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"Resurfacing" chapter 5

It had taken Brent a while to finally stop looking at Bill strangely the day they hung out at his place, but, eventually, he did. Things seemed pretty much back to normal, and they greeted each other in the morning before class.

Bill’s first class that day was Spanish, a subject he had never taken before. He had studied French at his previous school, for three years, and still wasn’t that good. Bill had guessed that he wasn’t very great at foreign languages, and the fact that he was starting a different one in the middle of the year made him even more discouraged.

‘At this rate, I’m probably going to fail this semester,’ he thought bleakly.

Bill was on time for school, for the first time in a while, and the classroom was empty when he arrived. He took a seat by the window, giving a short wave to the teacher behind her desk. He pulled on his headphones while he waited, staring through the window to the kids that were standing outside.

Most kids, if they were early, talked with their friends before class. Bill knew this, but didn’t want to risk being seen all alone on the steps waiting for them. When he was first getting used to his new school, he had told himself that he wouldn’t care if he ended up alone again. But as he befriended more people, he found himself growing more dependent on them.

And, yet, he sometimes felt oddly disconnected.

He was definitely enjoying his friends’ company - Rosalie and Erica were always especially nice to him - but he always felt like he had to keep a secret from them. Friends, if they’ve known each other for long enough, were supposed to tell each other everything, but Bill could never imagine ever telling Rosalie or Erica what he had been through at his old school; being alone, teased, bullied.

The school freak.

Bill took a deep breath as he admitted that that’s what he had been before he moved. It was shameful, and he never wanted to tell anyone that. But at the same time, he did. He wanted to share his pain with someone that would understand.

‘Whatever,’ Bill thought. ‘Like that’s ever going to happen.’

Bill was distracted as the door opened and people started walking inside, chatting and laughing. Seats started filling up, and the teacher started writing things on the board, waiting for the rest of her class to appear.

“Um, hey, Bill...” someone mumbled.

Bill removed one of his headphones. “Um, hi,” he answered, not really quite sure who was talking to him.

“I just wanted to thank you for yesterday,” the girl said. “That was brave of you...” she continued, embarrassed by her own words.

“Oh... ok, thanks,” Bill answered, staring up at her. This was the girl that had called out during the teasing, Bill realized. She was the one who had been immediately shushed and forgotten, her attempts fruitless.

Bill smiled. “Thanks,” he repeated, his voice stronger now. “You tried too,” he reminded her.

“Yeah... but I don’t know why I did, no one would ever listen to me,” she answered, tilting her head down.

“But you tried, at least. They were assholes for doing that,” Bill answered bitterly. He looked up at the awkward girl, and smiled. “You want to sit here?” he asked.

Her face lit up. “Ok!” she answered, sliding into the seat next to him. He chuckled and put his headphones away. They started talking for a few minutes before class started. When it did, Bill found that this girl was very knowledgeable about Spanish. She seemed happy to talk to him, and Bill was happy to listen. He had cheered her up, somehow, and Bill enjoyed the feeling that it gave him.

“Thanks for helping me today,” Bill said as the class was dismissed, and he and the girl, who’s name he found out was Megan, stood up and collected their things.

She twiddled her thumbs, still staring at her feet. “Well, thanks for letting me sit with you today,” she said. “People don’t usually let me do that...”

Bill stared for a moment, then shook his head.

‘This fucking school is worse than my old one...’ he thought with anger.

“No problem,” he answered, trying to sound normal. “We can sit together next Spanish class, too,” he added with a smile.

Megan lit up and returned the smile. She and Bill walked out of the classroom, and said goodbye at the next corner.

“Oh, wait,” he said, stopping her. “Do you know...” he glanced at his schedule. “... where room 122 is?”

She laughed. “That’s the Gym, silly,” she said.

“Oh...” Bill said, also laughing. “Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, waving his hand goodbye. She did the same and they took off in different directions.

Bill felt a bit happier after his class with Megan. He could more than guess that she wasn’t very popular, or a good talker, but that was all the more reason to talk to her. Everyone should talk to someone for at least one class, no matter how popular they are. No one liked being alone.

“Ugh... shit,” Bill muttered as he entered the Gym. His good mood was officially ruined.

Bill wasn’t very interested in sports. When he was young, all his cousins played basketball or football, and Bill was the odd one out. He’d much rather strum a guitar than shoot a ball through a hoop.

Thankfully, Bill would be able to sit this one out, as he didn’t have a uniform. The instructors allowed him to sit in the bleachers and watch everyone play, taking one glance at his tight leather jacket and loose jeans and deciding that he was in no condition to play in them.

Bill sighed and leaned back against the bleachers, listening to his music once again. He started texting Rosalie, who was in History, and discussing some upcoming concert that she was excited for.

‘Do you want to come?’ she had asked.

Bill cringed, knowing that most of the music she liked was not Bill’s style. But, what the hell.

‘Sure’, Bill answered. ‘Just as long as the tickets aren’t expensive.’

Bill looked up from his phone, the conversation not keeping him entertained for long. He traced his polished fingers over the lines of the tattoo on his wrist, swirls of black that contrasted greatly to his white skin. He had another tattoo on his lower stomach, an older one. That was the one his mom didn’t know about.

She had reluctantly let him tattoo his wrist earlier that year, when he turned 16. Bill knew his mother wasn’t very hard to convince when he wanted something. She knew he had suffered at school, and wanted to make him as happy as possible otherwise.

Bill sighed. ‘Why the fuck am I thinking about that so much today...?’ he thought bitterly.

He spotted the gym instructor gesturing that the class was finally over. Kids were finishing up their games and walking into their respected locker rooms. Bill hopped off his seat to the floor. He wasn’t sure where to go; his next class wouldn’t start for fifteen more minutes.

“Mr. Kaulitz, I trust you’ll have your uniform ready by next week?” the teacher said, squinting suspiciously at his leather and eyebrow piercing.

“Yeah, sure,” Bill answered dully, stuffing his hands in his pocket. The teacher gave him one last look before retreating. Bill waited a few more minutes for some kids to come out of the locker room before following some of them as they crossed the gym to leave.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted something familiar.

‘It’s him...’ Bill realized. The other boy who, thanks to him, had been spared Brent’s teasing the other day.

His long, blonde dreadlocks were pulled back from his face, still glistening with sweat from the day’s workout. The soft muscles in his arms flexed as stretched them out in front of him. He was dressed, again, in baggy, ill-fitting clothes, which, Bill realized for the first time, must have had some urban influence.

The part of him Bill found the coolest was his lipring. If Bill hadn’t already had a tongue piercing, he might have considered getting one like his.

“Move it, fucking freak,” some muttered as they pushed past the boy without as much as a second glance. The boy stumbled slightly, caught himself, and continued walking until he was out of the gym.

Bill was surprised, his eyes widened. ‘That kid’s still being teased?’ he asked himself. ‘What the fuck is he doing wrong?’

But he was already gone, and there was nothing left for Bill to judge. He moved with the other kids who were coming out of the locker rooms and left the gym. He tried momentarily to look around for the boy with the dreadlocks, but he was nowhere to be seen, of course.

Bill’s next class was unexciting. He spent the entire time talking to Chris, one of Erica’s friends. Bill had figured out that this was the same guy who had falsely reassured him that Brent’s teasing was never “anything too bad”.

When the class was dismissed for lunch, Bill couldn’t even remember what it had been about. He almost wished none of his friends were ever in his classes, just so maybe he could concentrate more.

When lunch started, Bill meant to walk over to Rosalie’s table, but ended up talking with Erica for a full fifteen minutes. He was awakened from the conversation by the rumbling of his stomach, and realized that Rosalie must be wondering where he was.

He excused himself and squeezed in next to Rosalie and Nora. They didn’t seem quite as friendly as usual, and Bill was starting to get nervous.

After lunch, Bill spent his entire next class anxious for history. There was something he wanted to tell Nora about.

He took his usual seat next to Nora as History started, and they exchanged the usual greetings. As the teacher started lecturing them about the Crusades, Bill glanced nervously at his friend.

“Um... Nora?” he asked uncertainly.

“Hmm?” she answered, writing notes at the same time.

“I just wanted to know... is everyone alright between me and the rest of the group?” he asked, letting out a breath as he confessed what his worries were.

She looked at him, slightly surprised. “What makes you say that?” she asked, though Bill could spot some guilt in her expression.

“I don’t know... it just feels like some of you, Rosalie especially, seem to have a problem with me talking to Erica and her friends,” he responded, his voice dropping to a whisper.

Nora was quiet for a moment, then took a breath. “Well... yeah, I admit, Rosalie’s a little upset,” she finally said.

Bill sighed, shoulders slumping. “Shit...” he muttered.

“But... I mean, it isn’t as simple as that, you know?” Nora continued, not wanting to see Bill upset. “It’s not just the fact that you’re talking to them... it’s just that Rosalie really likes you.”

Bill’s eyebrows raised.

Nora blushed. “Um, I mean... we all do! We all like you, and some of us are just worried that you’re going to ditch us for Erica’s friends,” she explained.

“Oh...” Bill said, resting his chin in his hands. “Yeah, I was afraid of that.”

Nora nodded solemnly.

“But... I don’t want to ditch anyone. I really don’t. I’m just stupid when it comes to matters like these...” Bill admitted. “If I could, I’d make up a specific schedule for when I talk to certain people, just so I don’t clumsily end up hurting someone’s feelings...”

Bill couldn’t help but feel stupid while he was saying this.

Nora just giggled. “Well, why not?”

Bill blinked. “Huh?”

“I mean, all you have to do is plan things in advance. Find out when you’ve already made plans with certain people, and just balance out who it is. Spend half the time with us, half the time with them,” Nora explained.

Bill considered the thought. “Yeah, that sounds good... I should have thought more like that in the first place,” he said. His face brightened. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’ll do! I’ll balance my time evenly.”

Nora smiled. “Good!”

Bill grinned. “I swear on this day that I’ll never ditch any one of my friends ever again” he said, holding his hand up as though he was making a pledge.

Nora giggled and pulled his hand down as the teacher walked by.

“Good. I’ll see to it that you keep that promise.”

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