A HOLLOW SPOT HAD BEEN CARVED IN DORIAN'S CHEST. With his lips, Nazari had deprived him of a heart. The effect was instant and noticeable. Haruki, sitting two rows in front of the blond haired boy in Calculus, could tell with clarity, aided by his spectacles, that there was a difference between the Dorian he left behind to follow Max's tired frame and the Dorian that sat in his seat, rigid, cold but somehow shinning.
The problem was in the similarity. Haruki's onyx eyes had seen the symptoms before. Just the same morning he had the privilege to watch what they could lead to. Max's roar rang in his ears. He tried to imagine what it would sound like coming out of Dorian's small mouth. The thought alone was terrifying.
The professor dismissed them a few minutes after the bell rang. Haruki was quick on his feet to match Dorian's stride.
"Hey, are you planning on talking to your roommate," the boy asked, pushing his gold-rimmed glasses further up the bridge of his nose.
Haruki expected Dorian's tone to convey a kind of forgetfulness so he could verify his suspicions. The plan was to playfully elbow him in the ribs and say something along the lines of did you already forget how Max lost it this morning? However, the comedic tragedy that came out of Dorian's mouth held a hint of disgust. Why would I talk to my roommate, Dorian secretly implied.
"Max kinda scared him shitless this morning," Haruki tried again.
Dorian smirked like a badly written villain, looking straight ahead, triumphant. "Oh, that." His smirk evolved into an acidic half smile. "He'll get over it."
Haruki's feet ceased movement at their own accord. A nerve was struck within him that gave way to an influx of unpleasant emotions. The ones he usually kept under a padlock, or self-medicated for. His father showing what he meant by no remorse. His mother's grave. Silk and snakes.
Dorian did not spare him a single glance as he glided forward. There were numerous boys walking the halls, most of them stared at Haruki before disappearing into a classroom, but the raven-haired boy didn't care.
The St. Nicholas Fencing Club boys committed sacrilege in many forms, but none so great as residing in the school's chapel. It had been commissioned by one of the headmasters, Hugh McAllister, who had visions of catholic grandeur for the institution that he perceived St. Nicholas to be. His dreams were crushed when scandal ensued. The priest had to be removed, and he dragged Mr. McAllister with him to the pits of hell. The chapel was abandoned until later, when a promising student by the name of Jazz Harrison stepped foot on school grounds.
Haruki recalled with a smile, while taking long strides towards the chapel, how he and Jazz became friends. They sipped into each other like a river to the sea; meaning that Haruki became an extension of Jazz. Only days after the boy with a voice like the chime of church bells became a student, Haruki could only be seen by his side. They moved into the chapel together after Jazz's father purchased it for personal use at a dire economic time for the school. It was the perfect 'fuck you' to an administration that denied him admission in the 50's even though he had more than enough qualifications.
It was the 'fuck you' of fencing club boys to the rest of the student party, to the faculty, to God himself. We're living in your house and you can do nothing. The sentiment became stronger when Hector allowed both Jazz and Haruki into the fencing club, and somehow the chapel filled with boys of all shapes and sizes. Five boys against the world.
It didn't feel like it anymore. Haruki felt alone against the five. Especially after seeing Dorian's eyes glaze over with a daze he'd seen before.
The chapel door creaked open to reveal a dreamlike space. The stained glass windows allowed light into the expanse. The windows were the only discernible sign of religion. Everything else had been removed to give way to science and art. Haruki often imagined that apart from students they were also young polymaths in Rome or London, spending their time lounging around the numerous bookcases and desks, on antique love seats with books in their hands, debating over passages from translated Aristotle texts.
The fantasy was shattered swiftly when the books remained nestled on shelves and there was no debating, only boyish debauchery that was slowly turning more sinister. Haruki was reminded of his father with each passing day. Sometimes, he would turn, and the old man would be in the room with them, spitting venomous words in his sharp Japanese: you're too stupid for this world.
Haruki could no longer deny that he was perhaps too trusting, too optimistic. He expected goodness and beauty, kindness and tender relations. What he got in return were panic attacks fueled by endless cocaine lines. He got to see Jazz slowly disappear into his phone, the promise he carried like a badge of honor when they first met gradually wearing off. Now, he was going to sit back and observe as Hector destroyed yet another one of them.
"Haruki, old sport, where you been?"
Jazz knew about his harlequin reading by the pond, a secret he had kept well, though Haruki never asked him too.
"We signed you up for the trip," piped Beaumont. He always chose the armchair that showed off his best angles depending on the lighting.
Haruki's eyebrow lifted momentarily. "We're going? Why?"
They had made a habit out of avoiding school trips, dances with the neighboring all-girls school and any assembly they could.
"I thought we deserve some fun," answered Hector.
Haruki hadn't registered his body sitting on the sofa with a book in his hands, which he closed abruptly, creating a cloud of smoke in front of his face. Dorian was sitting next to him, their knees almost touching but not quite. The minimal distance between them seemed impregnable, and it was evident that Max was weighing the pros and the cons of coming between them from across the room.
Haruki remembered Max being there. Always being there. Like a ghost, lingering beside Hector ever since the first time they spotted them descending the steps of the tower they used for sculpture safe-keeping. They barely exchanged any words, ever. Max was always privy to Hector's thoughts, as Hector was to everybody's. That balance seemed to be falling apart.
Dorian looked bewitched. Staring ahead at nothing in particular, he looked foreign. As if he belonged to an alien race from a galaxy far away, whereas Hector looked like he'd crawled out of the core of the Earth. A yin and a yang, only Haruki struggled to believe that they represented balance. More like the disruption of it. Something bad was coming.
Hector caught Haruki's gaze landing on Dorian.
"Did you know that Genghis Khan used to pour silver into the mouths of men who desired his wife," Hector added, nonchalantly, gently pressing Dorian's knee as he stood. His eyes never left Haruki.
"Didn't that dude have a lot of wives," asked Jazz, eyes slightly squinted. Haruki wanted to allow a smile directed solely at his friend.
Hector didn't answer, but rolled his eyes as if to say that's not the point.
But Haruki caught the threat behind his random fact. He'd become an expert at decoding words to reveal the ugly notions people left unsaid. Dorian was not just another fencing club boy. He was not Haruki's recruit. He was not the boy Haruki had seen dozing off by the bed while laying half-conscious after a drug binge.
Something evil was coming.