•1• // Split In Half

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LAURENS, THIRD POV

Light strokes on the canvas turned into a bold, irregular trace. His lip trembled, and the pencil fell onto the surface. He didn't bother to resume the 'sketch'.

The squeezing feeling in his chest made breathing difficult, and additionally, his focus. He wasn't prepared for the waves of guilt he faced that morning, but he was fully aware that he had to confess it eventually. And today was eventually.

Everyone knew it at school. It used to hold its place as the trending topic, but it died down rather quickly. John's insecurity with it also eroded, but now he felt like the insecurity was brought back to life.

The discussion of it could be avoided, but John was taught to express everything to his parents. He obeyed that rule without objection. Obedience was the key to please his parents, or they wouldn't be able to refine him into their perfect son.

Perfect, authentic Jacky Laurens. That's the boy they cherished.

If it weren't for the students at his school, John would've been a shell of a human. A human without a personality or emotions; a robot. Thankfully, he didn't have to encounter the emotions of dejection or any immense conflict with anger. He was always crowded with students. Specifically the ones with the bomber jackets that respected him.

He pressed the side button and read 6:30 am on the lock screen. He pried the portion of his covers that hugged his legs off and scurried downstairs, watching his parents in the dining room wait patiently in silence with their plates and silverware in front of them. They smiled at him as he claimed his seat.

His mother, Eleanor, sliced her meal and began conversation. "So, John, is school enjoyable?"

"Yes," John replied automatically. It was a repetitive question.

"Jack, have you applied for any school activities yet?" His father, Henry, asked after he gulped down a slice of steak.

John shook his head. "No, father, I have not considered."

"Perhaps you should consider admitting yourself into the sports team," Henry suggested. "You always had a fascination regarding football. Your ability elevated every single day when you were just a boy." Eleanor nodded her head in agreement with a small smile representing pride.

"Guess I could give footba—"

"Language."

John cleared his throat, correcting himself. "I suppose I could open up my interests to that particular avocation."

Pristine language also applied to refining their image. It originated from Henry's idea that they would enhance their intelligence on a level that differed from the typical individual, only because they desired to be nothing but qualities.

Personally, John loathed the requirement of precise language. Frequently, he'd incorporate it at school and scold himself for it. It was like he was wearing a mask. He'd act like an android in the morning and act like one of the kids with the bomber jackets at school.

Kids with the bomber jackets were the ones that outweighed everyone on the scale. They were impulsive, careless, and loud. They were like an upbeat video never put on pause.

If they swung an arm around you with the cracked grin, that signified respect. And it was also relieving because it excluded you from the kids who get purple bruises at least by the end of the day.

After John finished up his plate, he placed it in the dishwasher and made his way back to the table, leaving his parents slightly bewildered. He would normally excuse himself before preparing for school.

"I... I have something I'd like to inform you both about..." John began shakily, feeling anxiety gradually build itself. "If you do not accept me for what I desire, then I suppose it will divide us."

"What is troubling you, Jack?"

"You both remember Francis, correct?" Both of his parents nodded their heads.

"Well... before that meeting I've developed a comprehension of my..." he paused, "sexuality. Prior to that, Francis has been my boyfriend for several months now, and I firmly believe that my affections are towards males only..."

A silence fell upon the room. John was tempted to dash off and eat away his emotions in the private space of his room, but he knew that would upset his parents. So, he hung his head low and fiddled with his thumbs.

They may want to send me away. John thought with a frown. Or beat the sexuality out of me.

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard his mother clear her throat with her hand curled into a ball. His head shot up and he engrossed his jade green eyes into his mother's with a gleam of hope in them.

"Your father and I have not formulated a decision," she informed him, "but we will not penalize you. As parents, it is required for us personally that we support you."

Henry blinked in surprise. "Eleanor, we have not discussed the matter," he turned and faced John with a solemn expression, "and Jack, please head to your bedroom and reside there until it is time for your departure to school."

"Yes, father."

••

As soon as John entered the school, he felt his back collide with a locker roughly and a warmth on his lips. He winced slightly before responding to the kiss, automatically recognizing Francis' soft and plump lips. Nobody batted an eye.

Well, except for one individual.

Francis was knocked to the ground with a single push with both hands. After acknowledging the hit and reopening his eyes, he balled his fists and clenched his jaw. He was practically fuming.

On the other hand, the individual remained unfazed. He took a few steps forward and pushed his hands into his pockets, towering over Francis. He parted his lips with a completely relaxed, but lazy expression with lowered eyes that quickly curved into a smile along with a small, breathy chuckle.

John had never seen him take action anywhere near this before.

The boy crouched down and put his fingertips underneath Francis' chin, angling his head upward.

He whispered, "Y'know, I can forgive you—well, as long as you refrain from sticking your dick in front of my locker, then I think I don't need any more business with you."

"What the hell did you just say to me?" Francis growled, standing up and grabbing the shorter boy by the collar. "I'll have you know that I'm the top dog of this school. You should be afraid of me, kid. You shouldn't be speaking to an upper-class individual like that or you'll never forget what you receive."

"Damn," The boy chuckled as the grip on his collar grew tighter, "I think there's still some leftover shit on your mouth."

John was offended. He certainly did not have filthy lips.

"That's it, Hamilton," Francis pierced his coal black eyes into the smaller boy's pair, "you've pissed me off too much."

And with that, Hamilton received a blow directly to his crotch. He stumbled back and nearly fell, but he concealed any other sign of weakness.

The halls were silent. Countless students witnessed the scene.

After several seconds passed, Hamilton met Francis' eyes for the final time before exiting the center of attention.

Nobody but John took the emotion of his eyes into account. The pair looked vicious, a glaze of a plan over the periwinkle color. Strings, a myriad of blank strings, connecting together to do... something. Just something.

Hamilton's desires were unknown.

WORD COUNT: 1

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