Hello lovelies! For new readers, welcome to the first chapter of my story, Sticks and Stones, and thank you for clicking on it. For my lovely readers from deviantart, you're all wonderful for putting up with me. The chapters that were already posted there will be a bit different, so I suggest reading over them again as they're posted here, just in case I change something major. I hope you all enjoy!
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“Sticks and stones may break my bones,...”
Nick sat at his desk, chewing on the end of his thumb and tapping his pencil on the rough wood. He glanced at the clock – less than a minute till lunch. Relieved, the boy started to slowly pack up his stuff, silently so that the teacher wouldn't hear and almost certainly give him a detention. They weren't supposed to pack up until the lesson was over. Nick slipped his books and his song journal into his bag, flipping the top of it closed and carefully slinging the messenger bag's strap over his head so that it sat diagonally across his chest. “Okay students, and for your homework there will b-” Mr. Harrow began but, much to his dismay and obvious irritation, was interrupted by the bell. Students shot up out of their chairs, Nick included, and raced toward the door, ignoring the man's cries of protest. Nick was one of the first out of the door, and he walked hastily down the hall, pushing past people and keeping his eyes focused on the floor in front of him. He had to get out of here and to his secluded lunch spot before Stephen caught up to him.
He took the steps down two at a time in his hurry and turned right. Nick always ate lunch by himself at the shaded picnic area near the woods. The school thought it would be smart to build one so that students could have a place to eat lunch, but nobody actually used it.
Except him, that is.
Nick started running through his lunch plan today in his head. He had some leftover math homework he hadn't finished – that wouldn't take him long. He also had to finish up the last few chapters of To Kill A Mockingbird for the discussion in English today. And he needed to–
A familiar giggle nearby stopped him in his tracks, and he looked up at the steps of the art building. Nick's heart started to race when he saw her. Perhaps that sounds silly, but it was true. Just like in those cheesy romance novels that were so popular these days – At the sight of her, his breath caught in his throat, his heart thumped wildly in his chest, and his face burned with what he could only assume was a crimson blush. He couldn't help it. She was just so... Beautiful? Amazing? Perfect.
And so out of his league.
Emily Dunn was popular. And, believe it or not, Nick wasn't popular. He wasn't even close. He was around the popular kids a lot, though. Why? Because Nick was one of those people that they loved to harass.
But it wasn't just that she was popular. Emily was the most gorgeous girl in the entire high school. At least, to Nick she was. She was average height and pretty thin, just like all the other girls in her group. But to Nick, she always stood out. Long, mahogany-colored hair that reached to the arch of her back, styled naturally in little waves – everyone at school admired it. He always heard the girls in his class talking about how “Emily's hair is sooo pretty,” and frankly, Nick agreed with them. But what he thought was prettier was her face. She was pale, which made the freckles on her face stand out clearly. Emily hated them, but Nick thought they were adorable. Her bangs framed the thin but oval shape of her face, and her smile was breathtaking. Not perfectly white teeth – it was a slightly crooked smile, but it was one that made Nick's heart flutter all the same. But what always got to him were her big eyes, a bright emerald-green color that one could easily get lost in, topped with thick lashes.
Shit. He was staring again. Nick snapped out of it as soon as he realized it, only to also discover that she was looking back at him, a puzzled expression on her face. Her friends were staring at him too, but 'puzzled' wasn't exactly how he would describe their faces. More like... Angry. Offended. Nick's throat closed up when he noticed that the girls were no longer alone on the steps, and his eyes met with one of the boys that had joined them. A boy that he, unfortunately, knew pretty well. Stephen Bannister – the cliché popular jackass. He had everything that you see in the movies. The looks, the money, the posse, the position on the football team. The girls. Stephen also had the cruel, menacing attitude matched with strong, brute-like fists. At this point, one could easily guess where a description like this would lead. Stephen Bannister was a bully. And Nick? Nick was a gentle guy who was quiet and tried his best to focus on his studies.
And one of Stephen's main targets.
Before Nick could react or think of an excuse, Stephen and his backstreet boys were headed down the steps toward him. Nick ducked his head, turning and walking quickly in an attempt to get away. But as he felt the back of his shirt being grabbed, his stomach dropped, and before he knew it he was on the ground. Something – he assumed it was a foot – connected with his stomach, and he let out a soft groan of pain. Nick brought his knees to his chest in an attempt to block any more kicks, fearing the worst. “Look at this little bitch. Can't even defend himself.” he heard Stephen say, and his group started laughing. Thinking that maybe this was his chance, Nick managed to get to his feet and stable himself a little, but he didn't succeed in getting away before Stephen pulled him forward by the collar of his shirt. The weaker boy was whirled around to face the group of girls, who were still at the top of the steps, glaring down at him. “Apologize to Emily for perving on her, you piece of shit.” Stephen ordered. Nick felt his face blaze with embarrassment – did she think he was being a pervert?
“I- I'm sorry. I was thinking about something. I didn't realize I was staring at you.” Nick said, ducking his head sheepishly. Stephen shoved him forward roughly, and he stumbled over his own feet, falling on his hands and knees. “It's okay.” Emily said softly, glancing down at him with pitying eyes. Nick was about to thank her, but one of her friends spoke first. “You're really gonna let him off that easy, Em? Come on.” said the blond girl next to her before shooting the boy on the ground a dirty look. Her other friends chimed in, laughing and spitting insults at him. He ducked his head, trying to ignore them and waiting for Emily to speak. He hoped she wouldn't say anything too bad.
“Why would I waste my time on a pervert like him? But whatever. Hey. Asshole. Don't stare at me again, got it?”
He felt his heart break a little. Pervert? Asshole? Was that really what she thought of him? He got to his feet, nodding stiffly to her before turning and speed-walking toward the picnic area. Nick heard the laughter behind him, and he quickened his pace, trying to get away from it as fast as he could.
The lunch bell rang again, signaling that it was time to go to class, and Nick packed up his stuff. He hadn't eaten his lunch. He couldn't stomach it. Nick had only gotten half of his math homework done. None of his reading. He had too much on his mind.
Before today's incident, he had been planning on asking her to the homecoming dance that was coming up in a few months. He had gathered the courage, and was going to ask her after school that day. Now, he wasn't too sure. He'd known he wasn't popular, but he'd thought he had a chance. At least a small one, considering he was in almost all of her classes. Nick sighed dejectedly. Now he knew. He had no chance with her.
Pretty girls like Emily didn't date perverted assholes like Nick.
“...but your words will always hurt me.”