Carly Simon- Your're So Vain
After two straight hours of soothing the jumbled nerves of a group of traumatized students, convincing the police officers called to the school by said students not to arrest Noah, and fielding the first of what would surely be countless phone calls from outraged parents screaming for the boy's head, James was finally able to escape into his office with fifteen minutes to spare before the end of the school day. He closed his eyes and sighed, letting his head clunk against the door behind him.
He heard a faint shifting noise and opened his eyes, turning his attention towards the root of all the excitement of the past two hours.
Noah sat in one of the two chairs in front of his desk, staring down at the ground. James felt guilty leaving him to sit for so long, but there was also no way in hell he intended to throw the boy to the wolves waiting to devour him. Nor was he going to let Noah go home without speaking to him first.
He walked over to his desk and sat down in the plush, leather chair, resting his elbows on the desktop. He stared at the top of Noah's downturned head, and was promptly overcome with an urge to sweep his bangs out of his eyes.
James cleared his throat, pushing away the mental image of smoothing the boy's hair back and wondering how it would feel between his fingers… although the thought didn’t disappear completely.
As he opened his mouth to speak, he was caught off guard by the teenager’s small, still voice.
“I’m sorry I made trouble for you,” Noah whispered softly. He nervously picked at the sole of his shoe, refusing to meet James’ eyes.
James titled his head slightly, looking at the top of the intriguing teen’s head. Here, in this day and age of school violence, he had just caused a state of panic among his classmates and yet he was apologizing for ruining the day. He couldn’t deny that it touched him and he pursed his lips to block the smile that had begun spread across his face.
He wanted to tell Noah that he had absolutely no reason to apologize, that those bullies got exactly what they deserved, and that he did absolutely nothing wrong.
Instead, he said, “What’s done is done.”
What’s done is done? What the hell was that? James thought.
He cleared his throat for a second time and started over. “So what happened?”
Only then did Noah look up. James was again struck by the look in the boy’s sapphire-colored eyes, eyes that looked like they had seen more than any seventeen-year-old should ever have to see in such a short span of existence.
“You were there,” Noah replied, “You saw what happened.”
“And now I want you to tell me,” James responded. “In your own words.”
“There’s nothing to tell,” Noah said, turning his gaze away from James and staring down at his leg. “I just…”
“Just what?” he gently prodded him.
“I just… couldn’t… take it anymore.” The young man began picking at his shoe again and mumbled something that James could not hear.
“What did you say?” he asked.
The blonde sighed. Even with his head down, James could see crinkles in his forehead and knew the boy was frowning, but he didn’t think it was directed at him.
“I said they’re not even tin.”
Even though Noah was too busy concentrating on his shoe to see his face, James covered his mouth with his hand to conceal a smirk. He had a strong suspicion that Noah Warden was completely oblivious to his own cleverness.
“Well, Noah,” he began. “Bullies aren’t usually known for their intelligence.”
The picking fingers paused. Noah slowly looked up and met the eyes of his principal.
The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. It was the closest thing to a smile that James had ever seen coming from the young man.
He felt a cautious ray of hope. If he could just keep getting Noah to open up, inch by inch, then maybe-
The door to the office burst open and slammed against the wall with a large bang, causing both James and Noah to jump in their seats. James glared at the intruder, furious for the interruption, especially since he felt he was finally making a tentative connection with the troubled teenager.
Eric Meredith, the school’s head physical education teacher, bounded into the office, followed immediately by James’s secretary, Ms. Blumm.
“James!” Eric started. He glanced down at Noah, who had all but hunched over in his seat at the intrusion.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Bassler, I strictly told him you were not to be disturbed!” Ms. Blumm exclaimed. She gave him a worried look but James found no fault with her; when Eric wanted his way, he kept going until he got it.
It was a fact that he knew all too well.
“Mister Meredith,” James said, struggling to keep his voice calm for Noah’s sake. “My door was closed for a reason.”
Eric stood stubbornly in the office doorway, making absolutely no attempt to leave. James clenched his teeth and glanced at Noah, who sat quietly with his head down and his arms folded protectively across his stomach. He noticed again the lengths the young man took to conceal his prosthetic and felt a wave of protectiveness towards him.
Just when he was positive that the kid would have opened his emotional window for him, even just a little bit, Eric’s uninvited outburst had effectively slammed it shut.
For that, James hated him. As if he needed another reason.
Turning his attention to his secretary, he smiled reassuringly. “Thank you, Katie,” he said. “I’ll take it from here.”
Her eyes darted knowingly between the two men before she exited the office. In them, James could see the confirmation of her suspicions and he was perturbed with Eric all the more for his brazenly presumptuous attitude in such a public setting.
“Noah, I’ll be right back,” he said softly.
James stood up and walked around the desk. As he approached the doorway, he favored Eric with an ice cold glare before walking out into the hallway.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” James asked quietly. He stood in front of the closed door to his office and stared at his employee and former lover, careful to keep a considerable distance between them.
“I heard that this kid went crazy and started attacking people, so I came to see if you were alright.” Eric smirked and leaned against the wall in a most unprofessionally casual way.
“Liar,” James whispered.
He glanced past Eric’s shoulder and saw Ms. Blumm watching them in awe. Upon being discovered, she quickly ducked her head back down and pretended to be fascinated with her computer monitor. James shook his head; this was the last thing he needed.
“Listen to me, Eric, because I’m not going to tell you this again,” James began, his voice full of silent warning. “We are finished. Unless it is work related, you are not to talk to me. So stop finding every pathetic excuse you can think of to come to my office.”
“Well aren’t you the big man in charge… at work, anyway.”
Eric smirked again and at that moment James would have given just about anything for a metal limb of his own.
“I’m not going to tell you again.” He gave the arrogant man a final, scathing glare before walking back into his office.
Eric Meredith stared at the closed door as the final bell of the day rang and students began to pour into the hallways.
“It’s not over, James,” he muttered to himself. “Not until I say so.”
Well, again... sorry for lack of actual story pictures.... once again, I blame it on there being only so many shots you can take of a building...