Chapter 3


First days back are always the hardest. We know to expect the dreaded transition from holiday to work mode every year after Christmas, yet it never gets any easier. You just come to hate it even more.

It was a Monday too, one week after I told Sean the truth. I'd managed to avoid everyone for nearly two days following that fateful morning, locking myself up in my room under the guise of being ill. I spent the time going over and over everything that had happened, trying to piece together some meaning to reach a sense of closure. I did, in a way, but it didn't offer me any relief.

I came to the simple conclusion that I had to move on. Despite how close we'd gotten over the Christmas holidays, Tess and Sean were now in the past. They were going to be moving forward with their own lives. I had to do the same, or risk being left behind with nothing. With that thought in mind, and knowing that a longer absence would only elicit more attention, I gradually began to ease back into everyday life.

After returning from visiting his family up north, Harry ended up going with Tess to the New Year's Eve party. Despite his wish that I went along with them, he did have a great time with her. At twelve o'clock when the big moment arrived, they celebrated the New Year with a hug, rather than a kiss. It didn't matter to Harry, who was truly smitten by the experience. And after anxiously waiting the two days for me to recover, he proceeded to come over and tell me all about the latest developments between him and Tess.

It felt weird hearing him talk about her from such a different perspective to the one I'd seen the weekend before. The Tess he was talking about was the one I used to know, the one who hadn't yet found out about me. In my mind it was easier to split her into two separate people, rather than picturing Harry yearning after the same person who'd caught me out. Still, despite the state of affairs between Tess and me, I couldn't have been more pleased for him. He deserved to be happy.

"You've got that look."

Returning from my daze, I regarded Harry closely as he walked alongside me. "Huh? What look?"

"The same look Charlie has once he's eaten all his food."

I rolled my eyes. "Thanks. It's exactly how I feel."

"You wanna be back home, don't you?"

I nodded and stared ahead to see the school building looming in the distance, along with a trail of students marching towards it. "Just like everyone else today."

"True." He laughed.

"What about you?" I asked, facing him. "You've been edgy all morning. Did something good happen last night?"

"I spoke to Tess on the phone." He flashed me his sideways smile. "For like two hours!"

"Really? People still talk on phones?"

"Shut up!" He grinned, a small dimple forming on his cheek. "You know, I think she likes me."

"Didn't I tell you that before?"

"You tell me lots of things," he quipped as we stepped through the front gates to the school. "West's wise words of wisdom."

"Has a good ring to it." I laughed. "But I did say that she'd like you."

"I said I think she likes me."

"I thought you spoke to her for two hours."

"I did."

"Who else is she talking to for two hours? I'm telling you Harry, she likes you."

Entering the school building, he raised his eyebrows and shot me a we'll-have-to-see expression. He really did have to be mad if he thought she didn't like him after a two hour phone call.

Walking down the corridors, trying to escape the chaos created by the endless supply of younger students, we finally arrived outside of our English class. Reaching out towards the door handle, I froze when I caught sight of Tess through the small window in the door. She hadn't noticed me standing outside as she sat at her desk talking to her friends, but there was no way I was going to slide in without her seeing me.

It wasn't so much that I was scared of her, or Sean for that matter, I just didn't want to have to deal with the awkwardness of being around them. There was also the issue that I hadn't spoken to them in over a week, so I had no idea how they were coping with everything. For all I knew they could've been planning to tell everyone about what I did. Perhaps they already had, and I was seconds away from finding out.

Taking a nervous step back from the door, I slowly spun around to let Harry venture in first to draw the attention away from me. Landing my eyes on his short, gelled hair, I realised that he'd also paused beside the door. It took a moment for me to realise that he was probably nervous about seeing her too, only due to a very different reason.

"You ready?"

Nodding his head, he flashed me a timid smile. Reaching out, he turned the handle of the door and stepped into the room. Following him inside, I watched as he made a beeline towards Tess and greeted her. Closing the door behind me, I tried my best to blend into the background, but still had to reach my seat across the room.

Beginning my trek over towards the windows, I stole a glance in Harry's direction. Tess's eyes locked on mine and her smile vanished. Instead it was replaced by a scowl of disgust, crossed with anger, as though I were a treacherous criminal being paraded through the classroom in handcuffs.

A feeling of nausea forced me to break the contact. Continuing over to my desk, I quickly sat down and promptly began to pull my books out of my bag, trying to clear everything else from my mind.


Startled by someone calling my name, my head shot up. Realising that it was Miss Roberts, I cleared my throat and nodded. "Yes, Miss?"

"Could you run this down to reception for me, please?" she asked, walking towards me and holding out an envelope. "They'll know what to do with it."

I took the white envelope in my hands. "Uh, sure."

"Thank you," she replied, heading back towards the front of the class.

Getting up out of my seat, I stepped around the desk and made for the door, keeping my eyes locked firmly on the envelope. Passing Tess's table, I heard Harry laugh at something she'd said. It was a good sign. At least she wasn't telling him something else.

Arriving at the door, I turned the handle and pulled it open to reveal someone standing there. Raising my head, I froze when my eyes connected with Sean's. We stared at each other in silence. I wanted to say something to him, but my mind remained a blank page. What could I have possibly said to him after what happened between us? Nothing seemed appropriate.

Stepping aside to let me pass, his eyes remained firm on mine, his jaw clenched tight. Bowing my head, I moved forwards and skirted around him. Peering over my shoulder, I caught a glimpse of his back as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. Dropping my eyes to the floor, I let out a sigh and continued down the corridor.


Walking into the new sixth-form common room, Harry and I took a quick glance about, noting that there were quite a few students already in there eating their food and relaxing during the lunch break. Naturally, Harry's focus then turned to the opposite end of the room, to where Tess was sitting next to Sean and some of their friends. Knowing that he wanted to go and sit with her, I gently nudged him in her direction.

"Go and say hi."

"I will. You come too."

I shook my head. "No, you go alone."


"Yeah, just do it."

He thought it over inside his head and then gave a single nod. "Alright, I'll be back soon."

Giving a smile, I watched as he wandered over to Tess and Sean, and sat down beside them. Parking myself at a table across the room, I knew I'd made the right choice in keeping a wide berth. Fortunately Harry hadn't yet begun to suspect that anything was wrong. His budding relationship with Tess was helping to keep a lid on things. The last thing I wanted to deal with was him knowing what happened.

Opening up my bag, I pulled out a fresh baguette sandwich that I'd collected from one of the bakeries that morning, and placed it on the table before me. Lifting my gaze, I stole another glimpse at Sean. On the surface he seemed to be handling things ok, but from the glare he gave me earlier that morning I knew he was still deeply affected by what I did. Although he did have Tess on his side, it was going to take time for things to return to normal in his life. If that's even possible.

Unwrapping the baguette, I glanced around the common room, finding it to be quite an improvement from before. It was around the size of a normal classroom, with tables to sit at on one side, and several computers to use at the other. There was also a small kitchen area too, along with a pool table.

On one of the walls was a large whiteboard. The word 'Resolutions' was written in large letters in the middle, with small comments written around it, what I assumed to be people's resolutions for the new year.

I'd never understood the interest in resolutions. As a child, I always used to focus on the same things: to be a good son, a better brother to Georgina, and to get my homework done the night I received it. Of the three, two I'd managed to achieve, for the most part at least, though I still hadn't saved myself from procrastination.

Turning away from the whiteboard, I glanced over at Sean again, just in time for our eyes to connect. We held the stare, before someone pulled out the chair next to me, forcing me to break the connection.

"Talk about sexual tension."

Glancing to my left, I watched as Zoe sat down next to me, her eyes focused across the room on Sean.


She grinned at me. "I know that face when I see it, West."

My eyes narrowed. "What face?"

"That 'I want you' kinda face." She flicked her head towards Sean. "He's desperate."

I studied her in a mix of disbelief and confusion. There was no way she was picking up on what had happened between Sean and me. No, she was probably just trying to make a joke.

I shook my head and managed a smile. "Yeah, I don't think he wants that."

Reaching down to her bag to retrieve her lunch, she shot me a stare. "Are you kidding me? Look at him!"

Instead of turning my head, I continued to focus on her. Zoe had always been quite open when it came to sex and sexuality, so it wasn't entirely surprising that she'd tease me about a fictional relationship with Sean.

My heart dropped in my chest as the words sunk in. That's all it would ever be with Sean; a fictional relationship. No matter what would happen between us, there's no way he'd ever forgive me enough to let us get that close. Closing my eyes, I wondered what opportunity I'd thrown away. A relationship with Sean... what would it have been like?

"I'm not wrong about these things, West." Zoe added, bringing me back to the room.

Grateful to have her sitting with me, I decided to play along and enlighten her. "You think so?"

She nodded. "Know so."

"Is there something I should do?" I asked. "Let him know I'm cool with it?"

"I dunno." She shrugged. "You could talk to him."

"What if he doesn't wanna talk?"

"Actions speak louder than words." She winked.

I moved my lips to her ear. "So I should just walk over and kiss him instead?"

Her eyes widened. "What?!"

I sat back, confused at her sudden change in attitude. "You said that I should do something!"

"But..." She lowered her voice, "Why d'you wanna kiss Harry?"

"Harry?" I frowned. "You were talking about Sean."

She pointed across the room. "No, I was talking about Harry and Tess."

Following her finger, I peered over to where Harry and Tess sat chatting to each other, right next to Sean. I could feel my cheeks start to redden. "Oh."

She leaned towards me. "What were you thinking about?"

I averted my eyes. "I thought you were making a joke about Sean looking at me."

"You and Sean, huh?"

I took a sip of my water. "Forget about it."

"You know, it's not something I've thought of before." Her eyes darted between us as her smile returned. "But I'd watch."

"Of course you would." I teased, as she continued to glance over at Sean and then back at me. "Ok, now you're just being weird."

She gave a sigh. "You're no fun."

Ignoring her, I took a bite out of my baguette. Instead of going with my usual filling, I decided to try something different and have Mary, one of the workers at the bakery, surprise me. The one she'd picked out was quite good, though I'd definitely need some minty chewing gum afterwards.

Zoe lightly nudged my arm. "Anyway, I wanted to talk to you."

I swallowed. "Is it good news?"

"Yep, it's about journalism."

"What about it?"

"I was talking to Mr Marks about writing some articles for the school newsletter," she began, alluding to the deputy head teacher who was responsible for collating the concise bulletin.


"He said that he can give us two pages in each issue. It goes out every two weeks."

I raised an eyebrow. "Us? You and me?"

"Yep, and we can write about anything. Well, as long as it's linked to the school. And he has to allow it."

I thought it over inside my head, instantly warming to the idea. It was something that Zoe and I had talked about while we were briefly dating. I'd figured that she'd decided against pursuing it once I'd ended our relationship, but it seems I was wrong.

"What d'you think?"

I nodded. "It sounds great."

"Okay, well I'll talk to him later then and let him know we'll do it," she began. "Now we just need to think of something to write about for the first article."

"Any ideas?" I asked.

She shook her head. "Not yet, but we'll think of something."

"Hey, Zoe," came Harry's voice behind me before he sat down on my right.

"Hey." She grinned back. "How's Tess doing?"

"Uh, she's fine," he replied, before smirking and looking at me. "How's Zoe doing?"

"Misbehaving." I winked. "As usual."

Pulling out his lunch, Harry waited until Zoe's attention was elsewhere before he inched closer and whispered in my ear, "I think she knows."


"Tess. I think she knows about your little plan."

I gave him a sideways glance, feeling my pulse quicken. "What little plan?"

"Your little plan to get me into your English group. I think she figured it out."

I gazed over in her direction. "Did she say something?"

"Yeah, she said she was gonna give the presentation to you to finish," he replied. "Wasn't that supposed to be my job?"

It was. I gave a shrug. "Don't worry about it."

"If you say so..." He trailed off and began to unwrap a chocolate bar.

Despite having known him for most of my life, there were some times when I just didn't understand Harry. He was easily one of the most confident guys I knew, yet whenever it came to Tess, he was a little more than a nervous wreck. I'm sure Tess saw it as sweet or cute, and it was, within reason, but it was starting to become a bit too much when he threw common sense out of the window.

"Can I have everyone's attention?"

Looking up to my left, I watched as Mr Reynolds, the head of sixth-form, entered the room and stood before the whiteboard. Being a P.E. teacher, Reynolds was dressed in a long-sleeved jumper and shorts, sporting our school's livery. He used to be my teacher when I was still required to do sport in school, but I hadn't had many dealings with him for the past few months since I'd started my A-Levels.

"It's good to see that you're all back after Christmas, I hope you had a nice break," he began, before holding up some sheets of paper in his hand. "I've come to tell you about some changes to your timetable."

Several murmurs sounded throughout the room as a frown formed on my forehead. That didn't make much sense. Surely they weren't going to start switching things around on us this late in the school year.

"Relax, none of your current classes are going to change." Pointing to one of the forms, he continued, "But you'll notice that there's an extra class every Monday and Wednesday."

"What for?" came a voice from behind me.

"We're starting a new Citizenship class," he answered. "Everyone in sixth-form will be required to attend."

That announcement quickly sent the room into a frenzied eruption fuelled by complaint, but Reynolds managed to hold on long enough to deliver his entire message. "It's just an hour, and will take place immediately after your scheduled classes on either Mondays or Wednesdays, depending on which group you're in."

"What if we don't wanna go?" asked a girl standing beside the pool table.

"It's a compulsory class. But anyone who wants to challenge that is welcome to come and see me or Mr Marks," he replied, placing the forms down on one of the tables. "You can read more about the class here and find out which day you have to go. Remember, I want everyone to be there."

Stepping away from the table, Reynolds walked over to the door and exited the room. Aside from a few remarks from some of the guys hanging out in the corner, everyone quickly went back to what they were doing as if he'd never interrupted us.

"Bloody waste of time," Harry mused to himself.

Getting up out of her seat, Zoe wondered over to the forms, picked one up and began to read silently to herself as she headed back towards us.

"Anything fun?" I asked.

"It's a Citizenship class, West," she answered, as though the name itself explained everything. "They're probably gonna be teaching us how to put condoms on or something stupid."

Like you need much practise with that. I snorted. "Yeah, probably."

"Wait, it says something about a special guest next week," she added. "I wonder who they're getting."

"Maybe the Queen's gonna drop by," Harry suggested.

Zoe nodded. "Perhaps she's doing the condom demonstrations."

I shielded my eyes. "Ugh! No, just no!"

"That's so wrong!" Harry winced, unable to stop some sniggers.

Zoe plopped back down in her chair and laughed. "You say that now, but wait and see. You two are gonna be in for a shock next week!"

"If we're even going," Harry noted.

Stretching my arms above my head, I gave a yawn. "What the hell, we'll go for the first class. If it's crap, we'll go and talk to Marks, Reynolds, or whoever and try to get out of it."

Zoe pointed down at the sheet. "We're all in the same class on Monday. You, me, Harry... oh, and Tess and Sean are there too. Isn't that great?" She locked her eyes on Harry's and winked at him.

Dropping my eyes over towards Tess and Sean, I watched as the two of them interacted with each other. I sighed to myself. Another hour spent around the two of them each week was exactly what I needed.

I looked back at Zoe. "Yeah, it's perfect."


Collapsing back against my bed, I exhaled deeply, thankful to be home. On the whole, my first day back had gone pretty much as I'd expected, with Tess and Sean keeping to themselves, but it wasn't all plain sailing. Being ostracised by the two of them was actually much harder to deal with than I'd anticipated.

I know what I did was wrong, but I was honest when I told them that I didn't want to hurt anyone. In the end, it seemed that the person I was going to end up hurting the most was myself.

Feeling a wave of tiredness wash over me, I toyed with the idea of lying down for a bit but was interrupted by a gentle knock on the door. With a groan, I sat up on the edge of the bed. "Come in."

The door handle turned and in stepped Georgina. I gave her a smile but instantly frowned when I saw the seriousness of her expression.

"Can we talk?"

"Yeah." I nodded, quickly feeling alert. "What's wrong?"

Closing the door behind her, she leaned back against it and focused on the floor. "It's about you."

Images of Tess and Sean posting details of what I did online flashed in my mind. I gently shook my head. "What about me?"

"Are you gay?"

My stomach lurched, my head becoming light. She knew. Someone had told her what happened between Sean and me. Fighting to stay in control of my emotions, I tried to hide any hints of shock from showing on my face.

"No. Why would you say that?"

"It's just..." Her eyes avoided mine.

"What is it?"

"I saw you..." She looked up at me. "At the wedding."

"You saw me?" I asked, unsure of what she meant when it suddenly dawned on me. Neal. The kiss. Had she seen it?

"You were kissing that guy, Neal," she answered, confirming my suspicions.

Shit. I averted my gaze. I had no idea of how to respond to that. Denying it was out of the question, but how could I explain it? How could I explain something that I wished never happened?

"I don't care, you know, if you're gay."

I met her eyes once more. She was throwing me a line, something to grab hold of. It didn't seem right that she was talking about such things. Sure, I was younger than her when I realised I liked both sexes, but Georgina was different. She always seemed so immature, yet there she was telling me it was ok to come out to her.

"I'm not gay," I began, causing her eyebrows to crease. "I'm bisexual."

"Oh." Her frown deepened.

"What?" I asked, slightly more aggressively than I would've liked.

"Nothing," she replied quickly. "I just, uh, didn't think of that."

I watched her closely. Like many people she was probably used to dealing with black and white, but there I was as a shade of grey.

"What about him?" she asked. "Neal?"

"We... uh... we just got a little carried away." My cheeks began to warm with embarrassment, feeling awkward explaining such things to my fifteen-year-old sister. "Just a one-off kiss. I haven't spoken to him since."

"Okay." A smile wavered across her lips. "He's a bit weird."

You're telling me... I gave a gentle laugh. "Yeah, he is."

Walking across the room, Georgina came and sat down beside me. "So do you have a boyfriend?" she asked. "Or a girlfriend?"

"No," I replied. "It's just me."

"Does anyone else know?"

"No one," I answered. Aside from Tess and Sean.

"Ok." She briefly gazed out of the window. "Do you know anything more about Keith?"

While I appreciated the heat being off me, I wasn't too pleased with where she took the conversation. I hadn't spoken to Dad about Keith since I initially found out about the whole situation, not wanting to touch on a relatively emotional topic for him. Anything I did know was stuff he'd told me voluntarily, or things I'd overheard him saying to Mum. I knew that Keith had admitted to embezzlement and that Dad told him to leave. Beyond that I didn't know much more, other than there being a continuing investigation.

"No. Dad hasn't said anything else."

"Ok." She sighed and stared at me. "Why'd he do it?"

It was a question I'd continued to ask myself over and over, only I had no answer. "I don't know."

She nodded her head and focused back on the floor.

Why did he do it?

It was probably the same question Tess and Sean were asking themselves. Maybe Keith was in a similar situation to me, that he didn't have a good explanation so he chose to remain silent. In some ways, the lack of a reason behind his actions irritated me more. If Sean felt the same way towards me as I did to Keith, I could understand his anger.

There wasn't much I could do about Keith's life, but I held all the keys to mine. I truly hated the thought of Tess and Sean being so angry over what I'd done. There had to be a way for me to fix things, or at least lessen their effect. Perhaps if I spoke to them, tried to give them a better explanation, they'd have a better understanding.

It seemed simple enough; only it left me with a huge, gaping question.

What the hell would I say?

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Written by Kai Taylor
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Copyright © 2013-2014 Kai Taylor