When you live in a small town, things are close to each other. Sometimes you wondered if you didn't live in a snow globe, like the ones in your living room that your mother collected.
The hospital was only a five-minute walk from the school, so it wasn't necessary to ride with Vicrul's motorcycle that he left on the forbidden park place in front of the school.
Silently you sat in the waiting room of the emergency department.
The only thing you could think about was if you should text your mother and let her know about your injury. But on the other hand, after all those days, you didn't feel like talking to her at all. She would only get worried, and you didn't want her to stress out more than she already was with the trouble she got herself into.
"How come you knew that I had to go to the hospital," you asked Vicrul curiously.
He sat next to you with legs crossed and read a magazine. He lifted his head, and with his ocean eyes, he met your gaze. He glanced at your swollen hand and burrowed his face back into the magazine.
"I had something similar like you," he replied.
"Really? What happened?"
When he looked at you again, his eyes answered your question. You should have remembered it.
"I thought you already heard the rumors about me."
The pain in his smile was probably, more painful than your hand at that moment, as you remembered how Kaydel's warned you.
"Rumor has it that he got kicked out of his last school because he was known for his bad reputation. Keep your hands away from him. I'm sure he has a collection of broken hearts from different girls and is part of a mafia gang or something."
Did this mean he got himself in a fight, and that's what he meant by that? Was this the reason he got kicked out of his school? Kaydel didn't tell you in detail what he had done that gave him a bad reputation, so you weren't aware of any of them. Asking him about it now would only ruin everything, so you just blindly played along.
"They are just rumors, Vicrul."
"And even if they're only rumors, are you sure you want to be friends with someone who has a bad reputation?" he muttered in a harsh tone.
He started to laugh. All the people around gave him a nasty look. It resembled your laughter when Professor Ren suggested this morning to help you. He didn't believe it. And neither could you.
"Probably just because of my eyes and my six-pack," he smirked ridiculously.
"No, because you're a good guy," you tried to encourage him.
"You know nothing about me!"
"Maybe. But I saw how you took care of me in the infirmary. Even though you could just trust the nurse, you kept arguing with her because you believed my injury was more serious than what she said. You could have just dropped me off there and go to the choir, but you took me to the hospital... and you stayed with me. Even though you had no reason to."
It was only the second time you talked with Vicrul. You started to speculate with the thought if he ever saw something else in himself, besides his sparkling eyes and his muscles. Maybe, after all, existed behind his façade, a small boy who was hiding from his past and problems. And the gossips spreading around about his reputation made his debut in a new school only worse.
"And for your information, I've never seen you shirtless before, so I can't confirm that either!" you added with an annoyed tone.
You crossed your arms in front of your chest and let out a heavy sigh as you looked forward. A beautiful three-year-old girl with hair encircled in cute Bantu knots and a teddy bear in her arm sat opposite you next to her mother. With her big eyes, she smiled as she looked at you, and you returned the smile. Vicrul noticed her and gave her a little wink. Her cheeks turned pink, and she broke the eye contact.
"Poor thing, you scared her," you bantered and nudged him with your right elbow in a playful way.
Vicrul shot you a glimpse as his head sunk in his magazine, and he smiled.
"I'm sure I made her nervous. Just like you."
Then he put his magazine away, placed his elbow on the armrest, and whispered to you in a seductive tone.
"Would you like to see me, shirtless?"
What a jerk. You swallowed and turned your face to him. You looked at his sparkling blue eyes that blinked in amusement. You rubbed your palm against your leg and felt how it started to sweat. The thought of him asking you this so directly made you heavy blush.
"Are you- flirting with me?"
He smirked as he tilted his head. "Why? Is it working?"
There was no way you wanted to stroke his ego and fall for his seducing games, just like the other girls did.
A muttered laugh came from him when he didn't stop staring at your lips. Many signals indicated that he wanted to kiss you when he leaned a bit forward to you.
But just like in every movie, he got disrupted by the loud ringtone of his phone. When he answered it, his facial expression hardened and made him wildly ran outside.
You wondered who this was as you looked around the room and observed the other patients. You hoped Vicrul hadn't left without saying goodbye like last time.
By the sound of the sliding door from the emergency department, you turned your head to look who would be taken next. When an attractive woman with eye-catching red lips walked out of the door, you recognized that it was the same woman who only moved in with you.
"Qi'ra!" you called.
All the other people looked at you for the second time with an annoyed and tired expression. You heard another older man shouting in the distance for you to shut up.
Startled in terror, Qi'ra turned around to follow the voice she had heard before. When she realized it was you, she came towards you with a furious look, ready to slaughter you.
You sank into the chair and felt a small tingling in your arms when she stood in front of you.
"Have you completely lost your mind!" she hissed in a whisper.
"I- I'm sorry I just recognized you- and I thought-"
"That it would be a great idea to scream my name, so everybody knows I'm here?"
You raised your chin and clenched your jaw. Her head was bowed, and she looked you straight in the eyes. Besides Vicrul, she had no spark in them. However, they weren't completely empty. Something else was in them. Like she was hiding something.
You regretted your dumb action. Your eyes moved to the girl who sat across from you. She had switched her sitting position and held her teddy bear closer to her mother's body. She sought protection just in case the angry woman would do anything to her.
Qi'ra noticed you and followed your gaze. It brought her to the sight of a small girl in fear, whose mother had wrapped her arm around her shoulders.
Qi'ra grinned and straightened herself as she licked her lips to look again around the room and back to you.
"What are you doing here," she asked coolly.
Slowly you tried to lift your injured hand. Every move burned your hand, and you felt like your hand had a fever. At your movement, Qi'ra knitted her big brows.
"Bloody hell! Your hand is slowly turning into a smurf. What happened?"
"At school, I... I fell from the stairs," you replied, short and defeated.
She shook her head and exhaled from her nose.
"What is it with you and the stairs? You kissed the floor only yesterday. Wasn't that enough for you?" she jested.
You seriously had no strength from all the pain that your hand gave you, so you ignored her unnecessary remark.
"Why are you here?" you asked her smoothly.
She looked away from your eyes and rolled them upwards in thoughts as she observed the ceiling. She opened her mouth and paused for a second like she was rethinking what she's going to say.
"I just had a check-up."
Somehow you couldn't believe her words, and not only because you didn't know her yet, but you didn't trust her. Next to this, she was hiding something from you with your mother behind your back.
You knew she was the reason why your mother did not want to tell any further information about why you are involved in her business of danger. But talking about this now in any way would be foolish, and as tired as you were, you really had no desire to do so.
From a distance, you saw Vicrul returning to you in a hurry.
"Hey, sorry, but I have to go. Are you gonna be okay if I leave you here?"
"Yeah, sure, no problem," you responded with lips pressed together in a smile. "Thank you for bringing me here."
A part of you wanted him to stay and ask him who called and why he had to go away. On the other hand, you were just new friends, and if you noticed something, then if he ever would open up to you, then not now.
He straightened his coat and gave you a wink.
"You're welcome, love. Take care of yourself."
Vicrul only then noticed Qi'ra, who stood there next to him with arms crossed and widened eyes. He nodded in hello and goodbye at the same time as he left through the exit door.
When he left, she smirked and observed you up and down. With her fingers that tapped in a rhythm on her arm, she waited for an explanation.
"Is he your cute lover?" she commented with a sly smile.
"He's not cute and definitely not my lover. He's just - Vicrul. My normal friend."
"Oh, to be a teenager again and have this kind of problems," she breathed.
You rolled your eyes, and with a tight-lipped face, you crossed your legs. Qi'ra still stood in front of you. She parted her lips as she understood that she acted like a teenage girl.
"I planned on going home now, but if you want me to stay here with you, I'll stay," she proposed kindly.
You knew your mother would be happy and enjoy it if you were on good terms with Qi'ra. And that was one of the moments to take advantage of this opportunity.
"Yeah, I'd love to have a little company."
It was unusual for you to hear from a stranger the word 'home ' because it was the same house you grew up in for eighteen years. The one that only you called home since you spent the most time in it.
Sharing it now with a total stranger, from which you know nothing about only that your mother trusts her, was a strange feeling that didn't fulfill your trust in her.
Two minutes later, the nurse called your name. Qi'ra accompanied you to the x-ray, which showed a grade two torn ligament in your wrist. The friendly doctor compressed your left wrist with a bandage and prescribed you the essential anti-inflammatory painkillers. If Vicrul hadn't taken you to the hospital, who knows if you would already be looking with Luke for a new prosthetic hand.
When you walked out of the entrance door from the hospital, you couldn't believe your eyes who approached the door. You stopped in place as your mouth dropped open.
We do really live in a small world.
Guilt slowly brewed in your stomach. All you could think of was how wrong and stupid it was of you to joke this morning about death.
Professor Ren came towards you, dressed all black like in the morning, with a tired and not so pleasant face.
You remembered how only earlier he offered you his help that you brutally rejected and how you left him with a piece of mind from you. If only you knew. You had to agree that today compared to all the other days, he was nice to you while he was breaking from the inside.
His gaze met yours, and he stopped in front of you.
"Professor, I am so sorry for my stupid remark this morning about who died. I feel guilty, and I promise that from now on, I will behave. My deepest condolences for your loss."
You could hardly believe it yourself when you spoke with such a friendly voice to the teacher you detested more than Mr. Hux. Who would have thought that? But in this situation, it's better to drop the pride and act like a respectful person.
Professor Ren scratched his head in confusion. Somehow, he seemed amused and bewildered.
"Miss [Y/Surname], I appreciate your apology. Sadly, I must disappoint you, but I'm not here because someone died," he stated clearly.
It's in those moments when you feel like a complete douchebag. You had not only embarrassed yourself in front of your professor but also in front of Qi'ra. She stood behind you with her hand on her waist and leaned on the wall as she observed the conversation.
"Oh well, then what are you doing here?" you asked and scratched the bridge of your nose.
"As much as I remember, this is not the first time I'm telling you that this is none of your business," he responded harshly yet in a low tone.
Both of you stood there for a solid minute, not knowing what to do or say. You felt slightly uncomfortable standing like this.
How do you end a conversation with a professor when you see them outside after they offered you help that you stubbornly declined?
"See? I got you to apologize," he chuckled.
"No, you didn't," you disagreed.
Professor Ren tilted his head and scrunched up his face.
"Yes, I did."
"No, this apology came from me, I-"
Qi'ra stepped forward between both of you on the side and interrupted your catfight when she loudly cleared her throat.
Professor Ren and you turned your heads to the side at the same time to look at her. You took a step back and furrowed your forehead.
"Oh, yes, Professor Ren, this is... ehm, this is-"
"Her aunt," she grinned and reached out out her hand.
Professor Ren shook her hand while you stood next to her with raised eyebrows.
"You look extremely familiar. Have we met before?" Qi'ra asked.
"No... I don't think so," he responded with the same facial expression. He paused for a vivid moment and looked at Qi'ra up and down. "Excuse me, I have to move on."
"Of course, we better go now anyway. It was lovely to meet you."
He hummed with a nod and walked through the entrance door.
While you followed Qi'ra, you felt quite upset that Professor Ren didn't say anything about your injured hand. He didn't even ask you what you were doing in the hospital.
The way he questioned you this morning if you got any sleep and how he was the only one who remarked that you didn't have your hat on was - a nice feeling to know that someone noticed. And yet, how naive of you to think that he would ask about your hand after you rejected his help.
You got into the little grey golf car that was your mother's car. She only drove it while she was at home. When she went on her work trips, she left the car with you.
"Please don't tell me you're my real aunt, and my mother always kept that a secret from me."
"God, no, I wouldn't want to be related to you," she exclaimed.
"Ouch, thank you," you said in an offended tone. "Then why did you tell my professor you were?"
"Until you thought about what to introduce me as, I spontaneously said, aunt. You can never go wrong with that."
Qi'ra started the engine and drove off.
You needed to drive to the pharmacy to get your pills for your hand. Qi'ra's gaze was fixed on the road while you tried not to cry every single time when the car drove over something hard on the ground.
"That boy of yours is nothing compared to your teacher. That man should be on the cover of Vogue under the title 'The new definition of hot'.
Thinking about seeing your psychology professor on the most popular magazine naked with that title made you nearly throw up.
"You do know they're both much younger than you, right?"
Her jaw went slack, and she made a full stop at the red light. With a wrinkled face and with the other hand, you held your injured hand so that it would not move too much.
"Are you calling me old?" she gurgled with laughter.
A soft laugh escaped your throat, and Qi'ra joined you. It felt good to laugh after this tiring day.
"Age is just a number," she counseled. "But of course, that only applies to legal adults!"
You nodded and turned your hand to look outside the window.
And jail is just a place, you thought.
Being in a relationship where you both have more than five years of difference was impossible to imagine for you. There were so many things wrong with that. But telling her now your opinion after you both laughed so good was out of the question.
During the ride, you got to know Qi'ra better. She told you she was born in England and met your mother eight years ago in Scotland.
After you went to the pharmacy, you begged Qi'ra to take you to McDonald's. She rolled her NO a thousand times with her British accent, and after giving you a long speech about how McDonald's is bad for your health, she finally gave up and did as you wished.
You exulted a loud yes and pumped your right fist in the air and immediately regretted it when the sudden pain on the other wrist stung you.
You arrived in the heaven of all heavens at the time when most people were having their dinner. The smell of chicken nuggets was stuck in your nose, and as always, it was loud and stuffy inside.
Qi'ra didn't feel like sitting here, so she suggested taking the food with you at home. Then your mother could also have something from it.
You agreed, got in line, and looked at the menu of what to take for you and your mother. Even Qi'ra felt a craving for a juicy burger after not eating fast food for years.
Today was the place really crowded. Qi'ra looked around all the time as if she felt she was being followed. She tended her eyes immediately to every sound that seemed different from what was usual to the restaurant.
You turned your body to face her as she stood behind you.
"What were you really doing in the hospital," you suddenly asked her.
You had no idea from where this came. You started to like Qi'ra. She was smart, funny, and beautiful. Although you had, on one thing, a different view, she was still fun to hang around with, and you wanted to know more about her since she would be for you like a real aunt living with you in the same house.
"I thought I told you. It was just for a check-up," she said with a smile and continued to look around.
The way she had to think at the hospital before she delivered you an answer did not give you the impression of what she said was true. Especially not after she got so angry when you called her name.
Who cares that people know she's here. It's not like she's a celebrity or something.
You pursed your lips and showed her a serious face to let her know that you knew she was not telling you the truth.
She lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. In your eyes, she saw that lying to you now was worthless.
She folded her arms and narrowed her eyes.
"I was... visiting- a friend," she stammered in a low tone.
"You have friends in Germany besides my mother?"
She narrowed her head and whispered in your ear, "Let's not discuss this around other people."
"No, tell me I want to know," you urged her to continue.
Suddenly you felt a hard thud against your injured hand as if someone had bumped with their serving plate against it, and you gasped out a loud cry.
Like a bolt of lightning, Qi'ra wrapped her hand around your chest, quickly shoved you behind her back, and stepped a foot forward. She clenched her hand into a fist and raised it high in the air. She got into a fighting position as if she were ready to attack.
Every single person stopped eating and directed their eyes on her. Those who were next to you backed all away from you.
It didn't really look like the old gentleman who stood next to you realized what just happened. His wide-eyed expression and his parted mouth made him nearly drop his plate when he looked up and saw Qi'ra's fist in the air, who was ready to punch him.
"S-Sorry, Madame, for bumping into you with my plate. T-That was not my intention, I swear. I-I was just passing by," he trembled.
You nodded in understanding and looked at your injured hand that still hurt. Slowly and calmly, you put your other hand on Qi'ra's shoulder and assured her that everything was fine.
She came back to her senses when she started to blink. She relaxed her hand, realized what just happened, and immediately apologized.
The man nodded, still frightened, and walked away.
She bent for a second with her hands against her knees and let out a big sigh while shaking her head.
"Is everything alright?" you asked her in a worried tone.
You started rubbing her back and looked around to see how people kept doing what they were doing.
Qi'ra straightened up and let out another small breath as she looked at you. Panic was visible in her eyes. She dropped it immediately and put a smile on her face. She put her hand on your shoulder and lightly shook you.
Many questions floated to your brain. Maybe Qi'ra was paranoid or thought someone had hurt you. In any case, you noted you should not mess with her.
"I appreciate your reaction, sort of. But it's okay. You don't need to be so overprotective around me," you laughed over it and turned around to order your meal.
Qi'ra narrowed her gaze at her hands. They were still shaking. She squeezed them into fists and loosened them. She had lost control and made everyone in this place know there was a woman in town who nearly kicked a man because he was just passing by.
"You will thank me for it later."