Questioning glances followed David as he found his way to a seat right at the back of the classroom, away from where he usually sat. Away from Clary. A boy name Jamie joined him, one of David’s closet friends even though he could barely tolerate him, which made little sense. Clary sat alone at his old table, trying hard to not look as hurt as she felt.
"What’s wrong with you two?" Jamie asked, a little too loud for David’s liking. "Lovers tiff," he joked when David didn’t respond.
"So it is?"
"Shut up!" David hissed again, wanting to put as much emphasis on his anger as possible. "We are not together, we never have been."
A look of confusion passed on Jamie’s face. He could be annoying and an idiot at times, but Jamie was smart enough to know to drop the subject if he wanted to avoid a punching. David felt sick - sick with guilt and sick with being associated with Clary. Why did she have to make friends with him? Why did she choose to ruin his life? She could have chosen anyone else.
The teacher stood in front of the class, breezing through the register. He paused at David’s name, looking up at the seat he was meant to be sitting in, the seat beside Clary.
"Back to your table," he ordered, scratching his balding head. David didn’t move for a moment, hoping that if he pretended not to hear he would be forgotten about. "Back," the teacher repeated, showing no mercy on the subject.
"Jamie needs my help," he moaned. Jamie shot him a look of puzzlement, the whole class was well aware that David was hardly one to come to for help in Science.
"It would hardly be fair if you were allowed to move while the rest of the class remain in assigned seating."
Eyes turned to David, waiting expectantly, suspecting. All but Clary. She didn’t turn around or even give any sign of having heard. He felt bad at how horrible he was being, almost as though he was bullying her. And the distance was only causing more suspicion, making it all the more likely for people to find out about his embarrassing mistake. And yes, that’s what she was. Clary was a mistake, the biggest mistake he had ever made, and he cursed the day she set foot in their school.
Hushed voices questioned him as David slouched back to his seat. He moved slowly, wishing he had the ability to freeze time. No, reversing time would be far more beneficial. Clary didn’t look up as he pulled the seat out and sat beside her. She kept her head down, creating a dark curtain between them with her hair. He was scared he had made her cry, which only made him angrier. Crying would draw attention to them. Why did she have to be so selfish? She was making life so difficult for him.
David wished things were back to the way they were before he ever found out. He was happy before she told him. Maybe she never had to tell him. But he knew that was just wishful thinking. Over time their relationship would have developed, and it would have reached a point where the truth would have to come out. He tried to picture her naked, only to find he was unable to.
What did she look like under her clothes? He wondered if she was still male in parts, or if she had undergone any procedures to fix that problem. And then he cursed her again for telling him. He didn’t want to think about this kind of stuff. He didn’t like how confused it made him. And how disgusted. He had kissed her. He had wanted to do more at one point.
He still remembered their first kiss, and he doubted he would ever forget it. After all, it’s not every day he kissed a boy. He thought back to it. The heat was blistering, and not a single cloud was in the sky. It sounds nice in words, but in experience it was horribly uncomfortable. Even walking to the park had caused him to sweat through his clothes. David had taken his shirt off and Clary was lying in the grass beside him. They had skipped lessons, no one was out, and the park was empty apart from the occasional dog walker.
He remembered what she was wearing. Tattered denim shorts and a crop top. God, she was attractive, he remembered thinking. If only he’d known then what he knew now. David closed his eyes, still seeing the bright light through his eyelids. He listened, hearing the twittering birds, the distant hum of a lawnmower, and Clary’s deep, even breathes beside him.
He made the first move.
David opened his eyes and lifted his hand to Clary’s hair. She didn’t protest, but she hardly encouraged it either. She stayed still, as if his touch had frozen her. He wanted to kiss her. He remembered wanting to so badly. He had kissed girls before, but Clary was different, less willing. Of course he knew why now, but back then he thought she was just shy.
He leaned in slowly, hesitant at first, uncertain of her reaction. Clary saw David getting closer, but she didn’t stop him. Her expression wasn’t of concern, or even want, it was more thoughtful, contemplating whether to accept his kiss or not. David didn’t give her a chance to decide. He kissed her, soft and slow, feeling the fear and uncertainty in her return, concluding that she had never done this before. He pulled back expecting to see a smile. But her eyes were grave and warning.
"I’d rather you didn’t do that again," she had told him. Back then he thought it was because she didn’t like him in that way, or because his kiss had been disappointing, which certainly took a blow to his esteem.
"Was I bad?" He asked, feeling embarrassed. Clary smiled then.
"No." She bit down on her bottom lip softly in a thoughtful manner, deciding on something. "It was nice. But we shouldn’t do it again."
And of course they did, whenever they got the chance, whenever they were alone together. David was slowly realizing that it hadn’t been Clary after all.
It had been him. He always made the first move, he had seduced her. Little things she said in the past, warnings that didn’t make sense, he could understand them now.
He looked down at her again, thin and vulnerable, hunched over the table beside him. David was being horrible, he knew he was. He had given the impression that he cared for her, that he would be there for her. And initially he thought that truly was the case.
"Can I speak with you for a minute?" Clary asked as the classroom emptied after lesson.
"I don’t really want to right now."
"It’s important," he couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eyes, already knowing the guilt they would fill him with. "Please."
He accepted with a sigh of annoyance, waiting for the last person to leave before either of them said anything. He kept his gaze low, seeing her slim waist and noticing that is lacked the curve most other girls had.
"I know you’re upset..."
"Angry," he corrected, his tone harsher than he intended. He heard her nervous intake of breath.
"Yes. I know."
David still couldn’t look at her, knowing that if he did he wouldn’t be able to be as mean as he needed to be.
"But I wanted to ask..." Her pause made him nervous. "Beg, that you don’t tell others. I told you because I thought you would be understanding." He wanted to laugh. How could she have expected him to take it so lightly. She was a boy! He could never understand that! "And I can’t have others knowing. Not everyone is as calm as you are," she said. David was anything but calm.
"Why would I tell people?" He said angrily. "You think I want them to know I kissed a tranny?" He saw her flinch at the word, and the shock that crossed her features. David was shocked too, he never thought he’d say anything so hurtful to her.
"Thank you," Clary said coldly before turning to leave.
"Wait," David called suddenly. He caught her arm when she ignored, pulling her back, and then let go hastily when he realized he was touching her. "I didn’t mean that." She didn’t look as though she believed him. "I didn’t," David said more convincingly. He exhaled loudly before asking, "a few of us are going out this weekend, you can come if you want."
He was surprised to see her eyes widen and her features soften. "You really want me to?" Disbelief colored her tone. He had missed her smile.
"Yes," David couldn’t let her get the wrong impression. He was only asking for his own protection, or at least that’s what he wanted to think. "If we talk then people won’t find out about your problem." Clary’s face hardened again at hearing his reason.
"I’ll think about it." He assumed she meant no. David was being an idiot, he knew he was. But what he really wanted was what he couldn’t have because it was what he didn’t want, if that made sense at all. And people could be cruel, he was protecting her. He was protecting himself.