He stood opposite the dorms, smoking a cig, his leg resting against the bricks, his beanie covered his ears, and his brown hair fell snug on his forehead. He was staring at the windows of the place, breathing out smoke momentarily.
Courtly stepped out into the warm summer air with a blank face and her hands in the pockets of her jeans. A light breeze blew through her tangled blonde hair as she looked around for anyone that could fit the description for Xerxes.
He grinned, "sorry, sorry," he replied, "if it's anything, I didn't do the hacking. I'm terrible at technology, can't hack a phone let alone a television. What's your progress, though, on the crown shit?"
She contemplated lying to him but decided against it, since she didn't know his stance on the whole thing. "None. Can't find any good times to snatch them, plus people would question my disappearance if I don't leave during the night."
He raised an eyebrow, doubting her for a moment, a few reasons running through his mind, but gave her a one shouldered shrug. "I guess so," he replied, "I imagine you're using that prince for his crown? His parents are in town and the state they're in...you have a window, just saying."
She shuddered in distaste at the thought of even using Nate for ulterior motives. "Yeah... I'll make sure to take advantage of that when the time is right," she muttered.
"I'd be quick about it," he replied, "people aren't that patient anymore. They know the attitude now, it's time to act. So you'd be be pretty quick because I can't stop people from slitting your throat if you take too long."
"You're just such a cheerful messenger, aren't you?" she lamented in layers of sarcasm."
He grinned around the smoke, "what? Did you want me to shower you with glitter and rainbows?" He asked, "I like you, by the way, I think you're funny. It really would be a shame for you to die. We could use someone like you."
She blinked, not expecting the compliment. "I don't think it'd be appropriate for the king's daughter to be aligning with an organization trying to overthrow him, but I'll consider it," she added in response.
"Oh, your not? Sorry, I assumed you were fucking," he replied, blowing smoke out, "Nathaniel. Edan. His secret. Funny...don't really know him much do you? Told him everything about your problems but he's told you nothing of his...but anyway, my point is..this is a secret. Go sprouting it, and we'll ruin him."
She was speechless. Courtly had no response to this. This mysterious Xerxes had a point. She knew next to nothing about Nate, which now that she thought about bothered her a lot. "...I won't."
He beamed, "good," he said, throwing the smoke onto the ground, stamping it under his heel, "because we know people who would love to get their hands on him. Gone to quite some lengths to hide it, by the way, I'm rather impressed with him. Goodbye, though...I'll be in touch." With that he left, his hands in the pockets of his jeans.
Still momentarily stunned, it took a while before she turned around, returned her hands to the insides of her pockets in her own jeans and headed back inside the Dorm building and over to Nate's Dorm. "..."
His face, usually friendly with Courtly, closed off, his signature scowl returning, "not much to tell," he said, rocking back on his heels, "I'm a prince. Grew up in a castle, went to the academy. Got into fighting. What's there to tell? "
Courtly crossed her arms, narrowing her eyes, exposing her disbelief of his answer. "You and I both know that's not what happened. If I can freely tell you about my life, I deserve to know something in return."
"Nothing important," he growled, "so I'd stop pressing at something that doesn't exist. Because it sounds to me they're trying to get into your head, making you paranoid and isolated."
She grit her teeth and glared at him. "Why can't you just trust me, Nate? Is that too much ask? Why won't you tell me? I'm trying my best, to understand your side of the situation but I can't if I don't know if you trust me!" Her voice raised volume as she spoke, and by the end, she was yelling.
He clenched his fists, breathing in deeply to not get angry, if it was anyone else, he would have thrown a punch, shoved them against a wall, or just left. "What situation! I'm not in this situation. I don't know these people. I'm not apart of this...cult...I don't have anything to do with it for gods sake, so what is there to understand!"
"This has nothing to do with them! This is about our—" she fell short of words. What was she supposed to call this? A friendship? It didn't feel like one. She huffed, dragging her fingers through her hair and turned on her heel. "Fine. Don't tell me. You don't need to tell me anything anymore because I'm not doing this with you. If we can't trust each other to share backgrounds, what else is there to trust you with? My life?" She took a step forward. "I have a feeling you won't come looking for me," she spat, before leaving and slamming the door behind her.
He stood in the middle of the room, listening only to his breathing, not understanding the hollowness in his stomach. He hadn't felt anything for years, let only this...need, this desperation. He didn't know what that word was. The word he was looking for, it was always at the tip of his tongue. Previously, it was there but he could never grab it but now...it was there. He could feel it. He turned on his heel, heading to the door, his hand hovering over the handle. Unsure if he should go.
Courtly stormed down the hall, gripping her arm so hard she'd be sure she would be seeing an ugly bruise tomorrow. There was a constant sense of frustration that was driving her outside and towards the gates, but behind it was a cold emptiness inside her she didn't want to acknowledge. It was the simple phrase she told herself that kept her moving and angry. Screw this. Screw Xerxes. Screw the stupid White Roses and screw the world. She wouldn't admit to the fact that she half wanted to check behind her, to see if Nate was following her but she refused to give into the temptation. I don't that secretive ass. I'm fine. I'm okay.
He slipped out of his room, turning his brain off, and wasn't hard to find Courtly. She was kind of loud in her storming off. "Courtly," he said, racing after, "don't you leave. Don't you dare leave me." He reached her, shoving her against the wall, her face level to his. "Screw you," he grunted out, "screw you."
She glowered at him fiercely, defiant to comply with his request but the emptiness was gone. For some reason, she hated herself for letting the emptiness disappear. "Oh f*ck off, Edan!" she cried out in infuriation. "What do you want from me? I made it loud and clear that I don't want anything to do with you anymore so leave me alone!"
"I don't think you did," he snarled, "I came looking for you. I did. Your feelings were wrong and I'm not...I'm not fucking off. I don't fuck off." His grip tightened, "you don't get to leave. Not like that. Not like that."
"What do you mean I don't get to leave? You don't control what I do, Nate! I can leave whenever the hell I want, however, the hell I want, and you can't stop me!" she shouted at him, anger burning in her eyes. "My feelings are perfectly fine, thank you very f*cking much."
He slammed her against the wall again in frustration, bowing his head down slightly, "what do you want me to do, damn it? Tell you..tell you how I was fucking...kept in a cage. Do you want me to tell you how I know exactly how much I'm worth?" He growled, stepping back, "500 thousand dollars. That's how much I'm worth. How much people would pay for me. Do you want me to tell you how I had people, prod, rape, burn, scar me, just to see how much pain I can endure? Is that what you want me to tell you? To show how much I trust you? Cause I don't see how that's relevant."
She coughed once her back hit the wall again, a breath forced out of her. "Yes, I would've appreciated that ten minutes ago when I asked you about it!" she screamed back at him. "I guess you don't understand how much that information means to me! I wanted to understand you, feel your pain, share your burden but you're so hellbent on keeping everything to yourself that I don't even know if it's worth trying anymore!"
He stared at her, with wide eyes, breathing hard, letting her go. He hadn't told anyone that. He never told anyone even a hint of what he went through. Was she deaf? Did she not hear him? He shoved his hands into his pockets, "yeah...I guess it's not."
She didn't realize the tears pooling in her eyes until she had slid down the wall and curled up into a ball, wrapping her arms around her legs.
He scuffed his foot on the ground, "why'd I even come up? Like, why would an Air cult even care about me?"
Courtly looked up briefly and bit her lip, thinking about the boundaries of the threat Xerxes made. "Xerxes made a threat about revealing your secrets if I told you about what we discussed," she mumbled.
He blinked, freezing, "what?" he asked, "I'm not a murderer, Courtly."
"Don't jump to conclusions, Nate. No one's going to die." She slipped her hands in her pockets and began to walk. "They just said steal the crowns, not kill anyone. Besides, we'll just borrow them for a while and return them. I'm sure they'll understand."
He was in his final class of the day, doodling on a piece of paper, a terrible drawing of rabbit with too large front teeth.
Courtly, who was sitting right next to him, was trying to focus on the teacher's honestly horrible lecture but Nate's even more horrible drawing skills was getting to her. "What even is that?" she whispered, leaning over.