don’t pull away. You will teach him it’s okay to breathe sometimes, even if it takes a war to get him there.

“Nathan,” You start, and he turns his head towards you. “Are you okay?”

He lets out a breath that you feel like he may have been holding. But, it’s sucked back in through his teeth. He’s not okay, you know that. It doesn’t take a therapist to know that- it’s plain and clear as day. Still, you ask anyways. Let him know you’re an outlet. Maybe he’d want to talk about it.

“Yeah.” He answers dully.

Or, maybe he doesn’t.

You don’t move away from him, and he doesn’t move either. He isn’t ready yet, but you can feel it in your heart that he wants to be. But then again, how can you know for sure. His walls are so concrete, so tall and thick. You’d never once expected them to come crashing down but you wanted to believe that if you put in effort, you may be able to just barely squeeze past them, but… It was impossible to know.

Then he speaks up again.

“Are you?” He asks, not looking at you. He’s never asked about your safety, not outright. You just shrug. 

“Gotta be.”

“Yeah.” His eyes catch the ceiling. “Always.”

The world takes a pause around you. A moment that you’re sure would usually be tense isn’t. You’re calm now, enjoying the moment, sitting and sharing your peace with none other than Nathan Prescott. You wonder if he feels the same, if he’s ever thought about you like you’ve thought about him. If he’s ever caught your eyes across the hallway, or debated skipping class just for the chance to run into you.

His fingers twitch, come just a bit closer, and your heart skips. It’s childish and you know that, to feel your throat dry at the slightest thought of reciprocation, but you can’t help it. You want to take his hand.

He emits warmth like a furnace, and as much as you’d like to stay like this forever, the clock ticking by hours of the night, your head is still reeling from when you’d first woken up.

“Do you have any motrin?” You whisper, afraid that if you speak too loud, the earth might shatter.

He clearly doesn’t feel the same, snorting out a laugh. “Fucking motrin? That’s for pussies.” He climbs out of the bed and away from you, grasps a bottle off his shelf and shakes the contents inside. “I got Norco, the good shit.”

“Why the fuck would I need Norco for a headache?”

He shakes the bottle again.  “Offer going once, twice,” When you just stare at him, he rolls his eyes. “Whatever.” He sets it down and picks another bottle up, and you only now notice just how many he has lying around. It doesn’t surprise you in the least, however. When he pops the cap open and catches a few in his open palm, you tilt your head. “Excedrin,” he tosses you two pills, and you catch them easily. “This shit’ll knock you out, though.”

“Sounds fine by me,” You groan, pinching the bridge of your nose. “Anything that won’t potentially kill me.” You dry swallow the pills, tipping your head and gulping both down in one swallow. He whistles.

“You’re born to be a pill popper.”

“Yeah, like you?” You laugh, and he just laughs. As you lay down, you can feel the nights events coming to catch up with you now that you’re comfortable. Your eyes slip shut as you shimmy down to pull the covers up to your chest. Beside you, the bed dips down. Your once shut eyes crack open, and Nathan lounges beside you, typing away on his phone.

“What are you doing?” Your drawl. “If you want the bed I can go on the couch.”

“Shut up,” He huffs, casting you a quick glance before going back to typing. “I’m keeping an eye on you.”

You can’t fight the way you grin. “Aw, Prescott wants a cuddle buddy?”

He narrows his eyes at you. “Fine, die in your sleep, then.” Just as he gets up, you catch his wrist. It’s the first time you’ve ever really reached out and intentionally grabbed him, but he doesn’t seem to mind. His eyes roll, a face you’ve come to know well. “Better keep your mouth shut then.”

“Yeah, yeah,” A yawn makes it way past your lips as he settles beside you. He’s even more relaxed now, practically laying at your side, eyes looking up at the ceiling.

“Thank you again for all this.” You whisper. “You’re the best.”

He shakes his head and, beautifully, blushes. God it makes you want to reach out and kiss him, but you don’t.

“Just go to sleep.” He grumbles. He’s so warm against you, even though he’s atop the covers you snuggle beneath.

The last thing you hear before you’re taken by a much needed sleep, the pain ringing in your skull fading fast, you hear his gentle, and comfortable sigh.