Day 2—The Initial Meeting
A black car that would have gone unnoticed under any other circumstance pulled up in front of the school on the second day. A mob had gathered, waiting for their idol to arrive. The door opened and the crowd surged, screaming and waving signs, only to be pressed back by the teachers who were determined to keep a riot from occurring. The group climbed out of the car.
Two boys. Two girls. Four-fifths of the members of the new band ARMOUR.
The man in front waved briefly from the driver’s seat and pulled away from the school. The African American boy casually slung an arm around one of the girls—the one with wearing a striped sweater—and cell phones and cameras flashed. The other boy, who had spiked his hair up to resemble a faux hawk, began to push through the overexcited crowd, pushing away hands that try to paw at his signature brown leather jacket, but graciously signing the pieces of paper or hands that he is offered. The other three follow him through the path he had made through the crowd, signing their fair share of things as well.
One girl breaks away from the general mob. “Leonard!” she calls. “I love you!”
Leonard, the boy with the leather jacket, turns and flashes a bright smile at her. The girl swoons and her friends catch her and fan at her blushing face while her boyfriend looks jealously at him. He rejoins his band and together, they walk up the front steps.
Just so casually, he looks around the interior of the school and is immediately greeted by the office, a large trophy case dominated by academic awards and a bulletin board proclaiming “Welcome!” in forty different languages. Then there is the main staircase at the end of the hallway.
Inside the school are the people who don’t particularly care for or care enough to become part of the mass of screaming students outside. They are rationally chatting and eating, unaffected by the famous new arrivals. The noise level is noticeably quieter than that of the outside. The second girl lets go of her long skirt and flexes her fingers as if she hadn’t realized how tightly she had been gripping it. The African American boy stretches his arms above his head.
“Jesus! I hadn’t realized how loud they were,” he comments. Leonard nods distractedly, still taking in the bright school interior. A warm body brushes past his arm.
“’Scuse me,” he mutters, clutching his messenger bag.
“’S all good,” Leonard mutters back, suddenly distracted by what the stranger was wearing. The simple silver headband seems to wink at him and he stares back, intrigued. The stranger’s head snaps back to take a better look at him, and they both drop their gazes. Later, he realizes, we’ll probably talk or something.
The first time Leonard saw Nikolas, he was new to the school, back to finish high school. He was intrigued by the stupid silver headband, those deep black eyes that seemed so surreal against pale skin and the black hair that looked soft enough to pet. The glint of his pierced ears and the casual air he exuded that was borderline disdainful.
The first time Nikolas saw Leonard, he was on his way to meet his friends at the stairs, where they always met. He’d had to fight his way through the crowd to get to the school doors, which was not fun, and there seemed to be a group of people blocking his way. He tried not to touch them as he walked past them, but his arm ended up brushing the jacket of one of the guys. It was soft—velvety, even—and he longed to pet it. But his hair—his hair was what made him look back another time. He looked like an onion with that stupid faux hawk.
Blushing, and studiously not looking back after being caught, he fingered the end of his own asymmetrically cut hair and deflected the disbelieving comments of his friends.
“Do you have any idea who that was?” Sadie demanded.
“Uh…no. Should I?” he asked. “Is he a football player?”
“Oh, Nikki,” Garrick said disparagingly.
Nikolas had a feeling they would meet again soon.