15 minutes. That’s how long he’s been sitting outside the school’s infirmary. His hands have been fidgeting non stop, and his mind had yet to calm down.
“Rayas, for the last time, Rem is one of the best doctors I’ve met. Control yourself.”
He looks up to meet the gaze of Roy, the silver-haired male he calls his best friend. His expression was one of exasperation from repeating the same point upteen times. Rayas takes another shaky breath in an attempt to steady his nerves, but his body refuses to cooperate. He shoots Roy an apologetic look, who’s expression softens somewhat.
“Ugh, just leave him alone Roy. We’re all worried and you know it, so stop acting like you’re all calm and collected.” Rayas’ eyes meet Mira’s. Her glare is laced with warning, but she eases it when she notices Rayas looking. She folds her arms under her chest, sighing. “None of us could’ve expected Iris just… fainting, okay? So stop blaming yourself. Both of you.”
Rayas looks away. He knows she’s right, but at the same time, part of him nags. He should’ve noticed, he should’ve noticed how tired she looked, how much paler her skin was. But he didn’t. He didn’t because his mind was on cloud nine, and he hates himself for it.
He hears the sound of the door clicking, and at long last Rem steps out in her usual outfit. Rayas rushes off his seat, nearly tripping on his own two feet. Before he open his mouth though, Rem holds a hand out, stopping him in his tracks.
“Iris is fine, my dear. Now, calm down. We don’t want to disturb her sleep now, do we?”
Rayas heaves a sigh of relief, running a hand through his hair as he nods. “Thank you, Rem.”
“Don’t mention it.” The doctor replaces her gloves in the pocket of her coat, cracking her fingers in the process. “Now, let’s discuss over tea, shall we?” She looks to the two third years behind Rayas, and they nod.
The aroma of Rem’s tea fills the room, and Rayas can feel himself calming down just by breathing it in. A quick glance tells him Roy and Mira are both feeling the same way, shoulders no longer so tense, eyes no longer so tired.
“So, is anyone willing to tell me why our favourite transfer student collapsed in the middle of gym today?” Rem asks as she makes her way to her seat, the loud clicking of her heels giving her dominance over the atmosphere of the office.
Rayas opens his mouth to speak, but all he manages is an awkward croak. Unable to form the words he wants, he begs Mira with his eyes to explain in his place. His senior clicks her tongue, and begins to speak much to his relief.
“In short, we suspect Iris overexerted herself.”
“I can confirm that much.” Rem says flatly, sipping her tea. “What I want to know is why. Why was no one watching her? Stopping her?”
He feels the weight return to his chest, and he flinches ever so slightly at the sudden pain. Mira very obviously sees this, the pain reflected in her eyes tells Rayas that much.
“We were too busy celebrating our victory. That’s why.” she answers so bluntly. The only comfort Rayas could find was that even Roy refused to look Rem in the eye. Stoic and courageous Roy.
“And I suppose ol’ Gran was too busy getting drunk with you lot to notice too?”
“No, he was actually the first to ask if Iris was feeling alright. We just…didn’t think that maybe she was lying when she said she’s okay.”
The room goes silent at that, and Rayas has to force down the bile in his throat. The bitter aftertaste leaves him grimacing, but at least it keeps his mind off his mistake for a while.
It’s another minute before Rem’s tea cup clinks back onto the plate, the doctor sighing. “Well, no point blaming yourselves now, is there? All you can do is to be there for her when she wakes up, correct?”
The collective glances of the students tells her they agree.
“You three will be the first to know aside from me, I promise. Now go back to class, I have a patient to tend to.”
English period, and Fen is nowhere in sight. In his place is Melia, who immediately greets him with a comforting smile.
“Are you feeling alright Rayas?” she asks in her caring tone. Even with all that’s happened, he can’t help but smile, albeit a small one.
“I’m fine. Iris is okay, so there’s nothing for me to worry about. I’m fine.”
“Do you really believe it if you repeat it, Rayas?”
He tilts his head to the left to see his classroom nearly empty, save for the other ‘student’, who was actually Fen’s personal assistant and spy, Ru. The small male nods, before making his way out of the classroom, Iris’ cat Rolly, following behind. The pink fluffball stares at him with what looked like sadness, meowing before leaving the room.
“Now, do you want to talk about it?”
“It’s lesson time, Melia...”
“Well, you could always converse with me in English.” she says, doing just that.
Rayas sighs, knowing he could never win an arguement with her, and moves to sit at his desk. Melia pulls a chair over to join him. The substitute teacher remains silent, warm smile beckoning him to begin at his leisure. With a deep breath, Rayas steadies his nerves.
“I let Iris down, Melia.”
It hurts him to say it, but he knows it’s the truth. He saw the tears coming miles away, the pain too much for him. Roy did always say he’s too emotional.
“Oh, my poor boy.” he feels himself being pulled into Melia’s embrace, and he can’t help but cling back. For once, his teacher isn’t being the flirty woman who makes him flustered with every other sentence. Instead, she shows her motherly side, and Rayas doesn’t want it to go away.
“I promised I’d keep her safe Melia, but I didn’t. I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t…” he sniffles out between hiccups. Melia pats his back, trying to soothe him like how her mother had done.
“Shhhh… we all make mistakes Rayas.” she whispers, “It’s part of being human. What matters is what you do afterwards.”
“But I still made a mistake…”
“Then do what you must to earn forgiveness. Then, to forgive yourself for it. Do you understand, Rayas?”
He nods into her arm, still sobbing, and Melia realises she will have to settle for that as the best answer he could offer. It appears English would be cancelled today.
“At least grouchy will be too busy to know about it.” she sighs inwardly. God help her if Fen came in and saw this. He’d be his usual self and she’d have to punish him for it. Quite forcefully, too. She grimaces to herself. Innuendos just don’t work their usual magic in such situations, do they? Well, she’ll have to find some way to cheer herself up after this.
The light stings her eyes when she wakes up, and the light throbbing against her head doesn’t help relieve her discomfort. With a pained groan, Iris shifts herself to sit up, rubbing her eyes as she does. The first thing she notices is the mop of brown hair at her side, moving as though disturbed by her waking. Blue eyes met brown as Rayas slowly rose, and he blinks a few times before smiling.
“You’re awake!” he says, ecstatic.
Iris nods, returning his smile with her own. It took more effort than it usually does though, and she feels the headache worsen.
“Oh, are you in pain?” Rayas asks, and she nods meekly, fingers touching the spot where it hurts the most. “I’ll go get Rem, just lie down and rest.”
He returned quickly with Rem in tow, who handed her pills and a glass of water. She gratefully accepts them, draining the the cup to down the slightly bitter pills. Rem takes the cup from her hands with a smile.
“I’ll leave you two to chat for a bit. Don’t take too long now~” the doctor closes the door behind her, leaving Iris to wonder what exactly she meant. She looks to Rayas, hoping for an answer. He was rubbing the back of his neck, head down and attention shifting between the floor and her.
“Rayas? Is something wrong?”
He doesn’t reply immediately, but when he does, it’s with a pained tone.
“Are you feeling okay?”
Iris nods. “But you?”
“I’m fine now that you are.” he forces himself to look her in the eye, gulping as he did. “Iris, I.... I-” he hesitates.
“Rayas? What is it?”
He clears his throat. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t realise, Iris.”
Iris blinks, unable to comprehend what he means. Seeing this, Rayas scratches his chin awkwardly.
“You weren’t okay, but I didn’t realise because I was celebrating our win against Ragsherum’s school. You could’ve gotten hurt if Gran didn’t catch you when you fainted… I’m sorry.”
Rayas forces out a chuckle.
“I broke my promise. Will you forgive me for it?”
“I don’t blame you, Rayas.” she says. “I…didn’t want to worry you all while you were celebrating so it’s also my fault. Sorry.”
Rayas looks shocked by her answer, but he laughs after a second. “So then... still friends?” he asks, extending his hand.
Iris giggled as she shook his hand. “Yeah.”