Jared had been talking. It's what he was good at. He didn't remember what about anymore, but he had been talking and ignoring all the signs that Evan was getting annoyed. Sure, they had met up to study but Jared had been bored so he had talked. A lot.
And then, out of nowhere - of course it wasn't out of nowhere, he had just been too dumb to see it coming - Evan had slammed his pen down and had yelled, "Jesus, Jared just sh-shut up for a moment!"
Jared had laughed at first - idiot, idiot, idiot! - and had continued talking. "What got your panties in a twist, Hansen, Christ. I was just-"
"No!" This time he hadn't laughed. Evan had sounded upset. He had sounded genuinely angry and for a second Jared was thrust back. Back to a year ago. Back to 'pretending to be a kid who killed himself!' "Seriously, sh-shut up or leave!"
And Jared had winced, eyes wide. But Evan hadn't even looked at him anymore, back to concentrating on the notes in front of him. "S-sorry." Jared had muttered, slumping down onto the floor and staring at his own notes. He had been shocked speechless to be honest.
Evan had never yelled at him like this before - except of course he had, Jared just didn't like to think about it. So he had sat there, quiet, staring blankly at his notes. Until - to his horror - he had realized that his vision had slowly started to blur. With a clearing of his throat, he had jumped up, had shoved his things into his bag and had left the room.
Evan hadn't called out to him, to stop him. He had only heard him sigh, long and annoyed.
He had walked home, air clearing his head a little. He hadn't cried, thankfully. And once he had reached his house, the shock had slowly started to turn to anger.
What the fuck?
Why had Evan yelled at him like that? It's not like they hadn't done a lot of studying before Jared had started talking. He would…
Jared had slammed his bag down next to his bed and had lied down. He would show him! Jared just wouldn't talk to Evan at all anymore, he would see how much he missed his voice!
Obviously Evan wouldn't survive long without Jared's amazing company and commentary.
He would see!
Determined, Jared had sworn to only communicate by nodding or shaking his head from then on.
He would see.
Now though, Jared was blankly staring at the mystery sludge, the cafeteria called food. He moved it around his plate, from one side to the other, not really listening to anything his friends were saying. Hah. Friends.
Jared had held true to his word and hadn't spoken at all with anyone expect for nods and shakes. So far nobody had asked what that was about.
It had been a week.
Friends. He smiled down at the slush bitterly. Friends.
"Jared, are you gonna eat that or just play with it the whole time?" Alana's voice broke him out of his drifting thoughts and he looked up at her, only to see the whole table staring at him. The whole table meaning Lana, Zoe and Evan of course.
He blinked for a second, and then shook his head and stood up. He wordlessly left the table to return his tray.
Out of the corner of his eyes he saw his friends share looks and start muttering. He swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat.
'Maybe the only reason you talk to me, Jared is because you don't have any other friends!'
His heart was starting to beat faster and he quickly tossed the tray onto the counter, making a beeline for the exit.
They didn't care.
It was slowly sinking in that they genuinely didn't care if he was talking or not.
Sight blurring like it had last week, he dashed out of the school completely, all the way to the parking lot.
This time the tears didn't stop. This time they started to roll down his cheeks, falling against his moving legs as he slowed down next to his car.
They didn't care, he thought as he sunk down against it, out of sight from the school entrance and the windows.
They didn't care.
Alana was really only hanging out with him because she also didn't have anyone else. Zoe was... he didn't really know what Zoe was. She was Evan's friend - or whatever they were, not that Jared cared either way - not his. And Evan...
Evan had told him to shut up and had never taken it back. Evan had seen him for 7 days -weekends included - and had not heard a single word from him and hadn't asked. Evan, who was supposedly his best friend.
They didn't care.
And in a way he couldn't even fault them. Jared knew he was an asshole most of the time. Sure, he had tried to be better after the whole... well after. But apparently it hadn't been enough. Apparently they still...
And he had known, in a way. The whole thing, the whole petty no talking thing had been less about proving something to Evan, it was more about proving something to himself. That the people around him would care. That the people around him...
'No other friends.'
Right. Jared didn't have friends. Jared had acquaintances, school acquaintances. And Evan. But Evan didn't...
Honestly it was even a miracle that Evan was still spending time with him in the first place. Jared didn't really know how he deserved that. Sure Evan had hurt him, too. Crushed him really, but that was beside the point. Jared had been a complete and utter dick to Evan before that, so really it was his own fault to begin with.
He curled into himself, chin resting on his knees.
Maybe this was for the best? Maybe they would actually like him, now that he didn't talk. Maybe this would work out.
He choked a little and buried his head in his knees.
Maybe they would like him now?
So he didn't talk. He didn't talk in class, unless the teacher called on him. He always sent in his assignments so no one could complain.
He didn't talk to his - hah - friends, and they also didn't complain. He sometimes saw them look at him weird, especially Evan, but no one asked.
At first he still talked to his parents but the less he talked at school, the less he had to talk about at home. So there, too, he slowly became silent. And if he once overheard his parents talking about how surprisingly polite he now seemed, well then that only encouraged him to continue.
And if sometimes, when a teacher called on him in a class that he shared with one of his... whatever, and Jared wasn't prepared for it... if he sometimes panicked and shook his head. If he sometimes rushed to the bathroom afterwards to collapse against the wall, heart beating wildly in his chest, breath coming strained, because he had almost goddamned talked around his friends, fuck!
Well then no one had to know, right? No one had to know, but him.
It's been a month since Evan had told him to shut up. And well… everyone seemed to be content with the situation so who was Jared to change it?
And that was fine.
They didn't want him to be... him. So it had to be enough.
It was enough.
Sometime along the line it became hard to hang out with them. Not hard to not talk, he was surprisingly good at being silent, who knew. But it became hard because they slowly started to ask questions that were hard to answer non-verbally. Or they purposely discussed things that would usually sent him into rants or monologues.
They tried to get him to talk, so they've definitely noticed that something was up, and yet no.one.asked.why.
So he didn't. He didn't hang out with them, that is.
Jared still answered texts, albeit as briefly as possible. So if anyone asked him to hang out, he declined. Blamed it on school work, his parents, anything.
But then a month and a half into the whole thing, Evan suddenly got fed up again. They were at lunch and Evan asked him if he had time today after school to hang out. Jared shrugged his shoulders, and then shook his head, eyes firmly set on the cup of coffee in his hands.
Alana made a weird noise across from him, so he looked at her quizzically but her eyes were on Evan. Evan who sighed, sounding upset again. Jared blinked at him and saw the anger in his eyes. What? But why...
"Seriously, wh-what's the matter w-with you? Are we boring you?" Evan snapped and Jared winced. His eyes widened and he quickly shook his head no. Of course not, why... "Then w-why are you being... like this? W-why aren't you talking to us?"
But... Jared blinked, heart jumping in his chest. But they didn't... but he...
They didn't care! They showed him that they didn't care, why...
He felt his eyes water, and took in a sharp breath, panic starting to set in.
It wasn't enough. He wasn't enough. Wasn't changed enough. He was still upsetting them, he was still not...
Evan's eyes widened when the first tear rolled down Jared's cheek, but before he could say anymore, Jared jumped up and ran out of the cafeteria.
He didn't run to his car this time, but to the bleachers. Farther away, farther out of sight, just farther.
Collapsing underneath, back against the crude metal fence, he fisted his hands into his hair. His breath was coming short and his heart was straining against his chest. Everything hurt, his lungs felt like they were about to collapse, both from the run and the lousy breathing.
Not enough, it was still not enough. They didn't like him when he talked, they didn't like him when he didn't talk, what was he supposed to do?
Sobs racked his body and he just couldn't breathe. The sound of his voice was starting to make him physically sick and fuck it was never enough.
They just didn't like him. That's that. They didn't like him.
Evan had been right. He didn't have any friends.