chapter nine

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[tw: mentions of self-harm] 

Shakily, I open to the first page and write, Thank you. The fact that Pete had gone out of his way to make communication easier for me was touching, and once again a show of that caring character he'd first displayed when we met. Not only that, but he could've easily just told me to use a notes app on my phone instead of getting me a journal. It was easier for me to write, anyway; I still had to get used to the keyboard.

"No problem," he says, reading the crooked letters and flashing me a tiny smile. "The idea just came to me during class. Which reminds me, do you have a phone?"

I nod and fish out the device from my pocket. "Can I borrow it for a sec?"

I gave him the Samsung and watched as he took out his own handheld, typing something into it as he looked between the two screens. I observed his face, which was pulled into an expression of mock concentration, and blushed when his stare flicked up to my own. I expect him to say something about it but he just hands me back my phone.

Below my first inscription, I scrawl, What'd you do?

He waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, you'll see." The corners of his lips are turned up in a small smirk.

I lean forward to write something, but the ends of my sleeve brush against the pen annoyingly. I shake my arms gently so that the cardigan is pushed away from my palm.

Mistake.

"Whoa - wait." Pete straightens up and his tone changes completely. I stiffen away from the Moleskine, tilting my head in confusion.

With startling speed, he grabs both of my hands and jerks me forward. I flinch, my instincts shrieking for me to pull back, but I don't.

Gently, he begins to unroll one of my sleeves.

Panic set in. No, no no no no! He can't see those scars, oh God. I try to pull my hands back but his grip, though well-meaning, tightens harshly and I let out a silent yelp. The panic increases tenfold. I know he isn't trying to be aggressive, but...

"Patrick." His voice sounds pained and tears fill my eyes, both at the strain in his tone and my own self-loathing snaking around my neck and nearly suffocating me. He runs a thumb over the jagged pink lines risen like tiny ranges of hills on my pale wrists, which quiver at his touch that I know is supposed be caring but makes my breathing hitch.

He looks up at me, the question clear as day in his eyes: why?

I burst into tears then, unable to keep the wave from crashing through its delicate dam. He breathes in sharply and hastily covers up my wrists. I feel awfully pathetic, and attempt to save face by brushing the back of my hand over my eyes.

Pete grabs a tissue box off the nearest shelf and hands it to me as I manage to recover into quiet hiccupping. I wipe at the sopping mess on my skin and focus on breathing evenly - in, and out. In, and out. I try not to think about how bloodshot my eyes must look, and how that will appear to everyone in my remaining classes.

"Are you okay now?" Pete asks, startling me out of my thoughts. I nod, not meeting his apologetic look. "Patrick...I'm sorry. I just..." His voice wobbles. "I'm sorry."

I look down at the opened page of the Moleskine, now spattered with a few damp tearstains. It's alright, I scribble.

"No, it really isn't. God, I've just been an asshole to you this whole time - and then...I go and stick my nose into your business and make you cry." He sighed and ran a hand through his short hair. "I'm sorry, I didn't..." He trails off, dismissing his thought, and though I'm tempted to, I don't urge it out of him.

A shadow comes over us and I look up to see one of the library aides. Her hands are one her hips and a scowl rests upon her face. "The bell rung, you two. I'm supposed to escort you out of here." She squints at me. "You the new kid?"

I nod quickly, and then glance over at Pete, whose expression is grim. I stand up hastily, however he takes his time to get up.

"We don't need to be escorted, thanks very much Ashlee." Ashlee rolled her eyes and walked off, evidently glad to not be near us. Or maybe just Pete. His tensed figure loosens slightly and he exhales deeply. "C'mon, I'd rather not be late for class."

***

The first dismissal bell rings, echoing throughout the corridors and summoning the primal student body to dart out of their classes in pursuit of the after-school freedom they so richly desired. I slowly make my way out of my seventh period's room, allowing everyone to go first as my thoughts, particularly concerning Pete and Ashlee, swirled around in my head like brain stew.

I wondered what was brewing between them. They clearly knew each other, and weren't exactly on friendly terms. Something about Ashlee's attitude irked me, though; something more than her sharp remarks.

More things came to mind then. I recalled how distraught Pete looked when he uncovered my scars. I bite my lip, trying to banish these thoughts. I don't want to think about the pain in his voice, or how hurt his eyes looked, or how he ran his thumb across the jagged surface, full of concern over something that didn't want to be found.

The second dismissal bell rings, snapping me back into reality for just a moment. I trudge past the sea of students towards the exit closest to my neighborhood, trying my best to be one with the crowd and therefore go unnoticed, however such is not the case. Someone roughly bumps into me and I lose balance, falling onto a locker and wincing at the sharp pain. Mean laughter erupts around me and tears pool at the edges of my eyes but I resolve, regaining my footing and pushing past.

I make my way to the doors and see Joe there, holding them open for me. I smile and nod at him in lieu of a thank you. 

"Hey," he greets, joining me on the walk across the field. "I had D-Hall during lunch. I miss anything important?"

I shook my head, although really, he did miss quite a few important things. I make no hint of this however as we walk to the neighborhood adjacent to Harper. Joe complains about the stupidity of D-Hall, and I smile and nod at the right times, but my mind is really somewhere else, with someone else.

"Well, I live just over there, so I'll be heading off. Bye." We wave at each other and Joe heads in the opposite direction while I head into my own house, locking the door shut behind me.

Buzz.

What was that?

Buzz, buzz.

It occurs to me then that these vibrations are coming from my phone, tucked into the back pocket. I take it out and can't help but smile at three new notifications on my screen.

From: Unknown Number
>hey it's pete
>so remember when i took your phone in the library
>it was for this haha


THE CHANGES

there's really only one change, that change being how pete gets pat's number. in the OG i made it where pete put his number in patrick's phone, and then at the end of the chapter pete somehow magically texted pat's number first, so i had to be like "oh yeah pete just memorized pat's number while putting his own on pat's phone. no biggie." so yeah there's that lmao

onward to the next~

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