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First Love

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Tap, tap, tap. Your pencil hit the textbook with a loud plunk each time while you struggled to find the answer to question 6. Scanning each paragraph carefully, you almost didn’t feel the slight shift of the bed as he leaned in.

“Tate,” you warned.

“What?” And even though you hadn’t looked up, you knew he was smiling. “I’m not doing anything.”

“Find your own answers!” you snapped, grabbing his pillow and throwing it at him. Strands of his dirty blonde hair flew about with the impact of the cushion against his face. He continued laughing as you began to move your notebook to the side he was not sitting on.

“You can lend me one answer.” He smiled and nudged you with his shoulder.

For a moment, you considered giving in like you always did. He didn’t even have to say please most of the time; you were so willing to keep him happy, you did anything he wanted. But maybe it was time to stop giving him your heart and soul because, in reality, it seemed like he would never give you anything in return.

Sure, he’d been your friend for years, but it was never enough for you. Maybe that made you selfish. After all, you were privileged with being his only friend. His only confidant. Then again, there were those times he kept secrets…

No, you decided. It’s senior year. Soon you’ll be leaving to college anyway, so might as well rip off the bandaid now. Start putting a stop to your schoolgirl crush on Tate Langdon.

“I have been giving you one answer on every assignment since middle school.” It was a sad attempt at being assertive, and it didn’t even phase him.

“I hate science.” He shrugged, leaning back against his headboard.

“I thought you loved it?” You narrowed your eyes and he shook his head.

“Only biology and stuff.”

You knew he only paid attention when the subject was on birds, or other sorts of animals he labeled as ‘the lucky ones’. Ones that left whenever they wanted to, ones that did what they wanted. Everything else he just went through blankly. Sometimes he would space out entire lectures, doodling on the edges of your notebook. You kept every single doodle. Maybe now you’d have to throw those away...

“But it’s not going to help you in college,” you warned. It was truthfully your own way of trying to make it easier. Maybe if you thought you were helping him in the long run, you could let go.

Tate groaned and flipped around dramatically on the bed so that he was laying on his stomach, his head near your feet. “Why are you even thinking about college?” He chewed the inside of his cheek then added under his breath, “Who knows if we’ll even make it till then.”

You didn’t let that pass, looking up from your book and giving him a sharp look. “What does that mean?”

He stared at you for a moment. It was one of the rare instances he let you see the darkness in his brown eyes, as though there were secrets just behind his irises. What was he thinking?

“Nothing,” Tate finally answered, moving his attention to your feet instead. He began to fidget with the laces of your shoes but you knew his mind was still elsewhere.

“Tate,” you began, fully intending to pull his mind from his thoughts when you heard a creak of the floor. You sat up straight, looking out into the hallway but not seeing anything. “I hate your house.” Not all of it. You loved it here. In his room.

Tate laughed and rested his head on his arms, still playing with your shoes. “It hates you. It knows you’re trying to save me from my inevitable death.” He accentuated the word with a menacing look and curl of his lip.

“Everyone is going to die, Tate,” you said, pulling your feet away.

“Dying isn’t so bad. Then you don’t have to deal with all the shit of this world.”

You sighed. He was always doing that; talking about death and romanticising it as though it was something to want at his young age. Being friends with him for so many years meant that you had to grow numb to it. That, and his need to ask your opinion on the matter. One time you were so fed up you had just shouted about killing him yourself. Then Constance had heard, yelled at you, and kicked you out of the house. Tate was angry about it but he was laughing the next day at school, mocking his mother’s shrill voice when shouting at you.

“You’d miss out on so many things,” you said when you lost your train of thought and looked back at him. Beautiful Tate.

Sometimes you let yourself think about what would happen if he did die. It almost always made you cry. Even though it was all hypothetical, you could see his body in your mind. You pictured him dead in different ways. How would he mutilate that beautiful body of his? His poor vessel that deserved so much love and received none. You would give him love. Oh, the ways you would love him. You thought about having sex with Tate as much as you pictured him dead.

You wondered if he had ever thought of you that way. In both ways. Dead. Or with his cock buried deep inside you.

You realized you hadn’t spoken for a minute or two and added, “There’s so much to do in the world.”

Tate didn’t seem to notice your pause. Or if he did, he hadn’t acknowledged it and instead grabbed one of your shoes he had unlaced and chucked it across the room “Like travel, and fight, and fuck.” The word left his mouth harsh and vulgar. Like it always did. But now, considering what you’d just been thinking about, it made your cheeks warm.

“Not in so little words, but yes.” You picked up your notebook, all but burying your nose in it in an attempt to hide your face. You weren’t sure if he noticed your change in emotion, but you wouldn’t risk it.

“Would you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” You furrowed your brow. Had you been too busy hiding your face that you didn’t hear him start a completely new conversation?

“When you lose your virginity.”

Your eyes shot up and Tate’s face broke into a shit eating grin. Flustered and seeking immediate justice, you pushed his shoulder with your foot. Hard. But he just laughed heartily at your reaction.

“Fuck. Off.” you growled. He always asked you endless sex and death questions since the two of you had become friends. The virginity discussion, however, was entirely new. Despite Tate asking for years if you’d do this or that sex position with your future boyfriend, if you liked girls too, if you ever developed any kinks, etc., your virginity was never a conversation topic. And now, in the absolutely worst time to ask you such a question, here he was laughing at your reaction.

“What?” he asked innocently. “We’re friends. I’d tell you when I lose mine.”

“Maybe I already lost mine,” you retorted, to which he began to laugh again. “What?”

“Nothing, nothing.” He paused for a moment as he thought it over, eyes narrowing, then broke into a knowing grin. “But come on, we both know you didn’t lose it already.”

“I could have.” But you didn’t. And you knew the reason why. You could only ever picture it being him between your legs.

“But you didn’t.” He pointed out, perfectly mirroring your own thoughts, then sat up so that he was once again sitting against the headboard. “I would know.”

You narrowed your eyes, briefly considering that he could read your mind. Was this all just a trick? Did he know you were saving it for him? But you knew if he could read your mind, he would have known long ago how you felt for him. And he would never have let you live it down.
Or worse, he would see you as just some girl with a puppy crush. He would shut you out, never let you see this side of him that no else got to see again. You would never risk that. Even though you had no right to do so, you claimed this part of him as yours. This was your Tate. So even if he couldn’t figure it out for himself, you would die with this secret. You loved Tate, and you wouldn’t risk not being able to see him so truthfully, so real, so full of secrets you hoped he would one day tell you.

No, Tate could not read minds. And he would not make you embarrassed for having a normal human reaction to talking about your virginity.

You rolled your eyes and snorted. “Sure, Tate. You would absolutely know when I lost my virginity.”

“I would,” he replied simply. “And then I’d have to kill whoever it was that you did it with.”

What? The hopeful part of your brain heard the dark tone of his voice. Was it possessiveness? You unclenched your palms that had begun to gather sweat. You placed them on your jeans then regretted it as it provided more uncomfortable warmth to your skin. Were you imagining it? “Why?” You tried to sound casual, playful, but your voice felt shrill, nervous. Could he tell?

His smile was still on his face but had lost its initial amusement, replaced with a bitter grin. “Because you're my girl, right?”

Tate always said things like this, casual flirting even though you’d always been just friends. Nothing ever came out of it, even as badly as you wished something would. It was just child’s play. So then why did you feel like it was different this time? Maybe, he could finally sense your desperation. Maybe now that you were resorting to pulling away from him, he would finally seek you out.

He must have felt the tension thicken because he didn’t say anything else. No remarks or dumb jokes he would usually add after saying something like that.

Or maybe he was feeling low again and you'd just mistaken it for something else? He did have that family dinner planned later tonight… Maybe he was just feeling anxious about that, and could only get out his need for control by watching you squirm under scrutiny.

And yet he hadn’t stopped staring at you. It made you feel awkward and unsettled as if he was trying to read your every thought with his gaze alone. He observed you for a moment more before speaking so quietly you had to strain to hear him.

“What if we never live long enough to?”

“We will.” You replied too quickly. You were eager to change the topic from your virginity to include his as well. That made your heart surge. He hadn’t lost his either.

Tate scooted closer to you. You instinctively pulled away, worrying about what your body would do if he was too close. Especially in this moment. You could smell the boyish smell that clung to his clothes. You could see the a piece of lint that stuck to his eyelash. You wanted to reach out and pull it away. You wanted him so badly.

“But what if we don't?” He continued. “Wouldn't you rather it be with someone you've known for a while?”

You had to replay his words over and over in your brain. But even then, you had to be sure. You had to make sure he didn’t just word it weird. You had to make sure he wasn’t talking about someone else or some other hypothetical situation. “Tate, what are you saying?”

“I want us to be each other's first. It'll be romantic.” He smiled sweetly and sincere. But you couldn’t help but be reminded of flowers that gave off sweet scents only to poison whoever leaned in for a smell. It all had to be a trick. Surely, it had to be.

“Tate.” You leaned away from him with a scowl. You felt hurt. Why would he even play like this? It was too much for you. You wouldn’t be able to handle his game with the way you felt. Especially now. You could feel a throbbing deep in your core… “Don't fuck with me.” You said it angry and harsh. Mostly out of sexual frustration, but you were also irritated that he would think this was funny.

“I'm not fucking with you,” he said, getting close again and grabbing your hand. His eyes were wide, pleading and vulnerable. Finally. Finally, you could dip into the abyss that he kept hidden there. What did he hide there? What could you find? What could you take? “I mean it. We know each other better than anyone else. And if we never get the chance to-”

“Stop!” You frowned. It wasn’t enough. You didn’t want to be someone’s end of the world fuck. You wanted to be someone’s choice, their own unquenchable thirst. And you wanted that someone to be Tate. You wanted him to long for you like you had longed for him for so many years. It was only fair. “Stop with all the ‘if we live long enough’ bullshit! You can't just do that. I'm not saying I will, but if you want to do this, it has to be because you want to. Not because you may never get to live long enough for someone else.”

“I do want to,” Tate said. What was that expression his face? Was he hurt by what you said? “I thought you knew how I felt.”

‘I thought you knew how I felt.’

Are you fucking kidding me? All these years pining away, keeping every single feeling you had for him locked away, when he had felt something for you too? It was unbelievable. This couldn’t be happening. This was a fucked up mind game.

“No!” You spat out thoroughly frustrated.

“Well, I do want you.” Tate looked at you, and those eyes were wide and open again. You had them all to yourself. You wanted nothing more than to dive headfirst into that darkness. This felt right. He was telling the truth, you could see it. You could feel it in the energy and tension in the room. He wanted you.

You had forgotten he was holding your hand until he squeezed it. His palms were sweaty. Or was that from your own? Maybe both. You were both nervous. You wanted each other.

Tate frowned at your intertwined hands then looked back up. “You like me too right?”

Stupid boy.

You yanked your hand from his, only to place it on his face and pull him towards you. Your lips slammed against each other clumsily. For a moment, you just awkwardly held them there. But then he scooted closer, your knees hitting, and placed a hand in your hair. He moved his lips experimentally, unsure and inexperienced but you felt yourself melting into them. He felt good, warm. This was Tate, and he was kissing you.

You pulled away, watching Tate’s eyes flicker open before staring at you in awe. This is how you wanted to be looked at for the rest of your life. In awe. In adoration. He licked his lips and you automatically did the same. You wanted more.

He moved back in, quick and confident now. He kissed you again, but this time poking your lips with the tip of his tongue. You both opened at the same time, allowing each other full access. You moaned just slightly and felt his body shift closer. His free hand went to your waist while the one tangled in your hair pulled softly.

It felt so good. Every touch, every movement, every slide of his tongue on yours. Did he feel as good? You scooted closer, desperate to touch more of him, and moved your hand to his waist but felt across something hard. Tate grunted and you pulled away in surprise.

“Sorry,” you said, face growing red. You were embarrassed, yes, but you were more aroused than anything. How many times had you dreamt about touching him there? Holding his hardening cock in your hand.

Please, you mentally begged. Please let me touch you again.

“Don't apologize,” he said, removing his hand from your waist to grab your hand. “It feels good.” He bit his plump bottom lip before guiding your hand to his jeans.

Thank you.

You both gasped as you palmed his erection. He watched you with hooded eyes, those eyelashes fluttering in time with his exhales. He didn’t say anything but you felt the light squeeze of his hand on your wrist, and you knew he was expecting your next move. You wouldn’t keep him waiting, because you wanted this too. You wanted to feel more, so you did. You slid your hand over his length, squeezing lightly. The denim was soft against your skin, his length firm under your fingers. Tate groaned softly and his forehead slumped into yours.

His hand left yours to lift the edge of your shirt and unbuckle your jeans. Goosebumps erupted over your skin, but not just from his touch. Your breath hitched and your eyes darted to the open doorway. It was almost begging for someone to walk in, to witness the two of you.

“It's okay.” Tate whispered. His voice was so comforting, you looked back at him. “No one’s home.” He steered your body so that the two of you were laying more comfortably on the bed. He licked his lips and started lowering his hand in your jeans. “Tell me if this feels good, okay?”

You nodded once and kept your eyes on him. He matched your gaze and skimmed his hand past the hem of your underwear. His fingers shook against the cloth but they became steady as they came in contact with your folds.

This was real. This was happening. And it was so much better than your own fingers and images of him.

His strokes on your clit matched the ones you pressed against his crotch. You fumbled with Tate’s jeans, trying unsuccessfully to undo the buckle with one hand. He stopped his movements and you whined. You couldn’t help it. You wanted more. More, more, more.

“Let me help you.” He chuckled after watching your helpless actions. How was he so collected? He was just so cool, so at ease. His chuckle made you yearn to make him less composed. How would he look when you broke his composure?

Keeping one hand in your underwear, he used the other to help you pull down his jeans and boxers. He confused your patience for hesitation and grabbed your hand, ready to guide it to his cock. But you pulled your hand away and wrapped it around his length yourself. As soon as your hand came into contact with it, Tate let out a moan.

You were surprised to see him so vulnerable and needy; he tried so hard to keep it contained when around other people. You knew who he was, but it was such more refreshing to see him come undone. Especially because of how you were making it happen. Determined to make Tate completely open to you, you ran your hand over his cock. He hissed and stopped you.

“Lick your hand,” he said, watching with a warning look. If this was what he wanted, then you would have to listen. You took your hand from him, looked it over once before giving it a long lick. Your hand wasn’t clean, and you felt slightly wrong about it at all. No preparation, no time to have washed your hands. Your thighs twitched because you could feel yourself getting wetter.

He nodded in approval and let you pump his length. You weren’t sure what you were doing but the dark look in his eyes said that he was enjoying it. “Twist your wrist.” You obeyed but paused in a gasp as Tate started stroking your clit again, this time harder while another finger slid into your entrance. “Keep going,” he demanded. The desperation of his voice made you ache. Sure, you wanted to take action and make him feel good all by yourself, but his instruction made it as though you were fulfilling his own wet dreams. All you wanted was for him to tell you what he wanted. What he wanted you to do to him.

So you would keep going, listening to his instructions and learning along the way. This is what Tate liked, and now half aware of what you were doing, you twisted your fist around him. He grunted in response and began to slide his finger into you, curling each time he went in.

“That feels so good,” you moaned, eyes struggling to stay open.

You feel good.” He kissed you once, twice, then kept his lips hovering against yours as he worked.

When he seemed to think you were moaning enough, he slid out his finger and then added another with it. You gasped as he slid both in, curling and pressing them against your g spot. Your muscles twitched as he played with it over and over. You felt your body tense and Tate’s cock went neglected as you clutched his shoulders for support. You could feel the pleasure building in your stomach, working it’s way through your being. Awakening, ripping, spreading through your core, it flew from the spot where his fingers were connected with you. Back arching, you gasped and closed your eyes, orgasm trembling through you.

“Tate,” you moaned.

“Fuck,” he grunted, forehead hitting against yours as he closed his eyes. “That’s all I ever want to hear.” His hand didn’t stop until you were whining, clit overstimulated and aching.

“I need you,” he suddenly said as he pulled his hand from you and started yanking his shirt over his head. He kicked off his pants and boxers which fell to the floor with a thunk. You fumbled with trying to get your clothes off but were apparently too slow as Tate started doing it himself. You didn’t mind; you were ready to have him completely. Your clothes were flying across the room as he chucked them over his shoulder blindly. He returned his lips to yours and kissed you open mouthed, tongue seeking yours out.

He positioned his body so that it was aligned with yours, hovering as he kept his weight from crushing you. Slipping his fingers in the hem of your underwear, he pulled them down so slowly in contrast to his previous actions. Of course, not even in this situation would Tate change. He always wanted to see you squirm, to watch you get frustrated. And god, were you so frustrated. He was so close, and now was when he would decide to slow down.

But as impatient as you felt, you wanted him to fall apart even more than you wanted to cum. And fuck, you wanted to cum again and again.

So you broke the kiss because you couldn’t be patient with Tate’s tongue in your mouth. You couldn’t handle it. You longed for him so badly. You must have been glaring because Tate laughed again.

“I just want to feel you,” he explained, kissing you once more.

But this wasn’t fair. You wanted to feel him too. Or, at the very least, you wanted to see his expression when he finally came undone. But it looked like he had no intention on getting there anytime soon when he took off your underwear and returned his fingers inside your wet core.

Wait,” you said, finally losing your composure and pushing away his hand. He exhaled through his nose but stopped and waited regardless. You were going to get at least one request out of him. “I want to look at you.”

You could tell he wasn’t thrilled with your demand, but he silently agreed. He swallowed uncomfortably as you took the time to let your eyes wander. His cock throbbed impatiently but you let yourself be consumed by the little details covering his body instead. Freckles on his chest, so light that no one would see them unless you were this close. A few scars on his arms that were blended into his skin. Shaggy hair that came down to just below his ears. The soft twitching of his shoulder muscles as he kept his body positioned above you. All of it. It was yours now in the way you wanted for years.

“Okay.” You smiled. “I’m ready.”

“What?” He asked, giving you a smile. “I don’t get time to look at you too?” Tate made a show of lowering his eyes to between your legs. Though he was doing it to be childish, you noticed the very real twitch of his cock against your thigh.

“Can you wait that long?” You smirked.

“Shut up.” He all but growled as he silenced you with his lips. His hands went to cradle your face then one slipped down to hold your waist. You decided to take action again, seeing as how he was finally going to let you have what you wanted. You braced your feet on the bed and bent your knees, letting your legs fall open. He laughed, throwing you off guard.

“What?”

“You don’t have to spread them so wide,” he laughed.

You blushed and began to close them, responding angrily in embarrassment. “Don’t boys always brag about getting them open so wide anyways?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “But I want to feel you close.”

He grabbed your legs and gently wrapped them around his waist. That dark look was back in his eyes again, making them look pitch black rather than brown. You always wanted to get lost in those eyes but now, seeing them so close, it felt like playing with fire. Maybe you would get lost and never return. His smile had faded but there was still a soft upwards twinge on his lips. It was all you needed to remember that he would never let you get lost for good. You would always have him at your side. You felt one of his rings scratch against your thigh as he felt up and over the curve of your rear. You would have him now.

“Is it going to hurt?” you whispered as you felt his cock against your entrance. There was a small part of you, the part that dared to look in the darkness of his eyes, that wanted it to hurt. Maybe it would feel even better if it hurt. Maybe it would be the sick confirmation that you were forever bonded to each other. It would be just like the time when you were younger and you sliced your palms open to press them together as blood brothers. It hurt like hell, but it was worth it to be bonded.

“I heard it might.” He looked fascinated by the idea too, but he quickly replaced it with a gentle smile. He took your arms and placed them under his so that they wrapped around his back. Tate stroked your hair and then kissed you again, an attempt to be gentle in case it was going to hurt. “Do you still want me to-”

“Yes,” you answered without hesitation. “I want you, Tate.”

He smiled wider. He was proud. He kissed you once more and then adjusted his body. He slid his hand into your hair and gripped your hip tightly with the other. It took a moment for him to align but then very cautiously, he slid into you.

You gasped and he froze completely, staring at you in horror. You shook your head, squeezing your arms around him in reassurance. “It doesn’t hurt that much.” You were a little disappointed it didn’t, but it still made you long for more. “Keep going.”

He nodded, swallowing hard, and continued. Tate let out a grunt as his cock pressed through your walls. You connected with a slick wet sound. He shook against you, the hand in your hair still gently stroking but the one on your hip was pressing with intended bruises.

“Fuck.” He moaned, head falling in the space between your neck and shoulder. You whimpered at the intrusion inside you, feeling full and aching. You needed him to move, to do something. You weakly pressed your hips upwards, causing Tate to moan again.

“You- You feel so good,” he panted against you.

“Keep going,” you begged. “Please, Tate.”

You felt him nod and he paused before pulling back his hips and then pushing them forward. You both groaned and your legs fell to the side for a moment before you wrapped them back around his waist.

“Keep going,” you said again. A shiver ran up your spine, the feeling of darkness in the room returning again. But with a quick glance, you reassured yourself there was no one there. Only Tate. There wasn’t any darkness. There was just you and Tate. “Keep going.”

Tate thrusted clumsily for the first few times before finding a steady rhythm. You could feel the mattress lurch with every move of his body. You felt every inch of him slide into your cunt. You felt your nerves twitch and throb, and even though you’d never done this before, you knew what you needed.

“Faster,” you said.

“I don’t know if I can control myself,” he replied through clenched teeth. And it was only then you saw the pained look on his face like he was trying so hard to keep himself contained. The pain in your hip began to ache, his thumb turning the bruises into constant stings. This was going to hurt, but you knew you wanted nothing else.

“Then don’t.” you panted. “Please, Tate.”

He groaned and started thrusting faster, noticeably snapping his hips harder too. It fucking hurt, and it was exactly what you needed. “Say it again.”

“Please.” you said, nails scratching into his back.

“My name,” he begged. “My name.”

“Tate,” you moaned and threw your head back, as though you were ready to shout it from the top of your lungs.

Tate grunted and relentlessly pounded into you. His bed creaked and occasionally hit the wall with a loud thud. His gasps and moans made you clench around him, the sounds slick and sloppy together.

“Tate,” you moaned again. He moaned your name in turn, kissing all over your sweat covered face as he rocked into you.

“I want to stay here forever,” he said aloud as though it was something he’d been thinking and suddenly blurted out. “I want to stay here with you. I love you.”

You struggled to catch your breath, you weren’t sure if it was due to his confession or because you began to build. You could feel yourself drawing to cliff’s edge. You were ready to fall but you stayed there, dangling, aching. You had to repeat his words back to him. He was waiting for your confession and watching you expectantly, but you found yourself staring into his eyes. You were drowning there, pleading with the abyss to let you release. You wanted to fall, and you wanted to fall directly into them.

Please, let me cum.

And then Tate cried out, long and loud as he twitched and jerked. You felt him suddenly pull out, leaving you cold and empty. His seed spilled across your thighs, leaking onto the sheets and sticking to your skin. You whined in protest and Tate was instantly on you. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Here,” he whispered to you in an effort to please you. He rubbed his thumb over your clit again and the feeling returned, not as fulfilling but just enough to push you over the edge. For now, it was enough.

You panted and moaned until your body laid tired in the bed. Tate kissed you again, nuzzling his body against yours.

 

| | |

 

“I didn’t know you knew how to wash clothes.”

Tate gave you an annoyed look, and then rolled his eyes as he threw the sheets into the washer. “I’m not completely useless.”

“You know what I mean.”

He smiled softly. You swung your feet from where you sat up on the dryer, watching the veins in his arms as he shook the soap over all the garments. He pressed a few buttons before closing the lid and the machine whirred to life.

“Do you want to sit on this one?” he asked, gesturing to it’s quickly vibrating form.

You shot out your leg and kicked him lightly in the chest. He laughed mischievously and grabbed your leg, kissing the bare skin all the way up until he had to bend over to kiss your thighs. You sat back, running your fingers through his blonde hair. This was your best friend, and now he was yours completely. And you were his.

Tate pulled at the fabric of your underwear but you quickly slapped his hand.

“Hey!” He exclaimed with a playful grin.

“I thought you said your mom was going to be home.”

 

“Not for a couple of hours.” He pouted. “We just have to wash the sheets and then we can do it in other places so it’s easy to clean up.”

“You are insatiable,” you laughed, throwing your arms around his neck and pulling him in.

He happily stood between your legs and placed his hands on your thighs, rubbing softly. You kissed him, feeling like it was the first time all over again. His lips were soft and plush and you never got tired of how they fit with yours.

“Let’s not go to school tomorrow,” he said when the two of you broke for air.

“What?” you laughed.

“Let’s just run away now, and never come back.”

“Tate,” you sighed, running your hand through his hair. “Is this about your dinner thing tonight?”

“No,” he answered quickly, looking away and kicking the dryer absentmindedly.

“Tate, you tell me everything. Don’t stop now.”

He blew out a raspberry and shrugged. “It has nothing to do with that piece of shit.” You knew how he felt about Constance’s boyfriend, and the theory he had about his brother’s death. He clenched his jaw. “I’m just sick of all of it. All that shit.”

It pained him so much, you couldn’t let it ruin his day. “Hey,” You tapped his chin with your knuckle to get him to look at you. “I promise we’ll run away, okay? After we graduate.”

He smiled humorlessly and shook his head. “Okay.” he said with a shrug. “But let’s ditch tomorrow.”

“Tate,” you groaned.

“Come on! You said you don’t have anything important going on. Let’s just take the day to celebrate us.” He took your hand and laced your fingers together. “Please?”

Weighing the options in your head, you couldn’t see any negatives. Plus when he gave you the puppy dog look, you were wrapped around his finger.

“Fine.”

“Promise me.”

“Tate, I said fine!” You laughed, pushing him away playfully. But he stood his ground and squeezed your hand, suddenly growing very serious.

“Promise me.”

“Yes.” you agreed, nodding and looking at him in the eyes. “I promise.”

“Good,” he said and exhaled a breath through his mouth, becoming happy once more. “We’ll meet up later and run away together.”

 

“We’re not running away!” you laughed and he grinned.

“You’ll want to. Trust me.” He smiled.

You weren’t sure what he meant but decided to ignore it. You wrapped your arms around him and kissed softly. Hell, if running away meant kissing like this every day, then maybe you’d be okay with it.

 

| | |

 

When you woke the next morning, you weren’t sure if the previous night had all been fake. You did wake up in your own bed, so maybe it had been a dream. But the bruises on your hip told you otherwise. It seemed weirdly nostalgic thinking about it, even though it had just happened.

You smiled and hid your face with your hands even though you were all alone in your room. By instinct, you felt shy and joyous about the intimacy you shared. You tried to remember the look on his face when he came. His blonde hair was dark with the sweat that drenched it to his forehead. His eyes were scrunched closed, so tight that the bridge of his nose was a mess of wrinkles. His lips were red and puffy from all the kissing, and they hung ajar from his tortured cries. That sound had rumbled through his chest, echoed off the walls and made your body shiver. His muscles had clenched and his chest was so broad, it looked like he could crush you with it. He was so beautiful and he was yours now. Even before, as your friend, he’d been yours. And now he was yours even more intimately.

You smiled again; the thought replayed in your head over and over and made your legs twitch, a twinge of arousal rising between your legs.

Maybe you should call him… You felt excited and wondered about what mischief would arise from ditching school. However, your excitement was delayed by the voicemail of the Langdon household phone. “Leave a message, if you would be so kind.” Constance’s voice sounded in your ear, that fake smile profound in her tone.

You tried again. This time, there was the soft click of someone answering. Your heart jumped and a smile spread on your lips, but it was quickly let down when a woman answered instead.

“Hello?” Constance answered.

You debated asking where Tate was. If he wasn’t home, then where was he hiding? Maybe he’d gone to the public library? You knew he would have called you before heading over to your house. Or maybe, you thought. Maybe, he’s planning something special for us.

“Hello?” Constance said again, more annoyed now. “I will not be the subject of your crude prank calls and I will call the police if-”

You hung up so quickly, the phone missed the receiver the first try. You slammed it down for good measure, mentally cursing yourself for keeping Constance on the phone that long.

But where was Tate? You were ditching for school for him and he didn’t even have the decency to tell you when he’d be coming over?

Ugh. It was so lame how suddenly you’d become attached. When you were friends you usually didn’t care when you would see him, just that you did. But now you couldn’t wait to see him. How badly you wanted to hold him, to kiss him, to give him love.

And to think, all this had come from one of your normal studying sessions. What had made this time so different? Maybe it was all the tension over sharing that textbook.

Fuck!

You sat up and your eyes darted to the textbook that had been thrown in the corner of the room. You’d been in such a whirlwind of emotion when you got home from Tate’s that you just threw it aside without a second thought. But today it was due. And if you didn’t renew it, you’d get late charges. And because you’d let Tate use your account earlier in the year to check out that bird book he’d managed to lose and never find, you couldn’t have any more late fees. Or no graduation. Shit.

You bit your lip. Should you risk getting spotted by a teacher just to renew the book? Shit, shit, shit. No graduation for late charges or get in trouble for ditching….

You needed to at least try to sneak in. You sighed, and got out of bed. If only Tate had let you finish studying, you wouldn’t have to renew it. You smiled and chose to forgive him for that. But he would have to owe you one, you decided.

You threw on some clothes and headed out, textbook in hand.

 

| | |

 

The library was quiet, the only sound coming from the loud clicking of someone using the computer. Well, that, and your loud and angry voice. It was later in the school day, so getting to the library was easy since the hallways were empty. But it seemed leaving would be slightly more tricky.

“I was told when I checked it out that I could renew!” You exclaimed.

The librarian sighed. “You have outstanding late fees. I can’t let you renew.”

“Please, Mr. Carmichael. Just...augh,” You sighed and started to pull out your wallet. “I’ll pay them.” Yup, Tate was going to owe you big time.

The librarian watched you and then shook his head. “Just keep it, kid. I’ll waive the fees. But don’t let this happen again.”

You face brightened in a smile and you nodded quickly. “I won’t, I swear.”

“I recommend just copying the pages so that you don’t have to make a study guide. Just use the actual book.”

You raised an eyebrow and he narrowed his eyes with a soft grin attached.

“But you didn’t hear it from me.”

“Lips are sealed.” You nodded and took the book.

You walked through the library, already flipping through the pages to find the most important cheat worthy chapters. It was strangely empty for a free period, only a few people spotted here and there throughout.

You spotted Chloe Stapleton from math class laughing and playing with one of a football player. God, she was so pretty. Too pretty for him. She glanced up and noticed you staring then shot you a quick wave. You greeted her back and then quickly headed to the copy machine.

As you were walking, you heard a loud sound. Bang.

It made you jolt; the sound was intrusive and wrong. You turned to the noise but realized it was coming from the hallway. You knew what the sound was, but you didn’t react. You just stood, staring at the door. And so were the other students around you. Then there were screams, terror filled and frantic. And yet you still stood, rooted to the floor.

Boom, boom, boom.

Then there were footsteps, running and getting progressively louder. You felt the urge to cringe, to press yourself as far away from the door as possible. You stood your ground.

A boy suddenly entered the library, frantic and hurried in his mission to get inside. He pulled a chair from the table and entered it into the door’s handles.

“What the hell, dude?” the football player asked, a crack in his voice that showed he was just as scared as everyone else despite his tough appearance.

“Someone is shooting up the school. He’s just shooting people!” The boy said as he pushed a cart of books in front of the door.

The words were there but you took a moment to register them. It was true then. It was a school shooting, and now you were trapped here.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Mr. Carmichael said. “Are you hit? Where are you hit?”

“Shit. I don’t-I don’t know, man.” The boy stuttered, looking at his blood covered hands. “That’s not my blood. I was right next to Mark Finstein and the- the guy shot him in the freaking skull.”

How many people had already died?

“Who’s doing this?” a girl asked, her eyes wide and afraid.

“I- I don’t know.” he said.

“We need to get the hell out of here!” the football player said, already rushing to the door. You felt your body move, ready to run, adrenaline pulsing through you.

Bang.

The sound was like a tidal wave being hit against you. All hopes of leaving the room were now gone. You froze, your breaths were heavy and you felt your chest begin to constrict. Now was not the time for a panic attack, but really, you couldn’t blame your brain in this moment.

Bang. It was closer.

“Go!” Mr. Carmichael told you, his voice quiet but alert. And you listened to him, along with the other students, spreading out like cockroaches observed under light.

Where?? Where could you hide? You looked around, watching as the other students hid in places you should have thought of sooner. It was a game of hide and seek and all the good places were taken. You felt your chest heave. Where??

You watched Amir Stanley from English rush to the library island--

The library island! You rushed to it, entering the little area and shutting the half door. You nearly tripped over the desk chair and squatted down to one of the cabinets. You reached for it and realized you were still holding the book. You threw it down and quickly opened the cabinet. You knew it was going to be a tight squeeze but you’d already made your decision. This was your only option.

Your feet slid against the papers and folders that were already inside. You shoved books to one end and slid your body in. Your hands were shaking but you willed them to stay steady as you shut the door as best you could from the inside, using the very tips of your nails to reduce the opening to a thin line. Your neck was craned and pressed against the top of the cabinet. You pulled your knees to your chest, hoping the pressure would relieve the panic attack you were having. You wrapped your arms around yourself; you pretended they were Tate’s.

The library door rattled and shook, the shooter yanking the handle in desperation to get in. You couldn’t hear much else. You waited, the sound of your breathing filling your ears. You placed your hand over your mouth in an attempt to moderate the sound, but your chest was still straining every breath.

It was quiet. Had he left? Had he given up on trying to enter the library? Or maybe the fact that the door was guarded was a challenge to him, a challenge to get to the people inside who’d blocked it in the first place.

You didn’t dare move.

“Block the door!” Someone hissed.

You moved your head slightly to the side to see the feet of the legs of the football player standing near the tables. He was pointing out, hissing to whoever was standing at the other side. The other entrance, you realized. It was completely open and the shooter’s for the taking.

“Get the door,” the football player said more urgently.

You heard the shuffle of feet and the slam of a body against something hard. Someone was trying to block the door. Would it be enough?

And then suddenly in quick procession: bang, bang, bang. Someone screamed and a loud unholy thud fell on the floor.

You felt your body go cold. This was it. People were going to die here. You willed yourself to stay quiet, your survival instinct making your body stop. You couldn’t feel the constriction of your chest anymore. You couldn’t feel anything. You just waited.

The students ran to new hiding spots, their old ones now compromised. Hide and seek. Ready or not, here he comes.

The door creaked open. Then nothing. You waited, trying to strain your eyes through the gap in the cabinet but only being able to see the empty space in front of you. You heard the heavy footsteps of the shooter.

Then a soft, melancholic whistle echoed around the room. It sent goosebumps across your arms and made your stomach squeeze with fear and disgust. The shooter was not only killing, he was playing a game.

Several loud slams of items falling to the floor followed one right after the other. Then a scream. One of the girl’s. You wondered who it was. Bam.

More footsteps. Then, one of the boy’s. “No, no. Please, no.” he begged. Bang.

You felt your heart break as all these people you’d just seen as alive, real, breathing people would all become a corpse in the ground. Because of this one person.

A close scratching noise made you jolt. What was that? It wasn’t the shooter just yet because the sound of their footsteps followed after. The frighteningly near blast of their gun told you that it had been Amir who’d been shot. Had he been trying to get to a new hiding spot? Had he just been clumsy and made something move? That very little sound making the shooter see him?

You fought to stay silent. It was life or death. You didn’t realize you were crying until you felt the tears fall over your hand. You kept your palm over your mouth, struggling to hide the sobs.

The footsteps passed. And for a slight moment, you were safe. Were the others? How many were left? You tried to count them in your head, but your brain couldn’t function right. You stayed in the moment, realizing it was a bad time to get distracted. But then you thought of Tate again. You wished you have listened and just ditched school completely. Was he waiting for you at home? Would you ever see him again? You tried to remember what his hands felt like.

“Hey!” someone shouted, making you jump. “That’s enough, get out of he-”

Bang. Another person screamed, a girl, terrified and tear filled as they watched whoever it was get murdered. “Oh god,” she cried. You could hear the footsteps getting near her. Run, you wanted to tell her. He’s going to get you. He’s going to get you and I’ll be alone.

“No. Oh god. Please.” the girl cried. Something loud crashed to the floor and you waited for the inevitable sound that would rip into the air as another life was taken.

Why?” she cried, desperate for an answer that would never come. “Please,”

Bang.

Please leave, you begged in your mind. Please don’t see me.

But because the person had called out from their hiding spot, the shooter was now searching for more people. If only it hadn’t happened. If only they’d remained quiet. Now that he was searching, seeking victims out, you feared your hiding place wouldn’t hold. You heard the shooter scoot things over. Some things crashed to the floor. Then footsteps. It almost sounded like he was leaving. Then he spotted something, because the footsteps started getting closer again. Your hand shook against your mouth. Please just leave. Please.

You peeked through the small gap in the cabinet. Not enough for someone to see you, but enough to see them. Well, their feet at least. And those feet were wearing black military boots that stepped over fallen papers, casually strolling the through the wreckage and stopping right in front of you. A moment, and then his boots shifted as the shooter squatted down. You saw their hand reach for the book that was thrown on the floor. They knew you were here.

You gasped and that awful sound filled your ears again. This time, the last. The blare of the gun rang in your ears, making it the only thing you heard as the pain rippled through you. Fast and harsh, like ripping off a bandaid, and then it was gone. You didn’t feel anything. You looked down and saw the shadows of your clothes, too dark to see in the cabinet. But the light from the opening, plus the round tear in the wood from the gunshot, illuminated a small portion on your stomach. The dark color spread through your shirt. How would you ever get this stain out? Your mom was going to be so mad when she washed it. She wouldn’t forgive you.

You pressed a hand to your wound, your fingers dipping into the gap that was in your side. Then the door opened, and you came face to face with the barrel of the gun.

Then came into the focus the face behind it. And your heart broke.

This wasn’t real. You didn’t wake up this morning. This wasn’t real.

And yet, there he was. The face you had been so badly longing to see all morning and in your time of desperation was here. But he wasn’t there to save you. And this wasn’t a dream.

No, no, no.

“Tate,” you said, your voice cracking. You couldn’t feel where your blood seeped into your clothes and skin, but you could feel the warm tears flowing down your cheeks. This was your Tate, and he had shot you down.

The gun lowered and Tate’s blood splattered face had gone pale with horror. He just stared at you for a moment, his eyes lost in that endless darkness that used to consume you. Your Tate.

The gun clattered to the floor and he reached out, pulling from around your waist and dragging you out of the cabinet. Your body was limp and gracelessly fell against him, into his arms. You coughed and sputtered out spit or blood, you weren’t sure.

He said your name and it felt weird to hear him cry. How could this person cry? How could this person be so incredibly human? But this was your Tate, and Tate cried. But you didn’t know who this person was.

“I didn’t know it was you.” He cried, pulling you against his chest. His hands were covered in blood, was it yours or the other people he had killed? “I didn’t know!”

He was sobbing now, loud and full of pain. You couldn’t move, your only choice to stare up at him as he cried. Some of his tears slipped from the curve of his cheek to fall onto your face; you didn’t flinch.

He was so beautiful, even when he cried.

He had shot you.

You wanted him to stop crying.

He had shot you.

Please stop crying, Tate.

“You should have listened to me,” Tate cried. “I tried to warn you to stay home.”

He stroked your face with his hand, the same hand that had been touching you just last night. These arms that had held you, cuddling in bed, were now holding you as you died. I’m dying, you realized.

God, he was so beautiful. You wanted to reach up and wipe the tears from his face. You wanted to kiss him again like you had before. But this wasn’t Tate. This was a monster.

And yet, your first and only thought was of him.

“You said we would run away.” Tate sobbed as he began to rock back and forth. Your head was lolling from side to side, vision beginning to blur.

So then leave. Leave, Tate. Leave and don’t come back. Or else they’ll find you.

Sounds of sirens started to reach the two of you.

It’s your turn to play hide and seek, Tate. You better hide, or they’re going to find you. They’re the good guys, and you’re a bad one. And they’re going to find you.

“Stay with me!” he yelled at the top of his lungs, speckles of spit flying from his mouth. Angry angel. Fallen angel. And you couldn’t help but worship him.

He had to leave, he had to go now.

You opened your mouth, coughing a few times with blood splattering onto your lips. Tate blinked away his tears, staring at you with wide eyes. You panted for air, those last few breaths you would ever get.

“Run,” you said.

He watched your face for any signs that you were going to say something else, but that’s all you could manage. Not that you wanted to say anything else anyways. You just couldn’t.

You felt his body tense, then he slowly began to sit on his knees. He gently lowered you onto the ground. Your head rolled and he carefully placed it back in position.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered, shaking as he leaned down and kissed your forehead. “You’re going to be in a better place now. I’m sorry. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll be there too. I’ll follow you there, okay?”

Standing, he pulled off the long coat he was wearing. It billowed out as he spread it across your lower body, tucking it in at your sides like a grotesque blanket. He cried as he picked up his gun and wiped his nose on the back of his sleeve. You watched him. Then he turned and left.

Your head rolled to the side. You stared at the fabric of Tate’s jacket. You’d never seen him wear this one before. Where’d he get it? Why’d he never shown it you before? He showed you everything. He told you everything. You guessed you’d never know.

Your eyes closed, and you exhaled. Now, you would sleep...

 

| | |

 

You gasped loudly and hurriedly as you tried to get every bit of air into your lungs. You could feel them spring into life like you’d been hit in the chest. You were still gasping when you heard an alarmed scream.

You turned your head just in time to see the body of a man hit the floor with a thud. He fell against the linoleum dramatically, though there were no visible signs of him being shot. His arm was thrown over his face in Victorian appallment. I was shot too, sir. It wasn’t that bad.

You were dead.

You looked around, confused.

Then why were you in a doctor’s office? Did you survive? Had they gotten you to a hospital in time?

You looked over the walls of medicine and tubes of weirdly colored liquids. Then there were the various cotton swabs, wraps, assorted bandages. Why were you in a doctor’s office? Why had the doctor fainted?

You looked to your other side and did a double take. Identical to the one you were sitting on, were several other tables with bodies lying on them, covered with white sheets. This was a morgue.

You looked down at your body and realized you were completely naked. But even more shocking was the clumsy hole just below your ribs where Tate had shot you.

Tate had shot you.

You gasped, fresh tears springing to life in your eyes. The realization hit you hard and sudden. You could feel the bullet ripping through you. The fear you had felt. The betrayal when you saw his face looking down at you like a vengeful god. Your Tate had shot you.

You looked around in horror. Why the hell were you alive? Was this a dream? Was this purgatory? You needed to leave. Now. You didn’t know where you were but you were going to find out. And you couldn’t do that naked, no matter what kind of afterlife this was.

You swung your legs from the table to the floor, wobbling a little at the sudden rush of blood to your feet. You grabbed the table for support then teetered over to the fallen doctor. Or mortician. You fell to your knees when you got there, your body was so weak and clumsy. With trembling hands and some hesitation, you began to strip off his clothes. Only the important ones, of course.

This was insane. You were dead. And now you were alive. And you were stripping off some man’s clothes.

You left him in his underwear. Once clothed, you tiptoed to the door. But then you paused and looked back. There were other human bodies here. It made you cringe and want to flee, but you had to see what was underneath. Who was underneath. You went to the table that had been closest to yours. You grabbed a corner of the sheet and pulled it down.

Chloe from math class. You flinched at the sight of her and then began to cry again. She was so pale, eyelids closed and purple. Her shoulder sported a single gunshot wound. Tate had killed her. She seemed so peaceful and uninterrupted despite the situation. But would she wake up too? Were you ghosts now? Zombies? What was this?

You contemplated waiting for them to wake up. But they showed no signs of moving at all. You died last. Did that make any difference?

But in the end, your curiosity would win over. You had to figure out what was happening. Were you some supernatural being stuck in the afterlife?

And despite every solid reason not to, you thought of Tate. Where was he?

You placed the sheet back over Chloe and walked to the exit. The body had made your entire being cold, uneasy, and searching for answers. You had to leave. Now. Your hand hovered over the door knob. But where the hell would you go? Where would you find these answers? Was this even really happening?

And before you could decide whether or not to open the door, it opened for you. You jolted backwards, surprised to come face to face with another person. She, however, seemed completely unaffected by you.

It was an older woman who stood at average height, though held herself tall and poised. She had bright frizzy red hair that took up the entirety of the doorway and made you blink several times. The woman sighed and pushed up the cat eye glasses that were on the bridge of her nose.

“Hello, darling,” She said with a sad tone, looking you over. “You’re not going to wear that, are you? It is your birthday, after all.” Her voice was whimsical and light but it still had an underlying heaviness that you couldn't understand.

You gawked at her, speechless. She sighed again, putting her gloved hands together and then nodding.

“You’re afraid, I’m sure. And I’m here to help you figure it all out. My name is Myrtle Snow and I can answer all your questions when we get home. But first, dear, you are in terrible need of a new outfit.”