"Michael?" Calum asks. The red haired boy grunts in response, biting his lip and immersing himself deeper into his video game.
"Do you ever just feel like... like you're invisible?" The game pauses and silence fills the room. Calum feels his face heat up and he tries to act nonchalant, picking at one of his nails as if it's been his entire life purpose. He shouldn't have said anything. This was a mistake, a big one. The cushion sinks next to him and he hears Michael take a breath.
"Why... why would you say that?" Michael doesn't sound condescending but his voice carries an unveiled layer of curiosity and Calum doesn't know what to say.
"I mean..." Calum swallows thickly, the words cut off by his emotions before his turns his head to look into Michael's eyes, slightly more secure in what he had to say.
"Do you ever think that if you were to disappear, no one would notice?" Calum hears himself talking but it feels as if the words are coming from someone else's lips. Michael blinks, once, twice, before he looks, really looks at Calum. He notices the bags under Calum's eyes, they weren't there a couple of weeks ago. He notices how Calum's nail polish has almost entirely chipped off. He notices the trembling of Calum's palms and how he anxiously wipes them on his jeans. Michael looks into Calum's eyes and can see the raw emotion, once locked away, but now pouring out of the amber orbs. He is at a loss for words.
"Yeah..." He doesn't miss the sharp breath Calum takes and decides to continue. "I've thought that. Why?" Calum's pulse quickens, the pounding reverberating in his skull and he finds it hard to breathe. His tongue darts out to moisten his lips. "I just want to dissolve. I feel like no matter how hard I try i'm never noticed. I'm not the attractive one, I #### up all the time... I just feel invisible. I thought I knew who I was but now... I don't think I know anything."
The empty silence in the air after Calum speaks these words festers in his mind. 'You shouldn't have spoken at all, Michael will never understand, you were never worth it in the first place, you'~ Michael places his hand on Calum's cheeks and he is instantly pulled from his thoughts, instead focusing on the soft thumbs rubbing circles on his cheeks.
"How long have you been thinking like this Cal?" Michael asks, and Calum doesn't respond at first, instead studying the hairs that line Michael's chin as he tries to gather the courage to answer.
"A couple months, maybe??" Calum mumbles and looks down, ashamed about what he had said.
"Hey hey hey," Michael murmurs as he slips a finger under Calum's chin and tilts his head up till their eyes lock once more. "There's nothing wrong with that."
Calum's mouth parts but he hesitates, unsure of what to say.
Michael starts talking again. "I don't think you're invisible. Or unattractive. Or a ######. And I sure as hell don't think you go unnoticed." A small smile flits across Calum's face at that but it quickly fades as he falls back into the depth of the conversation. Michael cards a hand through Calum's hair. "And I don't know why you're thinking like this, but you shouldn't."
Calum nods, he knows this already. 'See, even Michael thinks you're a ######. Can't do anything right'. The voice doesn't shut up. But Calum doesn't let Michael know this. He throws his arms around Michael's stomach and buries his face in his neck, inhaling the scent of his coconut shower gel as if it can drive the voice away. "Thank you Mikey," Calum speaks.
"You're welcome Cal," Michael says, squeezing his arms around Calum's smaller frame.
After this, the day passed and the next, and the next. Calum acted happy as could be, laughing all the time, hanging out with the boys, and Michael was ecstatic that Calum was doing better. But it was all an act.