Chapter 3- Words like bitter coffee
"Hey! Sorry I'm late!" Jay exclaimed, running up to the table I had been sitting on for half an hour.
I rolled my eyes, dismissing his greeting. I was in no mood for accepting apologies, especially from him.
"Whatever." I replied nonchalantly, as he sat down opposite me.
"So, you wanted to talk?" He asked, removing his bag from his shoulders.
I nodded, taking a sip of my black coffee. God knew, I needed it to sit and talk to that bouncing ball of sunshine for a whole evening.
"Yeah. Listen, sorry I cancelled on you yesterday. I had an emergency with my sister."
"No problem. So, you want to work on the project right now?" I stared at him, wondering whether he was asking a rhetorical question…Surely, since he was apparently a hot nerd. Perhaps I had mistaken his…charm for intelligence?
"No. I wanted to wait here for half an hour and pay for a drink that I don't particularly want so they don't kick me out, just so I could see your incredibly beautiful face." I replied, causing him to raise his hands in defense.
"Okay, so friendly conversation is not your thing." He spoke, his eyes twinkling.
"Clearly cracking incredibly hilarious jokes is yours." I replied, rolling my eyes.
"And sarcasm is yours," He pointed out, grabbing the menu.
"How perceptive. Clearly you're not as dim-witted as your friends." The smile that had previously been on his face slackened, as he trained his eyes on my face. Somehow, I successfully managed to not flinch under his gaze, which, let me assure you, is quite an accomplishment.
"So you know my friends?" He asked, his eyes boring into mine.
"Do you have short term memory lapse or something? I told you last night, I don't know them." I replied, fighting to not lower my eyes, or to fiddle with my sleeves (as I usually did when lying). A sly smile appeared on his face, as he retorted.
"If you don't know them then how do you know they're dim-witted?"
"They just seemed like the type." I managed to execute, quite smoothly, might I add.
"Either you're really judgmental, or a terrible liar." He replied, now smirking at me.
"And you're either really presumptuous or really stupid. I'm suspicious that it's the latter." I retorted, causing him to chuckle, much to my surprise.
"Witty...so you're intelligent."
'And clearly you're not..."
"Ooh…why so bitter Al?" My eyes, which been lowered to my cup of coffee were now glaring fiercely at him.
"Who told you that name?" I asked him, my eyes flashing dangerously.
"Well, I hazarded a guess...from Alya to Al...not that hard." The muscles in my jaw relaxed a little, as I took one shaky sip of my coffee. I wasn't sure if I could trust him, considering he was friends with...them. To his credit, however, he did change the topic.
"So, tell me about yourself."
"What do you want to know?"
"Well, for starters, what do your parents do?"
"Chill with god..." I elaborated on my point, as he frowned, confused.
"They're dead..." Pity flickered across his attractive features. Great, another person who pitied me, just what I needed.
"I'm sor-" I waved him off before he could burst into a series of apologies.
'Chill...its been seven years. I was ten, so I don't remember much anyway..." I said in a tone many found void of any emotion. Then again, of late emotions hadn't been my strongest point, It wasn't entirely uncharacteristic.
There was a short silence, as he grew a sudden interest in the menu card he was holding. I took another sip of my coffee, waiting for him to get over the fact that I had a set of dead parents.
"So...erm...wh...who do you live with?" He asked, his eyes still on the menu.
"My sister. She's twenty-seven, so she's legally able to take care of me."
"Oh.." The awkward silence settled around us once again, as I slurped loudly on my coffee.
"Hey, Jay!" My insides churned as I heard that voice; a voice I knew too well.
"I should be going." I said hastily, grabbing for my stuff as Jay waved over the owner of that voice.
"Why? If you don't know them then you shouldn't have a problem with them." I closed my eyes, taking deep breaths as I clenched and unclenched my fists. It would not be very wise if I lashed out at him. My drama grade depended on him.
"Fine..." I said through clenched teeth, as two pairs of feet walked towards us.
"Come sit." Jay motioned to his band-mates, as they came closer. I religiously studied the cracks and chips in my coffee cup as his friends took their seats, completely oblivious to me.
"What are you doing here man?"
"I was working on my project with Alya..." I could feel their eyes on me. So, finally, I raised my eyes to meet their gazes with glares. The corners of his eyes hardened, as Sameer glared back at me.
"So...Alya..." I broke my eye contact, focusing my attention towards Jay.
"Yes Jay?" I asked, perhaps a little too sweetly, as he threw me a totally weirded out look. Meh, at least now he'd know I'm a little weird.
"How important is friendship to you?" I smirked, thanking Jay for knowing (or unknowingly) have presented the perfect opportunity for a little bit of payback.
"Very important. But it also depends on the friend." I turned my head to look straight at the two boys who had broken me into a million pieces, only a year ago. Yes…payback was good.
"Some people are always on the lookout for bigger and better...opportunities. They have no regrets dropping friends they've known for years if it'll benefit them."
I saw Kabir lower his eyes, running his hands across the edge of the table, frantically. Sameer, on the other hand, glowered at me, the top of his ears turning pink- a sure sign he was mad.
"Well some people just start accusing others without knowing the full story." He spat back, his dark brown eyes darkening even further.
"And some people are too immature to face the facts straight and admit that they were wrong." I spat back, with a vehemence that was matching, if not stronger than his.
"The facts?" He narrowed his eyes, furrowing his brows.
Much to my annoyance, I knew this meant that his anger had reached a whole new level- he was livid with anger, and would now precede to speak in a biting, quiet voice. Why I remembered this little peculiarity, I fail to understand.
"The facts..." He repeated, and just as I had predicted his voice quieted down.
"Are you that self-centered? Do you not realize that both parties were involved in the situation?" He demanded, his voice now barely above a whisper, cutting into my skin.
"Oh...that's rich. This is coming from the guy that abandoned his best-friend because it suited him!" I realized, perhaps a little too late that there was a smidge of bitterness in the tone of my voice. Oh well, he thought I was a miserable little b***h anyway, it didn't matter.
"Because it suited me?" His voice rose, as he reached yet another new level of anger. That's how Sam's anger worked- his voice oscillated rapidly between screaming to barely a whisper. Again, why I still remembered this was beyond me.
"You think I stopped talking to you because it suited me? I couldn't look at you Alya...that's why I stopped talking to you." The volume of his voice had altered to normal, and his eyes screamed sincerity. I knew there was no way he was lying. He couldn't look at me...
Jay blinked in surprise, as he saw Sam openly admit that we were arguing about...well...about each other. I was surprised to see him taken aback myself, as I was sure he knew what we were arguing about. Perhaps Sam hadn't admitted to it before this.
"Well, isn't it quite obvious that you wouldn't be able to see my face? Why else would you break up with me?" I shot back, trying really hard to keep that edge of pain out of my voice.
I wasn't sure if I had managed, however, as I saw the corners of Sam's eyes soften for a millisecond. It was as if he was trying to say that I shouldn't doubt my physical appearance But then again, the coffee was probably giving me visions, as within a blink of an eye, his eyes had returned to their previous hard, penetrating glare.
"Don't start playing the victim now. You weren't the only one who got hurt." He replied, causing me to scoff loudly.
"Really? Because last time I checked you still have your best friend, a girlfriend and are not universally hated by everyone at school." I retorted, the sarcasm clear as day in my voice. The red was rapidly spreading across his ears, as he tightened his jaw. Oh yeah...he was mad...
"I…Don't hate you." Jay perked up from somewhere, interrupting our conversation. Funny, I had almost forgotten that he was there. He smiled meekly at me, and completely stumped, I just stared blankly. I had certainly not expected that to come out of his mouth.
"That's because you don't know her yet." Sameer's voice had gotten quiet again, and this time, not only his voice, but his words also cut me. Deeply. As if multiple knives were slashing at every inch of my skin. I rolled my eyes, ignoring the feeling of being 'slashed' at. I couldn't let him know that he could still hurt me...
"Oh, and you know me?" I asked incredulously, cocking my eyebrows in a nearly theatrical manner. He mock-laughed, shaking his head in an incredibly patronizing way. He knew I hated it when he did that. Then again...why would he remember anything that I liked or disliked?
When he spoke again, he looked me straight in the eye, his own chocolaty orbs holding the hardest, coldest expression I had ever seen. I wish I could say that it didn't affect me, but it sent chills down my spine.
"Of course I do. I know you're conniving-" He was interrupted in his oh-so-eloquent tirade by his best-friend.
"Sam..." Kabir's voice was low, his tone one of warning.
Much to my annoyance, he still avoided eye contact with me. It didn't matter; it wasn't like he was going to get away with being silent. He was as much of a participant in the crime as his best friend (if not more).
"Oh...And once again, Kabir comes to Sameer's rescue...best friends, that always support each other, huh?"
He knew I was mocking them. Of course he knew it. Why wouldn't I be? He had abandoned me for Sameer. It would be stupidity to expect me to harbor any kindness for him.
He raised his eyes, meeting me square in mine. The guilt that I had expected to see on his face had completely disappeared. It had been replaced by cold, hard fury, almost equal to that of the one in Sameer's eyes.
"Yeah…Pretty much..." His lips had turned up slightly in what I knew was his way to appear smug. His eyes twinkled with triumph. His whole countenance was basically challenging me to even dare to come with a smart-ass retort for that.
"Well you better be careful. I believed my best friends would always support me too..." I shrugged, getting up from my seat.
I looked with great satisfaction, as both Kabir and Sameer's cheeks fired up. Whether it was out of embarrassment or anger, I wasn't quite sure. Very honestly, I didn't particularly care what caused them to flush in such a lady-like way. All I knew was that it gave me great satisfaction to see them like that.
"Al!" Jay cried after me, as I turned around, and started walking away. Damnit! Why was he being so nice to me?!
"Let her go. She has nothing else to offer except bitter words." I froze in mid-stride, trying to process the words. It wasn't Sameer, who I would have expected to say something so insensitive and stupid. It was Kabir who had said that. The same Kabir who had always seemed guilt-ridden in front of me. What a bunch of hypocrites.
I turned to face them, as an idea struck me. I picked up the coffee cup, a small smile playing on my lips. Leaning against the table, I stared at their confused expressions and cocked brows for approximately five seconds. With a final smirk, I threw the lukewarm coffee straight at their face. Their shocked, outraged expressions didn't escape me. Revenge is a dish best served cold…Or in my case lukwarm
"And lukewarm coffee." I threw a fake smile at the two boys, and spun around on my heel. I couldn't help but smirk, again.
Ah...boys, always overconfident, with a tendency to underestimate their opponent. How tragically disillusioned they are.
Normal POV (no one's POV)
With a loud click, the main door of Sameer Rastogi's house burst open. Three boys with bent heads and dampened spirits trudged into the house. The ride home had been spent in complete silence.
For Kabir and Sam it was an inescapable silence-old, painful memories were running wildly in their minds. For Jay, it was an incredibly uncomfortable silence-a million questions were begging to spill forth from the tip of his tongue. They were questions that he was unable to ask, because of the faraway expressions on his friends/band mates' faces.
"Jay, you want some water?" Asked Sam, making his way across the dining room, to his kitchen, his back to Jay. Jay shook my head, and then realized that Sam couldn't see him.
"No, I'm okay." He replied, as Sam disappeared into the kitchen. He plopped himself on one of the dining chairs.
Kabir was seated right opposite him, his back hunched over, his head held in his hands. The fact that his chest was heaving gave Jay the impression that he was crying. Jay opened his mouth to unleash the flurry of questions swarming his mind. Only to close it promptly, as he realized how very insensitive he was being.
Sam padded over to them, and gently placed two glasses of water on the table. Taking a deep breath, he placed a hand on his best-friend's shoulder. Kabir removed his head from his hands at a painstakingly slow speed. His eyes were red, and even in the bad lighting, Jay could see the tear tracks on his cheeks. Sighing, Sam pulled out a chair and sat down next to Kabir.
"I messed up man..." Came Kabir's weary voice, as he looked imploringly at Sameer, as if asking for forgiveness. Sameer's disposition was the complete opposite of his friends. His eyes were still fired up, his shoulders still tense, and at Kabir's statement, his jaw tightened.
"You know she deserved it Kabir..." He said, his voice almost as low as it had been when he was arguing with Alya.
"No, she didn't Sam. You know she didn't." Kabir responded, shaking his head sadly. Jay frowned, his curiosity finally urging Jay to question them.
"Alright, enough's enough. I gave you more than enough time to...ponder. Now, you have to tell me what the hell happened with her." Jay said firmly, looking straight into Sameer's eyes (as Kabir was still moping).
"Look Jay, I told you before, its best if you stay out of this..." Sam said, a hard edge in his voice.
"No Sam! She dumped coffee on you, claimed you people abandoned her. Kabir's in tears...I can't let this be! I need to know!"
"Remind me again why this is any of your business?" Jay had expected Sam's biting, sarcastic comment, and was prepared with what he hoped to be an adequate answer.
"Because you guys are my friends, and I'm worried. I care about you guys...And I care about her too." He replied calmly, his demeanor composed.
"You care about her?" Sameer asked, cocking his right eyebrow, giving Jay an incredulous look. Jay wasn't entirely sure, but he could discern a hint of jealousy in Sam's tone.
"Wh-y? Does it bother you?" Jay asked, his tone overtly sweet, as he tried to fight the smirk threatening to appear on his face. Sam rolled his eyes at Jay, annoyed.
"Look Sam, I don't know her well. In fact, I only discovered her existence two days ago. But I do know she's bitter, and hurting. You can see it in her eyes. And I can't see someone who seems undeserving of experiencing some sort of emotional pain go through it without trying to sort it out."
"This issue is way beyond sorting out." Said Sam. Jay shook his head, and sighing replied.
"How will you know if you don't tell me? Maybe if you tell me I can help!"
"Let's just tell him." Kabir spoke up, interrupting their conversation. Jay smiled gratefully at him as Sam threw him a look of disbelief. Kabir smiled shakily at Sam, before speaking again.
"What's the point in hiding it from him? He sees her almost everyday at school."
"Fine! Tell him everything. See if I care!"
Sam banged his glass of water on his wooden dining table. Jay winced, as water spilt from the glass, falling in puddles on the table. Water was not good for wood. Sam glared at Jay before stomping away to a corner of the room to sulk.
"Clearly he cares." Kabir said, a mischievous grin on his face. Jay chuckled, as, (serious again) Kabir launched into his story.
There you go. Hope you enjoy it, and tell me what you thought