Pairing: Gabe Saporta/William Beckett
Rating: Still mostly harmless.
Summary/Excerpt: He slides the top paper behind the others and runs his eyes quickly over the words on the next one. It's a set of questions, descriptions of feelings and behaviors with multiple-choice answers ranging from "very much like me" to "not at all like me". He shuffles a few more pages ahead, to the end of the questions, wanting to get to the point of it all.
The words on the last page, in bold type, stand out to him, though: High tendency (90% or more) towards Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Social Anxiety.
Disclaimer: Once upon a time, a couple of internet scene bitches said they were going to call the real Gabe Saporta and read him my story over the phone. So if that ever really happens, or if you stumble upon this any other way, sorry, Gabe! :s [My disclaimers are distancing themselves more and more from actually disclaiming anything with every entry...]
Notes: It's back from the dead for, what, the fourth time? I think it's run out of undead creatures to be. >.> No, wait, I don't think it's been a Frankenstein yet. So that's what it is.
Gabe stumbles down the stairs still in his pajamas on Monday morning, 20 minutes before he usually leaves for school. He’d spent nearly two hours in the shower after getting home from the concert, and then he’d spent the entire weekend in his room, first horrified over what had happened and seething with rage at William Beckett, and later, once he’d calmed down a bit, feeling absolutely awful for the way he’d reacted, and once again dreading what would happen the next time they saw each other.
"I can't go to school today."
He considers adding 'Or ever again,' but he knows his mom will just laugh at that.
She lowers her newspaper and stares at him.
"Uh-huh. And why is that?"
"I have the death. I caught it at the concert. I'm dying."
"I don't believe you. You don't look dead to me."
He sighs, and decides to go for complete honesty.
"I really don't want to. Come on, I hardly ever take days off. Just let me have today."
His mother raises an eyebrow, like she's considering, then chuckles.
"And I hardly ever impose those so-called 'rules' I have for you, so I think I will today. You're going."
Gabe actually seriously considers throwing a tantrum for half a second, then shakes his head and goes for whining instead.
"But I haven't even taken a shower!"
"Then you'd better hurry, or you're going to school smelly! Go on. I'll drive you today."
By the time he's done getting ready--he has to cut his shower down to six minutes, and he doesn't have time to eat breakfast or pack lunch [and he knows he's going to feel itchy and out of place in his own body all day; all his routines and numbers are totally off]--and his mom drops him off, he slides into his seat in science class just moments before the bell rings.
The day's lesson is about explosive compounds, and Gabe doesn't hear a word of it. He spends the entire time staring down at his notebook, occasionally writing down random phrases [he makes sure to always have a pencil on him now] whenever the noise in his head gets to be too much, and when the bell rings, it sends a sickening jolt of fear through his stomach.
He stays where he is until all the kids have left, then slowly packs up his belongings. He shoulders his gray messenger bag and trudges out into the hall, staring at his feet.
He slips into math class, takes his usual seat, and when class starts, he immediately tunes the teacher out again. It doesn't miss his attention, though, that when Will enters, he walks right past the seat he has been taking next to Gabe for the past few weeks, and goes to join a group of people a few rows over at the back of the classroom, turning his back to Gabe [it's not intentional, he doesn't think, but it still hurts a little, even though he deserves it] and immersing himself in their conversation.
Gabe swallows down a sigh and opens his notebook, picking up where he left off in the last class, in the middle of a run-down of his day:
I actually wore that stupid hoodie he dug up for me today. It looks fucking ridiculous, as expected. I made "thumbholes" in the sleeves, those are really "scene" (supposedly; whatever that is), and if I'm never going to fit in somewhere, I might as well try to look like I do, so people don't ask me about it. Anyway, they make me feel less like it's going to be ripped off my back if, like, a pack of velociraptors invades the school and attacks.
He stops and reviews his writing, counts the various things he has to keep track of about it, and smiles, pleased with the totals: 84 words, 342 letters, 4 sentences. He sets his pencil next to the notebook on his desk and looks back up to the front of the classroom, but the teacher has finished talking and he's missed all of it. It's then that he notices Will looking at him from the seat next to him.
He slowly turns his head to the side, regards Will evenly.
"Were you even listening?"
Gabe narrows his eyes.
Will rolls his own eyes.
"We're doing group projects and we have to pick four people and assign duties to each person and compile it all and give a report on it in a week. And you're gonna be in my group, 'kay?"
Gabe doesn't even hear the rest of the sentence; he freezes and his mind screeches to a halt at the words 'group project'.
It's the only word he can think of. He's completely overcome with terror--group projects are pretty much the worst thing in the world, and that combined with having to give a report in front of the class practically kills him there in his seat--and he doesn't know what to think or what to say, all his mind gives him is No. No. Nonono.
Will scoffs in disbelief.
"No? Seriously? Who the hell else are you going to be with?"
They both look around the classroom; everyone else has already gotten into groups, some of them switching seats and scooting desks around to get into circles and start discussing their ideas for the project.
"No, I mean..."
Gabe swallows hard and turns so he's almost looking at Will, but doesn't quite meet his eyes, keeps his gaze just off to the side of Will's face.
"...What did you say?"
"I said I want you to be in my group."
Again, Gabe thinks No, no way, I don't want to be with your group; I don't want to be with you in any way-- and he's about to say it again, but he can't ignore the small sense of relief that even despite everything that's transgressed between them, William Beckett still wants to be nice to him and help him out. That, combined with the point he brought up, that Gabe really doesn't have anyone else to work with or any other options, has him nodding his head almost against his will.
Will nods back.
"Okay. Good. We're gonna be with--"
"I'm still mad at you."
Gabe surprises himself by speaking the thought out loud, and Will stops halfway through standing up to move over to the other members of their group. He turns the same disbelieving look on Gabe, something close to anger in his eyes.
"Why? If anything, I should be pissed at you. You totally wigged out on me at the show and you wouldn't even tell me why--"
Will seems to suddenly realize that he's raising his voice and he's stood up to his full six-foot-plus height, and that makes him quite a beacon for the attention of their nosy classmates, so he drops back into his chair and looks hard at Gabe.
"We need to talk about this."
He stands up again, quickly, moving faster than Gabe can process, and grabs Gabe's hand. He's dragging him out of the classroom before Gabe can even get past his usual thought of germs, touching, ew! and squawk out a protest.
Gabe is a little bit horrified, because, what, they're just going to walk out in the middle of class? He's never cut class before; he's never missed school for any reason except the collective ten or so sick days he's taken in the three years he's spent there.
Will drops his deathgrip on Gabe's wrist when the classroom door slams behind them.
"What's wrong? Why are you still pissed at me?"
Gabe backs up against the lockers lining the wall, hunches his shoulders, starts rubbing his hands together nervously. He looks down, runs his tongue over his teeth in preparation for the speech he's about to make, sorting out the words and running them over in his head so he doesn't stutter or mess up.
"You wouldn't tell me where we were going. I hate secrets, and I hate surprises. You made me talk to your friends, which was awkward and embarrassing. Then you took me to--left me in--a place that was full of people. It was dark and they breathed on me and they touched me and they were sweaty and full of germs and I could have died and you KNOW I hate being around people, and-- and--"
He runs out of rant and trails off, surprised at himself for the unexpected outburst. He quickly runs over the words again [and then again] in his head, to make sure he didn't say anything stupid or wrong.
Will just stares at him.
"You-- No, wait-- No-- What..."
Will scrubs his hand over his face, hard, trying to rub away the ache beginning to build up between his eyes.
"Died? Seriously? It was just a concert."
Gabe looks down again.
But he's out of words, clammed up again, can't figure out how to express what a huge deal it was for him, to this boy who is so different from him, who has such a hard time understanding him. He crosses his arms and stares at the floor. Will takes a step back and mirrors his posture in a defiant way, but he keeps his eyes up, looking hard at Gabe, who starts to squirm after a moment under the intense scrutiny.
After a moment Will relaxes a bit, drops one arm down to his side, the other hand clutching his opposite shoulder. He looks like a little kid about to insincerely apologize without knowing what it's for.
"Okay, I'm sorry. I don't really get why that was such a horrible thing to do to you, but I'm sorry that everything I do just seems to freak you out and make you angry with me. I'm sorry I bo--"
The silence hangs, expectant, and Gabe can sense that Will is biting back words he's not sure he wants to put out there. Gabe squeezes his arms tighter to his chest and keeps looking down, says nothing.
Will sighs, seems to give up on the argument.
"Okay, so you hate me?"
Gabe blinks, surprised, and his jaw drops. He frowns hard, frustrated, because why does Will misinterpret every action he makes? Why can't this boy just get him for once? He wants to protest Will's assumption, but he can't get his mouth to work, so after a moment he closes it again.
"Great. And you don't want to talk about it. Of course."
The tension and awkwardness are almost physically painful for him, and he completely freezes up, still pressed against the lockers. Will seems to sense that, and he relaxes his posture a little more, letting the other arm down.
"Fine, let's just..."
He looks down, lets out a sigh that just seems to drain all the life out of him with it.
"I don't even know what. Go do our stupid math project, I guess."
Gabe follows Will's slumped shoulders back into the classroom and ignores the lump in his throat, the stinging at the corners of his eyes.
The first few weeks of high school had been hell for Gabe. He didn't know where anything was or what to do most of the time, and of course he was too terrified to ask anyone. And since nobody knew him, no one made an effort to talk to him or help him out, either.
Of course, he had his fair share of embarrassing moments: tripping up the stairs; getting knocked into and scattering his belongings all over the hall; getting lost and not realizing until the room filled with people twice his size that he had ended up in senior woodshop class and not the art room he'd set out for, which naturally ended up being on the exact opposite side of the school, resulting in more embarrassment from arriving to class late by the time he finally found it. But the worst part for Gabe was just being around so many people, after being so used to isolation in his quiet, empty house.
In his English class, they started reading a book about a girl who refused to speak because of a secret she was keeping. [Actually, he took the book home the day it was assigned and read the whole thing that night, enabling him to pretty much tune out and work on whatever he wanted while the class spent the next three weeks trudging through and reading aloud and dissecting and analyzing the story--it was just the beginning of one of his Very Bad Habits concerning schoolwork.] Gabe immediately adopted the protagonist as his personal role model and began following her mute example by ignoring everything and everyone around him, even on the very rare occasion that a comment or question was actually directed at him. Still, he felt like a bit of a fraud, because at least the girl in the book had a reason not to talk. Gabe just didn't want to, because people were scary and kind of icky.
Really, it had been pretty overwhelming, being suddenly surrounded by that much humanity for eight hours every day; Gabe was honestly surprised he didn't actually die during those first few weeks, especially with the way it seemed like someone was always sniffling in every one of his classes, and he felt that the desks were much too close together, so people were always shuffling by and touching him, or just breathing their germs all over him.
And then, just over a month into the school year, it happened:
[He remembered the first day, when a kid had turned and sneezed right on him; he thought about every time someone had coughed without covering their mouth, or even if they had but then hadn't gotten up to wash their hands immediately after and then passed him back a paper or a ruler or whatever; he recalled every time someone coughed germs into the air within ten feet of him and he'd held his breath as long as he could, how he had practically run to the bathroom between every class to wash his hands and scrub all of the ew off of himself that the other kids had put there.
He thought, Should have gotten one of those surgical masks; should have worn rubber gloves, but it was too late.]
Gabe had finally succumbed to the inevitable, and, after two and a half years of perfect health, he had caught a cold.
He woke up one morning feeling distinctly...off. He hadn't been sick in years, so he wasn't used to the feeling or the signs telling him that was what it was. He had followed his normal routines and shown up to school, despite feeling dizzy and tired and like he just wanted to collapse on the ground and curl up into a ball and sleep for forever, nevermind if he got trampled by the uncaring kids in the halls.
After dragging himself through the halls to his first class and practically falling into his chair, he immediately plunked his head down on his desk, without even pausing to wipe it off with his sleeve first. It's too late, anyway. I might as well just give in, he thought, as his nose began to run and he became one of those sniffling, disease-radiating things he had so despised from day one.
It only got worse as the morning progressed. When the teacher began talking, he lifted his head up with a great effort and attempted to concentrate, but the numbers and letters just seemed to swim around on the board and he couldn't get them to form anything coherent. He could feel an ache building up in his head, and the harder he tried to pay attention to the lesson, the worse it got; he could feel the pressure increasing and he imagined his brain swelling up to the point where it burst out of his skull, and he was so horrified by the mental image that before he knew what he was doing, his hand shot into the air.
The teacher seemed surprised; obviously he had never volunteered an answer [or anything else, for that matter, even his name] during class. She looked at him for a moment, then fumbled for her seating chart, scanning it quickly and then looking up with a smile.
"Mister...Saporta? Do you have the answer?"
Gabe, feeling more woozy than ever and unable to process anything other than Have to get out of here on repeat in his mind, was completely thrown by this. Answer? What answer?
Finally, he dropped his arm to point at the hall pass hanging next to the door.
"Oh, are you okay? Do you feel sick?"
Gabe, still intent on not speaking to any of these people [and at this point not even sure if he could, with the way his sore his throat felt like it was just about swollen shut] just shrugged and sort of nodded.
"Do you need someone to walk you to the nurse?"
He shook his head emphatically, then groaned quietly at how much that increased the pain and the dizziness.
"Okay, well, if you think you can make it..."
Gabe just nodded again, and then stood up, keeping his eyes on the floor, walked past the teacher, hooked a finger through the loop of string on the pass, and left the classroom.
He didn't feel like going to the bathroom, or the nurse, so he hung the pass by its string on the handle of the door that had just slammed shut behind him, looked left, looked right, and then took off down the hallway toward the nearest exit.
Once he arrived back home [after having to stop and rest twice, and taking twelve minutes longer than usual] he barely managed to stumble over to the couch, where he collapsed face-down and slept straight through until his mother got home, eight hours later.
He woke up feeling even worse, if possible. After spending a few minutes coughing up his lungs while his mother cooed sympathetically and rubbed his back, he definitively decided:
"I'm never going back there."
His mother sighed and pressed her hand against his forehead. It felt amazingly cool against the heat and pounding that seemed to radiate from his head, and he closed his eyes, drinking in the comfort.
"You've just got a cold, sweetie, it's normal, everyone gets them sometimes."
"Not me. I can't-- It's not-- This is horrible. I'm going to die. I can't go back there. I'll die if I have to go back there."
His mother just sighed [and he thought he saw her roll her eyes as she turned away, but he couldn't be sure with the way his eyes were all itchy and watery and the pounding head-pain made it hard to focus on anything]. She went back to the front door and called over her shoulder.
"I'm going to go get you some medicine."
Gabe wanted to move from the couch to his bed, where he would be more comfortable, but just the thought of climbing all twenty stairs made him feel so tired that he passed out again almost immediately, vowing to double, even triple his efforts in germ avoidance in the future.
Gabe follows Will back into math class and over to the circle of desks Will had been sitting at earlier, sitting hesitantly in the empty one they left for him. He doesn't say a word for the rest of class, only nodding in greeting at the other two members of the group, who Will introduces as his friends Tomrad and Butcher [and Gabe impresses himself by not snickering out loud at their ridiculous nicknames.] He doesn't offer any input on the project, only shrugging or nodding more when they ask him if he's okay with the direction they're taking it. He keeps his head down until the bell rings, then picks up his things and leaves without saying goodbye to any of the group members.
He takes his usual lunchtime spot in front of his locker, plunking his bag down next to himself and pulling out his green notebook. He opens it to a new page, intent on writing a long-winded, venting rant about William Becket, and how confusing and infuriating and just...everything he is. But he gets caught up over how Will really kind of is everything to him right now; gets lost in thought over how he still doesn't know how to feel about the boy.
A noise down the hall brings his mind swimming out of the haze, slowly, and he leans his head to one side to look for the source of it. Will is standing a way down with the boys from math class, and Sisky from the concert. They're talking about something, quietly; Gabe can't make out what they're saying. Will glances his way, and Gabe doesn't even try to pretend like he wasn't staring curiously at the other boy, and then Will holds up a finger to his friends, spins on one foot, and starts walking towards Gabe.
Gabe keeps his eyes on Will until he stops right in front of him, at which point he's struck with an inexplicable desire to ask him, beg him, 'Please don't be mad at me anymore.' But he won't lower himself to that, so he looks back down at his notebook, holding his pen above the top line of the still completely blank page.
Will sticks his thumbs in his pockets and cocks his hip to the side, watching Gabe. After a moment, he straightens up and pulls something out of his back pocket.
"Um, here, I did this... Uh... Well, just take it."
He holds out a couple of pieces of paper, folded together into quarters. Gabe takes them, puts his notebook on the floor on his other side and puts the papers on top of it. He looks back up at Will, a questioning look in his eyes.
"I just, uh, I don't know. I thought it would help. Sorry."
Will sticks his hands back in his pockets [they barely fit, with his pants being so tight, but Gabe tries not to let his eyes linger on that particular detail], turns on his heels, and starts to walk away, but then he stops and glances back over his shoulder.
"You don't have a lunch?"
Gabe shakes his head. [He'd had a shoe-counting dilemma while getting dressed this morning, and solving it had taken up the two minutes he'd allotted to packing his lunch in his revised rush-to-get-ready morning schedule.]
"Oh, hold on."
Gabe watches Will walk back down the hall and dig through a backpack left on the floor near his friends. Will comes back with a small bag in his hands, which he presents to Gabe.
"Chex mix. Left over from my lunch. Don't worry, it hasn't been opened or touched or messed with."
Gabe slowly reaches up and takes the bag from Will's outstretched hand.
He tries to force his features into a smile, but they just won't go. Will sees, and gives him a sad sort of half-smile back.
"Okay, so. See you later."
He walks off down the hall again, joining his friends as they start to wander off to a different part of the school.
Gabe examines the bag in his hand, debating whether or not he should actually eat the contents. He's also a little torn over whether or not he should chuck the whole thing because he's still mad, or keep it forever and treasure it because this is a gift from William Beckett, who, despite being the cause and target of all of Gabe's anger and angst lately, he's still pretty sure he has a giant ridiculous crush on.
An angry noise from his stomach makes up his mind for him, and he opens the bag carefully by its seal along the top, and sprinkles the contents out onto his open notebook. He examines the pieces carefully, counting how many there are, and how many different shapes they come in. He starts organizing them into piles of the same shape, and then goes through them methodically, eating them in sets of two, chewing each exactly twenty times.
By the time he's made his way through the entire bag of Chex mix, there are only three minutes left in the lunch period, and he knows he has to leave soon and get to his next class if he wants to avoid the rush of people that comes with the bell. He brushes the crumbs off his notebook, then picks up the pages Will had given him and puts them inside, closing the notebook over them. He then tucks it all into his gray messenger bag and makes his way to English class.
He doesn't get a chance to look at it in English, because he spends the whole class taking triple the normal amount of notes on whatever book they're studying [he's hardly paying attention, just working on autopilot, mostly still thinking about what is on the mysterious papers Will gave him], still working on getting enough extra credit to make up for the ruined Shakespeare project and the report he never gave on it.
Finally, in gym class, he gets a chance to sit down and read it [after mumbling something about "forgetting" his uniform...again, and keeping his head down so he doesn't have to see the nasty look the gym teacher gives him...again].
It starts out with a rather hastily-typed and obviously not spellchecked note on the first page:
Ok, so Ive been thinking about you alot and I think ive finally figured out that youre not jsut "weird", theres like actually something wrong with you. so i looked up this test online that tells if you have certain mental conditoins or disorders or whatever. and i know i dont rly know you that well (because you wont let me get to know you, but I want to!) but I tried to answer the questions how I thought you might. i hope you dont get mad or think Im assuming things or whatever, cause Im just trying to help you.
William Beckett is signed in the same sloppy cursive Gabe remembers from the note he got with his pencil, what seems like forever ago now.
He slides the top paper behind the others and runs his eyes quickly over the words on the next one. It's a set of questions, descriptions of feelings and behaviors with multiple-choice answers ranging from "very much like me" to "not at all like me". He shuffles a few more pages ahead, to the end of the questions, wanting to get to the point of it all.
The words on the last page, in bold type, stand out to him, though: High tendency (90% or more) towards Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Social Anxiety.
Cliffhanger'd? Yeah! Totally. And it'll probably be a month or two or twelve before I write the next part and you get to see how this resolves itself! [Sorry. >.>]
I suppose it'd be pretty selfish to include the usual "comment, please?", since I am pretty much about 97% invisible lurkmonsta on LJ myself, now. But you could consider it, if you want to.