Maxwell "Max" Hollis
Elijah "Eli" Sinclair
Tristan Rain aka Rain
Emily "Emmy" Rain
Bennett “Ben” Almeida
Robson Sinclair aka “Uncle Rob”
Max tucked his board under his arm as he crossed the threshold into the school building. He was late yet again and the halls were deserted as he tried to quickly get to class without catching the attention of any wandering teacher, or with his luck the principle. When he got class the teacher looked at him in resigned disappointment and pointed him to the only empty seat in the second row.
Damn he thought.
He always managed to snag a seat in the back but there was an influx of student this year as the nearest town’s school had shut down due to a mysterious fire during the summer. Max wished he was one of the unfamiliar faces and teachers would give him the benefit of the doubt. He sighed and moved to sit with one of the kids he was sure hated his guts for no good reason. He threw himself into the chair and rummaged in his back pack for his text book but it wasn’t there. He cursed under his breath, it was in his locker. The guy sitting next to him slid his book to the middle of the table without a word and continued to read silently.
Max noticed that he had was tracing light pencil lines indicating where he should read and other small notes telling Max what wasn’t in the book but the teacher had told them. Max frowned and copied the notes into his notebook before glancing over to thank the random guy but he had his focus out the window. He wondered what this guy wanted from him, no one ever helped anyone for free especially not him. He let his suspicions go and focused on trying to catch up on what he missed and seeing if he could copy anything off this guy without him noticing.
Maybe this kid pitied him, the social pariah, the freak or whatever those without imagination called him. He was a little on the nerdy side, with those oversized glasses that must have cost more than Max’s whole outfit.
By the end of the class Max had no desire to be school anymore, cramming topics he had no interest in. He texted his friends and they ditched the rest of the day. If the school tried calling his parents it’d go straight to voicemail, and they’d only get a call back in a week and that was if the principle was lucky.
On his way back from the skate park with his friends, a familiar geeky kid caught his attention. It was the guy from first period. He quickly noticed Max and his friends and raised a hand in greeting, which Max just nodded to, before walking into the record store where they were heading.
“Oh! Who is that hunky piece of man meat?” Emmy said.
“Emmy, stop objectifying men.” Max deadpanned.
“Well what am I to do when eye candy like that roams the streets? Free country bro.” Emmy said.
He sighed and continued without replying to her.
“Seriously dude, who’s you’re new friend? Not your type at all.” Rain asked too.
“Not you too, man.” Max said.
“You never acknowledge anyone, how can we not be curious?” Rain said and Emmy nodded in agreement.
They stepped into the store that always smelled faintly of weed and headed to the classic rock section.
“Get off me back, he’s just some geek from school. I don’t even know his name. I had to sit next to the dweeb because I was late and it was the only empty seat-” Max said.
“The dweeb’s name is Eli and he let you copy off of him.” Eli said
Max flinched and turned to see the guy from class stacking shelves in the row behind them.
“Hi Eli. You’re cute.” Emmy gushed.
“Don’t worry about Max bro, he’s a dick to everyone. He was born this way.” Rain said
“Shut up, the both of you.” Max groused, “I meant to say thanks but you were always spaced out, looking out the window.”
“I finished all the work, I was bored.” Eli said
“You really like history?” Max asked.
“Nope, not particularly.” Eli said with a smile.
“Weird...” Max said.
“Am not!” Eli said in annoyance.
He pushed his large glasses up the bridge of his nose and sighed, “I’ve got to get back to work.”
“I’ve been trying to get a job here for years, how did you?” Rain asked.
“My uncle owns this place. He’s hurt his back so I’m temporarily in charge of the place.” Eli said.
“No way! Uncle Rob is your real uncle? How cools is that.” Rain said
Max nodded grudgingly, the old coot was cool as f*ck. Eli rolled his eyes and waved as he walked to the staff only door and into the back office.
“He totes wants you Max!” Emmy said
“Yeah man.” Rain agreed
“I thought I told the two of you to shut it.” Max said.
They held their hands up in surrender but continued to laugh and whisper between themselves. The twins Emily and Tristan Rain, always got on his last nerve but since they met no matter how mean he was they didn’t leave him alone. Eventually he let them stick around, that was in the third grade and they’d been inseparable since then. They were the closest thing to family he had, in lieu of his absent parents and being an only child.
The twins were the same height and if they had been the same gender they would have been identical with the same thick auburn hair, green eyes and freckles. They were both tall and could pass for models. The only difference was that Tristan had sharper, more angular features, being a boy. Max wondered how he didn’t have a complex hanging out with two exaggeratedly good looking people but he didn’t give a f*ck what he looked liked and knew he wasn’t much to look at so no point in obsessing about it. He hated his curly hair and he kept it cut so short it couldn’t curl, and wore caps most of the time. He was extremely pale like the twins but only average height where the twins were 6 foot even.
Soon after, he parted ways with the twins and headed home. He was tired and decided to catch up on sleep, which he barely knew the meaning of after an insane three month holiday devoid of sleep but filled with hazy smoke filled rooms, nameless hookups, and many, many hangovers. After a month of this even the twins couldn’t keep up. They’d only venture out with him on the weekends and always cautious to the amount of trouble Max liked to find. On more than one occasion one of the “Clubs” they went to were raided by the cops but they got away each time. Max was as good at getting out of trouble but he was equally good at getting into it.
He browsed the shelves, after adding the millionth record to add to his vast collection. The shelves lined the walls of the large room that was adjoined to his bedroom. They had books, comics, and countless records stacked on them. Max had no shortage of cash but he hated spending money on anything for himself but he could never resist buying another vinyl. His ratty sneakers and faded cargo shorts were evidence of how little he cared about buying fancy clothes and impressing anyone. The twins were skaters too but loved fashion and were vain as hell. Dressed head to toe in branded skater brands, like DC, Famous stars and stripes and others. The only thing kids at school envied about him, well other than his rich parents was the fact that Emmy and Rain wouldn’t give anyone but him the time of day. They were literally the most desirable students and they basically told everyone to f*ck off since freshman year.
As his thoughts wandered further away from the twins, his mind wandered off to the kid from history, Eli. Rain was right, he wasn’t his type- too clean, too slim and mostly too nice. That said, he had the most hypnotic eyes, almost gold in color. He’d noticed them even behind the dorky specs, while the boy stared out the window in class. Ok, he couldn’t deny that the guy was attractive, he’d spent more of history class checking him out when he wasn’t copying off of him. Max didn’t do relationship with feelings. He didn’t need his already Grinch sized heart being used as some dick from school’s punching bag. His thoughts grew more and more convoluted as he lay sprawled out on the large L sofa, until he decided that he didn’t want to think anymore, it wasn’t leading him anywhere today.
No body truly cares about anyone else, so why should he…
Eli’s arms were full of shopping bags and take out bags as he tried to push his way through the back door. His uncle called out to him and he replied assuring him no one would try to rob his dump. He was kidding about it being a dump, but it was a mess, a thief would have no chance finding anything of value right away. He started putting things away when the old man rolled into the room on his wheel chair. His thick silvery hair fell in curls to his shoulders and he was dressed in a t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms.
“Ready to eat?” Eli said.
“Not cooking for me tonight nephew?” His uncle asked.
“Don’t get used to it old man. I’ve got school and work now, I won’t be spoiling you like during the summer.”
“But you cook better than my wife did.”
“You never had a wife.”
“Don’t be smart with me sonny.”
Eli laughed at his uncle’s antics and set the table and put the take out into ceramic dishes for them to serve from. They sat at the table how he insisted they do unless his uncle felt bad, then he could eat in his own room. No dinner in front of the TV.
Eli liked to keep them in order and have structure in his life, it was something he’d lacked growing up but always yearned for and now that he was in charge of his uncle’s house hold he set the rules. Since it meant he got fed and Eli really was a great cook, Uncle rob didn’t resist the new rules. He found it entertaining to see Eli stand up for himself unlike how he was at home. With five other brothers he’d sort of faded into the background.
Eli watched with an amused look as his uncle pretended to pray. They both knew they came from a long line of people who were too busy getting drunk to go to church. He winked, before raising a fork of fried rice to his mouth. Eli picked up his chop sticks, while subtly shaking his head. He had always wanted to live with his uncle, and his uncle always agreed but his parents thought he would be a bad influence, but when you share one bathroom with 5 other kids, living with your stoner uncle seemed like heaven.
He always knew one day something would change to for his parents to finally let him out of the house. Even though he was injured now, living with him was still less work than taking care of his horde of younger siblings. His parents used him as a free babysitter, which was probably one of the reasons he was still single. He never got to go anywhere but school and back home or he had take his siblings somewhere where they would have fun.
His phone buzzed as he headed up stairs, a notification for two new friend request popped up on the screen. He opened the profiles when the names didn’t really ring a bell. Oh, it was Max’s friends. He accepted and then two chat boxes popped up as soon as he sat at his desk and opened his laptop.
Rain Rain: hello
Elijah Sin: Hi
Rain Rain: How’s it going bro? Is Emmy talking to you too?
Elijah Sin: Yeah?
Rain Rain: Might as well make a group chat. Saves time.
Emmy Rain: hey
Elijah Sin: hi
Emmy Rain: Bet you’re talking to Rain.
Elijah Sin: yeah
Emmy Rain: let’s make a group chat, saves time.
* Smile, you’re Dying Group Chat*
Rain Rain: we all here?
Elijah Sin: yeah?
Emmy Rain: let me just add Max
*Maxwell Hollis added to Smile, you’re Dying Group Chat *
Maxwell Hollis: wtf is this?
Emmy Rain: group chat, what else Maxie?
Maxwell Hollis: Call me Maxie again and I’m leaving.
Elijah Sin: Hey Max.
Maxwell Hollis: oh you’re here.
Rain Rain: ouch
Emmy Rain: Be nice Max!
Elijah Sin: Riiightt… I’m going to go get started on my home work.
* Elijah Sin left group chat*
Rain Rain: he ran away.
Emmy Rain: Max, look what you did!
Maxwell Hollis: Why do you care?
Rain Rain: Not cool man. I’m out
Emmy Rain: ditto
Eli saw Max at school occasionally but made no effort to talk to him again. The skater had made it clear enough that he didn’t like him. He wasn’t about to force his company on him. No matter how much the twins pestered him to sit with them, study with them, or hang out after school. He’d always politely decline not wanting to start a rift between what seemed to be a tight knit group. He wasn’t close to many people, so he respected their friendship. He went on with school and work and tried to forget Max ever sat next to him in history class. However, when he let his guard down the surly boy would wander into his thoughts, unbidden.
What made him that way? He wondered, as he worked on the books for the record store. He frowned and took his glasses off to rub his eyes. His eyes burned and his hand was tired from writing. His uncle needed to upgrade to the current century and computerize his records. Eli’s phone buzzed and he noticed the time, it was late. He saw a message from his uncle telling him to get home. Time to feed the animal or he’d turn into a beast he thought with a grin.
Books covered most of Eli’s bed as he studied for next week’s tests. He had his noise canceling headphones on and an almost pained voice blared from them. He bobbed his head back and forth as he pushed his fringe back pinned it with two big clips with ‘chibi’ anime characters on them. His uncle knocked lightly at his door and Eli didn’t hear it until the old man was pounding on the wooden door. He jumped up and scattered most of his notes on the floor. The old guy looked annoyed but sighed and told him to head to bed.
“There’s a limit to how responsible a kid should be. You’re pushing it. Get some rest Elijah.” Uncle Rob said.
He quickly hugged the old man, not wanting to embarrass the usually unemotional guy. No one ever really paid attention to what he did. It was a pleasant change.
The next day he woke up early but couldn’t fall asleep again. He tossed and turned for a while, before deciding to go for jog instead, taking advantage of the extra time he had this morning. He put on a maroon hoodie and baggy basketball shorts. His wavy brown hair was held back from his face with a sports hairband.
The park was a few blocks away. He started his ‘morning playlist’ and began his first slow warm up lap. The cool morning and the isolated path sent his thoughts meandering. So that after many laps and buckets of sweat later his mind was as tired as his body but at least that meant he was too tired to continue mulling over things he couldn’t change. It wasn’t his style to dwell on things anyway.
On his way head home, he detoured to get his uncle his favorite pastries and himself coffee before walking home. He was outside the cafe when he heard a familiar voice yelling curses. He followed it to the alley behind the coffee shop where he saw Max arguing with a guy. He was scruffy and older, definitely not in high school, or the average college aged guy. The guy held on to Max’s wrist but he pulled away and shoved the guy back and continued to yell at him. The man stumbled back but continued trying to hold onto Max. He eventually got both of Max’s arms and pushed him roughly against the alley wall .
Eli almost took a step forward but froze when the man roughly kissed Max, who after a few moment of hesitation kissed back. His arms slipping around the taller man’s waist, his fingers hooked in the belt loops of his jeans as a muffled groan escaped him during the steamy embrace.
Eli gasped and quickly retreated back the alley way, he looked back one last time and locked eyes with Max even as he kissed the man, fury burned in his amber eyes. Eli’s breath caught in his throat, as his stomach clenched in apprehension and strange desire. The dark look in Max’s eyes left him shaky and breathless, and confused. If he wasn’t on Max’s sh*t list before, he was now.
He jogged all the way home wanting to get away from those eyes but wanting to seem them at the same time. So much for his thoughts being settled. Max could be grumpy and unpleasant but could there really be a reason to fear him?
If looks could kill then Eli would say, yes Max was very, very dangerous.
The bright blue beanie over Eli’s hair slipped back and he pulled it back down and fixed his fringe. He pulled his oversized military style coat closer over his chest and on a second thought zipped it up. As he huddled against the wind. He stood in front of the gate and waited to see if he could catch Max on his way into the school but the bell rang before he had seen him. As he climbed the steps into the school building he caught sight of him. Going around to the back of the building. Max looked around and over his shoulder but hadn’t noticed as Eli watching.
On impulse Eli followed the skater, keeping his distance not to alert him. Eli realized where they were heading, towards the pools. It was closed at this time of year, the perfect place to go unnoticed by staff and teachers. Max stopped by the pool changing rooms and Eli hung back, behind a group of trees along the path leading from the main building to the different parts of campus. A few minutes later three guys walk down the path and head towards Max. Eli could tell as soon as they spoke it’s nothing good, even though he couldn’t hear it. He watched as Max’s face twisted in annoyance and then anger. The blonde pushed past the guys and took a step to walk away when one of the guys pulled him back and they began to push him round. Pointing a finger into his face as he shouts. The occasional curse drifting down to Eli. Max rolls his eyes and suddenly pulls his fist back and it connects squarely with the guy’s face and he stumbles back and falls onto his ass. His two cronies go for Max but he side steps one and elbows the other in the gut. And makes a run towards the school building. He makes it back onto the path but the leader of the group tackles him and pins him the ground. He punches Max and he defends the best he can but soon the other two show up and drag him to his feet and hold him back while their leader uses him as punching bag.
Eli hesitated but decided things could go seriously bad for Max if he didn’t interfere. Using the element of surprise, he pulled the guy hitting Max back and turned him around and aimed a knee to his gut. The other two rounded on him but in the next minute he had them both on the ground another minute later and the three were running. Eli extended his hand to help Max from his place sitting on the ground. He stood and wound his arm around his stomach.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” Max asked.
“I took classes.” Eli said.
“Right... Dude, those were some Bruce Lee level moves.” Max said breathlessly still holding his side.
“What was that about?” Eli asked.
Eli stared silently and Max with a slight frown.
“Alright, whatever. I wanted to talk to you but I guess I should get to class.” He said before turning away and walking back to class.
“Wait.” Max said.
“Yeah?” Eli asked.
“What do you want to talk about?” Max asked.
“Was that guy in the alley your boyfriend? Do you let him push you around like that?” Eli asked.
“Uhhh... Yes on both counts.” Max said with a hollow chuckle.
“Are you-?” Eli began.
“Not all of us get sunshine and rainbows, kid.” Max said.
“Don’t call me kid. I’m 18, short stuff.” Eli said.
“Do not call me short.” Max growled.
Eli laughed loudly and shook his head at Max. The shorter boy glared at him but Eli continued to laugh at his reaction.
“And what was today about? The fight.” Eli asked.
“I come out here sometimes. Smoke, ditch class. Some how these assholes found out. Started coming out here too. They graffitied the walls, trashed the changing rooms. I got blamed for it and got a day’s suspension. Today was supposed to settle the score.” Max said.
“Three against one?” Eli said.
“Life’s odds are never on my side. Nothing new to me.” Max said.
“You really think like that? What a pity party.” Eli said
“Piss off. What would you know? All you do is smile and try to act like everyone else.”
“You don’t know anything about me.” Eli said, annoyance lacing his voice.
Max stared him down, shoulders squared. Then he relaxed, and quirked an eyebrow.
“I didn’t notice before that your eyes are two different colors.”
Eli reflexively looked away. Messing with his hair and his beanie.
“What’s that called again? Het-something...” He asked.
“Heterochromia.” Eli answered.
“Yeah! That’s it.” Max said strangely excited. “That is so badass. Wish I had that.”
“You’re weird.” Eli said slowly.
“The only remotely cool thing about you and you’re all self-conscious about it. Typical!” Max said.
“Dude, just stop making assumptions about me. I don’t think it’s cool but that doesn’t mean it bothers me either.”
“Talking to you is impossible. Just keep quiet and let me stare into your eyes.”
“That’s what he said.” Eli said with a smirk.
Max eyes widened a fraction as he blushed and looked away. He pushed his hands into the pockets of his cargo pants and then the pockets of his hoodie. He frowned before looking up at Eli again.
“Dude what time is it?” Max asked, “I lost my phone in the middle of the fight.”
“Umm almost 9.” Eli said.
“Oh damn! I gotta go cram for my test in an hour. Later, dude.”
“Aren’t you going to look for it?” Eli shouted after him.
Max ran off towards the building that housed the library and Eli walked towards the main building and tried to blend in with the kids heading to second period classes. He took a seat at the back of the class and doodles during the whole period thoughts stuck on the short conversation he’d had with Max. No one got under his skin like that before. It was fun but infuriating. He wasn’t sure if he wanted it to happen again.
Eli intended to pass third period like second but as soon as the class began and announcement came across on the PA.
“Maxwell Hollis and Elijah Sinclair please report to the principal’s office.”
Oh damn. He thought as he stood and trudged out of class.
Eli glared. Max smirked. Eli continued to glare.
Saturday detention, that’s where they found themselves now and Eli’s reaction made Max not even care that he was wasting his weekend here. The dork had his hair pulled back unto those ridiculous ‘man buns’ and that was enough to brighten Max’s day, he’d started chuckling as soon as he saw the brunette in the student parking lot. Which had Eli flipping him off before walking away and towards the building. Even though he was on time he only began walking to detention when he saw he was late. As if things could get worse. When the teacher had given them an assignment and told them he’s be back in an hour, was when Max had begun glaring holes in him.
“I don’t see how this is my fault.” Max said
“Those dickbags told the principal, we started the fight. Lured them out there. How do you think he fell for such an idiotic story?”
Max shrugged and doodled in he margin of his notebook. Drawing Eli with floppy ears and a sad expression. He chuckled to himself at the silly drawing. Eli kicked his chair his long leg easily reaching him.
“Hey. What the-”
“The principal only believed it because 1, you didn’t look for your phone and the grounds keeper found it exactly where the assholes said the fight happened. 2. You have such a terrible record that if the ground opened up and hell swallowed up the school, the principal would blame you.”
“Still not seeing it, how is any of that is my fault?”
“For the love of-”
Max began to laugh at him as he slouched in his seat and rested his head on his arms. His eyelids fluttered and he quickly dozed off. Eli kicked his chair and he jolted awake and fell side ways off his chair. He pulled himself back into his chair, his face burning as he blushed. He flipped Eli off.
“Cute.” Eli said sarcastically. “You don’t get to f*cking sleep. If I have to endure this you do too.”
“Sadist.” Max grumbled.
“No, that’s not my thing. I’ll leave that to you and the old guy roughing you up in that alley.”
“He’s not old.” Max spat, “Thirty’s not old.”
“Right.” Eli drawled.
“What the f*ck do you know? So self righteous.” Max said bitterly.
“Whatever.” Eli countered dismissively.
Max noticed that Eli’s ears were stretched as he impatiently tapped his finger nail against the clear glass plug. His ears were usually covered by his plentiful hair, Max would not guess he would be into body modifications. Point for Eli, he thought. But when had he started keeping score and who was he scoring Eli against? He began to curse himself internally as he began to doodle absently.
“You could be really hot you know.” Max said suddenly.
“Excuse me?” Eli said, his eyebrows rising.
“You could be hot, if you weren’t so...”
Eli gestured vaguely in his direction.
“Me?” Eli asked.
“Yeah, that.” Max said with a nod.
The rest of the morning was spent in tense silence, with the depressed and tired looking teacher coming in to check on them at regular intervals. At noon they were dismissed. Only two more weekends to go- yippee. Max thought in annoyance, as he stretched and walked slowly to his car as Eli walked behind him. Headphones on and his attention down on his phone while he frowned and absently pulled on a loose thread on his beanie. Max had a sudden impulse and he reached into his bag and grabbed his camera and snuck a quick picture of Eli lost in thought. Since the boy hadn’t realized what he was doing he kept snapping pictures. Until he looked up in surprise and then annoyance and Max captured that expression too, thinking that it suited Eli. He always looked too complacent.
Eli made a grab for the camera and Max jumped back and stuffed the camera back into his backpack before taking off towards the parking lot. Eli closed the distance between then when they were almost at his car. Damn tall person. Max thought.
“I don’t like pictures. Delete those.” Eli demanded
“It’s not digital, can’t do that.” Max quipped.
“Take out the roll.” Eli said
“No way! There are other things on the film. I’m not going to sacrifice the whole roll for you.” Max said.
“Max…” Eli warned.
“What are you going to do?” He taunted.
Max moved backwards and found his back pressed against his car. Eli took a matching step forward. Fists clenched, eyes narrowed. Max attempted to talk opening his mouth and closing it without being able to make a sound. Eli quickly closed the distance between them and Max tried to cover up his slight flinch by attempting to take another step back but his back hit the car and he had no where to go. Eli’s hand gripped his bicep and squeezed almost painfully as he glared into Max’s honey colored eyes. Max had to tilt his chin up to look into the taller boy’s eyes.
He would never admit it but he liked the way Eli loomed over him. His pulse began to race and he put his hands in his pockets to hide the fact that they were getting sweaty. He wasn’t sure what he was doing but getting Eli riled up was beginning to get fun.
“I’m serious Max.”
Eli slammed his fist into the hood of Max’s car with a loud crash and this time Max couldn’t hide the way he shrank away from the violent display. They were both breathing fast, and Max found himself rooted to the spot as his stomach and his heart tried to crawl up his throat and out of his body. He only realized he was shaking when he tried to speak, having to speak slowly to keep from stuttering.
“Okay.” he breathed. “I’ll hand over the pictures and the negatives as soon as I develop them-chill. No one will see them.” Max whispered shakily.
Eli frowned and looked down at the ground his shoulders hunched.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that… I… ” He took a step back and looked off to the side, “Didn’t mean to make you cry.”
Max gasped quietly and raised his hand to his face, and realized that silent tears had slipped down his cheeks. His hand slipped over his mouth as his face heated up. He turned quickly and got into his car. He pressed his face into the staring wheel for a minute as everything swayed and he tried to catch his breath. He pushed the panic down and started his car, his tires screeching as he sped out of the parking lot.