This is a short story kind of I wrote while feeling a bit intense (idk how to explain it better) I was listening to Boy in the Bubble by Alec Benjamin and this story came spilling out. It was done with zero planning and only a bit of editing 😅
Pitch: two boys who hate each other start dating.
There are some problematic/toxic elements in the story so be aware. Also this story is m/m and since I am not, idk, I suck I guess. I felt like posting this since I liked the writing and this is more violent and intense than what I usually write (which is more soft and pinning) plus I don’t intend to do anything more with this like making it longer or developing it more.
Tropes: enemies/rivals to lovers, secretly dating, I like you so much I hate you
Content warning: violence, bullying, refrences to homophobic bullying, internalised homophobia, assault
It tasted like blood when we kissed. In the stifling heat of the locker room which smelled like sweat and cheap deodorant, under flickering lights he kissed me until I forgot how to breathe.
He was bleeding from his nose because of me and I had a split lip because of him.
The fight was short, his fist hit me like the crack of a whip. I punched him back on reflex, it was the first time I punched anyone. My body shook with adrenaline, my heart racing and I couldn’t think straight. My right hand was numb and I couldn’t move my thumb after but it was worth wiping the smug look off his face.
The coach broke us up before either of us could get another hit in. I was told to make sure he went to the nurse’s office and that we’ll probably get suspended for fighting in the middle of gym class.
It was all his fault-that prick. We never made it to the nurse’s office, he ducked into the locker room and I followed after. He was probably going to skip class if not skip school anyway and I was still heated.
He tore his gym clothes off and shoved on his jeans.
“The fuck do you still want,” he snarled wiping his nose, smearing blood all over his face.
“If you ditch you’re going to get in more trouble.”
“Too bad I don’t give a shit,” he spat, slamming his locker shut. His shirt was tight in his balled fist and he would have walked out into the hallway bare chested if I didn’t grab him by the arm.
“We need to go to the nurse. You’re still bleeding all over the place. And I’ll get in trouble if you don’t–”
His hand around my neck, he slammed me against the exposed brick wall.
“Leave me the fuck alone.”
That really pissed me off. “Leave you alone? You’re the one who’s always glaring at me, calling me a loser and taking any chance you can to argue and start with me.”
“You act so high and mighty but you have everything handed to you.” His mouth contorted into a grimace but in his eyes I thought I saw a flicker of sadness. “I hate you and your stupid face. You think you are some shit because you are a bit smart and have a girlfriend. Everything about you pisses me off.”
“Is that what it is? You’re jealous! That’s why you’re acting like a fucking child throwing a tantrum?”
“Why would I be jealous of your dog faced girlfriend?”
“Fuck off, leave Yvonne out of this.” I struggled against his hold but he just slammed me against the wall again, his fingers just below my jaw tilting my face up. I balled my hand into a fist and tried to punch him but he grabbed me by the wrist, pinned me down and kissed me.
I was stunned at first, how sudden it was, how hungrily he kissed me. He ignored how our teeth clashed and pressed into me, desperate and violent. His hand left my neck and ran through my hair, I found myself clawing at his back, sticky with sweat.
When he pulled away he looked shocked, his face paled. He grabbed his t-shirt which had fallen on the floor and ran out.
I didn’t dare go after him. I washed my face, erasing all the traces of him off me. I got detention instead of getting suspended. My thumb was sprained and the nurse said I was lucky it didn’t get broken. He didn’t show up for any of the afternoon classes. I sat in detention alone doing homework.
The school bus was gone so I had to walk twenty minutes to the bus stop in town to take the public one. Only to see my bus drive away as I walked towards the stop- which meant I needed to wait another half hour for the next one. I considered walking the four miles home but then I was yanked by the collar of my jacket and dragged into the pharmacy parking lot. It was empty except for discarded cigarettes, a broken shopping basket, an oil puddle and the two of us.
His nose was no longer bleeding but there were brown stains on his shirt where blood dripped on it.
“Did you tell anyone about what happened?” he glared at me but I was only a little bit intimidated since I had something on him.
“Tell them what? That you’re gay?”
He grabbed my collar so hard my top button flew off. “Fuck! If you told anyone I’ll-”
“Calm down. I didn’t tell anyone,” I snapped pushing away his hand. “I think you’re an asshole but I wouldn’t out someone damn.”
He let me go. Visibly relieved, the fire inside him dissipated which only left awkwardness between us.
I knew I should walk off now but curiosity got in the way. He’d been a pain in the neck for weeks so I was sure he’d hated me- at least that’s what I thought until today. “Why’d you kiss me?”
His face turned red and he frowned like an inbred bulldog. “If you tell anyone about it I’ll kill you,” he warned and turned on his heels, stalking off and going into the pharmacy.
I followed him in since I had a couple minutes to spare until the bus came.
He got aspirin and a bottle of water, I got iced tea and a kitkat. He went to pay and I put my things next to his. He bristled like an angry cat, he opened his mouth to shout at me but I shut him up by paying for the both of us.
“An apology for that,” I said pointing at his swollen face. He eyed me suspiciously but didn’t say anything else about it. I knew he was living with his sister in a small flat, he didn’t have much money.
He trudged off while I was still putting the change back in my wallet. I caught up to him as he was crossing the road.
“We still have detention tomorrow. If you skip you really will get suspended,” I shouted after him.
He flipped me off from the other side of the road but I could swear I saw him smile a little.
The next day I barely saw him even though most days I’d feel the heat of his glare or see him in my periphery. We shared three classes and I saw him enter all of them after me. He sat in the corner right in the back, as far as he possibly could away from me and Yvonne. He was probably embarrassed or trying to pretend what happened yesterday didn’t happen. Maybe he thought that’s what I wanted as well.
“Are you looking for someone?” asked Yvonne during lunch. We sat on the courtyard steps beneath the shade of a lemon tree. The speckled sunlight and her freckles made Yvonne look like an impressionist painting.
I shook my head. I kept my eyes away from her in case she saw my lie, in case the smile that itched to perk my lips I forced to be straight.
“I saw him being told off by the vice principal earlier for skipping school and punching you,” she said. I could feel her observe me like an anthropologist trying to study my reaction and see what secrets I’d reveal.
I silently ate my sandwich and studied the crack beneath my shoe. She huffed and went on, bored by my lack of response.
“I can’t even imagine you punching someone, but I get why you did it. He’s such an asshole always walking into you on purpose and sneering at us.”
I shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. It was worse earlier.”
In my previous school I was picked on mercilessly by my taller, richer, more arrogant classmates because I was short and didn’t try so hard to hide I was gay.
Yvonne knew. She realized the instant she met me. Her ‘queer intuition’ she called it. Something subtle and unconscious, a special power we had to find each other. Yvonne had a long term, long distance girlfriend who lived in another continent who she met online.
“It doesn’t matter if it was worse then. You shouldn’t have to go through it at all. And it’s unfair that you’re getting punished even though it is all his fault.”
“It’s not all his fault,” I muttered.
“What do you mean?”
“I said something I shouldn’t have. Something that pissed him off.”
She blinked at me, surprised and disappointed. “Why did you do that? You should know better.”
Her opinion of the situation had sifted. She was right to be fair, I did know better considering how the same insults had cut me so deeply in the past.
I went to class room D16 after school. To my surprise he was there. His bag was on the floor beneath his desk and he was sitting slouched on the chair. It didn’t look comfortable. He glanced at me when I entered but didn’t turn to look at me or move to greet me or acknowledge me in any other way. I sat near the window, two tables between us.
Mr. Thames the languages substitute teacher was supervising us. He was barely older than us and if he was wearing a uniform he could have passed for a student. He was the principal’s nephew who had graduated with a degree in Italian last summer and everyone who he taught thought it was a terrible teacher but liked that they let them do whatever they wanted. He taught German mostly since Mrs. Barnes was on maternity leave.
I did my math homework, or struggled to do so. With the bandages around my hand and my immobilised thumb I held my pencil in my fist like a toddler and my numbers came out slanted and barely legible.
The room was silent except for the pings of message notifications from Mr. Thames incoming messages. Fifteen minutes in his phone rang and he went outside to answer it. I guessed from the cooing nature of his voice that he was talking to his girlfriend.
He sighed loudly which sent shivers down my neck. The chair creaked when he slumped forward, lying his head on the desk with only his crossed arms to cushion him.
“Are you feeling ok?” I asked.
He ignored me.
I gave up on my homework and stuffed it back in my bag and found the kitkat from yesterday. It was deformed and a bit melted since getting lost in the depths of my backpack. I got up and walked to him. He continued to ignore me but I noticed his shoulders twitch at the sound of my footsteps.
“Do you want to share this with me?” I asked.
He lifted his head and watched me with suspicious eyes. Like a wild animal watching from the woods.
“It’s broken,” he said.
An awkward laugh escaped from inside my stomach “So? It’s still edible.”
He sat up straight (straighter?) and waited for me to open the wrapping and give him half. I went back to my seat and we ate in silence. He licked the melted chocolate from his fingers and I felt my face grow warm.
“Thanks,” he said, his voice low and slow. “For paying for me yesterday as well.
His words made my chest tight. “No worries.”
We spent the rest of detention in restless silence. Mr. Thames was still talking to his girlfriend when he popped his head into the room to tell us to leave. He grabbed his bag and rushed out before I could even get up. When I reached the bus stop he was waiting there even though he didn’t take the bus.
“Give me your number,” he said holding up his phone. It was an old model, the clear phone protector had turned a foggy yellow and there was a large crack across the screen.
“Why?” I asked.
He let out a huff, his brows furrowed and he grumbled. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“No, no. I’ll give it to you. It’s fine.” I said quickly, taking his phone and thumbing in my number. My bus rolled up before I could get his. I said goodbye as I jumped onto the bus, my heart racing. I held a breath on my chest and a lump in my throat and waited giddily for a call or text from an unknown number.
I got a text at nine pm which was simply “this is Elias”
So I replied “Good to know ;)”
He was an irritation from the moment I saw him. An intangible discomfort, an itch I ache to scratch raw. He was the buzz of a fly in my ear, a stain that persistent no matter how much I washed it. Annoying, insignificant, impossible to ignore.
West transferred two weeks into the winter semester. He was new but not new. Several people knew him already, he had gone to elementary with them or lived in the same neighbourhood or something boring like that. Rumours spread like a viral infection of him getting kicked out of his fancy college for doing drugs or cheating on exams.
It was all bullshit. I could tell he was too much of a wimp to dare do anything like that. Worse was I would keep seeing him, keep noticing him. He was a mote in my eye. West oozed pretentiousness, like he knew how smart and rich and privileged and good looking it was. I decided it was fine to hate him. The universe was so kind to him let my disdain be the one drawback of his privilege.
Yvonne befriended him the first chance she got despite her giving few other guys the time of day. She was conventionally attractive but attainable which meant half the boys in the grade had a crush on her, which meant that since West was always around her half the boys disliked him. I was secretly chuffed.
Everyone knew they were dating even though they denied it. It bothered me how easy it was for him. The world was unfair. His existence was taunting me constantly.
I hate him.
I hate him.
It was all his fault.
He was an allergic reaction. His voice would send a zing down my back and make my ears burn. An invisible, unreachable itch.
I didn’t care.
I didn’t notice me.
I was so far beneath him for him to even acknowledge him.
The prick, I hate him.
The first time he spoke to me was when he bumped into me in the hallway and mumbled an apology.
I’ve seen him run into a door and apologize with more heart.
He ignored me. We’d pass in the hallways, in class, on the road, and he’d never even notice me. Never acknowledge my existence. He was in a different world, a higher plane. I was a ghost, forgotten, buried, rotted away.
Look at me.
Look at me.
You aren’t better than me.
It started slowly. Small actions. A sarcastic huff or eye roll when West spoke, walking into him not on accident p, sitting behind him in class rather than at the back of the class.
It gave me childish delight. I hated myself for being so petty but the thrill was addictive. The way his eyes flickered with something like contempt.
Sound was better than silence. Pain was better than numbness.
To my delight, West stepped up to my teasing. His words bit back. A snide comment beneath his breath, a smug smile when I got scolded for being late, he’d click his tongue when I came into class.
It was a game.
A duel, a dance.
He looked at me with contempt which was better than not looking at me at all.
Ah, but his actions only encouraged me.
Like tripping down a hill, my momentum only grew. My actions became rougher, my words became sharper.
His attention was liquor, I drank and drank but only grew more parched. My head became foggy.
It took me longer than it should to realize my anger was really jealousy and my jealousy was actually attraction. I’d stare at his lips when he’d call me a twat. The pink of his ear was distracting. His hair glistened like spools of gold in sunlight.
When he bent down to do sums in maths I stared at his exposed neck and resist the temptation to draw my name on his skin with my nail. For the letters to swell up in red against his pale flesh. I wanted to mark him. So he’d see it and think of me. So he’d carry me with him constantly.
When he got a paper cut in chemistry, a single red drop beaded on his finger. My legs grew weak, limp with the fantasy to lick it.
What did he do to me?
Why did I like him?
Why did I make him hate me?
If I had been kind from the start would it have been different?
Would I not have punched him? Would he not have hit him back.
Alone and exposed in the locker room. I needed to escape. My mind was dizzy with the pain, my judgment impaired. His bleeding lip looked so tempting.
I wanted to lick it, to kiss him, to eat him.
He watched me change and my body was on fire. I couldn’t leave fast enough, could move fast enough. It was hard to breath, hard to think.
I hate him.
I hate myself.
I slammed him against the wall.
It was his fault.
He should leave me alone.
He shout be quiet.
This was a nightmare, a delusion.
I kissed him. I shouldn’t have.
I’m an idiot. I was weak.
I regretted it. I didn’t.
Elias and I lied to each other and ourselves. We should meet up to study, I said, teach him the lessons he missed when he skipped. He suggested I come to his flat since it would be quieter. His sister was working on Saturday, we would be alone. We agreed to do math homework together. I didn’t even bring my calculator.
I expected his flat to be small but I was still surprised. The kitchen and living room was one open space. His sister’s bedroom was separate but his bedroom was half the living room partitioned off with a cheap IKEA bookshelf. The space was barely enough for his single bed.
I sat on the couch, the faux leather peeling at the slightest touch. He offered to get me something to drink but he only had water and instant coffee and store brand tea. I should have brought something with me. I said water.
He sat down beside me, our shoulders touched. My face grew hot as I watched his fingers crawl to my hand to hold it. I turned to him and we kissed.
This time it was soft and hesitant. It was gentle and timid.
I felt his warm, bated breath.
This time I was the one who pulled him closer.
Time melted away.
I told Yvonne about it on Monday, about Elias, about the birthmark that bloomed across the bottom of his ribs. How he had joked it was a scar from where his bone was taken to make me. I wasn’t sure if he was religious. I didn’t see a bible but I saw poetry books between the textbooks on his bookshelf. All of them looked worn, the pages curled. I traced my hands over the spines when he talked to his sister on the phone. She checked up on him during her break where she worked as a nurse in a care home for the elderly, he’d told her a friend was coming over.
Yvonne was neither amused or impressed. She still didn’t like him, if I was in her position I’m sure I would be the same. She grimaced when she saw the burgundy bruise on my neck and made me button my shirt all the way up to hide it.
I said doing so would make it even more suspicious and she accused me of wanting to show off.
She said it was a bad idea. She was probably right.
She said it will only end badly. She was probably right.