The room was overcrowded and stuffy to the point of annoyance, but I was so anxious and jittery that I didn't care about the fact that I could barely breathe, or that the guy next to me stunk of BO. Okay, maybe I cared about the latter just the tiniest bit.
I glanced around the room, looking for Oliver. Oli and I had been friends for a couple years now, and tonight was the night I was finally going to tell him I liked him. The crush had appeared out of nowhere a few months back, and when it refused to go away, I decided that I had to take a chance and go for it. Maybe I would be pleasantly surprised, and Oli would like me back.
I wasn't usually the kind of person who told someone when I liked them. I was more of a 'I'll take this to the grave even if I'm deathly in love with you' sort of person. That made it all the more surprising that I had somehow worked up the courage to go through with this.
My stomach flipped as I spotted the top of Oli's head through the crowd. He was so tall it was hard not to spot him, and he was coming straight towards me.
I gulped, taking in a deep breath and plastering a smile on my face as he came to a stop in front of me.
He looked good, his hair curled to perfection and hazel eyes outlined in eyeliner. His long legs were encased in a pair of jeans that left little to the imagination. He looked right fancy compared to myself.
"Kells!" He greeted cheerfully, pulling me in for a short hug that left my heart beating just a bit faster.
"Hey," I said, resting one of my hands on my hip while the other cradled my drink. "How are you?"
Oliver shrugged, looking a little down. "I could be better. Alissa stood me up tonight."
Score! I thought to myself. I did feel bad for him though, because he didn't deserve to be stood up. He was far too sweet and kind for that. But mostly, I just felt satisfied. Alissa clearly didn't appreciate what she had, and that meant I might be able to appreciate him the way she hadn't.
"I'm so sorry." I said sincerely, resting a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Are you guys alright?"
"Who knows," he said, but I could tell he was faking his nonchalance about the topic. "Alissa doesn't know what she wants."
"I do," I said softly, letting my hand fall from his shoulder.
Oli's eyes flickered to mine, his eyebrows drawn together in confusion. "Oh, yeah? What's that then?"
"I like you, Oli. Like, I've got feelings for you." I admitted, biting down on my bottom lip because I didn't trust myself not to blurt out something ridiculous in my anxious, nerve riddled state.
"Oh," Oliver said, his eyes widening in realization as he caught onto what I was saying. He paused, hesitation and pity clear in his eyes, and that was when I knew I'd fucked up. "Kells, I'm sorry. I don't -"
I raised my hand in the air, signaling for him to stop talking, and he did. I could handle rejection, but I couldn't handle hearing one of those typical 'I only see you as a friend' speeches.
"It's okay. It's fine. I - uh, I get it. Understood. You don't like me back." I said, chuckling nervously as I tried to stop rambling on and on.
"I'm -" I pointed at a random location behind me. "I'm just gonna go over there. I'll see you later, yeah?"
I didn't wait for a response before turning on my heel and walking in the opposite direction as quickly as I could. I could feel Oli's gaze burning a hole into my back, but I pretended I didn't notice and kept walking until I got lost in the crowd.
I wasn't the type of person who cried over rejection, but I definitely felt mortified. My cheeks were bright red, and when I lifted one hand to my face, my skin was hot to the touch.
"Aw, are you going to cry because no one loves you?" Vic taunted.
I could recognize that voice anywhere. The sound of his voice right next to my ear made me whip my head up to glare at him.
He was standing there, dressed in all black attire, and sporting his usual arrogant attitude. It radiated off him in waves. His hair was messy and yet somehow still perfect, styled like he'd just gotten out of bed looking amazing. The sight of him made my blood boil.
Just by looking at his face, the satisfied smirk and eyebrow cocked in my direction, I knew that he knew. How he knew, I had no idea, but he did.
"Fuck you!" I growled, feeling momentarily enraged. Of course he would use my rejection against me. He knew just what to do and say to get under my skin, though to be quite honest, all I had to do was look at him and I was immediately annoyed.
How could he taunt me when I was heartbroken? What kind of cold-hearted son of a bitch picked on someone because their crush had rejected them? Then again, it was just like him to kick me when I was down. It wasn't like he had anything better to do.
Vic smirked, his eyes cold, and voice even colder. "Sorry, not interested. Just like Oliver isn't."
I stared at him, wide-eyed. I couldn't believe he'd just said that to me. Was he really going to stand there and insult me for the sheer pleasure of it? It was as though he got some sort of sick, twisted satisfaction out of causing me pain.
I didn't know why I had expected any better of him. After all, this had been his routine for the past five years of our lives, and I should have been used to it. In a way, I was. But it never hurt any less to be stepped all over like you were dirt by someone you used to love.
I didn't show it, and I never would, but his words truly did hurt me. You know that saying, 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me' wa spite and absolute bullshit. In reality, words could cut like knives, and leaves scars deeper than any stone ever could.
I was a sensitive person, and Vic used to know that. In fact, he used to know a whole lot about me, but he didn't anymore. When everything changed between us, I had to change, too. All I was allowed to be around him these days was cold, calm and collected. The three C's. If I kept myself calm and indifferent to the insults he slurred at me, then I would be alright. If I showed how much everything he said really hurt me, then he would step all over me, even more than he already did.
I crossed my arms over my chest and allowed drunken people to stumble past me on their way into the kitchen, sometimes knocking their shoulders into mine.
"At least I have something you don't. Friends." I said, and I was aware that my words were petty, but I couldn't help myself. I had never been good at insults, at hurting people. It just wasn't in my nature. Unfortunately, I was good at allowing them to hurt me, and hurt me they did.
But then again, who was I to complain about getting insulted and feeling hurt? I deserved the words Vic spat at me everyday for what I had done to him. It was only fair.
"So Jaime doesn't count as a friend?" Vic asked, his voice for once lacking the hostility I was accustomed to.
"No, he's not. You do realize he's using you, don't you? All he wants is to get into your pants." I told him.
I wanted my words to hurt him the way he hurt me, but I didn't have to put much effort into being mean or creative with those words because what I was saying was the truth, after all.
If what I said had any effect on him whatsoever, his face didn't give it away. But he'd always been good at containing his true feelings. I hated that about him, that I could never tell what he was thinking, even back then. His poker face was truly excellent.
"You know," Vic said, taking a drink from the red cup in his hand, which I presumed was filled with rum or whiskey of sorts. I watched him take a tiny, little baby sip, and it pissed me off how he drank his alcohol like he was tasting some kind of expensive wine instead of drinking like a normal person. "Even if that was true, I wouldn't really mind. Because at least - unlike you - someone wants to fuck me."
"You're a fucking asshole." I said lowly, getting fed up with him. My hands were clenched into fists at my sides as I tried to keep my anger under check. I wasn't a violent person, and I wasn't a fighter either, but I was real tempted to punch him. I wanted to see the look of utter shock flash across his face right before I knocked him the fuck out.
What I did to him was a shitty thing, and I knew that. I would never forgive myself for what I'd done, and I had to live with the guilt for the rest of my life. But I wished he could just get over it, allow the past to be the past, and stop trying to hurt me in any possible way.
I had treated him badly, yes, but why couldn't we just be civil human beings? Why did he have to use every moment we spent together as an excuse to stomp on my feelings?
Because the truth was, it was working. Everything he said got to me. His cruel words were buried into my skin. The had burrowed themselves under my flesh and hidden away there, creeping out to remind me of how worthless I was when I was least expecting it.
I knew I deserved the things he did and said to me, but that didn't mean I had to like it. It was tiring to deal with everyday.
I hated him.
I hated him so much.
I didn't before, but I did now. He made me hate him after all these years. How could you not hate someone when they insulted you on a daily basis? After years of verbal abuse, I couldn't like him. Vic was not the person I used to know. He'd changed, but I supposed I had too. It was sad to think that I was the reason he'd changed, though.
"I know," Vic's voice, sounding smug, drew me out of thoughts. I had been so absorbed in my own mind that it took me a moment to realize he was responding to my 'you're a fucking asshole' comment.
"That's not something to be proud of." I said.
"Neither were you, but I made that mistake." He said, and his voice was different now. The coldness was gone, and in its place bitterness was left behind. His eyes were strangely glassy, and although he'd still spoken in a hard tone of voice, there was an underlying softness to it. I wondered if he was remembering us, and everything we used to be.
I thought of it often, of us. I tried not to, but every time I saw him, I could only think of how close we were and how suddenly it all changed. No matter what bad memories are created, there will always be the good ones still in place, a leftover reminder of happier times.
"It wasn't a mistake," I said, the words slipping out of my mouth without prevail. I hadn't intended to say that, but no matter how much he hated me, I wanted him to know. Needed him to know. "You weren't a mistake. Not to me."
Vic's eyes hardened once more, and the coldness returned. "Don't lie. I'm not a fool. You told me yourself I was just a silly little mistake. If I wasn't, you wouldn't have left, aren't I right? Don't try to change the story now."
I looked at him in silence. He didn't seem angry, just tired, exasperated even. This moment was different than our usual encounters. Usually we insulted each other back and forth until I got too upset and left to go calm down.
We didn't do this - whatever this was. We didn't get so close to talking about the real issue at hand here; about our feelings and everything that had happened.
The truth was, I didn't want to talk about it, about us, about me and what I'd done. I couldn't talk about it. Some things aren't meant to be told, and this was one of them.
Suddenly, I didn't know what to say. It was on very rare occasion that I was left speechless, but here I was. I was getting too close to telling the truth, and I wanted to, I really did. But I just couldn't. It wasn't the right time. I didn't think it ever would be.
"I can't deal with you right now." I told him, a last ditch effort to deflect the conversation and keep myself from saying something I might regret.
I grabbed a bottle of vodka off the kitchen table, still sealed shut, and pushed my way through the crowds of people partying and dancing, grinding up against one another. I cast one last glance behind me, but Vic was gone.
I went upstairs. This was my best friend Justin's house, so I knew he wouldn't mind if I crashed in his bedroom. His door was unlocked, which was a pleasant surprise. He normally locked it so that horny couples couldn't barge in and have sex on his bed. He must have forgotten.
Luckily for me, there was no one in the room when I entered.
I locked the door behind me so that nobody could come in, and flopped down onto Justin's queen bed, my body relaxing into the soft mattress. I opened the bottle of vodka with a bit of a struggle and took a long gulp, wincing at the burn as it slid down my throat.
I was the most depressing creature on planet earth, that was for sure. Here I was, lying on my best friend's bed alone, with only a bottle of vodka to keep me company while a raging party went on downstairs. I could be down there, having fun. I could be getting drunk with friends and mingling with other guests.
But that didn't appeal to me anymore. I didn't want any of that. Vic had ruined my night. Wait, scratch that; Oliver had ruined my night when he rejected me, when he said he thought of me as only a friend. I knew he hadn't actually said those words, but he was thinking them, that was for certain.
Stupid Oliver Sykes.
But most of all, stupid me.
I should have known nothing good would come out of telling him I had a crush on him. He had a girlfriend, for Christ's sake. But for one moment, with alcohol flooding my system, that hadn't mattered. I thought maybe he would pick me.
No one ever picked me.
I was too hopeful. Too hopeful that all my dreams would come true and I would live happily ever after like in the movies. That wasn't a good thing, because I got my hopes up, only for them to come crashing down.
So I drank the vodka, until I had downed half the bottle. I wasn't tipsy at that point. I was downright drunk. Ridiculously drunk, especially after the vodka, which hadn't even been my first drink of the night.
But somehow, even through the fuzziness of my mind, I held myself back from doing anything stupid, like going downstairs, standing on a table and proclaiming my love for Oliver in front of everyone, only to get rejected again. I knew that wouldn't go over very well.
Whatever. I didn't love him anyway. If there was one thing I was certain of, it was that.
After a while, I passed out, and much to my displeasure, I dreamed of Vic's almond colored eyes. It seemed even in sleep, I couldn't escape him.
And I kept saying I hated him, but I didn't know if that was really true. I didn't know anything anymore but one thing I was sure of was that every time I said I hated him, it felt like a lie.
I didn't think I could ever hate him, and I mean truly hate him, even throughout all the terrible things he said and did.
That wouldn't stop me from saying I did though.