Where you off too, davis? gonna go take more of your shitty pictures?”
jensen clenched his jaw and exhaled evenly through his nose, hooking his camera strap around his neck. he didn’t look at them, brad, jared and sean, and he wasn’t going to. no, he was just going to keep going about his business and pretend that these guys weren’t ‘nice’ to his face seventy-five percent of the time.
“i mean really, dude. photography club? i bet it has just as many gays in it as drama club.”
jensen let out another slow breath, shoving his books into his backpack. this was routine. he could get through it like he had every other time. “actually,” jensen said, still not looking at them. “it’s mostly girls. and i’d take bein’ with girls over a bunch of sweaty guys after school any day.” he reached further into his locker and pulled the zipper shut on his bag. for a moment he wished he’d have seen the three of their faces when he spoke, but then decided against it, knowing that would make them rage a bit more than he wanted them to.
“say whatever you want, photografaggy. everyone knows you didn’t have the balls to make it out there with us, and that’s why you quit.”
he grabbed his bag out of his locker and shut it, nodding sarcastically as he walked toward them, intending to go past them on his way to the art room. he glanced past them, seeing if lorna was on her way. seeing that she wasn’t he answered, “right. i didn’t have the balls to slap other guys’ asses every friday night, so i decided to hang out with a bunch of girls instead. that definitely makes me the gay one here.” he was just about to pass between brad and the locker bay when he felt himself get shoved backward. jensen stumbled backwards a few steps as the three others stepped forward.
“call us fags one more time. i dare you.”
jensen straightened himself up and looked at the three of them. “i don’t think ever outright called you guys gay. i think i just implied that you were all attracted to each other. but hey, i don’t have a problem with that. y’all like whoever you like, i don’t care.” he was about to sidestep them again when one of them grabbed hold of the camera around his neck and yanked down, successfully pulling jensen forward and snapping the strap. suddenly serious, jensen rubbed the back of his neck, holding out his hand for the camera.
“not so funny now, are you, jenny?”
he gritted his teeth, watching helplessly as they spread out around him, thoughtlessly tossing his camera from one person to the other. “seriously, jared, brad. sean, give me my camera.” he stepped toward one then the other, uselessly following the path of his camera, like he’d be able to catch it. he’d about traveled around the circle a few times when the camera stopped in brad’s hands. jensen stopped and held out his hand, wanting his camera back, not caring about the strap at this point. brad held it out for jensen, and just as he was about to grab it, jensen saw brad throw his camera to the ground.
for a moment, they all just stood there, frozen. jensen just staring at the pieces of his camera on the ground, sean and jared watching brad, knowing he took the ‘teasing’ a bit too far this time.
“i guess that’s why i’m a quarterback and not a receiver. butterfingers, you know?”
there was a split second where jensen just looked at him, and then a second later, before he even knew what he was doing, jensen punched him hard in the face. he had just enough time to realize that punching someone hurt a lot more than the movies made it seem before brad’s fist caught him in the nose. hearing a crunching sound, jensen stumbled backward into one of the other guys. feeling himself pushed forward, back onto his feet, jensen blinked slowly, trying to shake the dazed feeling from his head. not thinking clearly, jensen stepped up to brad, swinging and making contact with the other guy’s side.
“jensen! what are you doing?”
“klingman! davis! my office, now.”
jensen looked round to see lorna standing there, in complete shock, and then looked round again to see their principal standing there, briefcase in hand, apparently on his way to his car to go home for the day. jared and sean scattered, brad stuttered, and jensen bent down to pick up as many pieces of his camera as possible. principal owen walked past him and jensen followed, just glancing at lorna as he passed her, not looking at her long enough to make any sort of eye contact. he sniffed and then coughed, realizing at that point that his nose was bleeding down his chin.
jensen held the pieces of his broken camera in his hands, just barely registering the fact that lorna was trying to clean him up as best as she could. he turned one of the smaller pieces over in his hand, recognizing it as part of the focus ring. he sighed, adding it to the pile of already inspected pieces. sure, it hadn’t been the fanciest camera, it was just an old, very broken in, thirty-five millimeter camera, but that wasn’t the point. it had been the first camera he’d gotten, one he’d had since he was twelve. his mom had given it him back then, and he knew she’d only just picked it up at a garage sale, but he’d loved it anyway. he’d always liked taking pictures, but having a camera of his own (no matter how simple, and as he would later find out, it didn’t need to be fancy) had given him the chance to really get hooked on photography. he took that old camera everywhere with him, almost to the point where it had become such a fixture in his life as lorna had.
frowning, he looked from the pile to her, catching on to something she’d said. something about his parents.
“the sick thing is, this’ll probably be the one thing that my dad is proud of me for,” jensen said, laughing bitterly as lorna dabbed a wet paper towel at his nose. it was his senior year and he’d just gotten five days suspension for fighting, but his father would just be proud he’d done something ‘manly.’ lorna tsked at him and tilted his head back further.
“why did you do it jensen? why were you two even fighting? we’re all friends!”
jensen tilted his head back down, staring at her in disbelief. “they aren’t my friends, lor. they’re yours, but they definitely aren’t mine.” she’d been quiet up until that point, but jensen hadn’t honestly believed it was because she didn’t understand how he’d gotten into a fight with people she thought he was friends with.
“what do you even mean? of course they’re your friends. i mean, they tease you, yes, but—”
“tease?” jensen asked, absolutely flabbergasted. “have you seen my camera? did you hear anything they—”
“i’m sure brad didn’t mean to break your camera. i bet it was just—”
“right, i just got in a fight with a guy and got suspended for five days because my friend was teasing me and accidentally dropped my camera,” jensen interrupted, sarcasm dripping from his tone like the blood was dripping from his nose. he took the paper towel from her and pressed it to his nose himself.
“don’t talk to me like that. i’m not your dad. i’m on your side, jensen davis.”
“really?” jensen asked, sarcasm gone but his tone scathing, something uncharacteristic of him. but hell, he wasn’t exactly being himself today anyway. “i don’t know how you’re friends with them. i don’t know why you’re friends with me if you’re friends with them.” he paused, wiping his chin with the paper towel. “why don’t you just go play up the twin act with your sister and go be shallow friends with them. it’s obviously something you don’t mind doing.”
as soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew that never meant them, that he should never have even said them. he sighed frustratedly as her eyes teared up and her lip seemed to quiver, wanting to reach out and apologize but feeling like too much of a tool to do so, especially after she nodded the way she did.
jensen stared at her for a second before she hitched her back over her shoulder and stood up. he reached out to her, but he didn’t think she noticed since she’d turned and already started walking away. “lorna! i…” but he trailed off, knowing she wouldn’t come back to her, watching as she turned the corner. letting out a frustrated yell, he hit his head back against the locker he’d been sitting against, regretting that decision instantly as well. moaning, he slid down even further, pressing the paper towel to his nose.
jensen shut his eyes, seeing lorna’s face at the back of his eyelids. she was teary and looked absolutely heartbroken, and it literally made him ache that he was the one responsible for causing it. ever since lorna made friends with him back then, he’d only wanted to make her happy, and he’d gone and fucked that up over something they’d had plenty of conversations with. she was doing her best, he knew that, and he hadn’t made it any easier for her by saying what he had even though he hadn’t meant it.
gritting his teeth, he pushed himself up and put all the broken pieces of his camera in his backpack. he knew what he had to do.
his camera was broken, and he had a nagging feeling that his nose was broken too, but he was going to be damned if he let his relationship with lorna be broken as well.