Per hadn’t spoken to Win in weeks; he understood why but the thought made him sad nonetheless. He hadn’t ever thought that his best friend would leave him over such a small thing – what does him liking boys instead of girls have to do with their friendship? Win hadn’t ever tried to come onto Per, hadn’t ever flirted with him, had never attempted to kiss him… despite how much he’d wanted to. But he’d said to himself that if he ever did any of those things he’d ruin the best and most genuine friendship he’d ever had. And he didn’t want that.
Per was everything to him. He made sure to never do anything that Per wouldn’t like, always agreed to accompany him wherever, always let him choose where they’d eat, where they’d hang out, where they’d copy off of each other’s homework. And he was content with that. He was perfectly fine with keeping things how they were. The thought of trying for something more did occasionally cross his mind but he’d instantly dismiss it as he had no idea what the outcome would be and wasn’t willing to risk it. To risk his and Per’s friendship for something as trivial as an unlikely relationship would be a death sentence to himself.
But regardless of his caution he’d still somehow lost Per and it was killing him slowly from the inside.
And even when Mark came into his life he still wasn’t entirely happy. Mark tried his best but he was nothing compared to Per. Mark couldn’t make him smile at his silly antics. Mark wasn’t able to fully grasp his attention when he told a story. Mark won’t ever be the first thing he thinks of in the morning. Mark wasn’t Per.
Win even felt a little bit sorry for Mark. He clearly had more feelings for Win than Win did for him. He knew it was unfair for him to keep stringing Mark along and allowing him to believe that one day they’d be in a happy relationship but he just couldn’t tell him. Despite his lack of feelings for the boy he really didn’t want to be the cause of the others unhappiness. He knew how terrible it felt to be completely rejected by the one you love and he refused to ever be responsible for that kind of pain. So he stayed with Mark, allowed him to hang onto the hope of the two of them together while Win himself continued to mourn the loss of Per’s friendship.
Maybe he should have been a bit more subtle about his feeling for Per when he was around Mark. They’d been walking home from school when Mark confronted him about the various pictures of Per on his phone – most of which were taken by the boy himself. Win had opted for the defensive and asked him why he was going through his phone in the first place. He wasn’t comfortable with that. What right did he have to go through his things? To look at his most precious memories? He’d then attempted to storm away but Mark had grabbed him to stop him from leaving and it had ended up in a struggle. This then resulted in Win falling to the ground and injuring his arm.
Mark had tried to apologise but Win simply couldn’t deal with him right then. He knew that if he’d stayed he would have said some horrible things and broken the poor boys heart. And like he said before, he wouldn’t ever be the reason someone felt like that. Not ever.
Win didn’t walk with Mark to school the next morning and avoided him as best as he could. He was still angry about the breach of his privacy and couldn’t trust himself to stay civil with Mark. He just had to have a day to himself without worrying about hurting others while he himself was hurting – mentally AND physically now thanks to Mark.
He’d been aimlessly walking around the school at break time alone when he’d been approached by the music club’s vice president Ohm. He grinned at him and held up a thick brown book and a pen before thrusting them into Win’s arms, almost knocking him off balance while simultaneously sending a shock of pain through his injured limb.
“Hey, Win! Could you do me a favour? Can you get everyone competing in the Battle of the Bands to sign in here? There aren’t too many acts so it shouldn’t take long. I’ve already gotten the music club signatures so you don’t have to worry about them. Here’s a list of the people you need to get to sign,” Ohm told him and handed him a sheet of paper. Win scanned it and looked up.
“OK, but where do I find all these guys? It’s a big school,” he asked with a slight frown. Ohm just smiled at him. “Oh, they’re probably in the study rooms or the library. They’re mainly our year and right now most of us have free periods. Thanks for helping me out, man. I owe you one. See you later!” Ohm turned to walk back into the school building but stopped just shy of the door and spun around to face him. “Oh, and just leave the book with the last guy and tell him to bring it to the music room at lunch.” Ohm then turned away again, leaving Win to stare at the sheet of paper to link names to faces.
He decided to first visit the library as it was the closest room to him. In there he’d found six out of the twelve competitors and got them to sign their names in the brown book. Next he went to the first floor study rooms and found a further four boys from the competition to sign. He went up to the second floor and looked through the first few study rooms but came up blank. There was only one study room left on this floor and his feet were beginning to ache.
He entered the final room and instantly spotted the final two contestants he needed. He walked up to them and got their attention. “Hello, you’re part of the music competition aren’t you? Could you please sign in here?”
The boys smiled and nodded at him. He handed one of them the pen and instructed them on where they needed to sign. When they’d finished he closed the book and pushed it towards them. “Ohm told me to leave this with you and that you should bring it to the music room at lunch time,” he told them. They nodded in understanding and he bade them farewell.
Win turned to leave the room but was stopped by someone standing in his path. He looked up at the person and was surprised to see Per blocking his way. His face gave away none of his thoughts or emotions and this unsettled Win slightly. He did however notice the other stare down at his arm, something flashed in his eyes when he saw the bandaging.
Win cleared his throat. “Um, hey Per,” he mumbled. His once best friend looked up and met his eyes. “Who did that?” he demanded. Win considered his arm and unconsciously rubbed it. “It’s nothing,” he replied, averting his gaze from the other boy.
There was silence for a short time. Win chanced a look up and saw Per staring at him intently, so he quickly looked back down.
“Was it your dad?”
Win snapped his head up and glanced around the room worriedly before quickly meeting Per’s eyes. “No, it was only an accident,” he told him. Per looked at him disbelieving and pointed at his bandaged arm.
“How can you say that? Just look at your arm! What kind of accident can cause such a big injury? Don’t say it was an accident because it clearly wasn’t!”
Win looked away in order to gather his thoughts. Per was in front of him. Per was talking to him. Per was… worried about him? He had been dreaming of this moment ever since Per had first stopped talking to him. He should be ecstatic! He should be accepting the boys worry – it clearly shows that Per couldn’t possibly still completely hate him! So why was he so anxious? Why did he suddenly want Per to leave? Why didn’t he want his concern?
Win peered back up at him. “I just fell Per. You don’t need to care about me right now,” he told him. Wait, what? No! Why did he say that? Care for him Per! Care for him always and never stop. Don’t leave him again, if you leave he will surely collapse and not be able to get up again.
The two stared at each other for some time, never looking away.
The trance was suddenly broken by the one other person Win really didn’t want to run into that day. Mark stood beside him and went to put his hand on his shoulder – Win flinched away. The hurt in Mark’s eyes is short lived however and he faced Win fully.
“Win, can we go somewhere and talk?” he asked. Win glanced up at Per and was shocked to see him suddenly looking furious as opposed to not only a minute earlier when he’d been as blank and expressionless as the Mona Lisa. He was staring daggers at Mark who in turn ignored him.
Mark sighed when Win didn’t reply and looked down at his arm, his face contorted into that of a guilty expression. “Are-are you in pain?” he asked. Win stiffly shook his head, still refusing to look at Mark in fear of breaking his façade of calm.
“I’m sorry,” Mark continued. Win saw Per stiffen in front of him and actually turned looked at him properly. He was visibly seething, breathing heavily as the realisation kicked in.
“Was it him?” he asked in a dangerous voice.
Win shook his head no in an attempt to stop what he knew was about to happen. It was useless.
Per lunged at Mark who stumbled away hurriedly. He served punch after punch, Mark unable to get a hit in. Blood was gushing out of the other boys’ clearly broken nose but still he tried to defend himself and attack back. Various students tried to separate the two but Per knocked them back and continued with his assault. Nothing was going to prevent him from battering the boy in front of him to a bloody pulp.
Win could just stand there and watch. He didn’t try shouting out. He didn’t try to stop Per from beating the ever living hell out of Mark. He just watched. He felt like the lowest of the low, just standing idly by while his recently closest friend got attacked by his previous closest friend.
He did nothing.
Per didn’t relent in his punches even when Mark collapsed and curled up into the foetal position, trying to cover his face as well as he could. When he couldn’t reach him with his fists he decidedly switched to his feet and began violently kicking the boy in his exposed sides.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Per backed away from the sobbing boy, breathing heavily. Nobody in the room dared approach him, not even Win. He couldn’t believe Per would do something like this, he wasn’t an aggressive person. He was the jokester, the fun guy to be around. He’s the one you’d go to if you needed cheering up. But the person stood before him was not the boy he knew. And he didn’t know what to think about that.
Win pulled his gaze away from Per’s back when he heard a loud cry followed by a pained and teary whimper. Mark had attempted to stand, or at least kneel, but his injuries prevented him from doing so.
Per glared around the room. “This is what happens if you hurt one of my friends. No, actually, if you so much as look at Win the wrong way you’ll end up like him, maybe even worse. Understand?” Per yelled into the quiet room. The students murmured fearfully while Win himself hadn’t even been listening to what the other had said.
Win felt a twinge of guilt seeing his friend on the floor in need of medical attention and knowing that he was the reason intensified the negative feeling. He stared down at the boy and contemplated whether or not to go and help him when there was suddenly an arm around his waist, pulling him out of the room.
Win didn’t try to resist, instead he just allowed Per to take him to wherever it was he wanted to go. He always let Per decide what they did, so why should anything change now? Per was Per and Win was Win. That’s how it was, how it’s always been and that’s how it’ll stay. There’s no point in fixing what isn’t already broken.
Per lead Win into an empty hallway on the complete other side of the school before he stopped and quietly spoke.
“I’m sorry you had to see that,” he said. Win just nodded slowly, not looking up at Per. “It’s alright,” he said lowly. “I’ve seen worse.” The grip on his waist tightened at the add on. “Where?” Per asked through gritted teeth. Win thought back to a couple of years ago when Per had gone on holiday for the summer.
Win had stayed at home, declining the invitation to join him and his family on their annual trip to England. It was around this time that his father had first found out about his sexuality and he’d paid the price for his carelessness. It was his own fault really. He shouldn’t have left the box uncovered under his bed. He shouldn’t have left his bedroom door open. He had it coming really.
“At home,” Win told him without emotion. Per sucked in an angry breath.
“You didn’t tell me?”
“Didn’t need to.”
“Of course you needed to-!”
“No, I didn’t. You were gone long enough for them to fade and heal. By the time you got back I looked almost normal again. Just the bruising on my ribs where they were broken weren’t completely gone. But it was fine; I just kept a shirt on. You didn’t need to know.”
Per had gone completely still during his small speech and Win gazed up at him. Per was staring ahead of them, a look of confusion, anger and guilt on his face. Win opened his mouth to say more, maybe to comfort the boy, but Per suddenly turned and faced him. He lifted one hand to his chest and gently backed him up into a wall, crowding him in with no exit. Like he’d try to escape anyway.
Per brought the hand that was resting on Win’s waist up and rested it on his cheek instead, making sure their eyes met.
“Don’t… don’t feel like you can’t… that you shouldn’t tell me anything. Don’t feel like you don’t need to. Because I want you to, I want you to tell me what happens, how you’re feeling, what you want. I want you to be open and honest with me, you can say anything,” Per told him in a sincere voice.
Win kept their eyes locked. “I can’t.”
Per frowned. “Can’t what? Yes you can-“
“But I can’t though. You don’t want to be friends with me anymore. So we’re not friends. I can’t tell you about stuff because you won’t care. Don’t care. You want me to leave you alone. So I will.”
Per scrunched up his face in frustration before letting out a calming breath. “Fine, yeah, you’re right. I don’t want to be friends with you,” he told him.
Win’s heart shattered at the proclamation and he could feel himself drooping. His eyes filled with unshed tears.
Per tilted his head up so they were once again making eye contact.
“I don’t want to be friends-“
“Yeah, I heard you the first time.”
“I want you to be mine.”
Win froze. What? What did he say? What did he mean by he wanted him to be his? His what? What would it entail? Was he overthinking this? Probably, he usually does.
Win stared at him in confusion. “What? What do you mean?” he asked.
Per exhaled heavily before bringing his other hand up to Win’s face and slowly leaned forward, connecting their lips in a seemingly inexperienced kiss.
Win didn’t know what to do so he did nothing. He didn’t respond to the lips on his own and couldn’t even focus on his reeling mind. Per pressed harder on his lips and slowly brought a hand up and into Win’s hair. He tugged lightly on the strands to encourage the other boy to respond but Win just didn’t know how.
Per slowly trailed his hand down from Win’s cheek, his neck and his chest before sliding it back around his waist. From there he skimmed it across his lower back before he dropped it down to lightly cup the other boys butt.
Win gasped in surprise and Per took this opportunity to deepen their kiss by pushing his tongue into Win’s mouth. Win hesitantly began to reciprocate and dubiously wound his arms around Per’s torso – he pulled the other closer.
The two of them stayed like that until they needed to separate for air.
Win blushed when he met Per’s eyes again and attempted to unwind his arms. Per resolutely tightened his hold and pushed up closer to the smaller boy. He rested their foreheads together.
“I want you to be mine.”
Win grinned slightly and nodded. “OK. Will you then be mine also?” he asked.
Per beamed at him. “You can bet your ass I am.”
Win smiled and looked down at their interlocked feet.
He had no idea how this happened. Just this morning Per hated him. Or, at least that what he thought. But what changed?
Then it suddenly dawned on him.
“You hate Mark, don’t you?” Win asked him.
Per stiffened. “Why’d you have to bring him up?” he gritted out. “Yeah, I hate the guy. He hurt you! He stole you. Stole you from me, and nobody steals what’s mine.” Per then gently rubbed up and down Win’s back. “But you’re here with me now. That’s all that matters, right?”
Win thought about what Per had just said and shook his head. “No, you nearly killed him Per. He wasn’t trying to steal me, you… you pushed me away. He didn’t mean to hurt me, he just grabbed my arm and I fell-“
“He grabbed you?!”
Win sighed and looked back up into Per’s eyes. “He just wanted to know why I hadn’t deleted the pictures of you on my phone,” he told him.
“My pictures?” he asked then smirked. “Oh, you missed me that much that you took sneaky pictures of me? Come on, let me see!”
Win grinned at his antics. “No,” he laughed. “They’re not sneaky pictures. They’re mainly just your selfies you took on my phone.”
Per smiled brightly at him. “You kept them?” he asked.
“Yeah I – hey, wait. You’re changing the subject! You beat up Mark – Oh god. I completely forgot! He really looked like he needed to go to hospital!”
Per sighed in irritation. “Its fine, he wasn’t that badly hurt. Besides, on our way over here I heard ambulance sirens. You feel better now?” he asked.
Win looked towards the closest window, almost as if imagining he could see Mark being lifted into an ambulance and driven away to be treated. He turned back to Per.
“Well, I mean. Only a little bit,” he said truthfully.
Per smirked. “Oh, I know a way to make you feel better.” He leaned forward and reconnected their lips in a heated kiss. This time Win didn’t hesitate in responding and found that this kiss was better than the last one. It was less awkward and more full of want.
They pulled away and just stood holding each other for another few minutes before Per sighed heavily and pulled back. “Alright, let’s go to the hospital. I don’t want you moping around all day.”
Win stared at him in shock. “Really?” he asked. Per nodded and grabbed his hand. He gently pulled him into the direction of the school exit but Win stopped him just shy of the gates. “Are you sure this is a good idea? What if he tries to sue you or something?” Win asked him. Per thought about it for a short while. “Well, I’d pay it if it meant you were happy. And if it also meant you’d stop hanging around with the guy.”
Win frowned. “I can’t just ditch him. He doesn’t have anybody else.”
Per looked up at the sky in concentration. “Well…”
He suddenly snapped his head to look at Win. “Why don’t we just get him someone new? Yeah! We can bring him some other cute boy and he’d fall for him instead of you!”
And despite Win’s weak protests that is what they did – well, attempted to do. They went around the school and sought out boy after boy to find one that fit what they assumed was Mark’s type. They came up short.
Win managed to convince Per to trudge up to the hospital with him to see Mark.
At the front desk the woman directed them to the correct room. They arrive at the door and are surprised to see it was closed. “Huh…?” Per sneakily pulled back a part of the curtain covering the large window and suddenly stepped back snickering.
When asked by Win what was wrong he just pointed to the door.
Win took a peek inside and gasped quietly at what he saw. Mark was laid on the bed and straddling him was one of the boys from the drama club. Win didn’t know his name but he did recognise him as Danny from when the school put on a production of Grease and Bugsy from when they did Bugsy Malone. He was quite popular so he was surprised to see that the two... knew each other.
Win stepped away from the door and grinned up at Per. “Well, I think we should leave. Don’t want to interrupt them,” Per said and Win nodded in agreement. The two then left the hospital and began to catch up on lost time, or so Per said anyway.