The sound of a masculine voice echoing across the landing and the narrow stairway underneath was the last thing Aleyda expected to hear while feeling sorry for herself. It caused the panicked young woman to jump up from her seating position on the floor, her heart thumping wildly against her chest. Dread at who had caught her in such a vulnerable state opened up an endless pit in her stomach, but when she turned in the direction of the voice and realized who it was, the brunette let out an audible sigh of relief.
Benjamin Webb was not known for his friendliness. His teachers had briefed Ley on his learning disabilities and limited social skills, and warned her to not take any detached or guarded behavior towards her personally. After that, she'd come into the tutoring session expecting to be put off by some big brute that she would undoubtedly end up having to put in his place. What she was not
expecting was to meet the sweetest, most gentlest teddy bear of a man in all of Beverly Hills High. Their time together was a breeze, and the young woman would be lying if she said she didn't look forward to seeing him around.“Hey, B,”
Ley greeted somewhat awkwardly after her overreaction, praying her makeup hadn’t suffered any damage after her moment of weakness. “Eh, it’s nothing to worry about-- really. Something really fucking stupid happened and I was overreacting to it. To quote a famous little lady from Vine: I’m a bad bitch: you can’t kill me. And it’ll take a whole lot more than what’s happened to bring me down,”
she replied confidently, allowing herself a laugh before shifting the conversation away from herself. “What about you, big guy? Anything new going on? How’d that test I helped you with go?” “I got a C.”
Benji genuinely smiled at her, proud of his grade which was a vast improvement from an F.
Aleyda grinned widely and clapped her hands together in delight. “See? I knew you could do it! A little faith in yourself can do wonders.”
He showed a kindness that only he was capable of displaying. A foolhardy, lovable display of affection. Reckless and full of optimism, like he’d follow someone blindly just because he had faith in them and saw more to the person than they did for themselves. There had been times he did see Aleyda snap in the halls but that never changed his perception of her. Her flaws were entirely invisible to his gaze. He was like a harbor in a storm. Most people appreciated that.
Behind his largeness was fluff and it was undeniable that Benjamin was an absolute teddy bear. Once you saw his eyes, you knew he wouldn’t intentionally hurt a fly. They looked too tender for that and fortunately for him, the Viper didn’t view him as a threat or as someone she should pierce her poisonous teeth in. He seemed too kind for that. Still, his size made him big enough to intimidate anyone at this school, if he wanted to. He could put anyone in their place no matter where they stood on the ladder, if he wanted to. But that was the thing, he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to be noticed, seen, or even heard. He liked that he went unnoticed. It was safer that way for him and for everyone else. “Aside from that, my brother’s been coming to the gym more! He’s really challenging himself and it’s great. I like having his company.”
He scratched his head, not knowing if there was anything new that he would remember to mention. He wasn’t the brightest and at the moment he could only think about his brother, so that was the best reply he could give. His blue-gray eyes focused in on Ley’s soft-looking face and his train of thought turned back to the tears he had seen earlier.
Changing the subject, abruptly, he took a step closer to her and opened his arms, “Want a hug?”
Hugs felt good and it usually made him feel better when his mom did it. She understood his need to express his emotions, his father, on the other hand, not so much. Usually, if Benji showed any signs of distressed his father would toss a comic book at him to make him feel better rather than ask him what’s wrong. The big guy hoped he could make her feel better. What better way than to give a hug? If it doesn’t work, at least he tried.
When he offered her a hug, Aleyda froze on the spot. It wasn't out of disgust or repulsion like you would expect from the snobby, bitchy cheerleader- but more so out of a place of sheer surprise. The fact that the young man trusted her enough to allow any physical contact between them filled Ley with a sense of happiness and excitement she couldn't even begin to put into words."A hug? From you? I would be honored,"
she replied softly, offering Benji a kind smile before jumping straight into his open arms with a loud giggle, wrapping her own around his broad, towering figure. The large size that would usually be cause for intimidation brought upon Aleyda a sense of comfort and security. Whatever sadness she felt evaporated on the spot, replaced by a warmth and softness she hadn't experienced before. Her past contact with men was limited to whatever would lead up to sex- never just for plain comfort. It was definitely a nice change of scenario.
The brunette let their embrace last for the longest time, relishing in the sweet feelings he was gifting her with. To her favor, he didn’t pull away. Taking in her delicate body, so close to his, he found himself being comforted as well - of all anxiety he had moments before, when he felt the urge to run away. His mind focused on her, as he kept his gaze downcast on her dark, well kept hair and her squishy and coconut-scented face, to see any signs of discomfort. Hugs were such a simple gesture and yet it gave the gentle giant appreciative warmth and a moment away from it all. Away from the chaos that was their school.
Eventually, she pulled away just enough to peer at his handsome face. "You're an absolute angel, did you know that?"
Ley cooed, pressing her nose to his for a quick eskimo kiss.
He kept silent, continuing to deeply stare at her as they rubbed their noses together. Eyes that seemed completely and utterly focused on her. While she might be the embodiment of fire, he was cold ice on a summer's day, refreshing and cooling. He had a nice calm about him, even if internally he was going through phrases, words, adjectives to say back to her. He didn’t know how to reply to her compliment. It wasn’t something he was used to and made his stomach feel funny. He wanted to sound eloquent and not dumb. Suave and charming. A wordsmith that had a gift of making her smile. What even was the right way to respond?
The right words.
What were the right words?
Absentmindedly, his right hand gently rubbed her arm. He gave a cheesy grin, “I guess we’re both in heaven then because if I’m an angel, you’re a goddess.”
Winking at his friend, the brute’s smile went wider. He was being hella’ dorky and now that he was playing back his words, he sounded dumb. Real dumb. (Well, he might as well commit. There was no turning back now).
Aleyda's laugh filled the room, echoing across the concrete walls. "A goddess?"
she repeated with fake yet playful surprise. "Well, shit. If we're playing deities, I want us to be Greek. I'll be your Aphrodite if you'll be my Ares,"
Ley teased, matching Benji's dorkiness with her own and winking right back at him. She wasn't sure that gentle, pacifist Benji and the God of War had anything in common, but the young woman could only assume they were probably the same size. Whatever.
The sound of their shared laughter filled the room again, eventually fading away and leaving the pair in content silence. It was then when Aleyda looked into Benji’s eyes for the first time that day- and suddenly felt her breath get caught up in her throat. There was something about that pair of blue-gray eyes staring straight into the depths of her bare soul that captivated the young woman, taking her heart and thoughts hostage. A strange electricity rippled through the air, while an undeniable magnetism pulled their faces slowly closer together. Before she knew it, Ley could feel her friend’s breath on her lips now: warm and minty and tempting and kissable and inviting as hell
-“That’s some of the gayest shit I’ve heard all morning.”
Aleyda jumped in surprise, her head whipping in the direction of the intruder. Meanwhile Benjamin turned his head to look over his right shoulder, to see what was behind him, locking eyes with one of the ‘witches’: the green-haired one. Their group recently disbanded (sorta) because their fearless leader, Dahlia Rothstein, was forced to move to NYC with her father, while her mother traveled for choreography gigs. A sad turn of events for a strong trio that didn’t care about how the school thought about them.
Now the group was one goth girl (Iris) and a tiny, walking pastel doll (Ana), which wasn’t the same as ‘the power of three’ they had going for them. With the Wiccan witch out of the picture, they were just dark magic and flower power - polar opposites. Hardly balanced. One liked curses and the other spread kindness. At least, the love was still there.
Both girls didn’t like being in the public eye, like the school halls, without Gia. Honestly, without their strong, confidant friend to look up to, they were lost. Ana because she was socially inept, like dear Benji here, and Iris because she had a resting bitch face and seemed
to hate the majority of her peers. Unfortunately for Iris, she promised Gia she’d protect the littlest one, and even if things weren’t the same since she left, the black witch would try her best to swerve Anastasia away from the bad influences on campus.Iris Snyder
dully blinked at the awkward couple, blocking the pathway to the roof, as she held onto her cup of soulless coffee. Bitter and dark, like her. She had walked in at a most unfortunate time, hearing that Greek mythology was being used as a flirting tactic, which made her cringe. She had personal feelings for that particular mythos seeing how she and her siblings were named after some of the more memorable beings: Aries, Athena, Iris, and Hercules. Lifting up her blood red travel mug to her lips, she took a deep sip, before adding, “Are you two going to kiss or can I get through?”
After turning beet red, the muscley recluse pulled away from his friend, clearing his throat, “K-kiss? What?”
Malfunctioning on the inside, Benji quickly dismissed himself, “I, uh, will see you later, Aleyda…”
With that, Benjamin retreated, throwing his hoodie on and letting his feet lead him to homeroom.
Meanwhile, Aleyda was left with the rest of the girls, positively seething. Her hands immediately jumped to the sides of her head, roughly massaging her temples to bite her sharp tongue and keep the reins on that quick temper of hers that was so close to bubbling over. But, as expected, the feeble attempt was cut short before any real effect could take place when Iris spoke again. “You two looked like you wanted to devour each other. like death devours those cooked by old age. And well, those half-cooked and raw. Death eats everyone.”
For a moment, Iris started trailing into her own thoughts, before getting back on track, “As fan-fucking-tastic as that would’ve been to watch, I got fancy toast waiting for me.”
As harmless as the green-haired girl’s words had been, they had the same effect as lighting a match and dropping it on a puddle of gasoline. Her usual impulsive behavior took over, and Aleyda was suddenly reaching for Iris. She forcefully grabbed the girl’s arm, digging her nails into her skin a little while consequently letting the travel mug to fall to the floor with a loud clatter. “Escúchame bien, pinche morra estúpida: the next time you embarrass that boy like that again, you better make sure you buy some good foundation and concealer afterwards. You’ll need it to cover up the gashes I’ll put across your fucking face,”
she growled, raising her free hand up to the other girl’s face to give her a quick glance of her razor-sharp acrylic stiletto nails
before ultimately letting her go. “We good?”
Whether Iris was indeed good with this or not, Ley would never know, because by the time the shorter girl could speak the Mexican girl had stormed off, and the door to the ceiling’s staircase was being slammed shut.